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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Good News/Bad News About Stairs

Our Willowcrest adventure continues, my friends, and this time it's all about stairs. Predominantly, the second floor stairs that lead to the third floor. Following the kit's instructions, the stairs are placed between the bathroom and the bedroom. Many folks who've blogged about the kit dislike the back wall of the stairs because it obstructs the view into the dollhouse and feels obtrusive. I could not agree more! So what to do about it? The solution, naturally, is to move the stairs. WHERE is the obvious conundrum. The hallway on the second floor is tiny, so it doesn't leave a lot of options. Unless you are willing to start moving walls around, which I totally am!


Okay, it feels like I need to set the scene here a little bit. Please indulge this wordy paragraph...

It might seem like there should be other priorities before I start thinking about stairs. Such as gluing the front wall to the center wall and to the foundation (like I said I would in my last post). And you are right. But... for the sake of efficiency, I thought I should have the 3D printer working while I was working. Teamwork, right?!? In that case, I had to figure out what 3D printed pieces I needed next: the upstairs bathroom/bedroom doors. But before I could make them I had to know their dimensions. And to know dimensions, I had to know where my walls were going to be. That meant I had to figure out exactly where the stairs would go. Chicken and egg conundrum every time! So, I sat and stared at the dollhouse, while still in dry fit, hoping it would pity me and just give up the answer. You know what?!? It did! Just for kicks, I stuck the first floor's stair assembly in the second floor hallway to see what would happen. Guess what? It was a perfect fit!!! I think my angels are feeding me ideas! And, not surprisingly, those ideas lead me down a rabbit hole...

First floor stair assembly placed in the second floor hallway

Closer view. They take up nearly all the space!

Since the stairs almost fit there, I had a solid plan to work with. I would reproduce the first floor stairs for the second floor with a minimal tweak: it would turn only once and then go straight up onto the third floor. Also, the ceiling height of the first floor is 9-3/8", the second floor is only 7-3/4. So this staircase needed less stairs. There was still one slight problem, though: Not enough floor space between the first floor landing to where the second floor stairs started.



I needed an additional 2-1/4" to make this plan functional. I decided to see if I could steal that space from the bedroom.

Goodbye double door bedroom entry.

How would it look? How much room would that still leave the bedroom? The only way to answer these questions was to put some eyes on them. I got out my red pencil and ruler and marked out an idea. The stair wall would jog into the bedroom 2-1/4" x 6-1/8", then jut back out for the doorway.


I kept going with the idea, drawing out the new walls in red pencil. The benefits of the configuration below are:

a) The original bathroom layout won't lose much space

b) the angled doorways will make a more interesting view into the hallway

c) it will still leave plenty of functional bedroom space

d) it opens up the back of the house

The stair opening on the third floor will be only slightly farther into the room and to the right. I'll just have to adjust the access hole. I will also have to cut new walls, but I might have just enough material if I use the original bedroom/bathroom wall and the offcut (you'll see this later) from the bathroom wall. If I'm short, I can use illustration art boards and double them up if need be.



I was so energized by this solution that I couldn't sleep! Instead, I got started replicating the staircase in Tinkercad. It took three hours to work out the design, but finally, at 1:00 AM, I had gotten this far and sent myself to bed.


Just when everything seemed to be falling into place, I was terribly shocked the next morning by bad news. The slicer program calculated that it would take 4 DAYS to 3D print the staircase!!! And that didn't include the railing. I would be risking a lot of time and material on a prototype that I had no guarantee would work.
Um, back to the drawing board... 😒

4 Days?!?


I don't give up easily, and that's when another solution came to mind. Since I already had all of the pieces designed and measured out in Tinkercad, I could export them as svg files for Design Space and cut them with the Maker. I would just have to pull the 3D pieces apart and flatten my model. So that's what I did. Chipboard? PLA? I don't really care, just give me my stairs!!! The chipboard option means I had to assemble the stairs myself, but luckily, I really enjoy that kind of "work". 😊

Staircase pieces flattened in Tinkercad

Staircase pieces after importing them into Design Space.
The purple rectangles are the risers, to be cut from cardstock
rather than chipboard, hence, the different color.

Assembly was accomplished in a very straightforward process: Glue back, sides, braces, front, risers and treads - the same order as the kit's stairs. The three steps that create the turn were a custom, piece by piece job, but it, too, was pleasantly simple thanks to chipboard being so much easier to cut than wood. 


With rails temporarily attached. I had to recreate the longer rail
myself, cutting out and spacing the arches, so I did the best I could.

Side by side comparison with the kit's stairs.
The chipboard will take a lot less refining than the wood.

Before I could get an accurate visual on how the stairs would look in the hallway, I had to do a little remodeling. The kit's original bathroom wall had to get cut down. I used my Zona saw and made quick work of it.

Wall Before


Only a portion of the wall is left but it's an important piece for structural
support since it is part of the first floor's kitchen wall/foundation.


