My Easter House

by Carmen Croxall

Tuesday 14th March 2023 13:45:31


Following on from my giant stack of Lovehearts for Valentines Day, and my Giant Gingerbread house for Christmas, I decided just one more full house transformation wouldn’t hurt!

So many people asked if I was doing something for Easter and I immediately thought ‘what about a giant chocolate house?’ As the problem I have with transforming the whole front of my house is what could the bricks be? As without the actual bricks its made from being covered I feel like it loses impact, and I’m a bit of an all or nothing girl! And so chocolate bricks seemed like a perfect solution! I already knew from my gingerbread house transformation, that I could attach the bricks to the actual house bricks with heavy duty velcro and they’d stay up. So I told everyone I was making a giant chocolate house and then felt the pressure, from myself mostly, to actually commit to my idea. 

After I came up with the idea of the house being ‘chocolate’ I got a bit stuck as to what else I could add to the display. A giant chocolate bunny was a definite and some Giant Easter Eggs, but I got stuck for more ideas as adding more sweets made it feel too much like the gingerbread house. I had already started making picket fences to put permanently outside my house and I felt they could work as part of a spring garden feel, which led me immediately to the idea of daffodils. I’ve made giant flowers in the past for my work and knew how amazing they look if you managed to make them as realistic as possible so that was my next idea! The idea of covering the whole house with bricks like the gingerbread house made me not want to do it, so I came up with the idea of covering the top half of the house with fake foil so it looked like the house was being unwrapped. So really, the foil was a creative time saving solution that became a design feature in its own right. I found some foil ducting tape at work, which is essentially sticky back foil in wide strips and it stuck perfectly to my pvc windows and door without damaging them. I still felt like there was something missing so I made some yellow columns, a roof trim and window trims - this was all because I had some yellow ducktape leftover and a few carpet tubes lying around. The roof was made of scrap fabric I had, cut into the shape of ‘cartoon’ roof tiles. I made the roof tiles more organic tones as I’ve had the idea for a while to cover my porchway roof long term with something fun, but not too offensive to the neighbors. 

This house transformation took way too long! My gingerbread house took 2 weeks from idea to installation, and my Valentines house took a week from idea to installation (check it out on my Instagram page). This time round I knew technically 3 months in advance I was going to do it so I had more time to think about ideas. In terms of time it took 5 weeks solid to make everything. However I spent more time on the things I plan to keep as a permanent fixture like the picket fence, and I made sure the daffodils were made really well too. I also had help here and there from friends and family. Sewing the roof took 5 hours. Making the daffodils took over a week, but if you were only to work 8 hours a day, not like me, I craft and make at least 10 or even more hours a day, then it would have taken 12 working days. 

I am lucky enough I can make everything at work, as I own a prop making business with a warehouse full of storage, a workshop, CNC machine and flatbed printer. I manage to combine my personal project with my work responsibilities, for example when I was decorating my giant Easter eggs I made a reel about decorating them and put it on my work Instagram. As my job is product design and social media marketing I sort of live and breath making and decorating so I don’t really finish or start work everyday, I just make things all day and record what I do then I find opportunities just happen for me and my company. Videoing myself making things isn’t just my full time job, it's my entire life. But I do it all for me and I think that is what makes my content authentic. 

In terms of how much it cost, it was about £900 in raw materials. The daffodils worked out at £17.70 per flower - but don’t be fooled, the time taken per flower was around one day, so with a prop makers day rate if these were commercially made the labor cost would be around £250 per flower. All the time I spent making them was free. So if you were to commission these 12 daffodils it would be around £3,212.50 plus vat = £3,855 - this is not an offer to make them for people, I’m too busy! And I have ADHD so I couldn’t possibly make the same thing twice without getting bored! All materials and costs are listed below

Giant daffodils, 12 of - Each daffodil is made of 1x plastic water jug, 60cm of electrical wire, interfacing, yellow polyester lining fabric, yellow nylon, 2x MDF disks, 1 large bolt, 2.3m wooden dowel, yellow duck tape, polypropylene and electrical tape and garden wire for the leaves, recycled green nylon, 1x recycled MDF sweet disk from my Valentines house, 1 fluffy yellow pipe cleaner, cable ties, reused cushion stuffing, green household emulsion paint. Total cost per daffodil £17.70. 

