Monday, October 29, 2018

A French Copper Bakers Rack for Dollhouse Kitchen and Nora Murphy's Book Winner

 The dollhouse has seen many improvements since I last blogged. 
Mostly, I have concentrated my efforts in the large servant's kitchen.  
(Hehe, why not, I am imagining this home to have a staff of servants, much like Downton Abbey.)
I planned to build my cabinets and stove from scratch.  After seeing my own kitchen, I 
decided to build a copy of my wall baker's rack that I bought at the Martha Stewart auction.
This rack is now part of a wall of copper in my kitchen, and excuse the dark photo,
but I no longer have time to take out a fancy camera as I am working hard on the dollhouse.
Priorities! I measured the bakers rack and then converted it into the 1/12th scale that is 
the most common for dollhouse builds.  (1inch = 1 foot.) You can design things for a dollhouse
just using this simple formula.  The rack measured 3 feet by 3 feet roughly, 
and that meant I would build it to be 3 inches by 3 inches.
 This is a quick progress shot of the build.  I was also working on 
a European style range, that I built from balsa wood and jewelry bits
(but more on that later).  For the rack I used BBQ sticks that I had in 
the kitchen, along with thin strips of balsa wood and some easily bendable wire
and some tiny jewelry beads with holes on the ends.  I shaped the wire to simulate 
the design on my real wall rack, and then finished each edge off with a bead, then
glued in place. 
 Next I sprayed the entire thing in a box (my spray booth).  
After it dried I held it up to compare to the real thing in my kitchen.
 Wow! Not bad for a few hours of effort.  
 No other dollhouse would have one of these! Next
step was to use gilding wax to make some areas look brass,
and add a central feature like the shaft of wheat that my big rack has.
I used a tiny rose from the arts and crafts department, which is where you can
find many tiny things.
 It turned out quite charming and I just stuck it on the wall over the range to see how it looked.
I wanted to make a big stone hood for ventilation, and still may do so, and move the bakers rack
to another wall. More copper is on the way, so I can fill out the kitchen to mimic my own.
Brick floors were to go in, as well as aging the walls, after all this is servants quarters.  
It should be a bit dreary and work like.  The French door has been officially installed and the 
dining room got wallpaper and its chandelier electrified!! 
The other side of the kitchen has the cabinetry I made that just got installed! 
I will follow this post up with those two improvements and more.
And for all those that wrote in asking to win a copy of 
Nora Murphy's Country House Style book,
I am so pleased to see such a HUGE response!  
 Sadly only one winner on this giveaway,
but check out Nora's book on Amazon or
 in your local book store or on Nora's website. 
But before you do.....

There is also another book giveaway you can enter at my friend
 Shirley's blog at Housepitality Designs.

Now for my giveaway winner.... the drumroll please......

The winner of the book is Jane Pickett from Worcester, Mass!

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Nora Murphy Country House Style Book Giveaway

 Nora Murphy's Country House Style book features six country houses, 
all with their own distinct take on country style. Last summer Nora and her art director
and photographer made their way to my house to shoot it for her book.
This sweet scene with Piper is an outtake, but you will see the rooms in my home and
even Piper makes the book in one scene.  I am offering my readers a chance to win a 
complimentary copy of Nora's book, directly from Nora herself!  
All you need to do is to leave me a comment on the blog here, 
with your email address so I can get in touch with you for your mailing address.
One lucky winner will be chosen Sunday night!
 Nora will include this special gingham slipcover that will hold an autographed
 copy of her book for the giveaway.
This is the title page of the chapter on my home.  All the homes have 
their own designation by location.  Each home owner had a box
of small things Nora used to make a collage for the chapter photo,
and its really quite clever.
 This is also an outtake, but you will see a huge layout page featuring
my purple transfer ware collection.
And this snippet of my kitchen is just a hint of things you will see in the book.
My little green and white country kitchen!  There are so many amazing country kitchens in 
Nora's book, its worth getting the book just for kitchen inspiration!!
So if you don't already have a copy of this beautiful book, you 
can leave me a comment telling me why you would like one.
Its that simple! 
I will pick one winner Sunday night!!
If you can't leave a comment here, send me an email
at and you can enter that way.
Comments on the blog will appear AFTER I moderate them, and
that is because I get spam, so your comment will appear.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Dollhouse Report: Shabby chic bathroom, purple transfer ware, and a grand piano.

