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!


  1. This villa of yours is really FULL STEAM AHEAD Marjorie! :D
    I'm LOVING the stages of its development and most impressive are those long perspective views down the hall. I wish that there was a way to keep it because it give you a sense of Real time and place. I've not seen its equal anywhere!
    I also love the rug/ wall hanging- PERFECT! as is your upper landing, the guardrail and the arrangement of the art lining your back hall. Being able to view it through the open doorways was Well- Planned.

    And I have to add that I am LOVING the background HISTORY of your Villa, and this family's Venetian roots- BELLA BELLA! :D

    p.s. I couldn't leave without saying that your husband's passion for kayaking reminds me of my 2 best friends husbands who also have a passion for being on the water. Their husbands boats require more than one person as crew and more often than not; it is Them.

    1. Hi, Elizabeth - Thanks for your comments. It is hard to have to give up that view through the arched doorways! I tried every which way to avoid having a wall get in the way, but there just aren't enough options in a miniature house. However, the master bedroom walls aren't up yet; maybe I'll stumble upon a solution after all! I sympathize with your friends who have to crew the boats! Unfortunately, I am NOT a boat person, so Robert was wise to build a simple kayak with one seat. I'm sure that he'll enjoy it more without a white-knuckled backseater!

  2. la villa con cada nueva adición va consiguiendo un aspecto más real y bonito cada vez,me encantan esos suelos de barro,estás trabajando muy bien,me gusta todo lo que haces!!!
    El proyecto de tu marido es fantástico,me recuerda a mi hermano que construyó con un amigo una canoa,lo que disfrutó con ella!!!

    1. Hello, Pilar - Thanks for stopping by the Villa del Vigneto again; I appreciate your comments and am glad that you're following along on this project. I think that if Robert had built a canoe, as your brother did, instead of building a kayak, I might be able to enjoy (or at least share) it with him. But the thought of being confined in a kayak, with that small opening, gives me the heebie jeebies! Robert is on his own this time!

  3. You have made a lot of progress. I like the symmetry of the house. The doors (and hinges) turned out great and the stair landing is turning out pretty great space too. Why no windows in the back hallway?
    keep up the good work.

    1. Hi, Troy - I am certainly making faster progress on the villa than I expected. Not that I'm trying to hurry; it just keeps coming along! You asked about the lack of windows in the back hallway. There are two main reasons: expense and the weather. The original stone farmhouse was built around 1750, long before there was any central heating or air conditioning, so typically, a house would have few windows - and those were quite small - in order to keep the house cool in the summer and to conserve heat in the winter. Windows were seldom cut on the north side of a structure for the same reason - and the back hallway of the villa is on the north side. The lower level of a farmhouse, where the animals were kept, usually had no windows at all. And of course, it was a great expense to cut through thick stone walls in order to put in windows, not to mention the cost and scarcity of glass panes; although during the conversion of the farmhouse into a villa, two windows were cut into the lower level in what became the living room. (And it was very expensive.) So those are the main architectural reasons for the windowless back hallway. The practical reasons are that all my electrical wiring runs down the back (north) of the villa, and it would be hard to work around that. I plan to put up a "false" back wall to protect the wiring. And because of lack of space in my real house, the villa will almost certainly need to be placed with that north side against a wall - so windows wouldn't serve much purpose anyway, since no light could enter. Otherwise, I would love to have a long row of windows overlooking that cold, dark, north side of the villa! This is a long answer to a short question; I hope it doesn't discourage you from asking any further questions you may have. Fire away - next time I'll try to keep it shorter!

    2. Thanks, that makes sense :) I struggle with that in my real house too, when the miniature houses have more than one 'good' side and you have to place it against a wall. At any rate, it is going to be a great project.