Find some of the tools and DIY products I used here : )

Chocolate squares 200 of, and 7.5ft bunny - printed on MDF by us at - The Prop Factory, stuck on with heavy duty velcro. You can buy a smaller version of the bunny in our Etsy shop.

Porchway roof. Free. The frame was the snow covered frame from my gingerbread house, which before that was a scenery panel from my work. The fabric is all off cuts I had including some velvet curtains. I made the colours roughIy what I had in mind but couldn’t choose exactly what I wanted, and also some of the fabric frayed, and the leatherette fabric reacted with the waterproofer I used and curled up. The base that the fabric roof tiles are sewn onto is made from 3 used giant deckchair slings.

Purple grass - in front of the house free remnant reclaimed. Wood for bases made using wood offcuts. 

Picket fences - Old bed slats and pallet wood but the wood cost still came in around £120 for the 8 small fences

Fake foil - 20 meters of 1m wide surplus foil packaging from a food factory, purchased from Exeter Scrap Store for £5. 4m by 3m red fabric is sewn onto was from a backdrop I made last year for a magic show at my nieces 7th birthday party, and before that the red fabric was part of my circus tent for my 2021 Halloween party and display. The webbing was broken webbing from work. 

Roof, doorway, window columns & door columns - Recycled carpet tubes from a local carpet shop for free, yellow duck tape £16, surplus colorful foil from a food factory, bought via Exeter Scrap Store for £5, and white electrical tape £8 

Green grass tufts - I purchased from House of Fraser in Exeter when they closed down in 2019, along with other display props I have since sold. 

Purple door - printed on 6mm MDF at my work and attached to the PVC door using heavy duty velcro. The window hatching is a CNC offcut left from the printing and cutting of the chocolate bricks. Colourful window panes are off cuts of polypropylene left over from when I made a giant windmill.  

Ducting tape used to foil the PVC windows and roof facia - free from a customer at work, we never used it.

Giant basket of eggs - basket I bought 3 years ago from eBay to take a photo of my son in when he was new born. And then I was using as a toy box for him 3 years later at work. Inside is an old tin bath and an old cushion covered in 2x recycled plastic bags, and then recycled garden wire from my Valentines display to form a mound to stick the 2D eggs to. The eggs are mis prints from my work.

Velcro - £200

Total material only cost £898.50 100% of that has been spent on local businesses. However I have added online links so you can see the products used and order if your not near to the same local shops as me.

I’m hoping to sell my giant daffodils afterwards to cover the cost : )

All my displays so far have been welcomed by the community as a whole. I often post in a community forum with updates and everyone comments the most amazing things, it makes me so happy. They even help out too! I recently had to sell my van as cash was short at work so I didn’t have a van to take my Easter display to my house and two of my neighbors with vans offered to help out. I’m hoping to pay everyone's kindness back by organizing a huge Easter egg hunt for the whole of my area. 

Also because I have pink hair people recognise me out and about in my local area, and some people stop and speak to me or wave. Whenever I was outside my gingerbread house people would slow down in their cars to say hello.

Although having said that it will be my last seasonal whole house transformation as I know doing this long term would probably cross a line to becoming unacceptable as the row of houses I live in are so close together, and the displays attract a lot of people visiting and taking photos of my house which isn’t fair on my neighbors and their privacy. 

Having said that, you are welcome to visit this last display. I am happy for people to come and take photos and show their family. You can tag me @clashcreativehome and @the_propfactory  

When I had my gingerbread house so many people came to see it. The day I was on the Heart Breakfast show I was outside fixing the front door for a few hours between around 1pm and 3pm and I would say a car slowed down to take a photo of my house on average every 2 minutes. At one point there were 6 cars all queued up alongside the pavement with their engines on, windows down and phones ready to have a turn taking a photo. 

Even a minibus from a care home came on a trip with their residents to see the house. It made me cry when I saw that - the cares and the elderly residents were all outside my house. 

I’m going to keep this house display up until Easter, so approximately 5 weeks. Although I will keep the giant daffodils until they are sold. I’m selling them as a job lot of 12 as I probably spent a little too much on this project! The porchway roof I’m going to keep on for a while, and the purple grass and picket fences I can’t see me ever taking down! 

