Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Making a Kitchen Range - Sept 2009

If someone says to you "kitchen range" you think of an AGA don't you?
If they then said "spit roast" you'd probably have an image of a whole pig being slowly turned over an open fire in a big open hearth in a castle kitchen somewhere.

Well, the Georgians were somewhere in between.  They seem to like to make my life difficult!  The majority of ranges that you can buy are Victorian or later.  I think I only found 1 or 2 examples, so I decided to make my own.

Finding examples of a Georgian kitchen range involved a fair bit of searching on the internet.  It seems they combined a basic oven and a boiler, heated by a coal fire in a fire grate. 

After not having much luck, I was given a tip by someone on the dolls house emporium forum who suggested looking at 'Salvoweb' an online salvage / antiques directory. 

I found a few possibilities on there and also found an example in the book 'The Authentic Georgain Dolls House'.  I finally decided on a combination of the example in the book and one I'd found on the Salvo website.

I made it out of balsa wood, being fairly cheap and easy to get hold of.  This is it in the early stages. 

And this is the range as it is now, awaiting final glueing, painting and a few finishing touches. 

It's not finished yet as I'm not entirely happy with some of the finish.  Balsa wood is so soft it's very easy to sand it too much and end up with curved pieces of wood.  I've since found a couple of useful tips for using a cutting mat and lining up the wood at 90 degrees to the edge of the mat and then using a snading block run along the edge of the mat to keep your edges square so I might try that and redo a few of the pieces.  It's always handy to have a practice run anyway as I tend to find the second try is always a vast improvement on the first, whatever you do!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Starting on the Ceilings – June 2009

I had painted all my ceilings with white emulsion and that was as far as it had gone until I read a topic on the Dolls House Emporium forum about making imitation plasterwork using Blown Vinyl / Anaglypta wallpaper.  I believe this is generally a well known technique.

So I toddled off to my local DIY store near work and got some samples of what I thought would be suitable wallpaper.   Some of it turned out to be better than others in terms of how easy the pattern was to cut out and the scale of the pattern.

I started the design based from the hole for the light as this will form the centre piece but as the rooms are deeper than they are wide it can be slightly tricky working the design in. 
I cut out the pieces of wallpaper to simulate plasterwork or if you have a suitable piece you can stick the paper on like a sheet.

It’s important to not move the pieces of wallpaper once you have decided on your design or you’ll never get them glued in exactly the same place!

I also remembered to leave a gap at the edge for my coving. 

I glued mine directly onto the painted MDF but you can also cut a piece of mountboard to size and glue that to the MDF once you’ve finished your ceiling.

I was really pleased with the results.

This is the dining room ceiling

The lounge ceiling

and the dining room in-situ

and finally, the link to the tutorial:

Monday, 8 March 2010

Starting the flooring – January to May 2009

As is often the case, there are numerous decisions to be made when decorating your own house and the same is true of a dolls house. Choosing the time period was easy, I always knew, once I saw the house that I wanted to keep it Georgian, but doing all the research takes time and making decisions isn't always my strong point.
There are so many options. You start with choosing between paint and wallpaper, but then you have to decide on your colour scheme and think about how furniture will look. All of us become miniature interior designers and I'm sure some are better at it than others.
For me, it's not one of my natural gifts so I have to work at it a little more, hence the extra time taken to decide what materials to use.
One of my first 'finds' was a shop on ebay (though he also has a website: that did all kinds of veneer flooring tiles. Graham was very helpful later on when I designed my own flooring for my dining room using his shape packs and iron on floorboards. More of that later….
I did the floors for the ground floor early on – the kitchen, hallway / entrance lobby and the library / study.
From dollshouse-tiles / toolshed22 on ebay I purchased some of their 'Marlike' tile packs so I had ½" square black and white marble effect tiles for the hallway / entrance and I chose the black and white tiles for the kitchen but in octagonal tiles.
They were easy to lay – spreading some PVA glue and then sticking the tiles down, a few rows at a time, but it was fiddly with the small pieces in the octagonal floor pack.

In progress:

Here are the results:

 I realised later that my kitchen floor is a bit grand…. Kitchens would have just had stone slabs, not shiny marble, but the tiles are well stuck now and there's room for the odd discrepancy J
I also wasn't happy with the wood flooring in the library / study as I tried to cut the iron on floorboards (from Bromley Craft Products: to emulate real floorboards but I've made it far too regular so I think I will have to redo that room.
For other rooms more recently completed I have laid the strips whole and will add joints / nail marks later. Info on those will come in a future update J

Monday, 1 March 2010

Adding some colour - May 2009

Having started the exterior and done my trial piece on the back I then hit a wall where I was so worried about making mistakes that I wasn't doing anything.  It was time for a change of tack...

The interiors of most Georgian houses were painted.  Although wallpaper was available it was imported and it only really become common in the Victorian period.  In the Georgian period it was so expensive that only the richest owners could have afforded it.
As I'm not trying to go for a mansion but more of a grand townhouse I decided to paint my interiors.

Georgian paint colours were rather dull.  Pigments were expensive so colours were limited to the cheaper pigments.  Colours were generally creams, browns, dull greens and burgundy.  By the Regency period colous had got a bit lighter and brighter greens and soft blues were available.

The easiest way to reproduce these colours in my dolls house was to buy 'period colours' that are available from some of the paint manufacturers.
I chose to go with '1829' by Craig & Rose which helpfully name their colours by period such as Regency Cream.  It's also available in my local B&Q.
Because the pallet of colours is fairly limited I went for Regency Cream, Deep Adam Green, Pompadour and Burgundy Leather.
Unfortunately the Burgundy Leather was so dark it wasn't suitable for the small room size of a dolls house so I used artistic licence and went for a later period with a paler shade - Mackintosh Mauve.  It's not very authentic but it does look much better in my small room!

I have repeated the colours for my 9 rooms - the hallways are all Pompadour (a pale blue) and the other colours are in the main rooms.

I started by painting all the interior walls and ceilings with white emulsion.  This seals the MDF and gives your colours more depth.
I got a bargain in B&Q - two mini rollers and a paint tray for £1.  The gloss roller (the sponge one) gave a nice smooth finish and the size was perfect for covering the walls quickly and with little mess.  I needed a couple of coats but I got a nice smooth finish.
I could then paint the walls.  These photos still show the burgundy colour before I used the lighter mauve but you get the idea.