Start Your Christmas Village with this German Half-Timbered Paper House
This particular Christmas paper house is inspired by a beautiful old architectural style in Germany – the Half-Timbered Houses. It’s a construction method found throughout the world including Tudor houses in England, but Germany is famous for its preservation of this particular architectural style. In fact, there is a 3000 km tourist route called the German Timber-Frame Road which has numerous cities and towns with examples of these buildings.
And why am I making a Christmas house at this time of year? I’ve been working with an exceptional student in the Pediatric Emergency Department who recently had a birthday. She was very complimentary about my little houses so I told her I would make her one. I asked if she would like a Christmas house or a Halloween House and she immediately answered, “A Christmas House.” Her husband is working in Germany at this time so she asked for a German house. She liked my previous Tudor house which looks similar, so that’s how a Christmas house inserted itself in the Halloween house season.
The pattern for this house is the Irish Cottage pattern, but slightly modified. I wanted it to be a little taller to for 3 stories with a stone foundation and 2 stories on top. I added one inch to give me enough room to decorate the house the way I planned. Here’s the concept sketch on the Irish Cottage pattern.
Links to Information related to this tutorial:
- Irish Cottage House – St. Patrick’s Day House
- Irish Stone Cottage – Paper House
- Tudor House which uses an almost the exact same pattern
- Stone Texture for your little house
- How to Cut Out Windows for Your Putz House
- How to Add Light to your little house – how to make the base for your house
- Cardboard – free Irish Cottage pattern here
- Aleene’s Fast Grab Glue or similar glue
- Paint colors of your choice
- Sand for texture if painting the house
- Texture paste for the stenciled stone surface on the lower level of the house
- Clear packaging for windows if desired
- Sunshine Yellow Alcohol Ink
- Glossy Accents
- Fence Die, if desired – Tim Holtz Village Bungalow
- Window Dies
- Decorative elements such as a bottle brush tree and glitter
Steps for Making Your Little House
Briefly, these are the steps in making this cardboard house:
- Copy the pattern for the Irish Cottage onto cardboard, score the fold lines, cut out
- Cut out the window openings
- Prime and paint the house
- Follow instructions here to make the stenciled stone surface for the foundation
- Paint cardboard to look like wood for the trim
- Cut trim for windows, door and roof shakes or shingles
- Adhere windows and trim before you glue the house together
- Cut out roof, chimney and prime and paint
- Glue house together along tab in the back
- Glue roof to house
- Adhere the chimney to roof, then the wooden shake or shingles
- Make base, prime and paint
- Glue house to base and add embellishments
Easy when you take it one step at a time.
Download the pattern to make your German Half-Timbered House based on the Irish Cottage pattern found in my resource library.
You can get the password for my resource library that has the pattern for the Irish Cottage and other future freebies by filling out the form located at the bottom of this post. You will also receive my newsletter.
Detailed Information to Construct Your Own German Half-Timbered Christmas House
Copy the pattern onto your cardboard, score and cut the pattern
The pattern itself is very simple – it is a basic gable house with a gently curved roofline. I generally make my patterns so they fit on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper and cardboard which makes a nice-sized small house. You may shrink or enlarge your pattern to whatever size you want depending on your sources of paper and size of cardboard.
Once you have the pattern copied, the score along the fold lines BEFORE you cut it out. It is so much easier to score before you cut because you have a bigger area to hold on to. I don’t always remember to do this, but I always mean to.
Cut out window openings
I did not draw the windows on the house pattern so you can decide exactly where you want the windows placed. The sketch pretty much shows where the windows should be for this design.
Prime and paint the house and stencil the stone foundation
I always prime my houses with gesso (gesso is a white paint primer which prepares your cardboard to hold onto paint better). For this German Half-Timbered house, I mixed the gesso with a little sand to give it more texture on the top part of the house.
You can follow the tutorial linked above to make the stone surface on the foundation of the little house. Here’s the stencil taped in place which also masks off the areas you don’t want stenciled. Each side is done separately. The texture paste dries pretty quickly.
After stenciling the foundation stones, paint the entire house the background color – the color you want for the mortar between the stones and for the plastered part of the house between the wood timber trim. I used Antique Linen Distress paint with just a little extra Fossilized Amber mixed in.
Paint the stone foundation with layers of color to mimic the look of stone.
To make the trim look like wood, I generally layer different shades of paint to simulate the graining in wood. First I use a yellow paint like Fossilized Amber or an ochre color, then a red or lighter brown – Fired Brick, in this case, followed by the darkest color – Ground Espresso or something like burnt umber. I paint an entire sheet of cardboard this way so I have plenty of material for the trim. I also used the same colors for the shakes on the roof.
Cut out windows, door, and wood trim
If you’ve read my blog, you know I use window dies for almost all of my windows and window frames. I just don’t like cutting out windows, but I know a lot of putz makers who happily cut them out. Not me. The window dies for the German Half-Timbered house are from Tim Holtz’ Village dwelling series.