My house is rented but my landlord doesn’t say much. I emailed him about my gingerbread house and he didn’t reply so I assumed it was ok. He called and came over in December to check the boiler and I was so worried as I wasn’t 100% sure he knew, but he did. He is ok as long as I stay long term, pay my rent and put everything back to the way it was…apart from the 12 foot summer house I built in the garden, I said he can keep that! I’ve stopped telling him what I do know, besides he can see it all on my Instagram anyway if he ever wanted to. So he doesn’t know about the Easter house yet. 

I have two children, both boys, aged 3 years and 13 years. My 13 year old doesn’t like what I do to the house. He tends to stay in his room out the way, his windows are covered now by a huge sheet of tin foil so he is well hidden. My 3 year old probably thinks everything I do is normal as it is all he has ever known, just me constantly decorating, painting and crafting. He loves helping me and is starting to pick up on things like the names of things I use like ‘cable ties’ and ‘pompoms’. He is very hands on and sits on my lap while I’m sewing, helping me guide the fabric and also loves painting.

People always ask me about what if it rains? Having made products for events for 11 years I have learnt my lesson about not making things fit for purpose! When I made my gingerbread house I must admit I really wasn’t completely sure how well it would hold up as MDF is not recommended for outdoor use. For the gingerbread house I used water resistant MDF and double varnished it. The giant sweets I decided to ‘test’ by using different types of varnish and some no varnish at all. Our customers always as if I products can be used outside so I felt like making my giant gingerbread house was a really good way to find out. After 8 weeks of torrential rain about 90% of the gingerbread house survived which I was really happy about. My valentines display was out for 5 weeks and there was a medium amount of rain and nothing was varnished, only a few hearts at the bottom of the stack had become too damaged to use again where they hadn’t been able to dry off. On the Easter house I have double varnished the giant chocolate bunny, and the bricks are unvarnished. The ink and primer we use on the MDF seems to stave off water sinking into the MDF long enough for the water to dry. The daffodils are very weather hardy, I can’t imagine anything being a problem for them. The porchway roof I covered in a marquee waterproofer so water will roll down to the gutter just below where I have placed it. When I made the fake foil wrapper I realized that it caught the light much more that I thought, and I didn’t want it to reflect the sunlight and annoy my neighbors so I bought 4 cans of matt car lacquer, which I have used in the past to take away shine on products, and covered the foil in it. It is a shame, as the super shiny foil looked really effective, but my neighbors are more important! I have also weighed the foil down to stop it from rustling in the wind - this is an untested idea, so finger crossed it doesn’t russel all day long. 

In terms of my next project I’m actually going to have a nice long rest! That’s not even a joke. I feel maybe this might be the last (extreme) house transformation I’ll do. Firstly because I’ve started to worry that whatever I do next might not be as good, and I think I will put so much pressure on myself to make it even better, and I actually felt stressed for a few weeks creating the Easter house because of the pressure I created for myself. Also making 3 themed house displays consecutively has meant there is a lot of tidying to be done. The sweets and bricks from my gingerbread house are still lying in a pile, and the same for my 1000 giant lovehearts. Both displays have their next uses lined up, but I haven’t had the time to implement them. The gingerbread house is going to a local shopping center to become a carnival float, I just need to pack it all up. And the lovehearts are going to cover a whole wall of my office at work - mostly so I can remove the botanical foliage on it and use it on my bathroom ceiling - my life is just a constant repurposing of materials! I am going to work on the inside of my house for a while, and when the weather gets warmer I am going to turn my summer house into a dark wonderland themed dining room and have dinner parties. Having made the giant flowers I think outside the front of my house I want to slowly make into an enchanted giant flower garden, just making giant flowers here and there until, maybe in a year it is in full bloom. I was planning on doing a toy factory display this Christmas, but I think I would prefer to go on holiday to New York or somewhere already full of festive decoration so I can enjoy other peoples work. 

Make sure you give me a follow on TikTok for a lot of my 'How to' videos and unique house decor!

Carmen x

Tags: Easter Easter Bunny Prop Hire Exeter Easter Ideas Easter Present Giant Bunny Silver Foil Easter Hamper Carmen Croxall Exeter Gingerbread House Gingerbread House Exeter Devon Prop Hire