Friday, April 28, 2017

The Word For The Week Is...

The word for the week boys and girls is TRIM. ~T~R~I~M~ TRIMmmmmmmmm...

Got the window trim for the first floor installed. I'm kind of liking this Batrie style construction (a.k.a. layer cake) because you can finish stuff off as you go along, and don't really have to contort yourself to reach into the rooms to add wallpaper, trims etc... I studied some window trim photos online, looked at my stash of trims, then made something up as I went along. The funny thing is, in the end, the window coverings will hide a good bit of the effort!

Do the thresholds on mini doors kind of bug you? They don't really look like our real ones, and if the flooring is consistent throughout the house they just seem kind of unnecessary. Except of course if your doors happen to swing using a top and bottom pin rather than actual hinges. If you want them to be operational, you have to make them hinged or figure out how to install a pin up through the flooring below the door. For my front door, I did a little experimenting to see if I could actually get rid of the bulky threshold. I ended up gluing it shut permanently, which is A-OK by me.

This is an old Hofco door I acquired on eBay eons ago. The front door that came with the kit really looked like an interior door. It certainly was not worthy of a kit named the New Orleans. One of the problems Opportunities with using the new door was that it was significantly taller and wider than a "normal" dollhouse door. No worries - Just widen the doorway a little. But, because of the fancy pediment on top, if I installed it flush to the floor the small sidelight window trim got in the way. Another great reason to get rid of the threshold and raise the door to clear the sidelight trim.

To correct the shortness, I added a piece of wood the thickness of the door and the height I needed to make it meet the floor.

Once I painted it and added additional trim pieces to the door, it looked like it had always been that tall! (note that the baseboard trim could now be installed.

I still have to install the outside door trim, but I'll wait until I do the porch flooring. That way, I can slide the flooring under instead of having to cut the flooring to go around. Smart cookie or just made a lot of mistakes experienced? I'll let you decide...

I got as much of the baseboard and chair rail trim installed as I could before actually gluing the walls together. The kit is unique in that it has routed corner moldings which actually join the walls together. The result is corner molding on the interior wherever the walls meet. This makes installing the trim a little tricky. It's great in some aspects because you don't have to miter the trim for the corners on the chair rail or baseboards. But - when it comes to thicker trims like the crown molding, you have to engineer it a bit. More on that in a minute...

So, I stopped there with the trims and moved my attention to erecting the walls and getting them glued and nailed onto the foundation. After all, you can't really miter crown molding for walls that are not even attached together yet.

I thought maybe it might be better to add the flooring before I glued the walls down. Less tracing and maybe accidentally cutting something too short... I had four sheets of Houseworks Walnut flooring saved for this project, and it's a good thing I did. I have a lot of wood veneer sheets, but not many of the same variety. So, small flooring jobs are great, but with this much floor space, I am glad I had them in the stash. Note to self: This is why it is GOOD to stock up when supplies go on SALE!

I ran all of the flooring the same direction as the foundation joists, which in real life is a big no no. But hey - that's why we love minis, right? My house, my rules! This was a lot easier for installation because I did not have to create staggered boards at the seams - a real pain in the @$$ job that sometimes does not go so well. I also had to strain my varnish using a coffee filter. Does anyone else get dried specs like I do? Even in fresh bottles?

I tried the ultra matte finish the first time and it was really blah, so after a sanding I applied a satin. Yes, after straining that one, too! After it was good and dry, I glued and nailed the walls to the foundation. I put the ceiling/second floor on with weights to help everything seat flat. Kind of neat to see how it will look with the next floor on!

Now it was back to trim work. I had to add strips of trim to fill the space between the corner moldings. That way, I could add the crown molding just like any other job.

Until I install the two interior dividing walls, I still can only get so far with the crown moldings.

They are glued together, finally, but I am still in the spackle/sanding cycle for a few more days. It's the drying time that really slows you down.

Meanwhile, I am working on the plans for the new fireplace wall, and will hopefully start on those this coming week.

This weekend my folks are having a huge garage sale. I'll be trying to convince complete strangers that they really need to buy stuff. The more they buy, the less my parents have to take with them to AZ!

Hope you have a wonderful and productive weekend!


Thursday, April 20, 2017

New Orleans Kit - First Challenges...

Before I could continue working on the Real Good Toys New Orleans kit, I needed a little organization. My very kind husband hung the new melamine shelf on the wall and added four very strong braces right into the wall studs. I have confidence that I can display a number of heavy projects up there with no worries. So, because I am organized everything in my little dollhousing world should go very smoothly, right? Oh brother...

I'm sure many of you are like me - going around in circles trying to figure out if you need to start with the chicken or the egg. I finally just decided to solve that riddle as I went. I jumped right in with the wallpaper, opting to go the round wire method instead of potentially dealing with another MDF/tapewire nightmare (search for "tapewire" in the blog search for all of the gory details). Opting is the semi unthruthful word, and I really just forgot to do the tapewire. I'm calling it a serendipitous save from the universe.

I had some textured ceiling paper sheets in the old wallpaper drawer so I thought I'd give it a try on the living room walls. I was worried about having too many wallpaper patterns competing, so this was a great solution. Solid matte color with a little texture. It has a vinyl coating which is great for wiping off any seeping wallpaper mucilage without damaging the paper. I applied it to the walls first, then painted with two coats of acrylic paint.

Before and after painting.

This photo shows the texture better.

I used the same textured paper in the kitchen, except painted it in white chalk paint. For the dining room, I used a combination of two complementary wallpaper patterns. Off to a great start, right?

