The Den of Slack

Victorianna – frilling up the exterior bays

“Frilling” might not be the right word (or a word at all), but after I completed the Victorianna’s downstairs bay windows I felt like they were a little too plain. I wanted to spruce them up a bit before adding the porch trim, which will make them harder to reach.

Here’s what I started with.

All the empty space above the window was bugging me. I wanted to add some sort of pediment, ideally a semi-circle to mimic the top of the door. In 1:12 scale you can buy something like that, but I couldn’t find anything similar in 1:24 scale or G scale train supplies. I was thinking about what I could cut in half — wooden checkers, for example — but everything I came up with was too big or too complicated.

I kept coming back to this semi-circle window doodad from Victorian Dollhouse Wood Works on eBay. I used these on my Queen Anne Rowhouse and didn’t necessarily want to repeat the same trim on another house, but I couldn’t find anything else that was comparable. The sticking point was that the trim is 1-1/8″ wide, and the windows are just 5/8″ wide.

After looking at a lot of pictures of bay windows for ideas, I decided to add casing around the windows. This makes the windows “pop” (as they say on HGTV), plus it adds enough width to accommodate the window doodad. As an added bonus, the left-hand window on the left bay was slightly shorter than the others, and casing that’s the same height on all the windows draws your eye away from the unevenness.

Looking at the one bay with casing compared to the one without convinced me it’s the right choice.

I added casing to the other bay window. When the glue was dry I filled in the cracks at the corners with wood filler, using a toothpick to scrape wood filler out of the grooves in the casing. This was much easier to do on the outside of the house than on the interior windows! Then I painted over the corners

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Artist’s Cottage addition (part 2)

With the Artist’s Cottage addition assembled, it was time to stucco the outside. For years I have been using watered down Elmer’s wood filler as dollhouse stucco (here it is on the Rosedale, and on the Artist’s Cottage itself). I recently ran out of wood filler and when I went to buy more, Home Depot didn’t have Elmer’s so I got Dap Liquid Wood instead. It has a different consistency, kind of like tahini, and it didn’t hold its shape like I wanted it to. When I used it on the inside of the addition I didn’t like the texture, so I went to a different store to buy a tub of Elmer’s for the outside.

The Elmer’s wood filler was also a different consistency than I remembered. It seems a lot wetter, but that could just be because it’s new and hasn’t had a chance to dry out yet.

Not wanting to end up (again) with something too runny for a good stucco texture, I started by spreading the wood filler directly on the house instead of watering it down first. I dabbed it with a piece of sponge to make the bumps.

This resulted in a very thick layer that took all night to dry (usually it dries in an hour). Because the addition is made of cardstock — and only one layer when I was supposed to use two — the thick layer of stucco helps give it some stability. After painting, though, the texture still seemed off to me, especially at the bottom which had rubbed on the table as I was handling the addition.

So, I watered down the Elmer’s a little bit and went back for round two.

Between rounds of waiting for the stucco and paint to dry, I worked on the rest of the inside trim.

I’m still not 100% happy with the stucco… it looks different than on the house. Here it is after another few coats of paint (more than one was needed to cover up the dark wood filler) and the addition of trim. I had tried to keep wood filler off the areas where the trim would be glued, but got a bit too close at the bottoms, so the bottom trims bow out a bit.

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Artist’s cottage interior trim

In between rounds of stucco and paint on the Artist’s Cottage addition I finished the window and door trim. I almost didn’t add any trim to these — I liked the simplicity of the stained frames sticking in through the stucco. But some of the holes weren’t cut straight (for example, the top and right side of the window), so I needed some kind of trim to cover up cracks between the frames and the wall.

Usually when the Houseworks windows are deeper than the wall, I add shims to make the window frame flush with the wall and then cover the frame with trim. Instead of doing that, this time I added 1/8″ quarter round around the frames. This creates a simple, rounded trim that complements the Spanish Revival style.

On the bump-out windows I didn’t bother adding trim at the top and bottom and just added quarter round to the two sides.

I also made a small change to the front of the bump-out… I ripped off the cove molding between them (which I’d never really liked, but had used in a hurry because I didn’t have any quarter round at the time) and replaced it with quarter round. So now the edge is rounded instead of concave. It’s a subtle difference, but it makes me happy.

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