this explains a lot

Marian Parsonsa slice of life105 Comments

My parents are here visiting for a few days before my mom and I shuffle off to Europe and leave the boys behind.   Since they drove out, they decided to deliver the last remnants of my stuff that’s been stored in their house.  It’s stuff I haven’t thought about for years.  They brought my childhood dollhouse (it’s actually a puppenhaus, because it’s German) and the furniture.

I took some time to dig through it this morning and I actually thought, well, this explains a lot!

I loved the hand painted furniture, the style, and the colors as an 8 year old and I can see how much these pieces have informed my decorating and the things I’m drawn to.


You can see how even the color palette influenced some of the signature colors in the MMS Milk Paint line

And, there’s more!

This was my kitchen hutch…

…filled with copper pots, blue and white dishes, and wooden utensils.

And my favorite pieces were this wooden wardrobe and the Bavarian-styled side chairs…

Does this piece look a little familiar?

It looks a lot like the German wardrobe I just bought last week!

Isn’t it funny that I had such a strong idea of what I wanted and that probably came from my dollhouse wardrobe that I hadn’t thought about in decades!

Even the inside of the pieces are similar…

Now, I’m tempted to paint that little wardrobe in milk paint!  Hmmm…  And I’m also tempted to give my whole dollhouse a makeover.  Maybe I should just focus on my real house for now!

Did your dollhouse furniture or other childhood favorites influence your style as an adult?

this explains a lot

Related Posts

a walking tour of Barga

rest & recovery

Paris souvenirs

free & final day in Paris

105 Comments on “this explains a lot”

  1. That dollhouse furnishing looks just like your style! Behavior the question of nature vs nurture. ♥️

  2. I have a vintage dollhouse, not mine metal ones with plastic furniture were popular when I was eight. I have collected a few pieces of furniture and have painted and distressed them to mimic your style.

  3. What a beautiful reminder of your childhood. It makes me hopeful that in this world full of plastic, giving children lovely items made from wood can leave a lasting impression.

  4. Ooooh, this is sooooo lovely !!

    Here in France, this would probably cost a fortune on a vintage toys market.
    You’re talking about painting them… I have to tell you 😀 …. I wouldn’t change anything. As they are a part of secret ingredients that built Miss Mustard Seed style, I would cherish them like they are, and display them beautifully… maybe in the studio ? Or in your office ?

    What a good excuse to buy a nice little shelf with glass doors !

    1. What Stephanie and Sue said!
      We lived in Germany when my girls were little and I am very familiar with that color pallet and the embellishment on it. !

  5. It’s amazing how God shapes who we are to become all the way from childhood!

    Your dollhouse furniture even reminds me of your fabric line!

    I hope you’ll leave it as it is and keep it as a reminder that He has been shaping your life from the time you were not much bigger than a mustard seed.

  6. What beautiful furniture and it’s in such perfect condition! Someday your grandchildren will enjoy playing with it!

  7. The little clock brings back memories! We lived in Germany for a few years when I was a very small child. My parents bought a miniature grandfather clock. It was black with flowers. Looking back it was probably a child’s toy. I haven’t seen or thought about that clock in years. Thank you for sharing your memories! As for painting the little wardrobe and chairs….It sounds like a lot of fun! 😉 Enjoy your trip!

  8. Oh my goodness, how cool is that? I can’t believe the resemblance of the mini wardrobe to your recent purchase! That’s awesome.

  9. I am just blown away by the similarities!! These little treasures are priceless. Don’t paint them!!! You definitely were influenced from your youth, and yes, it amazing how you are still drawn to those items from the toy kitchen!!!! Enjoy traveling down memory lane! I know I do when I get together with my mom. I’m blessed to have her and dad right down the street from where I live. Blessings!!

