Saturday, 12 November 2016

"STAIR-ing" at the FLOOR

This posting is about 2 things; 
a) how I made the tile floors for VILLA LEONE 
and b) how my staircase turned out. 
I hope to encourage others by telling you not only what I did wrong but how "mistakes" can often lead you in an entirely new direction which is BETTER than what you'd originally planned.

I'll begin this with the

NONE of what you see is permanently installed. Everything is loose, walls, floors, stairs, lights etc.  I am working this out like a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle still trying to figure it out, so I don't dare to glue ANYTHING in permanently- - - -YET.
As I'd mentioned a couple of posts ago, I had been hanging onto this wrapping paper for over a decade.  It was showing its age but I thought that a good hot ironing would restore it enough to make it usable. 
After repeated tries, it was still looking nasty and so I had to resort to plan B, which was sheets of tile paper which I had purchased at the craft store. 
I cut the heavy card to fit the entry hall, and the floor for the dining room and spray- glued the paper to it, smoothed it flat, then sealed it with Mod Podge, which promptly caused it to wrinkle.
I had to roll a brayer over the tacky floor paper to remove the bubbles and ensure that the tiles dried flat.  

note to self
MOD PODGE sticks better! 

lesson learned
this is what the floor looked like when it was completely dry.  I was going to leave it like this, but the more I looked at it the less satisfied I was with it, because it lacked texture and dimension. 
To give the tiles dimension I scored along the lines with a ball stylus and a straight-edged ruler. 

I aged the floor with a thin wash of brown gel stain and sealed the color with hairspray. 
 To give the tiles texture, I brushed over the entire surface with a slurry mix of drywall compound and water, then wiped it off with a soft cloth.

When the floor was dry, I sprayed it with hair spray let that dry and then used a light application of liquid floor polish to give it a soft shine.

This close up of the tiles shows you the surface texture.
I was pretty happy with how the floors turned out.  And although they were not what I had originally intended, I liked Plan B
BETTER than Plan A
It is no secret that I HATE making stairs because
it involves MATH and I have never been good at MATH.
I made this staircase because I had to, not because I wanted to.
I stressed out about it for several months. I did a little bit, got stuck, left them and tried again later.  This process repeated itself several times over the course of many weeks and
this is what they finally ended up as...
I had to bulk up the staircase more than what they are in the Willowcrest kit. The space for them over the front door is tight.  Later, the door trim is going to have to be cut to allow for that stair return.

But I'm getting ahead of myself again, so let me back up.

Fatima gave me some plaster embellishments that she had in her stash which she thought I might be able to use.

There were 2 sheets of these. 
After I had built the staircase, I cut these embellishments apart and glued them to the surface of the stairs.
You can see in the photo below the carvings next to the treads and under the stair return, but originally I had GONE CRAZY and glued the paster bits all over the entire flat surface of the support, which I'd painted, sealed and painted again. 

By the time I'd finished it looked cheap and tacky.


I pulled off most of the embellishments to try and tone it down and of course it lifted off some of the layers of drywall plaster and made the surface irregular and- INTERESTING!


I had accidentally made


This was BETTER than what I had originally hoped for!  I sealed the surface with acrylic sealer and painted the unit with antique white acrylic paint and while it was still damp I added oil based varnish and blended the two mediums together, which of course naturally pooled and separated, then sealed it again with spray sealer. I kept on repeating this process until I was happy with the final look. 

Afterwards I slipped the staircase back into its location to gage the effect and...
but when I hooked up the chandelier I'd made
I changed my mind
The incandescent light made the brown stone look PINK!

(back to the drawing board )

I took them out and gave the unit a thin wash of water mixed with drywall patch, and a tiny drop of white acrylic paint.  I brushed the mix onto the surfaces and wiped it right off again spray sealed it, tried it in situ and
repeated this process again and again until the staircase looked right whether the lights were on or off.

Then I built the dividing wall. 

I had already run out of the wall paper I had used for the hallways, so after much trying to match it and failing, I took a lesson from the pages of my friend Janine's real life house.  
Janine has a HUGE WALL PAINTING of the Girl with the Pearl Earring on her bathroom wall, it is Stunning and the visual impact is Immediate!  I used the same principal by using a trompe l'oeil print for the end panel of the staircase.
THIS TIME I used MOD PODGE to adhere the print to the wall board.  When it was dry, I sealed it with MOD PODGE and when that was dry I gave it a wash with the same slurry of drywall compound mixed with water to hopefully give the print the look of fresco, which

I sealed with more hair spray.  

It doesn't match the green walls but it does compliment the staircase.  Above is with the light from the hall chandelier warming up the print and below is with the light off.
                    Lighting makes such a difference 
                           Especially in miniatures. 
So this is where I'll have to leave you. 

I've yet to decide what to do about a handrail.  Janine says I don't need one, my daughter Sam agrees, but I'm not convinced.  Because of the irregular steps, a normal handrail with balustrades won't work, which is why I am considering running one attached to the wall running in front of the window.  This problem will have to be resolved one way or the other before I glue the staircase into place. 

ahhh me 
more math on the horizon... :(

I think I need a coffee 

ciao ciao!:D

Next post- LIGHTING and DINING ROOM update