Sunday, 25 July 2010

Summertime, and the living is easy...

...however, not very productive.  Between school getting out, hot evenings and going away on the weekend, I haven't really done much this week and probably am not going to get much done for most of August.

I can share some eye candy, because now that the roof is on, the silhouette of the house is pretty much finalised.  It is such a cute house, and I think bears a fraternal resemblance to the Pickett Hill (PH) .  I can't wait to get the windows in but they are so fragile that I don't dare put them in until everything else is finished. I haven't put the bedroom divider wall in yet either, as I want to leave working room for finishing the stair rail and the bedroom doors.

About the only thing I have done this week is to start planning for shingling the roof.  I have wrapped the house in cling film as a preventative measure (speaking from bitter experience here) and stuffed bubble wrap into the exposed attic rooms.  I gave the roof a base coat of Anita's Dusty Green, which I am also using for the shutters, but decided I don't like the colour on the roof as there isn't enough contrast.  Yesterday I bought some FolkArt Brilliant Green and will paint a bit of roof as a trial to see if I like that better.

I'm rather dubious about the shingles which came with the kit, which are of the thinnest veneer.  I'm a bit worried that they will curl when painted with water-based acrylic paint.  I might shingle a little bit of one roof, let it dry, then test paint it just to see what happens.  My plan is to shingle the roof flush with the edges of each roof panel, then apply bargeboard to cover up the rough edge of the roof, and glue more of the trim I used on the conservatory, underneath the eaves as gingerbread.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Marathon wallpapering, and the roof goes on

Well, I have taken a lot of pictures this week of various steps, and I am debating whether to include them all.  Including them might help anyone who needs to understand step-by-step what I am doing, but it is going to make for a very long post.  Perhaps if I make the pics a small size?

I started out with a marathon wallpapering session in the attic.  I found this tricky because of all the angles and crannies, and I needed to be careful as I didn't have enough wallpaper that I could afford to ruin sheets of it. I also had to think through what should be the logical order for papering, in order to achieve a neat result.  If you are not interested in wallpapering, then you can just skip the whole next section of this post.

This is how I do my wallpapering.  I used a soft foam brush to apply glue to both the wall and to the back of the paper.  I use a magazine as a disposable palette for applying glue, turning to clean pages for each new piece of wallpaper.  I use normal household wallpaper paste, which I keep in a jam jar, and use a paint brush to apply glue in tight corners.  For very tricky places, like folding a right angle, I use a bit of tacky glue for a tight hold on the paper.

1)  The bedroom side wall was already papered from before construction.  The first step therefore was to paper the back bedroom wall, butting it neatly to the side wall and overlapping it slightly onto the section of bedroom wall around the bathroom door.

2) Then I papered the section of the bedroom wall that surrounds the bathroom door, running the paper inside the false doorway, and overlapping it around the corner to cover the inserted wall, and slightly up onto the apex of the bedroom.

3) Step three was to cover in the apex of the bedroom, overlapping out onto what will be the roof area.

4) Step four was to paper the back wall of the dressing room area.  I slid the paper into the gap between my inserted foamcore wall around the round window, and cut it neatly to cover the overlap I left when I papered the inserted bathroom wall.

5) Then I needed to re-paper the side wall of the dressing room.  This wall was originally papered in the bathroom paper, so now I needed to cover that over with bedroom paper.  I butted the paper neatly up to the back wall of the dressing area.

6)  The final step for the bedroom was to paper the inside of the two roof sections that will cover over the bedroom.

7)  Time for the bathroom.  I started again with the back wall, overlapping the paper onto both side walls.

8)  Then I papered the inside of the inserted foam core side wall, butting neatly on top of the overlap from the back wall.

9)  and ditto for the opposite wall.

10) and finally, papering the remaining section of roof.

Finishing details

I wanted to complete some of the finishing details while I still had full access to the attic area, before I glued on the roof sections.

So I glued the false door into its frame, added the door handle, and glued in the door.  Then I glued the working bathroom door frame in, and hinged in the door.  Grandtline doors pivot on plastic pegs top and bottom, held in by incredibly fiddly small bits of plastic.

