Friday, 30 November 2007

Painting at last

I cannot believe how long it has taken me to choose colours. I have literally been out several times to buy sample pots and craft paints, and ended up with at least a dozen of those as I paint index cards and try to decide. I think it is because the colour really makes or breaks the house - it doesn't matter how nicely you built it, if you don't like the colour then you won't like the house.

After trying all sorts of colour combinations, I came to realise that I did have my heart set on a blue house, or at least blue as a strong component. I have ended up using the original Soldier Blue, but as the trim colour rather than the body colour. For the body colour I am using Anita's Dusty Green. The roof I am still not sure about but I think it is going to be either dark green or brown. The foundation I'm not sure about either.

So now I have spent hours painting, all the trim, the windows, the porch, balcony, etc. etc. The moment you paint these things and the paint dries, you see more rough patches that you should have filled or that need sanding, so I think it is a bit of a moving feast. I'm concentrating on the porch so that I can get that finished and the front doors on. You can see in the photos that I applied a lattice effect along the porch base, using coffee stirrers.

I discovered that having painted the dormer window, and the test clapboard that fit around it, that post-paint-job, the window no longer fits into the cutout left in the clapboard. I guess the moisture from the paint was enough to slightly change the sizes of either or both. I think now I am going to permanently affix the windows and then cut the clapboard to fit around, but painting the ends of it with the final colour before gluing it on. Then once it is all on, I can give a final body paint job to the clapboard.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Porch stairs and trim, colour choices

The book I have been waiting for has finally turned up. It is "Victorian Exterior Decoration" by Roger W. Moss and Gail Caskey Winkler. It has a lot of information on historical paint schemes, with original illustrations from the period, and a list matching historical paint colours to modern manufacturers. However, it hasn't been a magic answer and I am still dithering. I guess I was hoping to open the book, spot a picture of a paint scheme that I liked, and just copy it. Instead I had to read the whole book, discovering that the Willowcrest is an example of Second Empire architecture from c. 1870, and also discovering that most historical paint schemes from the 1870-1880s are not to my taste. They went in a lot for rich bland colours like drab, olive green and straw. The blue house with white trim scheme pictured on the Willowcrest box is actually historically inappropriate as blues were not commonly used in this period and trim was almost always darker than the house colour. Blue with white trim came later in the colonial revival and onwards.

After a lot of cogitating, I narrowed it down to a paint scheme I found on the Sherwin Williams web site on their Victorian paints page, then headed off to our local DIY store to see what I could turn up that would match. I came home with several match pots, and painted lots of index cards so I could see what the colours looked like when they dried, and when taped to the house in natural daylight. Most of them weren't what I wanted, so I went out again today and got some acrylic craft paint in a few more shades. Eventually I have narrowed it down to dark brown for the roof (two colours under consideration), a blue-green for the house (similar to the historical colour light blue stone) which I can only get close to in a kitchen-bath paint, and brown or terracotta for the trim. Please note that these are not my personal choice at all, but they seem to be a good compromise between historical accuracy and a scheme I can live with. This is such a big decision, as the colour will really make or break the attractiveness of the house. I'm still not sure about these colours, I am going to live with them for a few days and see how it goes. But I know the house will look more realistic, and less like a toy, if the scheme is accurate.

In the meantime, I built the porch steps (Step Q.f) and applied the porch foundation trim (Step S). I had to relocate the steps to the middle of the porch as that is where my shop door will be. They went together similarly to the stairs in the house, the only real difference being that you glue on all the risers first, then add the steps second.

Sunday, 18 November 2007


While I am (still) waiting for my book to turn up, I spent a day working on finishing the bathroom. The walls are 'tile' (purchased glossy card printed with tiles), and the floor is also a glossy printed card (which conveniently covers up the electrical wires from the kitchen lights below). The upper part of the wall above the tile is painted lining paper, and the blue tile decoration is cut from a different glossy card tile border set.

The toilet and sink are from a cheap set, which I improved with better taps from a different sink. Plus I cut down the old-fashioned cistern and mounted it directly on the back of the toilet for a more modern look.

