Of all the rooms in the Featherstone Hall Hotel, the dining room has to be my favourite - and of course it was the most complicated to create!

When I first started thinking about this project, I had always wanted to do a spectacular dining room with doors out to a conservatory. The idea of creating the outdoors indoors really appealed as I have always loved optical illusions and visual deceptions.

I started with a ready made orangery from the Streets Ahead range. And, drastic as it sounds, I cut it in half and removed the solid roof. I placed the shell inside the dining room (with a photo of a country house garden behind it to see if the optical illiusion effect would work) and marked the depth on the floor, and the height of the starting point for the outside scenery.

Once I had the depth of the conservatory, I created the back wall of the dining room, using a couple of room height pieces of MDF and a large exterior doorway (I had already painted ithe bare wood white on the dining room side) in the centre to make the entrance from the dining room. Either side of the doorway (on the conservatory side) I added two LED strip lights from Heidi Ott lighting range.

TIP: The LED strip lights give off a bright white light to simulate daylight, and contrast with the warm white of the dining room candle lights, as you can see in the first photo, adding to the illusion of reality.

 One thing to watch out for is the reflection on the inside of the glazing on the conservatory back wall. Also make sure you test the lights before you attach them to the wall and again after fixing - I also did a check after positioning the wall but not fixing it - its too late to tinker once the dining room wall is fixed!

Thinking ahead (for a change!), I cut a hole in the back wall for access to the light fittings. I wanted to put a plug extension inside the conservatory for the left hand LED strip (as you look at it) with the extension cable running around the outside of the conservatory, and the right hand would go straight back to the hatch.

Once this preparation was done, I was ready to start decorating. The landscape scene was taken from an old holiday digital image of a country house garden. It was printed out onto several sheets of self adhesive paper and used to line the dining room back end. Some extra blue sheets were printed for the sky.

The replacement glass roof (the original orangery had a solid wooden one)  was made from a glazing sheet with imitation iron struts of plastruct. I used real granite paving slabs for the floor and then glued the conservatory in position.

The roof was attached to the conservatory with clear tape at the far end, to make a hinge, before it was glued in position, and was then glued up to the ceiling at the dining room end once the building was in place (saving both time and patience trying to get the angle right on the side bits of glazing sheet to take the conservatory roof up to the dining room ceiling height!- I just used rectangles butted up to the end of the roof!) The conservatory roof needed to be fixed to the ceiling to look correct, through the fan light on the doorway.

Having only half a conservatory to fill meant that I didn't have room for the original string quartet or even the grand piano I had originally wanted, so I had to compromise with tonnes of plants and a duo with cello and violin!

It was quite tricky getting the two gentlemen to sit in their chairs and hold the instruments appropriately. However, superglue prevailed, and both the cellist and violinist are holding their bows, and give the impression of actually playing!

I was delighted when I found some stunning orange trees, as well a selection of exotic palms ferns, in the Dolls House Emporium range, especially considering my conservatory was originally an orangery! I further added flowering shrubs to add some colour and hopefully perfume for the diners to enjoy!

Once the conservatory was fully dressed, I then plugged in the LED lights (checked again that they were working!) and glued the back wall in position.

Once the wall was in position I realised that my walls were not cut very vertically and that there was a gap between the back wall and side walls. So I glued in a 10mm square length of strip wood to cover the gaps! And that's the story of the first half of the most difficult room in the house to do, next issue I will continue with decorating the dining room and adding the guests!

SEE ARTICLE 5 FOR THE COMPLETION OF THE DINING ROOM: Follow the creation of the grandest room in the house, with gilded walls, silk curtains, packed buffet dressers, elegant tables and eight fabulous characters!