The Secrets Within the Walls

This could be a title for a mystery story but actually it is the reveal of construction methods of the first floor of the Orchid Hill House. Perhaps they will aide you in a dollhouse/roombox project!

If you studied the parlor and entry way pictures of the last posting you might be wondering how to do that — so here you go!

As I had mentioned the stairs had railing on both sides – this really took away the realism I was trying for in making a miniature version of a staircase. I also stated my carpentry skills are slim so this is an modification I could do with what I had.

Lastly, I am happy to note — these stairs are available on Ebay,  Mine came with the dollhouse.  Search for dollhouse staircase and you will find them in the selection. I was glad to see them there otherwise this  staircase information would be of limited use.

beginning-staircase
The original staircase with both railings

Here is mine after it is stained, inner handrail removed and spindle holes filled and attached wall.

stairs-modified
Now it is has a more elegant look

I do not have a step by step guide but pictures do tell a good share of it.

Here is the back side.  It tells you several things.  I tacked the fitted wallpapered wall to the staircase with tiny nails.  I wanted a strong connection and did not want to deal with glue and it sliding around until it set up and have glue in places I didn’t want.  The other thing is this is fabric instead of paper wallpaper.  More on that in a minute! I can not remember for sure but I think I have may started the wall curving by ironing it around an oatmeal container after the fabric was attached to gently curve it and then attached it to the staircase so it was not as big of a fight getting it to curve.  Time makes some things fuzzy.

the-back-side-of-stairs
Attaching the curving wall

Make a paper mockup of the wall to get the size.  Check it several times – the old saying measure twice and cut once really applies here!  Now use the paper pattern to cut the wall out of crescent board – illustration board – not matt board.  It is sturdier and less apt to warp ( it does a little but not as much as matt board). Below is the two I use regularly.  The thicker one is for flooring and the medium weight is for walls.

crescent-board
Available at art supplies stores or online

 Now for the reasoning behind using crescent board walls instead of just wallpapering the existing walls.  First – it is SO MUCH EASIER to wallpaper on a flat surface than to fit your body in odd angles to get the wallpaper attached in such tight quarters as a dollhouse.  Second – you can have wider options on wallpaper choices!  It doesn’t always have to be paper!  Fabric is an option – sounds odd but it is a good one but it is not glued – now I have you attention – use the iron without steam and fusible craft interfacing to attach it.

interfacing.jpg
the interfacing I used.  I did not wash the fabric.

With this project I needed the wallpaper to flow from the upstairs hallway, down the stairs into the entry way.  My fabric wallpaper allowed a change to the bolder William Morris print in the rest of the entry way.  The entry hall paper coordinates with the parlor paper (another William Morris print).  In a miniature project you are seeing all the areas at the same time so it needs to be a smoother transition versus real life when you walk from one room to another area.

the-blend.jpg
The colors and patterns that worked together

Third – it hides the wiring.  Walls are smooth without areas being lumpy due to wires or tape underneath.  That is all on the back side of the papered crescent board.

NOTE:   these are construction methods picked up in classes taken a long time ago with Brooke Tucker and Ray Whitledge.  Neither are teaching anymore and these are good design techniques that need to be passed along and not lost!

The use of crescent board for walls expands your options on adding interesting features in your rooms so I heartily recommend try it out sometime! Examples in this project is the curved wall of the staircase and the built in bookcases and window seat.

Now back to the construction……….the floor has to in place before the stairs goes in NOT afterwards.  Make note of that!

wall-1
Wall in place
wall-2
No supports yet, so it is floppy

The wall is in place but needs supports so wood “beams” are glued on the back and make a firm fit at the ceiling and the floor to anchor it down. Stairs are glued to floor.

wall-3
Needs a firm ending beam here
wall-4
added three or so beams around the curve

I added a another wall that butted up against this wall to create a little nook that tucks into the corner of the dollhouse. I curved it slightly but the baseboard joining is masked by the floor urn since it wasn’t a perfect match to the curve. I covered the wall joining with some wood trim.

nook-by-stairs
A nook for a small floral accent.

The key is to have supports to keep the walls braced and stay in place.

Now for another trick… this is my ceiling for the entry hall.  It is merely a embossed foil wrapping paper painted.  It was available at TJ Maxx and seems to appear in varied colors around the holidays. It may or not be there but keep an eye out for wrapping papers as an option for inexpensive textured ceiling paper. I used tube paint and liquin to color it but probably could use regular acrylic paints also.

ceiling
transforming the gift wrap into a textured ceiling

My front door visible in the very back is a little bit of a cheat but may be of use to you.  In this dollhouse, the back in not visible – just ugly with wires and window openings that are crudely cut.  So I reversed the door so the pretty exterior trim is now my interior trim.  Now it you are a purest or want to see both sides this won’t work for you but I thought you like to know that trick.  I also changed the arch trim to match my big windows in the parlor windows.

the-entry-door
The exterior view on the left vs the the usual interior on the right.

Now for the arch way……….

I used an arch way available from Lawbre.  It starts out white and you can paint it to suit your tastes.  It fit a 1/2 in thick wall.  The wall can be solid wood OR something else.  I used Gator Board – this is different from foam board.  It is stronger and does not warp.  This is the material Rik Pierce used for his structures.  It is lightweight and you can carve a tunnel in it to tuck wiring in.

carving-a-tunnel-for-wiring.jpg
Gator board with a tunnel carved out for wiring
the-hidden-tunnel
The yellow line shows the path of my hidden wiring.
smooth-wall
A smooth wall with no wiring lumps in the wallpaper.
the-white-begining
The beginning pieces
wall-bits
Painting really transformed the arch pieces!
the-parlor-entry
The painted archway that makes a statement!

Here is the beginning of dreaming of the window seat area………the start but no clue how to implement at the time.

Details later…………out of time today!

the-beginning-dream

Enjoy the secrets the walls reveal and possibly incorporate some techniques to translate that dream in your head to your dollhouse!

4 thoughts on “The Secrets Within the Walls”

  1. Lisa, this is a wonderful post. In the Fall I will start my big dollhouse cabinet conversion project and your hints help reduce the trepidation that I am feeling. Thank you so much.

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    1. That’s exciting and sounds intriguing. I am glad you found the information helpful. I worry that the construction information is harder to come by in this modern age and with fewer dollhouse shops. So I am pleased that my methods are useful!

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  2. Back in the late 70’s when I became seriously interested in miniatures, I would use fabrics to cover the walls of my roomboxes all the time. It was out of necessity because of the scarcity of small print papers at the time and the techniques I used were much the same as what you’ve demonstrated. Now with the plethora of quality paper because of scrapbooking etc. I had all but forgotten about the fabric for walls but you have re-ignited the flame once again!
    And I must commend you on the construction of the curved wall and the little recess at the end of the stair – Beautifully done along with your faux bois arched entry AND painted tin ceiling – Simply DIVINE!

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    1. Thank you!
      I really want some of these extra ways of doing things to be out there to build skills or help out when supply options are limited.

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