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Look for House of Miniatures furniture kits, a lot of them are in the styles Kelly describes.  If you're going for period accuracy, wallpaper was relatively expensive, so the drawing room and dining room might have wallpaper above wainscots or in panels, but otherwise the rooms would have painted walls.

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2 hours ago, havanaholly said:

Look for House of Miniatures furniture kits, a lot of them are in the styles Kelly describes.  If you're going for period accuracy, wallpaper was relatively expensive, so the drawing room and dining room might have wallpaper above wainscots or in panels, but otherwise the rooms would have painted walls.

The HOM kits are great, well made, and they finish beautifully if you're very careful. Just be sure to follow the instructions. Seal any rough edges or they take the stain VERY dark. And also you absolutely must sand between coats, and you have to do the glazing finish technique. I've seen so many where people just stained them and glued them together, and they look awful.

Also true about wallpaper being expensive. Most of it had to be imported from France. The rich used it to show off their wealth, because everyone at that time knew that if you had French wallpaper, you were really rolling in the dough.

Below is a pic of the Nottoway's dining room. Note the denticulated crown moulding. Also note that the room is painted. Oh, the Nottway's owners could have afforded wallpaper, but again it's because Southerners couldn't use egg-based adhesives. Also note the color. So many of those old homes have been restored and simply painted white throughout, because what modern day people saw was white paint on the walls. That's because they got re-painted at some point! Also, white paint was the cheapest.

Those houses in their original form used glorious paint colors. Check out Benjamin Moore's historic collection. Also Ralph Lauren paints. Both are available in 2-ounce samples. You'd be surprised how much two ounces can cover. Just be sure to prime your walls first. And use a flat paint. The shininess of higher gloss will reflect light even from under a coat of paint and it reads as very "dollhouse-y". High-gloss anything in a miniature scale usually comes off to the eye as plastic. Keep everything matte as much as possible.

Oh, and P.S. tint the seal coat of paint. Bright white reflects light even from underneath an overcoat of paint. You want that in a full-scale home, not in a dollhouse. It can make your house look a playtoy instead of a historic recreation. A slight touch of pink or peach always works. If you want a muted, soft overall look to your interiors, a dove gray base-coat is perfection.

Nottoway Dining Room.jpg

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5 hours ago, KellyA said:

The HOM kits are great, well made, and they finish beautifully if you're very careful. Just be sure to follow the instructions. Seal any rough edges or they take the stain VERY dark. And also you absolutely must sand between coats, and you have to do the glazing finish technique. I've seen so many where people just stained them and glued them together, and they look awful...

I gently sand, but don't seal the edges, I usually only  use one coat of stain and I don't use sandpaper, I used a wadded piece of brown paper bag on the finished product, and I had never heard of a glazing technique, so if the furniture in this picture looks awful, now I know why:

KathieB's photos:  the master bedroom

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7 hours ago, havanaholly said:

I gently sand, but don't seal the edges, I usually only  use one coat of stain and I don't use sandpaper, I used a wadded piece of brown paper bag on the finished product, and I had never heard of a glazing technique, so if the furniture in this picture looks awful, now I know why:

KathieB's photos:  the master bedroom

Did you use a lighter stain, like Colonial Maple? That works pretty well with a simpler technique. I should have specified that awful look comes when trying to get the mahogany look that was so common on many of those pieces. I see those on Ebay a lot, and have acquired a bunch of them in various lots I've purchased. Oh my can those come out badly.

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I don't like to use mahogany on mini furniture, it's too red and too dark for my taste.  I use an oak stain on most of Maggie's furnishings because that's what the Cracker family could afford, if they had a couple of good years.  I will sometimes use walnut on armoires, but I like that better for floors.

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  • 1 year later...
On 7/3/2019 at 3:45 AM, havanaholly said:

I gently sand, but don't seal the edges, I usually only  use one coat of stain and I don't use sandpaper, I used a wadded piece of brown paper bag on the finished product, and I had never heard of a glazing technique, so if the furniture in this picture looks awful, now I know why:

KathieB's photos:  the master bedroom

i have made many of the HOM kits.  Most of them just mention using their finishing kit, which contain a glaze.  However on two of  my kits, the Chippendale Drawer Chest #40011 and the Side Chair #40007 they suggest an alternate glaze. VAN DYCK BROWN is the color they recommend.  I purchased mine from Rockler.  Believe me it makes all the difference.  I have used Mini Wax Red Mahogany stain and it turns out beautiful - not at all red.  My kits have all been purchased on ebay.  The dates on the instructions for these two are both 1978 so I suspect they were some of the first ones produced.  None of the later kits include this information in their finishing instructions.  I do also use Mini Wax wood conditioner before I apply the stain. 

This is the sequence that I use:  First sand with 220, 320 sand paper,  then a brown sack.  Wipe with a tack cloth.  Apply Wood conditioner, wipe off after 5 minutes.  Within 2 hours apply stain, leave on 10 min., wipe off.  Sand 220, 320, then brown sack.  wait 4 to 6 hours then repeat with the stain, leave on for 5-10 min. wipe off.  Wait overnight then rub with brown sack.  Now apply 1 coat of Delft Satin Clear Wood finish, wait 2 hrs.  Lightly go over surface with Grade 000 steel wool until smooth to the touch.  Wipe with tack cloth. Now apply 1 coat of VanDyke Brown Glaze Effects with a foam brush- wipe off with clean cloth.  Wait 24 hours then wipe with a clean cloth thoroughly and briskly until you like it.  Now apply Delft Satin Clear Wood Finish two or more coats, lightly buffing between coats with Grade 000 steel wool.  It is very important to make sure all the steel wool dust is removed between coats.  I know this seems like a lot of trouble but it is well worth your time if you want a beautiful piece.

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