Isla Pey: all change

The Maven Eco IV, with mods, and part of the updated island

So, yeah. Last time I wrote about the pet project of Isla Pey, I passed comment that unless it went through a major make-over, it likely would not be changing too much. Well, guess what? We’ve just had a major make-over 😀 . It wasn’t intentional; we happened to visit Cerys’ magnificent Collins Land (see here), which got me reconsidering island designs; then I discovered the Maven Homes Eco IV house (available in either unfurnished or furnished variations), which became a “must have”.

The House particularly caught my eye for a number of reasons. The unfurnished variant offers  very flexible living space (a large open plan front area which can be easily made into two rooms and a separate room to the rear, alongside of a comfortably sized wooden deck) neatly fitted into a 25m by 27m footprint and 99 Land Impact. However, the attraction for me is the soft echo of Frank Lloyd Wright in the design and styling: the cool stone walls, the pseudo cantilever angling of the roofs, the use of glass. All of these made it pretty irresistible. So really, I had no option but the consign the cottage and ruins design to a rezzing system and start over…

The Maven Eco IV with Trompe Loeil Keliana pool (left foreground) and steps down the cliff to the boat moorings

Of the two variants of the Eco IV, I opted for the unfurnished since furniture is something we’re hardly lacking. As noted, the large space to the front of the house offers two open plan room spaces, either side of the front door. I borrowed an idea from Leaf and Birdy Moone, adding some low-level stone “room dividers” to further break up the space, putting a lounge on one side and a study / music / cosy on the other.

There are one or two things about the Eco (as with any house design) which didn’t quite suit our preferences. The Eco’s fireplace, for example came across as a little too modern, while the lighting in part comprises fluorescent style strip lights which frankly aren’t that attractive. The old cottage came to the rescue here, providing me with both a replace fireplace and chimney, and a pair of suspended candle lights. The former did require a retexturing of all of the stone walls in the house to blend the chimney into the design, while the later required a little script tinkering and lighting prim placement to both get the candles to work with the built-in house controls and give a decent lighting effect both above and below, but none of this was in any way onerous work.

The modified day space in the Eco IV: the fireplace, dividing walls, ceiling fan and lighting candles are all additions to the basic house, and the stonework is not the original texturing

The use of several large base sections in the house makes it relatively easy to add to the structure and avoid bumping the LI too much. In this case, I added the fireplace, room dividers, additional lighting, rugs, carpets, wall hangings, paintings, photos, and ornaments totalling 38 LI individually for just an additional 14 LI on the house. Controls for the house a pretty good as well. The main panel includes a security /access system, controls for the lights (which can be set to turn on / off at region dusk / dawn and have a colour options), door controls (including setting them to auto-open) and a window opacity / tinting system.

Of course, a new house required a re-working of the island as a whole, and I opted for the Fantik Lofoten Summer rock kit for this, as it offered the best flexibility for the look I wanted to achieve. There are nine basic rock formations in the kit, all with physics. This can limit resizing opportunities due to increased LI; however, if you have rocks you won’t be walking on directly, use the old trick of flicking the physics over from Prim to Convex Hull (Build / Edit floater > Features tab), and you’ll find they are a lot more friendly to resizing.

Looking down on the new house. The chimney actually came from the “old” cottage, with a retexturing of the stone on it and the house to blend the two together. Some of the wood and cement beams on the house have also been tinted to darken them

Those who have used this kit will know just how flexible it is, and it allowed me to easily design the new island around the house and a new water feature of two rocky pools linked by a series of small falls (courtesy of Alex Bader’s Waterfall kit) stepping their way down the rocks, together with a final fall to the sea (with a sluice to prevent the ducks, geese and fishes from being swept away! Kriss Lehmann’s excellent Botanical Edge Brick Park Path kit came out of retirement to provide the paths and steps winding down the rocks, including down the the new boat moorings below the back of the house.

The southern end of the island has been a little truncated – we really didn’t need all the space – and redesigned using elements from the Fanatik kit. Some of the old castle ruins have been retained here – not about to get rid of them entirely! This provides a nice home for our MSD Dragon Garden and offers a shaded little seating spot, while the Trompe Loeil Outcrop Hut is also retained from the last design, giving us a place to watch the boat races go by.

