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Little House in the Big City

High-end real estate for tots.

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In Manhattan, even the smallest houses are horrifyingly expensive. And we do mean the smallest: This season has marked the arrival of FAO Schwarz’s first custom dollhouse boutique, where prices start at $10,000. Ed Jacobowitz, owner of Manhattan Dollhouse, shut the doors to his Gramercy hobby shop earlier this year, after he struck a deal with FAO to relocate within the Fifth Avenue mega–toy store. Though he’ll carry off-the-rack dollhouses and do-it-yourself kits for a few hundred dollars, the real draw is his build-it-from-the-ground-up service. (He says FAO customers haven’t shown much interest in doing the cutting, pasting, and hammering.) During my recent visit to the store, Jacobowitz pointed out a recently completed pink-and-purple Queen Anne manse behind the counter, one with walnut floors, 1,900 roof shingles, and different wallpaper in each room. Though there are DO NOT TOUCH signs scattered around the shop, he did let me handle a silk-and-gold gilded sofa ($85) and pick up the metal bed with embroidered rolled pillows, yellowed lace, and velvet blankets ($275). Besides building these houses, Jacobowitz also does renovations, adding extensions on demand. He notes that half the grown-up customers who go to contract on these houses aren’t buying for their kids. “We have a lot of women who come in and say there were poor as children,” he says. ”They’re the ones who want the big houses. Sometimes we sell two houses, one for mom and one for the child.”

FAO Schwarz, 767 Fifth Ave., at 58th St. (212-644-9400 or fao.com).


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