By Donna Cornelius
When Jean Clayton of Christine’s on Canterbury designed an upstairs bedroom and bathroom for the Decorators’ ShowHouse, she brought along another complete dwelling place – for dolls.
The three-story dollhouse has been in her family for quite a while, she said.
“I bought it in Atlanta about 40 years ago for my oldest daughter,” Clayton said. “A lot of people have played with it over the years.”
The dollhouse was displayed for several years in Christine’s windows at Christmastime, she said.
A peek inside shows a “lighted” fire in the fireplace, an iron canopy bed like one that belonged to Clayton’s daughter, a stack of gifts from Saks Fifth Avenue, and hand-painted sailboats on the headboard of a boy’s bed.
“I had these linens hand-done in Madeira,” Clayton said, pointing to the pillowcases and sheets on one elegant little bed, “and the drapery and bed skirt fabric is from Mary McFadden’s 1960s collection.”
An honest-to-goodness brick mason laid the bricks around the exterior of the house, she said.
In the dollhouse kitchen, a cat perches on a countertop while a dog jealously looks up at it. The house’s residents evidently are good cooks; there’s a miniature Julia Child cookbook.
“I wanted to have fun with the kitchen,” Clayton said.
The dollhouse has been a captivating project that’s been added to over the years.
“Everybody that’s worked with me had something to do with it,” Clayton said. “And I used Mary Charles Doll House in Mountain Brook. What she didn’t have, she’d order for me.”
While the dollhouse is fascinating, its surroundings are equally appealing.
Clayton said she designed the ShowHouse bedroom “for a girl about 8 to 10 – but something she could grow with.”
White twin beds with elaborate gesso floral baskets on the footboards stand out against the room’s pale blue walls.
“Everybody seems to be smitten with that color,” Clayton said.
On the beds are Yves Delorme coverlets with a wisteria pattern and crisp white sheets trimmed in purple. Brenda Dailey made oval medallions with bisque flower baskets to hang over the beds.
“The beds are antique French ones that came out of Canada,” Clayton said. “The gesso details are amazing.”
Little girls likely will love the fluffy white rug – and the furry stuffed dog sprawled on one of the beds. Like the dollhouse, the toy belongs to Clayton. It’s so realistic that it’s startled many a ShowHouse visitor.
“I guess the dog is a girl, because she’s got a pink bow,” Clayton said. “She’s moved from ShowHouse to ShowHouse.”
A colorful MacKenzie-Childs ottoman and artwork by Birmingham artist Carrie Pittman make the room youthful and vibrant. Pittman’s painting, an abstract with splashes of color on a white background, was painted and then lacquered, Clayton said.
In the nearby bathroom, the designer chose not to remove the existing wallpaper with its design of ribbons and
“It was so pretty I didn’t want to touch it,” Clayton said.
The bathroom’s carpet was replaced with sisal, and Clayton brought in a useful piece that she filled with towels, pillows and extra bed linens.
“We think it’s a portmanteau,” she said. “Its shelves could have held hats, and the rods may have held coats. It could have been in a hotel or restaurant.”
Clayton had towels monogrammed in New York with a design meant to replicate the bow pattern in the wallpaper.
She left not only the wallpaper but most of the light fixtures in place, she said. Her thought was “to update – but to still hold on the concept,” she said.
Clayton is a longtime supporter of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra’s annual fundraiser.
“This is my 16th year to do the ShowHouse,” she said.
Christine’s on Canterbury is at 2404 Canterbury Road in Mountain Brook. For more information, call 871-8297.