Friday, 26 August 2016

Step by step: reception room

As I have been making and sharing Chippendale furniture recently I have realised that I have no good pictures of Womble Hall room by room. When I post something saying that this particular piece will go into this or that room I have no pictures to link to.

I have also been planning to write blog posts following the progress of one and the same room over two years. Yes, it has been two years, and I am not finished (depends of course on how you define "finished").

It will take me some time to write these posts, but I think it will be interesting for myself, and for you, dear reader. Occasionally, when I look at some old picture I can't believe what it once looked like.

I will start with the reception room, and I will both insert pictures and links to earlier relevant posts.

So: the main kit arrived just about two years ago, and I started priming and painting, but I made a dry assembly at an early stage, to see what the various rooms might be. In this post, for instance you can already see that I put in a fireplace, a mirror and Chippendale chairs, and they have remained in the same place.

I had not remembered, when I started writing this post, that I actually began with the reception room, testing the walls and the paneling. So here is the very first picture of the reception room:


The wallpaper is not the same as in the final decoration, the upper rail is cut from a 1:1 wallpaper, the floor is from the old Victorian house and now in a different room. But the white panel with golden squares is still there.

The next thing I made in this room was a chimney breast. I didn't have chimney breasts in the old house, but here I wanted to do everything properly. This is what it looked like when I was finished:

Note that I had some objects in the room all the time, even though the walls were bare. I thought it was important to have the details for overall effect.

In the next step, I removed the back and painted and wallpapered it while it was flat, which I still, after many mistakes and failures, recommend rather than decorating a fully assembled house. In this picture you can see the back wall of the reception room, now with the final wallpaper and beginning of paneling.

It took almost three months before I moved on with this room because I was working on the basement. But when I went back to reception room it was time to decorate the side walls. And I made a daring attempt.

Here is what I ended up with. It was grand, but eventually I had to tear it down. The seams didn't look neat, and I couldn't think of a good way to fix them. Pity, because it does look fabulous. But I know I would have gone crazy after a while.

By Christmas 2014 I had made significant progress, but had still not glued the shell together. At my Christmas party, people admired the house, but they didn't see that it wasn't glued together, that the wallpaper was white-tacked, that the stairs were not attached at all, or that the windows and doors weren't properly inserted.

By the end of January, I made the ceiling decoration:

I haven't got a detailed description of how I made this one, but a similar.

Mid-February, I was prepared to start gluing, but that's when I noticed a lot of small mistakes, including the reception room walls. This is what it looked like when I made the correction. Note that I had given up on the previous upper rail and instead used edges of a paper placemat.

Mid-March I finally glued the shell together, and the reception room, or what would become the reception room, can be seen in the left bottom corner:

 Of course you can see it as a step back, but at some point the shell had to be glued. As soon as I had managed, with huge effort, to force in all floor dividers, I put back as many objects as I could. So at the end of March the reception room looked like this:

And on the whole it still looks like this. The Greek statues are souvenirs from Greece. The chandelier is a Christmas ornament. The white pedestals are wedding cake decorations. The vases are from charity shops. But of course it didn't end here. For instance, I added fire to the fireplace. Not huge progress, but anyway. The old floor has been moved elsewhere so it's just bare primed surface.


In June 2015, I made a new floor for the reception room. It was a long project that took weeks. By that time, I had finally got mitre shears, and cutting crafts sticks became easier. After that, the room looked like this:

I believe by this time I had glued in the windows, but I had to wait with the doors until both this floor and the floor in the adjacent room were finished.

At the end of November 2015, my son-in-law helped me install lights. The reception room looked grand for Christmas.

Here, the door is properly set in, a Chippendale daybed has joined the chairs, and there are pictures on the walls. All small details, but make a huge difference.

In December, I made curtains for most of the rooms, including the reception room. And I also made new ceilings for all rooms, using the Adam gift wrapping paper. And added expensive Georgian cornices. After which the room looked like this (the cornice on the left looks a bit untidy, but that's because there is a wire clip in that corner):

You would think that was it. Well, maybe some more pictures, some more ornaments, but no major alterations. But a dollhouse project is never finished. I found a new chandelier. After that, the room looked like this:

Not a big deal, you say? Come and visit me and let's hear what you say then.

So this is how long I have come, two years after I started. 

As you see, there is now a doll, and I think she fits perfectly in this environment. Of the details, there is a Chippendale corner chair, window seat and fire screen. But don't ask me whether it is finished. It will never be.

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