Mostly Finished at Last…except for this and that….

I have finally decided it’s time to publish photos of my completed French Country Windmill Cottage. I still have some details to complete, but I will update those as they happen.The completed cottage……AFTERThe original kit – BEFORE.

I got my inspiration from the 2009 Greenleaf Dollhouse Spring Fling Contest winner, Jennifer Barrick. Her interpretation of her Loganberry Mill just spoke to me – but I decided to make it into a Cottage instead of a mill.The original dimensions of the actual kit (without roof projections) is 13″ wide, 16″tall, and 8″ deep. My structure is 15″ wide (21″ with patio), 16 1/2″ tall (thatched roof) and 16 1/2″ deep (17 1/2″ with landscaping). I doubled the depth of the kit to make it large enough for a cottage, plus I added 2″ to the width to give more room for a kitchen and dining room, as well as two inches to the height on the left side for the bedroom loft, and higher ceiling in the kitchen. Adding height visually gave the structure more “eye” room inside.So the whole exterior is covered in stucco and aged with color wash. The vines are Baby’s Breath Garland from Hobby Lobby. I redesigned the original blades on the windmill to reflect a more realistic French look. All the windows in the house are painted “Sage” with chalk paint by Plaid.Because of the 2″ width extension, the front door became recessed, creating a nice entryway. The large window looks in on the kitchen and gives the house that “French” look. The flowers on the outside sill were made from kits by My Miniature Garden on Etsy, who no longer has listings. Because I raised the roof over the kitchen, I then faced the dilemma of two competing roof lines. I was originally going to just fill in with a piece of wood, when inspiration struck. What the house needed was more light, so I made a window to fit between the roofs. After all, this is a converted windmill, and structural changes are part of the charm (and I can do anything I want, lol).I am so happy with the thatched roof. I used the coconut fiber wire basket liners for flowers (from Lowe’s Hardware), as Caroline at cinderellamoments.com mentioned in one of her posts. I just cut it to shape, and glued it on. Total expense – $10!Above is the right side. Once again I had two different heights of walls – the extra space was for headroom in the loft bedroom, so I just extended the curved roofline all the way to the back of the house. I just cut the thatching to the correct height after I glued it on the foam core dome. This home needed an outdoor space, and I desperately wanted French Doors. I had some flagstone leftover from my previous project, and I had just enough for the front entry as well. Made the pergola out of Basswood strips from Dick Blick art supplies. I ordered the garden bench from miniatures.com. I’m still working on topiaries for the patio. A departure from the window color for the french doors – I painted them to match the kitchen and dining room in “Bavarian” chalk paint. Still waiting on another set of door handles.The inside, with all the lights. I used all individual battery operated lights on this build because I wanted this style of lights (I don’t do electrical lighting). So here it is, total open concept – you can see the whole house from here! See how much height the extra 2 inches added to the kitchen and loft? And the window where the shed roofs meet will have baskets hanging from there (they’re coming from Russia). The loft is the actual height of the second floor which was originally in the front of the house. Let me show you around….The dining room and kitchen all have wooden ceilings painted white. The three rugs in the cottage are from Tiny Home Goods on Etsy. She makes the most beautiful rugs I’ve seen anywhere! This one is a rooster theme to go with the French theme, as well as the white washed furniture. Here’s a better look.My favorite room, the kitchen. I wanted the high ceiling so I could hang a pot rack, and have the lights higher as well as beams running from the dome. The big window is perfect in here, as well as the angled ceiling window to add more light. I built open shelving beyond the kitchen as a pantry to store sacks of food stuff and plates, etc., since I didn’t want upper cabinets. It’s all about the “look”. The lavender hanging in the pot rack is from my garden.

