While $200,000 won’t get you a single-family home in most parts of California, it can buy a very elaborate dollhouse on Instagram.
Chris Toledo, a Los Angeles native who goes by @ibuildsmallthings on Instagram, posts the most intricate, beautiful miniature houses on the platform. His creations, which mimic famous L.A. architecture like Hancock-style mansions and the Biltmore Estate, have started catching the attention of the internauts and have earned Toledo more almost 90,000 followers so far.
The incredible attention to detail — home features include miniature gold chandeliers, tiny copper pots hung above a kitchen table and wooden cabinetry that Toledo glues and hand-paints himself — is what make the dollhouses so remarkable.
“The Biltmore-inspired stove I made is finally installed!” Toledo wrote under a picture of a miniature stove that he posted in January. “This room will be a combination of both the Breakers Mansion and the Biltmore Estate kitchens. Next on the list is the cabinetry.”
Toldeo recently told Architectural Digest that dollhouse-making has been a passion of his since he was a child and found a copy of Nutshell News dollhouse magazine in a doctor’s office. He wanted to create homes that were realistic rather than the pink Barbie-style mansions popular in the 1980s, and over the years, has improved his woodworking, sewing, painting and interior design skills to be able to put his visions to life.
“I love to play with this idea of scale to showcase just how small some of these pieces are and the details within them,” he told AD. “To do this I will usually place my hand in the photos or a life-sized object to contrast the scales. Another reason I do this is because many times, my pieces can be so realistic that people have no clue they’re even looking at a miniature.”
Not unlike the construction process for a real home, Toledo stares out by sketching out an idea for a dollhouse and then turns it into a 3D rendering. Then comes construction (the longest part of the process) and interior design, a process that differs slightly for each property that he builds.
Because of the high level of craftsmanship and months of work that go into each model, Toledo can sell this type of dollhouse for as much as $200,000. Many others are not for sale at all and go into Toledo’s personal collection.
Given California’s real estate prices — a median home anywhere in the state commanded over $700,000 last winter while properties places like San Diego and San Francisco can easily top $1.5 million — a very nice dollhouse can sometimes feel like the only thing people without serious money or family help can buy in the state.
That said, $200,000 could secure a nice three-bedroom family home in a city like Cleveland or Indianapolis, or even upstate New York if it needs work. One of the last posts on Cheap Old Houses, an Instagram account dedicated to finding homes for less than $100,000, is a beautiful Victorian property in Antwerp, New York, listed for $95,000.