Pickett Pond Build: Part One, Main Construction

As I said in my previous post, I decided to do this house because I liked the colors plus the woodsy charm. I’m imagining an old, rundown house a couple decided to renovate and restore as a getaway for themselves, their kids, and grandchildren.

Paint colors: There were many, and I could never find Rain Gray (Ceramcoat). I substituted Hippo Gray, as it seemed to be close to the same shade (the kit had a paint color chart with blobs of the colors so I could buy a close match). Colors are:

Rain Gray, Drizzle Gray, Denim Blue, Trail Tan (all Ceramcoat), Slate Blue (Anita’s), Nautical Blue (Anita’s), and Winter Blue (Deco Art Americana), along with white, black, dark green, and burnt umber. They also suggested Bamboo (Ceramcoat), but I couldn’t find it so I used Trail Tan, whch was close.

  1. Main Structure

The main walls and floor put together and the downstairs wallpaper and floors glued in. The paneled walls are a layer of wallpaper with a sheet of “beams” (made of very light card) glued on top of it.

The bathroom is constructed as a separate unit and glued on after the outside walls are shingled. Here I’ve put in the wallpaper (not completely glued in) and the floor.

The porch floor, which is scribed sheeting, put in on the base and around the house. Painted white and aged with washes of watered down gray.

2. Shingling the house, plus porch ceiling.

The next step was to shingle the first floor outside walls. (I shingled the walls before putting on the porch roof–I neglected to take photos with the porch roof absent.)

The bathroom exterior shingled with corner trim added, and the bathroom now glued onto the house.

This is the kitchen wall on the right side of the house (looking from the back). As you can see, there will be a false door that leads to the bathroom. The shingled wall is the bathroom wall, which sticks out onto the porch, like a lean-to tacked on to the main house.

The nice thing about the shingles was–they were in strips that just needed to be cut to length, and they were already this color. No painting!

Now I added the porch ceiling, the underside of which I painted Winter Blue.

The upper side of the porch ceiling. The only problem I had was–if the house walls aren’t together exactly, exactly, the porch ceiling is a tough fit. It’s one piece that’s slid around the house. I unfortunately had to split mine in half and glue on the right and left halves separately. Most of this piece is covered up, thought, so it didn’t really matter.

The rectangular pieces glued to the second story on top of the porch ceiling are supports for the porch roof pieces. Triangles are glued one to each wall in the back of the house. The sides of the triangles facing the interior of the house need to be painted gray, as they’ll be seen. The side facing the exterior will be covered.

3. Stairs

Before the porch roof is put on, it’s time for the interior stairs.

Construction was pretty easy, once the first tread, shown here is put onto the stringers, tabs into slots. At the top, the landing and the last tread are added the same way. This gives the staircase some rigidity as you add the treads and risers.

A fun thing about the staircase is that all the treads are painted different colors. Here you can see the treads and the paints I used. The jar is a mixture of Slate Blue and a small amount of Hippo Gray. Colors from left to right: Drizzle Gray, Hippo Gray, slate / gray mixture, Denim Blue, Nautical Blue, Slate Blue, and Winter Blue.

Here I’ve put the art on the risers and glued the risers on. There was no instruction to paint the risers, but I used the Drizzle gray. Not much of that showed, but I wanted to make sure the edges were covered. I’ve also painted the fixed tread Drizzle Gray.

The staircase assembled with different colored treads going up. The staircase fits flat against the wall, so the treads are flush on the right side, and the right side of the stringer doesn’t need to be painted.

4. Second floor and installing the stairs

Before the stairs are put in, the second floor needs to go on. These are spacers that I stood up and and clamped to the walls to hold the second floor until it’s dry. There are no interior walls in this house (which I like). One of the spacers has fallen over in the photo below, but you get the idea.

The first floor ceiling paper and the “beams” that go over the paper.

This is the card beams glued over the ceiling paneling. I glued this to the ceiling. Once the second floor was glued in place and dry, I added the flooring paper.

The second floor in place. Now the stairs are glued in.

The stairs have no railings. It’s a good thing I don’t live in this house, because I’d be falling every time I tried to go up or down.

5. Porch Roof

The porch roof pieces (and main roof pieces) are milled, so they can just be painted and glued on.

