Some people's pandemic pastimes include puzzles, binge-watching Netflix or baking bread.
For others, it's building unbelievably intricate miniature houses, like this one in Kansas City, Missouri, which has functioning electricity, a garage door that opens and closes, fireplaces with glowing logs, multiple outdoor spaces, a boiler room — and so, so much more.
"The miniature world has definitely exploded during COVID because people are at home and picking up hobbies," Annie Kampfe told TMRW.
But her interest in miniatures actually began in 2017, when she stumbled across a tiny needlepoint canvas in a local store.
"It intrigued me because I'm a lifelong needlepointer," she said. "I asked the gal who owned the shop what it was used for, and she said, 'Annie, I think it's meant to be a dollhouse rug.'"
That sparked an idea in Kampfe, a retired interior designer. She purchased a kit from Earth and Tree Miniatures in Amherst, New Hampshire, and went to work on her own miniature house with her husband, Cliff Donnelly. But it wasn't until the pandemic that they found themselves with more time on their hands than usual and finally finished what they call their "mini modern house." (Kampfe's daughter warned her that no one would take her seriously if she called it a dollhouse.)
"We're both pretty handy," Donnelly said. "We try to stick by the scale of 1 to 12 (inches) so when we're building, we need smaller tools and magnifying glasses and tweezers and small little screwdrivers. We'd never done it before, so we just learned as we went along."
Photos of the house went viral after Kampfe's son, Scott Miller, shared them on Twitter.
Miller told TMRW he and his siblings initially teased their mom about the project, but after seeing the finished result, he couldn't help but feel impressed — and proud.
"My mom is unbelievably talented from an interior design and architecture perspective," he said. "I think we knew she would do a great job. I don't think we knew she would do this good of a job."
Kampfe and Donnelly spared no detail in designing the home, which gave some social media users '70 vibes with its colorful, floral living room decor and retro kitchen appliances. The kids' rooms are scattered with tiny toys. The yellow-tiled bathroom includes a Mr. Bubble container and a hot roller set. The garage is crowded with tools, cinder blocks and spare tires, and it even has a functioning electric door.
"Putting that together, figuring out the wiring and how to get it operational, that was pretty fun," Connelly said. "That would be my favorite part."
Kampfe's favorite room is the large upstairs bedroom, which features a vaulted ceiling, a corner fireplace and vintage lighting, among other tasteful touches. The house also boasts a finished basement with a pool table and a bar. There's even plenty of thoughtful outdoor space, including a couple decks and a ground-floor area with with a pergola, patio furniture and hanging lights. And, of course, a rack of Kansas City barbecue ribs on the grill.
The couple worked with artists across the world who specialize in miniatures to create many of the home's features. "We didn't do this alone," Kampfe said. "I want those artists to have recognition, too. They created my vision, but it was their artistry."
The family said they were stunned by how much attention the house received after Miller shared the photos on Twitter. To take advantage of the newfound viral fame, they're asking social media fans to donate to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, a cause that's special to the family, as Kampfe's 91-year-old mother has Alzheimer's disease.
But mostly, they're just glad that people enjoy exploring the home as much as they loved creating it.
"We had no idea Scott was going to put those photos on his Twitter," Kampfe said. "I thought he was teasing me — he was like, 'Mom, you're going viral.' I'm like, 'What are you talking about?' We don't necessarily love all the attention we're getting, but I love the joy and happiness that this little miniature world has brought to a lot of people.
"It's just been so humbling that something we've enjoyed so much made people happy," she added.