Tiny Treasures, Big Fantasy: the Astolat Dollhouse Castle

It’s the little things, guys.

From now through December 8th at the Shops at Columbus Circle I couldn’t mean that more literally.

If you love adorable tiny things, if you have an appreciation of mind-boggling craftsmanship, if you want to satisfy voyeuristic tendencies without any creepiness, run don’t walk to 59th and Broadway.

There you will find a 9 foot tall treasure trove bursting with all things teeny and tiny. The ultimate fantasy of any girl who ever asked Santa for a pink Barbie Dreamhouse.

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The Astolat Dollhouse Castle is on display with over 10,000 hand-crafted miniatures filling its 29 different rooms. This is the most expensive dollhouse in the world, a collection built and commissioned over 13 years. It’s magical peering into the little windows, feeling like the title character of Roald Dahl’s The BFG. New Yorkers joke about their shoe-boxed sized apartments but here this is the very literal truth. Each room is the size of a shoe box and every inch is covered with intricate detail.

You could take any of those tiny books off the shelf and flip the pages. Theoretically, I mean, in this viewing they’re tucked away behind glass. Realism was paramount to miniature artist Elaine Diehl who designed and built the dollhouse in the 1980’s. The list of craftsmen she commissioned to fill out her dream house is staggering: carpenters, goldsmiths, glass blowers, and silversmiths. There is so much packed in this castle, it’s hard to take it all in! Only showing a third of the entire 30,000 miniatures that make up the full Astolat Dollhouse Castle collection is on display at one time!


The scale is 1 inch = 1 foot. Every time I looked at a room I would see something delightful that I’d missed before. A tiny puppet theater in a play room, a roll of toilet paper in a bathroom, a wheel of cheese in a ground floor kitchen.

kids bedroom
photo credit: Astolat Dollhouse Castle
photo credit: Astolat Dollhouse Castle

No one lives in this dollhouse. It’s a fantasy. But you still get that thrilling feeling that your peaking in on someone’s (crazy beautiful) home!


If you love New York Open House Weekend, I imagine you’ll love walking around this dollhouse with your eyes. If you stop outside real estate offices to gawk at the listings and fantasize about a day when you can afford a $8.5 million penthouse, you might have even more fun taking in the sights of a $8.5 million dollhouse.

Just for a second imagine yourself as a doll, smoking a cigarette on this balcony. Pretty great, right?


Nothing made me smile more than this hampster-sized bear skin rug. Don’t you just want to swoon and fall back into these nickle-sized pillows? There’s something about dollhouses that immediately brings the mind back to the world of let’s pretend.

A bear skinned rug, mounted deer heads on the wall of a hyper-masculine game room: things that would sadden me in a real space where real animals died for decoration. Make them miniature and I can simply find them enchanting!

No child has ever actually played with any part of the Astolat Dollhouse Castle: it’s too valuable, too delicate, too precious. It wasn’t built for hands-on play. But look at the rooms, the artifacts, the pigeons in the tower aviary, Merlin looking down from the Wizard’s Tower at the castle’s tippy top, and your mind will play. In the best way. (It rhymes!)


America’s smallest Thanksgiving dinner!

Did you a dollhouse growing up? I didn’t but I always wanted one. Maybe that’s why my imagination was so activated looking at this one! The Astolat Dollhouse Castle is on display on the second floor Mezzanine at the the Shops at Columbus Circle now through December 8th. Go on a weekday if you want to avoid crowds!

About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

6 thoughts on “Tiny Treasures, Big Fantasy: the Astolat Dollhouse Castle

  1. OMG!! Thank you for telling me about this!! I always wanted a dollhouse and when I finally got one, it was the balsam wood one to put together and my parents were working all the time.. (break out the violins) anyway it never happened and I’ve always been obsessed! I have to see this!!
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  2. Oh Mary what an amazing dollshouse. I would love to see it. Is it only displayed at this time of year?
    I hope you won’t mind me sharing your post on my doll blog. Dolls, Dolls, Dolls.

  3. Mary,

    I’m so GLAD I found this post on Dolls. Dolls. Dolls. This took me completely away from ordinary life for a few moments. ((SIGH))

    Good luck in NYC.

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