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,

Friday, 20 June 2014

Twins' Bedroom and Dining Room renovation updates

Hello my dear friends,

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying a lovely month of June. I must be honest, after your incredible feedback on the last post about the Breakfast Room it is a little intimidating to write a post with very little to say, but I promised I would give you an update in 2 or 3 weeks so here it is.

May I present the Twins' Bedroom

Originally this was to young master's bedroom. Here is an older picture to jog your memory...

I loved this room! I loved the bedroom furniture, I loved the wallpaper... It was simple but I thought it really had the old Manor feel. Then I received a wonderful birthday present from my friend Ray: A Sheraton Summer Bed from the incredibly talented June Clinkscales.

The detail in her work is incredible! Her drapery and attention to detail is amazing and I encourage you all to visit her website http://www.miniaturesbyjune.com/

The bed was beautiful and it worked really well in the young master's Room, but I did not like the old paper with the new bed. It just did not work for me so the simplest solution was, even though it broke my heart, to change the wallpaper. I looked hard and long and decided on a pattern called Hindoustan from Les Chinoiseries.
I glued all the wallpaper in the Manor with real life good quality wallpaper paste. The paper on the walls was really well attached so I just cut the new one to size and pasted it over the old one. Once the paper was installed I had a tiny little gap at the top of the room just under the crown molding. I took out some pieces of chair rail molding, painted them to match the crown molding and ceiling, and just glued them directly under the crown molding... no more gaps.

I'll be perfectly honest, I don' regret covering up the old paper. I think the room looks better with the Hindoustan. I had decided, because I thought the room would look more feminine, that the young master would be replace by twin daughters. However, now that the new wallpaper is up, I think it still feels very masculine...so no more twin girls, but twin boys. It's my house and I'll change the family as much as I like ;)
That is all I have ''done'' since my last post. Since then my brother got married, we had to work on the yard for summer, and I spent last weekend making plans for the Dining room renovation project...
Here is what the room looked like last weekend

I already purchased the new chandelier and sconces for the room and I planned on removing the baseboard and making a new parquet floor. However, The room always felt like it was missing something, so I started thinking, and thinking, and thinking... Well, after all that thinking here is what the Dining room looks like today!

I won't go into detail about what felt wrong and what changes I decided on, that will be in my next post, but I will share just 2 pictures of my experimenting:

I know exactly what the room will look like. All I will say for now is grapes, marble and more marble. I hope to unveil the new Great Dining Room in 3 or 4 weeks...I hope!!!
I also wanted to let everyone know about an auction of Cookie Ziemba and Eunice Gold Miniatures. You can view the auction catalogue here . I have been a long time fan of Cookie's collection and there are incredible pieces available. Some estimates are as low as $10.00 so if you are interested take a look .I believe the auction is on July 23d.
Thank you all once again for your great feedback, your great kindness, and the incredible inspiration you share with your blogs. I appreciate it all much more then you can know.
I wish you all the best and send you all a great big hug,

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Breakfast Room

Hello my friends,

I hope you are all doing well and that life is treating you kindly. Yesterday I finally finished the Breakfast Room. It is one of the smaller rooms of the Manor, but the finishes were a lot of work. So without further ado, here it is





You may remember this room was originally going to be a loggia, but I had a really hard time visualising the space. I went from a very Tudor brick and wood beam design, to an Alhambra inspired design, then a mosaic Loggia as per the Breakers. I decided to stop thinking about it as an open space and thought of the breakfast room in the Elms, my favourite mansion in Newport, and I fell in love with the idea and it all came together.

Here is what the structure looked like when I started,

The first step was to design the space. The space measures about 13 x 13 inches and I knew I wanted a fireplace and large arched windows between the columns,
 I cut all the wall sections I needed out of double thick illustration board and used basswood strips to frame them properly.
Building the elements of the room was simple enough, but there were many so I'll go over them one at a time (sorry, it might be a long post) ;)

Fireplace and Overmantel

The focal point of many rooms for me is the fireplace. I love fireplaces! Like most of what I do it started with a simple structure made from illustration board, basswood framing, and basswood molding,

This is the wall section which is removable. The cutouts on the left are for the chinoiserie panels, and the ones on the right are for the firebox and the overmantel.
The fireplace is pretty straight forward. The front is illustration board, the sided and frame are basswood, and the curved top part is made from cardboard shipping tubes. It took a bit of fiddling to cut the 3 pieces to fit, but I love the look of it.

To fill the void between the arched top of the front piece and the curved tube section I used regular spackle. The resin corbels are from Unique miniatures. I found some circle jewelry bits and used them to add a little detail to the front piece. I just sanded them lightly and glues them on. When it was assembled I put on several coats of gesso, sanding between each to make the mantel look like one big carved piece.

Originally, as per my drawings, I wanted a chinoiserie panel over the mantel. Since the chimney was really deep I decided to use the space and make shelves. Again, the back of the unit is illustration board, the sides are cardboard tubes, and the shelves and back frame are basswood.

At this point it was time for a dry run to make sure I was happy with the design.