Dollhouse miniatures are a world unto their own, and one can find many others
who are obsessed with creating miniature interiors.  From traditional to victorian to 
antique and farmhouse, there is someone recreating a miniature world in every decor style.
My own dollhouse is going to be a fusion of styles, much like how I decorate my own home.
So the overall influence will be French, with some cottage and shabby chic style mixed in, 
then sprinkled with the vintage faded grandeur look I find so attractive.
This bathroom started with a kit of a tub, pedestal sink and a toilet at a reasonable price.
The cost of some of these miniatures are pretty expensive, so I have been trying to either 
customize ready to buy pieces that are unfinished wood or stay in a lower price bracket.
The customization of the pieces are the most fun for me.  I took an unfinished hall table 
and turned it into the shabby chic cottage dressing table in my bathroom.
After I painted it pink and white and added flowers to the drawers,
 I aged it with clear and dark wax and buffed it up.  At the last minute I was I inspired to add
a little skirt in pink gingham, which was the ruffled edge of a vintage Ralph Lauren pillowcase I 
had in my linens pile.  It added just the right amount of charm. I created a gilded cornice
to go over the long sheer linen drapery panel, a Stroheim and Romann remnant from my
curtain making decorating days as a designer. The rest is pretty much unfinished, as the moldings and the electrical and wall finishes need to be added.  So remember, this is a progress report!
I started off by painting the entire interior of the dollhouse in Ben Moore
Natural Elements (#1515),  the same color I have in my real life dining room.
It made it much more fun to set up the furniture pieces as they arrived, having
a painted backdrop instead of unfinished wood.
Here you can see I started placing various items in the rooms to get the feel
of how the rooms should be furnished.  On the top floor you can see the basic
bathroom kit. On the second floor I plan to have a bedroom on the left, the hall
in the center and the potting room that leads to the roof deck on the right.
On the first floor I will have the living room, foyer, dining room and then the 
big country kitchen ( cut off from view).
But then I got to thinking that the foyer was built too small and narrow. So I got the 
great idea of cutting open the wall.  And while I was at it, I wanted French doors to
go out onto the roof deck.  As it turned out there wasn't enough wall space to add
the doors to the roof deck because the stairs were right there (remember this was built
by someone from scratch, not a dollhouse kit, which I think has better floor plans).
So the French doors will go in between the kitchen and the dining room, just because it seems
to be the best place in this layout. 
I snapped this pic for Instagram, showing hubs at work cutting the walls.
He started using a Dremel with some kind of router but it didn't work very neatly
so he switched his tool choice to a coping saw (shaped like a giant U).
 This house is already a Fixer Upper lol.  
But look how much nicer it will be!!
The dining room will have a pair of columns along the new openings.
Oh yes, I have such grand ideas don't I??
I tried adding some wide pine floors by using a printed paper pattern I found
at a craft store, but I don't really care for the effect. 
 I will have to do real wood floors.
Oh well...but you may have noticed my dining room pieces that have 
purple transferware in the cupboard and on the table!
I almost died when I found a set of 52 pieces of purple transferware in 1/12 scale.
You can also see I started to build a railing on the staircase and have since added the banister.
I used instant wood glue and I almost glued my fingertips together.  
This tiny glueing is not easy.
Last but not least, my grand piano.
 This was the first group of miniature items I bought for my dollhouse.
You can see the black baby grand piano with the bench.  I planned to 
customize it to match the piano I had painted for my own home.
 I painted it in Old White chalk paint first. 