The instructions say to spray paint the porch roofs silver, but I never have any spray paint, so I used brush-on acrylic (metallic silver by Ceramcoat). I did several coats. Because the paint didn’t adhere completely, it gave it a nice aged appearance.


The triangular roof piece fits in the niche created by the porch roof and the triangles previously glued onto the porch ceiling. (See niche on left in photo below)


I clamped and let dry for a while.

6. Second Floor and Main Roof

Next, I marked and glued shingle strips to the second floor sides.

The main roof is next. I decided to glue on only the front half of the roof, so that I could finish putting in the fireplace and interior balcony railings before attaching the back roof.

The front roof pieces with undersides papered and beamed for installation. At the top is the dormer roof and dormer sides, then the front roof.

Front roof is put on first, then the dormer sides added.

Triangles fit the correct way between front wall roof.

Corner trim glued to dormers. Finally, I added the dormer roof.

I shingled the front wall but decided to simply paint the triangle dormer sides. Much less hassle!

Inside of the front part of the roof.

The rear roof papered and ready to go. I set it aside to go on to the doors and windows, which need a post of their own.



Westville–Stonework continued

I did flee home for a few weeks in June, but I discovered a new mini museum in the process. I will post an update on the Westville here–the following posts will cover the mini museum and a couple other shorter projects I did in June.

Before I left on vacation, I put a Creative Paperclay base around the foundation pieces. This gives the stonework some depth.

The paperclay shrinks and cracks as it dries, but as I’ll be covering all this, I’m not bothered.

Yesterday, I bought more paperclay (ran out) and started in making the stonework with the mold (see previous posts). (Darker spot is where the paperclay is still wet).

Once I covered the entire foundation and let it dry overnight, I went back and filled in gaps with paperclay balls rolled to the approximation of a stone and glued onto the dried paperclay.

One drawback of paperclay is the way it shrinks–keep in mind that has to be compensated for.

The darker stones are the ones I glued on to fill the gaps. They’ll lighten as they dry.

Once everything is dry, I’ll fill in any more gaps and then start painting.

Note: It took two and a half 16 oz bricks of Creative Paperclay to do the foundation base and the molded stonework. (Or two 16 oz and one 8 oz).

A tip: Keep any opened paperclay in a sealed plastic bag. Even so, use it up in a few weeks to a month. Longer and it will be too dried out. You can add a little bit of water to drier paperclay to make  it useable.

Next post: My mini adventure!


Now that I have the stucco more or less where I want it, I’m working on the stone foundation.

First, I made a mold so I could paste on a paperclay stone facade fairly easily:

I have some nice clean rocks that I arranged to look like a stone wall. These are pressed into non-hardening clay (sulfur-free clay is key).

I cut the clay into a neat square then cut illustration board to go around the clay. Hot-glued the boards to the cardboard base. Hot glue makes a good seal so the mold material won’t leak out.

This is the silicon mold mix I purchased at an art supply store. You mix parts A and B one-to-one. I’ve poured B into A in the cup on the left and am mixing it.

Carefully pouring silicon material over the rocks.

Takes about 30 minutes for the mold to harden. I left it here while I had lunch.

Came back, took off the cardboard, and very carefully unmolded the silicon part from the rocks and clay. Voila!

Ready to start the foundation:

First, I’m applying a Creative Paperclay base–using yellow wood glue to glue a lump of paperclay to the foundation area. Making it thicker at the bottom so it looks like stones are shoring up the house. I let this dry overnight.

A thin sheet of Paperclay goes into the mold and gets rolled with the plastic roller. (Anything to smooth the paperclay will do).

Pulling the mold gently from the clay gives me this.

The “stones” glued in place on top of the foundation base. Letting it dry.

I liked how the stones look (I will paint them later), so I’m going ahead. Laying the base first.

This paperclay hasn’t been molded–it’s just glued on and smeared around.

The foundation will extend to the shorter area on the back of the house and also around the porch.

I will continue and finish the foundation, then I will paint everything at once. I didn’t want to paint my sample, because I’d get it just right and then forget what I did.

Next time, I’ll have photos of the completed foundation and how I paint it.

BTW: I learned how to do the mold making at a workshop at the Chicago show. I didn’t have this in mind when I took the class, but then I thought–hey, why not try it? It’s going far better than I feared!

Westville: Stucco

I’m skipping the next steps on the instructions: Foundation Trim and Siding.

