My husband and I decided to make a Painted Lady for our first stab at a gingerbread house. I found this template and thought if I "de-Halloween'd" it we would get what we were aiming at. I think it worked out quite well. Thank you to Ray Keim for his wonderful template!
Sorry about sideways pics!
Step 1: Getting Everything Ready
A Painted Lady needs to have at least 3 contrasting colors, so I made my gingerbread a light brown, then divided it and colored part of the dough pink and part green.
The hardest part was at the beginning, getting all the architectural units to hold together with the royal frosting. They needed to sit for a little while - not very long, but still a little while - with support so that they would dry in the right position and be stable. I ended up doing a frantic search around my house for understructure bits that were the right size. Things like spools of thread, marshmallows and small boxes just to hold things in place for a few minutes. It worked out alright, but I swiftly got off to a messier start than I had anticipated.
Step 2: Important-detail-thinking-ahead-step
Cutting out the windows is optional, you can just create them with exterior decorations, but I wanted them to be actual holes. I had to re-cut them after baking the gingerbread to "true" them back up to the template. I used sour ribbon-style gummy candy in green to give a window pane / curtain detail so that you wouldn't be able to see in to the empty house. If I hadn't covered the windows, I would have been compelled to put something inside the house, and I had already bitten off plenty with this project!
Step 3: Laying the Foundation
Next came assembly of the house. It went smoothly. We used wafer style cookies (in pink, of course) for the foundation on top of a large glass cutting board. All the pieces fit together pretty easily, though the long wrap around porch pieces were delicate and had to be handled carefully! I used twisty honey pretzel rods for my columns for extra fanciness. This made them a little trickier to cut to the right lengths, but I had a whole bag and only needed a few. I brushed them with watered down red food coloring to give them a pinkish tint.
Then it was time to decorate! I had soaked some almond slices in watered down green food coloring, hoping they would take on the color, and it worked really well for my green shingled roof. My daughter liked placing the almonds and they served well to cover up / diminish many royal icing smudges! Don't forget to start at the bottom and work your way up! I also separated single layers of my pink wafer cookies and piped royal icing on them to make little balusters around the balcony and porch sections.
Adding the gingerbread trim to my gingerbread house was my favorite part. I wanted little brackets, so I cut triangles off of wheat thin crackers, then covered them with royal frosting and added candy pearls to them before "gluing" them into place.
I added a little rooftop porch with my wafer balusters and some strawberry pocky sticks. I also used some scrapbooking scissors to cut pieces of pink chewing gum into molding, which also covered many of my royal icing indiscretions.
Then it pretty much just became putting candy pearls everywhere and finishing off the yard. I used candied kiwi slices stacked up for little bushes and cut up into pieces to make a stone pathway. I covered my board with coconut "snow" and called it a day. I ended up being very proud of my first gingerbread endeavor.