  10. I have to admit I just love those tiny little eggs in that bowl. Thank you for sharing. Enjoy your trip!

  11. Don’t paint it!!! Love all of these pieces as they are. Uncanny how they mimic your life. What a treasure

  12. I have the same bedroom toy set! We lived in Augsburg until I was 3. Somehow in spite of all of our moves through the years – I still have it and it is in good condition!

    It is so interesting how similar your color choices are today and even painting decoratively on your pieces is such a match for your toys! Amazing how our young brains work, isn’t it?

  13. Those childhood impressions really form us! Mine was not so much about the dollhouse furniture, but the first time I re-watched The Sound of Music after I got married (which was way before VCR’s) I realized how much my wedding gown & veil were influenced by Maria’s!

  14. Yes, when we are young, we are sponges, and all of that is a great influence on who we become as adults, some things remain printed on our brain while others are not….my mother was a seamstress, ironing board was always up. So textiles speak to my heart, and yep my ironing board is always up. But somehow that didn’t transfer to my daughters….smh.

  15. This is amazing, exactly your style! The German cabinets are a total match. I love the painted designs on many of the pieces. You had a really lovely doll house, and now you have a really lovely house!

  16. Wow, the similarities…especially the wardrobe! I don’t know what my influence was exactly, but I have loved Victorian style all of my life, although I now use it more sparingly than I used to. I am a lover of miniatures, and this set of yours just makes my heart sing. Like others have said, I hope you display these pieces in your home somewhere.

  17. WOW!! That is amazing!! Those “toys” are works of art on their own. The similarities are startling!! You just created the “grown up” version as an adult! Love it all!

  18. Oh goodness those are so stinkin cute! I would have to display those on a shelf or in a hutch, so adorable. I’m going to check out some antique stores we saw on our way to Harmony MN last weekend for one final fun trip before school started for the kids, so I might have to put a little kid set/dollhouse on my list now. 🙂

    1. Ditto from Stephanie, Becca, Deborah and Connie!!! Amazing!!! So cute!!!

      PLEASE PLEASE don’t paint them!!!!…okay maybe JUST the wardrobe.

  19. This is the sweetest doll house I have ever seen!! I too vote with Stephanie and the others who agreed with her… Don’t paint it, but display it proudly as a part of your beautiful childhood and family history!

  20. Oh my goodness that’s amazing! How mysterious and spectacular our minds are – absorbing, integrating, and saving things for later!

  21. I laughed out loud when I saw your post title over the photo! Your post reminded of the old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. You knew a great thing when you saw it. The replication of the wardrobes is almost eerie. And I also hope you don’t paint over this memory – in fact – more pictures please!

  22. Just WOW!! I am smiling from ear to ear!! How lucky were you to have that beautiful dollhouse as a child!!?

  23. My brother tells me that my house is just like the play house I had some 60 years ago – if I am living in a play house, I guess you must be living in a doll house! What a wonderful world!

  24. Love this! Someone above said it beautifully when they said your dollhouse furniture “as is” is a reminder of God’s shaping in our lives. So don’t paint! Treasure tha history and the memories they bring back! I just wanted to add … I CAN see you designing a doll house and dollhouse furniture line to sell and painting those pieces! How fun would that be!

  25. Marian this post has brought back such wonderful memories for me as well. My mother “Elsie” owned an antique doll and dollhouse shop in the Central West End of St. Louis called Elsie’s Doll House in the late 1970’s – early 1980’s. She sold this furniture!!! I always loved it. Her shop was a gathering place for not only collectors but others who loved to visit and see what was new. Her shop Christmas window was legendary. Like the old fashion shop windows. People would stand and look at everything and press their noses to the window. Magical. I am so glad your mother saved your dollhouse and furnishings.
    Have a wonderful time on your trip. So glad you are sharing it with your mother. It’s all about the memories!