A note about the foundation trim. I notice on the instructions that the bay window foundation trim is listed as being on sheet 5. It’s not. It’s all on sheet 9.

The trim goes around the top of the foundation to cover the tab / slot construction. I might use these pieces to divide stucco from stone base.

On with stuccoing!

I first had to decide what parts not to stucco.

I painted and masked off the porch roof and the tops of the bays.

Likewise I measured three inches up from the bottom (where the stone foundation will go), and marked it off with masking tape.

Sandy makes sure the house is properly taped. Later, I came back to discover he’d pulled off most of the masking tape and ate it. (He spit it out again, and is fine.)

I decided to experiment with vinyl spackling as stucco, and it worked very well. I used almost all of a small container of spackle. I like it because it doesn’t dry too quickly, allowing me to work it. It also sands well once it dries. Plus, it’s easy to clean off my favorite putty knife.

I used this putty knife plus an artist’s palette knife for the tight places.

For inspiration, I found this house on the Internet, which looks a bit like the Westville, esp with its attic windows and bays. Not going with the same color but I found it helpful. (In fact, I’d love to make a miniature of this one!)


I smeared on the stucco fairly thinly, then textured it with a stencil brush (also experimented with a paper towel. Both worked equally well.)

Textured with one-inch stencil brush.

Close-up of the texture.

The base layer of stucco on all walls. It took me maybe an hour to do the whole house.

I stuccoed the corners and probably won’t use the corner trim from the kit.

After the stucco dried (overnight), I sanded down the rough spots and gave the whole thing a coat of plain white paint. Once that dried, I started putting on dirty water washes–paintbrush cleaning water with a drop of black and a couple each of burnt umber and gray. I did three washes, letting it dry each time.

The finished stucco work. The house is now attached to the base, and I painted the base brown. I will cover the base with flagstone or landscaping–the brown is to ensure that if anything is seen through the landscaping, it will look like dirt.

Okay then! Time for the stone foundation! I already made a mold for the paperclay–I’ll show how I did it in the next post.

More examples of stucco and stonework.

Any of these houses would make a great miniature!

Next post–the stone foundation.

Westville: Exterior Window Trim

Forgot to add in my last post that I added the attic floor. Then I did the window trim.

The window trim, fortunately, was much easier to deal with, even though there are lots of pieces. We have, from left to right, bottom to top on each row: Attic trim, window hoods, sills for all windows; double window top trim, window hood trim, window trim for the two small second floor windows; trim for all single and double windows. The smaller single window trim is for the porch window. I’ll show where all these pieces go.

Time now to pick the final colors for the exterior, as this trim should be painted before gluing on. I went with stain, because I’m going to stucco and paint it an off-white. This wood responds well to stain, I’m finding.

Sills get stuck in first. The sill rests on top of the window opening with the wide part outside. Inside should be flush with the opening:

What the sills look like from the inside.

Once the sills are on, the trim pieces fit around the window with the bottoms resting on the sill:

Window hoods:

There are 3 sets of U-shaped pieces, one wider than the other. The narrower ones get glued on the wider ones, flush at the top.

It took me a few minutes to figure out which windows got these. Instructions are unclear. Two go on the windows on the left side of the house.

Third one goes on the porch window.

Now the double window trim. Two narrow pieces, two wide pieces. Glue narrow piece on top of wide piece. Center side-to-side and make flush on top.

These get glued over the double windows (one on the front, one on the right side). The side of the trim butts against the wall with the smaller piece downward:

That’s all there is to it for the window trim.

Note that while the instructions say to do the front door trim at the same time, I am likely going to put in my own door and don’t need it. If I change my mind I’ll show the door trim / door process.

Next post: Porch Foundation.

Westville: Bay Windows

Next on the list is to add the bay windows.

Right Bay Window Pieces (two of the long skinny pieces go with the front bay).

Bay window foundations.

The instructions have us glue on the foundation extension and let it hang in empty space to dry. I stuck one of the foundation pieces beneath (not glued) as a support while the glue dried.

Same case for the top of the right bay–it was to be glued on to the side and hang in empty space to dry. There are slots, but they’re not deep enough to hold an unsupported piece of wood.

My solution: Put the bay together with the bay top and then glue it to the house.

Used my can of tools to brace the bay as I glued it on the house.

