26 October 2012
In this part, Julie Jackson takes us through the steps for constructing the hotel kitchen in the basement of the magnificent dolls house that is the Featherstone Hall Hotel...
Julie is an avid fan of visiting country houses, and it’s not always the state rooms which are her favourites. For years now she has been fascinated by the vast kitchens of places like Burghley House, Chatsworth and Castle Howard.
So when it was time to install the kitchen of Featherstone Hall, Julie couldn’t wait to get started. But…when she worked out the space she had, and what she wanted to put into it, Julie realised she was trying to stuff an elephant into a sock!
Back to the drawing board!
Julie had to edit down her plans – perhaps a baby elephant in a sack? Instead of a vast open fire with rotating spit, she took a leaf out of the kitchen in Queen Mary’s dolls house which features three stove/ovens in the back wall, two large dressers on each side wall and a long kitchen table down the centre of the room.
The easiest option might have been to keep the room depth, (as she has mentioned before the rooms in the Cottesmore house are very deep) but this would make it difficult to view comfortably, and a lot of detail would be lost at the back of the room. So, her first partition was a false back wall.
The second created a cook’s scullery, but instead of running a dividing wall front to back, Julie created a ‘mini’ room at the front right of the kitchen with a doorway in the back wall. This had the added bonus of creating an extra room space through the doorway, which then allowed her to squeeze in a butchery corner.
Of all the false walls and partitions Julie has built in the house, this is the one she is most pleased with, as by doing this she has created three viewable room areas from one large room. It also turns on its head the notion of adding alcoves and nooks at the back of a room.
See the plan view of the kitchen below - key: A - dresser, B - table, C- corner storage unit, D - butchers block, i/ii/iii - stoves.
With the room layout planned out onto the floor, Julie tiled it with square terracotta tiles, finishing them with an ageing stain and top coat of PVA glue, leaving a gap in the tiles to insert the ‘mini’ room walls.
This may seem a strange thing to do, (Julie has to confess to not considering the most practical sequence of putting in the wall and then tiling – hindsight is a wonderful thing!) but if she hadn’t, the wall would have sat on top of the tiles and made the partition look an afterthought instead of part of the house construction. It would have also meant that she would’ve had to trim the partition height, and her track record on straight cuts isn’t one she would bet on!
This feature was originally published in Dolls House & Miniature Scene magazine. Love making miniatures? Discover endless inspiration, projects and advice with our digital magazine library.
The doorway in the scullery wall
When it came to the doorway in the scullery back wall, Julie made the door (hinge side) butt-up to the house outside wall, saving one cut and making more space for the sink unit down the side wall in the scullery. She had already added the extra window to the house outside wall (exactly as she did for the butler’s scullery on the other side of the house).
With the floor complete and the walls painted white (Julie used white gloss paint to create the feel of a ‘wipe clean’ surface which also reflects the light back into the room) the pre-painted white skirting was added and cables from the light on the table in the hall were hidden behind them.
Julie had a quick double check for furniture placement. The position of three stoves was the key element to the room, she chose a large central range, a smaller oven with built-in water boiler and a large stove with oven and hob rings. The range and smaller oven are best quality cast models, to which she added painted brass highlights and details. To the smaller stove she added a stove pipe made from a tube of Plastruct cut at 45 degrees, then the cut piece rotated and glued back on to the tube to create a turn in the pipe.
The third stove is an inexpensive model which comes in cream, and so Julie spray painted it satin black to match the other two and added matching brass highlights. She also created a false chimney breast to go over the central range, and finished the bottom edge with a black satin painted moulding. As in many of the other rooms in the hall, she made a false chimney breast from a ‘U’ shaped construction of Plastruct sheeting.
Julie had to custom make the corner unit to fit exactly between the door to the hallway and the second oven, by cutting two shop shelving units vertically at 45 degrees and gluing the angled edges together.
The kitchen structure was then complete and ready to dress, and Julie already had an idea of characters she wanted to add, inspired by ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ and ‘The Duchess of Duke Street’ and you can see how it all comes together in the next edition!