Sunday, 8 March 2015

Christmas presents and South wing renovation plans

Hello everyone.

I hope you are all doing well and are happy. Thank you for your great feedback on my last post. It is always so wonderful to get hear from other miniaturists. I am afraid I have no new miniature work to share. Our real life  bathroom renovation has taken over our lives and I have not worked on miniatures since my last post, but I have been working hard on the plans for the renovated South wing. Before we talk about that I promised to post about my Christmas presents. Once again I was spoilt rotten.

Christmas Presents

I got this black and gold  Grand Estate Cabinet from Bespaq. I think it looks perfect in the Tudor hall.

 I always ask for Getzan chandeliers from my family, and this year I got the Antoinette on the left for the breakfast room, and the Sonata on the right for the grand staircase. I also have a Sonata for the entrance. It is one of my favourites.

Lastly I got a Bespaq Elizabeth chaise for the ballroom.

I am very lucky that Jo always asks for a list of the miniatures I want and he and our families get together and choose from that list.
 That is all the miniatures you will see in this post, the rest are my plans and sketches for the new wing. I apologize if this is boring for some, but it's all I have done.


The new ballroom will be much more Georgian in style. the room will measure 32 x 38 inches and be surrounded by a 5 inch deep colonnade. My biggest challenge, since the door from the Entrance of the Manor is not centered, was figuring out how to make the room symmetrical.

The left wall will have 2 doorways. 1 will be the way in from the entrance, the other one will be a fake door to balance the room. In between the doorways will be a dolphin fountain from Sue Cook. The back wall will have a fireplace and the right wall will be mostly windows and French doors. The piano will go in between the central columns on the right wall. All the architectural elements in this room will be by Sue Cook. Here is a look at the left wall:

The walls will be blue and all the molding and detail will be white. In the next drawing you can see the back wall and the side view of the colonnade.

The yellow on my drawing was supposed to be gold detail. I had one leftover piece of the cornice I will be using and put it on the drawing,  but I think I might just leave all the detail white, no gold. The blue rectangle on the top left corner is the paint colour I chose. I thought of putting 4 Versaille chandeliers in the room, but decided instead to keep the 2 I have and get matching sconces instead so as to light the colonnade well.


The new library will be the same size as the ballroom. I was afraid it would be too big and planned on splitting the floor into a library and  a loggia, but since the house sits in the corner of the room that was just an invitation for spiders to settle in so I decided to lose the loggia. Here is the New library:

It was inspired by the Thorne Rooms French library and the room boxes made by Ray whitledge and Scott Burgess. I decided to split the room in 2.

The back area will be a step up. It is a huge room and I am not sure how I will furnish it...I am thinking of a large central custom made table about 5 x 8 inches with a marble top and thin drawers for maps all around. The entire room will be faux walnut and I would like the furniture and drapes to be dark green. The marbled fireplaces and white cornices are also from Sue Cook.
Chinese dining room

I am taking full advantage of the larger section to make all the rooms bigger. The Chinese tea room will now be bigger then the Great dining room on the ground floor, so I have decided to make it a dining room used for important dinner parties...though I feel bad for the staff that will have to carry the food up 2 flights of stairs to the other side of the house. The room will have a 12 inch table which will seat 12. 

The room will measure 17 x 24 inches and will be 10 inches high. My original inspiration came from the lacquer room at Monplaisir Palace but were very square. Instead of my square chinoiserie panels I will try to make more ornate lacquer panels within the rectangular panels on the red wall (I hope you understand with the drawings).

The left wall will be covered in lacquered panels, the back wall will have a much bigger doorway so as to see more of the winter parlour (which will be almost an exact copy of the one currently in the house), and the right wall will have a fireplace in the middle with doors on each side which lead to an attic floor balcony overlooking the ocean. The ceiling will have a step design with more Sue Cook cornices. The room will either be the same red I used in the tea room or a slightly more orange shade of red with black, gold and yellow the chinoiserie panels.
Countess's bedroom
I tried to fix this room so many times but now I finally have a design I love:

I want a much more Neoclassical look for the room. Poor Sue Cook will be so fed up with me before I am done. I will use her carved pilasters to frame the windows and doorways. I will make the left wall thicker so as to create recessed windows, I have moved the fireplace to the back wall so the bed will be in the middle of the room, and I will top the room with a Georgian frieze and cornice. I fell in love with the Anastasia bedroom by Bespaq, but it does not have an armoire or large dresser so I am thinking of making closets on each side of the door to the earl's bedroom (right wall).

