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Miniature houses are a popular collectible. They are made by many manufacturers and come in a variety of sizes and types. Whatever style you collect these houses can become a whimsical focal point display in your home.

First, gather your collection. If you have a dozen or less, depending on size, you can display them together for dramatic effect. A sofa table makes a perfect display area. Cover the table with a green runner and arrange your houses along it in a little "neighborhood" pattern. Use some small wooden platforms or low sturdy boxes to raise a few for variety. Consider adding a few trees, which can be found in the model train or miniature section of your local craft store. Look for other minis to add such as park benches or vehicles but be sure to keep them in proportion to the houses. Don't add too much- keep the emphasis on the houses.

The same effect can be achieved on a bookcase shelf. If you display the houses in an enclosed area such as that, consider an under-the-shelf light to highlight your collection. A coffee table also makes a great place for a larger collection. Again, use blocks to vary the height of the houses and perhaps use little pebbles to outline country lanes. If you have small children or nosy pets you'll need to keep these little temptations up out of reach!

Your collection can also be broken up into smaller groupings and used to highlight different areas of your home. A few tiny lighthouses and fishing cabins add a nautical touch to a bathroom counter. Group several thatched cottages or castles together on a bookshelf of English literature. A couple of mini barns or farmhouses can be a table centerpiece or nestle among rustic serving ware on a sideboard. Consider placing a country house peeking out from a potted plant- cut out a plastic lid to protect it from the dirt and be careful when watering. A few little churches are an inspirational addition to a bedside table in the guestroom.

The holidays are no time to put your houses away for the season. The table or shelf display can be updated with a layer of quilt batting replacing the green cloth. The Christmas ornament aisle is a great source of miniature snowmen, trees, carolers and even Santa's sleigh! Don't forget to sprinkle "snow" over the scene and add some tiny lights if they are in proportion to the houses.

Little houses can be a big decorating tool- once you start arranging your neighborhoods you'll discover even more places to show them off.