|Jacob Appel, The doll's house of Petronella Oortman, c. 1710|
Doll houses weren't meant to be toys for the children; you would find them in the possession of wealthy women. A hobby to show off to friends, women could accessorize their houses like they could accessorize their closet. The doll house was more of cabinet, with curtains or windowpanes to draw aside. From the outside they would look like a regular furniture piece rather than a miniature home as our contemporary tend to.
Perhaps the best part about the painting is that the actual doll house still exists and is safely housed in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. The house, or cabinet, is so large, museum visitors use a step stool to examine all those delightful details that Appel was determined to portray. Because both the painting and house have survived the passage of time we can see the various changes made to the house since the creation of the painting. You can see them for yourself in person or (the easier option) through a virtual tour of the house thanks to the Rijksmuseum here.