Sunday, 1 October 2017

Basement ceiling & flooring

I have started work on the basement ceiling. I want to install lights so needed to get this detail done first so I wasn't trying to decorate around them. The room below is my inspiration for both the ceiling and floor of the basement so I'm attempting to achieve a similar look.. though mine has turned out not quite as rustic as I would like, I'm still happy with it so far.

(photo from Skeppsholmen Sotheby's International)

After laying down some painted wood flooring veneer for the ceiling finish I spaced out my beams and decided on four. This was mainly determined by wanting to make sure light placement wouldn't interfere with them, particularly on the apartment side.

The basement apartment beams will need to be cut to fit around the bathroom, but for now I just wanted placement.

 A closer look at the apartment and garage. You can kind of see the planking in these closer shots. Obviously I still need to add simple stripwood crown around the sides to hide my messy edges and leveling shims for the floor above. :)

 Next I set the bathroom insert (still under construction but you get the idea) in place to check the second beam cleared it. As a happy accident it will now be the guide for the installation of the bathroom assembly as it butts right up against the back wall.

The whole you can see on the diagonal wall will be a little frosted window to allow light into the shower area but still give the inhabitant some privacy. :D

Moving right along..... I've started laying out the brick flooring. Nothing is glued down yet. Just cutting and measuring for the room. I will age this floor with paints and aging techniques once I glue it down. It's a bit too red for my liking at the moment.

I'm using 2 x Houseworks Common Brick sheet #8201 to complete this job. They come ready to go on a net backing so the bricks are all spaced evenly. A big time saver from laying individual bricks. I did consider other options such as egg carton (which I love) and cutting them from builders foam, but I just felt for a floor I needed something more sturdy. The time saving aspect of not having to cut and lay individual bricks is a bonus that was well worth the additional cost... at least for this job. Egg carton will make an appearance again in other places. :)

They will require some cutting and piecing due to the shape of my room and of course half bricks for around the walls which brought me to my next dilemma.... how to cut these little clay bricks?? I tried to score and break them with mixed success. Then I tried using my mini bandsaw... ummm.. no... Apart from not having the right blade, having my fingers that close to a running saw didn't appeal sooo.. Off I went to the Greenleaf forums for advice, where the ever helpful members put me on to these little gems - End cut nipper jewelry pliers. Work like a charm. :) 

As these bricks are quite thick, I had to sand a bit off the bottom of my doors to make sure they clear the brick height. Also checking above that there is enough room for door trim between the bathroom wall and garage door opening. Yes there is. :)

The downstairs tenant dropped by to check out the renovations progress... It would be nice if he put some clothes on next time. :) At least he wore his undershorts.. Let's just say he's quite realistic in EVERY way. lol

All the full bricks in place.. just need to cut a few more half bricks to finish off the left hand wall.. Nice of the tenant to wear some shorts for his return visit. I need to buy him a t-shirt. :)

Also testing out lighting locations. The tenant seems to like this fixture.

Some of the bricks in the sheet had their corners broken which I don't mind because I like that tumbled brick look when grouted. I may even chip a few more when I'm aging them. :)

The light fixture started out brass but I spray painted it an aged bronze colour and then gave it a wash of black paint to darken it a bit more. I like the fixture but I didn't realise it came with bi-pin bulbs when I bought it. I'm not really a fan of those, but now I need to get some replacements. I've already burnt one out? Not sure how that happened.

The kitchen units are just mocked up to help with the kitchen light placement. I still need to make counter tops, add the one upper cabinet this kitchenette is getting and some open shelving on the wall. I also have meile half fridge to go at the end near the stove top. I might even continue the counter over the top of it to make it like a built in.

The kitchen light is a simple bulb with the base painted the same colour as the other fixture. You can just make out the ceiling planks in this picture. 

