Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Building The Built-in Shelves.....

And the Spiral Stairs.....

I had a week off from Work, Dear Readers, and I can assure you that I spent as much of it as possible reveling in my myriad mini projects and I have So much to show you that I don't quite know where to start! But I think it would be unkind if I did not show you the second set of ornate brocade curtains that I did complete for The Folly Living Room! Above you can see the panels completed, with their wires sewn in the hems and the gold braid fringe added. These are for the larger window, so they needed to be wider and show more of the blue flower pattern, which works perfectly with the colors in this room.

Here they are installed with the pelmet which has the wider design too.
I may need to make the pelmet trim go "around the corner"....
 because you can see that side from this angle.

And with more furniture... 
I think it adds to the cozy feel of this room 
and brings the blue into balance.
Without a Doubt..... 
these curtains transform this room!

But the real project I want to show you, Dear Readers, is the building of the Shelves for the Hardwick Hall Attic Reading Room! I had ordered the wood to build these shelves weeks ahead of time, but it was on back-order and did not arrive in time. I was forced to make do by cutting my own wood strips out of basswood sheets, which actually turned out to be for the best because it allowed me to build  deeper shelving units for the far wall, which would be useful for holding larger sized books. So I cut 1" strips for the back wall shelves and 3/4' strips for the side shelves. The whole process was very time consuming because the attic is not exactly square.... (you have to love these kits!....) which required cutting and testing for fit every step of the way!
 And while I was doing that I also had begun to glue the spiral stairs together... (until now they had been temporarily strung on a thin dowel... and fell apart with every shift!) This was also a complicated process of gluing one part then waiting 'til it dried thoroughly before gluing the next one!

This was especially necessary when it came to attaching the spindles to the stairs because they were wobbly and had to align exactly with the curved railing that would go on top.... but the railing couldn't be attached until all the spindles were firmly and precisely in place. And because it was a curved shape.... spiraling upward.... just supporting two ends wasn't enough.... you had to have a middle-point also supported at the same time. I managed to get the bottom two spindles glued in while the railing was balanced on the upper spindle.... but you had to add the spindles one at a time and wait for the glue to dry.... or it all would fall apart! I would add a piece every two or four hours....!

 Meanwhile I was building the bookshelves....
Starting at the back in the darkest corner of the attic....
where I had to measure and fit and test and then glue...

The gap you can see between the side of the shelves and the wall 
is to allow for the depth of the side wall shelving.... 
I made a drawing first so I could do the math 
and get the general measures worked out...
 but all the pieces needed adjusting to fit the actual space.... 

Here you can see the top shelf which
 covers the distance all the way to the side wall....
 and needed to be just the right length and angle.....

Here I am building the basic unit....
 with my cutting mat to help keep them square.....
 (except that the walls aren't square....)

And slowly adding spindles to the Spiral stairs.....
 that folded paper is being a force to push 
the spindle against the railing while it dries... 
without exerting too much force which would make the railing fall off....
 because it is not attached  but is only there for alignment purposes!

Here is the Attic with morning light.... 
showing (sort of) the back two shelf units in position.
 And Madame Durant has come to inspect the work....
there is still a long way to go!

Here you can see an overhead view of the two back units 
and the two sides also begun....
(I know.... it is dark.....)
And then I had an idea.... 
one of Those ideas that wouldn't go away.....
How could we get more light into those back corners? 
Could we add mirrors behind the shelves...?
Or perhaps some glittery silver paper????

Which I had several sheets of.... purchased long ago.....
Shouldn't we at least test it out?
At first, Dear Readers, I thought it was too much....
But the more I looked, the more I liked it...

Especially when the outside spotlight was not shining directly in!
But what about with the books in place... 
would they block too much of the paper...?

Well, we had to try a few books....
(Gosh I am going to have to make/acquire/buy a lot of books!)

Ohhh, I am liking this!!!
And even though the books will eventually cover much of the paper...
 I think it will still be lurking there... a presence... 
like a mist on a meadow at dusk....!

And in the morning light.... with no additional lighting.....
It is simply radiant!

Here you can see the side shelving also completed
 and the top edge trim has been added too.
But all the side trim and end trim has yet to be added....
especially where the shelves meet the bench alcoves.
Meanwhile I have completed all the spindles on the Spiral stairs...

And it is time to glue on the handrails
... a much easier task... but still best done one rail at a time!

The shelf units are getting their facing trim....

Always testing the fit of every piece.....
The units will not be glued to each other
 until they are glued into the Attic... 
because of those crooked walls!
And once they are... 
you will not be able to get close enough
 to see this top view.

