Saturday, 7 January 2017

Step by step: grand entrance hall

I have realised that I never finished my step-by-step, room-by-room tour of Womble Hall. The last room I showed was the smoking room, and prior to that I also showed the reception room, music room,  drawing room, dining room,  and master bedroom. There are quite a few rooms left, even before I move on to attic and basement.

This is what the entrance hall looks like today. Like everything else, it is not finished. Nothing is ever finished in a dollhouse project. But it is finished enough to be displayed with pride.

This is probably the only room that didn't have any predecessors in earlier projects, simply because there was no space in my other houses for a grand staircase like this.

I did, however, have a staircase even in my very first dollhouse in a shelf. I was very pleased with it, and I still think it was a very bold thing to do, just a couple of months after I first started miniature-making. When we moved to the UK and I resurrected the old house in a cabinet, I kept the stairs that didn't lead anywhere.

When Womble Hall kit arrived, the entrance hall was the only room where I didn't have to make any decisions. It could only be the entrance hall. When I dry-assembled, I attached the stairs with tack.


You get the idea, but it was one of the rooms that took a long time to plan. There is a rear corridor with a door on the right, and it had to be designed and finished before the final assembly. So it took a couple of months before I got down to this room, thinking it over while I was making chimney breasts and deciding on floors.

I chose to paint the walls rather than hanging wallpaper, and it was the right choice, I think, given the many other details that came later. I painted all walls flat, and I also painted the back partition. I have said repeatedly how much I like this kit because of its hidden spaces. The mysterious door at the back of the hall is exciting.


In this picture, from mid-October 2014, the floor is paper, and the wall panels are not finished, and yet you get a sense of what this room is supposed ti be.

The next time I returned to the hall was to make a proper wooden floor. This was still before the shell was glued. Prior to that, I had to decide on the decoration in the rear corridor. Only a tiny part of it would be visible through the door, and yet it had to be done properly. In this picture from the first step of assembly (mid-March 2015) you can see the back wall of the corridor, the half on the right, that will be visible, with proper wallpaper, and the left part, which will be sealed off, with simple printer paper.

I covered the floor of the rear corridor with self-adhesive shelf lining. You have to look very carefully to see that it isn't a proper wooded floor. You can only see a couple of square inches of it anyway.

I now realise that I missed the moment when I put in the partition. Obviously I had to insert the door before I glued in the partition, and since I have light in the corridor I must have added it before as well. The light is a LED strip with a battery attached to the back of the house. My clever son-in-law says there is a better way, but I will leave it to him.

Finally, in May 2015 it was time to deal with the grand stairs, and I came with a solution that I had initially dismissed as going too far. This is a good example of how you put higher and higher demands on yourself and how one detail leads to the next.

For instance, I was not longer happy with the floor because it felt too conspicuous. I tried once again to use shelf lining:

I cut the original sheet into small strips and arranged them into parquet patterns. But you know what? I said this before. Once you have made wooded floors you will never again be satisfied with paper. So I used the same pattern, but made the floor from coffee stirrers

I had various things in the rear corridor, but eventually put a Chippendale hutch cabinet there.

It looks like by that time I had glued on the rails. A dedicated dollhouse-maker would have discarded the rails provided with the kit and built new ones with individual turned spindles. Maybe I will do it some time. But for now, I rounded the edges of the spindles with sandpaper, and I also added mouldings on the outside for a more finished look.

In due time, I inserted the double doors and founds interesting door knobs. I invested in some expensive antique objects. And the final touch was of course the magnificent Adam ceiling.

So here we are, a year later: not much changed, but a few items added and perhaps some more can be added, but as I keep repeating: a project like this is never complete.

For contrast, I will show what three professional designers did with this room, whereupon the house was sold for £25,000.

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