Baxter Pointe Villa - exterior details

by brae  

When I first saw the stairs kit, I immediately thought of a beach house.  But, I wanted to take it one step further and make it a luxury vacation cottage, Baxter Pointe Villa.

I've had a photo of a wonderful porch by designer Amanda Nisbet in my electronic inspiration file for some time now, and I thought it would be a perfect starting point.  For me, the main draw is the warm cedar shake exterior as the backdrop for the white, brown and lavender hues of the design elements.

I searched online for cedar shake cottages and happened upon this wonderful house by Catskill Farms.  They have countless beautiful cottages on their blog that are perfect inspirations for miniature houses.

I love the way the cedar shake exterior pops with the white trim and grey roof.  I was sold!

Once upon a time, I had a Dura-Craft dollhouse that never got built and whose pieces were lost to a flood.  Some pieces survived since they were stored elsewhere, and included in those miscellaneous parts was a huge bag of cedar shake shingles (say that phrase ten times fast).  So, no need to buy materials for the exterior!  :D

I made a sample of the exterior finish on a piece of scrap board and positioned it next to the dry fit structure.

Whoa!  Those windows are a little Amityville Horror, no?  :O

First, I didn't care for the wide variety of shades in the cedar.  It looked like a cedar polka dotted house.  :\  So, I spent my lunch hour one day at work sorting cedar shakes into three piles: light, dark and broken.  It sounded like I was playing poker, counting out the chips!  :D  I used the darker shades since I planned to leave them natural.

Second, I thought the shakes were too big for scale.  I looked up the real life size of cedar shakes online and found them to be pretty close to exact 1:12 scale.  But, for looks, it just didn't work for me.

So, I commenced to splitting 1,700 cedar shakes individually by hand.  I first split them lengthwise to a width of 1/2" with an Easy Cutter, and it was easy.  I then split them across the grain to a height of 3/4" with the Easy Cutter, which was not easy.  :\  Even with a new blade, the shakes were hard to cut across the grain and were prone to splitting.

But, the end result was a better scale match and well worth all the work.  This is also one of the most forgiving finishes I've worked with so far.  Unevenness in application and splits in the wood add to the realism instead of detracting from it.

In addition, it was easy to remove and then replace a section of shingles when I accidentally cut my wiring while installing the kitchen floor.  With siding, I would have had to tear a lot more out than the 2" x 3" section that I did.  After the repair, the new shingles just slipped right into place as though it had never happened.  :]

Speaking of wiring, most of the wiring flows toward the chimney wall, down the outside through a channel in the foam core underside of the chimney and down through a hole in the baseboard.  For the three wires I had to repair, there is a hole through the bottom of the kitchen (under the floor of course) and through the baseboard.  There are two channels on the underside of the baseboard into which I've taped the wires.  I also have a removable felt sheet situated under the board to save my display table from wear and to protect the wires as well (felt not shown here).

I painted my egg carton brick chimney with brown tones to mimic the stone used on my inspiration house.

To prep the kit for building, I primed the interior walls with white craft paint and the exterior walls with black except around the windows, which I also painted white.  I pressed the boards flat while they dried to knock out most of the residual warping.

I drew guidelines on the pieces before putting the house together and cut trim from 1/8" thick basswood and corner trim to emulate the style of the inspiration house.  Those pieces I painted white before attaching to the house, though I spackled the joins and touched up the paint after they were attached.  I also installed the window trim and doors before applying the cedar shakes.

I also added a 3/8" foundation painted grey.  Here it is shown from the underside.

I put the roof of the addition on and shingled that with grey asphalt shingles by What's Next before applying the cedar shakes on the adjacent wall.  There are a number of cedar shake houses in my area, so I was able to see some real life examples of how to handle some of these structural challenges.

The back roof piece of the addition was a challenge.  I don't know if it was my alteration of the design or just a stubborn warp in the outer wall of the addition, but I could not get the main house roof, the new flat top roof I put in and the addition roof to square up.  Finally, I just attacked it with duct tape.  It worked!   There is still glue at the joins, but the duct tape is the main support for the bond.  I used Quick Grip glue to attach the shingles and cork piece of the upper roof and had no problems with those things adhering, which was my only concern in using it.

I then created a parapet on the flat top portion using some of the left over kit wood from the stair posts.  Inside this wood frame, I painted a piece of cork sheet to simulate the tar and gravel covering.  Now, I can't take credit for even knowing what a parapet was...that was all mom's influence.  :D  I had no idea how to finish this part of the roof until she came up with the idea.  Hooray for mom!!!  The wind turbine I added later is from ELF Miniatures.

