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Scrapbook House

The scrapbook house that Carrie Ayers received from her mother in 1879 contained fourteen rooms, including a conservatory, a sewing room, and a drawing room, pictured here.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, parents and children sometimes amused themselves by making scrapbook houses. SPNEA's Library and Archives has some of these in its collection, made of images cut from magazines and catalogs and glued along with paper and fabric scraps into a scrapbook, each page a miniature room setting. The project required planning, selecting materials, shopping through dozens of printed sources, choosing, and assembling. The final product was often a custom home complete with furniture, wall coverings, carpets, and even pictures on the wall, entirely decorated by an up-and-coming young consumer. Making a scrapbook house is still a great family activity for a rainy day, and you can use up all those catalogs that sit around the house!

Materials: A piece of blank construction paper for one room or a scrapbook for a whole house; magazines and catalogs; also wrapping paper, wallpaper and fabric scraps, colored paper, scissors, and glue.

Design: Once you have decided what type of room you would like to create, search through the magazines and catalogs and cut out a lot of pictures of furnishings. Don't worry too much about size and scale. You'll be surprised at how well things look when pasted into place.

  • Winter2000_5bNext, consider wall coverings, carpets, and curtains. They can be cut from magazines, created from scrap fabric or wrapping paper, or drawn in. Look for a landscape to place behind the curtains to give an exciting view out the window. Don't forget about pictures for the wall, a vase of flowers, or anything you can think of to make your room complete. Once your layout is set, glue down all the elements, starting with the carpet or wallpaper.
  • If you have extra time, cut out a family of scrapbook people to inhabit your home.

-Peter Gittleman
Director of Interpretation & Education

Scrapbook House