I was recently re-doing a hall in my house and I thought it’d be fun to do something unique on the walls. I remembered finding some little vintage wood houses and I thought this would be the perfect place for them to go. They’re called Shelia’s Houses and are from the 1990’s. They’re also known as “shelf sitters.” I thought I’d tell and show you all about them!
Let’s start with the video overview on these cuties. Then, I’ll dive in with more details below:
If the video doesn’t work here, you can watch it on YouTube here. I’d be over the moon happy if you subscribed to my YouTube channel! Videos are actually released on YouTube first (usually the night before they’re published on the blog). Thank you!
what are Shelia’s Houses?
What are Sheila’s houses? They are little wood houses created by the artist Shelia Thompson. Each house is patterned after an actual house in the United States. On the back of the house is the house’s name, location, some history of the house, Sheila’s signature, and when it was made. If it is a limited edition, that will also be noted. Most were made in the 1990’s.
What’s the history of Sheila’s houses? These were created by Sheila Thompson- an artist living in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1979 Sheila created little replicas of the historic homes in Charleston out of cardboard. Then her husband Jim cut them out of wood in their garage so Sheila could hand paint them to sell at a local market.
The houses quickly became popular and started to be collected and so she started a company- Sheila’s Collectibles.
Sheila traveled through the south painting historical architecture- mostly homes, churches, landmarks, and some shops. As demand grew, Sheila and Jim started manufacturing them in a plant- making 50,000 houses a month. She painted houses from across the U.S. for a large offering of houses. Sheila has since retired the company. She still paints and sells her art.
How much are Sheila’s houses? Each house currently costs around $15-$50 each to buy secondhand. The price depends on the condition and how popular the house is. The more well-known the house, the more it costs. If you want a bunch of these, the best price is to buy them in a lot or set of multiples.
If you’re wondering about Sheila’s houses value– these little houses have held some value. They were sold as an item to be passed down. Sometimes the paint can get chipped and that lowers the value. But in good condition, they can re-sell at about $20 a piece.
For more about the artist- Sheila Thompson, see this YouTube video-
historic houses that look accurate
Probably the most exciting thing to me about these houses is that they are each made after a real house and were shaped and painted to look accurate. So if you’ve visit a historic house in the United States, Sheila probably created one that you can find to commemorate your trip!
The first houses I tried to find were ones I’d actually been to- like the Swan House in Atlanta, Georgia.
I’ve also visited the Hemmingway House in Key West, Florida.
Last, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California.
It’d also be fun to collect houses from your town if you live in a place where Sheila painted the houses. Or you can collect them by color. There’s a large variety and number of the houses so there’s tons of options!
One of my favorite details on the house, is that each one has a hidden key. Look close, the little skeleton key can be hard to find! These were added to identify each house as a genuine Sheila house. Since these are outside my bathroom, my son and I try to find each key while we brush our teeth. This “eye spy” game is really entertaining!
Another great detail is that most of the houses are made of two pieces of wood. The back piece is the house and then the front piece is the detailing on the home- the porch, greenery, railing. It gives each house dimension and feels more interesting.
how to display the houses
For my wall, I choose to make simple ledges for the wall.
For each ledge, I used two pieces of this trim cut to 36″ long. Each ledge costs $4.98 in trim- this is a super affordable project!
The trim comes in 6′ length. Cut in half so each piece is 36″ long.
Use screws to attach two pieces of trim together.
Caulk all the seams of the ledges.
Paint the ledges whatever color you’d like. I went with white to match the trim in the room.
Use screws to attach the ledges to the wall. Use a stud finder to make sure each ledge is connected to a stud so it’s extra sturdy. Also use a level to make sure it’s handing straight.
Next, use wood filler to fill all the holes.
Once the wood filler is dry, sand smooth.
Finish the ledges by painting the patched holes the same color as the ledges. And you’re done! Easy- this is definitely a beginner project. I think they look really nice. Especially with the houses added!
Another option for displaying these is to simply put them above a door on the trim! It’s free and decorates a usually forgotten spot. Note, for my trim, the mini Sheila’s houses worked best (a single piece of wood, not two).
In one of my packages of Sheila’s house was an original form to join Sheila’s Collectors Society! It cost $32.50 plus $10 to cover shipping. It included a lapel pin (these are so cute if you like houses). Then it allowed you to purchase houses only available to members. This page lists everything included-
I thought these were fun to look at! I think this exclusivity helped make these feel even more exciting to collect.
where to buy Shelia’s houses
Where to buy Sheila’s houses? Since they are vintage items, you have to buy them second hand. The main places to buy them are eBay and Etsy. You can also find them out thrifting or antiquing or at an estate sale. Maybe your mom or grandma has them!
the variety of houses- Shelia’s Houses collectibles list
Below, I have an alphabetic list of the Shelia’s Houses that are currently available to buy secondhand. There are A LOT of options. I don’t have them all (I do have 100- which is a lot!), but this will give you a good idea. Click on the name of the house and the availability on eBay will come up. I’ve included a picture so you can get a quick idea of the style and color.
