Lower Town Dollhouse – stairs

When I found our Lower Town Dollhouse online secondhand, it was a great price for a reason – because it had no front door and no staircases. This didn’t deter me at all so I bought it knowing I’d one day be able to make some proper little dollhouse stairs for it.

I started by measuring the ceiling height and dividing it by however many steps I wanted [20.3cm ÷ 15 steps = 1.35cm high per riser], and then I measured the depth of the space for the stairs [ie – the hole in the floor] to find the depth of each tread [14cm ÷ 14steps = 1cm deep per step]. I ended up with 1.35cm high steps that were 1cm deep and after a few sketches it looked just right. I tested the measurements using a cardboard template before committing to the real thing, and luckily my second template worked out perfect.

Having to assemble the stairs was one of those things that got more difficult in my head the longer I left it when in reality, as soon as I started, it didn’t take long to make. I used the template to cut 4 copies of the stair silhouette on corrugated cardboard; gluing two sets together to form sturdy supports for each side of the stairs. I wish I took a photo of the assembly stage, but I either forgot or was distracted by a something small yelling at me.

I first glued the risers in place with superglue, followed by gluing each step on top with two layers of cardboard sandwiched with superglue to really toughen them [see: to withstand a sweet and thoughtful yet unrelenting toddler]. I also used masking tape on the back side of the steps to further secure them in place and reinforce the sturdiness.

Again, I didn’t take a photo, but I next used filler to fill in the gaps and toughen the edges. Once that was dry I painted the stairs white and using superglue along the entire right side, along the top step and under the bottom step, I glued the entire staircase in place and I have to say, it is so sturdy that I think Cora could actually stand on it with her real feet and the stairs would survive.

Using wooden coffee stirrers and an existing tiny chair rail, I created [or, attempted to create] a bead board look. I carried the bead board look around the rest of the hallway. It at first looked awful as I was adding it but as soon as I painted it, it looked like a real little room.

Above; the hallway as a work in progress. When I first bought the dollhouse, there wasn’t even a window here. It was just a giant hole. It really was tore up from the floor up [you can get an idea from these photos]. I know it doesn’t look perfect as it is now, but I think it’s an improvement and TBH, because the stairs are glued in place, you can’t get a proper look down the hallway.

It’s quite difficult to see from the only ‘before’ type photo I have below, but you’ll see that the stairs that once were here used to face the other way. For Cora’s sake, I thought it made the most sense for the stairs to be facing toward the back of the dollhouse so Cora could actually use them. Yes, they break several health and safety standards this way, but I don’t think any of the little creatures are part of a union, so I think we’re safe. And let’s not mention the lack of a banister either [purposefully left out until toddler is a bit less smashy].

I have to do an entire second set of stairs for the next floor, so I’ll be following my own set of instructions again soon. But this time around it won’t take nearly as long now that I know what to expect. It’s tiny work but I really do love it so much. To the point where if dollhousing was a career, I’d be trying my best to get into doing that.

Click here to see the rest of my Lower Town Dollhouse updates!

DIY contact paper kitchen counters

Back in June of last year, in a renter-friendly attempt to update our kitchen, I added contact paper to a small section of our kitchen counter near our stove to test whether or not it would be a good idea to cover the rest of the kitchen counters. As you may have gathered from the title of this blog post, it worked out better than I had hoped, so a few weekends ago I committed to covering the rest of our counters! Cora, look after yourself. Mama has an idea and god help us all if it goes wrong.

I want to start by saying I love and appreciate dark spaces, don’t get me wrong [hello, dark romantic luxe]. But our galley kitchen was a little too dark at the best of times for a task-oriented space like a kitchen. There are dark cabinets [which I love], brown walls, grey tiles on the floor and dark brown mottled counter tops. It has a lot of really good elements, but there was a touch too much brown for one room [sorry, brown lovers]. Also, when I’m handling things like knives and preparing food, I prefer to be able to see my extremities and exactly what I am rhythmically chopping into.

I had the idea from the day we moved into our apartment to update the counters in a very renter-friendly way by using marble contact paper. I got the idea years ago from Linda of Make Do and DIY from her ultimate “new kitchen counter” cheat where she temporarily updated their kitchen using paint, gold duct tape and contact paper until they saved up to redo their kitchen. And it was legitimate beautiful. It worked for Linda, so it would work for us.

