The Den of Slack

Mansard Victorian – kitchen addition

I’m adding a bump-out to the Mansard Victorian’s kitchen. It will be similar to this one on the Queen Anne Rowhouse, but with a Lawbre French Canopy for a Mansard-style roof.

I previously cut a hole in the kitchen wall. (Well, Geoff cut it, but I told him where!) The Cassidy Creations sink will sit inside the bump-out.

I built a frame for the addition out of strip wood. This is another Cassidy Creations sink (from the studio in the Artist’s Cottage) that I set inside to figure out window placement.

Here’s one window option. This is a Majestic Mansions Atherton window that I bought because it has the same mullions as the Gothic windows I’m using on the rest of the house, but it’s way too big. I thought I could cut the bottom off to make it shorter, but it just didn’t feel right. (This is also a pricey window to cut up!)

Here’s another window out of my stash. This is two Grandt line single windows pieced together. It came with the Debbie Young Craftsman vignette, but I didn’t use it there. It’s better than the last one, but it still doesn’t clear the top of the sink.

I started looking at Houseworks windows, and almost went with an 8-light window turned sideways. But the proportions didn’t feel right — it looks like a vertical window turned horizontally — and no other windows on this house are divided into panes like this.

I continued pawing through my stash until I found this Palladian window that I’d removed the top from to make door trim for the Victorianna. The Palladian window is slightly wider than the standard windows, so it looks better turned on its side.

I popped off the sill and shaved off the side trim with a utility knife, then sanded it flat on the disc sander. Then I measured 1/8″ out from the window and drew pencil lines.

I glued on trim over the pencil lines. This is the thin trim that comes with older Houseworks doors; it’s about 3/16″ wide. The Houseworks window/door casing you can buy separately is 1/4″ wide, which seemed too chunky.

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Mansard Victorian – foyer lights and more flooring

When I mentioned that my next task in the Mansard Victorian would be to add lights, both Geoff and my dad said, “I thought you were never electrifying a dollhouse again?” It’s true, I’ve said this many times. Miniature lights (especially 1:24 scale!) are delicate and finicky and expensive and something always goes wrong.

But the Mansard Victorian is deep and only has windows on the front panel, which makes for shadowy rooms. It also has a flat back that will be up against the wall, which gives me an easy place to hide cords and plugs. And maybe I’m kind of a masochist? Whatever the reasons, I’m electrifying this dollhouse. God help me.

My first time electrifying a half scale dollhouse was with the Fairfield, and I splurged on a bunch of pricey Lighting Bug fixtures that don’t have removable bulbs.

Before too long, one of the bedroom ceiling fixtures stopped working. I had wired these directly to the tape wire, which was now covered up by the flooring of the room above. Whether the bulb burned out or the connection to the tape wire went bad, the only way to fix it would be to tear up the finished room.

I never did fix that light, but this experience (and others) made me paranoid about 1) installing lights with non-replaceable bulbs, and 2) installing lights in a way that the connection can’t be checked/fixed later. With the Mansard Victorian, I want to be able to easily jiggle the connections or replace bulbs, if needed.

(Side note: the Fairfield was the first half scale kit I built, and I cringe to look at it now. Look at those awful bricks on the chimney! Frankly, tearing up this room to fix the light wouldn’t be the end of the world. But that’s not the point.)

Plugging lights into outlets is more reliable than connecting lights to tape wire, but then the outlets and plugs need to be hidden. The cupboard staircase I’m using in the Mansard Victorian gives me an opportunity to stash sockets inside the cupboard. I’ll put a couple in here and plug (most of) the first floor lights into these.

In the Queen Anne Rowhouse, I hung a cranberry lamp in the stairwell. I loved it, but had to sacrifice it when I redid the staircase rooms. (That was another time when I had to get creative with electricity because I couldn’t easily fix what was broken. Why do I keep electrifying dollhouses?!)

I envisioned using the same type of light in the Mansard Victorian staircase, but when I held it in there, it looked like you’d bump your head on it going up the stairs.

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Mansard Victorian – fireplace hearth and flooring

Cute furniture alert! I recently bought this rocking horse off eBay for the Mansard Victorian. It’s made from a Cassidy Creations kit (the same one I finished as a zebra for the Victorianna). The little blue horse toy was a bonus the seller included in the package.

I don’t think this was finished by Bauder-Pine. It’s signed MM underneath — I don’t know who that is — but it’s very nicely done and this is a rare kit, so I decided to buy it rather than wait in vain for another kit to turn up.

(I mention this because I’m planning to furnish my Mansard Victorian with all Bauder-Pine and Cassidy Creations furniture. This post has more details.)

Moving on. With the Mansard Victorian’s foundation finished, I can finally get started on the interior. I’m starting with the living room and entry, which will be separated by a partial wall.

The first thing I did was flip the house over and glue in the ceiling paper for these two rooms.

For reasons explained in this post, I had previously glued cardboard to the floor. My Braxton Payne fireplace was a snug fit once the cardboard was added, and that fit got even snugger with the addition of ceiling paper. I needed the fireplace to be a tad shorter in order to slide a hearth underneath it.

I brought it over to the disc sander… what could go wrong?

Um, this:

The disc sander is great for little pieces of trim, but whenever I use it to sand something wide, there’s a risk of catching a corner on the spinning sander, and that’s what happened here. Luckily this corner will be hidden by the built-in bookcase. But I didn’t want to try my luck a second time.

At least I had sanded enough off the top to be able to slide a piece of marble paper under the fireplace. This is the same paper I used for the surround. I also cut a piece of embossed brick paper to fit inside of the fireplace.

I painted the marble paper with matte varnish, and dirtied up the brick paper with black paint.

Next I glued 3/8″ strips to the back of the fireplace. These will push it out from the wall to make the fireplace deeper than the built-ins.

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