Sunday, 3 April 2016

Seasons of my WILLOWCREST




A brief History of my Willowcrest

I think that it was during the mid to late 1990's in which I purchased my 
Greenleaf WILLOWCREST DOLLHOUSE KIT
For me it was "love at first sight"  
However, not long after I'd bought it, a variety of major events occurred in my Real Life which resulted me taking an extended leave of absence from miniatures, and my WILLOWCREST made a long, dark sojourn inside my somewhat dank garage. And that's where it's stayed for more than 14 years, until last summer, when I'd decided that after my "Arthur" was finished that I would at last begin putting this house together.
 Yet, little did I know that God, in HIS infinite wisdom,
 had a different plan...
***

January 2016

 I'd decided that
 I REALLY NEEDED TO BUILD THIS HOUSE! 
and so I opened the kit box (which was now waiting patiently behind my Studio door), 
took out the sheets of wood, and the sheets of directions and began to slowly read them over, 
and guess what?
 I couldn't figure them out!?! 
  I tried again and again to make sense of the instructions and every time it was like reading- Martian!.  It also happened that the main floor was warped and wouldn't stay flat once it was inserted into the slot in front wall.  All of those years in the damp garage had taken it's toll.
So in fury and frustration I left it, and 
January drifted into 
February. 
***
Every day I'd look at the freestanding front wall with it's wonky first floor and crooked front porch and I just got more and more irritated, trying to straighten it out and/or put the kit together.  
Time slipped by and still no progress was made.

February slid into March.
***

Finally, to save myself anymore grief and aggravation, I decided to cast aside the printed instructions and just 
do my own thing! 

(whatever that "thing" might happen to be

I finally put the shell together, by cutting off the wonky front porch as well as the twisted second floor overhang.  Then I got out any spare building parts and started taping them to the facade this way and that.
But since I had removed the front porch (which truthfully, I never liked anyway), I found that I didn't know how to transition the french doors down to the street level.  I changed my mind over and over again, trying long windows, short windows, 3 windows, no windows, but alas, nothing clicked.  I liked the idea of the upper balcony but not the way that it was relating to the window directly below it, and although I didn't want to cut anything out until I had first figured out the floor plan on the inside-
 I did it anyway:(
 Even so nothing made sense or worked for me.
 The second floor however, was simpler, so in the in-term, I worked on that.  
I cut a larger opening for a single french door in the bedroom, as well as the double french doors for the front face of the house.



For the main floor where the bay window would normally be, I decided to seal it back up, as well as eliminate the smaller windows to the right, on both the first and second floor, 
because 
this house kit, has 3 sets of living room windows; 1 large picture window in the front wall and 2 smaller sets of windows on the outside wall,
 AS WELL AS
 2 interior doors on either end of the living room wall leading into both the hall and the kitchen,
 IN ADDITION TO
a small angled fireplace in the middle of the same center wall!

In other words, 
multiple large openings on every single upright surface!


I have studied many other WILLOWCREST builds and have seen that arranging furniture in this living room is at best "challenging".  


By blocking out the smaller windows on the first and second floor, and later straightening out the angled center wall between the left and right half of the house, as well as blocking up the one door leading from the living room into the kitchen,  I would free up valuable wall space which would make for an easier room arrangement of both furniture, and/or artwork.  

But by installing a single french door I will still get plenty of daylight inside the room plus have access to a future side garden. 
I am going to make that little leftover projection ( which used to be  the top of the bay window), into a more substantial "Juliet" balcony, so that later I can place some potted plants on it.
Okay, this side house I am happy with! 
So it was back to the front of the house where the struggle continued.
*** 

I didn't want to buy any more windows or doors, until I knew exactly how many I would need and where they would go.  
AND
 I am still trying to decide on the style of my front door, although I think that I've narrowed it down.  
I am considering a half round transomed window over a solid front door, 
Or
 a more "scrolly" Federal style door surround (no transom).  
Still a toss up. 

More indecision...
Since nothing was making me happy, I left the house alone, and yet another month waved
"goodbye!"
as it marched past into 
APRIL
***
Then, just last Friday, I had a breakthrough!  
It meant patching up the hole in the front wall and re-sizing it to fit the double french doors. 

