Thursday, 23 March 2017

The new countess' bedroom!

Hello everyone,

I'm back! I hope you have all been well. It has been ages since my last post and I do apologize. After my last post we started real life renovations we wanted done before we became dads. Everything got done just in time for Christmas and now we are waiting for the call telling us a baby is waiting. I was finally able to start work on miniatures again in January, and last weekend I finally finished the countess' bedroom...again, but for the last time.

Before I go on, here is a look at all the  incarnation of the room.

Originally as a dressing room...
...then as a bedroom for the lady of the house...

...then as a bedroom for a countess inspired by Marble House....
..and finally, a bedroom a  countess can really be proud of, inspired by Rosecliff!

I tried to rework this room many times, as you all know. It always felt too much like a doll's house room: The marble was too pink, the white panels and gold detail was a bit much, the wallpaper bothered me, but most of all I never liked the layout of the room. After several failed attempts, I decided the only solution was to start from scratch. I think it was the right decision...

The Princess Pat chandelier is one of the few survivors of the renovation

Demolition and planning

The first step was gutting the room. I stripped as much off as I could and sanded anything left on. You might remember I made the rooms 6 inches deeper in order to make the kitchen below bigger. The bedroom was now 30 inches by 20 inches and 12 inches high.

I tried different layouts. I used the 6 inches at the back for closets and was going to put the fireplace between the window and the bed across from it.

I had  a brilliant reason to switch the fireplace to the wall in front of it...I just can't remember what that reason was! Anyway, I committed to a plan and cut out all the walls for the room in double thick illustration board.

The design for the room was inspired by the dining room at Rosecliff in Newport. The picture above shows 2 layers of double thick illustration board; one layer was to cover up all the imperfections and old openings on the walls, and the top layer was to create all the paneling.

The Fireplace wall

The fireplace wall was the main focal point of the room. I ordered plasterwork and a mantel from Sue Cook Miniatures and had several test runs.

The picture above was my favorite direction so I reworked the chimney to house the elements the way I had laid them out.

The curved part of the chimney is single thickness illustration board. The double would be too hard to get the curved line and still look clean. I painted everything with 4 coats of Seashell white from delta Ceramcoat. The next step was the mantel...

It took me 7 hours to paint it to look like Pavonazzo marble. It was a long process but worth the work. The base layer was antique gold paint, then a layer of triple thick clear glaze, sponged on seashell white, another glaze layer, sponge on light Ivory, another glaze layer, chocolate colored veins, glaze, white specks painted on in between the close veins, and a final coat of glaze. The layers of glaze are what really make the marble look realistic.

When the mantel was dry I glued on the plaster elements with The Ultimate Glue.

The Closets

Next, I worked on the closet on the right side of the door. I knew you would only see about half an inch of the closet through the door, but since it is  a bedroom and you never know what a mirror might reflect, I went ahead and made a full closet unit.

It is made of basewood and a leftover copper pipe. I taped together the side walls of the unit to make grooves for the shelves.

After the lined were scored with a utility knife I chiseled them out with a jewellers screwdriver.

I assembled it with wood glue and painted it to match the bedroom walls. On the left side of the bedroom door I was going to make a bathroom. I painted faux marble walls and when I had a dry fit I felt the 6 by 6 inch space was ridiculously small in a grand room, so I scrapped that and made more closets. I decided to faux finish them to look like wood so they would be more visible.

The closet on the left was inspired by an antique wardrobe I found online

It was a lot of work for 2 clothes which will barely show. However, when I had a dry run I saw something I had not noticed. You can see right into the left closet from the door that leads to the earl's bedroom

For those wondering what the white dots on the panels of the earl's bedroom are, I decided it also needed a bit of work...I know, I can't stop myself

So, all the work was not wasted. I cut out the ceiling of the closet and will eventually fill it with clothes. I will definitely try making some...but not just yet!

The Window Wall

The last wall section to prepare was the window wall.

