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,


Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Earl's Bedroom is finished!

Hello everyone,
I hope you are all doing well. Once again I was overwhelmed by your wonderful and kind comments on my last post. Thank you all so much, I really appreciate your feedback. Thank you for long time friends for commenting, and thank you to new friend who just joined the adventure. The last few weeks have been spent finishing the Earl's Bedroom. 

The room with only the Bluette sconces on

This was not a renovation job, but more of a finishing job. This is the way the room looked before:

And here it is after:

The last time I posted about the room I had built the columns and griffins that frame the bed alcove. The furniture is the Wexburgh collection from Bespaq. As I mentioned last post I love Tudor style and wanted the earl's bedroom to reflect that. I was very happy with the room itself and only planned on dressing the bed.

Dressing the bed:
The first step in dressing the bed was deciding on a design. I have several books on English country houses and I fell in love with the Queen Elizabeth bed in Burghley house. The second step was choosing a fabric. I looked around for months and found nothing I was excited about. One day I was at the fabric store looking for fabric to make drapes in my real life dinning room and I looked up, saw a fabric and I had to have it. I did not care what it was or how much it was PERFECT!

In the above picture you see the Queen Elizabeth bed on the right, and on the left you can see the gold fabric I fell in love with, the brown silk I had and decided to use as a lining fabric, the gold trim rope and a sample of the wallpaper in the room.

The first step was making the bedcover. It was very similar to making the quilt in the Countess's bedroom, except I did not quilt the top and did not put any delicate details like flowers on it. I wanted the bed to feel more masculine.

Above you can see the back of the bedcover on the right and on the left is the pattern I made to cover the mattress. Here below is the top of the bedcover just after I finished stitching the sides shut.

Just a note on fabric choices.  I usually make sure the fabric is silk or cotton and light enough to work easily in miniature, and also I usually look for a small pattern that is to scale. This one was thick, heavy, kept coming unravelled along the cut edges and I wasted a lot of fabric because the pattern was so big. It was a pain to work with, but as I said it was exactly what I had hoped for so I was mentally ready for the challenge. The rope I used to decorate the bedcover was really thick and it was hard to push a needle through it, so I glued it on using Ayleen's Tacky Glue and pinned it into place while it dried.

The next step was the bed skirt. I cut thin cardboard to the exact measurements I wanted with scalloped edges. I did not want a ruffled skirt because I thought it looked less masculine and in the books I have many Tudor beds had flat skirts. I glued on the bed fabric making sure the pattern lined up the way I wanted it to, then I glued on the rope on the good side, pinned it down and let it dry

In the picture above the you can tell I creased the cardboard before I covered it. I don't like gluing onto the visible edged of my mini furniture in case I decide to redo them (as you all know I have a reputation for renovating older projects), so I glued wood strips under the frame of the bed to which I could glue the skirt.

I put the Ultimate Glue and dots of gel superglue on the wood strip and on the top of cross beams that hold the mattress. If I ever take of the skirt, the finished side of the bed will not be damaged.

After the glue dried, I glued the mattress that came with the bed over the folded edges of the skirt and glued the bedcover to the mattress and the skirt to keep it in place.

I then took single thickness illustration board and cut out 2 pieces for the top of the bed, and I took simple cardboard and cut out a piece for the back of the headboard. In the next picture you can see I covered both pieces of the top of the bed on one side with the fabric, then glued them together so you would not see the folded over fabric thickness on either side. I also glued fabric to one side of the cardboard piece for the headboard.

And here you can see them glued into place.

The next step was the curtains for the bed. Originally I tried Judée Williamson's technique of machine sewing a gathering stitch at the top of the fabric, but the fabric was so thick it did not want to cooperate at all so I went to plan B.

I machine sewed the brown silk backing to the gold fabric and used my Pretty Pleater to shape them. I steamed them into place and then pinned them onto a piece of foam core board to tighten pleats. When I was happy with hem I covered them in a few layers of cheap hairspray.

