Sunday, April 1, 2018

A Different Bedroom - But the Same Old Roof

I'm getting closer and closer to the close of construction and decoration of Villa del Vigneto - and the closer I get, the slower I want to go. But there are enough remaining steps to finish that I can drag my feet and drag this out for another couple of months. There's still a third bedroom to bring into being, and many flower pots and planters to fill, and more vines that need to climb that false back wall - and, of course and always, there's that tile roof to finish. According to my construction journal, I started designing and working on the villa on October 13, 2015, so maybe it's high time to be finishing up! 


This bedroom will belong to the older "spinster" sister of the villa's owner. She travels from Florence each summer to take up residence with the family for a few months.

The decorating started with these potentially useful pieces of furniture and fabric. 

Next, I decided on a furniture arrangement that would work with the shape of the room.


 This chair, which I found at an estate sale last year, was originally a bright mustard color, and one leg had come off. I used fabric paint and a small, stiff brush to change the color to a deep teal. The bottom photo shows the broken leg all mended - but the fabric color looks much lighter than it really is. The top photos are much closer to the actual color.

You may notice that this is a different armoire than the one pictured in the assembly above. I was going to paint the armoire but decided to use a wood stain instead. The first armoire had a natural finish with a sealer applied, so I couldn't use a stain. I switched to this unfinished one and will use the other in the third bedroom.

One coat of walnut stain later...

...then a coat of satin varnish.

I applied some metallic gold detail...

...and finished it off with new knobs and tiny tassels.

I love the design of this table, but the finish was too red to blend nicely with the other furniture in the bedroom - so of course...

...I painted it.

Then, using my favorite flower-making (contriving) technique, I snipped bits of leaves and flowers from real-size artificial flowers, painted them, and fashioned a bouquet for the new table.

The table is now used as a combination writing/dressing table.

This prie-dieu, or prayer bench, needed just a bit of aging and a pad for the kneeler. I cut out a small portion from a larger piece of tapestry fabric for the pad. I also made a small cushion for the chair that belongs to the writing table. This chair is a substitute for the tall-backed one that I showed in the "assembled pieces" photos above. I realized that the high back obscured the view of the bed. This one works much better. 

I bought this small plastic Virgin Mary figure during one of the Nebraska Junk Jaunts, and I've been saving it for the prayer corner in this bedroom. The figure was very obviously plastic, and I wanted it to have more of a stone or plaster finish, but I didn't want to cover the color or the detail, so I used several coats of Mod Podge and glue to cover the plastic finish. Then I touched up the paint with a similar color.   

There really isn't much difference, but it does look a little less like plastic - and a little more worn!

I needed a rosary. I'm not a Catholic, but one of my daughters is; she let me borrow a rosary so that I'd know how to make one. I had trouble getting the size right and had to make mine too short in order to keep it to scale. After it was finished, I realized that the addition of the ten beads that it lacked would probably have been all right. I may need to make a second proper one.   

The finished prie-dieu with a prayer book added.

I've had this brass bed in my stash for many (and many more) years. I used it in the first dollhouse that I made. That house was eventually turned over to grandchildren, but I put the bed away for future use. The future is at hand.

The bed received a new look with Antique White paint trimmed with an antique, tarnished brass finish.

I found small picture frames of different sizes, also in my stash, and made prints of the Virgin Mary in sizes to fit the frames. I added matte Mod Podge to the prints for texture. 

I dry-brushed an off-white paint on the frames and glued in the prints. Then I decided that more white on the frames would look better, so I added more paint to cover all the brass/gold finish on the frames.

The finished bed frame with the Virgin Mary medallions glued on.

I bought this damask napkin at an antique store a few years ago and had planned to use it for a coverlet on a bed in the French Farmhouse, but I changed my mind and kept it for the villa. I found the beautiful, soft lace in a bin of my sewing supplies and knew that I had to use it to trim the pillow case.

I love the long, cascading lace on the pillow cover - and I'm happy with this second simple bed!

These are the last pieces to get a makeover. I darkened the wood finish on the bedside table, although it doesn't show up well in this photo. I also painted the lamp and added gold trim.


I like the early-morning (or late afternoon?) light in the two photos above. The room looks so restful.

The large crucifix was another Junk Jaunt find two years ago. As I recall, that's when I decided that one of the villa's bedrooms would have a prayer corner. The shape of this central bedroom lends itself well for that purpose.

Then I decided to add a sewing box to the room, although I haven't decided whether to keep it there. Its busyness may detract from the tranquility of the room. Or sewing and mending may give the sister-in-law a quiet occupation for her hands while she meditates on other matters. 

This is a long view from the prie-dieu down the hallway to the small window in the back wall.


When I began laying white tiles on the back side of the roof, I waited until the tiles were glued in place before I painted them - and it was a slow, painstaking job that I wasn't eager to repeat. I painted the next batch of white tiles, in the photo above, before laying and gluing them to the roof, and that was faster, but still took much time - just not so painstaking! So I was determined to try again to use the terra cotta colored Sculpey to save time and trouble. I decided to chill the Sculpey before using it, to see whether that would keep the clay from becoming too soft as I worked with it. 

I first tried chilling a ball of clay before I rolled it out, but it turned very crumbly and refused to stay together. Then I decided to roll out the clay to the desired thickness before chilling it.

I placed the rolled-out clay between sheets of waxed paper and chilled it in the refrigerator. That worked beautifully - I could roll out several sheets of clay and keep it in the refrigerator until I was ready to cut more tiles.

The clay retained enough chill to allow me time to cut as many tiles as the sheet of clay could produce without becoming too soft.

All the tiles are laid and glued to the tower roof as well as the back side of the roof.

I've started laying the flat and lipped tiles to the front side of the roof. You can see the guidelines that Robert drew on the roof to help keep the rows of tiles straight.

The flat tiles are glued on, row after row...

...followed by the curved tiles. I've laid these on loosely to be sure they all fit well before gluing.

That's the extent of the roof progress to date. During April, I will finish gluing on all the curved tiles, then lay the ridge line tiles and apply mortar around the chimneys, edges, and inside the front tiles. I'll also make chimney caps using both flat and curved tiles, then age all the tile work with various paints.

Meanwhile, in Nebraska, cold weather lingers on and on with not much promise of warmth - although the daffodils are starting to pop up, seeking what little sun there is. While I stay warm inside my workroom, I can watch Robert out my window as he takes care of some necessary spring clean-up. I'm hoping that Spring will take the hint and make an actual appearance.

I wish you each an April filled with abundant sunshine!