We are very excited to have the amazing Erika from Yellow Pear visiting today. We pretty much love everything she does, and the project she is sharing for our summer reading series is no exception — we know it’s going to knock your socks off!
I adore anything miniature. So it’s not a surprise that The Borrowers was one of my favorite childhood books. If you’re not familiar with the story, it is about a family of tiny people that live in the floorboards of an old Victorian home. They borrow household items from the “human beans.” I love the imagination and adventure in the book and in fact, the entire series.
This summer, I have been reading it with my kids and we decided to recreate a borrower home. We searched through junk drawers and office supplies for anything that could be “borrowed” for furnishings. Ninety-nine percent of what we used for our borrower house, we already had laying around… just as it should be. I did have to buy a can of sardines and a thimble. Just because I couldn’t help myself.
For our home we decided to use a small vintage suitcase because it’s already papered in a pretty blue paper, and we could fit plenty of rooms complete with a cross-section view of the set up. I didn’t want to ruin my suitcase by permanently attaching floors, so I cut the cardboard floors slightly big and slid them into place so they would be snug. I then added bits of tape to secure the floors. You could also use a big shoe box.
For Arietty’s attic bedroom, we made a bed out of the sardine can, a mini matchbox nightstand with matchstick legs, and a bean bag from a mini pin cushion. I made a tiny Diary And Proverb Book just like she has in the story and added some details in her room like a pine cone, and some mini trinkets. She has a burlap rug as well.
The parents’ bed was made out of a regular matchbox. We made a nightstand out of a spool and a button. Their dresser is made of two mini matchboxes. I turned the matchbox coverings inside out to hide the writing and my oldest and youngest had the brilliant idea to use brads as knobs. We also gave them a burlap rug and a dice stool. We made various candles from cut pieces of birthday candles stuck onto upturned thumbtacks. A mini shell and carnival ticket were used as decor.
The living room is furnished with a couch made from the bottom of a mint tin, some cushion and a burlap covering. We made pillows out of bits of fabric and cotton balls. Another matchbox dresser serves as storage and an end table. We decorated with a tiny statue, a mini frame, and a spool and button side table complete with Mrs. Clock’s knitting. We papered the back wall in a book page and we used polka dot paper as a rug. We added a stool made from an overturned tea light tin and a large button.
The kitchen has a rustic tamale wrapper rug (made from an actual tamale), a table made out of a mint tin lid and a spool of thread. We used a bit of leftover molding for a bench and a small spool for a chair. Coins are used for plates and another birthday candle for light. A mini spoon doubles as a shovel and a tea light in a tin lid works for their stove. A basin stands in the back made from a tea light tin sitting on a checker piece. It is filled with bottle caps that need washing. We made ladders out of pencils and an old paintbrush and used toothpicks and matchsticks as rungs.
No borrower house would be complete without a store room for all the borrowings. We made two shelving units out of jewelry boxes and pieces of craft sticks as shelves. The pantry/storage is filled with buttons, twine, a thimble, acorns, tin lids, popcorn kernels, brads, mini clothespins, an extra spool, a couple of birthday candles, a giant pin to help with climbing and various other doo-dads and what-nots.
The kids and I had such a great time coming up with ideas and uses for bits of this and that we found. And the best part was putting it all together and admiring our handi-work. My 9 year old said he wished he was a borrower so he could live in the cozy house. So go read The Borrowers this summer and create your own borrower house masterpiece. And if you find yourself staring at it for minutes at a time for no reason at all and maybe rearranging furniture…it’s okay, we did too.
Erika loves to blog about life, photography, family adventures, travel and anything and everything she is currently up to, like our Stair Remodel, A Chocolate Factory Birthday, and yearly Back to School Breakfasts. She lives in the suburbs of Phoenix, AZ, with her husband and four (soon to be five) children.1