- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2021

COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - About 30 years ago Joseph Tomasello built his daughter a blue dollhouse, now he’s back to construction, creating a larger more extensive one for his 13-year-old granddaughter.

“It’s close to being a real house, just a little small,” said Tomasello, 74.

The new three-story project, a replica of a Beacon Hill house native to Boston, stands at over 3-feet-high with seven rooms, a winding staircase, hallways, a kitchen and bathrooms which Tomasello and his granddaughter Samantha O’Connell built together.

“The one he built for my mom when she was younger, I don’t know why but I liked it a lot,” O’Connell said. “So I asked him to make me one too. A bigger one.”

The original dollhouse made for Laurel O’Connell sits in a room in Tomasello’s Collierville home ready for his granddaughter to play with when she visits.

“When she was smaller she would imagine she was living there,” Tomasello said. “Now she just likes it because she likes to decorate.”

O’Connell rearranges the miniature furniture in the old blue house and thinks about how she will decorate her own home.

After growing up using her mom’s dollhouse she decided it was time for her own and asked Tomasello to build her a similar one.

With some persuasion by O’Connell, Tomasello bought a Beacon Hill dollhouse kit from Greenleaf Dollhouse, a miniature house manufacturer, and began building the more detailed project in June.

“I’m most excited to see how it turns out,” O’Connell said. “I can’t wait to use it, but my sister can’t play with it, she’ll break it.”

The project sits in a spare room in Tomasello’s house on top of drop cloth covering a table.

Tomasello and O’Connell work on renovating the house using the basics from the kit and their imagination for the rest of the design.

“Building a little house like this is just like building a big house,” Tomasello said. “You start with the foundation and work your way up to the top, and once you finish you step back to look at it and you get a lot of self-satisfaction because you made something that somebody likes to play with.”

Each room is covered in decorative wallpapers with patterned windows and doors the pair picked out. The house also features a fireplace, chandeliers and light fixtures to O’Connell’s liking.

Tomasello tries to work on the house as often as possible but even with the occasional help from O’Connell, he does not plan on finishing construction until February or March 2021.

The project cost Tomasello around $500 but that does not include any furniture or decorations his granddaughter might add.

“I absolutely refuse to build furniture,” Tomasello said. “Now, that is teeny tiny work and I don’t think I can get very far with that.”

O’Connell said she will look into furnishing and decorating the house in the coming months.

Although O’Connell claims her sister “won’t go near” her house, Tomasello hopes the piece will be passed down for generations.

“No doubt Samantha’s little sister will inherit the house in a way and then Samantha will pass it along to her kids, hopefully,” Tomasello said.

Tomasello’s other granddaughter, “granddaughter number six,” also wants a dollhouse and he plans on taking a two-month break before building another Beacon Hill house.

“Not bigger than Samantha’s house, though,” he said.

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