The Den of Slack

Victorianna shingles

You’d think that having just finished the Rowhouse shingles I wouldn’t be itching to shingle another dollhouse — and you’d be right! — but the roof is one of the last remaining tasks on the Victorianna, and I want to get this house finished.

To refresh your memory, here’s the outside of the house:

The roof is the last remaining evidence that this house started out as two separate kits. Not for long!

I’m using Greenleaf’s octagon speed shingles for this house, so it will theoretically go faster than the one-shingle-at-a-time Rowhouse did. I’d been planning to use Minwax Classic Gray, which came out a pretty blue/gray color on the Houseworks shingles I used for the Gull Bay, but they looked very yellow on the speed shingles (the strip on the bottom). Instead I decided to go with gray water based stain (also Minwax). Since it’s water based, the shingle strips curl up, but they flatten out as they dry.

Before I could start gluing on shingles, I had to tweak the bottom of the roof. It comes down in a straight line beside the towers. That would be fine, except that when I cut the siding for the tower walls I cut the sides at too much of an angle, thinking I could just cover it up with shingles.

To cover that up, I need the roof to curve around the tower rather than meeting it with a straight edge. I folded a piece of paper around where the curve should be, and cut it out.

I used the paper as a guide to cut the shape out of scrap basswood.

I glued in the pieces. The basswood is not as thick as the roof – it wouldn’t have fit because the crown molding would get in the way.

Normally I would leave the bottom edge of a roof alone, but this is looking pretty janky. My two Victorianna kits were two different types of wood (birch plywood on the left and luan plywood on the right) — I stained them both with the Minwax Classic Gray but they look totally different. And then the little pieces at the end are obviously tacked on.

I glued on a row of shingles on with the shingles facing up, so the plain wood will cover up the gaps between the first row of shingles. Then I added a piece of stained basswood to the bottom edge of the roof to make it look uniform.

I’m leaving a 1/4″ gap between the rows. I used a piece of 1/4″ strip wood to measure it.

Each shingle strip is 4.5″ long and this portion of the roof is about 6″. These initial rows were tricky, because I both had to cut the angle correctly against the tower and make sure the two strips met up correctly.

Here are the first six rows. I used The Ultimate glue for these, just doing two strips at a time and taping them down to dry in between. It was slow going, and some near the bottom didn’t stick as well as I wanted (the top is fine but the bottom of the shingle is lifted up).

I’ve used the speed shingles once before, on the Rosedale. I had some of the diamond shaped shingles left over from that and wanted to use them up, so I decided to add a few rows of diamonds to the Victorianna.

Maybe Greenleaf has changed the design since I bought these 7+ years ago, or maybe it’s just luck of the draw, but the diamond shingles don’t quite match the octagons. These strips should be the same length, but the diamond strips are slightly longer.

They start out being lined up, but by the end of the strip the diamonds are way off center. The shingles themselves are the same width, but the diamonds have slightly larger gaps between them.

I ended up cutting apart the diamonds to glue them on individually. They also didn’t take the stain as well as the octagon strips did. The wood is a different color (more yellow, where the new octagons are more white) and the stain didn’t seep into it as much. With the octagons I used one coat and dabbed it off with a paper towel almost immediately. With the diamonds, I did five or six coats and didn’t wipe it off, and some of them still have yellowish wood visible through the stain.

At least with the strips cut up, the colors will be randomly distributed, which will hopefully minimize the obviousness.

When it came time to do the second row, I drew a line at 1/4″. Here’s how that would look — not quite a diamond. This is how they look on the Rosedale, and I like it there, but this time I wanted true diamonds.

To get the diamond shape they need to scoot down, leaving the gap between rows only about 1/8″.

I didn’t bother drawing a new line and instead just glued them on with the points in the right place.

The diamond shingles were still slightly cupped from the water-based stain, and I didn’t want them sliding all over the place while they dried, so I used hot glue for these. (I usually stay away from hot glue, but it works well for shingles and I thankfully didn’t burn my fingers… this time.)

Since the hot glue worked out for the diamond shingles, I decided to keep using it on the octagons. I used a dot of The Ultimate on each shingle and then a line of hot glue along the top edge of the strip. They’re gluing down well and going much faster than the initial six rows, so I’ll keep doing it this way.

I’m planning to do another few rows of octagons, then another set of diamonds, and the rest octagons — if I did my math right it will be 6 octagon / 4 diamond / 9 octagon / 4 diamond / 6 octagon. We’ll see!


  1. Love the idea of adding the diamond shaped shingles in with the rows of octagon shingles as it adds a great deal of visual interest. Staining shingles would certainly be easier if the wood took the colour in the same way. The roof will be the crowning glory to your beautiful house project!

  2. It’s going to look wonderful! I love the accent shingles. Great idea.

  3. The effect of the two shingles is quit interesting. I love it. I am procrastinating on the farmhouse roof. It is huge and I have single shingles. It will take me forever. I thought about the strip shingles, but I am thinking that they are too expensive and the roof has so many angles that they will be hard to glue in, but you make me want to be more creative. Love the entire house. You do such nice work. And I like the idea of using hot glue.

  4. The mix of the 2 shingle patterns look Great together and cutting the diamon-shapes apart to make line up properly was extra work, but the results are looking FAB!

  5. Love how it looks so far! The diamonds are a wonderful touch.

  6. The roof looks just fabulous. I love how the diamonds break it up both in pattern and colour. Beautiful work!
    Anna xx

  7. I’m in LOVE with this Emily! You’ve done such a Splendid job with decorating and kit bashing this house! I want to see more outside shots, inside shots, angled shots! Who am I kidding… I wanna see it in person if I could Its really Beautiful!

    • Thank you! I’m really close to finishing it, I just have to do the roof (which is kind of complicated) and the foundation. Once it’s done I’ll make a gallery.

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