Introduction: How to Make a Cottage for Tabletop Games

About: Hello! I enjoy creating and painting miniature models for table top games like Malifaux. When ever possible I try to design my builds with recycled materials.

If you like to play role playing games or any kind of wargame that could use something extra then you came to the right spot. You can buy your own set of terrain to use in your games, but why not save a little money and make your own terrain? This is also a good opportunity to do some art projects with your little ones, family and friends.

I'll provide step by step instructions on how to build and paint your own cottage.

Be careful during the construction of this project. You will be using sharp tools than can leave nasty cuts of you are not careful.


For the construction of the cottage you will need a couple bags of popsicle sticks, and coffee stir sticks. You will need to get the popsicle sticks where the widths are a little over a quarter inch in size. You will also need some cardboard, cardstock (you can reuse cereal boxes), Elmer's white glue, clippers to cut the sticks, scissors, and a box cutter.

For the painting portion you will need brown paint, white paint, a set of paint brushes that have flattened rectangular bristles, a palette, and two cups for water, and a small amount of hand soap.

Step 1: Designing the Structure: Part 1

First you need to determine how big you want to make the cottage. Most of the buildings I make are single story structures which I base off of my Malifaux miniature models that I have collected over the years.

For this cottage I measured out 2 panels of cardboard that was 4 inches in length, and 3 inches in height. These will be for the broad sides of the cottage. On one of the panels I measured out a door space that was 2 inches in length, and 2 1/2 inches in height. You can choose any location any where outside of an inch from either end of the panel. On the second panel you will need to cut 1 inch squares to make room for 2 windows. You can use scissors or a box cutter.

Step 2: Designing the Structure: Part 2

In this step you will need to assemble 2 more panels from your supply of cardboard. Both panels will need to be 2 1/2 inches in length, and 3 inches in height. Draw a triangle on top of each panel. This will form the pitch of the roof. You can make it as big or as small as you want, but for this project I made the pitch 3 inches tall. After the measurements are made it's time to cut it out.

Step 3: Designing the Structure: Part 3

Time to get the four walls made for the cottage.

Cut a length of cardstock that matches the height of the panels. The width should be 2 inches in size. Fold this in half along the length of the strip so that you have 1 inch of space on either side of the fold. Repeat this process 7 times. You should now have a total of 8 pieces.

Make new strips except have them 4 inches in length and fold them in half like you did for the other strips of cardstock.

Now that the support pieces are made you need to glue them one at a time onto the edges of the panels. Let's start with the panel with the door way cut into it. Choose which side you want to be the one that faces the outside. On the inside glue one strip to the edge of the panel. Arrange it so the strip creates a flap that the other panels can be glued to. The flap should be perpendicular to the panel with the door way. Next take the smaller panel and glue it onto the flap you just made. Repeat until all 4 walls are glued together. Leave the other strips for later as this will be used for the roof. Allow the glue to dry, and then you can move onto the next phase of construction.

Step 4: Designing the Structure: Part 4

It's time to assemble the door and windows.

Let's start with the door. Cut out a piece of cardboard that overlaps the cut out of the door way. Each side should be a 1/2 inch or 1 inch depending on how much room you have. Cut out the card board. Trace the doorway onto the card board you just cut. Take some popsicle sticks and cut them to to size. You arrange them to be horizontal or vertical planks for the door. For this project I utilized a vertical plank pattern. I then cut to size 2 cross beams to help brace the door. I used the coffee stir sticks for this. These formed perpendicular angles to the vertical planks. After those were glued in place I cut a third piece of coffee stir stick and glued it in a diagonal fashion as seen in the photos I shared in the introduction. Finally, I cut a small handle from a coffee stir stick and glued it on the door. Now that its assembled glue it onto the back side of the door way while leaving the planking exposed the outside of the cottage.

The same pattern can be used for the windows. For this project I cut to size coffee stir sticks and glued them in a horizontal fashion with two vertical braces.

The reason why I chose to have cutouts of the door and windows were so that they look more flush with the walls.

Step 5: Designing the Structure: Part 5

Almost done with the construction! Hang in there friends.

It's time to assemble the panels of the cottage. We can't let our future occupants live in an incomplete home.

Take some popsicle sticks, and cut them to fit as vertical planks that sit on each edge of the cottage. You should have 8 planks. Glue them in place. After that you need to cut to size 8 planks. Glue them in place. This forms the framework of the cottage. Now let's take a look at the pitch of where the roof will be. Cut to size 4 popsicle sticks that matches the outer portions of where the roof will meet the triangular pitch we created earlier. Glue them in place. Now cut to size another stick that will intersect the top of the triangle. It should make a perpendicular angle to the horizontal portion of the triangle. Repeat this for the other side.

Since I can't always cut things straight I turned the house upside down and traced the foot print of where the roof should be. Trace this onto some card stock and trace the other side onto it too. Cut it out as a single piece, and fold it in half so that it sits as perfectly as possible onto the top of the cottage.

Remember those extra strips of card stock we cut earlier? Let's take those and glue these support pieces in for the roof like we did to the 4 walls of the cottage.

If you need to let the glue dry.

When you are ready cut to size some coffe stir sticks and glue a bunch of these onto the roof in a horizontal pattern until the roof is complete covered. You may need to trim the sticks to fit if you have odd spacing.

You can create a base for the cottage. It will help strengthen the durability of it. You would just need to cut a base that matches the footprint of the cottage and cut out more support pieces from card stock.

I left this open as it allows more storage options if you happen to have smaller pieces than can sit inside of the cottage when its not in use.

Step 6: Painting!

Hey! You made it! Congratulations on building the cottage. Now it's time to paint. Let's start with the wood. Since we have natural wood here we don't need to do too much to it. However, we can enhance the look of it by bringing out the texture of the grains.

Fill one cup with water and the other cup with a mixture of soap and water. The soap and water mixture will help to keep the paint brush clean during use. Remember to clean it often.

Take some brown paint, and plop it on your palette. Mix some water into the paint to thin out the pigments. Depending on how large the blob of paint is the following ratio my need to be fine tuned. For me I used 1 part paint and 2 parts water. We don't want it to be runny so keep this in mind.

Have some paper towels on hand as we will be using them a lot. Get some paint on your brush. Wipe the brush across the paper towels until barely any paint is when wiping the towels. Now take the brush and wipe it on the wood of the cottage. You should keep a light hand on this, and after a few swipes you should see some textures pop on the wood. This is called dry brushing. It a technique where bumps and ridges get painted while the crevices remain paint free. Do this for all of the exposed wood.

Now you need to take some white paint and plop it onto the palette. Dilute it, and now all you need to do is paint the walls white. No dry brushing on this step.

Don't forget to constantly clean your brush. A brush that is caked in dry paint is no good!

You are done now! All you need to do is let the paint dry! You can use this simple building technique to make any kind of building you want for what ever game you want.

Thanks for your time, and I hope you had some fun.