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The Least-Relaxing Pandemic De-Stresser: Tiny DIY Doll Houses

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The Least-Relaxing Pandemic De-Stresser: Tiny DIY Doll Houses


After nine months of looking for soothing ways to fill time at home, Kimberli Fancher had already re-tiled her garage floor and built a meditation garden in the backyard. By November, she decided to turn her attention to something smaller: a DIY miniature coffee shop kit.

Missing coffeehouses, Ms. Fancher, a 49-year-old tech project manager who lives in Waxhaw, N.C., planned to spend a leisurely weekend arranging tiny bistro tables and chairs. Instead, when she opened the box, “I realized, ‘oh gosh, this thing is a million pieces.’ ” She said she didn’t expect to have to carve, paint and glue individual chair spindles herself.

Reminiscent of the miniature cars and boats hobbyists have painstakingly epoxied for generations, tiny one-room modeling kits have surged in popularity during the pandemic alongside other crafty pastimes such as embroidery and woodworking. But when faced with a pair of tweezers and a utility knife, some would-be builders are realizing that no matter how long they are stuck at home, they have neither the patience nor the dexterity for such a tedious task.

“Ordinarily, I would read the reviews,” Ms. Fancher said. Distracted by the preciousness of doll-sized coffee mugs, “I did no such thing.”

Hands Craft US, manufacturer of Ms. Fancher’s “Simon’s Coffee,” has seen a 650% increase in year-over-year sales of its miniatures kits. (And that’s despite a top Amazon review that reads, “Holy cow, I had no idea what I was getting into.”)

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