After seeing some gorgeous results in other people’s galleries, I decided to try making a stone foundation for the Hillside Victorian out of egg cartons. It turned out to be surprisingly easy, and the price is right!
I started by painting the foundation gray, using a flat Behr paint I picked up off the “oops” rack at Home Depot a while back. The painted foundation had a bumpy, concrete-like look and at first I thought about leaving it like this. But my desire to rip up egg cartons got the better of me—luckily, it turns out, since I love the end result.
I started by tearing up three (gray) egg cartons and a (reddish) drink holder into small pieces. I didn’t use a template or anything, just ripped them randomly. Some areas didn’t work as well, like the rigid curves that formed “windows” on the top of the egg carton, so I tossed out those pieces.
Figuring I’d get better at this as I went along, I started with the side that will eventually be obstructed by the deck. I glued “stones” onto the foundation with The Ultimate glue, with the gray paint showing through to form grout lines.
The pattern is completely random. After doing this side, I thought the grout lines were a bit too large—something to fix when I did the rest.
Next I painted the stones using a dry brush technique. I dabbed a stiff bristle brush in a small amount of paint, then sponged most of it off on a paper towel, and randomly dabbed the brush against the stones to give them color. I used five or six different shades of Behr and Glidden brown, gray, and lavender. (A couple of these, I already had, and the rest fortuitously showed up on the “oops” shelf during last week’s Home Depot run. Fifty cents each!) Here’s how they look after painting.
(I know, the siding just above this needs touching up. It’s not as noticeable in person, at eye level, as in this picture. The deck might cover this up, but if not, I’ll definitely fix it!)
While that dried, I moved onto the front of the house. I went right up to where the front stairs start, with the plan of attaching the stairs afterward (easier to get my hands into the space behind the stairs that way).
There’s a funny little patio area beside the staircase, which I added stone to as well.
As far as I can tell it’s impossible to see the back of the stairs, but after painting them I opted to add stones to the back just in case there’s an angle I overlooked. Didn’t do a particularly careful job, though…
Once the stairs are attached, I’ll add stones to them, and also cover up the seams where the stairs meet the foundation.
Next step was to coat the painted stones with matte varnish. This seals the color and paper pulp and it also seems to make the whole thing look more cohesive and realistic, somehow. Some people add grout at this point, but I think I’ll leave it the way it is… the gray paint underneath looks realistic enough and I actually like how the stones stand out from the grout lines, I think it makes them look more three dimensional.
Here’s what I’ve done so far. I’ve finished painting and varnishing the side and front up to the (unattached) stairs, and have painted the stones on the front of the stairwell but didn’t varnish them yet. (In this picture, you can see the difference in appearance between the varnished stones on the left and unvarnished on the right.) I still have the other side, the back, and the stairs themselves to go.
Here’s how the patio turned out. I may use this bird bath here, or a terra cotta fountain that I spotted on my last visit to the dollhouse store…
March 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm
Wow, that looks great! Very realistic. I’ve been accumulating a pile of egg cartons, but haven’t had a reason to use them yet…I’ll have to make one.
March 18, 2012 at 6:27 am
And I’m going to ave to find some! I like tat so much more than paper clay .
November 29, 2012 at 12:11 pm
This looks fabulous! I’m going to use this technique on the walls of a rustic room I’m planning in my first dollhouse…am I being overly ambitious?:)
March 22, 2013 at 9:08 am
Thanks for all your info & photos. I refer to your blog regularly for ideas & “how to do it” thanks for such an informative & enjoyable site!
May 25, 2013 at 3:38 am
Thank you for posting this. It was very easy to follow and execute. (Yours turned out so well.)
August 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm
That looks so realistic – hard to believe it’s your first attempt at doing this, it’s a very professional job. Looks great. Sandie
January 14, 2017 at 9:24 am
Hi, so funny. I got to reading this as it turned up at random on Pinterest and something seemed wrong with the scale. It was only when I got to the images of the little steps that I realised the Hillside Victorian was actually a dolls house! Bahaha! I had been thinking about weather and the elements and the need for pretty tough chemicals and coatings to protect the bits of egg carton. Duh!
January 14, 2017 at 1:08 pm
Haha! Landscaping a real house this way would require a TON of egg cartons!
October 10, 2017 at 9:42 am
I am going to try this……..hope it works…….thanks for explaining.