Featherstone Hall Hotel part 2: a dolls house from flat-pack to fabulous

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03 September 2020
Step behind the scenes in the second part of the Featherstone Hall Hotel series and see how the project came to life. 

Julie Jackson starts off the second part of this series with the selection of the house and theme, and finishes off with the assembling of the flat pack.

Which house? 

This house is called Cottesmore House and comes from Barbara’s Mouldings. It has a lot of flexible good-sized rooms, and a bonus point with this particular maker is that the kits are precision made ad go together beautifully. 

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Construction of the house

With both the Cottesmore House, Basement and Plinth kits, I set about the grand assembly. I have to confess that at this point the house would never have been made without the extra pair of hands of my hubby. The kit was beautifully constructed, but some beautifully engineered instructions would have made it even better. At times I had to suspend construction when I realised that the instructions do not take into account decoration… and a certain amount of pre-emptive painting and decorating will cut out tricky bits later on. 

Flat pack dolls house built

The exterior

Starting with the exterior, these were covered with sheets of printed brick paper. There are many to choose from, but I thought the 'Old Red Brick' paper from Streets Ahead was the one for me. I papered the whole building, and when dry, used a scalpel to cut away the window openings before re-fitting the windows and applying the stone window frame exterior trims. 

Dolls house brickwork


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Personalising the house

The first thing I changed was the balustrades, as the kit ones are simple silhouettes. Using the Wonham Collection C69 Ballustade and cutting out notches on the fascia roofline to accommodate the deeper panel. I also used these on the basement section staircases, cutting the tops of the uprights at 45 degrees in order to accommodate the rail. The downside of using my own adaptations means that the house won't open without removing the basement front section, the plus side is that they look so much better with the 3D effect.

Dolls house staircase

I also added extra 'stone' reeding in horizonal bands across the front of the house made from wooden painted decorative strip. Two hexagonal windows to the roof were also added, which have frosted glass to disguise the fact that one has an internal wall running right through it! I also added extra coining to the side of the house so that the three-quarter view looks as good as the front. The first photo below shows the front. 
Added roof windows

Difficulty decorating 

The most difficult part of the exterior was the centre section of the basement front. As I'd built it before realising it would have been easier to decorate first, then construct, I had to add stone painted Plastruct 'C' section to the arches to covers up some 'dodgy' paper areas. The photo below shows how beautifully this has finished off the edges. The only other additions to the kit house exterior were doors. I replaced the basement with double doors from Streets Ahead with a lovely fan light onto which I painted a stained-glass design.


Ageing the house

As the finished house looked too clean and ‘dolls house like’, I decided to dirty it up a bit. Here are my top tips: 

  • Tip 1 – Use very watered-down emulsion or acrylic paint. Apply with a small piece of sponge. Finish and blur edges by stippling with a dry paintbrush. 
  • Tip 2 – Always have a play on a scrap of the material you will be working on until you are confident enough to work on your house. Do not over wet brick paper, or you may damage the surface. 
  • Tip for the brickwork – Use a mid-grey, apply under the window stonework and a smaller amount above it. Apply under the reeding details and at the base of any stonework. 
  • Tip for the stonework – On the vertical surfaces use light grey on a sponge just to add texture. Dot on some mud grey paint in the places which would accumulate dirt. Look at photos of real house for placement tips. On stairs and horizontal surfaces use a light, mid and dark grey combination. Start with the darkest colour in the dirtiest spots, dapple over with mid tone and finish with light on stair edges and most walked on sections. 
  • Tip for the roof – On the textured sheet from Barbara’s Mouldings, lightly overpaint with a dark grey. Then using a darker grey start to add shadows and finish with the light grey to lightly brush over with an almost dry brush. Add dripping water stains with more light tone in layers. See the photo below for the finished effect:


Revolving Door

If it was a hotel, then it had to have a revolving door! These two photos show a close up of the finished door, plus another of it being used by a hotel guest:
Revolving doors

Revolving door and lady

Now you’ve been introduced to Featherstone Hall Hotel (part one) and have seen Julie build the flat-pack shell and decorate the exterior, move on to part three, where Julie concentrates on decorating the reception hall.

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