I wanted a niche detail to house the countess bed...not a deep one, just to add a bit of architectural detail. When the four coats of paint were on, I added the plasterwork detail, made the window cases, glues on the wallpaper panels with regular wallpaper paste, added the trim, and finally made curtains from some green silk.

I still need to make the actual windows, but I really needed to post something. The wallpaper is Roche from Les Chinoiserie. I picked it up on our last trip to Barcelona at Ananda Miniatures.

The Floor and Ceiling

The only survivor of the demolition was the floor. I always lay my wood floors on illustration board subfloors, and luckily only the bottom part of the subfloor stayed glued to the floor. The rest came out in one piece and in pretty good condition.

When I had a dry fit, I realized the medallion would no longer be centered on the floor, not to mention I had an extra 6 inches to cover. I was able to slice of about an inch and a half on each end of the floor and made a new section that blended in quite nicely. I was so happy I was able to get a pretty close match with the french polish. After I glued it in I cut out a section for the back of the fireplace and the marble hearth.

The ceiling is a piece of illustration board. It really is the simples way to cover any leftover bits of the textured ceiling paper I ripped off. I still need to add the ceiling rose I purchased, but not until construction on the kitchen below is complete and I am ready to install the chandeliers.

The Bedding

I realized the bedding I had made was too pale for the room, not to mention the pillows and the toip of the mattress were really flat. 

I decided the mattress, a simple piece of 1 1/4inch foam, was the problem so I made new ones. I glued together 1/4 inch foamboard and covered the sided with fiberfill for one matress, and covered the sides and top of the other. I then covered each one with white cotton fabric glued down with Aleene's tacky glue.

I tried to stay true to the Victorian way: A bottom straw mattress, a top hair mattress, and a featherbed to top it all off. The featherbed is 2 layers of fabric I sewed on 3 sides, stuffed with 1/4 inch of foam, then sewed the top shut and tufted it.

The final step was to cover it all with a protective sheet (to protect the mattresses from dust and fireplace ashes). I glued it down but tried to make it look like it was tucked under the bottom matress

The final step was making a new bedspread made from the green silk I used for curtains. It is pretty much the same technique as the first one. You can look it up here. The green one looks much better, but I still need to work on a bolster and more pillows... and I'm not entirely convinced the lilac fabric on the headboard is going to stay.

The green one looks much better, but I still need to work on a bolster and more pillows... and I'm not entirely convinced the lilac fabric on the headboard is going to stay.

And that is all for this time. Here are a few pictures of the furnished room...

I will also need a lamp for the nights stand

This is the view from the earl's bedroom door

And since I am really pleased with it, here are a few pictures of the empty room

I am pretty advanced with the new breakfast room and countess' study, so it should not be too long before my next post. Until then, I hope you enjoy the countess' new bedroom and I look forward to following your wonderful work on your blogs.

Big hug to all,


Saturday, 24 September 2016

Renovations and a look at things to come...

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all well. I know I say this all the time,  but thank you to everyone who took the time to leave a comment on my last post. You're feedback is always much appreciated. I decided to post today because we are starting real life renovations again...hopefully these will be the last, and it might be a while before I can work on my miniatures again, but I wanted to show you what was done in the last month and what is to come...

Before I go on, I just wanted to thank all of you who were sending positive thoughts our way. It worked! On September 13th at 4:02 pm, my husband Jo and I were told by our social workers that we were accepted and are officially on the adoption waiting list. It might take weeks, it might take years, but the next time we get a call from them should  be to tell us they have a match and we are going to be dads. Once again, thank you for your wonderful kindness and support!

Back to miniatures. Once again, this is what happens when I am left to my own devices. Here is a picture of the manor 3 weeks ago...

And here it is today

It now measures 10 feet 4 inches (315cm). In the picture the new south wing is in place (the section on the right). The cardboard boxes are to show the unbuilt section that will house the food preparation room and the banquet hall which will have a table for 20 people.

I removed the small section which was on the left of the manor which housed the breakfast room and built a new 3 storey North wing.

