Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Duracraft Columbian - Sweet Christmas Cottage

Last fall I became aware of the existence of a great little arts and crafts supplier called AlphaStamps. Oh doggy! It spurred on many ideas for projects, including the two chipboard secret book projects I made during December and January. One was for my daughter, a retro kitchen baking scene, and was labeled Super Secret Mini because it was a surprise thank you gift for all her help with Thanksgiving. I just had to make one for myself, but the style was very different.

One of the chipboard kits that Alpha Stamps sold was for an advent calendar. I thought it would be great fun to fill the drawers up with mini Christmas ornaments, each day adding one to a mini tree displayed in the center, until finally the star (or gingerbread man in my case) was placed at the tree top the final day of advent. Soon I started collecting not just ornaments, but candy. Then I thought a little fireplace with stockings would be great, and then I picked up some lights to light the whole thing. Then I thought "if I could just make the display space a little larger"...Well, thanks to my miniature madness, I soon had too many ideas and too many over-the-top adorable Christmas themed minis and no good plan to increase the space of the advent calendar any larger. What now?

Enter the Dura-Craft Columbian. With it's adorable arched leaded glass windows and heart punched shutters it was a perfect Sweet Christmas Cottage! And large enough to accommodate a decent sized scene set up inside, and small enough to justify carving out some valuable real estate in the RL house. But best of all, after only a few months of daily emails as a result of very specific search criteria, I found a massive bargain for an unopened kit on eBay!

Now I realize that it is only July, but with all the things I want to make and include in this project, it feels like I better get a move on! I'd love to have it finished by Thanksgiving. Plus, I'm just so excited about doing my first ever Dura-Craft kit, and my first ever Christmas project! I have found inspiration for so many great ideas from the pool of incredibly talented and creative bloggers in our community. I just know this will be a blast to create! Now that the first floor lighting of The New Orleans is finished, and while I come to terms with the fact that I need to completely re-think the staircase, I'm going to start on the The Columbian!

I told myself again and again to keep it simple. No complicated bashing, no fancy trims and moldings. Essentially, just create a nice and basic shell and let all the amazing mini details inside be the star. Of course, I had to do some space planning and start with a basic layout in mind. To that end, I started spending time just looking at photos and imagining (and measuring) all of the larger furnishings and fixtures I want to include. If I left the kit as is, this would create some space and display issues. So after much thought, these are the only things I'm going to change about the kit itself:

1. Cover over the double front windows on the left (kitchen) side - interior only. They'll still be installed and visible from the outside - I'll just add curtains and other camouflage methods.
2. Utilize the interior trim from the covered up window to cut a new window into the left side wall, above where the sink will be.
3. Decrease the width of the stairs by aprox. 1". I am leaving them as open tread and though I'll finish them as nicely as I can, they will not be a major feature.
4. Use the space gained from the stairs to move the kitchen wall to the right to gain about 1".
5. Fill in the excess stairwell opening.
6. Move the upstairs interior wall to the right, on the opposite side of the stairwell opening. This will create the new smaller bathroom on the right, and a larger bedroom space on the left.

Sound reasonable? I thought so too!

The first thing that has to happen is that I need to get my work space thoroughly cleaned and organized. I can't remember ever working on two full projects at a time, so finding space and functionality will be a challenge. One nice benefit will be the ability to move back and forth between pieces of each project as boredom, frustration or lack of inspiration rear their ugly heads.


I hope it will be interesting enough for all of you follow along, even if Christmas is not your thing. It is your thoughtful encouragement and comments that make me feel connected and truly adds to the excitement of each new mini dream. I love your like minds, excellent ideas, and hope you know that each one of you is so very much appreciated!