The ice box is on the right – it was originally two upper cabinets built from a kit, but since I wasn’t going to use them for that purpose, I glued them together to create an ice box. It was the only room left to put one, and it was a perfect fit.Detail of the work table and kitchen area. On to the living room!I brought the sofa out to photograph, as it’s really difficult to shoot the living room as the only access is a 3″ wide front door. I made this from the kit “French Country Sofa #010” by Kris at 1inchminisbykris.blogspot.com. She provides kits now of her upholstered chairs and sofas at Hobby Builders Supply. This rug is also from Tiny Home Goods on Etsy. Lovin’ the grapes, and the yellow brings in the color from the kitchen.These two shots are from the front door. I used a narrow staircase and painted it “Bavarian” and the stair treads “Sage”. That is a secretary desk under the staircase, and there is a potted plant there, too, which is easier seen in another upcoming photo. The wallpaper here and on the short pantry wall is Tulips. The fireplace is stucco, with an arched opening. It is non-working. The arched mirror over the mantel was purchased as just an empty Palladian arch, and I added mirrored film to the back. The drapes on the two front windows are made from the same fabric as the pillow and the trim on the sofa. Lighting was an issue because of the domed ceiling, so I opted for two candle sconces going up the stair wall. It adds plenty of light.The secretary desk under the stairs spoke to me because I love cubbies and the fold out writing surface. That’s a newspaper where someone is working on the crossword puzzle. The chair is from a kit from melissasminiwereld on Etsy – from the Netherlands! I upholstered it with the drapery fabric to create cohesiveness. The tiny table in the loft is also from one of her laser cut kits. The Eiffel Tower pillow is from SarahsLilEssentials, also from Etsy. The view from the loft bedroom looking down into the living room. All the stones on the walls are made from cardboard egg cartons, torn and cut to shape.Here, then, is a better view of the front wall of the dome. I purchased some tools by Tom Thumb to decorate that wall. There is a scythe and a hay knife, as well as an antique pulley from eBay. I made the headboard from a laser cut accessory and those are Tim Holtz roses on the footboard. I sewed the comforter and sheets, and the lavender sprig is from my garden. The rug is “Sunflower” from Tiny Home Goods.

So, a few more shots of the Cottage lit up at night…And that’s it. The next few months will not be productive. I’m going to take a break from this for awhile because it’s not an inexpensive hobby. I’ve been spending way too much money on this, so I’m backing off so I can pay down my credit card bill! I have other activities I miss doing, so I’m going to fall back on them for the next few months. I don’t have thoughts on another build nagging me just now, although I’m sure it won’t be long until miniatures start invading my sleep. A la prochaine!

One More….

Because it’s taking longer than I expected, (I’ve been thinking and rethinking, and glueing and ripping out, more of this and more of that) – anyway, here’s another sneak peak to keep y’all from forgetting about me.Inside the unfinished French Country Windmill Cottage. To give it a sense of mystery, I didn’t light all the lights. Still needs details, details.

Sneak Peak

Just to keep you interested while I work on completing the French Country Windmill Cottage – it’s coming along nicely. Finishing inside details before I attach the roof. Here’s a glimpse of the outside…..Yes, I rebuilt the blades of the windmill for a French look, color washed the outside stucco and added some vegetation. Hope this piques your interest until the final reveal…..

Decisions, Decisions

I think (hope) I’ve conquered my indecisiveness. Sherrill from So Many Minis suggested I use foam core to make the roof for the cottage. I only had 1/8 inch foam core, and luckily, my husband and I were traveling to Wilmington (NC) from our little coastal town 45 minutes away and we always visit Hobby Lobby. Picked up two large sheets of 3/16″ foam core. Sherrill referred me to 1 inch minis by Kris to view her method of scoring foam core to get it to bend. Yep! It worked…thanks Sherrill!I first made a cardboard pattern of the roof line and then traced it onto the foam core. I then measured every 3/16″ and scored it with a small craft knife. It was perfect because it cut all the way thru with one pass except for the paper backing. You can see what a great curve I’ve got. In the following shots, you can see that since I finally had the roof figured out, I could go ahead and stucco the outside. I used a whole quart of stucco on just the outside walls and the fireplace! Just enough.I know the stucco looks rough, but I even went over it with a wet putty knife. It doesn’t look so bad in person. That piece of wood hanging off the side of the roof will be replaced by foam core. I need to extend that part to connect with the angle in the front wall so the shed roof can come off of it. I’m working on replacing the 2nd floor corner posts with square ones to attach the arches that support the shape of the roof. And the inside of the roof will be papered with scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby in a cream crackle – I think it looks like old, cracked mortar, similar to the picture I posted last time.This is what I’m trying to mimic. But I will be putting up rafters, too. And last but not least, this is the coconut basket liner I mentioned that http://www.cinderellamoments.com uses for roof thatching. I got it at Lowe’s for $4.98 – just cut to shape and glue it on.Next time I post, the roof will be on and all the inside construction details completed. Then I’m going to remake the actual windmill like they really look. The one I made looks like a pinwheel, for Pete’s sake!All I had to do was look on Google to realize this is way, way off base. I will fix it.Hmm…I like the Dutch one, too, but I should go French.Okay, tata ’til next time!