Most of the trim consists of thin strips of painted cardboard cut with my guillotine cutter. That’s the best way to make consistently thin strips. You don’t need many – maybe 7 strips cut about 1/8 inch wide and 11 inches long. To make the arched trim in the front and back I traced the outline of the house and cut out a thin piece.
Adhere windows and/or trim before you glue the house together
If you want your windows to look like they have glass in the panes, cut small sections of clear acetate packaging to function as windows. You can color the window glass with alcohol inks to give them a nice shade. I adhere the windows on the inside of the house with a thick transparent glue from Ranger Ink called Glossy Accents. I put a thick layer on the entire window so the windows look like wavy glass.
It is easier to adhere windows to the house before you glue the house together. It’s not absolutely necessary, but they stick on better if you do. Also I try to paint the inside edge of windows the same color as the window frame when I remember.
Also glue the trim on before you glue the house together. You can fit the trim exactly this way. The trim on the arch was trimmed after gluing.
Cut out roof, chimney and prime and paint
The roof pattern is a little large on purpose. Cut it out and see how it fits, then you can trim the edges if you think they overhang too much. Oh, and before you glue it to the house, paint the underside of the overhang. It looks much better painted a matching color rather than raw cardboard.
The chimney piece is a little fiddly piece. Remember it is SO much easier to score before you cut the piece out. You may notice that the chimney has 5 sides and that is because one of them is the glue tab. You can cut one side a little smaller than the other so it won’t make that side stick out more than the other. I usually draw the mortar lines on the chimney with a white gel pen. You can draw them on before or after you glue the sides together. Mostly I draw the lines after it has been glued. I perch the little chimney on the end of one of my fingers and draw away. It’s kind of fun – kind of like a chimney puppet.
Glue house together along tab in the back
The little tab on the right side of the pattern is the glue tab. Apply a thick layer of glue and let it get just a little tacky and then adhere the back and side together.
Binder clips are a great help in holding the glued sides together. It doesn’t work on the top edge though because the roof flaps for this particular pattern are in the way. You can use one of those brands of painter’s tape that doesn’t pull off your paint if you have already applied it. For this house I just held the top side for a few minutes while the glue was drying.
Speaking of roof flaps – what is the purpose of those things anyway? They function as the under roof and give support to the house so it holds its shape better. Curve the roof flaps gently to match the curve of the roof. Clip together. Draw a line so you know how much of the excess cardboard to cut off. The easiest way to glue these in place is to put a line of glue where they meet at the top. Apply the binder clip to hold them together. Let dry. When dry, cut off the excess cardboard, then glue the edge of the roof flaps to the each gable. Now these roof flaps provide good support for the gables.
Glue the roof to the house
Be sure the previous pieces you have glued are dry before you glue on the roof. If you use the Aleene’s Fast Grab or Quick Dry glue you do not have to wait nearly as long because these glues are pretty thick. Score the middle of the roof piece and fold it at the scored line. Then gently curve each side to mimic the curve of the roofline. Draw a bead of glue on the gable edges and the base of the roof flaps. You don’t want the glue smooshing out too much, especially if you have already painted your house. Just dab it with a paper towel to remove the excess glue.
Center the roof over the house (equal overhangs on each side, front and back). Painter’s tape might come in handy here, but normally I hold the roof in place until I am sure it has adhered. Keep watching to make sure you haven’t made the roof slide forward or backward too much.
Glue the chimney to the roof
Next step is putting the chimney in place. The curve of the chimney matches the lower part of the house. But really you can slide it up or down or along either side until you like the way it fits. If there is a gap at the bottom of the chimney, you can cover it up with the shingles. I use lots of glue for the chimney because it takes a little while to get it to hold on a slant and again the shingles will cover up any glue blobs. You can cut the chimney so it’s not so tall if you want. For this house I cut off about 1/2 inch.
Apply shingles to your roof. I wrote about applying the shakes to the roof of the St. Patrick’s Day and the Tudor house in those posts if that is the type of roof you would like on your house. The German Half-Timbered House has shingles made from Tim Holtz Village rooftops die. But you could cut strips of cardboard to mimic those shingles easily.
Make base, prime and paint
I make my bases out of corrugated cardboard. Previously, I glued them together with Mod Podge, but now I use a hot glue gun to glue the layers of cardboard together. It’s much faster and easier. It’s the only place I use hot glue. Then I cover the cardboard with paper and paint.
Since this is a Christmas house, the base is white with Snow-tex on top then glittered.
Glue the house to the base and decorate
Apply a thick bead of glue to the base of your little house, center it over the base and glue it down. I apply a little pressure at first, but I don’t have to hold it long.
When I first started making houses, this was the funnest part – decorating the house. Now I enjoy the whole process, but it is still exciting to see the whole project come together. Use whatever embellishments you have on hand to decorate your little house. And have fun in the process.
Let me know how your house-making project goes. If you need any additional help, feel free to leave a comment or email me at Lucy@paperglitterglue.com.
Choose a pin and pin to your favorite Christmas Pinterest Board so you can remember where you found this pattern!
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