 Then to add the toile effect in blue paint, I decided to use colored pencils so I could get the fine
detail I needed to copy my own real life piano.
My real life toile piano...
The tiny bench seat was reupholstered in a velvet scrap I had from 
doing the gilded ballroom chairs. I even painted a tiny scene inside the 
lid of the piano.  It really looks adorable doesn't it?
I am having so much fun creating the interiors of the dollhouse,
and will be back soon to show off my next installment of progress.
Like wallpapering and finding an Aubusson rug....haha!!
I told you, this is so much fun!

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Monday, September 17, 2018

My French Dollhouse Project

 A dollhouse is my latest project after finding this nice wooden handmade example at a 
local consignment shop.  I saw it several times and would think about buying it, but I didn't have
the space to work on it, until my son moved out of my old studio/bedroom space.  
Then I got my room back, and visited the shop, and there it still was!
Oh yes, it finally found a home, and someone to love it.
This big mint green house seemed kind of Frenchy to me, and I imagined the ways I could
transform it, and then decorate it with a French flavor.
The first thing I did was to paint the sloped area to be the roof color instead of the 
exterior wall color.  Then I toned down the happy mint green color to a respectable
ochre color one might find when driving through the countryside of France.
 See? Like this chateau!  
 The next step was to figure out how to make slate tiles to cover the roof.  I wanted a realistic 
looking slate tile, and after searching the internet for ideas, I came up empty and so put on my thinking cap.  Hard paper cardboard material in matte black was found at my local craft shop, 
and then I washed a combo of two grey acrylic craft paints over the black boards to create a dusky
slate grey effect in shades of grey.
Using a paper cutter, I trimmed the board into 1.25" strips and then cut out tiles
approximately 1.5" long.  
The next step was to fit the shingles to the roof, and I used a pair of scissors to fit any
tiles that needed trimming. Scribing the edges quickly with a pencil I fit the edge tiles first,
then continued along the lower edge of the roof, working my way up to the top.  Because I 
had shingled my garden shed last year, it helped me to understand how to shingle a surface.
It took a long time to get the roof shingled, but I was happy with the result.
The facade of the house is the next thing I need to think about, as far as giving it
the old aged look of a French chateau.  
 Piper can't seem to figure out this new thing we are doing.  Going up into a room she has never hung out in, and watching me do something for hours on end.  She naps and then checks in on it time for our walk yet?
I hope to find something to use as a roof fence along the top edge, and do something
with the chimneys.  The front door needs to be made over as well. 
 What I loved about the dollhouse was that it was never touched inside.  The interior is ready
to get decorated, after some moldings are added.  Stairs need railings, windows need trim, doors
need to be added....this is a project that may take years!
But the most fun of all is finding things to add to the dollhouse.
Like these tiny pumpkins that I painted blue to look like my favorite 
Cinderella pumpkins that I find every fall for my house.  And this
simple chest of drawers that cost $4.99 in unfinished wood.  I painted it up
in Duck Egg blue chalk paint and then aged it and gilded the knobs to give it 
that shabby faded grandeur effect that I am striving for with this house.
Goodies will be arriving this week~a grand piano, an Aubusson rug, 
and a French country dining room hutch to hold  some purple transferware!!
Can you see where I am going with this?
Stay tuned for My French Dollhouse Project updates.  I will likely include 
snippets of progress in regular blog posts for those interested.
The world of miniatures has captured my attention and its all so 
fascinating to me.

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Enchanted Tale of the French Country Cottage

French Country Cottage
Its a brand new book detailing what is a most romantic fixer upper fairy tale . 
 A real life fairy tale that took place in today's world...
One that happened slowly over a handful of years as a young mother and wife bought a 
run down abandoned home with her husband in a small California town.   
I've watched much of it first hand as I became friends with Courtney Allison
 in the blogging world when we both began in 2010.  
She with her French Country Cottage blog and I with Maison Decor.
  We shared a love for romantic French decor
 and for creating spaces with our own hands, sharing on our blogs what
was born out of visions of what could be, instead of what was there.