The garage ceiling beams are in. Still need to add stripwood trim around the wall/ceiling joins, but it's coming along. I bought some rubber drawer liners from the hardware store that looks just like teeny tiny coin mat. It reminds me of that rubberised treatment you see on some nicer garage floors. So I think I'll try it out as a flooring for the garage. It would be nicer if the garage had brick flooring too.. But buying clay bricks for the garage floor might be a bit extravagant. :)

I don't know why these particular pictures turned out so blurry, I took heaps and they all were the same. I'll try to get better ones next time. :)

This is the bathroom assembly in situ. As I said earlier there will be a frosted window in the diagonal wall. I think the flooring will be some JR industries round white tile and the back wall and diagonal wall which are part of the shower stall, will get "marble" subway tile floor to ceiling. I've been busily cutting it from a large vinyl tile I got at Bunnings for less than a dollar. Bargain!

Lots of cutting!

I may use these for back-splash also.. Not sure, I will need to see what they look like on the walls first.

Ok that's it for now, I need to get back to it. :)

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Remedial work on the Basement grouting.

So after the disaster that was the grouting on the San Franciscan basement, I pouted about it for a few days, sort solace from my friends over at Greenleaf, then pulled myself together and set about fixing it.

I took to it with my husband's toothbrush... ( I bought him a new one first ;) ) and some lime/calcium cleaner. I wet it liberally and then literally chiseled away at each little stone removing the bulk of the excess grout with an exacto blade. Then scrub, scrub, scrub!

After that I painted the stones that had lost their colour with Windsor & Newton Brush-markers. I learnt about those little miracle workers from Jodi over at My Miniature Madness. Great blog.. go and follow now. :D

Thank you dear Jodi... I learn so much from your blog!

Then I gave them a liberal coating of matt sealer and ta-da!

It looks soooo much better... still a few little touch ups to do but I feel much better about where this is going now.  :)

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Grouting and other bits and pieces

Well, I set myself a task to finish the grouting on the San Franciscan basement and got around to starting it about a week ago. I decided to use craft mosaic grout.
I liked that it was a nice grey colour like real mortar and that it's sanded, which I like the look of in real life... Oy!... What a mess it's created!

Grouting in progress with wiped portion below and newly added grout above the window.

I knew it was going to be difficult to remove from the stone so I tried to stick to the grout lines but that proved to be impossible. :)

As you can see, a lot of the grout remains on the stones. :(

Unfortunately, cleaning the stone proved to be as difficult as I expected, perhaps more so. A friend at the Greenleaf forums warned me that rubbing to hard on the Andi Mini Stone would knock off the texture and that proved to be correct. So I had to compromise and leave much more grout on the stone than I would have preferred to. I guess I will have to do some creative landscaping to cover up some of the really bad spots and then call it a rustic (very old) pointing job. :D  On the upside, they are definitely not pink anymore! I hope it looks a little better once I've sealed it. I'm still going to pick at it a bit before then though so that's a job that will have to wait.

Would I use this product for this application again. Unlikely, but I'm not sure what I would substitute it with so, I'll have to get back to you on that.

After cleaning - this section didn't turn out too badly.

After the grout dried, I finally got the coach lights to stick onto the uneven stone surface with a little help from my Greenleaf friends. It seems superglue is the only option for some jobs.

I would've made it a whole lot easier on myself if I'd just upended the building to attach them but I didn't think of that at the time. :)

But do they work?? Yes!

Of course I'm spending a lot of time at the moment asking myself what comes first the chicken or the egg. I have struggled on deciding what to attach first the basement ceiling/first floor or the basement floor I cut a couple of weeks ago. I finally decided to attach the roof and work upside down for a bit. I wanted to attach one or the other to give the current U shaped structure some stability. I am already cleaning up grout droppings every day, I don't need to help it along by having the walls flapping around every time I need to turn the building around for ease of working.

Of course I used the obligatory paint can weights and a level.. Very technical stuff. :D

I feel like I'm getting somewhere.