  26. The doll house furniture is adorable, and the fact that you still love those things in your own home is adorable.

  27. Darling! The “roots” of your style and creativity today are so clearly reflected in these pieces!

  28. I have the exact same kitchen and bedroom furniture. As an adult I remodeled the plywood dollhouse my dad made for me at age seven. I closed up a window and enlarged others, added siding and shingles. I now have a remodeling business that I know was influenced by those early years of collecting for my dollhouse. Thanks for sharing this post!

  29. Oh my gosh this is to cute! Are you just a little bit sorry that you didn’t have a little girl to share it with!

  30. I’m usually all about painting things, but oh, my goodness, PLEASE don’t paint these! They are charming as they are, and they are your history! You could maybe paint the little wardrobe and chairs and that wouldn’t break my heart, but it just might if you paint the other pieces. 🙂

    It IS uncanny how similar the wardrobe is to the one you just bought, and I love how very YOU all the other pieces are. I think my style has evolved more from when I was a child…although I’ve always had a strong love for color and mixing patterns. Maybe because some of my favorite memories happened on the patchwork quilts my great-grandmother pieced?

    This was truly one of my favorite posts of yours! Have fun on your trip. I will be living vicariously through you and your mom, and taking notes for the day I might finally get to Europe myself!

    1. I agree with you Deborah. The furniture that is already painted and matches your paint line, you need to keep that. It is adorable!!
      Maybe you need s Miss Mustard Seed line of toy furniture for the rest of us! 😊

  31. That is so funny!!!! It’s odd what is embedded in your mind as a child and you don’t even realize it.

  32. As a fellow mom of two (now grown) boy, I hope you are as lucky as I am and have granddaughter one day to play house with.

  33. This is awesome!!! It is such a great example of how our experiences mold our tastes and aesthetics. Can’t wait to do more of that next week!! Safe travels to you and your mom, see you soon!

  34. I love this post! How wonderful to see how your childhood favorites were never really left behind, they were only transformed to fit your present life.
    My present day dining room is a close replica of my grandparents farmhouse dining room, although I did not realize it until I saw an old photo. My corner hutch is almost exactly the same as theirs (mine a reproduction, theirs an antique), same for the dining table and chairs. All of it bought here and there with me not being at all aware of how I was duplicating a favorite, and long-gone room from my early years. Some things never leave us!

  35. Oh NO! Don’t paint it. Don’t change it. Respect the past that made you who you are today. Display it special. Hand it down. Simply awesome.

  36. As my childhood dollhouse was a Barbie Dream Cottage, my decorating style is most decidedly not influenced by the cacophony of pink that it was. I do have a set of child’s dishes from Germany that were sent to us by an aunt and uncle when they lived there when I was a toddler. I don’t think I’ve opened the box in 25 years and I’ve forgotten what it even looks like. I think I’ll do that when I get home today. And I’ll echo everyone else — please don’t paint over these lovely pieces! (I’d keep your wardrobe as it is too but that might just be me.)

  37. I want to live in a home that has furniture like that!

    I grew up in a home with MCM furniture (purple couch, orange couch, white leather armchair); then, “Mediterranean” furniture (wrought iron, heavy oak, heavy draperies); then, “contemporary” (orange-and-white curtains, turquoise-painted metal kitchen cabinets, etc.)…my mom was always changing things up. The only “constant” was the Deco-period “waterfall” bedroom furniture that I wouldn’t let my mom get rid of. After numerous moves, I have one piece left. So, I inherited both the drive to regularly change things, and a counterbalancing need to hold onto history.

    Counting the days until my vicarious trip to Europe with you:)

  38. I’m so glad your parents did such a good job of preserving your childhood treasures and have returned them to you now. It’s obvious that your talents are rooted in what must have been a memorable and happy childhood and you have transferred your first inspirations into the work you do today. I hope you and your mom can piece together the story of how you acquired these pieces and perhaps how and where you played with them. They are in pristine condition, so even as a child you must have treated them with respect, perhaps foreshadowing the importance they represented in your life career. I trust your instinct on whether to paint them because I know you will always respect their history and importance to you. Thank you for helping us remember that we might also have significant pieces in our past that evoke happy memories.

