The use of strange spaces


or using what’s there

As you go up the main staircase from the entry hall, there comes a point where head room for the residents is needed, just before you reach the top step. This extra head room is a box shape with a sloping roof and it intrudes into the room above which is planned to be a main, private bedroom.

I had been going to build a storage cupboard over the boxing but decided that, as it overlooked the Great Hall and the minstrels’ gallery/landing that this was a detail worth exploiting with a window  that would form the wall immediately above the boxing and that could look out onto the Hall whilst shedding a little light in a dark corner of said Hall.

Once that was done I then had an internal window that probably needed some form of screening across it as it looked back into a bedroom. OOps.   Whilst working on this silly conundrum it struck me that it would be easier to turn the slope created by the roof of the headroom intruding above into a useful surface all on its own.  It could become an altar and this and the back-lit window area could be part of a private chapel/devotions area.  This would need to be either lightly screened from the bedroom or have a decorative wall separating it from a now reduced bedroom.

Having made the decision I made notes and fiddled with some of the proposed work so that I would remember my thoughts more clearly and left that whole area of work for the time when I could finally decided on screening or wall.

General sloping roofed box shape over stair well - shows ht of door re boxing

The stairwell boxing is wood construction, in and out. This image shows a rough added height of 3″ against a 5.5″ doorway

The window used is one of Angela Downton’s lovely panels and matches those the panels in the Great Hall, although it sits at a slightly different height.   I glazed this one with Micro-Glaze.  I’m not sure if it’s the same item used by calligraphers and scrapbook makers for sealing their work, but the pot I’ve got is the same as used by railway model enthusiasts and the jar talks of being for “openings up to a 1/4 inch square”.   It is a glue-like substance that, when painted across small apertures, dries semi-transparent.  (You know, I think I may have mentioned this before, for which I apologise).  This was the first time I’d used it in anger as it were and was a little concerned that the area I was trying to infill was larger than the optimum as recommended ‘on the bottle’.  It worked quite well but in order to make sure that you have covered from corner to corner and side to side with the fluid does mean that at least a little of the gluey substance remains on the edges of the wood.  I don’t think this is entirely down to my bad handling.  If you think about it, the substance has to dry keyed into the edges and therefore is likely to need to sit a little way onto the greater surface of the framework.  I’d already stained the wood, so it was much like gluing wood after staining but with more of a need to paint over any over-spills.

Closer look at window from mini chapel side

Closer look at window from mini chapel side

It might have been OK to take a knife to it to clean some of it off but it is very fragile and I didn’t want to  handle the item too much, so I inserted the window once I’d painted up what I felt was necessary.  This included a few very tentative paint lines across the new ‘glass’ to give it a bit of a diamonded appearance.

I added bits of wood and made a cross hatched screen which I may replace with something a little more refined and use this one in a more down-market room.

I believe this style of window screen was more used across unglazed windows, preventing some level of draft and stopping birds etc entering.

How to dress the space?

Closer look at window and triptych

Triptych, screen and window

I fancied a triptych to give it the mood so made one using the Robert Campin ‘Annunciation Triptych’.  With the addition of some gilded edging, it doesn’t look too bad. It needs a crucifix or cross and possibly one or two candlesticks too.

Trying to get the mini print-out to look clear and fit the proposed display area was more of a fiddle than adding the edging, as it meant cropping some small areas which I rather liked.  But something had to give.

A little more added colour from a hanging or altar cover, possibly more gilding on the yet to be invented screening or wall and a prayer stool/prie-dieu or two might help make the area more chapel-like.  If a wall or full screening is used, there will then be the choice of whether to put a closing door further into the room space and curtain/screen between the prayer space and the room on the other side which is the Solar.  If a less permanent looking screen or fabric is used then a door will probably go into the space shown in the first photo and not a curtain.

From the landing, the window adds a contrast to the blank matching panels around the upper Hall and the under slope of the boxing is now decorated with blue background and bronze enamel star/cross shapes between its wooden beams.  It’s bright and perky and roughly echoes ceilings and screens found in Medieval-Elizabethan private chapels across the period and, although it isn’t actually in the devotions area it gives a good heavenly feel generally and would be a reminder to noisy folk going up the stairs that directly above is a place of prayer.  I know; it’s a doll’s house – not real …

And from the other side? 

Window from landing in Gt Hall - shows paint on glass and edge of boxing below

Window from landing in Gt Hall

An infill window from balcony in Gt Hall

Longer view

Roofed head room boxing from below - blue with bronze cross stars

Roofed head room boxing from below

Head room boxing from stairs

and from the stairs

and I also know that only thee and me will know that the painting of the boxing roof is there, but what the heck, it makes me feel better.


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