Plywood walls

The last room to be fixed up is nearing completion! It has been a long time coming but I am in no hurry. There seems to be a fashion to put plywood on walls at the moment. Bare and raw, that is. Though I have no intention of having raw ply anywhere I find it a useful material. These walls are ply top to bottom. I added 90mm pine framework with carefully cut quad as a trim on the bottom half of the walls, and glued hessian to the top part. Is it a good idea to glue hessian on your walls? Definitely. Is it hard? Absolutely. I used plenty of Aquadhere to make it stick, but still it bubbled and wrinkled. If it looks good when you do it but return the next day to find bubbles aplenty, just briskly brush on water and more glue and it will flatten out. Because of how heavy it is you will need to tack it at the edges to stop it from falling down until it dries. Some persistent bubbles I tacked flat also to keep them down.

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The hessian will give a nice texture. I wanted to paint mine like wallpaper so I had to give it three liberal coats of paint first. I can assure you that hessian is a thirsty beast to paint, so I went to the recycling station and picked up several free leftover paint tins to completely seal the hessian before I painted the base coat I wanted for colour.

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I used acrylic paints for everything but the white flowers, house paint was fine for them. Basically you could do whatever you wanted, stripes was an idea I had at first before I realised how hard it was to glue the hessian totally straight. With the weave being so coarse it would be very visible if my stripes went over the lines. Hence organic lines and shapes. Nobody will notice a crooked line if everything is crooked already. It takes quite some time to do all the flowers and leaves so I work on all the walls at the same time, adding a little all over. This way, as your style changes subtly over the course of the work it will change evenly. The plywood at the bottom half of the walls is getting a woodgrain effect. This has to be the easiest and quickest effect I know. One undercoat to seal the ply, lightly sanded, one coat colour (I used Raw Umber) and one coat of Walnut stain and varnish in one. There are more complicated and more convincing ways to do it but I am pretty happy with this rapid way for large scale covering. Brush on the coloured varnish with a bad streaky brush, comb it with a graining comb, brush again to soften, distress it a bit, soften again, move on. You have to work very quickly if you use a waterbased varnish, a few minutes and it is starting to set. If you can paint badly, you can woodgrain. It is all about being uneven!

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Some more flowers added and more woodgrain. There is a secret door in this room. If you move the first of the standing books the door will open. That standing book is a gift, given to me by past guests. Thank you very much. I really appreciated your kind contribution and I hope you see this blog entry! The book is actually a vintage metal book safe. Any book can of course be used but I felt this was a sturdy and attractive option.

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The door is an ordinary flat hollow-core door, like this:

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Add bits of wood like this. You can’t buy a ready fireplace unfortunately because they will never be that narrow. Unless your door is enormous, of course. Having a good saw is essential for presicion cutting.

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Add paint. I undercoated the fire part with gesso, and painted the bricks and shadow with oilpaint. This is a fun idea I used once before, I loved it so much I just needed to do it again. There is something about hidden doors which appeals to many people. Bookshelves, woodpanelling, fireplaces. Anything.

A thing to think about is not to paint flames if you want it to look more realistic. Not because you cannot paint flames, but because the eye needs the flames to move. Bricks or tiles are easy because we expect nothing further from them than to be simply what they are. But flames, we need them to crackle, move, smell. So we are not deceived.

Incidentally, did you know plywood was patented in 1797 by a British naval engineer called Samuel Bentham? Fifty years later the father of Alfred Nobel made it better and stronger and more easy to make by using a rotary lathe to peel the wood in the thin skins needed and laminating them in threes. By 1865 plywood reached America and industrial production began. I used to think of it as a modern material, but it isn’t really.

 

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Room with(out) a view

What do you do with a wall without views? You paint some, of course. The ones in the picture above are just that. I find we see what we are expecting to see, so at a quick glance you simply assume these are real views through actual windows.

First, this was just a blank wall, no views, not even a window. I want views, however, and there are none behind the wall so I painted some on masonite.

fake view15Then I nailed my pictures to the wall. If you want to do your own, there’s info on how to paint a simple, fast and reasonably convincing landscape  further down. You could use a photo too, but I prefer paintings.

Add some strips of wood to rest the window on.

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Screw window into place. Looking better by the minute!

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Add timber to build up the right levels, then stick on some architrave to match the rest of the room.

fake view17Fill and paint.