  39. Marion,
    I agree with those who think you shouldn’t paint the doll house furniture! It is an ingredient of wat made you who you are today!

    My mom had a great influence on what my taste is today. She used gold flocked paper and a dark green couch in the living room and I vehemently said never!! But…..low and behold….my home is green, gold, browns and blues!!! A different shade but I know her good taste influences me!

    Life is interesting isn’t it🙂!

  40. That dollhouse furniture is gorgeous!! And definitely you! You may have a granddaughter someday who will treasure it!

  41. I love this post and the furniture from your dollhouse. I agree that you should not paint them. They are so nostalgic and perfect.

  42. Such adorable furniture and wonderful memories. I have a little dollhouse and furniture that I keep threatening to decorate. I need to get to work!!

  43. I love your “new-found” treasures! I hope you will figure out some creative way to display your dollhouse and furniture in your house!

  44. I had a Barbie Dream house with lots of pink plastic furniture, so I hope it didn’t influence my decorating style, haha.

  45. I still have my blue willow china child’s tea set. Blue and white have been my signature decorating colors ever since and I have a gazillion blue and white plates hanging all over my house! We moved when I was 8 months pregnant with out second daughter and my family came to the rescue to help us move and unpack because I was having a difficult pregnancy and could not do anything. During the unpacking one of my aunts took on the task of washing all my antique and decorative plates and at some point during the day she made an announcement that I didn’t need any more plates!

  46. Marian, as Stephanie and Sue said, please do not repaint any of your doll furniture. The beauty is in the vintage design. Even the little wardrobe. Stephanie or is right. Those pieces would look amazing in lovely vintage display case or hutch in their original condition. Plus, they are the influence of your design ethic and would look great in your studio. Hearts would break if you changed them .

    1. Oh, I wouldn’t dare paint the hand painted pieces, I was just talking about the raw wardrobe.

  47. My Barbie furniture and accessories were very contemporary so…no it didn’t mimic
    my style now….BUT
    I do remember loving to set it all up, arranging and re-arranging the placement of the
    pieces many times over. And getting all her clothes and shoes perfectly organized
    in her closet….then I would just sit back a admire it all.
    Didn’t REALLY care that much about playing with the dolls so much …HAHA !

  48. that’s funny! must have been like a lightbulb appeared over your head. we lived in France when i was a small child and my mom bought a little black clock with brightly colored floral tole painting and edged in gold. it was kept it on my parents nightstand. i spent hours on their bed staring at that clock. is it any wonder i use a lot of black and gold chinoiserie and bright colors in my home? and i have been tole painting furniture and smalls for the last 10 years.

  49. I love this! How wonderful to still have it from childhood. Hope someday you have a little granddaughter to play with it.

  50. What a treasure that your mom kept all of those pieces for you all these years! The little copper pans–to die for! And of course it influenced your style–so obvious! Thanks for sharing.

  51. Yep, it is just SO ultra cool!!! For sure most people are influenced, whether they realize it or not, by the décor of the houses and places that they loved and where loving people were, like Grandma’s house, or even a little doll house.

  52. So adorable. I’ve always loved that German hand-painted toy furniture and I wouldn’t mind a kitchen full of pieces painted just like those. I grew up in a Modern Mid-Century 1950s house and while I like that style, I am all about the 1940s comfy, cozy decor – just like at my grandparents’ home was then. I often ask people why they collect what they collect when they are in my shop. It is always something to do with their childhood. I think we always keep a part of that child within us. Hope you have a marvelous trip! I just ordered a pair of handmade leather shoes from Italy. When on sale, I think they are less expensive than buying multiple pairs of “man-made upper” shoes down at the mall.

  53. This is BETTER than Christmas and I am sooooo thrilled for you! Such a wonderful thing that your parents held on to your things and my heart is a flutter for you (and maybe just a tad jealous!)….. GOD IS GOOD!

