Like so many young people in London, Hannah Lemon dreams of owning her own place and putting her stamp on it, but isn’t yet able to buy.
Limited by her rented Finchley maisonette, Hannah has still managed to create dream mortgage-free interiors filled with open-plan spaces, antique bathtubs, cutting-edge furniture and brick fireplaces.
The only thing is, these perfectly executed spaces are just a foot or two in length.
Since lockdown, Hannah has been a full-time miniaturist, working from the dining table of her Edwardian two-bed flat.
‘In the first lockdown, my friends were all renovating their homes, doing creative things with their gardens and flaunting it on social media,’ Hannah recalls.
‘But because we are renting, we couldn’t do anything major to our flat. I wanted some way I could channel that creativity as well. There are many things I’d like to do to the flat we live in to turn it into a dream home.
‘My boyfriend and I would stay awake at night discussing which walls we would knock through and what extensions we would like to make if we owned the place. Those ideas and visions occupied my brain, and I had to let it out somehow. So I decided to build my ideal rooms from scratch, on a tiny scale.’
A freelance photographer who grew up in Japan, Hannah now shares the north London maisonette with her boyfriend and their cat, Natsuki. The two-bed’s high-ceiling interiors are flooded with light from its large bay window, and there is access to a front and rear garden.
The flat’s neutral colour scheme complements crown moulding, wooden flooring and an ornate fireplace in the living room. A rustic wooden coffee table came from a second-hand furniture shop for £20 and a patterned brown chair came from someone’s skip outside their house. An antique white cabinet also came from the street.
There are plants everywhere. As a self-proclaimed fan of the biophilic trend, Hannah wants as much nature in her home as possible. The flat is filled with 71 plants, all different, with tropical displays in the south-facing bedroom and a much-loved philodendron that stretches across the whole wall in the lounge. Plants are a constant theme of her miniature homes, too, and creating tiny greenery has become a specialist area. Next year, she will be selling her miniature plants at The Tom Bishop Show in Chicago.
Beginning her first ever room in miniature, Hannah looked around and gathered some material from her flat, making her dream room completely from scratch. She made tiny beautiful vintage furniture: her own grandfather’s grandfather clock, a fireplace made of bricks and a rattan hanging chair. Finally, she filled the space with lots of handmade houseplants.
‘I was making my vision come to life – it was so satisfying, I carried on. I made a bedroom, then an open-plan ground-floor kitchen, dining room and living room. I realised how much I enjoy making houseplants from clay and posted a few on Instagram. Before I knew it, I had thousands of followers and became a miniature artist who specialised in houseplants.’
Through social media (follow her on Instagram @hannahlemon_art) Hannah has connected with other artists. ‘The miniature world has been very trendy since lockdown. Small things touch people’s inner childhood memories,’ she says.
Hannah uses air-drying clay, paper and wood to create hyper-realistic dream interiors that look ready to move into. So far she has made 12 rooms for both personal projects and commissioned works, plus around 200 tiny plants. She’s also created 100 pieces of furniture to go in the various rooms, including for a Samsung project.
The tech giant’s creative agency found Hannah on Instagram and asked her to make a roombox that carries a biophilic theme, with mini versions of their products, through which people could shop the life-sized item directly.
‘The brief was for a dry pantry kitchen and living room in my biophilic style,’ she says. ‘I went through a thorough process to make sure the roombox was well designed and kept with some of the houseplant trends that I love.’
Hannah’s miniature houses allow her to create the impossible. ‘Like, having furniture you could never afford in real life, having the layout that structurally doesn’t make sense but looks pretty,’ she says.
‘You can make anything with anything. I used a coffee stirrer to make a piece of furniture, and the bottom of a shampoo container to make an antique bathtub. This is the beauty of miniature crafts.’
One day Hannah hopes that her tiny home could become full-sized.
‘Some people say my miniature home looks like my current flat,’ she says. ‘I guess I always go for the similar style in choosing the furniture and houseplants. One day, I’d love to bring my miniature dream home to an architect to turn my into a real-size house.’
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