And that is all my friends. I hate to make a post without miniature work, but the planning has taken all my free time. I hope to start actual work on the new wing by the end of May. Right now I am still refining plans, working on my real life bathroom for another month, and I am saving up for the large order I will be sending Sue. The Montreal miniature show is this month and I might post after that. I have given myself a very strict budget for the show because of the new wing renovations, but I have a habit of losing control at the!

Until next time, which might not be for a while, thank you all for following my adventures and also thank you for sharing your wonderful work and ideas through your are all a great source of inspiration.

All the best and great big hugs to everyone,


Saturday, 24 January 2015

Winter Parlor and big renovation news

Hello my friends,
I hope you are all doing well. Thank you very much for your comments on my last post and a big welcome to new followers. I finally was able to start commenting on your blogs again. I was sick over the holidays and then I was running to get the winter parlor done in time to send pictures to a British magazine that is doing a feature on the manor. We are also in the middle of real life renovations, the bathroom this time, so it might be a bit longer until my next post but I will be commenting on yours.. However, today I present to you the latest upgrade...
The Winter Parlor

This is the room in the attic you can only see through the Chinese tea room. Here is what the room looked like before:

I hated this room. I did not like the fireplace, I did not like the layout and I got tired of the wallpaper. It did not make sense to me that you had to go through this simple, rustic room to get to the Chinese tea room where the earl and countess brought important  guests. I did what anyone would do...ripped out the entire back wall, ceiling and floor and started over.

When demolition was done I made a mock-up of the new back wall and had a test run with the furniture for that room.

You can only see this room through the doorway to the tea room so it was important that it stand out. The first step was re-framing the room. I used double thick illustration board and basewood lumber to do this.

I took off the entire back roof panel and built out the room. This made it much bigger which made more sense as a parlor used for entertaining.

With the old parlor, when you looked through the doorway you could see the structure of the roof. I decided to take make a vaulted ceiling over the passage just long enough to hide all the beams. I did this by taking single ply illustration board and scoring it to help it curve

I then glued it into place

I used leftover wallpaper pieces and basewood strips to decorate the arch. Here is what it looks like right side up

Since you will never see the room from the back, I decided to leave the opening over the arch the way it is. As long as there is no mirror in the room, it won't show.

I kept the floor simple so it only took me one day to make.

Now I got started on the back wall which is the most important part of the room. I built it out of double thick illustration board with basewood to reinforce it. I purchased a great fireplace from Braxton Payne and some half columns I liked from Jim Coates.

I was a bit fed up of gold details in rooms and wanted something to stand out behind the red, black and gold Chinese tea room, so I decided to go with a winter theme. I used a pale wallpaper from Les Chinoiserie, painted all the trim white, and used Delta Ceramcoat's Platinum color paint for detail. The fireplace and niche were painted to look like blue marble I loved from The breakers.

Here you can see the detail of the columns and I used leftover pall panel pieces to make the window frame.

The walls are thick because I wanted the curtains in this room to behind the arched opening. The final touch was finding the right centerpiece for the niche. I saw a statue from sue Cook and I knew she was the perfect focal point.

The next step was the ceiling. I used the same ceiling piece as in the Chinese tea room, but instead of white and gold I painted the background with Americana's Winter blue color and all the detail was painted with the platinum paint and a few white square details.

And here is the "finished room:

For those of you who are wondering why there are no curtains and no baseboards on the back well...well you'll find out in a minute...
Kitchen ovens and second exit

Before we tackle that can of worms, I also took a minute to update the kitchen back wall. I had 2 problems with the kitchen. Firstly, when the Dewell's had guests, the staff would have to go through the Dining Room to get out of the kitchen. Secondly, years ago someone commented that I had a lot of sinks in the kitchen but not much cooking areas. I took care of both problems.

The door is a false door I made from illustration board and wood strips. I just glued it on to the tiled wall. The other side of the door is a secret panel in the Tudor hall

I just added a door knob and cut the baseboard to create the illusion of a door...Nobody can see it, but it's there.

The wall oven unit was made with more illustration board.

I cut out an opening in the wall so the ovens would fit properly. The front of the unit is made from leftovers

The doors are singly ply illustration board, the hinges are made from jewelry bits and the tip of decorative cocktail tooth-picks. I painted the whole thing with matt charcoal spray paint. I purchase 2 glowing ember sets from Braxton Payne. Here is the unit installed

The camera flash ruins the effect of the fire so I took a dark non-flash picture. It is one of my favorite features of the manor.