  54. Precious! I love everything about this! These pieces are in excellent condition & amazing! It’s like you’re actually living in a Dollhouse <3

  55. I have the clock! I didn’t know it was part of a set. Mine is more of an orange/red color. Guess I’ll be on the hunt for more pieces, as my youngest daughter is into doll houses, etc.

  56. LOVE your doll furniture & yes, it is so YOU!! I am nearly 70 & I went to a one room schoolhouse in first grade. By second grade all the small schoolhouses were consolidated & we then went to a much larger nearby town school. The teacher gave almost everything in the schoolhouse away to us, her students since nothing would be moved. As the only first grader, I got my reading textbook. I loved the house the children lived in & their adventures. Their deep red leather wingback chairs somehow became mine in our family room once I could decorate my own home. Their style and comfortable home did “imprint” my impressionable brain & I can assume your furniture became imprinted on your mind as well. What treasures they are for you now & yes, I still have that first grade reader! Have fun & safe travel to Paris!

  57. This is SO very cool! And deserves a spread in a magazine! Imagine a whole series with artists and designers featuring a childhood piece.
    As a long time follower of yours I am obviously down to your style but also have an affinity for contemporary and mid century looks these days. I think my mom’s 60s Danish modern and my 70s foil metallic wallpaper will always be rooted in my cortex!

  58. Marion,!!!
    This post is so lovely!
    Bless your Mother’s heart for bringing this to your new home and
    bless your parent’s heart for providing you with such lovely ‘dollhouse’
    treasures and keeping them for you all these years.
    Wishing you and your Mom a fabulous time in Europe. Go in safety and with
    adventure in your hearts! Happy hunting and can’t wait to see your finds!
    God bless!

  59. Wow–this is almost TOO amazing! Eerie, as someone else said. Had you ever thought of this set during your adult years? I just love this!

  60. Those are wonderful pieces! There is no question that my grandmother’s Victorian house and my parents love for junking and antiques in the early 60’s are the reason I live in a 120 year old cottage. The dollhouse furniture deserves a special place in your creation room as a reminder where “it” all started for you.

  61. 😄 I actually reverted back to a mother-in-law, a French paternal grandmother & a maternal great grandmother for my blue&white & yellow French country leanings. The red orange snuck in with some Asian soup bowls. I liked the idea of red, but I’m not good with cherry reds.

  62. Love your dolls house: very you.
    I had a dolls house and the best thing I loved about it was my dad and wirednit with lights and there was even a fancy two way switch up and down the stairs. ….I ended up becoming an electrical engineer!! And joined the air force as an engineering officer. Too funny

    1. Oh my gosh, that is so cute! My dollhouse had lights as well and a couple of working lamps. It was already wired when we bought it, though.

  63. So sweet! I would paint some of the pieces in your signature style and put them in a glass display box in the room that it’s influenced by. How cute would it be to have that hutch with the blue and white dishes in your kitchen or butler’s pantry; and the wooden armoire in the room on top of the German armoire? Maybe with a teeny quilt or some linen feedsacks stacked on it. And a basket on top!

  64. My set of play china from when I was a little girl is blue and white. My favorite set of dishes as an adult is my set of Liberty Blue. I still have my childhood set on display in a corner cupboard. I have always loved blue and white and think that is why I was originally attracted to your blog!

  65. What sweet toy furniture. I don’t know about furniture but I always wanted a cow. No reason I could figure out until mom sent some of my books home with my kids one day. There was a book about a little girl that I looked like. She had a cow! I think things in our childhood must plant some seeds in our thoughts. I never expect to get a cow but that is ok at this point.

  66. This post just made me smile, then laugh, and smile some more as each tiny treasure was revealed. Delightful! Also chuckled at the Barbie dream house comments, which was my era as well!

    1. Ha! I remember one of my friends had a Barbie Dream House and I was envious of her elevator and (I think) four floors! I didn’t like the decor, but I did like all of the bells and whistles!

