A Drying Attic...

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, I have been working on a new roombox based on a 17th/18th century drying attic.  A drying attic ...

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, I have been working on a new roombox based on a 17th/18th century drying attic.  A drying attic is a room at the top of a house where laundry was dried and ironed and some items were stored.  

This room was the domain of the (laundry) maid, so this room is quite plain, with white plastered walls and only the most necessary furniture.   The main piece is the large cabinet in the center of the back wall.  It was a bit tricky to make because of the odd angles.  




The two benches on either side of the cabinet are for holding laundry baskets and ironed laundry before it is put away.  The whitewashed table is an ironing table, copied from the one in the Petronella Oortman dolls house in the Rijksmuseum.  

The ironing table consists of a board and trestle legs.  The trestle legs also had some odd angles on them, but to fit them together perfectly was a fun little puzzle.  


In the 17th century (earlier and later too) attic floors were made from spruce wood.  The attic floorboards were usually flat sawn, showing that wonderful cathedral grain which in Dutch is referred to as 'vlammen' (flames).  Unfortunately I was unable to find anything like that in scale, but I have kept last year's Christmas tree (along with several large conifers I cut down in my garden) to see if I can get 'small flamed' wood from it when it has dried.  That's all for a next project.  

After a long search and some support on the Fine Miniatures Forum  I eventually found a small piece of fir which had wonderful small knots and a fine grain.   I cut the wood on the vertical grain and although it doesn't show the flames (they would be terribly out of scale) it does show all the little knots.  With a watered down light stain I think the floor looks perfect!


On the left wall of the room is a simple small fireplace.  Not a common feature of drying attics (oh! imagine the soot on the laundry!), but it gives the room a bit more opportunity to play and collect.  As seen in many 17th century dolls houses, the floorboards run to the back of the fireplace so a hearth plate, fire back and fire basket are needed before a fire can safely be made.  





In the reflection of the mirror a shelving unit can be seen on the opposite wall.



To accommodate an ever-changing collection of miniatures, I came up with the idea of adjustable shelves.  With a wink to Shaker peg rails, I turned the peg rails vertically and hung shelves from them, making the shelves easily adjustable in hight. 

A fun little demonstration below. 



Of course no drying attic would be complete without a drying rack.  The drying rack hangs from the ceiling beams and has five long wooden poles on which the laundry would be hung to dry.  







The miniatures I used to decorate with:
*baskets on benches by Will Werson
*silver mirror and vase by Jens Torp
*pottery by Elisabeth Causeret
*copper kettle by George Chapman
*copper iron by Philippe Bordelet
*chair by Colin Bird
*a few old pieces I have in my collection



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58 comments

  1. Oh, it's so beautiful. I feel like the simple things in miniature are the hardest because of the exactness you need and everything here is perfect. The tiny knots in the wood are such a lovely detail! Gorgeous.

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    1. Thank you! It was a long search for the right wood and it was a bit of a lucky find, but worth it. I think it is my favourite part of the roombox.

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    1. Thank you Elga! Ready for Chicago? You must have worked so hard for it.

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  4. So simple and elegant. I love your floors. And that drying rack is wonderful!

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  5. What a beautiful job you have done creating this room.
    I love the cabinet! The ironing table is so interesting. It looks like it has been used for many years. It has a great soft patina. The floor is fantastic with its color and tiny knots. I was thinking about how I would get up to the drying rack to hang something up. Maybe you need a ladder? ;-) The pegged shelves are very interesting. That is not anything I have ever seen before. Also something I really love. :-) XXX

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    1. Haha Catherine! Yes, the ladder is hanging against the fourth wall. ;-) To be honest I wondered about the same thing. There is no mention anywhere (that I have read anyway) of how the laundry was put up there. Maybe a stepladder, maybe they took the poles down with some gadget on a stick. I don't know. There is no pulley system and the Dutch are tall, but not that tall.
      I've never seen the pegged shelves either, I 'invented' them. But my reasoning was that if they needed something like that in the 17th century, there surely was some carpenter who would have thought of this and built them. And maybe they are out there somewhere. There are plenty of modern versions around, I have a metal adjustable shelving unit (with wooden shelves) on my wall in my workshop...
      Thank you!

