The Hall and Staircase
Teak & Tutelage
The Hall was the first room of the house I worked on, starting with the staircase. I was very lucky to be given a large quantity of teak wood and veneer by a friend who works as a carpenter in yacht building. I’ve used the veneer on the staircase and some to make parquet flooring.
The veneer was perfect for the staircase as I wanted it to look different from the straight staircase which came with the house. For the bottom three steps of the staircase I used 2 mm thick veneer which I bent using steam. The other risers and sides of the staircase were veneered with much thinner veneer.
The angle at which so saw the banister was a true mystery to me. Many times I thought: ‘Yes, now I know’, and just as many times I’ve sawn the banister in half at the wrong angle. Finally I reverted to my own method: just cut it by eye, sand it until it fits, glue and then sand some more. Very effective.
July 2005: Jaap (the carpenter) explained to me that what I wanted to do with the banister -putting two parts together at a different angle- is impossible. In real life a specially cut angled piece (I don’t know the English carpenters term for it) is fitted between the two parts of the banister. No wonder I found it so difficult to make! I managed to make a miniature angled piece to fit the banister and fitted a teak newel post as well. Much better!
The panelling and the doors are also made of teak wood. I made the door to the dining room to match the wall panelling. Teak does not have a very fine grain, which caused me a few problems especially while making the door handles. In the end I did manage to make door handles without them splitting.
For the floor I took my inspiration from Versailles, choosing geometric patterns within large rectangles. I glued strips of teak veneer onto card, then sanded and waxed the floor. As I didn’t have any tools except a craft knife and a small hand saw at the time, making the floor was a very time consuming job but worth the effort.
None of the walls, floors or staircases are attached to the house. Against the back walls I have placed false walls so they can easily be removed. This makes it very convenient for putting up wallpaper, painting, hanging lights, hiding electrical wiring, etcetera. When I started work on the house I used different types of sheet material about 3mm thick to make the false walls. After a year or so I started to use acid free matt board.
In the story I made up for the house, a fire ripped through the front of the building in 1893. During the renovation some of the rooms were decorated in the Arts & Crafts style. In the Hall I used wallpaper ‘Trellis’ by William Morris, the leading designer of the Arts & Crafts movement. The lights have been bought and painted in a green colour reminiscent of oxidised copper. This is a colour I have used throughout the house.
The vase with oak leaves and rose hips, made by Ilona Kraassenberg of Minimumloon is sitting on top of a mahogany Arts & Crafts console, made by Kari Bloom of Miniton Miniatures. The carved chest against the back wall was made by Ann High. The carving depicts a medieval jousting scene.
In the back of the Hall is the staircase to the basement floor where the kitchen can be found. The staircase is hidden from view by a low wall covered with the same wood panelling as in the rest of the Hall.
On the left side of the hall are the double doors to the entry-hall. The doors have been veneered with teak veneer and the door handle and knob made of solid teak. The Entrance Hall is visible through the windows of the double doors on the left. While the Entrance Hall was spared during the fire in 1893 (see History‘), the Hall had to be completely renewed due to fire and water damage. The door on the right opens into the Dining Room which also survived the fire of 1893.
Above the door to the Dining Room hangs a watercolour I painted in 2004 ‘Winter landscape with pollarded willows’. The water colour is 5 x 3,3 cm. Pollarded willows are very characteristic of the Dutch landscape with its meadows and canals.
The latest addition to the Hall is this miniature version of John William Waterhouse’s ‘Ophelia’ (1894), which I commissioned from Dutch artist Elly Ypma. Using mainly wood, I made a frame for the painting in the classical style which was often used by the Pre-Raphaelites. After a white base coat and a red bole acrylic seize I used 23 carat gold leaf to finish the frame. I am very pleased with the combination of the painting and the frame.
The Hall is nearly finished. All I have left to do here is finish the ceiling around the opening of the staircase , those type of jobs are always left until last…
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