From Idea to Design – Making Little Houses
Where do you get your creative inspiration for your projects? We do not create in a vacuum because some specific idea is always the spark for our creative designs. I’d like to talk about what inspires me and how I use the inspiration when I create a design for a little house. Here are 3 house projects that were inspired by real houses, but once the little cardboard houses were completed, they became my own unique creations.
Houses for Inspiration for My Cardboard Creations
These are 3 house examples I am going to talk about in this post. The first two are the main ones because they are the ones most recently completed.
Questions to Ask before Making the Design for the House
Ok, so we’ve got photos of these three houses. Here are the types of questions I ask myself:
What goes into the creative design of each?
What appeals to me most about the house?
What draws my eye to this particular house?
What is unique about this house?
Can I replicate the most appealing feature of the house without driving myself crazy? Or will it be too hard? What features are just too hard for me to make? If I eliminate these features, do I lose what makes the house unique in my mind?
What features can I eliminate as unnecessary details? And would eliminating them detract from the house I am trying to build?
What do I need to do to make it into a little house that someone would love to have on their mantel, but that is also sturdy and easy to store?
Example No. 1 – Gus the Ghost’s House
One of my friends wanted a little Halloween house last year but couldn’t justify paying $100 for the little house. She told me why the house resonated with her and it was because it reminded her of book she had read as a child – What’s A Ghost Going to Do? by Jane Thayer and illustrated by Seymour Fleishman. It’s about a ghost who leads a happy life in an old run-down house that a family occupies each summer. The family decides that the house is falling apart so it is time to sell and to tear it down. Eventually the house is saved and Gus gets to continue as the resident ghost of the house, now a museum, banging and clanking happily in the attic. When I saw the cover of the book, I knew this would make a great little cardboard house. I actually bought a copy of the book for myself for the inspiration.
So the answers for creating the design for Gus’ house are that 3 features in the front make the house unique to my mind – the cupola on top, the curved dormer below that and the eyebrow arch on the porch roof.
Other features that I think are critical to the design are the aged, multi-colored siding as drawn by Seymour Fleishman, the twin chimneys, and the wraparound porch (which I’ve never done before).
Features I decided to eliminate are the steps (I added only one step) in the front and the double columns. I learned from the Wilkins house that double columns are a serious pain. It’s hard to glue them so that they stand up straight. Just like double windows are a pain. Mostly I make the windows single because I have these great Tim Holtz window dies from the Village dwelling series by Sizzix and one window fits so well with the size of the houses I make, but two together are too big for the scale for most of my houses.
I also could not for the life of me paint the roof the right color and ended up painted my chaotic shingle colors with a wash of blue that I like. It does match the blue of the cover of the book pretty well.
P.S. I am giving this house to my friend as a surprise.
Example No. 2 – the Beverly Davenport House in Saline, Michigan
The Beverly Davenport house is a wonderful house in Saline, Michigan. I recalled seeing this house several times over the years on Pinterest and finally decided to make it. What I love about this house, what inspired me the most about this house is the truncated front arch (with the flat roof on top) and the lovely green shade.
I found a drawing of the blueprints of the Beverly Davenport house and you can see a tall, skinny tower in the front. This tower was removed in 1945 apparently. If you google this house, most often you will get the other Davenport (for the younger Davenport) house in Saline, Michigan. It is impressive as well, but I like this one better.
Since I am making this as a Halloween house for the Houses for Habitat fundraiser, it has crackled siding and a slightly more scary green (Peeled Paint Distress Paint). I think that despite my turning this lovely house into a Halloween house, it is very appealing – at least to me. I have 2 other versions in the works now.
Example No. 3 – The Knox Village in Coudersport, Pennsylvania
If you google “abandoned house Pennsylvania” this will be one of the first houses that comes up on the search. It is being renovated as we speak. Someone is actually saving this house! It is also known as the F.W. Knox Villa or the Old Hickory Inn. It was built in 1880 for F.W. Knox in the Italianate style. My version is called the Abandoned Italianate Mansion.
The Knox Villa house is remarkable for so many things, but what appeals to be the most is the front gable extension and the square tower. The house is very large with a square shape, but I also made it narrower to fit what I consider a good size for a little cardboard house. I am very pleased with how this house turned out because I felt I was able to recreate a sense of the house. It was also the first time that I hand cut victorian trim on the gable ends – not exactly my forte, but I like how it looks. You can read more about the creative inspiration and the making of this house in these posts – the sneak peek, the finished house and some details about making a base where you can easily light the houses.
I’ve since made both PDF and SVG patterns for the Abandoned Italianate Mansion called the Faded Mansion. You can make it as Halloween house or make it pretty as Christmas putz house.
I am very happy about these houses turned out and how they evolved from the inspirational house to my own little houses.
As always, I would love to hear from you because as you know, we don’t create in a vacuum. Thank you for stopping by.
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