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    2. Everyone always forgets the fourth wall. Out of sight out of mind. :-) WOW! What a great invention those shelves are! They really look like a miniature version of an antique.

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    3. My mother was telling me they had a drying rack similar to the one I made when she grew up, but it had a pulley system. The ones I have seen in the big houses are all fixed to the ceiling beams without a pulley or other system to lower them.

      Yes, my 'invention' haha! Heavily 'borrowed' from the Shakers. I hope I don't get sued ;-)

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  6. ¡Impresionante!. Me encantan las explicaciones y el mimo que has puesto en el trabajo.

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    1. ¡Muchas gracias por los elogios Isabel!

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  7. Utterly gorgeous and thankyou so much as I'm doing a 1/48 scale house with a drying attic and you've given me mountains of ideas

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    1. You're welcome and thank you! ;-) 1/48 scale, I have a lot of respect for people working in such a small scale!

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  8. My 1/48 scale house is also based on the Petronella Oortman house

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    1. It is a wonderful house with lots of great rooms to work on. Have fun with it!

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  9. Wow! I remember seeing the house, and the 'drying room' in the Rijksmuseum, when I visited your fair city years ago. My daughter and I spent about three hours in that section alone, and came back to the 'Rijks' as we came to call it at least three more times to see the fabulous artwork too. That trick for adjustable shelves is genius; now I think I want it in my RL workroom! Thanks for sharing, be safe.

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    1. I can imagine you spending three hours in that dolls house room, there is so much to see! Yes the Rijks (we call it that too) is a wonderful museum. Not too big but plenty to see for several visits.
      Those type of shelves come in modern metal versions too (without the pegs) but I like the rhythm of the pegs, they are so visually pleasing. I can imagine them in a lovely cherry wood or so, like the Shakers did theirs.
      Thank you Martha!

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  10. Hi Josje! This room looks so elegant, functional, serene... timeless.... I guess the needs of a laundry didn't change much until the 20th century! I thought you were building a drying room in your Canal House attic? The cupboard you have made is amazing.... those angles seem so unusual! The ironing table on its trestles is a bit like a medieval dinner table or "board" that was set up for the meal and stored when not in use. As usual, your setting is so visually satisfying... and so hard to believe it is miniature!!!

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    1. Hi Betsy, thank you! This one is a separate roombox, but my second canal house I think will have a drying attic. I haven't reached those floors yet ;-) Yes the cupboard had odd angles and I am a bit angle-challenged haha! I never get it. I make my drawings, measure the angles and it should be fine...but it never is. So I have to cut samples until I find the right ones before I can continue. It was something like 67.5 degrees and 50some degrees (can't remember exactly), but it didn't make sense to me. But that's how it worked so I suppose those were the right angles. ;-)

      Ah yes! Trestles! That was the word I was looking for when I wrote the post. I couldn't remember what they were called and kept finding only the saw horse legs. I will change it in my post. Thank you!
      I don't know whether the ironing table was actually stored away as they wouldn't have had the need to do that like they did with the dining tables. It is funny that in Dutch we now say 'strijkplank' (ironing board) whereas the 17th century version was referred to as 'strijktafel' (ironing table).

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    2. Hi Josje!Isn't language interesting? "Board" still refers to the "meal" that "boarders" get when renting a room! We use "ironing board" over here too.
      I am always using paper and cardboard "mock-ups" when cutting pieces that have angles to them! It is hard to be precise with tiny pieces anyway! Your cabinet looks just Perfect!!!

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    3. Whoops! Almost deleted your comment... Wrong button ;-)
      Oh yes, I do mock ups too, and draw everything out on paper and on the wood too so if I turn the wood over I can still look at the pencil line to know which way to cut it.
      Language is interesting. In school I was always surprised how much (old) English en Dutch are alike. In this context the word 'strijken' means to iron, but it also means to stroke. Strijken-stroke... see?