The wing will house a new breakfast room, a study for the countess and the gabled attic area will be a linen or clothes closet which opens into the sewing room. Since it will be a while before my next post, here are the plans for the new rooms:


I loved the old kitchen, but there just wasn't enough cooking surfaces. I added on to the structure so it will be 6 inches deeper, making the kitchen 20 x 30 inches (50 x 76 cm).

Here is the kitchen before...

And here are the plans for after

The left side will have a new chimney based on the ones that were in Chatsworth house

It will be finished to look like stone and will house a 10 inch ''cast iron'' cooking range. The foamcore model in the picture is actually  1 1/2  inches smaller then my final plan. The old kitchen had a fake door on the back wall, but in the pictures you can see the new kitchen has a real opening which means you will be able to look into the Tudor hall. Next to the door I drew a square that will be a dumb waiter leading to the 3d floor for the banquet hall and the basement for the new scullery. The windows will also be larger so more natural light will make it easier for the staff to work in.

The left wall will have a matching chimney with a roasting range, complete with smoke-jack, and wall ovens for baking. I love built ins, so I incorporated 3 arched openings in  the walls. The back one will be the butlers pantry, the one to the left of the chimney will house a 6 inch wide by 5 inch tall ice box, and the one to the right of the chimney will have cabinets and shelves to display my copperware collection. The finishes in the room will remain very similar to the style of the old kitchen.

Breakfast room

I also loved this room, but the problem with the old breakfast room was that it was just too tight. It was originally intended to be a loggia, but as a breakfast room for a family of 6 there was no way to move around the table.

The new breakfast room will a bigger version of the room.

It will be finished to look like walnut paneling and have black chinoiserie lacquer panels on the center of the back wall and over the doorcases. Above the fireplace will be a large mirror and since the room is 2 inches taller, the windows will let in more light and will have gold silk curtains that match the tablecloth.

Countess' bedroom

I have made this room over several times and still am not happy....I know, I said I was when I last renovated it...I changed my mind!

Since it is above the kitchen it will also be bigger. However, 20 x 30 inches seemed too big compared to the other bedrooms, so I decided to add closets at the back of the room

There will be a closet on each side of the entrance to the room. I will build shelves so when you look into the door opening you will be able to see the boxes of clothes and ladies items I have purchased. The new fireplace will be in between the windows.

The bed will now be centered on the other wall facing the fireplace. I think the lack of symmetry in the room was what most bothered me. The door on the left of the bed leads to the earl's bedroom, and the one on the right leads to the countess's study. The room will be white paneling and have green fabric panels. Luckily, when I destroyed the room, I was able to save the floor with the medallion. The room is 6 inches deeper, but since I made the closets 6 inches deep as well the floor will work perfectly in the new room. Yay!

Countess' study

The new room above the breakfast room will be a study for lady Dewel . It might be finished to match the countess' bedroom, but I have not yet committed to that idea. The doorways and window openings in the countess' suite will be bigger then the cutouts, but I needed to have an idea where they will be when I cut the illustration board wall panels.

Ballroom floor

I wanted to start work on the ballroom floor as soon as the library was finished, but choosing a design for the floor has been my biggest floor challenge to date. After much thought and dozens of drawings, I have decided to make one huge medallion in the center of the room.

Mu ruler is in the picture to give you an idea of the space. The room is fairly simple esthetically and most floor ideas I had were too busy. I think the one huge medallion with a simpler fill around it will work best.

And that is all on my end. Jo and I will be going on holiday at the end of the month...most likely our last before we will be papa and daddy (it is important to us that our baby speaks French, English and Italian) so I will not be commenting on your blogs at that time.

I wish you all the best and once again thank you for following my adventures. I have several new followers and I must apologize if I am not following some of them. I used to be able to click on their picture and find their blogs, but lately blogger won't let me do that anymore. If you leave me a message in the comment section with your blog address, I would love to follow your adventures as well.

A great big hug to all