As I was nodding off the other night I realized that the altered plans for my dollhouse, Merriman Park, were more closely starting to resemble a different ThomasJefferson-inspired residence: Bremo (1817-1820).
Bremo was for many years attributed to Jefferson --even by noted scholars. The home is now credited to Jefferson's primary builder, John Nielson.
The major differences between my design and Bremo are that my version includes a pediment over the central mass, and my cornice is not as pronounced. But I REALLY LIKE the stark simplicity of Bremo, so perhaps even more changes to my plan are afoot...
Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! The Holiday was ALMOST CANCELED here in sub-Arctic Minneapolis due to the cruddy weather (snow-storm turned to ice storm). The streets and sidewalks are now a TREACHEROUS DEATH TRAP of glare ice. I had to practically strap on my old hockey skates this morning in order to navigate the five-block distance to my rail stop. Did I mention that I am WAY OVER winter already?
I did mention earlier that my little household was not going to exchange presents this year --except for the few gifts that "Santa," (aka: my long-suffering partner), felt we really, really needed). Well, if I wasn't sure if a CUISINART ICE CREAM MAKER rightfully fell into that category, after sampling my first batch of home-made, Reese's peanut-butter cup ice cream all I can say now is HOW ON EARTH did I survive so long without one?
Santa also gave me about a dozen new books on miniatures, which I lazily perused over the long weekend and will review in a later post...but first I need to BUNDLE UP ESKIMO-STYLE and try to free my sidewalk from its FROZEN PRISON!
I didn't decorate the house this year. I work in RETAIL HELL and I have been living and breathing freakin' Christmas since September, so pardon me IF I AM OVER IT! I mean, you really haven't lived until you work in an environment where you are covered head-to-toe in glitter for three months out of the year. Then you go to buy something and the check-out girl is staring at your SPARKLY HEAD and you know she is thinking "man, that must be THE OLDEST-LIVING RAVER !"
I went hog-wild decorating last year --and why I did so is a very good question. I remember coming home from work, after spending the day taking down and packing up the store's holiday decor AND THEN HAVING TO DO THE SAME THING AT HOME!
I vowed I wouldn't make that same mistake this year.
But here are a few photos of the house from last year... So enjoy, and to you and yours I wish a very, Merry Christmas!
So when I arrived home this afternoon there was ANOTHER PACKAGE sitting by the door! My partner and I decided not to exchange Christmas presents, this year --which is fine by me, right? But everyday for the last three weeks there have been one or more parcels waiting for me on my front porch and when I ask about them all I get is "THEY'RE NOT FOR YOU, THEY'RE FROM SANTA FOR THE BOTH OF US!!!"
Hmmm. I thought we were not going to buy a bunch of new, superfluous junk this year, but apparently there are ALL SORTS OF THINGS we are lacking for because all these mysterious packages contain "JUST STUFF WE REALLY NEED."
But the addressee on today's particular box was marked to me. Turns out it was the sample windows and doors I had ordered for Merriman Park!
I wanted to get a look-see before I spend a small fortune on the SEVENTEEN windows I need. My problem is that my dollhouse is going to be brick, and on a real brick house, the windows only have the slightest wooden trim around them (brick molding). And all the ready-made windows have lovely, fancy trim pre-glued to them. So I thought maybe I could just remove the trim real carefully, but after inspecting the windows I realize I can just install them backwards so I can get the narrow trim profile I'm after. Problem solved!
OK, if you haven't read this book yet, run I said run do not walk to your local non-chain bookstore and pick up Magnificent Miniatures: Inspiration & Technique for Grand Houses on a Small Scale.
This brilliant tome is the Holy Grail for aspiring miniaturists. Kevin Mulvany and Susie Rogers should be WORSHIPED LIKE GODS for their FABULOUS (and I don't use the "F" word lightly) dollhouses! I have read and re-read this book approximately one hundred times, each time sucking up more ideas and inspiration. The photography is pure perfection and the reader will be hard-pressed to tell whether they are looking at a photo-spread of the real Buckingham Palace as opposed to a mere dollhouse/facsimile. Only the occasional inclusion of a full-scale prop (such as a tea cup) gives the illusion away. Speaking of which, my only complaint is WHY I ASK YOU WHY would you plunk a pair of tired, scuffed-up Mary Janes in the otherwise flawless Spencer House Red Drawing Room? Eesh. Sacrilege.
Merriman Park has undergone many, many changes in these planning stages. The biggest change was to the portico, which originally jutted out from the main house. I don't want the finished dollhouse to extend more than sixteen inches, due to the fact that I AM ALREADY LIVING IN A DOLLHOUSE! (I suppose putting a dollhouse inside of a dollhouse is sort of redundant, but oh well). Part of the reason I am building this dollhouse is because I have finally come to terms with the rather sad fact that I will NEVER BE ABLE TO BUILD THE REAL THING but I guess a miniature model is sort of a nice conciliation prize.
I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining...I'm just saying. I live in a one-hundred-year-old bungalow and I love, love, love my house to filth. But it is REALLY, REALLY SMALL, so space is at a premium. And I was going to build a floor-to-ceiling bookcase in the space where the dollhouse is now going to sit, which would probably make more sense, I mean for resale value and stuff. I can hear the Realtor right now, "So in this spot, where the current owner has THIS GIANT DOLLHOUSE, you could put a nice, built-in bookcase." My friend Sheri is a Realtor and she is forever telling me these hilarious stories about clients who have these bizarre collections and crap on display and they're trying to actually sell their hideous dump and my friend is all like, "maybe you should store your Thomas Kincaid paintings," and the client is like, "but EVERYONE LOVES the Painter of Light!!!"
So, Sheri darling, if I ever part with my house I swear to god that I WILL STORE the dollhouse. But I digress.
So since the piece can't be more than sixteen inches wide, I thought why not make it sixteen inches wide the whole way across? That will just make the rooms on the ends that much bigger, right? Form follows function!
So anyway, that is why the portico is now suppressed.
Here's a model I built for a holiday centerpiece last year. The design is based on Palladio's Villa Rotunda --Thomas Jefferson's inspiration as well as my own! I thought it was pretty fierce when I designed it. I changed Palladio's design of a square block faced with four porticos to an octagon. (Fit my dining room table better). A few months ago I stumbled across plans for an almost identical building --an octagon-shaped, Palladian-inspired villa-- that had been built in England in the eighteenth century. Guess my idea wasn't so original, after all. Oh, well!
Here's a quick rendering of my dollhouse facade. I'll draw up detailed plans from this. I already know that the house can only be 42" long in order to fit the space it will eventually be displayed. I also know that I don't want it to be more than 16" deep, so it doesn't stick out too much from the wall. And I know it will be a "front-opening" model, so I don't have to turn it around in order to look inside.
So with all this information I can start designing the dollhouse...
My dollhouse will be my interpretation of an actual home which was designed by Thomas Jefferson for one of his gentleman-farmer neighbors. Jefferson was not only one of our country's Founding Fathers, but was also a talented amateur architect. He based the plans for his own homes, Monticello and Poplar Forest on Palladio's iconic Villa Rotunda (which happens to be one of my personal fave buildings). The plan he presented to his neighbor in 1805-06 was also an interpretation of the Rotunda.
I love making things and have a huge interest in architecture --especially Renaissance, Baroque and Classical styles. This is my first dollhouse project which I intended to use as a diversion from the maddeningly long, Minnesota winters.