When dry, I glued the tops of the curtains to the inside of the bed canopy and to the bedcover and skirt. I used pins to shape them. Words of advice: be careful if you use a backing fabric. the brown silk got glued tot he bedcover but the gold fabric did not. I have permanently left pins in the curtains to keep them in place. Luckily they do not show too much.

I used the Ultimate Glue because it dries clear and holds really well.

I then sewed a few pillows the same way I did for the countess's bed, but once again I trimmed them with the rope instead of lace.

Next I cut cardboard to go around the top of the bed canopy. In the next picture you can see the cardboard pieces glued onto the gold fabric. I then covered the second side...

...and then glued on the rope to finish the edges to match the skirt and cover, and I glue on a piece of gold painted wood trim to give me something to glue to the bed.

And here are pictures of the finished bed.

The curtains do not hang as straight as I wanted, but in order to do that I would have had to glue the curtains over the carved edge of the canopy, and made a valance that covered the entire top of the bed. I like the carving too much and did not want to risk ruining the finish, so I tried to shape the curtains to look good. If anyone does not like the fact that the curtains do hang straight down, my story is the earl ordered a new mattress that was a bit wider then the bed which is why the curtains tent a little ;) But I must say I am really happy with the result and proud of this bed. And now the rest of the furniture:

I was afraid of trying to reupholster bought pieces. I am always afraid of ruining them. However, you can see by the ''before'' picture at the beginning of the blog that the white fabric on the chairs did not work in the room, and the chaise fabric was not great with the dressed bed. After seeing the picture of the Queen Elizabeth bed with the matching chairs and stools, I ripped off the fabric on the furniture so I would have no choice but to reupholster them.

Above you can see the chairs, chaise and the curtains for the bedroom after I updated them. Below you can see the top of the window dressing is illustration board covered in fabric, and the curtains were shaped in the pretty pleater and I glued double thick illustration board to the back of them so they would never lose their shape. Some people think the Pretty pleater makes the pleats look to stiff and perfect, but not me. I am the man who, when washing my real life curtains, adds starch to the final rinse  cycle, puts the drapes up still wet, and shapes each individual pleat.

I will not explain how I upholstered because I am really not that great at it and there many other artists out there who can give much better instructions then I can. I also did not really enjoy it and won't try it again unless I absolutely have to. I glued the window dressing into place and thought the room was done.

 It looked nice but something bothered me! The fireplace wall was empty so I took out all the paintings I had to find the one that was perfect for that spot...nothing! I tried the imitation tapestries I have...nothing! After much thought I decided it needed an over mantel!

Over Mantel
I had many pieces of leftover lumber faux finished to look like walnut. I took a piece of faux finished illustration board and played around with the lumber strips to make a design I liked and that worked with the fireplace.

When I was finished I held it in place to see the effect. It worked well with the design around the fireplace, but it still looked wrong...

After a few minutes I decided to cover the sides of the chimney as well on each side of the over mantel...

Perfection! It finally had that imposing look I wanted and had not been able to achieve. Here is a shot I particularly like:
I do not have the chandelier for this room yet, which will be the Bluette from the Getzans, but I used one of the chandeliers for the kitchen as a substitute in order to get better pictures for this post.

And that it is my friends. Another room done, except for the carpet which I want to change. Next I have to dress the bed in the girl's room, the cribs in the nursery, make wall ovens in the kitchen, and I decided to make a few upgrades tot he Countess's bedroom...stay tuned!
I hope you enjoy this post because it will be a while until my next one. Jo and I are leaving on holiday so I won't be commenting on your blogs for a little while. I promise I will catch up when I get back.  Thank you all once again for following my work and for giving me the privilege of following yours. If you follow me and I do not follow you please let me know so I want to add myself to your followers list. I have recently joined Facebook, but I rarely leave comments on there. Working on my minis, my blog, and following your blogs takes up all my free time and I just can't manage Facebook as well, so don't think I am snubbing you...I look at everything but just can't comment.
Have a great couple of weeks and I'll be back to comment after our trip.
A great big hug to all,