  67. So cute I squealed out loud.

    Don’t paint it – it’s CLASSIC and I think this was the sweetest post ever.

  68. Mine definitely did. I am 66 and still have all my miniature dollhouse furniture and my dolls. One of the items is an anthracite kitchen stove – like an Aga – that my Oupa made and that works.

  69. How great that you have this again. I believe early impressions are deeply embedded, especially form and color!
    Your doll house pieces are by Dora Kuhn. I was just admiring some in an antique store in Leesburg, VA.

  70. What treasures these pieces are just the way they are….Ironic indeed, but truly explains so much 🙂 . One day your granddaughters are going to adore playing with the pieces from the past. So lucky that they were saved so carefully.

  71. Ha !! My daughter is 41….we are looking at the dollhouse my father, her grandfather made her when she was 8, and wondering ….should we remodel it , or leave it in it’s 70’s style ! That is a query!

  72. Hi Marian, your toys from your childhood are beautiful! You being the creative you are, I can see how it would cross your mind to paint them! LOL….
    But I think you should leave them original, as they were when you played with them, that’s part of your true history and your past and your story, sure can see the inspiration from your childhood, that is all so precious! Thanks for sharing them!

  73. I didn’t really have a doll house when I was little. But one summer my parents built a new wooden grainery. LOVED the smell of that new wood, the wooden floor, the sliding barn door!

    My sisters and brother and I got to play in it all summer long until the fall when the grain was put in it. It was our play house.

    Our ‘design choices’ were simple little kid’s dishes and our cardboard sink & stove. Those were really special to us and lasted a long time. We made ‘play food’ out of mud, little berries, leaves, etc. Our play house was simple and common. Maybe that’s why to this day my own design choices are “less is more”. 😉

  74. Actually, I think my grandfather was my biggest influence. He was a master carpenter and would build wooden toys with us. I now find myself drawn to solid, well made furniture and even recently purchased a 1925 Craftsman Bungalow to restore and move into!

  75. I was 4 when my mom made a suit that was brown with turquoise for herself. I still love that combonation and use it a lot. Isn’t it funny how our childhood affects us so much that we carry it into adulthood without knowing it?

  76. I actually have my husbands great grandparent’s kitchen set…Bauernstubchen… hutch, table with 4 chairs and 2 benches. All of the pieces are in blue with rosemaling paintings on them. They are well over a hundred years old! I love your doll house size versions. My husband was born in Germany and we met while I was attending High School in Schweinfurt…50 years ago!

  77. The design painted on the doll furniture looks like it has German influence… fitting! I love the design and the colors!! Please do not change that…….PLEASE. It is absolutely darling. And isn’t that interesting that it’s still seems to influence your choice of furniture even now. Ever cool !!

  78. How absolutely darling! I hope you’ll display them somewhere if it would bring you pleasure to look at them, and I’d love to see how you do that. (I have my grandma’s dollhouse furniture, but I’m not sure how to display it without it feeling like pretty clutter.) I understand how it’s hard for you to resist a MMS mini-makeover, but I do hope you leave the beautiful German paint as is. Thanks for sharing this fascinating and sweet post.

  79. I have NEVER seen anything so darling! What a priceless heirloom. And I am so impressed that it was taken care of with such care. How lucky you are!

  80. Oh, Marian, how wonderful to see these treasures. Let me add my two cents: don’t paint anything, display the pieces, do a feature in a magazine and save them for a future granddaughter. Take it from a mom of two boys who now has 4 granddaughters and many, many tea parties!

    My husband and I are the keepers of family treasures, and we just had lunch with a niece with whom we shared a volume of history (and two pieces of furniture from her grandmother’s home). Bless your mom for her insight.

    One more thought: record the history and background of these special items for future generations. I made a simple 3 ring binder with a form to record dimensions, which family the piece came from, value then and now, and a photo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *