Sunday, 25 September 2016

The end is nigh...

Hi Everyone

I hope you are all well.

My apologies for not posting in a couple of weeks, I went back to work and got snowed under on my first day!

Needless to say, I've been doing lots behind the scenes.

This is just a brief update to let you know I am changing the name of this blog to "Bespoke British Dolls Houses" to fall in line with a big project I am working - all will become clear but I'm sure you will be able to make some assumptions from the title alone.

I'll leave it unchanged for a week and then rename it so you have a chance to know of the change and find me afterwards.

On a mini note, I thought I would show you some pictures of a model theatre I built not so long ago, complete with a fully working lighting board. The pictures are a bit blurred I'm afraid.

Have a great weekend and remember to look out for my new blog name - you may have to go back to this or an older post to find it as technically speaking, you won't be following the new blog name, if you know what I mean - because the name will change your Reading List will not know that it was simply a change in name.

Best wishes


Friday, 9 September 2016

Antique Shop: DAY 6

Hi Everyone

After a lovely day at the RHS Wisley Flower Show yesterday  (luckily just up the road from us) with a dear friend I got back in the mini saddle this morning. My street lamps arrived and I rushed to put them in place, I'm really pleased with how they look...

Can you spot the security camera?! Here's a better look.

I couldn't wait to fix up some lights in the window of the shop and mock up a quick display to see how it looks. Im really pleased! I fitted one white spot light and one of red and one of blue, for display purposes in the future.

The right hand wall is all complete now with the window from the drawing room above.  I made up the window frame from some left over Sue Cook door surrounds turned upside down (!) and re-instated the balcony from the old house.

I like the way the rounded ends of the frame tie in with the railings. I dropped in some box hedging and topiary behind. It's hard to see it in the picture but you get a nice glimpse of the green from inside too.

The next big task for the weekend is to add some age and decay to this side of the house and then crack on with the shop and hallway.

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments. I have said in a couple of my replies that I'm in danger of repeating myself at the moment but once I start on the hall and shop I'll make a determined effort to break away from my usual "classical" style - famous last words!! The hall will be mirrored and the shop/gallery will be relatively modern - for me at least!

Have a great evening, Everyone.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Antique Shop: DAY 5

Hi Everyone

Day 5 already and I have managed to get quite a bit done. As you can see in the picture below I have put the floor down and done the ceiling. The flooring was from Susan Bembridge and the same one I had in the old house. I laid out the floor as though a wall had been physically removed, a bit like another white town house I built a few years ago. I thought it broke the floor up a bit and looked more believable. I'm sure you do this already but a handy tip when doing this is to run a black or dark brown felt pen along the edges, this reduces any harsh white edges of the paper and makes it all blend into one seamless floor. I finished it off with a coat of satin finish Mod Podge to protect it and toughen it up a bit.

The cornice from Sue Cook is probably my favourite of hers and one I use a lot. I had to break my own rule again and buy another two pieces though once I realised how I was going to do it. The strip between the two ceiling areas was just made by using some wooden trim cut to look like Victorian panelling. I love this picture because it shows off how pretty the cornice looks and how different it appears depending on where you new it from. I also put in one of the door surrounds I removed form the previous house. I really liked them and thought the Prince of Wales feathers face them a bit of a history. I am just waiting for a couple of ceiling roses to arrive that I have used before, not from Sue Cook but really pretty and work well in this sort of set up. You'll see them soon I hope.

The curtains are now up (also pinched from the old house (I'm going to have to come up with an abbreviation for that at this rate!)) and help anchor this side of the room. Now I'll be able to put up the pictures and lights which will then allow me to finish the outside - window and balcony - at last! I have found two new pictures for either side of the window and am just waiting for the Mod Podge to dry and then I can frame them up and install them. The colours in them work really well with the room.

I put up the clock as I new where this was going but everything else is a bit up in the air. I've been re-thinking the arrangement of the room and now prefer the fireplace on the left hand wall rather than on the narrower back wall. This of course throws out my original picture hanging plans so I've had to re-consider them and possibly change some.

Also, my bargain lights have arrived for the front which I'm excited about, and the railings for the balcony which means I can do more on the front. So, it's all coming to gather nicely now after a messy start.

I'll post more when I have it...

Best wishes

Monday, 5 September 2016

Antique Shop: DAY 4

Here we go again...

I thought I would put this picture up first so that you have something to look at rather than MDF and general mess.

Here's the room with wallpaper up and a random selection of furniture to show the space and lay out (excuse the hand of doom and I'm not sure why this picture looks so washed out).