Next the narrow sides go on like this. The top butts the bay roof, while the side of the bottom rests against the edge of the bay floor (I hope that made sense).

Second side glued on.

The front bay is a little easier, because the bay roof and floor are part of the interior floors. The window portions of the bays need to be wriggled on and into the slots.

Sides of the front bay glued on.

Bay foundations: Once again, so little support for these pieces. It’s difficult to glue them on and holding them straight to dry. They like to bend every which way.

I was getting so frustrated at this point I was ready to tear apart the house and throw it away. But I went through my scrap wood and found some pieces I could use to brace the foundations.

These are I think 3/8 of an inch square, but any sturdy pieces will do.

I cut these about 3 1/4 inches. I played with the measurement until the pieces fit without sticking out past the foundations (there are small end pieces to glue on). Note the teeth marks. My cat’s imprint will be part of this house forever.

The foundation glued on and the end pieces added.

That’s really it for the bay windows, exterior side.

As I mentioned, I was ready to tear this down, throw it away, and quit. I even searched for a different but similar dollhouse kit (eg. by RGT and others), but nothing I found was what I truly wanted. Which tells me–time to design my own!

But I think no more of this brand of kit for me. I’m tired of my hands full of splinters and very thin, bad wood that warps when you look at it. Any attempt to paint or seal before putting the house together ensures that the pieces will no longer fit. Modifying anything is a pain in the rear.

I asked my husband why on earth I kept going with this house, and he said, “Because you want to conquer it and make it into something nice.”

Which is true. Anyway, I am continuing. Next post–the window trim and porch foundation.



Westville: Moving on, Stairs, Walls, Wiring

Back to the Westville.

Before continuing, I gave the shell a quick coat of latex paint inside and out to seal the wood.

I added some of my own wood strips to the foundation to make it a bit more sturdy. The foundation is 7/8″. I can’t find wood strips that size, so I stacked 1/2″ strips on 3/8″ strips and glued them. The strips are 3/16″ wide, and added stability. I’ve done this on all my Greenleaf houses. If you do this, be careful not to cover any slots.

This is a good time to add tape wiring. I laid it in all four rooms, connecting the run with eyelets where I needed to. You can solder the joins as well–I tried that but apparently need to practice soldering for a while before I can splice with it. For now I’ll stick with eyelets (which are easier for me than brads).


The stairs are pretty straightforward. They are very much like the 2nd to 3rd floor staircase on the Beacon Hill.

Staircase parts (left to right): Steps, stringers and staircase wall, risers.

I chose to paint the risers and walls antique white, and stain the steps. Did the staining first. I distressed the steps a little to make them look worn.

Building the staircase:

A flat square is helpful–this one I bought at the Chicago show (one of the workshop instructors had one like this and I had glueing jig envy). Legos can be stacked as a square jig.

Note that one riser is narrower than the others. This riser is for the bottom step. The bottom of the stringer has the tab (which goes into the floor).

Top, bottom, and one middle riser glued in as per instructions.

Second stringer added and squared up. (This was tricky.)

Rest of the risers glued on.

Next I painted the risers, and when dry, glued on the steps. (No need to paint the stringers, because they will be glued between two walls and won’t show.)

Painted and finished the stair wall (I set this in place to see what parts would be seen–it’s not glued).

Staircase glued to stair wall. But …

When I jiggled and shimmied and stuffed the staircase plus big wall into the openings, and it fell apart anyway, I found it much easier to put in the staircase first, then glue the wall to it.

But #2. The far wall must be finished before the staircase goes in. So don’t glue in until the room wall is done!

Time to decide how to finish the interior. As this will be an antique shop, I’m not going to worry about matching decor for the rooms. I went through my stash of leftover and unused wallpaper and flooring, and figure I’ll make each room a bit different.

Gesso helps cover the tape at the end of the staircase part of the partition wall.

For the ground floor, I picked this paper. I also painted the end staircase part antique white.

Staircase finally inserted. As you can see, I chose a ceiling pattern as well.

Staircase is pretty much in (the basic part). The newel posts and railings are added later.

Left and Back Walls

Now that the staircase was in, I could put in the left wall. I had to trim out the slots as they were a tad too small.

This is the right back wall, which is added next.

Then the left back wall.

I also added the attic floor.

Next post: Bay windows.