After building the flat pack shell of Featherstone Hall Hotel and decorating the outside, I was pleased to finally get into the house. In reality, I actually started with the basement and worked up, but I thought that it would be a good idea to follow the grand tour route taken in the first article of this series. We therefore step through the revolving door, past Lady Camille, and into the reception, to meet Hotel Manager Mr Fairfax, Parker the porter, with Charles Clarke and Edward Black the busy desk staff.

When designing the reception I knew exactly the look I was going for, I was inspired by the reception of a fabulous hotel in London I have stayed in on several occasions, the Montague on the Gardens. The reception was stunning decorated in black and white with immaculate and attentive staff. I just had to do my own version of it!


I started by painting the ceiling white and wallpapering the room shell with a black and white 'fleur-de-lis' pattern paper. It would have been easier to continue the paper up the stair well up into the grand hall, but I had another colour scheme in mind for that, so I stopped the paper in the stair well at the reception ceiling height.




The floor was one of those things that seemed simple until I started it! I wanted to go for a harlequin effect rather than a check, and so started tiling front to back using two fixed points where the tile could line up with the front edge of the house and the dining room wall. I used plain white 1inch terracotta square tiles but painted half of them black and applied them to the floor with lashings of PVA glue - I also used PVA to finish the floor and glaze the tiles to a satin finish. I had already marked where the first short length of stairs would meet the floor and a line where the tiling should stop at the back edge. Shortly after completing the revolving door I realised that I would have to leave a space in the reception floor tiling to accommodate the half of the door which was inside the hotel, and clearly marked the floor BEFORE tiling it! Pliers and were ideal to 'nibble' away at the tiles to get the shape I needed and a craft knife smoothed the edge. The half tiles along the wall edges were cut (carefully) with a hacksaw.





After adding the two grand doors, one to the dining room and one to the library, and before adding the stairs, I cut pre-painted white skirting to run up the staircase wall. This meant I had to notch out the width of the skirting on the top step of the staircase - otherwise it would not have fitted into the slot pre cut for it (see pictures above - the top step is notched out the width of the skirting) .  I then joined the staircases (all pre-stained and varnished in a dark oak finish) to the landing which was already in place (as part of the construction of the flat pack).


Note: the grand doors are actually exterior front doors painted white - they have just the right look for such a grand house - and it shows that you don't have to use things where they are supposed to go!



I cut a hatch in the house back for access to the light fittings, and decorated the visible areas of the under stairs office with wallpaper skirting and a picture.



To complete the stairs I had wanted to have some rather beautiful cast metal spindles, but after working out how many I would need, up both the reception and grand hall staircase, I thought that the cost was rather prohibitive. I would rather spend my budget on quality furniture and fittings. So after a great deal of fiddling about I settled on cut down plastic garden railings. I trimmed sections of railings to make spindles, glued them at a 45 degree angle into the groove on the underside of a handrail (with superglue - very fiddly!) and then glued the spindle ends into small holes (made with a bradawl) in the step of the installed stairs. This is, I'm sure, not the easiest way of doing it, but I had never done this before - and on the next staircase I did learn from this and put the holes in the stairs before installing the staircase. It also took a bit of fiddling about to work out what angle to cut the two handrails to join together on the landing, but with a 'dummy run' on some scrap handrail I soon got them to join up fairly neatly (when the lashings of glue dried!)






I created the under stairs wall by marking the line of the stairs on the back of a section of partition and then drew a diagonal along the lower line of zigzag points (this was done before installing the handrail and spindles). I cut this to shape (including the doorway) - and most importantly - checked that it fitted in position BEFORE covering it in the reception wallpaper and gluing a lamp on the back side to illuminate the hidden room. After fixing it in position a pre-painted door was added, with 'private' sign and lock.



TIP: It's important to mention that when planning the house layout, I knew that I would need more room partitions than were supplied with the kit. So after the house was built I took measurements of the room heights and had a couple of sheets of MDF cut into strips the same height as the rooms, by my local B&Q cutting service (which ensured neat, accurate and most importantly, parallel cuts) all I then had to do was cut the width required.


The final part of the reception decoration was to add the swag and bow coving and the two ceiling roses for the light fittings. I pre-painted the gold fringing and bows on the coving, and highlighted the large ceiling roses with gold before use. Also to make decorating the grand hall (above the reception) easier I papered the grand hall before applying the reception coving so that it would cover the join between the two papers. I also added a plain wooden moulding along the floor/ceiling line so that the coving on the stair well had something to butt up to.


