Sunday, 12 October 2014

Tudor Hall and Entrance Renovations

Hello my friends,

I hope you are all doing well! Once again it has been much longer between posts then I intended. Since my last post I was offered and accepted a new position at work which I am loving, Jo and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary, and we have started getting ready to renovate our real life bathroom...all this to say I could not spend as much time on my minis...but I finally finished the Manor's renovation this morning. So here it is, the new and (I hope) improved Entrance and Great Hall:

View of the Tudor Hall from the Entrance

The Entrance

The right half of the Tudor Hall

I love Tudor Style architecture. In my mind these 2 rooms were originally a hunting lodge in Elizabethan times. Centuries later it was eventually given to the owners third son, lord Dewell, when he married. The couple added wings and a floor to the house to make it their main residence, but updated the original Hall instead of renovating it.

Okay that's the back story. These were 2 of the first rooms I finished and every time I looked at them I felt something was wrong with them. Before I go into renovation details, here are the before and after shots:

Game Room before

Tudor Hall left side after

Drawing Room before

Tudor hall right side after

Entrance before

Entrance after

Door frames

After the Dining room renovation (last post) I decided to remake all the door frames on the main floor. the original ones were just door frame molding and were going to have stained glass. Since I wanted the Tudor feel in this room I decided to make stone door frames with a Gothic arch detail.

First I ripped out the old door frames making sure I did not damage the wainscot or the wallpaper. Next I make the top of the door frame with the arch detail out of basswood

When cutting out opening in basswood I always make a few random cuts in the piece to be removed so that the thickness of the blade does not make the wood split as much

Next, I made a new frame to fill the opening with 5/8 inch lumber (the thickness of the structure)

I added a thin molding trim piece to accent the Gothic arch

To fill the arch, I decided to use strips of door frame molding and fancy cocktail toothpicks .

As you can see I took a basswood backing strip and glued on the toothpicks and door frame pieces making sure they were straight. The next step was adding wood sections to the front of the frame to make it look thicker. I put a thicker strip on the bottom and 3 thinner ones atop it to make it look like the door frame was made from several stone pieces. I added 2 strips of molding on the inside of the door frames and an ogee molding to the top of the arched piece.

When all was dry I glued all the section together and covered the entire piece with gesso making sure the spaces between stones did not fill up

the wood door frame is on the bottom. Gesso just helps fill in some of the wood grain. I used 2 coats, sanding in between with 600 grit sandpaper

The final step was painting. I used Delta Ceramcoat paints which I applied with 3 different sea sponges. Each coat was added with a coarser piece of sponge. The first coat was Trail tan, the second was sandstone, and the third was oyster. When that was dry I took 10 parts water mixed with 1 part walnut paint, brushed it on, and then used paper towels to sponge it of.

The finish is not as pale or as shiny in real life.  Warning! if you use a dark wash only do it once. If you go over a second time without sealing the first it will actually wash the first coat right off.

 The dark wash is what really makes it look like stone. When dry I sprayed it with a light coat of glaze to keep the dark wash from coming off. I was really happy and put one into place to see the effect...

The door frame was exactly what I wanted...but the fireplace stood out at me. The marble finish I made was the furthest thing from Tudor. So I took out some double thick illustration board and re cut it. I added a small cameo at the top and used the same faux stone painting technique (Sorry, no picture of that step, but one is coming)

I love big fireplace fenders and decided to make one for the side of the room with the pool table.

In the above picture you can see I took a simple strip of basswood to make the base of the fenders and covered it in pre painted moldings. For the top of the fenders I took apart an inexpensive mini sofa I had and used the carved parts which I painted with black enamel spray paint. I added a small wood strip on the top and voila:

And here is what the fireplace looks like now:

I used black paint and dry brushed the top of the fireplace stone to make it look like it has been used for a long time. The last little detail I added was a family shield at the top of the chimney.

thank you for the shield big brother

again I faux stoned it and glued it in place. The fireplace problem was solved, but another problem appeared...


As I have mentioned I am obsessed with English Country Houses. Both rooms has a very simple wainscot, but after looking at old Tudor mansions I decided to make them taller and add a bit of detail.

