Miniature Patisserie: The Tea Room So Far
I had been trying to throw myself into making the pastries for the patisserie because I knew they would take a lot of time and effort, but the amount of time and effort was even greater than I had imagined (See: How to make 1:24 Scale Macarons). Therefore, I decided to take a little bit of a break from that to put the tea room together.
The tea room is the most full on Rococo part of this house, which makes it one of my favorite bits. I did a lot of research to decide on the colors that I was going to use, but I kept coming back to a combination of pale blue, pale green and teal, with pink as an accent. I wanted the room itself to resemble a LaDurée pastry with a side of Marie Antoinette.
The floor is a Brodnax parquet, which is absolutely gorgeous. Once I put the floor down, I knew this was going to be a pretty room. I had wanted the cherry, but there wasn't enough in stock, so I used the walnut, which I ended up thinking was perfect to ground the super pale colors. The detail in the Jim Coates moulding (that I accented with gold paint) really made the room look rich and luxurious. It's astonishing was that kind of detail can do.
I built out a chimney breast for the Sue Cook fireplace, although further research suggested to me that it was less common in an 18th century palace (where my style inspiration came from). However, it was common in late 19th century, Haussman-era buildings, which is the period of this kit. Phew! I'm happy I added it also because it reinforces a sense of symmetry to the fireplace on a wall that has a lot going on (2 sets of stairs, a tiny wall, railings).
The curtains were a crucial part of the design, as I had decided to use a curtain to separate the stairs from the tea room and give a sense of privacy to the 'hotel room' upstairs. (I may add a little 'Privé' sign or a velvet rope!) The curtains are made from an iridescent silk faille that gets its subtle color from the different tones in the warp and weft of the fabric. Working on such a small scale, I found that this kind of subtlety really pays off in the way the room comes together. I used a tiny gold cord to tie the curtains back and made tassels out of green and gold thread to hang on them. I turned and glued a hem on the stair curtain, but I think using the selvedge on the window curtain was much more effective. More than one layer of fabric at this scale seems to look bulky.
The tables are kits of Red Cottage miniatures and the chairs are from Shapeways. I stained and painted the tables to as closely resemble Louis XVI-style, 19th century tea tables as I could and I'm very pleased with how they came out. It was hard to choose the chairs because I felt that it was a betrayal of verisimilitude to not use chairs with real fabric upholstery... until I realized that the cost per chair of a wood chair with fabric upholstery (even a kit) was much too high to have enough chairs AND they weren't in the style I wanted. Happily, these chairs have stunning detail that would be very hard to get in wood AND I could paint them however I wanted. Naturally, I decided to paint then to resemble a needlepoint chair cover design in the Metropolitan Museum's collection.
I also added my own 1:24 version of Fragonard's 'The Swing' because it is exactly the Rococo style and feeling I wanted my room to have. I went back and forth on whether to print a copy or paint one because you can get details in a photo print that I definitely can't get in my own painting, but in the end I think the painting has a vividness that a print out wouldn't.
I still need to add some more art, and some more lighting (I'm thinking about a chandelier). And maybe some vases or candles for the tables, flowers and dishes for the guests, but it's basically only little things now!