Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Let There Be Light - PLEASE!

Well, I have to tell you that installing miniature electric lights is nothing short of an electrifying experience, if not a downright terrifying one. The lights on the first level have been done for some time, but I have no memory of that project being such a struggle. Robert says my memory has malfunctioned. My husband, Robert, is my official electrician, and he sort of teaches himself as he goes. My abilities don't stretch to that, but he has taken me on as his apprentice, and I'm learning. Although I'm mostly learning to be afraid to touch anything in the villa that's electrical. If it works and I touch it, then it mysteriously stops working. And if it doesn't work and I touch it, then it's most likely jinxed forever and has only a slim chance of ever working. Robert sometimes asks me to please leave the workroom when he's exercising his electrical magic .     

The Villa del Vigneto has many electric lights, and I'm wishing that I had left it in some pre-electricity era, as I was content to do with the adobe house and the French farmhouse. But that's all behind me now, because thanks to Robert's patience and diligence and, in my opinion, sheer genius, all the lights on the second level are also in place and working. Until I forget and touch something.

These are the original chandeliers for the Master Bedroom (left) and the Center Bedroom (right). I added the medallions. And, as usual, I wasn't happy with the brassy brightness, so I did a makeover.

Here are the same chandeliers after I added some Burnt Umber, Black, Brown, and Gold paint.

The Master Bedroom chandelier has been attached to the ceiling...

...and the ceiling has been attached to the walls. The wiring is complete. And it WORKS!

The Master Bedroom also has a light in the fireplace -

and a table lamp. They both WORK!

The Center Bedroom chandelier has likewise been attached to the ceiling.

The ceiling is on, the wiring is connected - and the chandelier WORKS!

I planned to install two chandeliers in the bathroom. I forgot to take photos before I started painting over the brass, but the lower part shows the original finish. I first applied a white base coat.

The final creamy white coat of paint was enhanced by a metallic gold trim.

Both chandeliers were fully functional when I attached them to the ceiling. But when it was time to attach the ceiling to the bathroom walls, one light on one chandelier refused to come on. While Robert was looking for the problem, he broke the fragile glass globe over the bulb.  (He doesn't ALWAYS have a magic touch!) Bummer. I didn't want to postpone the completion of the project while I tried to find a source for another globe, so I opted to use only one chandelier.

I had to detach the chandeliers and patch, sand, and repaint the spots where the wires had gone through the ceiling.

The lone remaining chandelier is ready to hang - again.

All strung up and hung up and - it WORKS! Both lights!

The bathroom wall sconces have also been wired in - and they both WORK!

This chandelier hangs in the stairwell, but I forgot to take a photo before hanging it. This is one of my favorite chandeliers, from J. Getzan. I didn't do any makeovers on my Getzan chandeliers - they are perfect AS IS! The chandeliers in the living room and dining room on the lower level were also made by J. Getzan.

The WORKING chandelier - all lit up!

This little beauty is destined for the small East Bedroom, which belongs to the youngest daughter of the villa. I would introduce you, but I don't know her name yet! The only extra touch I made to this chandelier was to dull down the bright silver on the long chain. I also needed a medallion for the ceiling, for which I found a pretty button that I painted to coordinate with the chandelier.

That gorgeous color doesn't show up as well in this photo - but you can see that this chandelier actually WORKS!

 This is another of my favorite lights that belongs in the youngest daughter's small bedroom. This pretty little sconce has a heart-breaking tale to tell: It was in perfect working condition after it was all wired into the wall. But suddenly it decided not to work at all, and no amount of fiddling with it, rewiring it, or changing its plug made it come alive again. I was so sad. But Robert came to the rescue! He glued a tiny WORKING light bulb to the far side of the sconce. (You can see just a bit of it when it's turned off.)

When the sconce light is on, it's very hard to tell that the light doesn't originate inside the glass chimney. I was happy again, and so relieved that the light now WORKS1

This small ceiling light in the short hallway will probably never be seen, unless that sliver of a back window is accessible. (I took this photo through that window.) But it does light up the hallway, whether seen or not, because it's a WORKING light!

You've seen these sconces in a previous post; they light up the long back hallway - and they still WORK!

The Villa del Vigneto with the lights turned off.

And the villa with all the lights turned on.


And speaking of light, the Villa del Vigneto was visited by two of the grandchildren who light up my life!