I started by taking a 5/8 wide strip of basswood and laid it atop the wainscot. I made a pencil mark where the long vertical piece reached. This room is 33 inches deep. the sided of my ribs were covered in bruises from reaching in and sliding myself on the structure. When all the marks were made I cut out Gothic arches and stained all the lumber I would need to update the wainscot

the Gothic arch pieces are at the top.

In the next picture on the right of the door opening you can see I added door frame molding strips to create a carved detail, and on the left  of the door opening you can see the Gothic arch strip glued on.

the final step was adding a top strip of lumber to cover the gaps and a piece of molding to finish it. In the entrance I used 2 more family shields and jewelry pieces to create family crests. I painted them in faux walnut and added gold detail, just to impress anyone who comes into the manor

Stone Floor
And now the real reason I wanted to renovate this room. I absolutely hated the floor:

The centre design of the floor was something I purchased. Just like the dining rooms original floor, the white lines you saw through the wood drove me crazy and the panels were coming undone. I tried to come up with a parquet pattern but nothing worked. Long story short, after much research, I decided to rip out the entire floor and replace it with a stone one.

In this picture you can see the painted stone fireplace piece before installation.
Just a note about the above picture. The Manor is built in 8 sections. You can see the gap between section in the picture, That is why I made doors. The will be fixed with Velcro or double sided tape. this way you can't see the gap, the walls look 2 foot thick like real old houses, and when I take the section apart for whatever reason there is no risk of ripping out the doors.

I painted a small piece of illustration board with the pattern I had in mind. I immediately knew ripping out the wood floor was the right decision. It looked so much brighter and the woodwork was popped instead of disappearing into the room. I took a piece of illustration board and faux stoned it the same way as the other elements in the room...

Once again, the dark wash is what really creates the stone effect

then I cut it into 1 1/4 inch squares...

Yes, I am the person who has to make sure stacked things are perfectly straight or I go a bit bananas

and finally I made a few illustration board templates and cut out the 4 corners of each title...every last 666 of them. Before I go on to installation a few words of caution:

It was not really difficult, but when the room you are covering measure 33 inches x 31 inches it becomes very long and tedious

1- I used double thick illustration board...DO NOT! big pieces are fine but when cutting the small black ones the layers of cardboard came apart...use single ply.
2- I covered the illustration board with gesso... DO NOT! When cutting the tiles and squares the edges over the gesso layer chipped so you saw a lot of white between tiles 
3- check your tools! I used a very old straight edge metal square to make sure the squares were perfect. when I was almost done I noticed the square was off by a hair...not much, but just enough that installing the tiles was make difficult because after a few rows the pattern started to go crooked.

Back to installation. I always tell everyone make an illustration board sub floor template of the room, glue on the flooring, then install it in the room. In this case the columns in the middle of the room as well as the nooks and crannies would have made it impossible to hide the gaps between the sub floor pieces, so I glued them directly onto the mdf guessed it, bruises on my sides for another week.

The first tile I glued down was right in the centre of the room, then I spread out equally on each side. This helped control and make sure the pattern did not get lost and go out of true

In the picture above you can see I first glued down all the large stones then filled in the black ones. The black ones vary in size because parts of the floor were of. I made a test piece to see what it would look like grouted, but the grout (Spackle) left a film on the stones. So I did not grout, just went over the finished floor with a good coat of clear floor wax. And here is the finished floor:

I added molding to the base of the columns to cover any gaps.

When I decided to go with stone instead of would I was thrilled because I thought it would be so much faster then one of my wood parquet was just as long and just as tedious! At least the bruises are gone.

And that is all.Not many changes but the floor and wainscot were VERY work intensive. I have not yet hung any artwork because the rooms are really dark and I want to purchase and install sconces before the art goes up.Here are random pictures of the 2 rooms. The Great room has officially been christened the Tudor Hall

Tudor Hall Left Side

Tudor Hall right side

Tudor hall right side


View from the Ballroom door through the Entrance Tudor Hall, great Dinning Room and the Breakfast room

And here are a few picture with Flash to better see the details

I think what I love most about the manor, which is true of many English country houses, is that the house is comprised of several styles, not just one. the guests come into the Tudor entrance, see the somewhat Georgian looking ballroom, go through the Tudor hall and end up in the marble filled Great Dining room and can see the chinoiserie breakfast room.

That was the last of the big renovations. This week I plan on getting the mdf panels for the exterior. I also want to make 2 little changes to the kitchen, and I have the bedroom to dress. If my next project takes too long I might just give you a tour of all the rooms of the manor.

