Honey, I Shrunk the Model

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With Catherine Tinker’s help and a glass of Alice’s magic potion, builders might never have to build model homes again.

June 30, 2001

With Catherine Tinker’s help and a glass of Alice’s magic potion, builders might never have to build model homes again. Tinker’s Chicago-based company Columbian Model & Exhibit Works has been building architectural models for 12 years, but few have been built-to-scale minimodels like the two Columbian made for Golub & Co.’s The Ravines Condominium at the Town of Fort Sheridan in Highland Park, Ill.

Built on a half-inch scale, the dollhouses show buyers miniature, roofless versions of their new homes, allowing them to not only understand the dimensions and "flow" of the plan, but also see how furnishings might look. Prices range from $6,000 to $12,000, and each model can entail hundreds of hours of work.

"The dollhouse model helps people conceptualize their new home," says Paula Harris, senior vice president, residential asset management, at Golub, who has worked with Columbian twice before.

Like any model home, The Ravines dollhouses are designed to appeal to target buyers. One bedroom, for instance, is decked out as an office for the computer-savvy empty nester.

Since opening for sales last fall, The Ravines’ phase one is 35% sold. Harris says buyers love the chance to get a feel for the place before they buy.

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