I started at the far end of our kitchen and using a card from my wallet, I peeled the back off the contact paper and slowly smoothed it across the counter [I wrote a detailed tutorial here on how to apply contact paper, should you be a bit nervous about applying it yourself. Contact paper is quite forgiving).

When it came to the sink, I wanted a really secure fit and didn’t want to simply cut the contact paper around the sink. I knew that in 6 months it would have crumbs and water and all sorts of things making it peel, so I loosened the sink fro, under the counter and asked Robert for help; Robert laid under the sink and carefully pushed the entire sink up to lift it about 3mm off the counter while I quickly used a card to smooth the small overhang of contact paper under the perimeter of the sink.

Despite how murdery this photo looks, I promise Robert is alive and safe.

I worked quickly and within 10 minutes, I had covered the awkward parts around the sink. I then tightened the joints under the sink and voila! The effort was 100% worth it.

You can see one of the seams above and a tiny air bubble along the side of the sink. No, it is not an overwhelmingly perfect job. I will be the first to admit that. But I will be the first to admit I am someone who is bothered by imperfections and I honestly say the very small few bubbles that are on the counter don’t bother me because they’re not as noticeable as the one above.

You can again see the original section I contact-papered above and below. This section of kitchen is the most used area and the place I wanted to test for at least 6 months before committing to covering all the counters. It has worked out so perfectly.

Occasionally, depending on what I’m cooking, things have stained the contact paper. Things like curry or tomato sauce. I at first freaked out, but surprisingly, after about a day or two of wiping counters [I don’t mean 48 hours of continual wiping … ], the stains completely dissappeared every time. So if you’re worried about stains in your kitchen, contact paper is very robust.

I am so happy with how our kitchen turned out and the best part is that when we move out of our apartment, I can undo it all in about 20 minutes. A perfect renter-friendly way to update any space, or if you’re like Linda, a great way to temporarily update your kitchen while you save to remodel it.

STATING THE OBVIOUS: contact paper is essentially plastic and is not resistant to high heat so should you decide to do the same, please use your judgement and do not place hot pots or pans directly on the contact paper because you will end up with what I can only imagine would be the after effects of when the Ghost Busters annihilated the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. It’s not going to be pretty, but I know you’re smart and that you know better.

Other contact paper updates I’ve made:
updating [and childproofing] our secondhand dining room table
my agenda
updated faux marble coffee table
mini faux marble plinth

Painted leather chair – six months later

I remember the day I decided to paint our thrifted leather chair from The Salvation Army. It was about 35°C when I started, and ended up being around 43°C when I finished. I was a hot mess to put it mildly, but it was so worth it.

In my original post about painting our leather chair with Fusion Mineral Paint, I promised to share my honest opinion of how well [or not-so-well] it held up six months later.

Simply put, it’s exactly the same as the day I painted it. No word of a lie. Not a scratch, no peeling, no scuffs, and no fading whatsoever. We’ve used our black leather chair every day since and it hasn’t shown any wear. It’s lasted through a harsh, humid summer and has since experienced a dry, cold winter. While it hasn’t been in the direct 48°C peak this summer nor the -40°C winter winds, inside our apartment has experienced the difference of high humidity then very dry, static-y air.

I think it’s safe to say we’ve put our Fusion Mineral Paint-ed chair through some pretty rigorous testing and has come out the other side perfect. Did I mention we also have a toddler? It has also survived her climbing, curious, energetic hands and thrashing limbs.

I would not hesitate to recommend using Fusion Mineral Paint on leather. Especially something that would get so much physical wear like a piece of furniture. I could not have hoped for it to work out more perfectly. It’s where I blog from the most and even where I’m sitting right now as I type.

Also featured in this post – secondhand baroque style mirror and console, how to mattify gloss paint.

DISCLOSURE – while this post is not sponsored, I did receive this paint free of charge from Fusion Mineral Paint in exchange for a blog post. I only work with brands that I like and of course, think you will too. Thank you for supporting the companies that support The Interior DIYer.