I also decided to fiddle around with the wall lights. There will be two on each side of the room and I didn't want them to stand out and be too obvious. So, after reading about a technique that the National Trust adopted at Waddesdon Manor I painted the main arm of the light to match the background colour and then wrapped the light shade in the wallpaper so that it almost "disappears".

To get the paper to stick to the brass I had to use super glue. And not just any super glue - Gorilla Glue! I thoroughly recommend this if you are planning to rob a bank in the near future. For unless you are particularly fond of your fingerprints I suggest you don't try this. As along with the wallpaper you will also stick part of your extremities to the lights in the process!! Still, its worth it...

I did some work on the outside by painting the base colour on the side of the of the building. I can't do much more until the wall lights are in place but then I can tape them down and put up the brick effect wallpaper. And then I can break out the grey, black and burnt umber and start making it all look old! Yippee!

Next up is the flooring...

Have a great day All


Sunday, 4 September 2016

Antique Shop: DAY 3 (part deux)

Well, again hello Everyone!

Here's a [very] basic plan to give you an idea of where I am currently at with the interior layout.

I have attached the front to the building now, and it makes such a difference to the whole project, despite it still looking like a building site!

In the above pic you can see the side window (which will have the railing from the old house) and it will sit above my old favourite wall arch, as in the previous house and in my very old mansion (see throwback pics below). The first pic was taken before I attempted to age it, but you see this better in the second one.

I've cut out my arches from a piece of card (well, I ripped it off the back of a drawing pad!) and stuck it onto the side of the house. Effectively, the building will be a corner plot! I remember someone telling me (on here - I think it may have been the wonderful Irene) that it helps enormously when you know the history of the place in your mind and the people who might that live there. That reminds me, I'll be welcoming back an old friend soon...

This is what it looks like so far. the arches are the same size but they look different in the picture. It all looks pretty horrific at the moment but I'll soon fix that.

I can't wait to start fiddling with the interiors, I'm already holding pictures and pieces of furniture against the walls to get an idea. Bear with me, Elizabeth , I'll get there eventually ;-) By the way, please check out Elizabeth's Blog if you haven't already done so. She is the queen of shabby chic (I hope she doesn't mind me saying that!). Seriously though, I have spent more hours than I care to say drooling through her posts and tutorials. She's great, and, as I have from so many of your blogs, I have learned a lot from her.

This is some of the booty that I have waiting. Do people say that any more in this context? I think I prefer the old ways when not every second word could be misconstrued for a body part!

These are the sorry door surrounds that I could only remove by breaking them. Hey ho!
You won't see the mends once they are installed in their new home.

That's about it for today, more progress tomorrow. It's funny when you have a break from minis (for whatever reason) the minute you come back to it it's like you never left - only now you wish you could more! I have got a confession to make though - I spent more money today! I splashed out on some flooring paper from Susan Bembridge flooring paper. The same wooden floorboards as before. And a bargain pair of The Ironworks exterior street all lamps - they only cost me (drat! I can't find the pound sign on this American keyboard I am using), they cost me 12 pounds for the pair!!!! Unused too!!!! Cant wait to get them on the front. And hopefully the railings will arrive soon too...

Lots to be getting on with so I'll bid you all a very good night (its 21:15 here!) and I'll bother you all again tomorrow.

Sleep tight.


Antique Shop: DAY 3 (part 1)

Hi Everyone

Day 3 and I'm back to more planning! This isn't a very interesting post I'm afraid but just a quick update.

There is very little floor space so I'm having to make each room work very hard! They have to be interesting yet relatively functional. This picture shows the the doorway and window in the upstairs drawing room. Below on the ground floor there will be a narrow mirrored hallway with a hint of a staircase beyond, and the shop to the left.

I aged the fireplace in a fit of enthusiasm yesterday!! I know its rather large for the space but it's the one I commissioned from the wonderful Sue Cook so I felt it had to be included.

I am currently painting the inside of the front of the house so it can be fitted on and then I can start putting a coat of paint on the walls before the paper goes on. Boring I know, but I'm going for the
same yellow paper I used before. It's a classic one for me and I never tire of it.

Some of the items you will recognise from my other white house project (Regency label). Our niece fell in love with it, rather more than me I have to say, and so it now has a new owner. Well, that is to say, I salvaged all the goodies from it before I let her at it!! Curtains, a fireplace and the furniture and pictures were all removed and put  - The antique shop offers an opportunity to re-work these in displays etc. I am so looking forward to designing the windows! I've been trolling through images on line for so long that I realise it's dark outside and time for dinner already!

So, on with painting... I'll post more when I have it - hopefully a bit more interesting!