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  11. I had long wooden rods installed into my Real Life laundry room and they work a treat for drying although I still don't enjoy the Real Life ironing very much.
    I love the notion of having a drying attic in miniature ESPECIALLY when it looks as Interesting and as Lovely as yours. The cupboard with the oxblood- painted interior and the various accessories you included, give your entire composition an atmosphere of a Dutch Still Life.
    I'm in Awe!

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    1. Thank you Elizabeth! Most old Dutch cabinet houses/dolls houses have a drying attic. Which indicates it was an important room in Dutch households. Most drying attics would not have had a cupboard like the one I made with room for displaying things, but I think this was a cupboard which was no longer needed in the nicer rooms so it was put in the attic for storing linen or other items. ;-)

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  12. Dear Josje, this room is just so lovely. I love how the room is beautifully simple but the more you look the more fine, fine details you find. The floor is amazing! I grew up in Scandinavia and that is exactly how the pine floors look - oh so inspiring.
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Anna

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    1. Thank you Anna! I love the simplicity as well, the plain plastered walls, untreated floorboards and not too many colours. I am so happy with the floor. I think the hunt is on for some more wood with tiny knots, as it has always been what I intended in the dining room of my second canal house. What I have there now was an attempt to copy pine flooring but I failed at achieving it. I have never been happy with that floor.

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  13. What a fun roombox! And beautiful photography. The first thing I noticed was the wonderfully tiny knots in perfect scale on the floor. You've done a great job on this, very interesting subject matter---

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    1. Thank you Linda! Of course you would notice a wood detail ;-)

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  14. prachtige kast in een hele mooie kamer! hoe zouden de dienstboden de strijkijzers verwarmd hebben, kooltjes meenemen uit de keuken?

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    1. Dank je Margot! Dat vroeg ik me ook af eerlijk gezegd. Ik vermoed inderdaad dat het meegenomen werd uit de keuken, want ik kan me niet voorstellen dat daar vuur voor werd aangemaakt op zolder. 's Winters werden er toch ook kooltjes klaargemaakt voor de stoofjes en voor de beddenpannen. Ik weet ook van het bestaan van de zgn 'water-en-vuurbaas' waar je heet water en gloeiende kolen kon kopen, maar ik weet niet of dat in de 17de en 18de eeuw al bestond. Daarbij komt dat zo'n linnenzolder zich in een huis van een behoorlijk rijk huishouden moet bevinden die waarschijnlijk zelf zorgden voor heet water en kooltjes. Wij werden vroeger terechtgewezen wanneer we met onze ellebogen op tafel zaten met de zin 'turven bij de water-en-vuurbaas', wat zoveel wilde zeggen als 'alleen arme mensen zitten met hun ellebogen op tafel'. ;-)

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  15. What a great room! I enjoyed reading all the details.
    Geneviève

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  16. This is lovely and I'm very impressed with your folding table. I can only imagine how long that took to work out!

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    1. Thank you Irene! It wasn't too bad, but as I've said somewhere before, I'm a little bit 'angle challenged' ;-)
      So if everything has to slot together at and angle, it takes me a bit of time to work it out. I was rather proud of myself when it all fit together nicely, haha!

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  17. Hi Josje, What a wonderful room. I must mention that the short video of the changeable shelves is quite hypnotic! Also, what a great idea! I think that the trestle ironing table is my favourite as I can imagine the poor maids up in the attic ironing for hours on end. The smell of steam and the damp sheets dripping from the hanging rods.
    I did see the Oortman doll houses in the Rijksmuseum and I was surprised at how large they are.
    The flooring was quite a challenge I can tell but the knots in the wood are perfect.
    Great work Josje and so glad that you shared it and we can explore it through your blog.
    Regards Janine

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    1. Thank you Janine. Yes, the fact that these rooms are represented in the 17th century dolls houses and the size of these rooms is an indication of their importance in the households. Expensive linen was a status symbol and part of a woman's dowry, so it needed to be taken care of properly.

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  18. It was very interesting to read and see the wonderful pieces you created for this room. It made me realize how fortunate we are to have washing and drying machines.
    Hugs, Drora

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    1. Thank you Drora. Yes we are lucky indeed! Now for that automatic ironing system....

