Friday, April 17, 2020

A Staircase

I’ve been trying to get back into working on my art deco house.   I’m still having difficulty finding the energy and inclination to work on it, and I’m not sure why.  Work has been very busy, which I know is a good thing, but I actually seem to have less time for minis, not more, despite the fact that I have eliminated my commute.

Anyway, you may remember from the mock-up that to fit a proper rise and run on the staircase, I decided to have it turn at the bottom.

I took this pattern and cut the stringers from matboard, and the risers and treads from 1/32” thick strip wood.  After consideration, the original turned steps looked too insubstantial to support the remaining stairs, so I broadened them to fit completely beneath the bottom step of the main flight.  It didn’t look right to have a solid white chunk next to the steps, though, so I broadened the treads, and allowed the top of the landing to extend a bit beyond the stringer.  I also added some wood along the side of the bottom step and sanded it into a curve, then curved the edges of the treads, too. 

I contemplated adding some detail to the stringer.  This seems a bit much, and I would want to tone down the color if I add it.

While I debated additional decoration on the stairs, I worked on a stair rail.  The original plans call for dowels with wire strung between them.

This would have been OK, but I felt the living room was heading in a slightly more elegant direction.  I ended up falling in love with an art deco staircase rail from Finelli Ironworks:

I can’t make miniature wrought iron, but I used railroad lumber successfully to make the railings I wanted in the Merrimack, so I tried the same technique for this railing.  The larger circles are made from thicker florists’ wire; the smaller circles are jump rings.  It’s not a perfect match to the original, but I like it in this room.

I’m trying a simple cherry bannister, as in the original, but I’d love to figure out a way to make the bannister curve around like this: 

By the way, the railing is not glued in place—it just balances nicely and stays upright for my photos.  😊  It’s too delicate for me to glue in place at this time.

Because it’s easier for me to work on furniture right now, I also made up the art deco cabinet from Red Cottage Miniatures and the art deco sofa and coffee table from SDK Miniatures.

I really like the cabinet, but I am bummed that, with the doors closed, you can’t really see inside.  I have great ideas for using more of my N scale swimmers for art deco bookends.

For some reason, I thought the SDK coffee table was an oval, but it is round.  Oval works better for me, so I cut down the top piece to an oval shape and gave it a faux marble finish.  The book on top is a coffee table version of A Note of Explanation, complete with most of the text and about half the illustrations.

The rug is not quite right.  It is only a print-out at this point, while I try to decide on the colors.  It doesn’t help that I am trying to recreate embroidery floss colors with my printer, but they are fairly close.  I think the purple, in addition to being a bit off, is too much of a muchness.  I think I need another color to warm the room up.  Below you can see the rug printout against the wallcovering with the actual embroidery floss I am contemplating.

I love the purple walls with the upholstery, but the room, while having the elegance I like, is feeling a bit cold.  I know accessories will help, but I think it needs more than that.

By the way, the photo on the left wall is “Chez Mondrian” by André Kertész.  It is from 1926, so perfect for the era of this house, and is one of my favorite pieces by him.  We have a print of it hanging in our bedroom.

Other than that, we are staying safe and relatively sane here.  We have had a birthday party on Zoom (that included an online museum scavenger hunt game).  The unexpected upside was that a friend who moved to another state a few years ago was able to attend, because on Zoom it doesn't matter where you live.  Unsolicited plug for Wicked Good Cupcakes, which got awesomely delicious cupcakes in a jar to all the party attendees in time for us to have birthday cake together while apart.  We are also planning a game night using JackBox games.  We will get through this.

Hope you are all staying safe and healthy, and that you are able to connect with loved ones near and far.


  1. Your first photo is stunning! You make half scale look so easy, it’s tempting me. Unfortunately, I was not able to see many of the other photos. But from what I can see, your marble table is perfect and ties in nicely with your color scheme. Sounds like you have really figured out how to have fun with social distancing. So glad you are all healthy.

    1. Okay, now all the photos appeared. I see what you mean by changing the rug a bit to add warmth. Are you planning to use any plants? They might help.

    2. When I woke up Saturday morning, most of my pictures had been replaced with circles with minus signs in the middle. I have no idea why! I reuploaded the pictures, and for now all seems good. I am definitely planning to use plants--I've picked up several kits from SDK, plus I'm pretty good at making my own flowers. And I think changing the rug will help. Thank you!

  2. It is so beautiful Deborah. I especially love the railing. I understand what you are saying about warming up the room. The natural wood of the cabinet works well. Maybe you could incorporate some more wood? I wonder what the steps would look like if they were wood rather than black? I know the last thing you want to do is change those steps!
    Be well, and take care of yourself.

    1. Thank you! Yeah, I'm not anxious to change the steps themselves, but I *could* add a runner, which would add a bit more decoration and could add some more color and warmth.

  3. I love your staircase railing! And adding a bit of dark tread to the turn landing was genius.

  4. Wow Deb!!! The staircase and railing are phenomenal! I love the spacing of the circles and the intricacy of the design is a perfect balance! The changes to the landing and the steps look so right!
    Shannon's cabinet is awesome!!! I am, as ever, so tempted by half scale, too! Someday...
    I wonder if you could put the really special art deco decor pieces on floating shelves above the fireplace? In some arty formation?
    The aqua/teal book really pops against the mauve, so I wonder if it might be worth a try, adding it in here and there, as your accent color?
    Changing the coffee table top to oval is brilliant! So perfect for the space and your marble effect looks divine!
    The rug colors are going to be great! I love the design! Just for fun, have you tried a large round rug in the room to mimic the shape of the cabinet? It might be terrible, but it might also be amazing!
    You are one of the most creative people I know and it would be wonderfully entertaining to be on lockdown with you! I'm glad you are staying in touch with friends and family in spite of the virus!

    1. Aw, you say the nicest things. Thank you! (And you have tried a bit of half scale and done very well at it. 😊) I do like floating shelves on a fireplace; it's worth considering, to show things off. A round rug could also be fabulous, but would be harder for me to cross-stitch. It's not out of the question, though, and now you have me thinking. I like the aqua/teal color, too. I think I could definitely incorporate a bit more of it.

  5. Wow, the stair rail looks amazing Deborah! Seriously great job! And I quite like the stair bracket things, but maybe wait to see whether they are needed once everything else is in place. As for the rug, it is lovely but to me it seems a little bit same-y. I am wondering if some gold might help, which would tie in with the little side table. Will the cabinet be wood or gold too? And yeah I get the issue with not being able to see inside. Bit of a pain. If you keep the inside light, darker accessories would be more visible.

    1. Thank you, Shannon!I like the idea of gold in the rug. That could definitely warm things up. Right now the cabinet is a mixture of black and natural wood, but I think adding gold would be really good. I am definitely keeping the inside light. It is such a beautiful little cabinet, I really want it in the house. I am going to make it work! :-)