Then I glued in the skirting in the main part of the bedroom.  I am using 1mm x 4mm styrene strip as skirting, painted in Games Workshop Bleached Bone paint to match the doors.

And the skirting in the dressing room.  And I glued in the round window.

I had a bit of an issue with the bathroom door, as the Grandtline doorframe was more shallow than the foamcore wall.  So I covered over the exposed foamcore with very thin strips of wood, and painted them to match.

Then I framed in the door with the same strip used for skirting.  I'm not putting skirting in the bathroom until the fixtures are installed.

The last step before covering in the attic was to make a paper pattern for the bedroom carpet.  I won't install the carpet yet as I would be bound to get paint on it from the shingling coming up.

The finished carpet pattern.

Then it was time to glue the roof pieces on.  These proved hard to clamp down, but I did my best with masking tape and strategically placed clamps.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Interior design decisions

Wow, thank you for all the comments!  I love getting comments, and it is so nice to be on the receiving end of so much support.  As I said to a few of you, my family, although supportive in a passive way (not complaining too much about having the dollshouse in the kitchen, for example) are not very interested.  DH has looked at it a few times to see how I am doing, but he is not a miniaturist and doesn't get excited about the finer points of construction.  So it is lovely to have a community of fellow... fellow what?  Fellow obsessives?  Fellow mini-architects?  Fellow thwarted period house owners?  :)  Anyway, thank you!

This week I finished off the dormer roof then had to make some decisions about the attic floor layout.

To patch the cut-outs in the roof (where the Fairfield Tower would have been), I started out by making a pattern out of cereal packet, trimming until I got the right shape.  I could draw from the inside of the roof to get the cut-out shape correct.

Then I cut the piece out of scrap ply and glued it in.  I used a straight edge to ensure the piece was at the same angle as the rest of the roof.

I glued a piece of thin card across the inside seam to add strength, although it isn't likely that this patch will get knocked as it is in a protected position.

Then I filled in the small corner cut out in the main roof with a little ply corner cut from scrap.

To make the dormer roof, I started out with more cereal packet to make a pattern.  I measured the overhang to be the same depth as that of the side roof, then started trimming the angle until the top of the dormer was horizontal.  Once it was correct, I cut the pattern in half and traced it out onto scrap ply and cut it out with the Unimat saw.

As this was virgin ply, I sealed it with spray-on sealer, and did the gesso/sanding/paint routine on the overhang.

Then I glued them into place. 

Interior Design
Then it was time to start thinking about the interior layout and false walls of the attic floor.  Originally I was going to copy the Pickett Hill (PH) layout, which has one enormous bathroom across the side with a false door leading nowhere, and a medium size master bedroom with its own false door.  The suggestion is that there is an unseen corridor behind both doors. (and for some odd reason, there is a desk in the bathroom.  Wouldn't you just love doing your paperwork as you gazed out the round window, with people flushing the toilet and having showers behind you....)  I tried out some of the bedroom furniture in the house and tried to get enthusiastic.

I glued in the false side wall that I prepared earlier. Then I was eating my breakfast the next morning and looking at the house, and was struck by how interesting the view was from the bathroom through to the master bedroom, with all the interesting angles, and I was thinking how cool it would be to have a bedroom like that.

So I started experimenting with cardboard walls and furniture, to see if I could come up with a layout that I liked better.  I was trying to see if there was a way to include the round window end of the bathroom as part of the bedroom. 

I used a 1/24th Coombe Crafts doll from my Fishermen's Rest Tea Rooms to check the head room clearance for an inhabitant to walk through from the bedroom into the study/dressing room with the round window.  As I haven't actually assembled the Lydia Pickett bathroom yet, I have some leeway.  After some experimentation, I came up with this layout.  My plan is cut the sink-back at an angle so that it fits against the angled inserted wall.  Positioning the door in the corner means that it can be a real door that opens into the bedroom, turning the bathroom into a deluxe ensuite.  Of course, this means that we must imagine that there is a family bathroom somewhere else in the house, but as DH pointed out, there could be a whole unseen extension coming out of the cut-away wall which could contain useful things like attic access stairways and family bathrooms.