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  19. Thank you so much for the wonderful photos of this beautiful room. It is magnificent in it's simplicity. I can imagine it wasn't simple, though, to make the cabinet and ironing table. They are both perfect, and your vertical "Shaker" shelf pegs are ingenious. Love it all!

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  20. Superbe travail! J'adore ces tons clairs, tout est si net, si pure. Le plancher avec les nœuds dans le bois à l'échelle est parfait, l'armoire, la table de repassage et l'étagères sont très originales. Comme toujours avec vous Josje, du grand art!

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  21. Hallo Josje, De kleerzolder/Linnenkamer is heel mooi geworden. Elegant in zijn eenvoud. Het wandrek is een goeie vondst en hoewel ik geen referentie weet, oogt hij heel natuurlijk en echt. De schouw is mooi gemarmerd. In de kleerzolder van Huis ter Swinnendael heb ik er ook eentje gepland. Ik zet er dan een kacheltje van Arjan in zodat om de as en roet bij de was weg te houden en de strijkijzers op te warmen. Volgens mij niet iets dat voor de 19e eeuw gebruikelijk was maar wel mooi. Jouw droogrek is ook mooi afgewerkt. Je bent echt heel goed met houtbewerking in miniatuur. Ik ben benieuwd wat jouw volgende project wordt.

    Groetjes,

    Huibrecht.

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    1. Dank je wel Huibrecht! Ja ik dacht nog aan zo'n kacheltje, maar inderdaad denk ik ook dat dat er in die tijd nog niet was. Een van de inspiratiebronnen was de linnenkamer van kasteel Duivenvoorde, niet al te ver bij jou vandaan!

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    2. Hallo Josje,

      Duivenvoorde is inderdaad niet ver hier vandaan. Ik ben er al lange tijd niet meer geweest. Misschien is het goed om hier weer eens naar toe te gaan en wat referentiefoto's te maken. Het is een schitterende buitenplaats.

      Groetjes,

      Huibrecht

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  22. Hello josje,
    This is such a terrific use of attic space and is such a fun room to have in a miniature house. the cabinet is stunning and very handsome. I also love the shelving and the ironing table. Everything, down to the floorboards, looks absolutely perfect and your accessories are wonderful. Well done.
    Happy belated birthday.
    Big hugs,
    Giac

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    1. Thank you Giac! And thank you for your birthday wish!

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  23. Your drying attic is breathtakingly beautiful! I love the floor, the adjustable shelf, and that ironing table, it's the best!

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  24. Wonderful, serene, calm, peaceful !Q As much as I hate ironing I could do with a better spirit in a room like this.

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    1. Thank you Rosanna! I suppose a calm and peaceful room would make the task of ironing better, but only a little... It's just never going to be fun, is it?

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  25. It's just perfect. Your attention to detail is wonderful. :)

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  26. In één woord: prachtig, Josje, alsof je zó het verleden instapt. Je hebt deze zolderkamer geweldig mooi uitgewerkt tot in de kleinste details!
    Ja, vurenhout zoeken dat vanwege de noesten/vlammen ook in mini gebruikt kan worden, daar ben ik jaren geleden ook al eens mee bezig geweest, maar ik heb het toen, net als jij, ook niet kunnen vinden.
    Groetjes, Ilona

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    1. Dank je wel Ilona. Ja het is een lastige houtsoort om in miniatuur te verwerken. Ook ik heb het jaren geleden al eens willen gebruiken, voor de chinoiserie eetkamer, maar kon het niet vinden. Ik heb toen ander hout gebruikt en de noesten en vlammen erop getekend en geverfd, maar dat werkte helemaal niet. Die vloer zit er nog steeds in, maar ik ben er nooit blij mee geweest. Die gaat er nog wel uit! ;-) Nu op zoek naar nog zo'n mooi stukje hout want voor de linnenkamer had ik net genoeg.

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  27. Schitterend! de hele kamer is prachtig maar de kast is geweldig

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    1. Dank je wel Gonda. Ik ben er ook blij mee.

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