How to transform a simple card kit cottage

17 October 2018
Finished---Begin-07283.jpg How to add details to a Metcalfe card kit
Metcalfe's small cottage kit looks great as a basic build, but a few simple tweaks can make it look amazing on your model railway layout. Here's how...

Card kits provide wonderfully adaptable ways to make model railway buildings. No matter what you need – a station, house or shop – someone produces a kit for it. Then you can customise the model to make it fit in with your layout. 

Everything done here can be used on any other card models too. Modifying kits involves a few basic skills, tools and materials. Once you have them, the world is your oyster. Give it a go and let BRM know how you get on.

For this article we've used the Metcalfe Models 'Small Cottage Card Kit' in OO scale for this tutorial, which is exclusive to BRM. It's a bargain at £4.99 (+ P&P for overseas customers) and can be bought right here.

What we used

Metcalfe Models

Small cottage kit


LK-78 Lineside building accessories pack (Front door)


300 Gutters and drainpipes

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LX163 Decorative Trellis Panels


D1 Red Brick paper

(Alternatives are available from Metcalf and ModelRailwayScenery)


S46 details pack (For plastic chimneys)

SSMP203 – Slate sheets

Intermediate Build

Assuming that the kit has been built up follwing the instructions supplied, first add some simple improvements, before taking things a stage further for more advanced modellers. Let's get started...


The printed stonework looks OK, although it is a bit flat. I scribe along all the lines to provide a bit of texture for the model. Start by scribing the quoins (corner stones), then the top and bottom of the windows and doors. Next do the horizontal lines using a ruler and finally the verticals freehand. It takes a while, but isn't too bad if you don't try to rush it.
Metcalfe kit cottage intermediate build scribing


All the corners are coloured with a grey felt tip pen, so they don't show white when bent. You could cover these with stick-on quoins cut from card, but this is pretty effective.
Metcalfe kit cottage intermediate build corner details


Draw around the inside of the windows on the strengtheners and then enlarge the holes to match the printed sheet before fitting into the model. The plastic windows aren't glued in at this stage.
Metcalfe kit cottage intermediate build windows


Planks on the doors are scribed, which allows you to paint these to change the colour. Leave them slightly ajar, as this adds a suggestion of life to the scene.
How to build Metcalfe kit cottage intermediate doors


Stonework has a matt finish and the printed walls are slightly shiny. A spray of matt varnish cures this. Hold the can slightly further away than the instructions suggest and the varnish dries a little before hitting the model, adding a tiny amount of texture.
How to build a Metcalfe kit cottage intermediate stonework


Opening out the windows leaves a slight gap around the printed edge of the glazing. A little white paint inside the model solves this. Don't try to paint the front face, do the back as the painting doesn't have to be so neat.
How to build a Metcalfe kit cottage intermediate internal details


The roof and ridge tiles are scribed and then painted grey (Humbrol 69) before being fitted to the model. When nearly dry, brush a little talcum powder up and down to give some colour variation to the grey. Downpipes are made from black-painted wire.
How to build a Metcalfe kit cottage intermediate roof

Advanced Build

To be honest, this isn't that advanced, but we have tried to make the cottage look dramatically different from the other models.


Using some Deluxe Materials “Perfect Plastic Putty”, fill the gap between the main building and extension. This is sanded down with a very fine abrasive stick so I don't damage the surface of the printed card.
How to build a Metcalfe card kit advanced techniques filling gaps


To represent a stucco surface, the front of the building is given several light coats of white primer. Don't use too heavy a spray, as this will soak into the card with the potential for damage. If the gap shows up, a little more filler and sanding will be required before another coat of primer.
How to build a Metcalfe card kit advanced techniques rendering


My big change is to wrap the side and back walls in brick paper. We used Superquick weathered red brick, although others are available. It's cut roughly to size then stuck on using Pritt-Stick type glue. Spray glue also works, but anything too wet will soak the paper and make it crinkly.
How to build a Metcalfe card kit advanced techniques adding brick paper


Once the bricks are attached, a knife blade is pushed through the window and door holes to make a cross. The flaps are bent in through the hole and glued inside so the edges are covered. Try to get a nice sharp crease around the edges – try patting along each edge with a flat screwdriver to help.
How to build a Metcalfe card kit advanced techniques


Along the tops of the doors and windows add some decorative vertical bricks from the bottom of the brickpaper sheet.
How to build a Metcalfe card kit advanced techniques decorative details


The lintels and sills are cut from waste from the printed wall fret, stuck in place and then painted. Care is required to make sure they are level, although the camera makes these look wonkier than they are in real life (honest).
How to build a Metcalfe card kit advanced techniques lintels sills


The roof material is replaced with Wills moulded plastic sheet, with scribed card ridge tiles. This is painted grey and dry-brushed with a lighter shade while still tacky so the colours blend. The chimney is from Wills building and details pack.
How to build a Metcalfe card kit advanced techniques roof details


A new front door is from a Peco building accessories pack, but had to be cut down slightly to fit the hole. You could easily make something similar from layers of thin paper and card using a track pin for the handle.
How to build a Metcalfe card kit advanced techniques front door


A piece of laser-cut trellis from has lines of PVA drawn on it. Into these, some Woodland Scenics coarse scatter is pushed to make foliage. Flowers are red blobs of paint applied with a small screwdriver.
How to build a Metcalfe card kit advanced techniques trellis


Finally, guttering and downpipes from Ratio are added. It's easier to paint these before fitting, as touching up the white primer is quite difficult and the colours don't quite match enamel.
How to build a Metcalfe card kit advanced techniques finished model
As you can see from the above image, it's amazing how you can transform a card kit into an impressive, unique building. It's also not as hard as you think and with a little practice it's easily possible by modellers of all abilities. Get hold of this card kit, follow our instructions and you might just surprise yourself!
For even more kit building articles, click here.
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