The Den of Slack

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Subway tile backsplash (part 1)

This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been puttering around on the Mansard Victorian’s kitchen backsplash ever since I finished the countertop in January.

First I glued in the kitchen wallpaper. I prepared this scrapbook paper last fall when I started the kitchen (yikes, has it been that long?) but then I put it aside because I wasn’t sure if plain white was the way to go.

But with the cabinets finished and providing a lot of color to the room, I decided the white would work. To be fair, I also didn’t feel like cutting out more wallpaper.

The upper cabinets were an extremely tight fit — so much so that I couldn’t get them in and out of the house in one piece. But I needed them to be one piece in order to fill in the cracks between the three units.

I carefully sanded the edges of the cabinets on the disc sander until I was able to glue them together and still slide them in and out of the house. In order to do this, I need to slide them in horizontally, close to the ceiling, and then ease them down the wall. I won’t be able to do this once a ceiling light and trim on the bump-out opening are installed. (Luckily I realized this before I glued those in!)

Once the cabinets were glued together, I added wood filler to the cracks, and then painted over them.

Now on to the backsplash. Like in the inspiration picture, I envisioned a white subway tile backsplash with black trim.

This Fiskars punch makes 1/4″ x 1/8″ tiles.

I laid the cabinets on a piece of scrapbook paper to trace the backsplash area.

Then I started gluing on the tiles.

I didn’t like a few things about this first attempt. I thought I centered my initial tiles, but apparently not, because I ended up with a tiny piece of tile at the left side of the second row where there should have been a full tile. And the fourth row didn’t quite line up with the border, which would have caused too big a gap between that row and the next one.

It’s on the right track, but wanted to start over and do a neater job.

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The estate sale Amberwood

I visited family in Boston right before Christmas. A few weeks before the trip, I searched for dollhouses on Boston Craigslist, just in case… and I lucked out!

I wish I had saved the pictures because the post is long gone now, but it was an estate sale where someone was selling off a miniature collection. I recognized several half scale dollhouses, including an Elizabeth Anne and a Jackie Deiber pull-apart rowhouse (both of which I already have).

And then there was this:

I’ve posted about this house before. It’s another of Jackie Deiber’s pull-apart houses, like the one I linked to above and the Gull Bay. It’s similar to a 1:12 house named the Amberwood, so unless someone comes forward to let me know it has another official name, that’s what I’m going to call it.

I passed up the opportunity to buy this dollhouse on eBay (twice!) back in 2016. It’s top-heavy with that big roof (the taller 1:12 version has better proportions), and I don’t like the dormers. I also knew from having two others that pulling these houses apart to access the inside is awkward. For all of these reasons, I never felt like I *needed* this one.

But how could I ignore a half scale house I’d randomly found on Craigslist, clear across the country, three weeks before I would be there in person? The thrill of the chase was too enticing.

I emailed the seller. She wasn’t interested in dealing with someone who wasn’t local. I told her I would be in town in mid-December, could she set it aside? She said no, the estate sale would be over by then. I offered to send my parents over there to buy it for me. Finally she relented and sent me a few more pictures, including this one…

Okay, now I really needed it. I just had to know what was inside. I offered $125 and she agreed to that for the house and the furniture. My parents picked it up, I brought the furniture home in my suitcase when I visited, and then we shipped the dollhouse from Boston to California.

The first thing I did was pop out the Victorian windows. I’m going to use Houseworks bonnet-top windows for the body of the house, and will get creative with windows and trim on the roof windows to make them look more like real dormers.

The roof is hinged, and the back side of the house slides out.

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Tile kitchen countertop

The next step in the Mansard Victorian’s kitchen is the countertops.

Looking back at the inspiration picture, the countertop is white tile with a black border. The backsplash is subway tile, but you can’t tell in this picture what the countertop tile looks like.

I found a picture of another kitchen with a similar countertop. In this one you can see that it’s square tile on a diagonal, like I did on the floor.

I bought a 1/4″ square paper punch (the equivalent of 6″ in half scale). The squares are cut out of scrapbook paper, and I folded black squares over the edge of the wood to make the border. I left a small space between each tile to simulate grout lines. (I had painted the wood white before starting this process.)

One side finished. After taking the picture, I went around the sides and back with the nail scissors, cutting the tiles flush with the edge of the wood.

The black tiles got pretty gooped up with glue crumbs. I touched them up with a black Sharpie.

The cabinet will sit on top of the countertop, like this.

Next I applied clear Gallery Glass paint to each paper tile, to make them hard and shiny.

Looks pretty good. The tiles have a nice sheen.

I did the other side the same way and set them in place. This could have been the end of it.

But of course it wasn’t.

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