Thank you all once again for your incredible feedback. I feel very lucky to have you all following  my adventures and I appreciate every comment and constructive criticism you send my way.

Have a wonderful week and once again I will TRY not to take so long between posts.
 To all my fellow Canadians, happy thanksgiving!
Big hug to all,


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Great Dining Room: renovations complete

Hello my dear friends,
I hope you are all doing great and that you had a lovely month of July. Once again I thank you very much for your wonderful feedback on my last post. I appreciate it very much. I wanted to post sooner but as you know love testing my limits. Sorry, this will be a long post...again! Today I am glad to unveil the renovated Great Dining Room:
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the great Dining Room of Dewell Manor

I actually was happy with the original dining room design. It was a good dining room for a well to do middle class family. However, since I decided Lord Dewel was to be an earl, I wanted a more elegant room. Also, I felt that the Breakfast Room of the manor was grander then the formal dining room which made no sense to me at all.

At first I thought of just changing the floor and adding a little gold trim here and there but soon decided a renovation was in order. So here is the old dining room:

The room was just not fit for an Earl!

 And here is the new Great Dining Room:

Sorry, I will not put back the carpet

The chandelier is the Tiffany by the Getzans, as well as matching sconces

The Parquet Floor
The one detail I most disliked in the original room was the floor

It was okay, but it did not go with the rest of the floors I made from scratch and you could see white lines between the tiles. I removed the baseboards and prayed the floor would come off easily...luckily, I had not glued it down but used double sided tape. It came off in 1 piece very easily and I was able to use it as a template for the new floor.

I can honestly say, the grapevine floor was my biggest challenge to date! I don't know why but I had a grapevine border in mind. I had a test run to try out making grapevines and I was not too happy with it

It wasn't right and I was not sure I wanted to invest that much time in such a complicated pattern. I was about to give up when Ray emailed me and said he thought the grapevine idea was a good one and worth working at. I went back to the drawing board. After a while I figured out there were not enough grape clusters in the border, so I set to cutting many more and of different shapes and sizes

It was a time consuming project but fun. I traced each cluster onto the cardboard floor template I made, cut them out and then used them as cutting guides for the iron on wood veneer. So far so good. I then  glued them down on the subfloor

I then painted the grapes purple and the vines green

Then the nightmare began. I had to fill in the space between the grape clusters. Every piece had to be cut to fit a cluster at each end. It took forever but in the end I was really happy with it

Contrary to my original test run I decided to paint on the vines because I could not get the wood cut thin enough. I also added some veins to the leaves

With that done the next step was creating a fan design around the central medallion

I had drawn out each section on cardboard and used that as a cutting template making sure each piece was in the right sequence. I only ironed on about 1/3 of each piece near the medallion so I could lift the top edge, slip a different piece of wood underneath and used the partially glued down piece as a guide to cut the rounded end piece (I hope it is clear in the above picture). After they ends were all cut and glued down...

...I took a different wood veneer and cut out the 1/4 inch border that went around the fan, placed it over the edges and used it as a cutting guide to remove the excess wood, then I ironed the border down

In the above picture you see the border in place, then the excruciatingly long step of filling in the rest of the space. I decided I would make a lattice pattern. Why take the easy way out? It was a long process, but an enjoyable one that I found very relaxing. The pieces were really small so they had to be held with tweezers against the iron to heat up and activate the glue. I dulled and threw out 25 scalpel blades to make this floor. they are sharp on skin, but dull very fast on the wood veneer.

When the space between the central fan and the grapevine border was done I added fan details in each corner of the room. It just looked right

Then more filling in with rounded ends and lattice work. Finally it was done

Normally I use an electric sander to smooth the floor before I finish it, but since parts of the floor were painted I had to sand by hand using 600 grit sandpaper...I hate sanding! The last step before installing it was coating it with 3 coats of Shellac (I used 2 ounces of amber colored shellac flakes dissolved in 8 ounces of isopropanol). When that was dry I added a coat of clear wax and in it went.
 I know I wrote a lot about this floor, but it did take just over 50 hours which is also why it took me so long to post...everything else took 2 weeks to make.