The trim on the ends has been added too....
And Finally, Dear Readers, 
I take my courage in my hands
 and Glue the Shelf units in place!
Because only then can I start to add the trim
 around the alcoves where they meet the shelves.
I have pulled the curtains away to keep them from the glue... 
and I know you can't see it, but I have added the trim in that dark corner!

And the alcove trim on the side alcoves is also being added....

Here you can see where the shelves and the alcove have a gap....

And here you can see all the trim has been added....
Except for the near side of the alcove... 
because those shelves have not been built yet!

And let's not forget the Spiral stairs railings... 
another section attached!

And the attic Shelves are very nearly done....
 (except for those aforementioned units at the front of the attic)
And we can revel in those amazing shelves.... 
and the contemplation of all those books....

By Day and also by Night.....

Especially by Night.... 
can we admire the brilliance added by those silver papers....

And perhaps with the fireplace too.....
Yes, those back corners are going to be hard to see...

Dark and Sparkly and Mysterious!

But my Vacation is quickly winding to a close....

Even the Spiral staircase is Almost complete... 
only the finials left to add....

And I must say, Dear Readers, 
there was even more that I accomplished...
 but I will show you that another day. 
Right now all I want to do is 
Revel in that Attic with those Built-in shelves... 
and Contemplate the next parts of those Incredible Spiral Stairs!


  1. what a beautiful success! the staircase is impeccable as well as the shelves.
    warm rooms

    1. Thank you Claude! The stairs took a lot of patience! I am very pleased with them!

  2. Hello Betsy,
    What a great post! the Folly living room is gorgeous! I love the curtains and the furniture really does pull everything together. It is such a lovely space. The spiral staircase is fantastic. It took a lot of work, but well worth every minute. And finally, the wonderful attic space. I do not think you could have used the space any better. the bookcases each side of the window seat look beautiful and I love the paper you used for the back. They are very well done and perfect for the space. I just love it!
    big hug

    1. Thank you Giac! I am happy with the way the attic is developing... but a little daunted by all those empty shelves! LOL! It helps that they look so nice while empty! And I am so glad the curtains for The Folly worked out! I have been wanting to make them for a long time! I still have some "engineering" to do with the spiral stairs... we shall see how that goes! :)

  3. Your book shelves look wonderful and that staircase is awesome! Can't wait to see more!

    1. Thank you Sheila! I am glad the stairs are finally assembled... that was harder than I thought it would be! And the shelves are so much better than I thought they would be... mostly because the glittery paper works so well! Now I have to make books..... I have my work cut out for me! LOL!

  4. Oh Betsy the patience and persistence on each lovely element has really paid off! The draperies really do make a beautiful impact in the room and bring every color together in harmony.
    The shelves are marvelously executed, and the sparkly backs make a stunning impact in the room! Your photos really captured enough light to let us see the space and the way the color, textures, layout and finishing are coming together to create pure magic!
    I love your rigging to help hold the staircase pieces in prop while they dried - sometimes that can be the most challenging aspect to get something done! It's enchanting, and I am excited to see it in the space!

    1. Hi Jodi! Yes, the glue-drying "rigs" are sometimes the scariest part... when you are trying to hold it all together and still come up with something for a "prop"! LOL! I was even using the scraps of tissue and paper towel wadded in there! I really enjoyed taking my time with the shelves.... a vacation allows you to not rush the process and take the time to get it right! So many cuts that had to be cut again...! And the curtains in The Folly are so much better than I had thought they would be... I am growing fonder of them every day! I do love it when a plan works out right!!! :)

  5. The curtains are beautiful and in combination with the furniture the Folly livingroom looks cosy and warm. Your built-in shelves are another great addition for the attic, Betsy, those silver paper covered back walls are truly a fantastic find of you. It give indeed some 'light' in the darkness of this attic, it's well done!! The spiral staircase seems to me difficult to make/assemble, I absolutely admire your patience and persistence, because the result is fabulous.
    Warm hug, Ilona

    1. Hi Ilona! I am glad to see you are feeling better! I had a fun vacation taking my time with those projects! The silver paper on the shelves was a great success.... those back corners were so dark... and now you really can see the shelves beautifully! I hope they look as good when I get the books made! LOL! I still have some planning to do with the spiral stairs... we will see how that goes! :)

  6. Such beautiful curtains! The living room looks so cozy with all the furniture and very relaxing. I love the wallpaper on the back of the built ins and the stain. They look great in the space with the lighting. Good choice!

