Monday, June 30, 2014

Front Porch...Always Wanted One

I really do.  I mean I have a sort of porch in that there's a shaded area with the roof overhanging the house, but it's not a real porch. 

To me a porch should be at least five feet deep and elevated off the ground at least a foot or two.  It should run the width of the house or at least part of the house.  And it should have a railing or pillars, something to keep you from falling over the edge.  In order to be the best kind of porch it needs a good roof and lighting.  The kind of porch you can sit on in a rain storm and feel the dampness but you don't actually get wet.

Just a brief tangent, I actually started writing this three weeks ago.  I got caught up in doing stuff instead of writing about it.  Apologies.

And now...On with the post!

The dollhouse has a front porch that's way better than my own porch (the one on the real house).  It's not as deep as I'd like but it does run the width of the house and it's elevated about one and a half feet in dollhouse scale.  (One and a half inches or thereabouts.)

I didn't want to just paint it, because I really want it to look solid.  Like it's going to be around for a long time, through various incarnations of porch furniture.  So I played with the idea of stucco but I kinda picture this bungalow as being up on Lake Michigan's beaches in Wisconsin or Michigan.  And I don't see a lot of stucco up there.

So I thought stone.  And you may have been able to tell from the pictures of the foundation, I used stone there too.  I like the basalt brickwork better for the bungalow.  Lighter and had a beachy feel to it.  At least to me.

The actual paper is darker but I messed with it.
I wrapped the posts before I did the porch floor.  And the paper is quite a bit darker than it shows above.  A little too dark for me actually.  See?

This is actually much darker once I've glued it onto the wood.  and as much as I loved the brickwork, it didn't remind me a of beach house when it was on.  So I played with it.

Hello...Whitewash!  Which is basically me taking white paint and watering it down a bit until it makes everything a few shades paler than it started out. 

But I put all the brickwork (AKA paper) over all the wood I wanted to cover.  And then I glued on the railings.  You can see here my acrobatic attempts to let the glue set without moving the railings.

Trust me, this is not how they will end up.
The problem with painting the house first and then adding everything is that Elmers Glue won't hold against house paint.  At least not the type I've used.

Hot glue however, works just fine.  See here.

I used a couple of spacers to keep the railing level. 
Not too bad so far right?  But I still have to add the front step and the tread.  So I got the step and covered it with the basalt brick paper.

Or course I whitewashed it so it matched the rest of the brickwork.
I glued it to the foundation centered between the two lower posts on the right.  You know, in front of the front door?

Okay so its not quite glued yet.  We were experiencing technical difficulties.
See you need the posts attached before you can glue the step in.
Eventually I got everything situated. 

Even the tread is attached.

And this is how OCD I got about it.  I painted the tread and then went over it with a coarse brush so it would look like it had been hand painted.  You know by someone five and a half inches tall.

See?  I'm just a little OCD.  Functional but... Yeah. I'll stop there.
The funny thing about a front porch... those posts and pillars actually support the roof.  So I had to make sure everything was nice and secure.

Elmers seems to work.  Elmers and a lot of crossed fingers.  And shooing away curious cats. Siamese and Kitten who shall remain nameless.
 I got the post attached for the other side.  I figured I'd cover up any dark spots with paint afterwards. 

So far so good. Right?
By the way, please ignore my ugly cardboard work surface.  It's actually part of the box the house came in and it's working pretty well to protect my desk.

Once the top half of the posts were on I attached the support cross beam.  This is what is going to hold the roof up.  It's supposed to be straight across.  I really hope mine is straight.  It's level and I didn't see any angles in there but you never know.

How about that?  Looks like it could be a porch someday!
Oh, this was my other project.

The front door.

It's actually kinda cool.  It comes with a plastic insert for a window, and it slots right in so if you're careful you wouldn't even need glue. 

And I debated long and hard as to what color I would use.  White?  With white trim it would look boring.  Red?  That would add pizzazz but its a very loud color and I want a quiet house.  Oak? To match the inside? Could work but nothing else outside is oak. 

Uereka!  Blue!  (oh how original. I can hear you saying it.  'Sheila everything you have is blue'.  Quite a switch for a girl who was in love with pink for her entire childhood.)

But, blue...specifically the bright blue of the trim on the Gothic Victorian, would be a nice pop without being too loud.  So, here we go with the door.

I stained the inside a nice Summer Oak, just like the rest of my trim.  Here it is with the first coat.  I added a second one but we're mostly interested in the outside at the moment.

See? pretty!
And then I painted the door and the outer trim.  This was tricky.  I didn't want to get blue on the white. Or vise versa.

See? The color pops but it's not overwhelming.

And here's a test run.  I think it works pretty well.

See?  Just right with the pale blue walls, white trim and the slightly darker brick.
Oh, another example of how OCD I can be?  I kept thinking of how brick and paint get worn down where people walk.  So I got my paint brush and then I got a dishrag.

Look at the picture first and see if you can tell what I did.

Do you see it?  At all?  Or am I just loony toons?

I hope someone figured it out because if no one did?  Well I put in a lot of effort for only me to notice.

I pretty much dabbed and sponged and added paint only to wipe a way a path from the steps to the door.  As if a bunch of dolls had trucked in and out. 

I need a door mat.

But... skipping a few steps... you know, like adding the roof, which is another post entirely. 

I began to work on the porch ceiling.  Two words.

Tongue Depressors.

Or the Hobby Lobby equivalent thereof. 

I cut off the curves and glued them down.  and then taped the ends so they wouldn't pop up.

This requires a bit of reworking because the tape wire got messed up.  I'm going to end up with something different for the lights.
And then a few more...

See? One row so far. Not too bad.

And then the entire porch roof is covered and taped down.  Pretty right?  Okay so maybe not so much.

