by brae  

The stairs that come with the Newport kit are made of mdf and needed to be assembled from three individual pieces.  Since I planned to flip the stairs to accommodate the two story addition on the right side, I spackled the back of the stair assembly to hide the seams.

I wanted the look of painted stair risers with stained wood treads, so I painted the entire assembly white (several coats with sanding in between to remove the "fuzziness" that mdf can get when painted) and then masked off the treads.  I painted a base coat of brown and then did three layers of paint and glaze in two other colors of brown.

The faux wood attempt turned out well save for one small problem.  No matter how well masked, the lines between the white and brown were not sharp enough for me.  Any stray marks are especially obvious on a miniature scale and can ruin the illusion.

I looked into buying replacement stairs, but nothing fit as well as the parts that came with the kit.  I still didn't want to give up on the idea of having wood treads, so I first scraped off the front lip on the individual stairs that was meant to represent the tread and then sanded off most of the paint I had previously applied.

I added some fretwork since I didn't care for the look of the plain stringer that came with the kit.

These are delicate laser cut pieces that were a chore to remove without breaking.  I broke quite a few of them but since they were being glued to a flat surface, you couldn't tell they were pieced.

To finish off the bottom edge, I added a piece of 1/8" x 1/4" strip wood.

I painted the entire assembly white, leaving some mdf exposed on the tops.  I cut individual treads from a length of strip wood with a rounded edge and repeated the paint and glaze process I had originally done for the faux wood finish on these pieces.

Once dry, I glued the treads in place.  There will be a railing further along in the build, but I love the way this turned out.  It's exactly what I had in mind.

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

Study with fireplace, part 5

by brae  

The next step in the fireplace construction was the firebox.  I used the same egg carton brick technique as I did for the mantel brick but in a slightly larger size and without rounding the edges.  I wanted it to look like a different type of material.  I didn't line the upper inside edge with bricks.  I had cut the firebox to be taller than the front opening to give the illusion of the firebox opening up into the flue above.

I've found the best way to get a realistic look to the bricks is to do multiple layers of color.  I started with a thin coat of antique white.  I then brushed on a thin coat of light brown mixed with grey.  Over that I painted a layer of glaze mixed with dark grey.  It looks dark and mottled, but the grout will even out the color overall.

I used Andi Mini Brick and Stone Mortar Mix (the same grout used for the foundation) to finish off the look.  I scored the lines between the bricks with an awl to add more definition.

I will blacken the logs and add other touches to lend to the realism when I install the fire lighting.  I will also be adding a hearth, though I haven't decided on a finish for that just yet.

Garage floor redo

by brae  

I loved how the garage floor turned out, but I hated that seam under the front tires!

click image to enlarge

I decided to redo the flooring while it was still relatively easy to do (i.e., before attaching anything more to the outside of the garage).  Since there isn't a piece of hexagon tile flooring on the market that would allow me to cover the entire floor surface without seaming, I decided any seams should look more planned than accidental and sloppy.  I covered as wide a space as I could down the middle, front edge to back edge, using a new piece of the hexagon tile sheet.

I then added a piece on either side to cover the remaining floor.  The seams are still visible, but they will be mostly covered by garage items.

I painted the surface and sprayed with matte sealer just as I had done the first time around.  The seams are far less noticeable since they don't break the long line from the garage opening to the back.

click image to enlarge

Trash to treasure - mini chair makeover

by brae  

A friend gave me a box of miniature furniture, most of which was in pristine condition.  There was one little wooden chair I was especially drawn to, but it was cracked and in poor condition overall.  I started using it as a stand-in as I planned the extended front porch.

I thought the chair fit on the front porch so much that I decided to repair and paint it.  Here you can see the crack in the top piece.

I used wood glue to mend the crack, a little spackle to fill a small hole on the back and off white paint as primer.

The lighter color brought out more flaws, but a little sanding fixed most of the imperfections.  I then painted the chair sage green.

Eventually, I will make a pillow or blanket for it.  I think it makes a perfect addition to the front porch.

Study with fireplace, part 4

by brae  

After mocking up the fireplace and chimney breast in foam core board, I started building the final pieces using wood and egg carton bricks.

I cut the opening in the fireplace front and lined it with thin strips of wood.  I'll cut new egg carton bricks that are long enough to wrap around the edge made by these strips to give the illusion of solid bricks lining the opening.  The sides and top of the fireplace structure were then glued in place.

I then built the firebox to fit behind the opening.

I will likely line this with egg carton bricks as well but in a different color than the outer brick.

I then measured the opening needed in the chimney breast to fit the firebox.  After cutting that opening, I attached the sides.

The chimney breast will be permanently affixed to the wall and wallpapered, but the fireplace, firebox and lighting unit used to simulate flames will be removable.

Since I'll need to paint and grout the bricks on the front surface a different color from the trim, I taped the trim pieces to cardboard and painted them separately.  Touch-ups are easier than trying to mask off entire areas.

Here the egg carton bricks have been glued in place and are ready to be painted.

And, after painting, grouting and attaching the final trim, I have a finished fireplace mantel in the exact fashion I wanted.

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