Heaven & Hell: Emma Waddell

Emma Waddell peering into one of her dolls houses

Emma Waddell peering into one of her dolls houses - Credit: Contributed

Emma is an Internationally-renowned dolls house interior designer. After a career in banking, she describes her working life today as rather unique and fabulous,  restoring, refurbishing and building dolls houses from scratch in her East Anglian studio. It’s been her passion and love since she was 10. This week see’s the launch of the series on the Discovery Channel of ‘The Best in Miniature’. Here Emma talks to Gina Long

What is your connection to East Anglia?

I’m a north Londoner born and bred,  and moved to Suffolk over 20 years ago to give my children a better life than I had. 

What is your East Anglian heaven?

The fact you can be in a city or town and within 10 minutes of driving be in a rural landscape setting with chocolate box houses. 

Inside one of Emma Wedall's dolls houses

Inside one of Emma Waddell's dolls houses - Credit: Contributed

What is your East Anglian hell?

The cost of the houses near the beaches, they have skyrocketed, and some aren’t even lived in all year round. We have some of the most beautiful beaches here on the east coast.

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What are your favourite East Anglian restaurants?

Across the region we are fortunate to have so many great hotels, restaurants, cafes, and tea shops. I do love Little India, it’s on the border of Suffolk and Essex, it’s in the middle of nowhere. I challenge anyone to try their food and not make it their regular. Strawberry Teapot in Sudbury for her scones. For special occasions, afternoon teas at The Assembly House in Norwich.

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?

It’s not really a landmark, more a place, Bluebell Woods, a hidden secret in Arger Fen, Suffolk, peace and beauty, that sums it up.

What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

Food festivals, not just the one, we have loads throughout the region. You can drift about all summer and find one somewhere. The Spring Food and Drink Festival at The Forum in Norwich, North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival at Holkham, The Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival is always a must visit…The Food Festival in Attleborough is my favourite.

Inside one of Emma Wedall's dolls houses

Inside one of Emma Waddell's dolls houses - Credit: Contributed

What your specialist Mastermind subject?

It would have to be dolls houses, not the history, I leave that to the experts. I have a million facts as to why dolls houses are to be loved.

What is always in your fridge?

Come on.. chocolate….

What’s your simple philosophy of life?

Treat others as you would wish to be treated. 

Do you have a favourite film?

Anything with a hilarious rubber monster in it from the 70s. I laugh till I cry. 

What was your first job?

A publisher, tied to a desk for eight hours a day, at 16 it taught me to work hard for what I don’t want to do.

Inside one of Emma Wedell's dolls houses

Inside one of Emma Waddell's dolls houses - Credit: Contributed

What is your most treasured possession?

A miniature rocking horse, a present from my family for my 18th birthday. I still have it.

Who do you admire most?

Anyone who has a go at making their dreams come true, taking that first step is a brave move.

What is your biggest indulgence?

A 7sqft dolls house, it takes pride of place in my dining room.

What do you like about yourself most?

I’m a soft touch.

What’s your worst character trait?

I'm a soft touch!

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

Paris, it’s the architecture, where I walk about straining my neck to look at the beautiful buildings.

Best day of your life?

I have too many good days to measure against.

What’s your favourite breakfast?

I should say kale on toast but yuck, give me a cheap greasy spoon any day.

What’s your favourite tipple?

Tea and biscuits all day.

What’s your hidden talent?

It’s not really hidden, but I laugh like Scooby Doo.

What’s your earliest memory?

Getting my first dolls house aged 10.

What would you like played at your funeral?

Amazing Grace, sung live.

Tell us something people don’t know about you?

I come across a bit nerdy but I’m terribly mischievous.

Why do you live here and nowhere else?

I travel around with my work, I’ve found that nowhere in the country has the landscapes combined with the beaches of the East Anglian coat. We have the Broads to the water meadows, what’s not to love?

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

The past two years has shown us the value of what we have right here on our doorstep, not just our beautiful surroundings, but even closer. Look in your attic, you may have an old dolls house. See if you can breathe life back into it yourself. If you would like to know more about me and Dolls House Grand Designs, please visit dollshousegranddesigns.com. Only last week I was called out of the blue, somebody had purchased a beautiful dolls house from a local auction house. It turned out to be a very rare one.

I am always looking for interesting people from Suffolk and Norfolk to feature in my Q&A. Please contact me at gina@hallfarmfornham.com