Well, that it is for my progress, now the big renovation news:

New South Wing

I have decided to remove the south wing and make a brand new one. I was unhappy with some of the rooms and was trying to figure out how to improve them. The wing measures 21 inches wide and 37 inches deep, and the new wing will measure 32 inches wide and 38 inches deep. This means the manor will measure almost 9 feet or 274 cm. wide. Here are the reasons for this dramatic change. Firstly I was unhappy with the ballroom.

I like it but my sculpted atlantides on the columns always bothered me. I just don't have the skill to get the detail I want. The marble columns were too pale against the wallpaper and the room was big for a dollhouse room, but small for a ballroom. Also, I love the panels I made, but they felt like and afterthought...the room just wasn't working for me. After I spoke with Jo about what I did not like, the most wonderful husband in the world said something that shocked me, that I had thought of but did not dare suggest, he said "if the room is too small just make it bigger" . He said it, I'm doing it. The ballroom will go from 20 inches by 37 to 31 inches by 38 which will be much more realistic.

The library was a great room and very Victorian...the most Victorian in the house. When I first started the manor I wanted a floor to ceiling walnut paneled library that was calm and welcoming. I fell in love with this wallpaper and redesigned the room around it. To this day my only big regret is that I do not have my walnut paneled library...but now I will. I am thinking about a library a bit wider then this one with a covered loggia overlooking the south. If I can get the fa├žade of the house to look good with the loggia that will be the direction I take, if not I will have a library the same size as the ballroom.

Because the structure will be almost a foot bigger the attic section won't fit anymore. At first I hated the idea of redoing the Chinese tea room, but then I realized it was a good one. I will keep the exact same design for both rooms, but they will be 10 inches wider. The tea room was lovely but with the table and chairs there is no way the staff could properly serve tea, and the women next to the fireplace may catch fire. the room will be wider and have a sideboard for serving and a bigger table, and the arched doorway will be much bigger so you will get a better view of the Winter parlor ...yes, I have to redo that room too :(

One last room to be gutted, not renovated the countess's bedroom

I tried so hard to make this work. The room was originally a dressing room/ sitting room.
It was a great idea to make it a bedroom, but I HATE having the bed to the side. I will rework the room so the bed will be where the fireplace is. Much better.

Another reason I am happy to redo the library and bedroom is that through years of research my tastes have evolved. I liked Victorian most at the time, but now I prefer a more classical Georgian room. I know you and many people around me think I'm nuts, but I will not stop until it is exactly what I want it to be. The only part I dread is redoing the floors in these rooms!!!

And that it all for this post my friends. Next post I will show you what I got for Christmas and the plans for the new rooms.

I wish you all the best and once again, if anyone is following me and I am not following you, please let me know.

A big hug to all,


Sunday, 21 December 2014

Countess's Bedroom re-visited and Happy holidays!

Hello everyone,
I hope you are all doing well and ready for the holidays. I must apologize for not commenting on your blogs as of late. Since we got back from our vacation we have been running around for real life bathroom renovations and the holidays...I start my Christmas break this week and will get back to commenting very soon. I've missed it.
In spite of the hectic schedule I did steel an hour here or there to do a little work on the Manor. Today I present to you the updated Countess's bedroom:


I was never completely happy with this room. I thought the main problem was the fireplace and over mantel. I did not like the grey marble against the wallpaper, and the over mantel I made was nice but I felt it too bulky in contrast to the other elements I had in the room.  I was looking at a bo0ok on Marble house and while looking at the dining room I new what I wanted. Before I begin, here are some before and after pictures of the changes I made:

The room before
Not happy with the fireplace

a little fancier

Not happy with the wall around the bed

a bed fit for a countess

As you can see, and I'm sure it does not come as a surprise, the "change the fireplace" turned into a small renovation of the whole room. Well, let's start at the beginning...
As I mentioned I was not happy with the fireplace wall. I loved the shape of the rococo mantel so I ordered an identical one, but as I was browsing I found an over mantel that matched it perfectly. I purchased it and decided to finish it to look like Numidian Rose Marble

It is a very intense pink colored marble and I love it. Originally I just wanted to highlight a few details in gold, but after looking at those pictures of Marble house I decided to add more gold to make the room more opulent and I think it works with the style of the mantel and over mantel. Here is a comparison shot of the before and after

I think the new one has a much grandeur and more feminine feel to it. When I was test fitting it I noticed the wallpaper between the new pieces was ripped when I pulled off the old. My solution was to make a big piece of "marble" and glue the mantel and over mantel over it.

