Most of us would think of a mother of 4 children aged 4 & under (daughter Eliza and 2 year old triplets, William, Grace and Margot) as someone who probably didn’t get much time to herself (or much sleep for that matter) but this has not stopped Amy Balfour, who still manages to find the time to indulge in her creativity & passions.
Amy loved her work as an interior design assistant at Sibyl Colefax and John Fowler. When Eliza was born, she was determined to continue her interest in interiors, so attended a box painting course at Charleston Farmhouse near Lewes, home of the Bloomsbury set. Charleston farmhouse is a treasure trove of painting which hugely influenced her & this, along with her love of nature and Swedish folk art, introduced her to the world of decorative painting.
She immediately focused all of her spare time on painting and building a business to sell her work. Interesting commissions started to flow in, from painted furniture for interior designers, to Louise Roe’s dressing room wardrobes and then several hand painted dolls house commissions.
Creating a miniature world is completely personal and capturing a sense of joy and beauty in what you create is the most important thing. For me painting dolls houses combine my two loves, interior design and painting.
Her most recent dolls house creation can be seen at the show today. She did some research on the house on the ‘Dolls Houses Past and Present’ website where it was suggested that the house was most likely built from Handicraft plans by an amateur woodworked around the 1920’s/1930’s. Amy has hand painted the wallpapers & floors in the sitting room, bedroom & bathroom. Most of the furniture inside was made by professional makers such as Master Miniatures See them in the Ground Floor Hall) which she then painted herself to give them the Amy touch.
She also began sourcing vintage furniture online to update & made accessories from polymer clay which look really effective once painted.
Creating this dolls house has also been about collaborating with other artists on Instagram. None of them are strictly miniaturists but they have all created beautiful tiny things for the house in their own particular style. It is really a collection of things that I love, just like my real home.
Up until this point the dolls’ house had been living on her kitchen countertop. She had been doing little bits of painting here and there when family life allowed. The house is for sale, so won’t be living with her forever but one day she will paint a house for herself which will live in her hall, on an antique side table.
I like the idea that guests can peer inside when visiting and feel inspired by the miniature world, straight out of my imagination.
Amy’s next project, which will also be for sale when finished, is a dolls house made by Anthony Dunham (See his table in the Ground Floor Hall). He and Amy have worked together to design the house based on images of an antique house she found online. Her plan is to paint it in the style of an antique Swedish marriage chest, filling it again with hand painted furniture and accessories to bring it to life.