Big House vid: 2nd Floor Hall


Here’s a short look at the second-floor hall with elevator. If you wonder why I built the house in the first place with only one flight of stairs–answer: It was my first house and I had no idea what I was doing! Enjoy.

Westville: Staircase railings and some Window Trim


Finally, the staircase railings and window trim.

Interior window trim (top), bay window trim (long pieces, right), staircase posts and railings (bottom).

Looking at the staircase posts and railings: There are two posts (they go vertically at the bottom of the staircase), a long rail for the long side of the staircase bannister, and a short rail for the short side of the staircase. The small square pieces are caps for the posts.

Interestingly the post at the bottom goes only on the outside of the staircase, like this. Not at the end. I guess they figure it will be too hard to see the end of the staircase through the windows. The front of the staircase is basically bare. I will probably add my own posts and trim later.

One post cap goes on the top of the post.

Long staircase railing goes on top of the long bannister, all the way up through to the second floor. The narrower part goes through the second floor opening.

The short bannister side. The post again goes on the outside only, with the post cap. Short bannister railing goes on top of the bannister.

Next: The second floor bannisters / railings.

Two bannister pieces, four posts, three post caps (only three), two railings.

On the long side: Two posts go on either end, on the outside only. They’re glued right onto the flat part of the bannister, not the ends. Horizontal railing goes on top.

On short side, two posts sandwich the banister on one end. The bare end of the short side is glued to the bare end of the long side.

The assembly upside down, keeping straight in my jig while the glue dries.

The railing will go here on the second floor. I won’t glue until I have the flooring and wallpaper in place. The end of the long banister section meets with the staircase bannister to sort of form a post. A post cap will go on top of this.

From the side. I’ve already put the post caps on the short side but will wait to install to do the long side.

Interior Window Trim

There is nothing much to the window trim. Take the rectangular pieces:

Paint and finish. The plastic window piece gets glued to the underside of the trim, and then the whole thing is glued over the window opening from the inside.

I’ll show more pics of window trim as I paper and finish the inside of the house.

And that is more or less it! The kit has been put together all the way through to the end of the instructions.

All that’s left is to decorate and move in. I’ll continue to show my finishing process, and also provide overall thoughts and tips on this house.


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.



Beacon Hill–Fireplaces


The fireplaces for the Beacon Hill are pretty straightforward, but as the instructions are sparse and have few photos, here’s the fireplace construction:

Fireplace pieces laid out. From top row to bottom: Trim, front, firebox back and sides; base/hearth, sides; top pieces (mantel), which get glued together, flush in back–one is smaller than the other.

Test building: Front goes in slots on hearth / base.

The mantel: Glue smaller on top of larger, centered, and flush at back. Have the “good” side of both pieces on the outside.

Firebox from the back. Sides angle from back to front.

The whole thing roughed together. Larger piece of the mantel goes on top.

Trim goes on front. Note that the trim is flush at the top of the front (not bottom).

I finished my firebox and hearth with brick paper before gluing together. Shot of the angles of the back.


I glued my trim on before I glued the piece to the hearth. This is how I discovered that the trim should be flush on top not bottom. (Bottom part of trim does not fit in slots.)

View from top with sides added. Edges of sides go against back of front piece.

Sides glued in place.

Mantel added.

Side view.

Front view of finished fireplace. I finished painting after I glued it together, because I didn’t want it to warp.

Finished and painted fireplace in position in house. The second floor fireplace is identical to this one. I’ll show the third floor one when I get there.

I finished the floor and all the trims (baseboards, cornices, trim around the bay openings, trim, trim, trim. Lots of raw edges!)

Note: I did not use the scrolled “bay window trim” that comes with the kit. For what the kitchen bay one looks like see Beacon Hill: Trimming the Interior. The bay trims go into the front and left bay on this side of the house in the same way as the kitchen bay’s.

Staircase set in place. I still need to finish the staircase opening, add an extra step, and a few other details before I glue it in. Plus I want to make a chandelier so I’m not dodging the staircase when I put it in.

Gathering all the pieces and tools for new chandelier!

Beacon Hill–Catching up


I’ve been working on the Beacon Hill since I returned from Chicago, in between working hard on about four books at once. I have made some progress.

The left bay window is finished and installed. You can see I have much cleaning up to do.

I also finished the inside of the garage (painted) and added a light.

This gadget is a junction splice between the tape wiring and the power supply. It can be used with LED lights (the black and red posts where wires can be placed), or simply screwed into the tape (which is what I did). I bought this from Carl Sahlberg at

A bad photo, but this shows how the inline switch plugs in. The black cord leads to the transformer / power supply.

It works!

Roughing in floor and staircase.

Floor stained and installed. I need to finish it.

I’m trying to decide whether to go with the piano …

Or the harpsichord. I like how they both look.

