Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Hall, stairs and landing(s)

The toughest decorating job in any house is papering and painting the hall, stairs and landings, so in the case of Bon Marché, I'm glad to get it out of the way early. I don't have any choice to be honest because all three staircases run sideways up the back wall and I can't progress until they are in position and the wallpaper must go on first!

As I mentioned in my last post (Measure twice . . . 2 April), the wallpaper design was printed from a CD. Inkjet inks are water soluble so I couldn't use ordinary wallpaper paste and I'm having to trust to spray mounting the A4 paper directly onto the MDF and smoothing it down firmly with a clean soft cloth (synthetic fleece is ideal). With the paper held top and bottom by mouldings and skirting boards not to mention the stairs themselves, I'm hoping things should stick OK. But if any peeling does occur, the old shop/house is not meant to be in perfect repair and it won't really matter!

This shows the wallpaper following the line of the first flight of stairs. The area behind the stairs is Charlie Brennan's kitchenette at the back of the shop, and here I'm also trying out the position of the sink and draining board. Above the sink there'll be a dummy window. I might also install a false door down to the (imaginary) cellar if space allows.

The caboodle theme is sculptural this time. 

Remember that Charlie's shop specialized in antiques and curios before the war, which accounts for anything and everything gathered together here, from a statue of the Hindu god Vishnu, a suit of armour, the figurehead from the good ship Centurion and the gilded Virgin and Child from a baroque crib, to various other bits and pieces (probably destined to stand gathering moss out in Frankie's yard if there's no room indoors).


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Measure twice . . .

Our clocks have just gone forward one hour for British Summer Time but that signifies nothing this year, we are still waking to frosty rooftops and a cutting east wind that won't drop. However, when I might otherwise have been outside gardening, I've stayed in the warm working on the shop/house Bon Marché.

After deciding to swap and relocate the internal walls between Floors 2 and 3 (Having a bash, 14 March 2013) I've pencilled all the new positions on Floor 2 - several times over as it happened, because I was forced to pin my vague visualizations down to physical reality and precise measurements! 
At the bottom of the second flight of stairs, I've created a concealed space for the lighting switchboard, the SWP power controller, (see Kensington Christmas Festival, 29 November 2012) which I shall mount on the back of the dummy door to the living room.

The dummy door has no hinges, instead it will lift out completely for access to wiring and switches, via the narrow opening panel on the left of the house. A hole drilled in the rear wall will allow the jack plug to feed through from the regulated dc power supply. As you can see, this particular board has a convenient socket for the jack, which saves any more faffing about with connecting wires - hooray.

Two tiny holes drilled in the centre of Floor 2 mark the positions of my first ceiling lights, in the shop area below. These are the elegant double-armed models bought from Ray Storey last November. And I've papered the shop ceiling as well, using a remnant of Lincrusta from our own RL decorating. 

After threading them through to the floor above, each pair of wires is firmly taped in position, ready for connection to the board. I think I am slowly becoming a real electrican!

The lights fit neatly against the ceiling. The carcase lies on its side as I work on it, but when it's turned upright, the chain switches will of course hang vertically. 
I've always found the use of full-scale wallpapers quite attractive when looking into antique dolls houses, and I'm keen to try the effect in my own. I think of it as the Picasso trick because it plays ambiguously with proportions, space and distance.

I found a book and CD of fabric designs in a museum shop and printed enough copies of this late-Victorian iris pattern to cover the staircase wall. Its large scale will be scarcely visible except through balusters and open doorways so we shall only get occasional glimpses. 

The caboodle this time is a wooden dresser destined for the kitchen next to the living room on Floor 2. It's a much-altered ebay purchase with the varnish sanded off and ball feet removed so the cupboard is flush to the floor. The shelf sides were cut back to give a larger work surface and the door and drawer handles replaced by white 'china' knobs - actually map pins, glued in with the points safely snipped off inside. When I saw how nice the plain wood looked I abandoned the idea of shabby painting the dresser. Instead I'll use a dab of shoe polish to match the kitchen table top.