Not so fast.. Time to paint trims. :(

I taped them all down to bits of office paper and took them outside for a spray of undercoat. I just feel like that makes it easier to paint the finish colour on them without doing umpteen coats.

I noted that the door trim that comes with the San Franciscan is all flat but I had a combination of replacement doors with routed trim and flat trim. Hmmm.. what to do. Well flat seems easiest so that's that decision made.
I filled in the routed trim that is fixed on one side of the doors with spackle.... Not a fun job! So for the trim provided for the inside of the door, I just turned it over and painted the back side which is flat. The purchased basement windows didn't come with trim so I cut some popsicle sticks to size for those. Problem solved. :)

I got bored with all this construction-y type work so I decided to do something a bit more interesting in the middle of it.. I skipped up a level to work on the first floor staircase.

 I taped off an painted out the risers, side and back of the stairs Antique White. Then I taped off again and stained the treads with an Oak coloured stain pen.

Then I added some laser cut decorative corner trims that I got from Earth & Tree. I broke quite a few of these removing them from the tape I stuck them to for painting. So I would advise buying an extra pack if you are boofy like me. :)

I decided to wear down the treads by sanding them back a bit. This is an old house after all and I do want it to feel very lived in. These stairs have seen thousands of foot falls in their hundred or so years. :D

I've seen several people do this on various blogs and I always loved the look. I still have some work to do on them and as I can see from my photos.. some touch ups as well. :)

Next step on these will be railings and newels. I've started the prep.

The newels and spindles will be white and the banister will be stained the same oak colour of the treads. My next decision will be where to put the Newels??
During my research I've seen some on the first step and some on the floor. I can't really say which one I like better but I'm leaning towards on the step... But that leads to a whole range of issues on the second floor.. such as how to attach the stairwell railing to the newel??


Friday, 4 August 2017

I wonder what's in this package? :)

I wonder what could be in this little box :)

I love it when packages arrive on the doorstep... and I've been waiting for this one for a little while now.

I finally won a miniature animal auction on eBay and my first purchase was this sweet little squirrel from Tina (teensyweensy13). Because every tree should have a resident squirrel right? :)

Oh my gosh he is so tiny! I'm in love!

Thought I'd try him out in the half finished San Franciscan tree. 

He's taking a good look around.

 He seems to like hanging out on the branches that have gigantic nuts. Squirrel heaven! :)

He has lovely detailed markings on his face, particularly around his eyes. 

 And his head turns in both directions.

 Why do you keep taking my picture!

He needs a name I feel... Something beginning with S as I'm a fan of a good bit of alliteration. :) But first I better get to work on finishing his tree!

Monday, 31 July 2017

A trip to Tamborine and Shopping part 3. :O

Hubby and I rarely get days off together (the joys of shift work) so when we do it's date day. That day this month was Friday. :)

We decided to take a trip up to Mt Tamborine, it's about an hour's drive from home and there are some lovely wineries and a couple of craft breweries and a distillery up there. Fun times!
Also they have an amazing fudge shop, but lets not talk about that. :)

We decided to lunch at the Bavarian Grill Haus.. (I wanted to eat at the Polish Place, but it burnt down on New Years Eve. :( ) DH loves German food (and beer) and is an active member of the local German club, so you can see why he chose this venue.

While we were eating lunch he suggested I make a trip up to Custom Dollhouse for a little mini shopping. It is quite literally, down the street from the restaurant. I said, no no no.. I've been spending quite a bit of money online lately, I don't need to go down there.... But he insisted and I wasn't going to prevaricate twice! :)

So I left him happily drinking beer at the bar and chatting to the German backpacker waitress and strolled down the street to the store.

I went in looking for dining chairs for the San Franciscan but came away with a couple of impulse buys as well. :)

I settled on these 4 dining chairs and 2 carvers. I already have 2 of these exact chairs, that I picked up at the Sydney Miniature Show. Seating for 8... quite a grand dining room it will be!