Courtney's cottage was rundown and tiny, but bit by bit she renovated rooms such 
to the delight of her blog followers.  All of us French Country Cottage readers swooned over
 her choices, like when she put a huge French armoire in a small bathroom 
and filled it with towels, and then swooned some more when she added wallpaper in
 a pretty floral design and then hung an old gilded chandelier to put it over the top. 
 Her choices are always inspired and unique, as Courtney is truly an original.
 We found inspiration from each remodeling project as she created her dream home.  
In her new book, you will see how she added to what was there, 
and the changes they made.  The enormous fireplace is original 
and was flanked by small windows, which now have been replaced
with glamorous French doors, adding to the romance of the space and 
allowing access to the garden spaces she created for outdoor living.
The dining room is an area that is actually part of the living room, 
and in her book, Courtney shows how she made defined spaces. 
 It was fascinating to see more of her cottage
 than we get to see on her blog, also "French Country Cottage".
Now I could finally see that she did indeed live in a cottage,
 and these various "rooms" were actually located in one large space in the old cottage.  
Tips on how to combine living spaces are just some of what you will find in the book. 
The book is divided neatly into categories with the interior and exterior spaces
laid out, and her out buildings such as the  extra cottage and a new greenhouse.
But lets talk about the outdoor spaces, shall we?
This English feeling sitting area by an enormous Lion fountain is 
so incredible!  Talk about creating a memorable space!!
Courtney always finds such fantastic pieces to make a statement, 
that you cannot help to start hunting on Craigslist to search for your very own 
Lion fountain, or huge gilded mirror, or marble topped tables or fancy chandeliers.
Her outdoor spaces are truly magical, and there is one I aspire to create for myself. 
 The pergola building has an incredible stone fireplace Courtney and her husband 
made themselves.  I recall many years ago emailing with her about her Pergola 
after a storm destroyed the first one she had standing.  I was devastated for her.  
But of course she got it rebuilt and carried on with her can-do spirit.
 I was in love with the outdoor spaces she created, as they are full of the 
rustic romantic style I am attracted to. 
 My own yard has several "outdoor rooms",  but none quite as glorious as hers.  
Building an outdoor fireplace and then a room around it, is on my list for sure!
I have been bugging hubs for two years now to build me one with our big granite blocks,
and now that I have this book in my lap, I may just need one made from these 
rounded river rocks instead. Courtney tells how they built it from scratch.
Her home is loaded with romantic details, from the daybed in the attic
 to the pretty bedrooms and amazing kitchen spaces!
 Decorating ideas abound in this pretty book.
They were lucky to have another tiny home on the property that was also rehabbed.
This cottage is left in a more rustic and original state, but none the less, Courtney 
remodeled it with the same romantic French style using old painted furniture 
and gilded mirrors and of course, old crystal chandeliers.

 Courtney shares her journey and how she became braver with each step she took finding
her own unique style as she remodeled her rundown cottage.  It is a tale I could relate to, and 
a remarkable journey I have so enjoyed watching on her blog.  You can keep up with Courtney
 on her blog located right here on my blogroll (in the right hand sidebar area).

 I am quite sure after you read this book,
you will feel there is nothing you can't do with your own home, 
no matter its condition or size.
Just stick to your vision and bring it to life, one chandelier at a time.
Lastly, this book has easily just become one of my top favorite decor books.
When I heard she was writing a book, I couldn't have been more excited to get a copy.
It arrived a few days ago, and I couldn't put it down! I have already started reading it again
and pouring through those beautiful photographs of Courtney's home.
Simply put, its beauty and inspiration and attainable house goals all rolled into one.

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