HOW TO PAINT EASY GARDEN VIEWS

To make my views I used masonite, rough side up. Five coats of gesso first, goes on quickly and primes the thirsty masonite wonderfully well.  Do not use undercoat, not good enough!fake view10I paint in oils, which is slow to dry between coats but nice to work with. First I roughed in where the sky will be. I used White, Payne’s Grey and Ultramarine mixed in with some medium to make the paint flow.

fake view11I was aiming for a sky which portrays no special season, just a dull plain sky. Fortunately you can’t see much sky from the real windows either so you will not be able to make a too obvious comparison, hopefully. It is all leaf.fake view12Next I blocked in the green mass. I used Black and Viridian, more medium. I didn’t mix on my palette, rather on the painting itself. Swirl and splash, rough and lively! Here are the two, they are the same, just bad light. The green mass has lots of variety in shade, but again, bad pic loses the detail.

fake view6fake view5The treetrunks are next, for this first layer I used Black and Vandyke Brown. Let it dry before adding leaves, or it will be a mess.      fake view7Add leaves of whatever kind, I am using the same leaves which are seen through the real windows.

fake view8I also added some flowers, this spot is so dark nothing would bloom there in real life but anything is possible in paint! If you want something, paint it. Oil makes flower painting a breeze. Just load a brush with paint and dab it on. It will look like a flower all by itself. I tend not to mix too much on the palette, but add more than one colour to the brush and it just does its flower thing.fake view2A crop of berries, not related to the tree itself but that’s ok.

fake view3Hydrangeas! Or something white and fluffy anyway.

fake viewWhen the paint has dried, you can add more shape and shade to the leaves and the whole scene. Keep building the layers until you are happy. Veins on leaves are good but certainly not necessary. You could go super realistic, or just give a general idea.fake view4Done.

Aga saga

Guests occasionally ask me what my own house is like. Is it as detailed as The Pip? No, it’s not. My house is quite different both in age and style, but I play here as well. Here is an example. In the kitchen was a slightly dated wall of kitchen units.

agaIt was thrilling to remove. Most of the timber could be reused in other projects. Behind the panelling was an old chimney opening. I sort of knew it would be there, since I could see the chimney poking up on the roof, but a delightful surprise to see it all the same. I knocked all the render off, exposing the brick. A couple of bricks were damaged from the dynabolts someone had put in when they covered it all over. I mortared them back. The steel covering the sides is just a sheet of galvanised iron which I glued with Liquid Nails and jammed a few pieces of wood against until it set. No pic of these stages, forgot! This project is a few years old and I have only some stages photographed.

aga 5I adore the look of Agas, but at a pricetag of around 20,000 I thought I could create the look for a pittance. Construction has already begun. Essentially, this is the same construction technique as I might use for building a kitchen cupboard, or a built in cabinet anywhere. First I made a base, to get it off the floor. I am using 140x19mm pine for the base.  The little tiles on the floor are staying. I started to chip them off at the front but I have never experienced such tough glue. No need to remove, anyway.

aga 3Then I added uprights to a good height. These are 70x19mm. Or they might even be 42×19? Hard to tell, but they don’t need to be overly big. Let’s say they are 70mm.The front panel is hardwood. No reason, you don’t have to. Not even sure why I did. Less marking when you kick it? I happened to have it hanging around? Can’t remember. It is a while since I did this. Looks like a recycled piece to me, with the old holes.

aga 7The top bars I screwed on from the back before I lifted it in place. Now comes a miracle: Almost done. Essentially, line it, put in shelves, face frame. The cupboard doors are actually the old doors from the kitchen I removed. They are sturdy and do not warp. They were a little small however so I screwed on some plywood and bit of MDF which I bevelled with my circular saw. So so sorry about lacking pics for these stages. I really carefully filled and sanded all screwholes. The top is ordinary pine floorboards. I will show all the missing stages in different projects, it all repeats anyway. Same, same.

aga 10Open the doors… A cupboard!

aga 11I undercoated, sanded, painted black several coats… Matte metal is the idea. I also needed some bits, such as the old gage.

aga 14aga 15The concrete hearth needed tiling and I chose a large shiny tile, with the hope that the stove would reflect in it. Yes, it does.

aga 16The rail is a shower rail. The trim on the sides is an angled length of aluminium just to ”hem” the cut metal to the brick. A good finish, I think. Basically if you make something black and matte, and even hint at it being a stove, people believe it. If you put a cooking pot on top, there is no question at all.