The front porch structure is a purchased frame.  When I'm on a deadline, I love shortcuts that cost $1.49!  :D  I covered this with skinny sticks stained IKEA antique pine.

Here are the original Greenleaf stairs. :D

I flipped the assembly of the stairs upside down to get the stairs in a different configuration and cut down the deck portion to make room for the chimney.

The lower side deck is made partially from the original Greenleaf stairs kit.  In order to have the side deck meet up with the front deck, I added a piece of 1/8" thick balsa wood to fill in the missing areas.

I then continued the skinny stick coverage on the entire lower side deck.  Since skinny sticks come in predetermined lengths, I used some strip wood to break the deck into areas and tried to create a nice pattern for the boards.

To finish off the front deck and lower side deck, I added strip wood stained to match along the outer edges and curved the last board down just under the first step (stairs obviously not shown here).

I upgraded the front door and eliminated the recessed entryway of the original kit.  The color is Robin's Egg Blue from Jo-Ann Craft Essentials.  The planters on either side are from Manor House Minis and were originally pale green (I bought two sets to have matching pairs of each style of planter).  The flowers are a mix of Bonnie Lavish kits held in place by a styrofoam ball stuffed inside, held with a bit of glue.

The entry light is a NovaLyte LED.  These require a 3/8" depth for installation, so I glued two 1" by 1/8" precut wood circles together.  I painted them silver followed by a wash of black to dull down the color and glued them where I wanted my light.  I then drilled the hole for the LED in the middle of the circles.  Well, it's not exactly in the center, but we won't look that closely.  :D

The grass door mat with daisy is from A Little More in Miniatures, purchased at the Bishop Show.

Around the side behind the bicycles, I have a wheelie bin from The Dolls House Emporium and a recycle bin that I've had for some time now and don't remember where I bought it.

Though I've outlined the chimney build in previous posts, I didn't get to the flashing until I put the roof on.  It's just made of black-brown paper cut to fit.  You can also see that my topper came apart (the chimney did a nose dive off the table one too many times).  I decided to leave it as is due to time constraints.  :]

I kept the landscaping modest, using white sand from the dollar store mixed with Aleene's tacky glue that I spread on with a palette knife and a few tufts of sea grass by Woodland Scenics added later.

The sand mixture evened out in texture as it settled but before it dried, I sprinkled on more sand.

I brushed off the excess after letting it set a bit.  I used my knuckles to press footprint indentations around the front of the deck and the bottom of the stairs.

I also created lines with an awl to simulate bicycle tracks.


Comment from: Eliana [Visitor]
You are very generous to explain how you did your dollhouse. You have a great talent and creativity (... and I think I've said this to you before ...) :D
07/06/11 @ 08:49
Comment from: Lyssa [Visitor]
Thanks for explaining a lot of your processes. There were a few things that I was wondering how you did. Especially the sand. Everything looks wonderful!!
07/06/11 @ 10:00
Comment from: Narán [Visitor]
Sencillamente fantástico ese trabajo. Besos, Narán
07/06/11 @ 10:27
Comment from: susi [Visitor]
lo cuenta como si fuese sencillo, y esa perfeccion es muy complicada, doble emrito para usted, lo admiro profundamente, un gran beso. Susi
07/06/11 @ 10:54
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thanks, everyone! I just used whatever white craft paint was cheapest and bought the biggest container of it. I guess there are differences in quality, but they are all really similar. I chose white acrylic paint for the interior so that the true colors of the wallpaper would show when applied over it and the paint would seal the wood so it wouldn't discolor the paper over time. It can take a couple of coats of white to get a good seal, and I suppose a higher quality house paint would eliminate that. I used black paint on the exterior to counteract the warping that painting only one side of the wood causes and to have a dark finish in case any wood showed through the cedar shingling process.
07/06/11 @ 21:05
Comment from: Plushpussycat [Visitor]
Thank you for your detailed response. I'll plan on doing what you did--white acrylic paint on the interior walls. The exterior has already been painted white by the previous owner. It would probably look better if it was painted again, but I'm not sure what kind of paint was used, so maybe I won't even go there. :-) I appreciate that you said that warping can occur if only one side of a board is painted. I didn't know that! Good tip! Thanks again for all of the valuable info. Jennifer
07/07/11 @ 12:22

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