Here's how the new staircase fits into the hallway pushed back into the bedroom 2-1/4". There's sufficient room now for choosing to go up another floor or off to the right to the bedroom/bathroom.


Both staircases sitting in their places.


And the view from the future bathroom/bedroom doors.



And that, my friends, was this week's Willowcrest adventure! Good news, bad news, good news, triumph! Man, I'm having fun!

xo xo,
Jodi

34 comments:

  1. Hi Jodi!
    You are very clever and have lot of patience. You haven't giving up. And that is fine. Its looking very good. Hugs Britt

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    1. Thanks Britt! There's always a solution if you give it enough time and thought! I'm glad you like it! Hugs!

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  2. "Amazing" comes to mind first, but actually "smart" describes your solution best. What a blessing our tools are for us, and you have certainly mastered them. The new arrangement is awesome.

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    1. Thanks Ann! I'm so happy you like the remodel plans! The tools make all the ideas possible and if I had to reconstruct the stairs with wood I'd probably still be cutting, lol!

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  3. Brava, another conundrum solved. Like you I enjoy the challenges as much as the doing of it. Looking good. Marilyn

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    1. Thanks Marilyn! When you've finally figured your way out of something and have a direction to go in again it is absolutely addictive, isn't it! I think we miniaturists like hard things!

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  4. I think that YOU have come up with a BETTER LAYOUT for the second floor stairs than ANY I have seen to date! - your solution is absolutely MARVELLOUS- Jodi, take your bows! ❤️👏🏽

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    1. Wow! Elizabeth, that is quite a complement and it's so encouraging to hear! ~Thank You~!!! I hope these solutions keep revealing them selves as they come up! The chicken and egg thing on this project is crazy complicated!!!

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  5. What an adventure !
    I have the same dollhouse bought 10 years ago. I started to build it but I had to stop and undo everything. Since then it's been gathering dust under a bed. I hope to find the time one day to take care of it.
    Your work is very inspiring! Thank you for sharing and good continuation for the future!

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    1. Hi John! It's great to hear a new voice and to have you along on the adventure with us! I know many of us can relate to starting, finding ourselves in a corner and then having to start again some time later. Don't give up on her! I hope by seeing the many variations of the Willowcrest on Elizabeth's Pinterest page and by being here you'll find your passion to start on yours again. I bet you've got brilliant plans and it would be great to be working on our Willowcrest dreams together! Thank you for being here and for your encouraging comments!

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  6. I love the challenge of room configuration in mini - making an existing design fit with our own desires, rejigging and rejigging until we get something that will convey what we’re trying to express. It’s a great solution and your new stairs also look amazing. I am shocked though to hear the height of the second floor is so low….

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    1. Oh Shannon me too! Even in real life, whenever I go into a home, I am always remodeling it in my mind. It's a compulsion! And the ceiling height for the second floor does seem a bit low, especially when real life Second Empires had 12 to 20 foot ceilings. But I think raising the ceiling is a battle I'll regret engaging in. Furniture on the smaller side of the scale might be the best solution. I'm glad you like the new staircase placement! I hope the rest of the walls will cooperate as well as the stairs did!

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  7. Hi Jodi, I see an amount of resourcefulness almost impossible to match! You are my superhero. Where many people, me included, would give up or delay things you find encouragement and strength, well done girl, you are doing a marvellous job.

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    1. Thanks Alex! I have been known to delay projects until I can think of solutions, but having the cutting machine and 3D printer as teammates really helps me to try harder! I'm glad you like the new stair solution!

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  8. Hmmm... Clearly the "Madness" in your blog title is manifesting in the Brilliant Mad Scientist with the magical tools for redesigning the trickiest kit known to miniature blogland! LOL! Your solution is elegant and brilliant! But I agree with you, if you had to cut all those pieces of wood by hand.... another story entirely! My only concern is what this position of the stairs does to the third floor area? The front "Paladian" window will be high up and inaccessible.... (relatively) as the stairs are now right under it? But they will still cast a lovely light into the stairwell. And clearly, the arrangement of the doors for the bedroom and bath will work just fine in this new plan. And perhaps the third floor is better as two rooms, one on either side of the stairs? But truly, I think your new stairway is amazingly elegant! You are a Brilliant kit basher!!! :):)

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    1. Thanks Betsy! Bashing and all the challenges that come with it is almost half the fun! I'm glad you like the new stairway! It definitely would have been a major project if I'd have had to cut it from wood, and I'd have wished I'd left the first staircase unassembled so that I could have copied the parts! I am not entirely sure at this point what the scope of the impact is going to be on the third floor, though I have resigned myself to the fact that with every solution comes a whole new set of challenges! With any luck we'll figure out a way to call them a "feature" and not a "bug", lol! I did want to create rooms upstairs rather than leave one big space, but we'll have to see how it all comes together. I'm open to all ideas!

