Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Master Bedroom - Top to Bottom

The walls of the Villa del Vigneto keep going up, as construction moves forward faster than I imagined it would. The only thing NOT going fast is work on the clay roof tiles that I'll be needing in the near future. I think. I admit that I haven't established a construction schedule for the villa beyond completion of the second-level rooms. Ceilings are needed; more electric lights are needed; a roof is needed; chimneys have to be erected; three balconies are waiting to be built; the windows have to be trimmed; the entire exterior has to be stuccoed and painted; a grape arbor must be grown on the loggia; a wall or a fence is needed around the boundary; and landscaping has to be completed. Whew! If laying the roof tiles is done last, I may have them ready in time. The tiles are simple to make, but the process is very time consuming. If I don't remember a pressing reason for the roof to be tiled sooner, then I'll definitely plan to wait for later!


This is the west end of the villa - and the last area to need walls. The dark color is the space for the master bedroom and a short hallway. The white area at the back will be the bathroom. Before the renovation of the original farmhouse into a villa, the entire area was used as both kitchen and living space. During the first renovation, the back area was turned into a small bedroom that also served as a nursery over the years. When the time eventually came to install plumbing, the small bedroom was an obvious place for the villa's new bathroom. 

 The master bedroom has one window on the west wall. As usual, I had to do some "bashing" to get the window that I wanted.

 I used a clear, medium-weight plastic for the window panes and filled gaps in the frame with a spackling compound.

The window pulls are identical to those that I used on the east bedroom window - drawer pulls turned sideways. They make ideal pulls for the window. I was intrigued by the "view" from this window; the wall is free-standing on my work table, but I see a body of water, a rocky shore, a rise of low hills in the background, and possibly a flock of birds flying high in the upper right hand corner. I have no idea what objects were on the other side of the window to create such a scene. A mystery! (Robert thinks that my imagination is way overactive.)

The master bedroom  has a small fireplace - a reduced remnant of the original kitchen fireplace that was for many years the only means for preparing meals for the farm family. This photo shows my first step in building the fireplace: I cut a firebox into the thick styrofoam wall and applied a layer of joint compound (or drywall compound.)

The next step was to cut the basic components of the fireplace from styrofoam.

More joint compound was applied over the entire structure and firebrick was "carved" into the joint compound after it set up a bit.

I added an overmantel that received the same treatment.

This is an assortment of "embellishments" that I found to add to the fireplace surround. I coated all the pieces lightly with joint compound.

The layers of joint compound have been sanded, and I outlined the front with a "twist" detail.

Pierre Mignard's "The Virgin of the Grapes" seemed ideal for the overmantel decoration.

Before framing the print, I faded it with a thin slurry of water and joint compound. (An idea from Elizabeth from Studio E. Thanks, Elizabeth!) 

All the embellishments are in place, and I've drilled a hole in the back of the firebox for a lightbulb that will create a "fire."

I've applied a base coat of dark gray to the fireplace structure. 

I wanted the fireplace to be similar to the wall color, with minimal contrast. The bed will need to be very close to the fireplace, so I hope that the crowding will be less obvious if the fireplace blends in with the wall. I painted over the gray with an off-white color, then wiped off just enough of the white to allow a bare minimum of gray to show. Not quite right.

I brushed on a creamier white and the barest bit of Golden Brown. Better.

After dry-brushing on more Golden Brown, I was satisfied that the fireplace and the bed can live together peaceably.

I needed a stencil for the bedroom walls, but really did NOT want to cut my own; I feel blurry-eyed for hours after cutting those teensy things! Fortunately, I found a ready-cut stencil that was a perfect pattern. Unfortunately, I wanted only a small portion of the whole thing.

I taped off just the portion of the pattern that I wanted to use.

I started my stenciling with the fireplace wall...

...and continued with four more.

As an afterthought, I added a bit more detail to the stenciled pattern.

And FINALLY, the first master bedroom wall is ready to secure in place.

The second wall, which separates the bedroom from the bathroom, is also in place, and I've run a bead of spackling down the corner, being oh so careful not to mess up the stenciled area. The lamp on the floor is wired in, so must be worked around as it patiently awaits its own table.