Ruby peeks from the villa's Central Bedroom opening and through the short hallway toward the sliver of a window in the long back hallway. 

Leo peeks through the villa's Master Bedroom opening toward the bedroom window.

And to my blogger friends - Thank You for the encouragement that also adds light to my life. I hope that August will be an absolutely radiant month for you all!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Last Wall At Last!

I ended my previous post with this last lone wall, so it's only proper and fitting to begin this post with the same wall, so that you can follow along on its adventures in the Villa del Vigneto. The wall is destined for the villa's bathroom, which was part of a renovation to the villa many years after the original farmhouse in the Tuscan countryside was transformed into a country retreat for a Venetian family.

(Adventure #1)

I wanted a tile backsplash for the bathtub, which extends from the wall into the room. But I didn't want to tile a large area. I finally found a mosaic tile mural of a fountain, which seemed appropriate for a bathroom. I traced the outline of the mural onto lightweight cardboard and onto a piece of cork.
Note the "embellishment" for the top of the mural, just to add a little interest.

I glued the mural onto the cardboard and cut out the cork frame, adding the embellishment to the top. The bottom piece of the cork frame was cut separately and glued on.

To simulate a plaster (or maybe stone) frame, I applied a light layer of joint compound to the cork.

I used a makeshift stylus to outline the mosaic tiles in the mural, then added some layers of a gloss finish. Those steps don't actually show up in the photo! I also muted the original colors that you see in the mural - just a bit.

I added some colors to the plaster frame to make it look stone-like.

The mosaic tile mural is mounted onto the bathroom wall.

(Adventure #2)

I found the perfect mirror in my "mirrors and frames" stash - perfect, that is, except that it was silver. I wanted gold.

So I painted the mirror gold and added a cream-color wash.

Then I found the perfect pair of sconce lights - perfect, that is, except that they were black and white. I wanted cream and white.
So I painted them with a thick wash, so that just a bit of black shows through.

The mirror and sconce lights are in place on the wall. The last lone wall is enjoying all this attention!

(Adventure #3 - A Vicarious Adventure)

For the villa bathroom floor, I gathered up all the remaining cork coasters in my supply bin. I've used the cork coasters for all the villa flooring. I've found that cork is an excellent building material: light weight, easy to mark, easy to cut, can be used as is or painted, stained, or stuccoed. I like the coasters because of the convenient size, but the cork can be purchased in larger blocks or in rolls. 

As usual, my first step was to cut off all the slightly rounded edges and mark the cutting lines. The limestone tiles for the bathroom floor are larger than the terra cotta tiles in the other rooms.

I applied a light layer of joint compound to the cork coasters.

After the joint compound dried, I began the job of sanding - my least favorite of all construction steps.

The sanding - for a nice change - went very fast because of the thin layer of joint compound and because I wanted only a very light sanding, in order to preserve the rough texture of the tiles.  

I painted the tiles with random applications of Antique White, Magnolia White, Pale Golden Brown, Pale Gray, Mushroom, and Yellow Ochre paints and washes.

Following the marked lines, I cut each cork coaster into four tiles.

I will lay the bathroom floor tiles from the back of the villa (before I mount that last lone wall) for easier access.

I have marked the center of the bathroom floor - ready to lay the tiles. This view is from the west opening of the bathroom, which is located behind the master bedroom.

Most of the tiles are down - just the edges to finish up. I decided to lay the tiles on a diagonal for variety.

Finished laying the tiles.

View from the west end of the bathroom.

The limestone tiles have grown older and more worn since the previous photo!
This photo shows a view from the bathroom door down a short hallway to the Master Bedroom, where the door stands partially open. A left turn before reaching the bedroom leads through an arched door onto the stair landing.

The bathroom door that leads to the short hallway has been hinged and hung in place.

(Adventure #4)

The last wall of the villa revels in its moment of glory!

I've run a bead of spackling along the corners and the floor edges.

A quick peek from the door of the Master Bedroom, through the hallway, and into the bathroom, where you can see the line of pink spackling in the far corner.

All the corners and edges have been retouched with paint.

I've temporarily placed some of the basic fixtures and furniture in the bathroom to make sure that everything fits as it should. So far, so good! That last wall will be a busy and functional one.

And so we come to the end of the adventures of the last lone wall. But although there are no more walls to raise, there are ceilings to put on and lights to install before the rooms of the villa can be considered complete. And that will be another adventure!