Once I started….

So I think I might have the conundrum of the different roof angles figured out. Now I just need to determine what products to use. This next picture is where I cut a piece of cardboard 8′ x 8 ” to fit the front part of the shed roof up to the support. What I think I’ll do is cut that support down to just a beam to open up the space, or maybe off entirely and place my own thicker beam there. Then the domed roofline will be cut down until I can place a similar angled shed roof over the kitchen. That will give the loft more light, too.The roof sure did darken up the space – I’ll have to paint the insides of the roofs white to lighten everything up. What do you think of the corrugation on the outside? I was thinking it would modernize the structure a little bit by having a metal roof instead of a thatched one. Let’s see what the corrugation look like on the inside instead……I know it’s hard to see, but I cut a piece of cardboard for the back shed roof as well as turning the cardboard inside out, extending the roof from higher up on the dome because of the higher side wall. I placed a piece of cardboard behind it to close up that roofline, and shortened the dome so that the loft will now be open to the kitchen below. I think that will work except I have to cut the shed roofs from wood and place a vertical support post at the roofline change where the railing post is now.The above shot shows the converging roof lines from above. Not too bad. I think it can work. The dome right in front of us here will be shortened a bit, too, to make a nicer transition. Wha’da think? I think I’ve got a start on it. Caroline Dupuis from cinderellamoments.com started using the basket liners for wire plant hanging baskets for her thatch instead of gluing everything on in batches and trimming like mad. You just lay it on top of your roof and glue it on. I’ll have to look into that. Maybe the shed rooftops could be shingled since they will be made of wood unless that would look too patchy.

Well, I think I need to build my roof supports and angles, and then I should get to stuccoing the outside of the cottage before I finalize on the roof. At least now I know the wall heights I have won’t be an issue, so I can move ahead. Whew! Still open to suggestions for the inside ceilings of all the roofs.

Better pic to form ideas

Quickly, here I’ve place the arch at the area where the roof changes angles. This makes it a little easier to imagine…..I can see now where the extended curved roof will essentially create a wall on the right side of the loft. Maybe I should take off that railing and just enclose the loft on that one side…..more later.

Help and Opinions Needed!

Thought I’d try to do incremental updates, especially considering my next step to construct the curved (and shed) roof line will challenge me unendingly.

So, I finally made the loft floor with wide popsicle sticks to look more like an old wooden floor that has been heavily used. I pounded and poked it to look worn, then used several layers of different paints that I kept wiping off with dry and wet paper towels to achieve the look I wanted. Then I applied regular popsicle sticks on the underside and did a white wash for the dining room ceiling.I purchased the railing since it was so much more professional than making it myself, and just cut it to size, glued on stair posts, then painted it in Plaid chalk paint in Bavarian. Which prompts me to make an error correction from my last post. I wrongly stated this light yellow color as “buff”, but in reality it is “Bavarian” – like a Bavarian creme. I made support posts from 3/16″ x 3/16″ x 24″ basswood I order from Dick Blick art materials, at http://www.dickblick.com – check out all their many sizes of modeling wood, available in small or large quantities. Easy ordering and fast shipping. Love them.The dining room light is battery operated. I usually use lighting supplies from Evans Designs ordered thru http://www.modeltrainsoftware.com. I learned this lighting technique from http://www.cinderellamoments.com – wired tiny bulbs that hook up to a 3v coin battery. I will be making the kitchen chandelier with that method, but sometimes I prefer more stylized lighting.