Two more walls are up! (I built the short wall and the doorway wall as one unit, so I count it as only one wall.) 

All the bedroom walls are up except the front one - now it's time to touch up the paint in all the spackled corners. Then I'll begin laying the tile floor.

I laid tile in the short hallway first, working from both the front and the back. I used more of the smaller tiles left over from the downstairs floors and the long back hallway.

But I had to paint and cut more 1" squares from cork coasters for the bedroom, using the same technique that I used for the downstairs floors and for the other two bedrooms. 

Cutting and cutting and cutting. The cork cuts very easily, thankfully.

Most of the tiles are down...

...and all are down.

Some aging has been done, and I applied a light coat of satin varnish. Finished!

Working on two more doors - one for the bedroom and one for the bathroom.

The bedroom door is hung, and there's a glimpse of the stair landing through the door and around the corner.

The bedroom's front wall is up! 

There will be a long balcony outside this bedroom, just as the center bedroom will have.

The master bedroom is situated just above the living room.
How dark the living room is when the lights are off!


I did an about-face regarding a window for the long back hallway! Traditionally, there wouldn't likely have been a north window in the original farmhouse, because of the necessity to keep the house cool in the summer and to conserve heat in the winter. In addition, glass panes for the windows were exorbitantly expensive. When a Venetian banker bought and renovated the farmhouse, he was content to leave the hallway dark and windowless; but he was vehemently overruled by his wife and three young children, who took an immediate dislike to that long, gloomy space. The banker reluctantly gave in to their wishes, but he compromised by having only a sliver of a window cut in the thick stone wall. In a later renovation, a glass-paned door was cut into the east end of the long passage, and electric lighting was installed, making the hallway much more pleasing. But the sliver of a window remained untouched. 

The Villa del Vigneto has Troy, from Tulsa Tiny Stuff and Betsy, from Daydreamer, to thank for the new window in the back hallway. Both had questions and comments about a lack of windows, which made me start thinking seriously and belatedly about installing one. That window side will be against a wall, which is a drawback, and all my electrical wiring will be on that north wall, which is a second drawback. Nevertheless, I persisted in thinking about that "sliver of a window" (Betsy's inspiring words) and finally decided to just do it!

After I made the decision to cut, I was so eager that I forgot to put down a "dropcloth," and I didn't even move the urn from the floor! That was a mess to clean up! (Thanks, Troy and Betsy!)

The sliver of a window is small, but enough light enters to brighten the short hallway that leads to the center bedroom, as well as providing more light for the long back hallway.

The window frame and two panes have been installed, and I created a window pull from some odds and ends. This view looks out the window from the doorway of the center bedroom. Now that the window is in, I love it and am so glad that I did it. Defying tradition can be a good thing!


You may remember seeing this photo in a previous post, when all these walls for the upper level of the villa were stacked up and ready to install. 

And now - this is the LAST WALL remaining to be installed. I am making progress! Please come visit the Villa del Vigneto next month to see what happens to this lone, last wall.

I hope the month of June will be long and lazy for all of us! 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Halls, Walls, Floors, and Doors

 As I have noted previously, the Villa del Vigneto was originally a farm house. The living quarters were located above the barn and various storerooms. When a banker from Venice bought the farmhouse and turned it into a country retreat for his family, the renovation included some major changes, mostly on the lower level. The second story changes were kept to a minimum, since the original space already included the living areas. Years later, the banker's son inherited the villa, and further renovation included installing a bathroom and electric lights, but the rustic simplicity of the rooms remained unchanged.


I accomplished a few more steps of construction in April. Perhaps you remember that a previous post showed the door that I made for the smallest bedroom. Here it is, hanging on its hinges just as it should be. The door opens into the back hallway.  

The small bedroom is located at the east (right) end of the villa and contains one of the few upstairs windows.

The last step in completing this room (except for the ceiling) was to mount the front wall. The large opening, as in all my houses, is for viewing purposes only. In reality, there is a solid wall that includes a second small window.

I also made a door, nearly identical to the first, for the center bedroom. This door opens into a shorter hallway that leads to the back hallway or to the stair landing on the left.

