Bringing in the Necessary

Seaview Bathroom

It was the details we loved, the furnishings and fine-tunings of the individual houses. The bathroom was one of the great rooms for exploration of style—from the get go, people chose their appliances to show off their wealth and sophistication. When the outhouse (or Necessary, as it was known by those refined and euphemistic Victorians) was moved inside, it was an evolutionary process, open for interpretation, an approach we took as an open invitation to riff on.

For the Seaview, we chose the relatively upscale detail of enclosing the tub in wood paneling that matched the wainscot trim around the walls.  It also solved the problem of how to hide the craggy bottom of the tub Noel and a potter friend had slipcast from porcelain (Chrysnbon had yet to come out with their matchless, in-scale claw-foot plastic tubs, which we would learn to modify with paint so they looked more like porcelain).

The wainscot we made from ¼” fir strips beveled on both sides on the Dremel scroll saw/sander (a days’-long, tedious process that still makes my back and ears ache to think of—but, hey, we were young!). We then glued and butted the strips together on sheets of newspaper, sanded, stained, steel-wooled and stained again until we got the color we liked. I cut the finished, laid-up strips into sections the height of a chair rail, glued them to the walls with Elmer’s, and capped them with similarly finished basswood chair railing. Noel was still proudly cutting our baseboards from fir, though that would change, once we discovered the time-saving wonders of Northeastern mouldings.  Above the wainscoting the walls are papered in a textured, off-white paper with a decorative border around the top. The floors are the same stained oak as the rest of the second story.

(Side-lining a moment–in an early interview we were quoted as saying Noel milled all our moldings, which was true until we discovered Northeastern, but the quote was printed, and stuck, and to this day we are trying to undo that mis-perception).

The overall effect of the Seaview’s bathroom was, unsurprisingly, very close to the bathroom we had refinished in our own Seaview house, though the wainscot in the full-size version Noel made from plaster lath. And, in the case of our house, we got to have the porcelain clawfoot tub—a relic resurrected from its bucolic second life in a pasture as a livestock water trough. The tub was on the shortish side (to fit our tiny bathroom, carved out of the one-time back porch), so that when you slid down in for a soak, your feet were comfortably propped at the perfect angle for relaxing and forgetting all those hours at the sander.

About smallhousepress

In 1974, my husband Noel and I began building aged miniature houses for collectors and museums. We were 70's dropouts. We quit our careers in advertising--art director and writer, respectively--and escaped Los Angeles in a VW camper and a Bug for a simpler life on the coast of Washington State. From a tiny studio in our home, we built 64 houses and buildings. Our specialty was aging--making a structure that reflected the scars and wrinkles of time, the elements, and human habitation. In the 80s we began teaching our techniques in workshops around the country, and I began to write our how-to's in Nutshell News and Miniature Collector. In 2000 we migrated across the Columbia to Astoria, OR, where , in 2011, we retired from miniatures. We are Fellows of the International Guild of Miniature Artisans and taught at their annual school in Castine, ME. By avocation I am a writer and poet. The blog is my way of working back into a writing routine, as well as recording what we did, and what we learned along the way.
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