At this point I should have installed the ceiling lights, but that did not occur to me until after I had furnished the room. This meant that I had the tricky job of trying to vacuum around the flower arrangement! But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, I started at the back with the fabulous Bespaq hotel pigeon hole unit and matching low bar unit for the reception desk. It may seem a bit of a sacrilege when dealing with quality furniture like Bespaq, but I spray painted it gloss black to fit with my colour scheme. I then highlighted the hand carved details in gold to complete the look. Luckily for me the door locks I had chosen to use throughout the hotel were supplied with keys - so I raided the packs to part fill the pigeon holes with sets of keys. A jewellery making jump ring, joined two keys together for a room set. The other bays in the unit were filled with letters, notes and newspapers made up from sheets in the Dee-Daw Designs cut out pack.




The reception desk features a gorgeous (electric) oil lamp, desk blotter with more letters and papers from the cut-out pack and a metal casting of an open book painted to look like a register with a pen resting on it. Also on the desk is a small tray with an urgent letter, room keys and a service hand bell.


TIP: if you have a copy of the DH&MS special projects book from 2010 you will be able to follow how the blotter was made from my writing desk project (page 101) and several other useful items for this desk and the one in the Butlers pantry in a later issue of this series.


When these two pieces were completed I glued them in position then added the manager coming out of his office with a letter in his hand and the receptionist.
On the wall next to the manager I added another Bespaq piece, a small shelving unit, which again I painted gloss black with gold accents, and dressed with an assortment of pots, stationery and boxes. I just managed to squeeze in a lovely cast metal barometer which was painted to match the room colour scheme, and finished the group with some left luggage.



In the foreground of the reception is Parker the porter who is standing with some luggage beside a hall table and mirror. The table one of a pair I made by cutting a table in half (after spraying it gloss black) and adding some hand painted gold details and a band of Dutch metal.



In the middle of the room is a Bespaq round black leather chair which has had the carved wood painted gold, and a small garden urn (painted gold) filled with white flowers, placed in the centre plinth.




It was at this point I realised I should have put the lights in sooner! I drilled the holes and positioned the ceiling roses.  TIP: Use a bamboo skewer through the ceiling and rose to keep the holes aligned while the glue sets. The cables then run across the Grand Hall floor (under the flooring) through the wall to the bathroom of the Dukes suite which also accommodates a multi plug socket and transformer.


NOTE: As I mentioned earlier I actually started with the basement of the hotel and worked up, so that all pendant light fittings could be installed with the cables running under the flooring above then routed to the back of the house where they are linked to a series of concealed transformers placed inside the house in unseen areas like bathrooms.


My favourite item in the reception is the chinoiserie style grandfather clock on the stairs landing. I had already added the stair carpet - complete with brass stair rods but felt that something was missing. I had planned to put the grandfather clock where the telephone actually ended up, but felt that it was not seen to best advantage there. See the end of this article to follow the simple transformation this clock underwent.




The telephone had originally been planned to go where the wall shelf ended up and so it was ideal to move it over to beside the dining room door. Again it was a fabulously detailed metal casting painted in black and gold, and looks even better when in use. It was a little tricky to place the phone handset and cable in the mans hand, so I glued the handset into his hand and bent the phone cable to look like it connects with the handset, but it doesn't actually touch.


The final finishing touches consisted of a few large oil paintings of the Featherstone ancestors running up the stairs are from the Dee-Daw Designs range   





Although this clock is from a quality range, it had to be painted to match the colour scheme. I first of all removed the brass face plate, pendulum, weights and glass panels. I sprayed the clock black gloss and then highlighted the carved details with gold paint. I suggested a Chinese looking scene on the base panel (think 'willow pattern' plate) with a few brush strokes. I then replaced the pendulum, weights and glass panels. To complete the face I used a large pressed metal round from a crafters pack of large brads. I printed out a clock face to fit in the centre (or you could cut around the original brass one) and finished it with a clear domed sticker which comes with the brad craft pack.


Click on the tabs on the left to see more sample articles in this series.

FEATHERSTONE HALL HOTEL BOOK - available to buy on the SHOP: BOOK page.
The Book is a 164 page paperback, with gloss cover in A4 landscape format, to better allow for full room full page colour pictures. Each copy of the limited first edition is hand numbered on a bookplate inside the front cover. ONLY £19.99 with worldwide shipping.