Having decided on a plan, it was time to cut the new walls out of foamcore (or foam board, as the slightly xenophobic clerk at the stationery story insisted is the correct term for it in the UK).  The height of the false walls is about 1/4 inch higher than the door frames.  I traced the angle for the new insert wall from the point of the side wall onto some more cereal packet, then trimmed and folded until I had the correct shape to use as a pattern.  I cut the top of the rear wall at an extreme angle so that it tucks snugly under the angled roof, and I cut out the door opening to fit around the door frame.

Then I glued it in, and glued in a scrap wood brace behind it to strengthen the join.

I checked for right angles while the glue was still wet, using a small quilter's acrylic ruler.  I use my quilting rulers a lot in dollshousing, they are brilliant for checking that things are square, or for cutting slices/squares of wallpaper, marking plywood for cutting etc.  I use a metal straightedge for actual cutting though, as a knife could shave the edge of the acrylic ruler.

The bedroom wall was executed the same way, and again with a brace behind it.

How cool is this room going to be?  I just want to move right into this house.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Moving on up...

Well, apart from support from Keli, there is a fairly resounding silence about my conservatory.  I'm telling myself that you are all on summer holiday, and I am pushing away the little voice that is murmuring "they think it's awful!! they can see all the filler!! they think it's a FRANKEN-FIELD!!!"     :)  In my own defence, I would like to point out that the filler that looks so obvious on the front wall of the conservatory in those dreaded hi-res photos is not glaring at all in real life. I think it's the lighting in the photo magnifying the difference between wood-grain and sanded-filler.

Anyway, now that the conservatory is done, I have been able to finish off some of the details prior to moving on to the roof construction phase.

I glued on the bay window that I constructed earlier.

I punched out the Fairfield kit stairs and constructed them.  But before I glued them together, I traced around tham on a spare bit of ply, and cut out a second stair for the conservatory.

Much sanding/filling/painting ensued, then I glued them in place.

I glued on a block of wood for the chimney base, using a scrap left over from the foundations.  It wasn't quite thick enough to fit snugly, so I packed it with two coffee stirrers, then cut them off flush once the glue had dried. The joint still gaped a little thanks to my inability to cut straight, so I applied a little more filler after I took this piccy.

Then it was time to move on to the roof.  The first step was to shave off the top of the back part-wall at an angle, so that the roof would fit snugly down the angled side wall.

I also cut pieces out of the front and back roof so that they fit around the new chimney.

Then it was time to consider the dormer over the front window.  I knew this was coming, but I had mentally shelved it for later as being 'part of the roof'.  I cut the dormer from some spare ply, matching the angle to that of the front wall.  I suppose I could have included it as part of the replacement front wall from the beginning, when I cut that out.  But somehow it seemed easier to wait until I could see how the house looked once it was put together, and how the dormer would relate to the roofline.

As this was virgin ply, I had to treat it as I had the kit pieces and do the sealing / sanding / gesso / sanding/ coats of paint routine.  Then I glued it in place.

I braced the dormer addition from the inside by gluing on some scraps of wood.  I had to be careful that these weren't too high, as they have to fit inside the cut-out of the roof piece (which normally would go around the Fairfield Tower).  These scraps won't show as the false wall of the master bedroom will hide them from view.
There followed the usual filling/sanding/filling/sanding/painting tapdance.  I decided I needed to pop off a few of the sticks on the front wall, and replace them with full length sticks that ran right up the dormer, to help it blend in.  So I drew the guidelines on.
Then I stuck on replacement sticks, and applied more coats of paint over the dormer area. You can still see the join if you look for it, but I don't think it is very obvious at first glance.

While I was painting extra coats of white paint on the dormer, I was also painting white on the underparts of the roof that will show externally.  When all of this was dry, I glued on the side roof, then the front roof.  You can see that the front roof still has a cutout for the unused Fairfield tower.  Some of this will be hidden by the dormer roof, but I am going to need to fill in some of this gap with spare ply.