- Alice’s Wonderland- Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts
- Angel Sister- Cape May, New Jersey
- Artist House- Key West, Florida
- Asendorf House- Savannah, Georgia
- Ashton Villa- Galveston, Texas
- Aunt Pittypat’s House (Gone with the Wind)- Atlanta, Georgia
- Barnes Penn House- Danville, Virginia
- Beauregard Keyes House- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Beissner House- Galveston, Texas
- Blue Cottage- Cape May, New Jersey
- Cape May Gothic- Cape May, New Jersey
- Campground Cottage- Oak Bluff, Massachusetts
- Clark House – Branford, Connecticut
ir House Bed & Breakfast- Placerville, California
- Davenport House- Savannah, Georgia
- Dragon House- Denver, Colorado
- Drayton House- Charleston, South Carolina
- Dwight House- Deerfield, Massachusetts
- Eclectic Blue- San Francisco, California
- Edmondston Alston House- Charleston, South Carolina
- Elfreth’s Alley- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Eyebrow House- Key West, Florida
- The Fan House- Wheaton, Illinois
- Farley House- Culpepper County, Virginia
- George Little House- Kennebunk, Massachusetts
- Gingerbread Cottage- Oak Bluff, Massachusetts
- Gingerbread Mansion Ring House- Ferndale, California
- Golden Bail & Silversmith- Williamsburg, Virginia
- Goodwill House- Bramwell, West Virginia
- Gothic Revival Cottage- Buffalo, New York
- Gothic Revival Painted Lady- Cincinnati, Ohio
- The Governor Mansion- Columbia, South Carolina
- Halstead House- Coldwater, Michigan
- Handford-Jerry House- Batesville, Arkansas
- Heffron House- Galveston, Texas
- Hemingway House- Key West, Florida
- Hermitage House- Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
- The Hermitage- Nashville, Tennessee
- Homesite- Williamsburg, Virginia
- Hope House- West Newton, Pennsylvania
- Hunter House- Madison, Georgia
- Jatman House- Eureka Springs, Arkansas
- John Rutledge Home- Charleston, South Carolina
- Kirby House- Abilene, Arkansas
- La Branche Building- New Orleans, Louisiana
- La Pretre House- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Linda Lee- Cape May, New Jersey
- Little White House- Key West, Florida
- Magnolia Garden House- Charleston, South Carolina
- Magnolia Mansion- Cypress Gardens, Florida
- Margaret Mitchell House- Atlanta, Georgia
- Mele House- Baltimore, Maryland
- Mercer House- Savannah, Georgia
- Merry Sherwood- Berlin, Maryland
- Montgomery House- Spartanburg, South Carolina
- Morris Tuttle Mansion- Watsonville, California
- Morning Star- Cape May, New Jersey
- Moss House- Jekyll Island, Georgia
- Newton House- Knoxville, Tennessee
- Nunan House- Jacksonville, Oregon
- O’Hara Plantation (Tara’s House, Gone with the Wind)- Covington, Georgia
- The Old Manse- Concord, Massachusetts
- Painted Lady- Atlanta, Georgia
- Painted Lady Queen Anne- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Painted Lady- Malden, Massachusetts
- Painted Lady- San Francisco, California
- Paul House- Oakland, California
- Paul Revere House- Boston, Massachusetts
- Pine Crest- Knoxville, Tennessee
- The Pink House- Cape May, New Jersey
- Pink Lady- Eureka, California
- Pitkin House- Arroyo Grande, California
- Queen Anne Towne House- San Francisco, California
- Ray Home- Gallatin, Missouri
- Renaissance House- Knoxville, Tennessee
- Reymershoffer Home- Galveston, Texas
- Rosewood- Williamstown, Vermont
- Roseland Cottage- Woodstock Connecticut
- San Francisco House- Reserve, Louisiana.
- Sessions House- Los Angeles, California
- Shepard House- Mobile, Alabama
- Sottile House- Charleston, North Carolina
- Southernmost House- Key West, Florida
- 716 Steiner House- San Francisco, California
- Steiner House- Cape May, New Jersey
- Stockton Place Row House- Cape May, New Jersey
- Swan House- Atlanta, Georgia
- Tatman House Eureka Springs, Arkansas
- Toledo Harbor Light- Toledo, Ohio
- Twelve Oaks Plantation (Gone with the Wind)- Covington, Georgia
- Urfer House- Philadelphia, Ohio
- Victoria House- Charlotte, North Carolina
- The Victorian Blue Rose- Cape May, New Jersey
- Wedding Cake House- Kennebunk, Maine
- Wheaton Fan House- Wheaton, Illinois
- White Cottage- Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts
- Winchester Mystery House- San Jose, California
- Wings- Eureka Springs, Arkansas
- The Wooden Valentine- Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts
- Yaquina Bay Light- Newport, Oregon
- Young Larson House- Eureka, California
Well, I’ve sure been enjoying collecting these! I hope you liked learning more about them. Let me know if you have any questions!
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