Along for the ride:

Friday, May 15, 2015

Perfect Imperfections

Suddenly, our "moving moment" was upon us. The big questions were answered as our remarkable next-door Fork-lift company put one of their big guns in play and skillfully moved our completed playhouse out of the confines of our workshop (Yay! it fit through the door) and onto the waiting truck.

Amazing truck driver brought the perfect Low-Boy, eighteen wheeler rig, to keep our house below power lines and pass snugly under one freeway overpass and one bridge.
I was hanging back, anxious to see if we'd shed antique roof-tiles like dragon scales to the wind drag on the way to our destination. We arrived, not only in one piece, but first in.
There were some scary moments during unloading. The driver of the rental forklift was less experienced than our "A"-Team member who had loaded us up and, once delivered, it was no longer our option to intervene. The forklift forks were not really long enough and our house is pretty heavy. There was a moment when our house was tilted at a 45 degree angle, with one edge being dragged along the floor. It was almost a ruin but was finally set safely down in the staging area of the parking lot to await positioning the next morning.
We had to get everything in and set up before shoppers arrived at the Mall on Saturday. We were there at 5:30 am. There were three forklifts to move four playhouses each.
The sky was beginning to lighten as "La maison de mes reves" trundled along past the peripheral stores. It had to go all the way around three sides of the newly built Bloomingdale's. At this stage, I went to sit in my car, as I could do nothing to help and the potential for disaster was high.
The driver was entirely guided by his colleagues. He couldn't see around his load.
Our Team Architect phoned me to say "Our Eagle has Landed" and I rejoined the group.
Window boxes were attached and filled with lavender. The ramp went back on one side and the barrel on the other. Paintings were hung on the interior walls, curtains draped and then plexiglass was screwed in place over the openings, to allow people to see inside but not enter.
The sun was barely up when I was finally able to get a shot of the rear climbing wall. It had been too close to the wall of our building and further crowded by scaffolding, during construction. Once the climbers get up the wall and inside onto a little mezzanine platform, they have the choice between a rustic wood ladder or a dangling rope, to take them down again.
The lucky find of a wild hare door knocker, turned out well. I ordered it online, on a wing and a prayer, It showed up on time, was a great bronze quality and ideal size. (Why don't advertisers think we need to know sizes?). We'd had to adapt from our original idea of the little peekaboo door with ironwork. The ready made ones were all huge, in proportion to the door and custom ordering would have been time consuming and expensive.
The front door was hand made; templated to fit the arched opening. It was wobbly at first, until the structural pieces were added to the back. They add so much character to the look. They're perfect.

The light sconces are engineered out of antique roof tiles and reclaimed copper from a local scrap metal dealer.

The Artistic One's paintings are there for the duration but not included in the sale of the house. 
The rustic ceiling beams were on the point of being returned to the supplier, as our builder was not pleased with their imperfections. The lumber supplier had greatly discounted the wood in honor of our project and had, fortuitously, sent us some slightly knarly stock.
Throughout the project I had to keep explaining to all of our great workers that this was supposed to have an organic, authentic aged simplicity. Most of them are used to working for clients who are very picky (anal) about everything being straight and, their version of "perfect". I found the best description I could keep repeating, in order to get what I wanted was "It's supposed to look like the farmer did it, after a beer or two".
If I were forced to choose my favorite aspect of our playhouse, I'd have to go for the barrel that hinges to be a secret exit. For any child to be able to be seen entering a house and then be nowhere to be found inside, is empowering. 
I love the lettering our painter did. The French words are supposed to provoke conversations of other lands and languages.
The finish on these windows belies the fact that they are store bought metal frame windows, stacked sideways to make an ensemble that is to the scale of the house. The wooden headers are left over sections of the framing wood, wire brushed and stained, with a little touch of English Brown wiped on and off again, by very talented and experienced hands.
The exterior wall finish is an integral plaster treatment, combining the three colors on the sample board. The finisher mixed three separate colors of plaster and used a big plastering trowel to run wide swathes of color over and around one another, until the house glowed with a lived in warmth.
I had him sign and date the card. "Play House Colors" may well end up as a framed art piece.
The following three photos were taken by the marketing personnel and displayed on the Face Book page of The Shopping Mall. These pictures capture a lot more of the colors and textures than my little snap shots.
We've been taking turns at watering the plants every couple of days.
Now it's all about the upcoming Party, June 6th.


  1. A nightmare having your creation in the hands of others....

    1. Helen, at least it wasn't my husband driving the forklift! That drives me crazy!

  2. I would have loved it as a child . It's even better than your original description !

    Actually I want it now for a sewing room ... would it fit on my balcony , do you think ?

    1. S&S, I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. We hoped it would appeal to kids but be adaptable as a refuge for adults also.

  3. I want that sooooo badly....

    1. Maria, isn't it just like a little house hug?

  4. It’s a dream come true for some lucky child somewhere.

    How I wish it could sit in my garden.

  5. Friko, I can send you the plan and you can have someone local build it. Just remember the theme "The farmer did it, after a few beers"

  6. Alas, I would love it but have no place to put it! Glad you shared it here.

  7. That is adorable. What creative ideas and so well executed. Love the climbing wall, the rope/ladder choice, but I agree, the best is the barrel secret door. What an inspired idea. Can't wait to hear what happens to this posh little abode. Well done indeed.

  8. OMG! I want it! It is beautiful. My little girl heart wants to play in it.