Another front wall is up! I secured the front walls with toothpicks and glue and applied spackling over the wall seams. This is a solid front wall as well, but instead of a window, it contains a door that opens onto a balcony.

Here are the two bedrooms shown in relation to the lower level rooms. The kitchen is on the east, and the dining room is beneath the center bedroom.


I realized, way too late, that I neglected to take a "before" photo of the shelf niche that I embedded in the back wall of the stairwell. You can sort of see the niche in the center of the above photo. The niche - I can't remember where it came from - was originally white plaster that I painted. It is about an inch deep, so it is a good fit in the 1 1/2" thick styrofoam wall. There is a flanged edge that finishes it off nicely.

The back stairwell wall - niche included - is mounted.

Here is a close-up of the shelf niche with a collection of "Venetian" glass.

This long wall separates the stair landing from another short hallway that leads to the master bedroom and the bathroom. The front half of the wall extends over the exterior courtyard.

This view shows the bedroom side of the long wall. The light isn't good, but you can just see the niche in the landing wall through the arched doorway.

Another view from the bedroom side of the wall, through the arched doorways on either side of the landing. 

The tile floor is going in on the stair landing. I've completed the edging around the four sides. I've also added a clock and a wall hanging (a rug) to the stairwell wall to keep the niche company. I bought the rug to use on one of the floors, but later decided that I'd prefer to keep all the floors bare. I think I like the rug better as a wall hanging anyway.

The tile floor on the landing is finished. I used the same size tiles as on the entrance floor below.

This is the last viewing through the two arched doorways on the landing. The wall that separates the master bedroom from the short hallway will block this view. Bummer. I really like this perspective. That framed print that hangs on the other short hallway wall will never be seen head-on again, either. I feel sort of like the Master of the Universe. Scary. 

Now that the landing floor is in, the next step is to build the remainder of the stair banister. I've measured for correct spacing and drilled holes for the spiral-twist nails. The nail heads still have to be cut off with a bolt cutter. 

The stair railing is complete, including the bead trim at the base of the balusters.

The third front wall is mounted! And I see a crack in the back corner that wasn't there before! Good Grief! It'll be easy to repair; would have been easier without that front wall. I'll need to patch it from the top.

This shows the entire stairwell from the ground-floor entrance to the landing. That bright white speck on the entrance floor is a fleck of styrofoam. Can't get rid of all that stuff! I'll need to damp-mop the whole house when it's finished.

Here is the entire villa in its present stage of construction.

And a second view.


Here is the back hallway without the back wall. It turns the corner at the end into the short hallway that leads to the center bedroom. The door on the left goes into the small east bedroom.

The LONG BACK WALL is up! The hallway suddenly became darker.

The wall mirror with a shelf was mounted in place before the wall was up, as were the two sconce lights. The seam showing near the front arched doorway still needs a treatment of spackling.

A longer view of the mirror and sconces.

I changed my mind about the placement of the paintings that I mentioned in my last post. I like the long panel better at the end of the hallway instead of on the wall near the bedroom. I also placed the urn on the floor instead of on a pedestal as I had planned. 

A better view of the smallest painting near the arched doorway.

The sconce lighting definitely helps brighten the confined space of the hallway.

This is a view of the wall mirror as seen through the doorway of the small east bedroom...

...and here you can see the side of the long panel and the urn against the back wall. This view is from the doorway of the center bedroom. You can also see, on the right near the door, the only view that will ever be possible of the tall print that you saw through the two arches earlier.

And so construction continues as I move on to the master bedroom on the west end of the villa. But that's a project for another post.


 Robert flew out to Port Townsend, Washington, (near Seattle) last month to attend a wooden boat class, where he finished the basic construction of a 14' wooden kayak. He left the boat at his brother's house in Port Townsend. Later in the month, Robert and a friend drove our pickup truck back to Port Townsend to transport the kayak to our garage in Lincoln. (That was a LOT of driving!) The photo shows Robert busy sanding on the boat in preparation for many applications of epoxy, fiber glass, and varnish. Then he'll add woodwork around the opening - and it'll be ready for the water. He's a novice at kayaking - so I'll have to leave the villa long enough to stand guard as he embarks on the maiden voyage. Thank goodness the kayak has just one seat; Robert can't invite me to join him!