Yes, notice my very high tech manner of securing my boards down.

But, once it dried and the tape was off?  Then it was on like Donkey Kong.

The paint I mean.

See?  Now it's pretty!

Here we are with the paint and the lights. 
I actually like that it isn't perfectly smooth and elegant.  It looks a roof that got painted. 

I'll put in beams and then paint a bit more.  But then I'll be pretty much done with the porch. 

Now if only I was five and a half inches tall...I'd finally have the porch I wanted.  Of course I'd probably be a cat toy too.  Not something I want to try. Thanks.

And I'm going to start working on the next post so you'll be able to see what I've been doing when I haven't been writing.  I've been busy.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Shelves, Fireplaces, & Ceiling beams

So I've been working pretty hard on the dollhouse this past week.  And I'm super stoked to show you what I've accomplished.  I'm especially excited because work has been rough and I really didn't think I'd gotten a lot done until I started looking back at the pictures.

Remember how I talked about the fireplace and the chimney build I'm planning?  I'd purchased a fireplace off of Ebay and it only required a little bit of fooling with to look the way I wanted.

Here it is before:

I'd purchased basalt brick imprinted paper for the foundation, the lower portion of the porch posts and the chimney build.  Of courase I always end up with scraps of paper so I lined the inside of the fireplace with some of them.  It didn't turn out too badly.

I'm pretty excited about this.  It looks more real to me.

I also really like the focal point a brick chimney makes in a room so I got some cardboard and wrapped it in the same imprinted paper.  Then I used some white paint, slightly watered down and gave the bricks a white washed look.  I wanted a definite difference between the brick inside the fireplace and the brick on the exposed chimney.

The only thing I'm not entirely thrilled with is how the edges are rounded.  I might have to do something about that.  But for now it works.

There's just one problem...
I really didn't like how dark the brick was in comparison to the walls and floors.  So I got some white paint and watered it down and gave the 'chimney' a coat or two.

I like this a lot better.

Remember my fireplace built in bookshelf inspiration picture?

Still absolutely love this.
Here's my version of it.  My wall definitely wasn't wide enough to have shelves on either side of the fireplace if I wanted them to be of a decent size.  So I did one long shelf to one side of the fireplace.  I think it turned out pretty well.

I measured and painted my mini boards.

You can see how the kitten tried to help there.
Then I glued them together and to the side of the fireplace.

This was not easy.
The small piece of raw wood will be hidden behind the baseboard. Likewise the edge of the lower shelf so I didn't bother to paint either of them. 

When the top and bottom felt sturdy I glued in the middle shelf.

The fun part was making sure they were level. 
Then I added the side pieces.  I glued them to the shelves and to the fireplace for added sturdiness.  And I added the baseboard which I'd stained with what is called 'Summer Oak'.  I'm pretty pleased with how it looks.

I wanted to be certain they stuck so I decided to paint these two after.

I'm not sure if I want to do dividers down the middle like the picture.  I don't think so.  I don't want them to look too busy.

I've always loved how people put the baseboards in front of their built ins so they look like a seamless part of the room.  I was pretty stoked that I could do the same.

Best part?

The stain I bought for the baseboards and other wood work matches the fireplace.  I'm pretty pleased.  It makes a nice contrast to the floors.  Just dark enough to show but not so dark that its gloomy.

Here's how the whole thing will look once it's glued to the dollhouse wall.  I'm holding off on that until I'm positive about where all the electrical wiring will go.
Swoops approves. 
What do you guys think?  Vertical dividers in the shelves or no?  I'll have to think about it a bit more but right now, I'm still thinking no.

My other accomplishment had to do with the ceiling beams.  Remember my inspiration picture?

I bought some quarter inch channels from and laid them out in a grid to determine how they would look the best.

Okay so I cheated by drawing the grid on the raw side of the second floor.  It worked.
If I'd been thinking I would have cut the vertical beams in small pieces instead of long ones but I clearly hadn't planned that far ahead.  Can you tell this is my first time with actual carpentry? 

Swoops is looking up at me like 'duh'.  Crazy human.  What were you thinking? Were you thinking?  Next thing you know you'll say 'nothing will go wrong'.   (Oops. Sorry, just veered off into Buffy dialogue. I'm back.)

But once I'd determined that I like where the beams will go I cut the vertical beams down.

This was careful work, because I didn't want to crush the channels. 

Sawdust everywhere I persevered.  And cut out little notches in my horizontal beams.  Otherwise the whole project would be for naught because the wires wouldn't feed through.  And these channels are going to hold the living room/kitchen wires for the ceiling lights as well as the wires for the porch lights. 

So I got my notches cut out and I glued everything together.  Yay!

Not perfect but close. Right?
I had to wait for the glue to dry but eventually it did.  And I'd even managed to get most of the extra glue wiped off.  Then the only thing left to do was stain the beams.

By the way.  In case you weren't aware?  Stain smells.  Like stinks. 

But its worth it in the end.

See how pretty?
I also took the opportunity to stain my baseboards after I'd measured them out.

I also did the door frame.  I'll show you the porch and front door next week.  I think it should be almost set by then.
I need to determine where to drill holes in the front wall, for the electrical.  And I need to measure out the crown molding.  Do you put crown molding around the top of an exposed chimney or do you cut around the chimney.  Hmm...need to research that one.

And I have to start the chimney build.  That's going to be interesting.  Small hinges, wood, and what type of brick.  Combination of basalt paper brick and egg carton bricks or one or the other?  Really not sure about that one.  I'm leaning towards the basalt paper brick because that's what I've used in other places.

Next week, the porch, the front door and foundation.  I'm excited. aren't you?

One last picture of the kitten.  She's not too sure about Swoops.

You're sitting on the instructions. Move.  Dumb bird.