Once I had the loft glued in place, I added the staircase. I had considered making the underside of the stairs enclosed with a small door for a closet, but since the space is so small, I opted to place an elegant writing desk under there instead – to be seen at a later date. Oh, I recently noticed that the wallpaper I used is actually printed with tulips – it’s called Tulip Tapestry from http://www.dollhousesandmore.com. There were several different color ways, but I opted for the faintly yellow tulips – with the beige background, it was perfect for my color scheme. Kinda fitting for a windmill, huh?So here I am at the next hurdle I have to trip over. As you can see in the pic below of the original model structure I purchased, the roof curves so I need to build rafter supports the whole length of the cottage (16″), which should still provide a 7″ ceiling in the loft. This is one an artist constructed from the basic kit from Greenleaf.The inside should look something like this pic I found on Pinterest….., except the dome is made from stone, and there aren’t any supports. I want a wooden ceiling but I’m afraid all that glue would warp the roof, since I plan on using corrugated cardboard.Maybe I should rethink this. I could thatch the roof, and maybe use the cardboard for the inside, which would then be the domed ceiling. That way I wouldn’t have to spend a week gluing popsicle sticks on only to find it won’t bend properly (also a necessary consideration). The kit came with this one support for the roof – I would need to make one more so I have one in the middle – where the roof line is going to change (another obstacle) and I’d need one on the very back. It will help keep the shape of the roof.Considering I don’t have a scroll saw, I could purchase another kit (it’s cheap), and I’d have my extra support that way. It’s cheaper than investing in a scroll saw, although there are times I could use one. Like a model sized one from Micro-Mark. I had ordered one of their tiny machines one time, but returned it because at 4″, plus a transformer and the outrageous price, I just couldn’t see where it would be useful for very long.

Okay, I need some opinions, some help on this! Anyone have ideas that I haven’t thought of, or something? Help!!! You should know that the height of the shed part of the roof changes. I wanted more height in the kitchen area, so I extended the large window wall about 1 3/4″, as I did on the loft wall. I think I can manage the dome part all the way back, even with a height change, but somehow I have to transition the shed part of the roof. Here’s a better pic of the height change….Geez, when I look at it in a pic, it looks impossible. Let me work on some mock ups in the meantime and I’ll publish them here. It’s easier for me to study it visually than just in my mind. The sink is just set in there for size comparisons. I have an Aga stove, and and island as well. That’s later. Need to do all the trim on the walls, a hearth, the door hardware, etc. Here’s one more pic looking straight on…..By the way, the loft turned out absolutely level (see the micro level on the loft floor?), the house wasn’t sitting on a flat part of my craft table for this shot. Okay, I’m done here. Hoping to hear thoughts from some of you…thanks in advance! (The curtains on my sunroom windows perfectly match the cottage color scheme!). Just realized that maybe I should finish the outside before I put on a roof! But, in the event the shed roof size changes prove difficult, I’m leaving open the option of making the whole shed roof the same height, which would necessitate adding more height to the front elevation as well as some of the right side. Ok, now I’m really done..

