When interior designer Susannah Talley moved out of a 3,000-square-foot carriage house in Prides Crossing, Massachusetts, she downsized to a 475-square-foot studio on the Upper East Side — her “treehouse,” she calls it. That was 27 years ago. In 2008, downsizing took on a whole new meaning for Talley when she found an abandoned dollhouse on the street and decided to lovingly restore it back to life.
When she found the five-room dollhouse, it sparked an entirely new adventure in decorating. “Lovie! Look! I just found our second home!” she wrote in her 2015 self-published book, The Dollhouse: A Love Story. At the time her husband, Truman “Mac” Talley, was ill and confined to their apartment (he would pass away in 2013), and Talley was on the hunt for creative activities that they could share within their tiny treehouse kingdom.
Today, the living room of the Talley “treehouse,” seen above, evokes a cozy country home, filled with family portraits and comfy chairs surrounding the fireplace — which is actually a decorative piece that Talley designed around a flat-screen TV. The mixed “Tree of Life” patterned fabric on the armchairs is from Jofa, and the wall-to-wall carpeting is from Patterson, Flynn & Martin. Talley had lots of practical tips for living well in small spaces: “Floor-to-ceiling mirrored walls in key areas double the space,” she advises. Here, the wall on the right is mirrored. “Furniture that has the proper scale — do not use sectional seating as it tends to be oversized and a challenge for reading lamps,” Talley warns. She favors comfortable club chairs with well-placed reading lamps and movable ottomans rather than having sofas.