The dolls’ house-maker: ‘This is a place to capture the dreams of children and adults alike’

Dragons of Walton Street have been making beautiful dolls' houses for four decades, and the company is still run by Lucinda Croft, the daughter of the founder. She spoke to Hetty Lintell.

I still have my Mason Pearson hairbrush from childhood and it works as perfectly as the day I set my excited eyes on it. It amazes me what grown adults will hang on to from their childhood bedrooms — often kept a secret — but, at Dragons of Walton Street, such treasures are to be celebrated.

‘When my mother started the company 40 years ago, it wasn’t really the done thing to spend money on children,’ explains Lucinda Croft, daughter of Dragons’ founder and now the creative director at the helm of the company. But times changed when Princess Diana saw fit to deck out William and Harry’s nurseries with Dragons furniture and other famous faces followed suit.

The company started with one hand-painted chair plonked in the window of Rosie Fisher’s antique shop on London’s Walton Street, SW3, and it grew from there. Now sold across 70 countries, each piece of exquisite furniture is handmade in Britain, then taken to their workshop in West Sussex to be handpainted. Most clients, even international ones, want to come to the London shop to see the selection.

‘There is nothing like the story-telling we offer,’ Mrs Croft continues. ‘Imagination is so powerful and childhood so fleeting that, if you can keep children as children, the furniture fuels imagination and playtime, as well as their education.’

Dragons designs clever, charming illustrations and places favourite characters, animals and wildlife at eye level or on quirky angles, where they can be most enjoyed in whatever room they are destined for. Every element is bespoke: ‘We always think — how can we most delight people when they walk into a room or open a drawer?’

Dragons is naturally sustainable, too, with every piece of furniture lasting a lifetime and beyond. ‘We regularly repaint 20–30-year-old furniture,’ says Mrs Croft, telling the tale of one customer who dressed her four nurseries 30 years ago and recently walked into the shop wanting to bring it all back and restore it for her grandchildren.

The company can repaint furniture with new initials, names and favourite characters from books — it is licensed to paint characters from Beatrix Potter, Paddington Bear, Winnie the Pooh and Flower Fairies — and can incorporate childhood pets, holiday memories or family members, too. Nothing is too far-fetched and clients are encouraged to dream big. Dragons will make it happen — from helicopter beds to bespoke doll’s houses, this is a place to capture the dreams of children and adults alike.

Contemporary or traditional doll’s houses can be bespoke and only a few craftsmen are skilled enough to make them. These are houses to be played with and added to over the years, then passed down through the family. One client wanted two big doll’s houses for her daughters, but Mrs Croft recommended buying one, so that they would learn to share.

Doll’s houses made by Dragons of Walton St start from £1,595 — call 020 3544 2000 or visit www.dragonsofwaltonstreet.com