This was just a piece of illustration board with doorframe molding on it. I liked the effect and glued it in

Originally the applique's over the window dressing were white with gold detail, but when the new fireplace went in I thought they would look better all in gold. The oval frame over the mirror is a gold broach my mother gave me to use in the Manor.

Just a note on the mantel, over mantel and applique's. If you use Sue Cook or Jim Coates castings you get perfect, smooth miniatures. These are from Unique Miniatures. They are rough, need sanding, filling and I also had to heat them with a hair dryer to soften them up and strengthen them. They are beautiful but there is a lot of prep work involved with Unique miniatures, but I think you can get good results if you take the proper time to clean them up.

The Bed Nook

I was really happy with the fireplace wall so I turned my attention to the bed. I tried putting up artwork, curtains...nothing really impressed me. While I worked on the fireplace I had an idea: Why not surround the bed in marble as well.

In the picture above you can see I took illustration board, cut to the height of the room and drew on the position of the bed. Here is a shot of the back

I could have just left it flat, but this gave me the opportunity to create a cavity for sconce wires. I then turned it over and placed the architectural elements I had to create a design I liked

The wonderful corbels are from Jim Coates and the little angel applique at the top was on my original over mantel for this room. I painted the architectural element with gold paint and marbleized the rest. I was lucky enough to find a site that analysed the colors of marble. To create the Pink Numidian marble I used a coat of  Coral Blush, then a coat of Antique Mauve, and finally French Mauve, all from Americana Paints. I applied them using different sea sponges and I used an old brush to create the veins.

Someone commented that my marble had very long veins and not many secondary or tertiary veins. I agree! I've noticed the more veins I add the less I like the look of my marble and it feels less real. Also, in real life, I tend to like pieces of marble with very little veining.

In the picture above you can see what it looked like. I was ready to glue it in but figured this was the perfect time to make sure it was going in the best spot. I tried it on the back wall

I liked that the bed was more private and by the window, but I thought it was too much pink and red on one side of the room so put it back where it originally went

The sconces match the chandelier I have for the room and I think they look perfect. While the marble piece was good, I felt the top of the bed was missing a canopy. I got some Styrofoam balls and cut a quarter piece of it. I then chose a fabric that worked with the bedding and cut it into triangles.

I covered the quarter ball with the Ultimate Glue and placed the fabric on. Wherever the triangle pieces met I glued on some gold twisted cord I had and then topped it with a small jewelry piece.

In the next picture you can see the back is unfinished and the braid is glued under the canopy. If you can't see it, it's good enough.

Wall Panels

Everything was coming together, but the walls still bothered me. I know many homes have chair rails to protect the walls, but in my mind a chair rail should separate 2 different wall colors or finishes. So, I taped of the chair rails and baseboards and painted the wallpaper in between them white. It took 5 coats of paint but was well worth it. Then I taped off the chair rail and painted it with gold paint

I also added appliques over the doors. Again I originally painted them white with a little gold detail, which took forever, just to realize they were better all gold. to fill the white wall under the chair rail I purchased Unique Miniatures wall appliques. I'll repeat myself, I painted them white and detailed them in gold, just to realize they were better all patience!!! They looked a bit lost on the white wall so I took a thin cardboard ( the back of a workbook) and marbleized it to match the room.

I glued them into place and finally, I was happy with the room.

It has that grand feeling I was looking for but still does not look too vulgar. I think the Countess will be pleased.
I had another copy of the painting in the original over mantel which was perfect in the room, so I framed it and glued it over the desk. I actually think it looks better
And that is another room done. There is no better feeling then finishing a room which was just not right.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas everyone. The staff is busy getting the ballroom ready for the party
 I won't be posting until after the holidays, so I just want to wish everyone all the best for a wonderful holiday season. I thank each and every one of you for all your kindness and friendliness. I truly do have the best followers ever. Many Hugs to you and your loved ones, and here's to a wonderful, peaceful 2015

As I mentioned I will be on holiday as of Wednesday and have many mini projects ligned up...I won't say just what, but here are a few clues...

There is one room...just one...that I never liked at all in the manor

Thank you all my dear friend. I'll see you in 2015. I have to run now, Ozzy is in the window again waiting for Santa

 Huge hugs to all,