I intend to paint and reupholster these chairs into a modern Gustavian style. They have the right lines, so they should turn out great if my skill set can match my imagination. :)

Then completely on a whim I picked up this bed. Just because... :)

I thought I might use this in the San Franciscan.... I think it would be lovely painted white and then sanded back a bit for a bit of shabby Gustavian glory... But now that I look at it, I kind of like the walnut colour, so I may keep it as is and use it in a future project. Wherever it ends up, it will definitely get better linens than that hideous cover the mattress currently has. :)

Finally, I picked up these tub chairs with cane side panel detail. Again, I bought them for the lines not for the styling... I do not like the upholstery at all, but I intend to give them a make over and they feel suitably French or Gustavian to fit in as occasional chairs in the San Franciscan's Living room.

30 minutes and a dent in my wallet later I was back at the bar. Looking back, I think DH wanted to have a few more beers and sent me mini-ing so he could do so... forcing me into designated driver duty... lol

I'm not much of a drinker anyway, so it was a win win as far as I can tell. :D

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Playing with tree foliage

Yesterday I started to work on some options for tree foliage... I think I've ended up back at the drawing board, but I'll explain what I did so you don't think I've been doing nothing. :D

As I may have mentioned in a previous post, I really wanted to use Candy Tuft as foliage for the tree, but it is unavailable in Australia and I think also on the banned or restricted import list of the quarantine & inspection service... so no dice there. :(

I haven't found much on 1:12 trees during my internet sluething, so I wandered over into model railroaders territory and found this reference to making bushes out of noch leaves and lichen. I wondered if I could adapt the bushes to be tree foliage.

After a long wait for my Noch leaves to arrive from Germany, I got to work.

I bought three colours so that I could get some variation and depth into the tree.

I also bought several colours of lichen to decide what worked/I liked.

I started with the natural lichen and broke some apart into what I thought would be appropriate pieces.

Then I used some spray paint I had on hand to lightly paint them first a dull brown and then a light frosting of forest green. 

It's actually metal fence touch up paint so, quite difficult to clean up! :O

I wasn't really looking for full coverage.. more just a hint of variation seeing as they were already a woody colour.

The next step was to spray them individually with adhesive and then roll them in the leaves. I chose to do several different variations, light & medium, medium & dark, light & medium & dark.

It was all going a long swimmingly if messily and I was liking the effect. Even if they were a little more clumpy than I would have preferred.

That is until I got them onto the tree. :/

They look more like some kind of moss that grows on trees in the tropics than foliage and the scale is off, which I always suspected it would be. I thought if I bunched enough of them together I could disguise that, but it's a messy process & I'm not sure that it will solve that problem anyway. The other issue is, they shed like crazy, which isn't conducive to the application in my opinion... I probably could spray them with adhesive or hairspray to see if that settles them down.. but I'm not sure I like the look enough to continue.

All is not lost, I'll probably used the clumps I've made for bushes or topiaries. :)

While I was out in the back yard, I was looking at the paperbark tree and noticed it had surprisingly small leaves and some nut like buds that looked interesting. I decided to cut a few sprigs and throw them in the microwave for snap drying... My house now smells like eucalyptus! :)

I tried a few on the tree.

I kind of like them but after microwaving the are a bit brown, so I sprayed some forest green on a few sprigs.

Hmmm.. I don't know maybe too green? I do want this to be a summer yard though and the grass will be quite a deep green so the darker green might be a better fit.

I do like the little nutty buds though. :)

This look is better than the lichen foliage but the leaves are still to big. What to do....

It's a lot of work but I'm thinking of cutting down the individual leave to be smaller... So a test is in order.

I think they look a bit better.. but probably still too big...

I think I'll get some more onto the tree before making a final decision. They are surprisingly hardy with nowhere near the shedding of the lichen.... and the price is right, so if I can make these work I will... The jury is still out though. Probably because they are not the look I first intended... we shall see...