The Doorframes and molding:
The doorframes were inspired by my favorite English country house, Chatsworth. The Great dining room at Chatsworth is spectacular and has gorgeous marble doorframes and over doors, so I decided to make my own version of them.

I apologize but I did not take as many pictures as I should. Here was the original test using bits of wood:

I liked the weight they gave the room. Luckily, I was able to remove the old doorframes I had made, which were only simple doorframe molding. I was thrilled because I originally thought I would have to work around them. My main concern was that Les Chinoiseries discontinued this wallpaper in green and I did not want to damage it. So here are the new doorframes

On the left you see that the inner frame is just 2 vertical pieces and 2 horizontal ones to make the frame sturdy. The bottom horizontal piece is 8 inches from the floor. On the right side you can see I covered that frame with simple 3/4 inch wide basewood, glued on 3/4 x 3/4 inch lumber strips to act as the column base, and in the space over the door opening I used basewood and illustration board to create a frame detail. Then I made the over doors:

On the left you  can see the back of the over doors were made using the same 3/4 x 3/4 lumber strip with basewood added on to support the molding trim. On the right you see the front of the piece, covered in 3 strips of molding and covered in gesso. the final step was faux painting them to look like marble.

To make the marble I paint on a basecoat, spray on glaze, sponge on a second color, spray on glaze. then a third color, then spray again, then paint on the veins.
The white marble was made using, in order, rain Grey, off white, pure white and the veins in grey. the green marble for the column was made using black, antique gold, dark green, medium green, then antique gold veins.

When the doorframes were in I replaced the chair rail molding with a wider window frame molding also painted to look like white marble.

I loved the original blue, white and gold fireplace, but it made no sense to have a painted fireplace with all the marble in the room. I removed it carefully but it broke, so I ordered the same model from Braxton Payne and marbled it

Pepper, I hope you approve of the candlestick's new home

I was going to paint the swag detail on the mantel gold, but I actually liked it plain so I left it as is. The final step was the baseboard molding. I wanted a grander baseboard so I used 2 different styles.

In the above picture you can see I glued down a spacer strip over which I glued the larger baseboard, and then I glued a smaller baseboard molding to cover the spacer.

The ceiling:

I did not plan on changing the ceiling, just adding some gold paint to highlight detail. At this time I emailed Ray and sent him a picture of the Dining room at Chatsworth to show him what I was planning for the doorframes. He emailed back that he had grids that looked very much like the ceiling in Chatsworth and offered to send them to me. I accepted Ray's generous offer and he mailed me the grids. Thank you so much my dear friend.

The first step was removing the textured ceiling in the room:

The textured vinyl part came right off. the paper base stayed glued on perfectly so I sanded it and cut a sub ceiling template and got to work. the first step was cutting the grids to fit. I did not have enough fot the entire ceiling so I came up with a design I liked. after the grids were cute I had to paint them

Again Mr. fancy Giac here decided the surface of the grids should be simple white, but the inner sided of the octagon and diamond cut-outs had to be gold...why does gold paint always need 2 or 3 coats. I then painted the sub ceiling and glued on the grids

The sub ceiling is a different shade of off white then the grids to add interest. In the above picture you can see the gaps between the grids. I filled the gaps with gesso and did and then touched up with paint. And here is the installed ceiling

I think it was worth the effort. I just love it. I plan on adding gold medallions in each octagon, but I have not yet decided on a size or style, and since I need 76 of them I will wait until my budget permits the purchase. Another addition are the 2 gold borders that line the crown molding between the ceiling and the frieze. The plain white crown molding just looked odd. The medallion in the center is just to show you where the chandelier goes. I will not install the chandelier permanently until the structure of the house is finished and does not need to be moved.

And here are some no flash picture of the room.

I am really happy with this room now and think it is perfect for Lord and Lady Dewell. I love the furnished room, but here are a few pictures of the empty room which showcase the changes I made:

My next post should not be too far off. I have a few small renovations to do, mainly new doorframes for the main floor of the Manor and an update of the floor sections of the Great Room...however I am not even thinking about the new floor section for at least a few weeks. Oh, and another little thing I plan on starting soon...the exterior panels...Finally! But more on those projects next time.

Thank you all my old and new friends for following my adventures. I wish you all the best and look forward to catching up with all your projects. You constantly supply me with great ideas, fantastic inspiration, and valued friendship

Big hug to all,