Originally installed in 2004, the Bel Air Bungalow is a two-story playhouse with front and back decks, rope net climb and slide. What really sets this beauty apart are the incredibly detailed, stained animal carvings that cover all four sides and encompass both stories. Barbara personally designed and hand carved each one to complement the structure, with a curious giraffe poking its head towards the foliage.
By the time the little girl had grown up and headed off to college, the Bel Air Bungalow had fallen into disuse and become neglected. Although currently not needed, the family was still attached to this cherished playhouse and wanted to restore it for future grandchildren. To achieve this, the BBAB crew arrived to disassemble the structure and transport it to our shop.
Although all BBAB structures can withstand the elements for many years, lack of proper maintenance had caused greater-than-expected wear and damage to this one. Because of this oversight, some elements of the structure needed to be replaced with new wood, including the lower deck and parts of the second-story deck.
Luckily, the eight carved walls were all salvageable. However, a well-intentioned but unskilled attempt at maintenance of the structure complicated the process because a thick black goo was covering much of the carvings. Unlike our approved tung-oil, which protects both the lumber and the stains from weathering, this coating appeared to be linseed oil. Because this substance did not respond to chemical solvents, the only solution was to take every single board off each wall so we could scrape, scrub and grind the edges, fronts and backs.
Because of the delicate nature of regrinding around the animals, only Barbara and our lead carver took on this difficult task. At that point in the process, these images were almost devoid of color and ready for us to apply our pigmented tung oil stain that we make in-house.
Using the original color maps, we re-stained every square inch of the structure, both inside and out! Our master stainer and artist, Rudi Verhoeven, who had stained the original in 2004 but has since retired, was willing to come back for this special project and work his magic on these stunning animal scenes. Thanks, Rudi!
Restored to her former glory, Bel Air Bungalow will now be safely stored at our shop until the arrival of a new generation of children calls for a re-installation of this beloved playhouse. We love the idea of the children of the original little girl laughing and playing amongst these gorgeous animal friends.