Originally I had planned to put the toilet in the closet, which is why the closet interior is all finished, but when I tried the toilet in there with a doll in position (use your imagination), I discovered that any would-be toilet user would have to be a contortionist. I had wanted to leave room for a tub, but my husband says that a tub would look silly in a shop bathroom anyway. I was kind of thinking that it was a period house with its original bathroom, converted to a shop. But by losing the tub, I had room to move the toilet out of the cupboard. I've also got room to put a comfy chair for the customers in the corner.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

I'm still here

Just a quick update - not much happening on the house because I am still waiting for the book I ordered from Amazon about exterior colour schemes for Victorian houses. I've been drawing guide lines around the house for the clapboard, which has been surprisingly difficult. First of all, I should have drawn all these lines BEFORE I glued on the corner trim, which would have been a lot easier as I would have been able to lay the ruler flat. Trying to get the lines to match going around a corner has been challenging, and drawing a bunch of parallel lines has revealed deficiencies in the house's construction that I wasn't previously aware of (particularly a decided up-flip on one of the mansard roof corners).

I'm still gluing in cornice. Going around the inside of the bay window was challenging. I cut a cardboard template that fit the bay ceiling, then folded that to get an approximate angle for each corner, which I then drew onto the cornice moulding in pencil, then cut with a razor saw. There were still some small gaps but I was able to fill them and the end result isn't too bad. Probably if you had paid attention in Geometry at school you could calculate what these angles are but I'm not sure it would help you if your mitre box only cuts 45 degrees.

I proudly displayed my house to a visiting dh friend, and rather dishearteningly she looked at my painstaking interior paint job and told me encouragingly how nice the house would look once it was all wallpapered! I resisted the urge to say anything.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Step Q - Fascia and Corner Boards, and Base

I'm still undecided about colour, so I have sent away for an book on authentic paint colours for Victorian houses. While I am waiting for that to come, I am getting on with more interior trim, and preparing the outside for shingling and siding. I'm slowly marking all the pencil lines on the sides and roof as guidelines for applying the shingling/siding, and I've been working through Step Q - Fascia Trim and Corner Boards.

Preliminary step: you need to sand flush any protruding tabs on your corners or where you will be gluing the fascia strips, so that the trim will lie flat. Do this before you try to glue the strip on and get glue everywhere (ask me how I know this...)

Step Q.a - Main Roof Fascia - I haven't put this on yet because I'm not sure if I want it to go on top of the shingles, or have the shingles butt up to it.

Step Q.b - Mansard Roof Fascia. Straightforward, apart from all four short pieces being significantly wider than the long side pieces, so I had to trim off a good 1/8th inch off their width. The two back wall pieces were also a bit too long, and had to be trimmed down.

Step Q.c - Corner Boards sub-assembly. I did not pre-glue these into an L-shape off the house (which is what the instructions say) because that just seemed highly unlikely to be successful. It doesn't give you any wiggle room if your wall isn't quite flat, or straight, or not 90 degrees at the corner. Instead I glued these directly on the house, one corner at a time. Where I had electric wires in the way, I used my Dremel tool to make a slight groove for the wire to pass under. Two sets were a bit too short, one board on another corner was slightly too long and had to be trimmed. Clamping these required a fair bit of creativity. Obviously lots of masking tape, and then some clamps hooked into nearby windows etc.

Step Q.d - Kitchen and Living Room Bay Fascia. Kitchen was straightforward - both side short pieces needed trimming in length. The Living Room Bay was a bit trickier. I bevelled with the Dremel tool again, but there were gaps that had to be filled afterwards.

Step Q.e - Kitchen Bay Corner Boards - straightforward, miniature versions of the main house corner boards.

Base - I decided (as I pivoted the house 360 degrees for the nth time) that the house needed a base to protect the foundation paperclay and give me an easier way to turn the house/move the house. I don't have a lot of room, so I kept the base fairly small, just slightly wider than the house on three sides and allowing for the porch steps at the front. My base measures 2 feet wide by 20 inches deep. It is 15mm MDF (multidensity fibreboard). I still want to be able to lift the house off, so I hot-glued some blocks onto the base (after tracing around the house with pencil) in strategic places to hold the house in place. These required a certain amount of fine-tuning, but luckily you can pry the hot glue off again if you get it wrong. Once I was happy with them, I put two chipboard screws into each block.