Let’s Skip Ahead…

Sorry for the delay….we had company the beginning of April, so I had to clean out the guest room closet of all my boxes of miniatures and stash them somewhere else. Then, I got the flu for 3 weeks, and with my weaker constitution from cancer two years ago, and my forthcoming 70th birthday – well, let’s just say I don’t bounce back as quickly as I used to. But I’m back and I’ve been working on my French Country Windmill Cottage. With just a few details left to finish the inside walls, I had to erect the 3 walls so I could gauge how the staircase will fit and the upper floor for the tiny bedroom.So, the stairs will go as shown (approximately). The small bedroom floor will fit right above the french door casing. You can see it in the 1st pic under the french doors to give you an idea of how it will look – only one flight up. I had originally planned on having the 2nd floor extend all along that one side to the top of the left Palladian window, just cutting out an opening for the stairwell. I was going to make a tiny bathroom there in the front part over the stairs, but changed my mind. It would make the bottom floor too dark and hide the strikingly charming front wall. So, the bedroom loft will be supported by two rustic square columns at the outside corners, and some kind of railing around it. Here are pics from different angles.As you can see in the first pic in this series, the right wall will be the kitchen, with the sink and stove under the large window. I think I might have room for a small island, and then the dining table will be under the 2nd floor by the french doors. The sitting room is by the fireplace – I will be making a small French sofa and then see what else I have room for. I’ve kept the color scheme the same thruout the small space to keep it cohesive. The light yellow color is actually “Buff” in chalk paint from Plaid, as is the “Sage” on the windows. The kitchen components are in a pale yellow as well. My next decision will be how to manage a roof. I want to keep the half-circle concept of the front wall going all the way to the back, and the rest of the ceiling to the right will be angled with rafters. I also want the whole ceiling to be made of wood planks inside and wide corrugated cardboard outside. The whole of the outside walls will be covered in stucco, (which is what I tried out on the fireplace), with some exposed stone work like the inside. The dimensions are 15″ wide and tall, except the front is 12 1/2″ from the recessed front door to the stairway wall, and 16″ deep. It would be a square if the roof wasn’t round!

So that’s it for my update. Next post should show what kind of mess I’ve made of the roof. I’ve learned so much about how to execute my ideas, so I’m hoping I haven’t run out of problem solving brain cells. Hope you like it so far…

Windows and Doors

The day after my last post, my Palladian windows and front door arrived for the Windmill House, so I got to work making the left side wall. The window I ordered for the kitchen is huge, a 3 section window. I want to let in a lot of light, and most of the pics I’ve seen of French kitchens have a large window over the sink. This is a quality window built so the plexiglass slides out so you can paint it easier. I began adding strips of wood to the sides so it would meet my measurements for the bottom of the wall, and squared off the top. This is the window glued to the bottom and side walls when I realized I had left the plexiglass in the window and glued it all shut. Not a great start. I had to pry and whittle the two square wood strips off the top of the window to be able to remove the plexiglass. Let me tell you, wood glue is pretty darn permanent! So, with that accomplished and back at square one, I slid out the plexiglass and painted the window with the color Sage from the set of chalk craft paints I ordered from Walmart by Folk Art. I then reglued it to the bottom and side walls while considering what to do with the bottom of the wall. I decided I wanted a backsplash of stone, so I got my cardboard egg carton and started slicing strips and then cross cut into blocks. After gluing them in place, I plastered the remaining walls as well as carefully over the cardboard, making sure I got the plaster in between the blocks.After the plaster dried, I picked off more of the plaster from over the top of the blocks, yet leaving some to make it look like aged whitewash that has chipped over the years. I also touched up the stones with some shades of gray for realism. The plain plaster was painted with two coats of Valspar sample house paint “Cream in my Coffee” left over from my Storybook Farm dollhouse. I want cream colored walls in this house. There will be 3 open wooden shelves in the space to the left of the window for storage. Below is the outside of the front wall.I cutout the openings and painted the windows after ensuring that I would still have room for a fireplace inside, between the windows. So, here is the inside of the wall….There is finishing trim that gets glued over the window to complete the look, but I’m not sure if I want it in the wood color (to match the front door), or in Sage. The fireplace is drawn and ready for cardboard stones to be glued on. There will be a large mirror over the fireplace mantel, and the walls will be painted plaster.

By the way, I did seal the brick floor with Minwax Polycrylic in Clear Matte.See how the top picture is a darker, more enhanced color than the unsealed bricks in the bottom picture? I have two French rugs that will define the dining room space and the sitting room, so not a lot of the floor will be exposed. It will really add interest to what could have been a boring floor.

I have started on the main entrance door – still have to finish the inside.I’m anxious to get some walls up, but realize I need to put the stucco on the outside of the house before I glue walls together. It would make finishing them so much easier, but then there’s the problem of how do you tape it together to dry without ruining anything? Still pondering that.

Ah, prendre des decisions!