To cover the gaps between the cardboard tube and illustration board of the shelf unit I used a piece of thin cardboard cut to the height of each shelf section. Actually I used the back of a workbook. the cardboard was thin enough that it could be curved without bending.

To finish the fireplace I made a simple firebox with illustration board and some leftover plastic brick sheet I had. I love yellow and black as a colour combination so I painted the mantel to look like giallo sienna marble and used jewelry bits and leftover materials to make the black insert. I glued it together, painted it with black paint, and sprayed on several coats of clear glaze to make it shiny.

The next step was to faux finish all the structural elements and let them dry. I decided to put marble columns between the window section so the fireplace would not stand out too much...but I must say I am very proud of this mantel.

Chinoiserie Panels

The next element was the chinoiserie panels. you may remember the Chinese tea room which already had this look. I love chinoiserie and have no problem using the same trick twice. However I decided the panels in the breakfast Room would be only black and gold.
I make a lot of detailed drawings, but when the time comes to paint them I never try to copy exactly but just go with the flow. These panels are much bigger then the ones in the other room so I tried to paint more detailed buildings.
And here are the finished panels. I asked an artist at the art supply store what to use to get the smoothest black base and he suggested a sponge roller. It looks okay, but I think I got a smoother finish using a fine brush and watering down the paint a little.

Here is a close up of one of one panel. I could have added more detail and people, but as I have said many times I am not incredibly gifted at painting and I do not enjoy it. I am one of those people who's hands shake a lot when I am doing fine detail work so I decided to stop before I messed up ...but I do like the effect.
The Floor
As mentioned in my last post I originally planed on making a simple square pattern on the floor, mainly because the room was already taking so long and I was at a standstill until the floor was installed. My husband told me, very diplomatically, that I could do better and 2 of my dearest friends told me my signature in miniatures are my floors, so I went back to the drawing board.
First I made a template of the room and cut it out of illustration board
I drew on guidelines for the wood pieces
Next I drew up the pattern of the floor design and numbered each piece. I started by gluing down the centre of the medallions...

Then all the dark wood frame...

next I filled in all the sections

And finally I put 2 coats of shellac and waxed the floor, then glued it down.

For friends who are new, I use shellac flakes dissolved in 99% Isopropanol. The flakes come in different colours and I think it makes a really beautiful finish. I used regular dark floor wax to finish it because it fills any holes or cracks nicely and adds to the "old floor" look. The marble is a piece of illustration board I painted leftover from the Entrance hall floor.

The Ceiling

The ceiling was a cast piece I used in the Chinese Tea Room and the Prayer room. Because it is about 1/2 inch thick I put down a basswood strip spacer all around the room to hold the crown molding. I then painted it off white.

Next I made a template of the ceiling and cut it out on the cast pieces. It chipped a lot when I was cutting it but I was able to camouflage a lot when it was painted. Since there is a lot of light in the room I decided to paint the ceiling blue to mimic the sky. I painted it off white, then filled in the blue section, did touch ups, then painted the gold detail. I glued it down and then installed the pre-painted crown molding.

Here is a look at it right side up against the wall sections.


The first step was to take the wall sections and glue in a structural frame for the windows the same thickness as the acrylic pane I used.

I then cut my window molding and assembled the individual frames

I glued them onto the spacer frame. The window frame was just a bit wider then the spacer so I turned it over and glued down the horizontal mullion strips which were the same thickness as the spacers.

The last step was to install vertical mullions strips. I just cut one long length and glued it over the horizontal ones. The illusion works well and then I glued down the acrylic pane. I originally planned on carving sea shells to put over each window and panel section, but I found some jewelry bits in the shape of suns at my mom's house and thought it would be appropriate for the Breakfast Room. I sanded them, painted them and glued them down.

I wanted proper Victorian curtains to finish the room but was worried that it would block the windows since that is the only way to see this room. I tried making just 2 or 3 pleats but it was just too much with the windows and the columns so I decided to make wood shutters. I cut all the lumber I needed, put a few together and when I had a test fit those also took away from the room so I decided not to put anything at all. I actually like the room as is. This room faces north and the rose gardens, so I don't think drapes would be necessary to protect the furniture.

Ray Whitledge showed me how to make the tablecloth and I think it adds just enough yellow to the room to balance it out.
And that is all my loyal friends. Here are a few pictures of the finished project:

shots of the empty room

Jo commented that the black column base looked wrong, so I added white veining to make them look like marble.

This is what it looks like for the exterior. The window section are glued down, but the door section comes off so you can get a better view. I am not sure if the top will remain a balcony, or if I want to build an iron and "glass" conservatory.

I made the fireplace wall removable so I could get into the room to place furniture and accessories and also do any repairs that might be needed. The thickness of the floor and the crown molding act as stopper to keep the section in place.

The chandelier goes in the countess's bedroom. I plan on purchasing the Antoinette chandelier from the Getzans for this room.


And that my dear friends is all. It was a long room to make, but I must admit it is one of my favourites in the Manor. My next project will be renovations to finished rooms. I will try to post in 2 or 3 weeks with updates.
Thank you all once again for all your support and kindness throughout my mini adventures. I feel very privileged to have you all as followers and am always inspired by your work.
I send you all a great big hug,