The Den of Slack

Petite Properties cupboard stairs

The Mansard Victorian shell didn’t come with a hole for stairs. I’m not opposed to leaving the stairs out of a dollhouse, but for this one I decided to add a false staircase. I might have gotten the idea from the Bauder Pine Colonial, which has a hidden staircase that runs up behind the fireplace.

(The Colonial pictured belongs to Cathy Miller-Vaughan of Bauder Pine.)

I think this fireplace was available as a Cassidy Creations kit, but if so it must have been rare — I’ve only seen it once, and I’m not sure if I’m remembering correctly. I built the Cassidy Creations Federal fireplace wall planning to hide a staircase behind it, but that fireplace turned out to be too tall for this house.

When I started arranging furniture to figure out how to divide up the rooms, I grabbed a Petite Properties cupboard staircase kit out of my stash. I bought this years ago knowing I would someday have the perfect use for it. When it comes to minis, I play the long game!

The kit is made from cardstock, with treads made from MDF or chipboard. The cupboard door is scored and swings inward.

I’m going to hide electrical outlets inside the cupboard, and it will be easier to access those if the door swings out. Plus, I wasn’t sure how convincing a painted cardstock door would look. I decided to cut off the cardstock door and make a new one out of wood. I sized it so it rests against the inner trim pieces, which will prevent it from swinging into the hole.

This is made from a piece of scored wood that came with the Craftsman vignette kit for no apparent reason. The scored wood was used for the porch, but my piece had an extra piece — the universe giving me exactly what I needed. (Thanks, universe!)

The staircase unit is about 5/8″ too short.

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Mansard Victorian — bulking up the house

Okay, that’s a weird title, but I couldn’t come up with a better way to describe what I’ve been doing to the Mansard Victorian for the past month or so.

This all started because I wanted to add an addition to the side of the house.

The addition is a long-discontinued Houseworks 1:12 scale bay window that more or less works as a 1:24 scale addition, but it’s both a bit too tall and a bit too wide to fit neatly on the side of the house.

I dealt with the height issue by gluing 3/8″ strip wood underneath the foundation.

And I made the side walls 1/2″ wider by attaching pieces of strip wood.

If I re-hinged the front panels, this one would bump into the addition and not open all the way. I decided instead to attach the panels with magnets.

First I drilled holes in the pieces of strip wood that were getting glued to the sides of the house, deep enough to insert magnets.

I then colored over the holes with Sharpie and pressed the piece of strip wood against the front panel that will meet up with it. The Sharpie transferred onto the panel, showing me where to drill holes so the magnets would match up.

So here’s a tip, if you ever try this yourself: be SUPER careful about gluing in your magnets facing the right way. Somehow I messed this up four times. Even when I placed the magnets to be glued into the panel on top of the magnets that I had already glued into the strip wood (as shown below), I somehow got them turned around when I glued them in. And since I used super glue for these, they weren’t coming out.

Luckily, I did all of this before gluing the pieces of strip wood to the house, so I was able to keep redoing it until I got it right. I’d bought a big pack of tiny magnets relatively cheaply, so it’s okay that a few were wasted.

So I finally got the magnets in, facing the right direction, and I glued the strip wood pieces to the sides of the house, and…. the magnets don’t hold up the panels. The magnets are too small? The panels too heavy? I don’t know. So far I’d only done one side of each panel. I was planning to add more magnets to the bottom and center of the panels, but by now I was getting soured on the whole plan.

So I changed course. Are magnets even necessary, when the panels could just stand up on their own?

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Braxton Payne fireplace with added built-ins

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a lot of time arranging furniture in the Mansard Victorian to find a space to use this Bauder Pine corner cabinet. Literally the only corner I could make it work is this one in the living room, with a fireplace next to it.

I tried out a few different fireplaces from my stash, but none of them sang to me. I’d originally planned to use the Cassidy Creations Federal fireplace wall in this house, but it turned out to be too tall. When that didn’t work out, I wanted to find something else that was really special.

Braxton Payne makes the nicest half scale fireplaces I know of, and I checked his website, but none of the standard designs were calling out to me.bas

And then this popped up on eBay.

This is a Braxton Payne fireplace from 1982. It’s five inches tall — exactly the height of the Mansard Victorian’s ceiling — and it has a Federal feel, like the Cassidy Creations kit I can’t use in here.

Here’s how it looks in the space I’d decided on for the fireplace.

There are a few problems with this arrangement. One, the corner cabinet is awkwardly blocked. If the point is to make the corner cabinet a focal point, this isn’t the way to do it. Also, this fireplace has a few imperfections that are very obvious when you view it from the right side. One is a broken corner that the seller repaired.

And the other is a splotch where the paint is gone.

Okay, so if I give up on the idea of using the cabinet in that corner, I could add shelves to either side to hide the splotch. These are Houseworks bookcases that I pulled the trim off of during a short-lived (and never blogged-about) attempt to recreate the Federal fireplace wall at a height that would work in the Mansard Victorian. But if I’m giving up on the corner cabinet anyway, it would be better to put the fireplace along the back wall, so your eye isn’t drawn to that repaired corner.

I looked online for pics of Federal fireplaces for inspiration and found this photo.

This got me thinking about the corner cabinet again. The one I wanted to use in this house was finished by Bauder Pine, but I also have several Cassidy Creations kits of the same design that I’m squirreling away for a future roombox project. Could I bash those to sit flat against the wall instead? Sort of like this:

I didn’t like this because they’re so much shorter than the fireplace. The shelving should go all the way to the ceiling.

Next I pulled out these Bespaq Greyford bookcases. These are the double-wide version of the bookcases I used on either side of the window in the Queen Anne Rowhouse stair room.

The height is better, but the wood finish is a problem since I wouldn’t be able make the fireplace match. Plus, this is too wide — I haven’t glued in the room dividers yet, but the entry and the kitchen both need to be a certain width to accommodate the furniture I want to use in there, and this layout wouldn’t leave enough space.

The Bespaq bookcases also feel too fancy for this house, which I want to have a more Colonial/rustic feel with the Bauder Pine and Cassidy Creations furniture.

I spent some time staring at the Houseworks bookcases that are pictured farther up. If only I had some cabinets they could sit on top of…

Hmmm… like these, maybe?

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