Saturday, 3 September 2016

Antique Shop: DAY 2

Hi Everyone

Thanks for your lovely comments on my last post. I am thoroughly enjoying this project, it's so worthwhile using up things that have been left in a drawer for so long - not to mention not spending any money! That said, I have a confession to make, I spent a couple of pounds on some railings that will run across the little balcony.

I spent today applying lots of layers to make it look old. This is a tricky thing to get right and I'm not sure I have succeeded to be honest. I must admit that it is a very depressing job to do and you can get stuck half way when things don't appear to be going as you want them. I want instant results and patience is not one of my strong points.

Here's where I got to after an hour. It was went against every fibre in my body to deliberately "mess it up" but it is starting to look how I want it.

Here is the shop window complete with shop name "Scotts". Still a lot of messing up required though...

After lunch and another two hours of decay this is where I am up to. I can't do much more until I complete the railings across the front as there will be sloping support walls that will need to be aged to match, so for now at least it is done.

Before I forget, I also cut and glued the shell of the building yesterday and it was dry today. This was cut from old bits and bobs so excuse the messy appearance. I made sure the inside walls were clean though and anything on the outside can be "hidden" in lots more lovely decay!

Have a great evening and I'll post more tomorrow...

Many thanks


Friday, 2 September 2016

Holiday Project

Hi Everyone

My apologies for a long absent spell, my time has been taken up with the garden and work. I am now on two weeks holiday and have set myself a mini task -  To make what I can from the abundant "stuff" I have kicking about.

It's surprising what you can find when you dig deep in drawers! I found tons of stuff - and I only had a clear out the other month!!

I found some key elements that I liked and began playing around with them in the hope that something would stick. I knew I wanted a shop with at least a living room above and at first I thought of doing two small shops (after getting obsessed with The Royal Arcade, London - I used to work around the corner from here years ago and walked through it every day, to and from work).

But this just didn't work. I don't want to spend any money on building materials, other than some nice thing for inside, but this way around looked all wrong. The proportions were out and the ceiling height of both the shops and rooms above would be very low. I then thought about turning the board around and making one tall shop, with a seperate entrance for the flat above.

This worked better and after much agonising and double checking I drew out the areas I needed to cut out and took the plunge...

In the picture above I am checking that windows etc will fit. I removed the panes from the arched shop window to give it a slightly more modern look. The whole time I was doing this, of course, I was planning how the facade would look. I want it to be an old looking building with some decay but modern touches such as security cameras and entry systems. I am fixated with  Google Street View and going up and down my old haunts of St. James' and Mayfair looking for inspiration. I want a pretty facade with lots of detail but an old appearance.

Next up I glued the window and doors in place and added some pillars at each side and some old Sue Cook pieces salvaged from an "odds & ends" drawer. The doors are from the previous shop I was making but didn't get round to completing. I had thought of painting the shop front area in the same blue/black as the doors but changed my mind when I realised it would be too fussy looking.

In this picture I have gone over everything in white paint (after starting to paint the shop from in dark blue) to even it out before painting in Od White.

Et Voila! Here's what I have so far. Sorry the pictures are so dark, it was quite late when I took them - I'm sure you'll agree that time has a way of flying by when you are engrossed in something.

And here's a closer look from near the flat front door. I am only using MDF I already have so the building can only be 12 inches deep, 17 inches wide and 24 inches high. Enough room for a reasonable sized shop, and stair case leading upstairs and a room above.

Oh, before I forget the shop will be an antiques shop called "Scott's". I wonder where that came from ;-)

Ok guys, thanks for putting up with the rambling. I'll post more tomorrow with more progress. I'm quite enjoying scratch building...


Sunday, 12 June 2016

Work on the facade

Hi Everyone

I hope you are all keeping well. Apologies for not posting in a while, all my spare time has been taken up with gardening - with all the lovely weather we've recently had everything has grown up almost over night!

In between mowing the lawn and weeding I have been reading lots of gardening books for inspiration, and over the course of time I slowly started thinking how I could incorporate a garden into the mini house. The answer… a roof terrace! Well, not so much a terrace but outdoor area. I'll cut a hole in the roof and create what ail effectively be an outdoor room. Fountains and box hedging will ensue but that will all take time.

In the mean time I have been working on the front of the house. The picture below shows the front opening panel all fitted on but without the windowpanes. It gives a good idea of how it looks, before I added railings to the first floor window above the door.

 I then looked at the front door area and wanted to have something a little more interesting that what was there.  The wall area looks a bit flat so I put some card with an alcove shape cut out against the wall to see how it looked. Ignore the green painted wood - this was holding the pavement down while the glue dried. There will be a hedge and a couple of planters that I was going to use on my old shop project (that didn't happen in the end).

