Sunday, November 18, 2018

Thanksgiving week brings a dollhouse for the dollhouse and more

Thanksgiving week is upon us, and I will be hosting dinner this year, which
is pretty much the norm.  I have yet to set the table, but when I do I will bring out my
"good" camera and take some photos.  This year baby Reeve will join us all, and I just bought her
a booster seat so she can actually sit at the table instead of in her high chair.  She will bring
much joy to the celebration as all her uncles and aunts gather round.
Switching over to my dollhouse obsession, I have made much progress and will
share just a few highlights until I can write a full on dollhouse post.
 A friend gifted me an iron "faux bois" table for my potting room and I 
think it is the perfect addition.  On top of it is a French enamelware pitcher I 
created from paper and paint after fiddling around trying to copy an antique 
pitcher I picked up at Nora Murphy's book launch party in Connecticut last week.
So much to tell you, and the Nora story will be coming right after Thanksgiving,
as I dragged my pal Matthew Mead along to the party and then we went to Nora's house!
What a treat that was!!
 But I digress....
So the potting room has some rose prints on gilded
wood plaques that decorate the walls and an exact copy of 
my painted tarp that hangs over the utility sink!  I still need to do some trim around the 
window as you can see....but its the tiny embellishments that recreate special
things in my life that are extra fun to make for the dollhouse.
One thing I have been fantasizing about is having a dollhouse for the dollhouse.
After much deliberation, I decided to buy one instead of making a simple one.
Mostly because, well, I couldn't resist this amazing 1/144 scale teeny dollhouse!
 Incredibly elaborate, I found it online at
There are several different styles of these extra tiny houses, and the scale
is what is correct for a dollhouse to be in a 1/12 scale house. Its 1/12 of 1/12th!!
Mind boggling to me....but this teeny house can open up and it can be decorated too,
which means quite likely at some point this 1/144 house will have a dollhouse of its own. is NUTS. I know.
 So the dollhouse hallways are narrow and yet they needed something to make them
interesting.  The dollhouse fits perfectly there on display for the dollhouse residents to 
admire.  I created the curtain fabric using a color printer and fabric, printing off a pattern of
an Aubusson rug, then cutting it in half and stitching it up into a pair of panels. A copper wall
sconce was added to illuminate the dark hallway, so we could admire the fancy tiny dollhouse.
 The doorways were embellished with some frescos to add some pretty details and make it more 
fancy and yet still whimsical.  
After adding some printed designs I found online that were romantic, pretty 
and French looking, I handpainted  borders to give it a finished look.
I don't imagine a perfectly historical house.  It's got to have the wow and the whimsy
 and the shabby and the French and all the things I love. 
 That is what is so fun about decorating a dollhouse. 
 Its not real, so you can have anything you WANT!! 
 The next hallway task was to paint the unfinished dollhouse.  It ended up
looking like this, which I call "Very Versailles".
The gilding wax applied on the trim really gave it the wow factor
and it looks beautiful put back in the dollhouse landing on the second floor.
Warning: This blog will be containing a lot more dollhouse updates,
between Thanksgiving and Christmas!  
Until then, wishing all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving!
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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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