Time Burgler Project: Haunted House
Boys and Ghouls, with Halloween quickly approaching I thought I would share a project that has consumed an embarrassing amount of my time in recent days. It is a haunted house that you can build and use to decorate and spookify your full size house this Halloween season.
This Haunted House began its life a simple, inexpensive doll house kit, which you can obtain either from a local craft store or online. There are a few styles out there. I liked this traditional Victorian design because it fits the cliche of a spooky old house! They can range in price from 24.00 to 50.00 depending on who is selling and the shipping charges, It may pay to shop around. The kit comes is a shrunk wrapped package about an inch and a half thick and smaller in footprint then that of a legal size sheet of paper. Inside you will find ten sheets of wood with hundreds of parts nestled on them.
Here are the "instructions" (note the scare quotes) they simply show you how each piece relates to one another using a number association system. The first thing I did was punch out all the pieces so I could begin adding details and painting them. You need pay attention to which side is which on the house when laying out the pieces so you don't accident mix up the interior and the exterior. I noticed that one side was rounded slightly, likely due to how all the parts were cut. Once I had all the pieces punched out I divided them up into categories. I separated the large exterior pieces, porch and railing pieces, window and trim pieces, etc. There was also a pile of pieces that I just didn't know what they were at this stage.
I began with the large exterior panels adding details with a black ink pen such as spider webs, exposed brick, missing or damaged siding planks, and other embellishments designed to convey advanced stages of dilapidation. Here you can see the tabs around the perimeter of the pieces. In most cases we opted to break these tabs off as they did not always work as intended and the roof looked cleaner and better without them.
Next I added subtle color to the house exterior using a watered down acrylic paint in light green. A burnt red color was used where the exposed bricks were.
On the roof a black watered down paint was used to achieve a weathered grey appearance. The kit came with had a pre-printed shingle pattern already on it. Being that this was too perfect and neat for my haunted house, I drew cracks and mismatched the colors of individual shingles to add some chaos.
The parts were staring to take up quite a bit of room! The window frames and the porch and balcony pieces were painted white with a paint marker, then washed in grey to age and distress them. Here you can see the three floor pieces; first, second, and attic floor. On these pieces, patterned paper (for scrap-booking) with a wood pattern were glued on them to quickly add color and realism. This was done on the interior side of the wall with paper that had a pattern that looked like classic wallpaper. There are several collections of interestingly patterned paper for scrap books available at you local craft store, we found one that had everything we needed on clearance. You can also buy individual sheets.
Here you see the back of the Haunted house as it starts to take form. You can see the "wood" floors and wallpaper as well as "spooky" details like the spider in the corner of the exterior. The distressing continued on past this point with extra coats of watered down paint to increase the aged look.
Because the house kit did not fit together seamlessly, and I knew I did not want light to show through the gaps. I used a caulk in a tube to fill in the gaps. The caulk unfortunately was white in color, so then needed to be painted over to match wherever it was used.
Here you can see how the wood patterned paper was used on the floor. I drew planks (complete with nail heads and cracks) on it with in pen. Then I washed it over the paper with watered down black paint to again give the look of age. I even would randomly color in a plank dark brown to give the look of a repair made years ago. You can see in this photo the opening to the floor below, a simple ladder-like stairs were provided with the kit, but I opted not to use them.
Here you can see the scrap book paper used on the walls as wallpaper and the wood patterned paper on the floor. Oh No!, it looks like this house may have been the scene of a crime!
The windows are just holes in the wood, if you like you can make and attach tattered drapes or use clear plastic from packaging in jagged shapes to simulate broken glass. I just quickly and randomly applied tape to the window so it would filter the light to the outside when I place led candles in the rooms.
Here again you can see the wood planks with nail heads and replaced panels on the porch balcony.
Throughout the roof you can see where the tabs were supposed to jut through and another small horseshoe shaped piece was supposed to lock it in place. This system was unattractive and rarely worked, so I just broke off the tabs then filled in the holes they left behind. Luckily with a haunted house perfection is not the goal.
Nearly finished, you can see the layout of the Haunted House there are several rooms that you can use to set up spooky scenes with store bought or homemade Ghosts, Witches, Vampires or other creepy characters. Using the subtle approach, I'm opting to put led candles in each room so they glow through the windows.
Here is the finished product, it sits on a display shelf and serves as a spooky candle holder with an led candle (please don't use real ones) in each room giving it a spooky presence. The Haunted House can be stored and brought out every year to be used as a decoration or centerpiece.
An electroluminescent panel purchased at Radio Shack was used to create a full moon to shine over the spooky house all Halloween night. Happy Haunting!