It looks OK once painted up, it just takes the edge off that flat featureless wall. I've added a low wall and its starting to take shape.

I will put a window grill above the door when I find something that will work. I didn't like the one that came with the door, it was too heavy looking and not refined enough.

My biggest challenge will be ageing and weathering the building. it makes such a difference if you are brave enough. I have only done it a couple of times, most recently on the French house I built, Belle Pierre. I will be reading through some of your blogs for inspiration.

Have a great week All…


Thursday, 21 April 2016

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Drawing Room Rug

Hi Everyone

As you know, I opted to go with flooring paper from Susan Bembridge throughout the house. I particularly like the "plain" floorboard option as the detail is incredible and it doesn't fight with any of the decoration.

I wanted a large rug for this room so there wouldn't actually be that much flooring visible. The rug had to have all the colours that were already in the room (pictures, furniture, ornaments etc), tone with the overall look of the room and, most importantly, not be out of scale. There are so many great mini rugs available now and I have always liked those printed on felt or suede. These, however, still sit a bit high on the floor and look a bit out of scale. After searching on line in images of rugs I stumbled across the one I have used here, printed it out in colour on A3 paper and low and behold it fitted perfectly - plenty of space for the furniture without it fighting for space and still a glimpse of the floorboards around the edge.

I don't know why the door on the left looks so out of line!

 I had thought of tacking it to the floor but I loved it so much that after leaving it in situ' for a couple of days I decide to glue it down permanently, finishing it off with a coat of matte Mod Podge to protect it. I know this is a drastic long term solution but I love this rug, the colours work so well, there is plenty of detail to fill open areas of floor and it lays perfectly flat.

The chairs will have braid around the bottom like the couch - when it arrives.

There's still a lot to do in this room before I even get close to filling it with accessories - skirting boards for a start and a decorative ceiling but I'm happy with it's progress and, more importantly, not tired of it yet!!

Have a great day and I'll post more about the study when I have it - the books (or rather "faux" books) are complete at last...

Best wishes


Saturday, 9 April 2016

A Study in Libraries

Hi Everyone

I hope your week has been a good one.

I've been busy with work and am looking forward to a weekend of mini making. First up, the morning room…

Well, to be honest, the morning room is no more. I had originally planned to have the drawing room as a grander room for entertaining and a morning room for everyday use, but after a lot of thinking and figuring out I realised, rather like the theory of one of my favourite places to visit, Chatsworth House, that if I worked on each room being the best it can be I'd be able to have more variety in the rooms I made.

So, the morning room was ditched in a bid to make the drawing room a comfortable everyday room with a touch of faded grandeur and in place of a morning room I would have a library.

Here, again, I was getting carried away with myself and whilst I'd love a huge library there simply isn't the space in my house. I wanted endless walls of books, comfy armchairs in leather, rugs, even a wrap-around mezzanine level! But, alas, there is only so much you can do in a space 7" deep and 15" wide!!

And that is how the morning room turned into a library which in turn morphed into a study.

Here's a glimpse through from the drawing room.

I wanted to still have the impression of a library so I put in shelves in one half of the room, thus being visible from other rooms too so it almost appears to be bigger than it is. It also means you don't see the whole of the next room which adds some interest.

You'll have to forgive the half finished next picture but it shows you the layout I have gone for. It allows for a small area for shelves as I've already said and then it opens out into a small but light filled area.

The ceiling appears at an angle in this picture but it isn't in real life.

Clearly, there's a lot of work still to do but you get the idea. I need to get some more flooring but that can wait 'til I've done the rest of the walls. I'm not sure on the furniture in here, I might have delicate French furniture or an armchair. Who knows?! That will be a nice problem to have later on.

I've long admired the library at Althorp House and that at Woburn Abbey, both designed by a wonderful architect called Henry Holland. Both are in a beautiful shade of white - well, several shades of white! I thought I would use this idea in my study in an attempt to make a very small space lighter and appear a bit bigger.

There will be a blue blind at the window and I need to work on the books, I also have my eye on a globe to go in front of the window.

In all I'm really pleased with how this room is turning out. It's a long process but one I am enjoying. It's funny, if you are open to it, how much you can learn about something and yourself if you allow yourself time to think and re-evaluate. I always think through things to the point of going off them before I even begin. But it has surprised me how my first ideas for this house have changed so much after I was convinced of their merit initially. The end result is one that pleases me and drives me to be more creative and inventive. What more could you possibly want from a hobby?!

Thanks for sticking it out this long, I'll put up more when I have it. Enjoy your Saturday…

Best wishes