Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Italian Job or- How I spent my Summer Vacation

Buongiorno Blogland!
I hope that everyone has enjoyed their summer as much as I have.  
And what did I do all summer, you ask? 
nothing... I didn't go anywhere; 

I stayed close to home.
The rest of the Miniteer's however, have been traveling non-stop; even as I speak, they are currently scattered across the globe.
Linda Park was here visiting Canada following a quick jog over to France; she's now back home in Australia.  Janine is in Europe cruising the Dutch canals, and Fatima is... well I'm not exactly sure where Fatima is right now, but wherever she is
 she is Busy! 

(psssst! - she always travels with a mini project tucked in her bag!) 
So here I am at home, holding the fort,
so to speak,
with all the time in the world to work on Villa Leone, 

so what have I accomplished this past summer?
Very little.
Although, come to think of it, I did do a little bit of work on the dollhouse in JUNE.  I repainted the lower  antique white section of the exterior and removed some of the algid "damp" because I didn't want the house to feel too cold and/or smell too musty, thus, I  added another layer of concrete trim around the base as extra protection from any high tides.  Adding that extra trim, visually bulked up the foundation.  The other benefit is that I won't have to construct such a deep canal around this house, 

so less work, less materials, less weight! 
That particular project is still MILES AWAY, but when it does arrive, I'll be ready for it.
Other than that little flurry in June, 

 the house sat neglected for most of the summer, filled with construction debris, as well as all of my good intentions. 
the wider concrete trim around the base

Then around the last week of August, I finally bit the bullet and removed all of the JUNK on all 3 floors, swept the insides and painted all of the interior surfaces with Gesso.  
The doors and windows are still unfinished, but by painting everything white, I could look at the space with Fresh Eyes and hopefully be inspired as to how to divide the space into rooms.
However, nothing came to me so the house sat neglected for another 7 days.  

Then came the first week of September and I thought back on my wasted summer, and all of the things which I had hoped to have had done by now.  

I was so tired of not doing ANYTHING that I felt compelled to do SOMETHING, 
and it had to begin in the hall.
I had assembled the main floor staircase some time ago, but took most of it apart again because I wanted to make it both wider and taller.  And because I had changed the hall window to a longer one, the stairs had to ascend beneath it just so.  There had to be enough space around the window to install the trim as well as space for the wood trim running parallel with the staircase.  But before I could determine all of that, I needed to tackle hanging the wallpaper on the main floor, stairwell and second floor, first, and to do that I first made templates using white poster board 

( dollar store) and cut out all of the shapes which I was going to need to hang the paper in the most efficient way, since I only had 3 sheets and I couldn't afford to make ANY mistakes. 
I made the paper template and then I cut out a wall section from foamcore board.  After I saw it with the window installed, I changed my mind and switched to using a Heavy Matt Board for the interior lining and glued my wallpaper to that instead. I did this because the Matt Board would give me a few additional mm of floor space in entry.  

The scrapbook/wallpaper called LOVE NEST BLOCK #L2020 and I bought it from the Hobby Lobby while I was visiting in the U.S. last Spring.  It is a watery blue/ green which looks to me to be the same color as in pictures of Venetian canals.  The darker areas are part of the pattern of the paper.  The color is gradient and so portions of it are more intensely blue drifting gradually into a soft brownish-green with a murky brown tone concentrated in the corners and the outside edges.  This meant that I had to cut and paste the papers together so that the colors would stay consistent on each of the hall walls.  I used my templates for all of the piecework and managed to get the wallpaper cut with the least amount of waste.

And THAT my friends, was a FIRST for me! :D

After I had cut the major pieces of wallpaper,for the hall and glued them to the Heavy Card, my MOJO finally came home. Yahoo! :D 
At last had a starting point from which to coordinate the rest of the walls as well as what to use as the floor treatments for the first floor. 

Initially I was going to have a colorful eye-catching cement tile floor  then I found this wrinkled piece of gift wrap which I had filed away 16 years ago.  It looks good in the hall.  I chose a solid burnt red paper to represent a concrete floor in the kitchen, but more about the kitchen in another post.

back to the staircase-
I used a paper template to figure out that bit of wood work which runs up the stairs and protects the wall, and once the interior wallpaper panels are glued in, they'll be outline with finishing trim then painted  to match the staircase.  As you can see, everything is still "loosey goosey" and will remain unattached until I've figured out my lighting and floor plan.

My intentions are to use both round wire and the flat tape.  
stairs will have lots of molding, new risers, treads and handrail,
( when I'm able to muster up the courage to do it)

I widened the staircase by adding a layer of foamboard to the inside of the risers.  I know it looks REALLY UGLY right now, however it will all be covered over .... eventually.
Meanwhile I began looking through my stash for a candidate for the hall light.
I'm not crazy about the look of this one because it looks too delicate for the airspace it needs to fill, so it will probably go

 down stairs into the main entry.  