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  9. Oh, and I meant to say, keep in mind that the interior walls of the third floor are about two inches inside the outer wall space because of the Mansard roof... so the floor area of the third floor is smaller... check out the "headroom" on the stairs where they come up along the front wall...! :):):)

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    1. Thanks Betsy! I'll keep it in mind! Hopefully, I can get the second floor "done" enough so that I can get a third floor dry fit going soon! That will be the "what have I done" moment, lol! I have seen a few videos of Second Empire homes on YouTube, and the way they have segmented the attic space is amazing! The history of Mansard and his roofs is fascinating, too! I just love getting the opportunity to learn this neat stuff as I encounter it in miniature!

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  10. Dear Jodi,
    The way you solve problems makes it so incredible interesting to follow your projects. You never give-up until you find a perfect solution, and it's always a brilliant one.
    Hugs, Drora

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    1. Thanks so much for saying so, Drora! I am truly addicted to overcoming the challenges and forcing myself to come up with solutions! It is so great to know that you enjoy them right along with me! 💗 Now let's just hope I don't paint myself into a corner, lol! 😊🤞

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  11. You certainly turned a bad situation into an opportunity for an improved design. The stairs are now a feature instead of an impediment to viewing the interior. I love that you were able to so gracefully turn a 3D design into a 2D design.

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    1. Thanks Sherrill! I'm so glad there was another way to get the stairs made without having to use and cut a bunch of wood! Even though the 3D printed stairs didn't happen, creating them in Tinkercad was a good and useful lesson.

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  12. "Triumph" - no better way to describe what you did... finding a solution for your problem and coming along with a stunning new way of entering the next floor in the Willowcrest. I would only like to add that it's a triumph for you and your trusted plotter. 4 days for printing the stairs is for sure some kind of a shock - and a good opportunity to say hello again to an old friend. ;O)

    It's amazing what you've done and that you've even managed to have fun with all this planning, visioning, constructing and taking out the red pen... It reminded me for sure why my buildings are no-stairs-areas... *LOL* Keep up having so much fun with your new baby... and of course with all combined forces of your machine park.

    Hugs
    Birgit

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    1. Thanks Birgit! It is such a great feeling to know there is more than one way to approach a challenge! My trusty tools save the day again! Old ones and new ones get to take turns having their time in the sun! As for the "no-stairs-area" rule you have implemented for your builds, I think you should break that rule once in a while. 😊 You might just find yourself enjoying the process, and goodness knows you are amazing at hard things! 💗
      I am continuing to have fun with the kit, in spite of my progress being very slow. I seem to spend more time trying to solve the "what's next" conundrum than actually getting anything accomplished, lol!

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  13. Okay, figured out how to comment. Not with Google but still.
    This is really awesome. I love the new staircase.

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    1. Hooray! You've been missed! Glad you like the staircase! Now I'm off to see what you've been up to...

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  14. I love your Starbucks, so many nice details, super! Your new house looks great again, I think the stairs, windows and doors are beautiful and the wallpaper is also very nice.

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    1. Thanks Gonda! It is so fulfilling to get to go from one project right into the next and to be able to explore such different aesthetics in each of them! The best part, though, is knowing that, in sharing, others enjoy them, too!

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  15. Dear Jodi, (playing catch-up again) - gosh, you and your angles make an awesome team :-)
    This is such a clever solution, and even though the bath- and bedroom loose a wee bit of space, all the rooms somehow appear bigger with those fancy new angels. What I like the most is the new flow of the stairs and hallway. Compared to the original plan where the second level stairs looked 'plunked' in the middle - it now flows beautifully and makes perfect sense.
    Can't wait for the curious views into those back rooms.
    Anna X

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    1. Hi Anna! It's nice to see you whenever you can pop by! I'm glad you like the new "improvements" to the second floor hall. It was so much fun to figure out a better way with the assistance of both my angels and the angles. Life has demanded my attention this last few days, but hopefully, the time and drive to work on the house will show up again soon!

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  16. Un cambio fantástico. Cuando cada cosa tome su sitio se verá genial aunque las escaleras no suelen gustarme. Hay escenas en las que no encajan pero seguro que tu sabras darle tu ingenio.

    Un saludo

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    1. ¡Gracias Mariana! ¡Sí, las escaleras en una casa de muñecas pueden ocupar más espacio del que merecen! Pero cuando están llenos de encanto, ¡pueden ser mágicos! ¡Espero que les gusten en Willowcrest cuando se complete el proyecto!

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  17. Jodi - you are a creative genius! I am in awe of your ability to visualize what needs to be done and then to bring that vision to life. Unfortunately for me, most of my visions turn out to actually be hallucinations instead. Fine line! LOL - Marilyn D.

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    1. Ha ha! Takes one to know one, my friend! I'd like to remind you about what you came up with for the book nook with the half horses and mirrors! Astonishingly amazing!!! If that is what your hallucinations produce, I'd recommend you take up magic mushroom hunting, lol!

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