Staircase is almost finished. I had to take it apart to stain the treads and railings while having everything else white. I broke four of the spindles and had to replace with Houseworks ones. I’ll show more of the staircase when I’m done with it.

Moving to the other side … I have much of the outside trimmed and finished.


Playing with furniture placement.

I decided to switch the bathroom to the top floor. The fixtures fit well in here, better than they did in the second floor room. Oh well. They match the wallpaper too.

The other side of the top floor will continue the bathroom. The washing and sitting area.

First floor / ground floor. Entrance hall will double as a sitting room.

This is my reasoning behind building the tall bay window extension–so I’d have more room for furniture! Not sure that the sofa in the window will stay, but it might.

Upstairs will have another sitting area / writing room. I plan to add a desk, either in the bay window or behind the staircase.

This is now the bedroom. Not much space, but it could be cozy. Everyone has a mannikin with a tutu in their bedroom, right?

Kitchen is still empty. I keep putting in the stuff I have for it, taking it out, debating arrangements. I’ll get there.

That’s it for now. Sandy has to make sure all is well beneath, though.

It’s definitely getting there!

Back to the Beacon Hill


I’m returning to work on the Beacon Hill, ready to tackle the second side of the house! I cut it apart, remember? So far I like what I’ve done with the first side, but let’s see what happens!

My dear husband got me a gift certificate to HBS, so I bought this lovely staircase, which I will put in the left portion of the house.

I plan to leave both the back and side open so more of the interior can be viewed. The staircase will block too much if only the back is open, and I want the pretty furniture I’ve collected for this part of the house to be seen.

I’m also going to put this half on top of a garage, and I believe I’ll replace the side bay window with a front door.

More to come.

Beacon Hill: Finishing the Stairs and Moving On




Once the lights downstairs were finished, I could add the flooring to the staircase hall. Now, I can go on to putting in the railings and posts of the staircase.

Just a note: I advise getting out wood sheet 27 with all the staircase posts and rails and the schematic drawing for sheet 27 and staring at both until you figure out what is what. It helps to take a pencil and label the pieces on the sheet so you’re familiar with them, and you know what they are when you punch them out.

Notice that there are a bunch of pieces marked “staircase posts.” Those are used in most places, except at bottom of the first floor, bottom of the second floor, and the end of one end of the shorter second-floor bannister railing. I mention it, because my instructions weren’t that clear. I’ll note in bold where those are.


The instructions start you off prepping the banisters that will go around the staircase openings. I opted to do the second floor only and do the third floor once I have the flooring in up there.



The three pieces where they will go.


Pre-gluing the shortest banister and longest at right angles.


Next I painted to go with the rest. Posts and top rails will be stained.

For sealing the wood, I’ve started to use Dura Clear Ultra Matte from Folk Art. I paint a coat of white (or whatever color) then a coat of Ultra Matte, then a second coat of paint, the finish with gloss varnish (also Dura Clear). Find Dura Clear in Michaels or other craft stores.


Posts are glued flat on the ends of the railings. The instructions were a little unclear, and it took me a while to figure out that the flat side is glued to the flat part of the railings. I thought they went on the ends, but no.

NOTE: One end of this railing section is narrower than the other (on the left hand side in my photo). The right side here gets a regular “staircase post”, the other gets the “Second floor narrow post trim.”


Here are the railing sections with the posts glued on and the top and bottom rails glued on. The top and bottom rails actually do go on the edges.


Putting the railing sections aside, we start adding posts and rails to the staircase itself. This first one, at the bottom of B is the “First floor long post trim.”


Now I add the corner post between A&B  (This is Piece A & B Corner trim). The notch goes over the railing section. The short top rail goes on piece B.


“Pieces A&F corner trim” goes on the outside of F like this (one end has an angle that follows the angle of the staircase, and a notch to go over upper railing section). The top rail A goes on top of the railing.



The posts at the top of the stairs–again, they go flat against the railing sections, not on the ends. (These are some of the ones labeled “staircase posts.”)


Railings, of course, go on top of the railing sections.


Last, I put in the prepared railing sections that go around the staircase on the second floor.



At the bottom of the second staircase is the “Second floor long post trim.” Rail goes up the stairs on top of the long railing section. A notch in this rail helps fit it against the opening to the third floor.

I’m stopping there–I’ll do the third floor later. Plus there are “Post Caps” that go on the top of the posts.

I’m not sure I like the unfinished look of the staircase posts, as though someone bought 2x4s at the hardware store and made a staircase. But I’ll probably trim them later, or I’ll see what kind of trimming the instructions has us do.


Now I can at last put on the tower front. I had to do some slot trimming, plus I had a bit of warpage, but painters tape is helpful to hold things in place while the glue dries.


The tower all in place from the inside.

Next I’ll continue decoration and move up to the third floor and start on the roof.

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