During the last visit I had with Fats, she gave me these two carved pillars as seen in the photo above. 
I love them although I didn't know where I could use them 
and I needed to use them!  
Then when I was testing out the floor paper, I tried them around the front door.  They will most likely stay there, if I can get them to fit properly under the stairs.  
I'm keeping my fingers crossed about that.

Okay, so after I'd decided on the hall floor, I began thinking about the forward adjoining room which is normally designated as the kitchen according to the original kit instructions.
Since I had switched the kitchen to what is usually the living room, I decided to call the smaller room- the dining room.  

But then I got to thinking about possible flood waters and how that would affect the wood furniture.
So, to protect the wood, I raised the level of the dining room by one step, as well as continue the tile up into the room.  Now that I've had a chance to think about it more, my new idea is to run the pattern from side to side to define it from the hall. 
I also opted for a green marble fireplace which had also been lying dormant in my stash.
I found some scrap pink foam insulation pieces to raise the level of the floor and folded the tile paper over it, just to see if it would work.
The walls were propped up so I could get a feel for the room.
to me the space felt tight even with the skinny chairs! 
so.... what if I had less wall, no door and   
 opened up the dining room to the hall?

Earlier, I'd located some plastic cake pillars which I had painted to look like wood.  I'd painted them back in the mid 90's, 
( they were salvaged from a previously dismantled project).  
 I positioned the pillars on boxes to raise them up and placed them on either side of the proposed opening .
Now that's more like it! 
The iron grills, (now transoms above the fireplace) came from a stripped down
 plastic Barbie house which I'd found at the thrift store .  
These grills will encourage boh light and air circulation in the room. 

after all of this, I took a picture to see if it worked. 

 I took this photo from outside the front door using the wallpaper I've chosen as the backdrop in dining room.  The chairs were too white and the profile didn't show up very well in the photo so that's when I brought out 

I only have this one John Hodgson chair (signed 1997) 

It is both a Pleasure and a Treasure!
it looked way better for the photos and so I sat it at the table and then I added a lamp I'd made, and then I remembered I had a tiny statuette of Michelangelo's "David" (pilfered from a souvenir snow globe), and then I added a book, then a few more books and before you know it, I had ...


which includes a kitchen sink! 

I didn't expect this toy plastic sink unit to fit under the window as well as it does, thus my new plan is to give it a complete makeover top to bottom and transform the sink counter into a credenza. 
The chair in the photo above is by another Artisan and signed
Jack Mealy 1987.
This Amazing chair sits lower than the other and the cushion is velour instead of leather but the wood is just as beautiful albeit, the carving is simpler.

I don't have any information about the Artistsan but if you do, then please let me know.

The books on the table are an assortment of those cheap imports consisting of garish, glossy paper covering crude, rectangular wooden blocks.  Mine have been sitting in a bag in a drawer and gathering dust for the past 3 years- which was why I'd decided to finally put them to work; stacking them in several piles across the top of the mahogany table so that the atmosphere would read- "busy".  

The dining table is considered "temporary" that is, unless I'm unable to find or afford the one I want.  Since I got this one for free, I'm not complaing but I did have a trestle table in my mind, something that looks a little bit more Ancient.
Nevertheless, free is a very "good deal", so I may just have to remain content. 

Taking photos sure helps, especially in determining sight lines. 
 Having these pictures as references, will mean that later on I won't have to make the effort to remember what I was thought I was going to do only to forget it all, as soon as I've taken everything apart.  
I was thinking about that when I suddenly remembered that I had been planning to show you the cushions which 
Miniteer, LINDA PARK made for each of us as gift exchanges when she came here to visit.  
Linda needlepointed our initials into custom cushions according to each of our current projects,  and so before this  dining room is  completely dismantle, I'm going to show you 
just SOME
 of the WONDERFUL needlework which I've received from her.

other Linda Park gifts will be saved for later. ;P

Linda stitched our initials into a cushion for each of us.    

A Monogramed cushion worked in Black and metallic gold threads with the letters
"V" and "L" entwined in an elegant embrace!


And then there is this little Renaissance Beauty! 

And then another version of the "Villa Leone" initials in red and gold!

and THEN 
Just when you think that you have seen it all
Linda presented me with an additional-



I have been truly blessed

and although
I may not have left the country, I feel as if I have! 

because my head is once again turned towards Venice;
 commanding my own personal gondola (gondolier?) -
 Life's Good! 

and so THAT folks,
is how I
spent my summer vacation!  
ciao for now