  4. LOVE the railing and your wall niche (I think it is the Unique Miniatures one)! Great job!

  5. Thanks, Lori - I don't know what happened, but that short stretch of stair railing was so hard to get in! Much harder than the entire part that I put in earlier when I made the stairs. Strange. I love that wall niche, too. I was determined to use it, but I kept trying one place after another, and it just wasn't working. Then I thought about the stairwell - I love it there! It may have been in a box of miscellaneous things that I bought at an estate sale, so could well be from Unique Miniatures. I'll be interested to check further. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Hi Marjorie! Sorry I am late to comment..... everything takes longer with one hand! I LOVE the newest work on this Villa! And I Love that you are being historically accurate with your design!!! Maybe just one tiny glimpse through a sliver of a window at the end of the hall? Light would be needed in the back passage for safety at the least and economy at the most... can't be burning candles in daylight, after all! I am sure you have thought about all the options... but it is great to see a view of the passage before it is all walled up! I love your "banisters" made from screw-nails!!! That is brilliant! And I agree with the others about the niche. It is perfect! Keep up the great work, I can't wait to see more!

  7. Hi, Betsy - I hope your hand is improving as quickly as possible. I appreciate your making a "one-handed" comment on my post; it does take a lot longer, and I sympathize! Actually, there is a glass-paned door at one end of the villa's long hallway that opens onto a small balcony. The door is only implied, of course, like all my front doors and windows, but it will allow some light into that back passage. There will also be another wall sconce - or perhaps a ceiling light - in the short hallway that leads from the center bedroom. The "lost" view through the arched doorway on the left of the stair landing is the one that I mourn, and even if the interior master bedroom wall wasn't in the way, the door isn't lined up with the one bedroom window - so the view is blocked from that exterior wall as well. Just lost and gone forever! I really wasn't giving much thought to interior views when I drew up the floor plan for the villa; I was more concerned with getting from one room to another without the necessity of passing through someone's bedroom. Although that wouldn't have been unusual in an old farmhouse, I just didn't want that for MY farmhouse-turned-villa! Next time, I'll be peering through all the potential openings before any walls go up - just to see what I can see. Thanks for your visit to the Villa del Vigneto!

  8. Hello Marjorie,
    What a terrific post. I'm sorry I am so late...injured dog issues have kept me away, but I would never miss one of your posts! I just love seeing the villa in its entirety. You have done such a wonderful job creating the structure...I just love it and think it is very authentic. The bedrooms are just right. Continuing the tile floors and the plain plaster walls are just the thing. The landing is beautiful and the built in shelves for the Venetian glass and the hanging rug are excellent choices to grace that part of the villa. I must say, I love the view through the arched doorways and the looks like an enfilade which is an architectural detail I always loved. This project just keeps on getting better! Well done Robert! that must be such a fun project... but I would also be happy to watch and not least the first few times ;)
    Big hug

    1. Hello, Giac - I'm so sorry to hear about your dog's injuries. We have no pets now, but have had numerous dogs, cats, pigs, cows, goats, sheep, horses, peacocks, ducks, geese, and chickens in the past. No matter what kind of animal, it's always a sad thing to see one hurt and suffering, so I sympathize with you. I appreciate your taking the time to visit the Villa del Vigneto. I'm happy with the way it's progressing, for the most part. I'm always hoping that I don't think of something I'd rather have done instead of what I did, although that usually happens at some point. I am enjoying the villa construction with its peeks through hallways and doorways. I'm working on the master bedroom now, so I hope you'll check back in a couple of weeks and see the results. Thank you for your usual encouraging comments!

  9. Im late too, sorry but Ive been busy with the store and getting my feet wet learning a new position, I love how the villa is turning out I have been keeping an eye on it but if I dont post please dont take offence it's just that our IT here is very athoritarian.


  10. Hi, Marisa - Late doesn't bother me at all; I'm just happy to see your comments at any time! Thanks so much for stopping by the Villa del Vigneto - you're always very welcome.

  11. I really like your post good blog on site,Thanks for your sharing.



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