Kellogg's Dolls' Houses

Sunday, November 23, 1997 - NY Scene

Cottage Industry

Want a little place to call your own?
Ned Kellogg builds fine dollhouses

by Ruth Bashinsky

Ned Kellogg owns quite a bit of property - San Francisco townhouses, 17th Century Dutch colonials, Tudors and gothic Victorians.

So if you're in the market for a new house - a dollhouse, that is - then master builder Kellogg would be happy to sell you any one of his dream homes.

In a charming shop in Cold Spring Harbor, L.I., Kellogg sits quietly at his dusty workbench concealed by row after row of handmade miniatures. Kellogg and his wife spilt the duties here: He creates fantasy homes, and she runs the store - and keeps him sane.

"Making the houses is very high-stress, but I have the nature to take it," explains Kellogg while adding some finishing touches on an ivory plantation house, his latest creation. "It was never a hobby. I could just make things."

Kellogg, who opened Kellogg's Dollhouses with his wife 21 years ago, says he started his business because he was disgusted by the quality of commercial dollhouses.

"There was no substance," he says. "So I decided if I was going to make something, it was going to be good, so we can give people their dollar's worth and more."

While most of his ideas come from his imagination and architectural books, he's sure he can build just about anything. He remembers his most unusual request: It was from a woman who wanted a replica of the apartment building on E. 85th St. where she grew up.

When he was finished, the structure was 7 feet high and 6 feet deep. There were 65 rooms. 12 bathrooms, sidewalks, wrought-iron handrails, fire escapes, basement stores and big plate-glass windows. It was so gigantic that it had to be delivered by a moving company.

Scratching his salt-and-pepper beard, Kellogg says, "I don't know how I did that. I wouldn't want to do that job again!"

But he seems to thrive on challenges. So far, he has spent 175 hours on a house called The Rochester, which has 18 rooms and nine doors. He estimates he'll need another 300 hours to finish it.

The pace at which Kellogg works doesn't make for much spare time; he lives by the rule that you finish what you start. Although he's unsure where his craft is taking him, he hopes either to find a buyer for his collection so it can be in a museum setting, or to open his own collection with the help of an investor.

In the meantime, Kellogg has more than two dozen orders to fill before the holidays. But he's not fazed by the workload. "I don't want to stop making houses, because I like architecture," he says, "and if a house is done well, I can't think of anything else I would rather do. And if I had nothing to do, I would go crazy."