    1. Thanks Kristine! I am so glad I thought of that silver paper.... it makes such a difference! I was wanting the dark feeling... but you still hope to be able to see what you have built! LOL! And the curtains are making me happier every time I look at them! LOL! I might have to add curtains to most of my rooms now! :)

  7. The second set of drapes in the Folly are lovely Betsy and the bookcases look as if they have always been there!
    Backing them with the silvery paper reminds me of Stars, which is so appropriate for Hardwick Hall.
    And I think that you must have the patience of JOB when you build things as fiddley as your spiral staircase because you actually take the time to let the glue dry between handling before moving on to the Next Step; AND I know that they will look Absolutely Sensational when they are eventually installed.
    You're On a Roll Betsy! :D

    1. Dear Elizabeth, that the bookcases look as if they have always been there is the highest praise a miniaturist can get!!! :):) I am very pleased with them... and very glad that I dared to use the silver paper. It does set the tone to proclaim this space Magical as well as adding to the light in the corners! Yes, the spiral stairs were waaayy more fiddly than I thought they would be!!! I am so glad I was able to do the "balancing act" with those rails while the spindles' glue "cured".... it really was a "touchy" process! (As in don't touch once it is balanced!) LOL! Now I have to figure out how to attach them in the attic.... more exciting stuff to come! And I am "rollin'" all over the place! :):)

  8. Here I am at last!
    That room in the Folly with the drapes is so real I can just walk right in and sit down!
    The spiral stairs are amazing - I just spent a morning at the home of a very rich lady who has a 3-storey living room with spiral stairs going up to the bedrooms. It gave me vertigo. But they sure are lovely.

    1. Hi Mom! I can't quite imagine a three storey living room with a spiral stair! Wow! A bit like an indoors fire-escape! LOL!

  9. Hi, Betsy - You made those drapes for the large window so fast! And I'm glad, because I really wanted to see the finished result - and the drapes are just as beautiful as I knew they would be! I was very tense just reading about your work on the spiral staircase - and after all that labor on your part and tension on mine, the staircase is astounding! It's such a dramatic piece that just suits the strong personality of the attic room. My tense moments didn't end with the staircase - hearing about all the math and the measuring for the shelves had me clenching my teeth! But you conquered all those challenging aspects of the project and came out triumphant. Did you hear my huge sigh of relief? I love the sparkly silver paper that you added to the back of the shelves. Even if the books cover most of it, the glimpses that shine through will still light up the night! You've done a wonderful job with all the new elements - and deserve a resounding BRAVO!

    1. Thank you Marjorie! I had fun building them... even though there were moments of questioning my sanity! LOL! The number of times the railings fell off.... and had to be re-aligned while the glue was still drying...! Not a task for the hasty! I told myself it would be a week long project and just did a piece or two each day..... without expecting to get them done quickly. The shelves went together pretty well... but it required constant checking for the fit to make sure the angles were right. Even so, they are not perfect... but they fit! LOL! And I am really glad I added the silver paper... it make such a difference in the quality of light in the corners! Now I have to make books... tons of books! (What was I thinking?!)LOL!

  10. Love the curtain fabric. It's such a perfect match for the walls and I do envy people who can do all their workings on paper and create items that fit! I've never mastered that.....yet. We're all pleased you had such a productive week off work - the pictures are great.

    1. Hi Irene! Is't that fabric wonderful with the walls? It is such a beautiful blue! I did have fun spending all the time I could on the fiddly projects! My measuring methods are very "approximate" in reality.... I get a "within an eighth of an inch" measure and then re-cut or sand until it fits! I find the trickiest part is allowing for the thickness dimensions of the wood... my wood was 3/32nds thick, but I allowed for an eighth of an inch more or less in my design.... and adjusted as I went!

  11. What a wonderful and mysterious place you are building. The staircase is fabulous!

    1. Thank you Alexandra! It is a "Witchy" house... so I am glad you think it is wonderful and mysterious! I am having a lot of fun with the Magical ideas...!

  12. You have found some great fabrics. I also like the wood shelves - great job. I think my favorite is the spiral staircase. Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks Troy! I have an enormous collection of fabric scraps... the wonder is being able to decide what to use where! LOL! But I have wanted to use this fabric for curtains since I bought it! I am so glad it worked out so well! The stairs were harder than I thought they would be... the spindles are the right lengths, but they mostly fit loosely in the holes and were very wobbly until the glue set.... so I just did one at a time! I am glad you like it!

  13. Oooops... I'm late... but better late than never as they say. ;O) You've used your vacation very well, all the progress you've made is amazing. It's incredibly how the appearance of the Folly's living room has changed with these amazing curtains, not only more cozy and inviting but a different look because of the colours. And I must say I admire your discipline to glue the stairs one piece after the other, I'm not sure if I would have been able to do so. *LOL* The result is stunning - and speaking of stunning results... the shelves are perfect, all of your measuring and testing was worth the effort. It's a wonderful unit of storing space and comfort zone. Adding this silver backing to the shelves was a brilliant idea, it comes in handy to light up the dark area of the attic. But even more it adds so much to the theme, it's true Witchy Chic!


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