(this cut out was now way too big)
I had the idea to make a usable front patio, which was an idea that I had toyed with back in February, but I'd abandoned it because I couldn't get a good picture of it in my mind, 
but now 
it all became perfectly clear! 
Since I had also wanted to add another small balcony leading out from the bedroom which would over-look the patio below, it would therefore provide a good visual transition, taking the eye up and down by gentle stages.
So I did a mock up with layered builders foam, glued and wrapped it all with masking tape, and then glued it securely to the exterior of the house. I decided to add a small end wall to the right, planning later for a full wrap-around enclosure.  I also made steps leading down to my (future) garden.
"Alrighty then!" :D


I tried out the bistro table and chairs that I bought a couple of years ago from Victoria Miniland to make sure that I had enough room outside for entertaining.  I had changed the table top to a bigger one (which happens to be a fridge magnet), and later on, I will paint it.

 I had to fill in the portion around the window which I had already removed.  It looks awful now,  
however it won't look like this forever.

 But back outside to the patio....

I began to smooth on the wall putty straight out of the jar and over the entire surface of the foam board, however it began to lift off as I was leveling it out.  I tried wetting my pallet knife and when that still failed to keep the spackle on the form, I added white glue to the mix. 

I poured out about a tablespoon onto the surface of the putty and smoothed and worked it into the mud.  The putty stayed put!
I coated the patio and the stairs and one of the walls.  The rest I will do later, after I lay the tiles or stone.
It dried very slowly.

I left everything to dry overnight.


Meanwhile, back inside, I decided to figure out the second floor landing stairs.
Now before you get all
freaked out, the chunky white stairs in the photo above are only stand-ins which I'm using as a guide.
I think that I am going to place the 2nd floor stairs on the same wall as the first floor so that I'll have more room for the bed and bathroom.  I saw this re-positioning done on a Willowcrest build blog:
"Simply Curious"

http://elaineziman.blogspot.ca/2013/06/willowcrest-attic-staircase-solution.html
This blogger has a lot of creative ideas and is doing a contemporary interior, including a washer/ dryer, closets-
 The Works
Elaine shows some very creative space planning solutions, but as a matter of fact there are a number of interesting Willowcrest builders out in blogland.  I have gather as many of them as I can find onto my pinterest board, which I refer to when needed.
I LOVE seeing how others solve common design problems with their dollhouse kits,
 and then get them to work! 
https://www.pinterest.com/studioeminis/the-willowcrest-dollhouses/
Having said that, here is my proposed placement of the future bedroom door and
this is the proposed size of the future bathroom

so by re-positioning the staircase to the outside wall, I will have 2 larger second floor rooms.
The proposed placement of the bed, although this is 
Not THE BED which I will be using. 


and 
I'm also not sure if I will be using this french-style vanity in this room either, as I may wish to install instead, a wardrobe or dresser. 
Regardless,
I always find it interesting that 
as soon as you begin to add in the furniture, a room suddenly appears to feel bigger!
go figure?
***

Okay, so the following day the putty was dry and I gave it a light sanding.
What you see is still raw but it is solid! I will paint it to seal it but today, I had to play with it a bit to get a feel for the next step.  I've already added a bullnose to the edge of the steps, after I'd looked at these photos. 
And then after assessing the wall, I felt that it needed something more. Although, it is still unfinished, I think I'll make it terraced, just to break up the bland flatness of it, which will then make it more interesting.  By stepping it down and out from the inside wall, I will be able to have a planter box which can be filled with hedge material.  That will visually soften the stone and provide a surface for the front steps to later tie into.
But I can't build it out yet, because I still haven't decided on my front door. 
but now I'm Getting ideas!




And so, 
after a long winter of wet, dreary months-
 it's Spring again! 
my very favorite Season. 
***
 I have FINALLY begun "serious" work on my WILLOWCREST and I've even
 ordered the windows using the complimentary HBS gift certificate from last year's build along
(thank you HBS!) :D
but I won't do anything more until the windows get here 
Then 
I'll decide on the front door. 
hmmm? I wonder which one I'll  chose?

Still 
at this present time-
 I have no idea what this house will be.
I have no story-line 

 no working title, 
no real direction and no "map" to guide me.


Perhaps it's located somewhere here on the West coast?... 
perhaps in California? 
So should I try some French/Spanish fusion or maybe a little Shabby chic?
I just don't know...
hopefully some new ideas will come to me along the way 
 All through the winter, and now into spring
  I'll await to see what the morrow may bring


thus, 
my new adventure begins


elizabeth