Monday, September 24, 2012

Little Red Cottage Flooring

My daughter turned four last week. I took a day off work to get things ready for her birthday party. After the party "aftermath" we had a day to play. The kids played with their own things. Eric played video games. Haley played with her new Lalaloopsy toys. And I had the itch to work on the red cottage. 

Sometime in the past year, I bought a sheet of Southern pine random plank flooring. I measured, then cut out the piece for the bottom floor, aiming to be a little big. Then after many little tweaks, I decided it was just right.

I ran to the garage and got out four cans of stain to test on the scrap piece.  Golden Pecan was the winner. I also tried Sedona Red, Golden Oak, and Chestnut. I gave it a coat of satin polyurethane as well.  I did the floor finishing steps outside the house so I wouldn't have any way to slop stain or finish onto the wallpaper. I can be messy that way. I let it dry before gluing it into the house. I used tacky glue and heavy cookbooks to hold it nice and flat.

For the upstairs landing, I resorted to my stash of scrapbooking papers. Nestled in a pack of Close To My Heart papers, was this little gem that looked like lace on a gray background. DING DING DING, we had a winner!

I measured and cut out a sample piece from a brown bag first, to make sure it was right.  Then after making sure it was good, I cut out the actual paper.

I used wall paper paste applied to the wood floor with a sponge brush. When you do this, apply one edge, making sure it's lined up just right, then slowly lay the rest over in a rolling motion.  Press down.

It bubbled up and tried to do weird things, but I have experience with this. A blast of hot air from my hair blow-drier helped it dry so the paper shrank back to where it belonged and stayed glued down.

Then the kids wanted to paint something. Haley had little ceramic leaf that was a birthday present, so they painted it together.

Now, the next thing I need to work on for this cottage is the baseboard molding and window trim. I have been in a very crafty mood lately so I think I will be coming up in the very near future!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Willowcrest House

Today, I wanted to share the first dollhouse that I built. Mom and Dad got me the Willowcrest kit for Christmas when I was 14, which was way back in 1992. Mom helped me get it started.

We really didn't have any idea what we were doing. We opened the box, wrote piece names on everything, punched out the pieces, and tried to follow the directions. It was a valuable learning experience.

Here are some shots from Christmas 1992 through January 1993. We began the shell build.

Mistake #1 We used hot glue at first. It was lumpy so I had to shave down the lumps with a utility knife. Then we used tacky glue for the rest.

Mistake #2 We didn't sand everything like crazy or make sure that things fit together so they were square.

Mistake #3 We assembled the shell and then realized we had to put up wallpaper. It has really awkward spaces that we couldn't reach at that point.

However, it wasn't the end of the world. We figured things out. To make the best of the awkward staircase, I simply finished off the wood with polyurethane. I tried a funky paper flooring to look more contemporary than antique. Mom also showed me a fun wallpaper technique using torn up brown paper bags decoupaged right onto the walls that simulate leather. I also used a metallic gold paint on the door and window trim in the entry and upper hall.

After a while, Mom got busy doing mom stuff. I was always busy doing teenager stuff. Somehow I'd find a little time here and there to do things.  It took a long time to make noticeable progress. There was a long span where the house was pretty much just sitting in my room with no siding.

One day I saw a show on PBS, New Yankee Workshop, I think. Yes, I used to watch home improvement shows on PBS as a teen. I was weird. Moving on.

That episode of New Yankee Workshop showed this amazing sunburst siding pattern on a shed. I loved it! So that got me fired up to get the siding on the house, just so I could make the sunburst.  After I put the pre-made trim on the barrel roof, it covered up part of the sunburst. I decided if I ever do go back and redo the house in the future, that trim is gone. This picture is from about 1995 or 1996.

After I moved out for college, I found time to really get actively into miniatures. I finished the house when I was 20.  It took me 6 years, start to finish. The thing is, I didn't want to rush. I still made mistakes, but then other things turned out beautifully.

This is the house today. It normally lives on top of the tall chest of drawers in my bedroom, unfurnished.

 I used walnut flooring in the living room and the attic. I also trimmed out the inside of the little attic windows with the walnut flooring.

In the kitchen, I used paper flooring, then used real bricks with cement to make the stove wall and trim around the window and doors.

The bathroom got preformed pink vinyl sheeting that looks like tile. This was the first room I wallpapered. I was very pleased that I managed to get the size right.  I still added baseboard and corner trim to give it a bit more detail.

The bedroom was pretty basic with the its floral wallpaper and cream carpeting.  I did that because the furniture stands out nicely when the house is furnished.

The front door used to open and close. Eventually, the hinges pulled out and messed up the trim. I couldn't get them to really work right after that. Now the door is pinned shut.

The front steps also fell apart a few years ago. We moved and they were a casualty of the move. I still have the pieces so I can repair them. Various pieces of window trim have also fallen off, but I managed to get them repaired quickly.

Someday, I will get the house down and put furniture in it again.  I think when that time comes, I will make some curtains.  The windows could use a little character.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Log Cabin Assembly Part 4

It's been a busy summer for us, so I've spent the last two months mostly ignoring the cabin project. That is, until this past week, and I've kicked it into high gear!

I sanded and sanded and sanded. I decided to install the floors with the flat side up. I got the main floor installed one evening, then the front porch the next evening. The following evening, the second floor went in. I was on a roll!

Since this cabin is pretty large, we got out one of Justin's big clamps, plus the smaller clamps I love and the twine to really tighten joints up and keep things together. I used mostly wood glue, but I also used Justin's gap-filling CA glue on a few odd spots.

Just a note, if you happen to glue your fingers together with superglue or CA glue, nail polish remover that contains acetone will break it down. Yes, I did get glue on my fingers and sort of glued them into a really weird position.

Anyhow, Eric is pretty happy that I'm working on this again. He asked if I was going to paint it black and if I could put a Batman emblem on the front.

Sorry kiddo. Not what I had in mind.

I went back to the plan to see what was next.  I was hoping it was the roof. However, I forgot about the little 1" wide back walls. The last 3 days I've been gluing, sanding, and more gluing the little 1" and 2" scrappy pieces together in place.

Coming soon, the main roof, also the porch supports and porch roof. Assembly is nearly complete!