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Meet the Creative Mind of Hermosa's Dollhouse

German assemblage artist Maria Cracknell modified an entire old Hermosa Beach home and filled it with furniture and her art to create a life-size Victorian style dollhouse. "The Dollhouse" is basically a human-sized dollhouse in Hermosa Beach, CA. The place is all kinds of unique, and irressistibly cute.

The social history of dollhouses is at odds with the idea that dollhouses are spaces of emotion, freedom and imagination.

Following the architecturally of the Victorian style, this home it's not only gorgeous, colorful and full of unique art , but it belongs to this lovely couple who I had a pleasure to do a commission art work for them.

Meet Maria & Walk Cracknell, the couple who loves what's different, vintage and unique. They were super kind and opened their door to share their history with us.


1. How long have you been living in Hermosa Beach?

We are both immigrants that met in Hermosa Beach in 1968. Walt was hanging out in the parking lot of Five corner liquor store trying to get someone one to buy beer for him and his underage friend. I was with a girlfriend looking for boys to take to a party. That was the beginning of a 5-year courtship. We got married in July 1972 at the Hungary/German Church that sponsored my family and brought us to the USA.

2. We love to hear a little history in who is behind the art buyer, tell us a little about yourselves.

In 1973 my parents asked us to stop by a small house in Hermosa Beach they were considering buying. It was run-down dirty and in foreclosure and very inexpensive. We said yes and bought it before my parents were out of church. They forgave us. Four years later and starting a family our 500 sq. foot and one bedroom was too small and beginning to fall apart. I was telling a client getting a haircut we were having trouble finding a house we could afford. He suggested us to build a house since we had a lot in a prime location. When I asked my husband what he thought he said: “you’re crazy we don’t know anything about building”.

My client offered to do it with me because he had built several homes and was in the process right then. He said ask him! I said how’s your wife feel? I had no money to pay them but one year of free haircuts for both and we had a deal.

It wasn’t easy working with the architect because I really didn’t know how to explain what I liked. I loved the old house because it was charming, dapper and had a front porch with a bay window. I also loved the Victoriana with ginger bread and scalloped shingles but he wasn’t getting me. Until I bought a coloring book of Victorians home and pointed to all the things I wanted. His comment was “nobody builds houses like that anymore!” Bingo just want I wanted. I also wanted a house that would make you smile and feel happy. Drica captured that and more with her painting of my house.

3. I believe this is a Victorian style house, have you always been a fan of that architecture?

I have always been drawn to anything Victorian. I started collecting jewelry at swap meets in high school. I also love vintage hats and clothing from that period. It only seemed right I would want to build a Victorian. I love the Queen Ann style so it was a must and the painted lattice of San Francisco were my love!

4. Is there any specific inspiration for the style and/or color?

My inspiration may have started with my love of main street Disneyland. I wanted to live there as a child becasue it was so happy. So I had to build a house that made me and anyone that sees it happy. My color choice was inspired by those painted ladies in my coloring book.

5. What encouraged you to purchase original art if your home?

The art I have purchased once again was colorful, whimsical or romantic. If it has sentimental meaning I will keep it forever. I love art that makes me smile or reminds me of a special even in my life with my husband and family. That is why we renewed our wedding vows at 25 years and have a beautiful collection of pictures of that event. “they said we’d never last” I loved proving them wrong.

Drica's Comisson Painting

6. I know how much detail went into the painting I created alone, so I can imagine there is even more in the house itself. Is there any small detail you favor?

My very favorite detail is the mailbox my husband build from a model doll house and made it look like our house. I decorate it with miniatures for every holiday. We are a big hit with the neighborhood. I also love the beautiful deck on our roof. Sunsets with an ocean view and a kitty weathervane. It’s so lovely!

Mailbox during Halloween

8 . Maria is also an artist, can you tell me what inspires you the most?

What inspires me in seeing what other artist create. Like I was so drawn to Drica’s work because of her beautiful bold colors and I felt happy. Art that I collect usually makes me smile and it is unusual and whimsical. I have taken workshops with my favorite assemblage artist and would love to take one with Drica. I love the joy of your colors! SO you inspire me!

9. Tell me a little bit more about your art collection?

I collect what I like or what I know I could never do. I love to support local artists and I appreciate and am flattered when an artist buys something from me.

10. What do you plan for the future? Do you have any more construction or home renovation in mind?

We just finished with a project in our kitchen. New cabinets, new appliances and paint. Last few years we spent painting outside too with 5 colors we always paint something. When we were done with the front we got to the back and then the front again. It’s a labor of love.

The most flattering thing a guest can say to me is “this house feels so welcoming and homey”. Walt and I have made this house into a home and that makes us very proud.

Once last important memory in my house is the collage my mother made for me documenting our voyage to the US on the USS Blatchford Navy Ship 1952.




Art collection

Art collection

Guess Room

Maria's Art Studio

Maria's Artwork


Maria's artwork

Maria's artwork display at their house

Holiday decoration with Maria's creation

There is always a story behind the beginning of collections. Which also rings true with original art. #DricaLoboArt loves to hear stories like this! Tell us about your eccentric collection or your favorite original art piece!

Special thanks to Hermosa Beach locals Maria & Walk for taking the time to tell us their lovely story and to be part of #dricalobotroop original art collectors!

Too see more of Maria's artwork and her vision: @MariasDollHouse




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