Monday, April 14, 2014

Where Are We Going Now?

Ch Ch Ch Changes...... (Oh, Not Again...!)

There have been a lot of changes in My World recently, Dear Readers, not the least of which is a new computer with a new operating system (which takes a lot of getting used to!) and a new photo storage system (which takes a lot of getting used to!)..... So I hope you can forgive me, as I Detour you through another one of my Ongoing projects.....! It is one that you have seen in some of my Stories, but never really been given a thorough look at! This is mostly because it is Woefully incomplete on the inside.... and I have been struggling with the layout of the parts ever since I started building it! This is the "Aster Cottage" kit, a small half-timbered thatched roof cottage... and I emphasize the "small"! The floor area is about 16'' by 19" and the second floor is supposed to be just a loft. I started this kit while Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on New England..... (over a year and a half ago!) to distract me from the possible trouble.... (which thankfully did not come to my neighborhood)..... and I always intended it to be a house for my Witches. I have named it "Rose Thorn Cottage". The kit is cute on the outside but has numerous design flaws for the interior! It comes with a ladder to the loft, which they intend you to place along the back wall to the right of the fireplace, with the opening to the loft under the only tall roof area on the upstairs (where I have positioned the bed). With this arrangement, there is nowhere to place furniture! I tried moving the stairs to the center of the kit.... but they take up too much room in the small floorspace. I also wanted to make a small bathroom in the back corner to the right, since this kit is relatively deep. I also wanted to enlarge the hearth area, since the original fireplace opening is cute but Tiny! Here below you can see the very unsatisfactory first modifications.....

A Long Time ago I had seen a picture of a stone stairway curving up into a wall behind the hearth... (I am not sure where I saw it)... and that was what I really wanted to make for this cottage... but I didn't think I had the room to make it work. But when I saw Elizabeth at "Studio E" Blog have so much success with fitting her stove in under the stairs in her little house.... I thought I should give it another try!

I re-worked my already partially built stairs, 
carving off the underside of the stair blocks, 
thereby narrowing the space they took up vertically. 
I also added the turned stairs at the bottom. 
Here you can see me testing them in place.

Here you can see they have plenty of room to "land" at the back of the open loft area, 
which I planned to cover over anyway, making a solid second floor.
You can also see where the stairs would have come up in the middle... 
and you can see the patched opening in the floor at the back right, 
where the kit had designed the stairs to go.

I really just needed to decide whether there was room for the hearth and stove
 under the stairs in the new position!

I am starting with a block of the pink builders foam insulation 
which has become my go-to material for constructing chimneys and stairs!

Then I needed to cut out the area for the "fireplace" 
which would need to be large enough for this "Aga" stove....

Here I am trying to see how it will fit and look 
with the wall section going upstairs filled in...
And you can see I have also painted the area that will be the bathroom on the right....
It is now a lovely deep pink!

And having determined that there really was enough room to put the stairs here, I just needed to refine the opening for the hearth and get started with the egg carton stones!
It always takes longer than I think to cut and position those egg carton pieces!

Here you can see the opening for the hearth without the front wall, 
which I thought I would make out of wood.....
Until I realized it would be much better to make it all into 
the "rocks" that the chimney is made of!

It looks so much better that way, Dear Readers,
 and is ever so much easier to cut and shape in this tight opening!
(By the way, for the Realists of you out there, 
the actual opening for the chimney "flue"  
would be at the top back of the arched opening.... 
but I am anticipating that no-one will be able to see 
that the "flue" is just painted on in this case...!)

Of course, I had to test it in place again and again!

And then I had to paint it to resemble rocks...!
This is just the first few coats... gray and darker gray...
There will be more details added!

But we have to test it in place again... 
to see if it looks like we hope it will.....

And a little closer to see those rocks.....!
I think it is working!

Here you can see it with the Aga stove tucked into the opening......
(It all still looks Waaayy too new for my liking...!)
And on the right you can see the little room that will be the bath....
And there is plenty of floor space for the basic living area....

Here you can come closer....
I can almost feel the warmth radiating from the stove!

And in the upstairs, there is the wall at the back where the stairs open....
and I plan to add a dividing wall where the loft used to end, 
making two rooms instead of just one.

I think I am liking this!
I have Tons to do still to make this Cottage Habitable....
And I Don't blame you at all, Dear Readers, 
If you are wondering Just where are we Going Now....
But I am really Happy with these Long Overdue Changes!!!


  1. I love the 'hidden stairs' effect. It is a great use of space.

  2. For a moment I got scared thinking you decided to repaint your little Orchid...But then I saw the second photo! :D I am always admiring your ideas of changing and extending little houses and this is no exception! Great idea, great colour, great stone fieplace and stairs and of course I can't wait to see more! :)

  3. A pity at first to see the a big part of the staircase disappearing behind the alcove but what a combination when they are finished. I love it!

    For some reason, this house made me think of my tribal house. It is falling apart a little and everything in it looked worse for wear as time passes. I won't worry too much about "still too-new" feeling, dear Bets. It will looked weary before you know it. :) But "weary" is good in my world.

  4. you did a great job on the stairs and you had me at Aga..I love those stoves..yours is very pretty. I cant wait to see how you rework the upstairs.


  5. Stairs work beautifully!
    Bath? Or just toilet? Seems to me the inhabitants could bathe in a portable tub, in front of the Aga. So your bathroom could be VERY small. But I guess it is.
    Color pink is gorgeous.
    Love this new little house. Recognize the coverlet on the bed...

  6. OMG... I'm quite alerted because now I have to prevent Rosey from ever watching this post! I have no doubt she would say that this is the pink house of her dreams and all I'm building for her is world's apart from being pink... ;O) Your have improved the whole building, not only adding space but also adding that special touch of Betsy genius. That stair solution is incredible, what a fantastic way to solve your "problems". Funny somehow but I always have to say that I'm curious to see more and more and more!


  7. Your progress is looking super so far. I just love it.

  8. I like the stairs! The stove is perfect in this space.

  9. Wow your ideas are always fantastic and fascinating to watch. I love your fireplace and stairs. I admire your work so much nothing holds you back :)
    Hugs Maria

  10. Awesome job, Betsy. I love the way you worked the stairs in behind the hearth. I want to shrink down and climb them. Your creativity and imagination is inspiring.

  11. Hello Betsy,
    I think the nook for the stove is incredible and so charming. It really makes the kitchen feel very cozy and welcoming. I can imagine sitting there with the smell of chestnuts and pies in the oven. Terrific work and such a great use of space.
    Big hug,

  12. Oh Betsy!!!! I am soooo Impressed with this!!! I read the post After this one, First, so I am going backwards through your postings but no matter, it re-enforces my Already High Opinion, of what I see you doing! This is such a Wonderful staircase and hearth. I wish I had seen yours Before I did mine, cause I would have loved to copy yours! :D Your staircase has the depth and the stability and the look like it has BELONGED to this cottage from the very beginning. Your reworking of both the space under the stairs and the second floor, is Masterful! I am totally smitten by the charm that radiates from it and it is not even finished!!! Brava my dear Betsy! Brava!!! (clapping Wildly)


  13. Hi Betsy, WOW!!! I love love love the tower. The blue color on the cieling is superb. The staircase and the hearth are wonderfull. Wishing you a great weekend.
    Hug AM