My 1:4 Scale Parisian Apartment, Part 2

This is a continuation of My 1:4 Scale Parisian Apartment.

See Part 1 here.

For their Interior Design Contest, FDQ required that entrants submit only 3 photos per entry. The guidelines for these 3 shots were very specific: one shot needed to be of the entire diorama by itself, the second needed to be of the entire diorama with a doll, and the final photo was to be of a staging of props within the diorama.

Being entirely enclosed in a box with points of interest on every single wall, my diorama design ultimately turned out too large and complex to capture in the paltry three photo maximum required by the contest, particularly following such strict guidelines. Since a maximum of three entries per person was allowed, I thus decided to break my diorama up into 3 spaces and enter the contest three times. I ended up submitting entries for the living room, the apartment as a whole (minus the study), and the dining room. Although my living room won 3rd place, my dining room got no recognition whatsoever, but I thought I’d share it anyway. Before I do, though, I wanted to mention the flooring as it is the foundation upon which the entire diorama rests.

The Floor

sputnikIn the interest of keeping this diorama authentic to the real deal, I designed the flooring directly from the actual French chevron parquet that is very typically found in Parisian apartments. First, I obtained the wood grain pattern of the planks by snapping a photo of a large piece of plywood I had on-hand. Then, using Adobe Photoshop, I edited, scaled and chopped up the resulting image down into rectangles resembling individual planks. Next, I imported these images into Adobe Illustrator to collage them and create a 4′ x 4′ image of the floor. I then sent the file to my favorite local print shop and had them print it on banner material using their large format printer. Although typically quite expensive to print, banners are sturdy and durable enough to withstand being rolled and unrolled repeatedly which makes it ideal for temporary dioramas that need to be broken down when not in use.

The Dining Room

dining7Anyone who collects 1:4 scaled furniture will probably recognize the chairs of the dining set. They are the original wooden version of the French armchairs from Clea Bella. I would venture to say that they might be the best furniture pieces I own. They are just so well done, classic and, above all, versatile! I’ve always thought they would look great not only in a living room setting but could also be used as a fancy desk chair, the side chair to a console, or even a vanity chair in a luxury bath setting. I had originally only purchased one pair when they were first released. Then, when Miriam Shepard of Yum Yum Couture shared how she customized her Clea Bella chairs with paint and brocade, I purchased two more. Miriam often uses her beautiful chairs in photos that she posts on Prego. Hats off to her because I never managed to muster up the courage to alter the chairs in such a permanent way, and now I probably never will. Clea Bella ceased making their beautiful chairs out of wood some time ago and now only very rarely offer them up for sale in a resin version.

The Elusive Dining Table

dining4Another problem anyone who collects props for 1:4 scale dolls can relate to: dining tables are really hard to come by! The ones made by American Girl are way too tall while the ones I’ve seen made by Bespaq in 1:4 scale are too short! The dining table of Tyler Wentworth’s Dining Set by Tonner is the other stand-by that I decided collectors were already too familiar with and didn’t go with the Clea Bella chairs anyway. So I was really excited to find that an acrylic stand, that I had originally intended to use as a desk at some point, was the perfect height for a dining table! Imagine my utter euphoria when I discovered that all 4 Clea Bella chairs fit perfectly under it! The combination created mini interior design magic: the transparent acrylic showcases the beauty of the chairs and keeps the design bright, airy and modern.


chandelierMy dining group established, I immediately began raiding my stash of props for just the right chandelier to hang above it. I nearly settled for a clear acrylic LED chandelier from Kikkerland but decided against it. The Kikkerland chandelier was ready-to-go but I felt it’s use was too obvious and would create an overkill of clear acrylic and classic styling. I wanted something that added more interest, more texture, and a slightly different style with a bit more edge and fun–like one of those Sputnik fixtures from the 50s! Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to find one in 1:4 scale miniature, I spent a few weeks casually gathering materials and supplies and constructing my own just for this diorama. Luckily, my local Ace Hardware, well-stocked with a decent selection of hobby aluminum, provided the rods and tubing I needed for the fixture itself. On the other hand, I wanted the chandelier to have functional lights and those had to be ordered online. Having remembered some party balloon LEDs that I had seen online not long ago,


I promptly ordered some without quite knowing how I’d use them. Upon seeing that they each had their own independent battery source and built-in on/off capability, I knew incorporating them into the fixture would be a breeze. Using 18 of them to make the chandelier, however, posed quite a challenge during the photo shoot. I had to enlist the help of my husband to lift the ceiling just enough for me to reach inside the diorama to turn each one on to take photos, and then off to conserve their tiny battery life when done.

Making the lighting fixture made me think of an episode of American Pickers when Frank and Mike come upon an old hospital where they find this absolutely amazing lighting fixture/chandelier in one of the operating rooms. Also in the operating room were some really cool medical cabinets and it inspired me to use a pair of shabby-chic dental cabinets I had on-hand to


display dishes in this dining room. One cabinet stores the “Place Setting” accessory set from the Tyler Wentworth collection along with some vintage Silvercast toy pieces and Horsman’s wonderful 1:4 scaled wine glasses (man, I wish they would do champagne flutes!) A champagne bucket sits atop the cabinet, at-the-ready for extra-fancy dinners. The twin cabinet to the left displays more fancy Silvercast pieces including a tea service. The crowning glory of this cabinet is a vintage Russian samovar. Like the Silvercast pieces, the samovar is in perfect 1:4 scale. However, whereas the old Silvercast toys are quite readily found on eBay, it has taken me years to find a samovar in just the right size. Don’t ask me why I was looking for one. I certainly didn’t know I needed it until this diorama project came along! It is a unique piece that balances the champagne bucket displayed atop the other cabinet without being redundant.


dining10The large painting on the wall was done by a very talented artist in Chicago named Shannon Mcnealy. I saw her work on Etsy and knew I had to feature one of her paintings in this space. Her “Dandelions” painting was remounted on a custom canvas frame constructed by Charlene McDougale. Just opposite the painting is a screen hanging in mid-air that effectively separates the dining room from the adjoining study area. The screen is actually a sink mat I found at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Its texture adds interest to the design while its translucency still allows the natural light coming from the window beyond the study to shine through. This keeps the feel of the entire room bright, airy and much more spacious than it actually is.

That concludes Part 2 of the tour of my 1:4 scaled Parisian Apartment! Stay tuned for the 3rd and final chapter in my next post!

My 1:4 Scale Parisian Apartment, Part 3
My 1:4 Scale Parisian Apartment, Part 1