I couldn't wait to do the dry fit with the poly-resin arched door frames. Finally, I'd get to see them against the finished walls and then congratulate myself an a well planned build. That's when the trouble began...

Remember the chimney breast/false wall I built? Well, I made the fireplace and bookshelf openings based on the amount of space I had left over after fitting the one arched door frame that I had on hand at the time. The other two I needed were on the way... But they are from molds and therefore should be exact, right? Um, no. Not even close!

So my homespun fireplace is pushed over too far to the left and sticks out from the wall...

And the door hole does not exactly accommodate the arched door frame. Hrmpf.

And, my measurements of the dividing wall between the kitchen and the dining room were off... because in the drawing program where I carefully laid out all of the walls (so that I would be able to use the already on hand kitchen cabinet kits), I FORGOT TO DEDUCT THE 1/8" WALL MATERIAL and I measured the wallpaper width from the end of the wall and not from the end of the trim. Duh! Rookie blunder 101! Not to worry, after all I am a professional, right? Ha! Keep dreaming. Well, at least I am a problem solver and if things get too funky it really is just a dollhouse, right?

So we trim back the wallpaper.

Modify the arched doorways by cutting off the parts that stick out and remove the part of the door frame that is now too wide for the dining room to living room side.

Mark and sand down the doorway to accommodate the much differently sized, newly arrived poly-resin arched door frame.

Glue and clamp...

Fill, sand, fill...

Fill, sand, fill...

Still more filling and sanding...

And still more filling and sanding left to do...

And just when you are ready for something to go right, you look at said homespun fireplace and can no longer kid yourself because you HATE it! It's too tall, too squished, the Michael's hutch top on the mantle is out of scale and the whole space is too tight with the bookshelves! Your sconces are just going to look stupid! So there is no other choice but to re-build the entire thing from scratch. And in some weird way, you are actually relieved because you did not settle for "meh".

A good thing to do when you are pouting trying to work through a problem is to paint. Sand and paint, sand and paint.

And stain stair treads,

And start on window trim.

And then spend the next three days helping your elderly parents pack up their entire lives because they bought a new house in Arizona and while you are so happy and proud of their bravery you have no idea how you will cope with how much you'll miss them.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Boring Details...

The next step in working on the New Orleans kit included the boring and repetitive details such as priming, painting and assembling windows. The necessary evil of the dollhousing process. Prime, sand, prime, sand, paint, sand, paint, sand, glue together, wait, seal, buff etc... I find that if I load a bunch of interesting videos to my YouTube Watch Later list, then press Play All, I can go for days repeating the same process on the same pieces, several times and not totally lose my mind. And just when I've reached the end of the Watch Later list, I've hopefully reached the end of the process. And with any luck at all, you get to look and be happy with your work...

A nice payoff for all the tedious work!

I started on the foundation. I knew I wanted brick, but not shiny new red brick. In my mind the house is an old one which has been lovingly updated by the new owner. I thought if I were refurbing an older home I'd want to fix up the old mortar and seal the bricks with a nice long lasting marine grade paint. I'd go white for a fresher look.

After doing so many types of bricks in the Three Little Pigs: Revenge project, I knew that I would not have the patience for the egg carton variety this time around. I used Magic Brik. It takes a while to separate the sticker from the brick waste, and is messy to apply, but there's nothing out there that looks more authentic and goes on so quickly. The nice thing is, if you let the messy dropped bits dry where they landed overnight you can recycle them easily. Just scoop them back into the mixing container (I use a Rubbermaid sandwich container). The next time you need mortar, add warm water and stir. It reconstitutes beautifully! If you'd like more info on the product, read this post.

To finish them off, I primed, painted and sealed them.

After setting the foundation aside to dry, I started to prime all of the first floor walls inside and out. I used a couple coats of primer, then painted the exterior clapboard and trim in the finish colors. The bright white LED fixture over my work table tends to cast a greenish tone on everything. Maybe seeing the paint chips will give a better idea on the two main exterior colors...

All the window frames were painted white.

Turning my attention to the inside, I cut and filled door and window openings, then got the walls primed and ready for wallpaper.

I test fit the new kitchen wall with the arch cut out...

The dining room in the back looks good through this doorway...

And this one... This is where I start to get excited!

I made the chimney breast out of foam core. It will serve also as the framing for the recessed bookcase. I am waiting for the matching arch to the dining room doorway. It will frame the bookcase.

The false wall will conceal the hub for the lighting. I will leave it accessible for future access.

I attempted to start on the stairs today. I am going to make some changes to the opening in the second floor and to the doorway to the bedroom, so I needed a test fit.

In looking at the stairs that came with the kit, they look to be a sort of press board. The kind that pills up when exposed to wet paint or stain.

After trying out a few test spots, I went ahead and ordered the really nice stair kit from HBS. The one with real wood treads. You get such a better result when the treads are separate. Trying not to get stain on the white parts in the all-in-one stairs is difficult for me!

It will be worth the wait to have the right kind of material. I've learned the hard way: don't rush and let a cheap or thrifty now solution cheapen the rest of the project in the long run. If you can wait and can eek something nicer out of the budget on a project like this, do it!

I think the next step is to solidify the lighting plan, then get started on the wallpapers and ceiling treatments. I hope to have a much better experience with the tape wire and MDF this time than I did with the barn. Prayers much appreciated!

Hope you all have an excellent week, a rejuvenating weekend and if you're so inclined - lots of chocolate from the Easter Bunny!

xx oo