Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Southern Mansion Dollhouse with Summer Kitchen

The Back Story

The Southern mansion is the secondhouse of my dollhouse making career to have a story and a history prior to finding it's way to my tea/work room.

The first house was the Yorktown , previously owned by Beulah Caplinger, a lady I felt a connection to but never knew. That house is on the blog with other prior finished houses.

Back to the Southern Mansion. My father arrived for the holidays in 2008 pulling a small trailer behind his car. On Christmas morning the contents of the trailer revealed the biggest dollhouse I had ever seen. It seriously filled my entire dinning room table. He had purchased it at an auction sale in Ohio, and drove it in this trailer all the way down toSouth Florida.

So, here it was, someone's gigantic project that was never finished. Also along with the house was a huge box of furniture and furniture kits. So very much time and money had been invested in this well build shell of a house.

Looking at the raw wood rooms, and half assembled stair cases, I could not help but wonder what theback story wasand who it had been made for. Did they know? Was it a surprise? I'm fairly sure the house was constructed by a man.

The house had to be removed from the enormous base it was on, and accessing the gigantic foot print it still had, the only reasonable design solution was to take off the two wing additions. The house then was 32 inches long. This is a respectable size for a big house and would also allow the house to be easily shipped. With no space in my work room at the time the house was taken over to my Mom's house a few miles away and lovingly stored on a work bench in her garage.

The Challenges

In the fall of 2010 I decided to retrieve the house from Mom's garage, and see what the possibilities were for it. I had a house with two door openings on either side that had been entrances to the wing additions, damaged siding, and no base floor. The kit windows , if you could even call them that ,were not going to cut it, and this stately home deserved a lovely entrance and beautiful doors.

I decided rather than replace the siding, which was actually the walls themselves, to fill them in and do the elegant paper stone finish that I like doing, and would give the house more character. I used joint compound and leveled out the exterior wall surfaces.

For the Restyling of doors to nowhere, I decided to do a chimney on the outside and floor to ceiling fireplaces on the inside, for one side of the house. A side door and a French door with a small balcony for the other side of the house. We seen to have a plan.

The house details and decor

The exterior

The exterior is done in textured paintable paper individually cut into block style shapes and individually applied. The crisp whitegives the house a fresh clean look and a pallet for adding richer and defined tones. The English chestnut front door and shutters help ground the house with a warm tone and wood texture. For the window boxes I painted them in a fashion forward new neutral color for an updated look. The pallet for the flowers is tonal pinks and bright white with greens in the lighter shades, for a soft feminine , and very dollhousey look.

Change of plan

I had planned to make a kitchen as one of the two first floor rooms. The house was just not having it. Everything I did in that direction for one reason after another just did not manifest. The room simply had to be an elegant dinning room. When I run into to many road blocks , I know enough to stop and reevaluate the plan. As soon as I went with the elegant dinning room concept, everything just flowed into place. Actually more like gushed, with things just going together, blending and matching perfectly.

Now with a huge beautiful house with no kitchen, I wondered if I could somehow make a matching kitchen from parts of the wing additions. On our trip last year to Williamsburg, I saw many homes like this with the summer kitchen being in a small separate building. This was a great fun project. It allowed me to still have some elegant touches to match the palate of the main house, but also add earthy tones and textures like the warm red brick fireplaces, and rustic tile floors.

The interior

Again, the use of large amounts of white, keep the feel of the house bright cheery, and clean. The floors are marble papers individually cut and applied in assorted subtle patterns. This is a large house with big floor areas and larger tiles really show it off. The wallpaper choices for the first floor follow thewarm earth tones, and a deep burgundy color is the pulled through everyroom in the house to flow and compliment.The white papers are all dimensional. The two fireplaces are the showpieces of the house, and designed and decorated specifically for this house. The staircase sides are detailed with matching border prints, and wood trim.

So, this Southern Mansion house is now finished.

I still wonder in looking at it what the original owner's vision had been for it and what had happened. But again I feel that for what ever reason, I was just supposed to be the one to finish it. Now it will be up to the next person to decorate and enjoy it.