The view from the front of the house looking south over the pond and water to the old ruins

So, that’s what’s been keeping me occupied for the last couple of days, and one (among several) of the reasons the blogging output has slowed of late. But as we’re both happy with the result, I’d say the effort has been worth it 🙂 .

If you’re interested in seeing Eco IV in-world, you can fint it at Cain Maven’s main store.

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New blog layout – poll results and thoughts

Contemplating the blog layout…

On June 2nd, I blogged about this blogs new layout and asked for feedback directly or via a poll. As a week has now passed, I thought it time to provide an update on things.

The new layout is not without its problems (notably the banner image on every page), and some had issues I couldn’t easily replicate. My thanks to Richard, Sue W and JMB in particular for their feedback on specific issues, all of which helped me further tweak things – hopefully for the better.

Overall, of those who responded to the poll, most seemed in favour of the changes and the layout, and I’m growing accustomed to it. As such, it will be remaining for a the time being, so I’m not annoying everyone with what feels like a changing look and feel.

However, I’m still looking at options to get something which offers a similar level of functionality and allows plenty of room for images to appear in a decent size, but without having the huge banner image appear on individual articles and pages.

Sadly, while there are a fair few WordPress themes which avid the big banner on individual pages and offer things like a scrolling menu bar, etc., they tend to do so at the expense of text & images, which often get squeezed by an inordinate amount of left-side white space. So, I’ll keep looking.

In the meantime, thanks again to all who responded, be it with comments and / or via the poll.

Giving the blog a face-lift

The new banner – displayed on opening the blog, with latest posts displayed below it

It’s a bit hard to miss, but yes, I’ve made a change to the theme underpinning this blog. It’s by no means a permanent change – that depends on the feedback I get. However, there are a number of reasons why I wanted to change things a little, so I’m hoping readers will prefer the new layout.

  • A lot of effort has gone into the menu system, but it was always a pain to use with the “old” layout, as it was locked to the top of a page – scroll down too far and it would vanish off the top of the browser tab
  • Some readers stated they found the old layout difficult to follow, with the sidebar on the right seeming to “run into” the body text
  • It didn’t loan itself to viewing on mobile devices that well
  • I wanted to tweak the text a little and (hopefully) make it easier on the eye.

As the changes are template-based, it is possible some pages / images in this blog have gone a little sideways in places. I’m working through everything to double-check (unfortunately, the preview option in WordPress doesn’t entirely match the actual page layout, so I could only start checking things once I’d made the change to the new format. Ho hum). Please make allowances if you come across something that looks awkwardly formatted on a page in the meantime 🙂 .

The thing I’m hoping will prove most useful is the menu, which will now following you down a page as you scroll. Given I’ve put a fair amount of time in trying to categorise and track articles and pages in the blog via the menu, this will hopefully make it far more reader-friendly than has been the case in the past.

The menu bar should now move down / up the page as you scroll through this blog

I’ve also revised the default body and headings text font – again, my hope is this improves readability and comfort when browsing. Unfortunately, one thing WordPress won’t let me change is the use of block caps for headings; this is locked into a CSS I can’t access, but I how the use of caps in titles and headings isn’t overpowering.

Finally, this theme had a better set of style sheets for mobile devices. I’ve no idea how many people read this blog from the tablet, etc, but (with the possible exception of the menu, which is a bit “ugh!” on tablets, etc.), it should make for easier reading if you do.

As with the last major restructure to this blog – in 2012, can you believe?!), I’m offering a little feedback poll for those interested in letting me know quick thoughts on the layout

Poll closed – see the update here.

Isla Pey: happiness is getting things *just* so …

The cottage and gardens on the plateau

We’re into another quarter, so it must be time for me to fiddle with the island home 🙂 .

In January, we reverted back to using the Fanatik Rocky Island to give a little elevation to our island home, and while happy with the results, I couldn’t help but feel tweaks were necessary. For one thing, the rotation of that huge rock made the walk from house to boat house something of a trek. It had ended up this way because I thought that was the only way the Rocky island would decently fit the north end of the parcel, where we wanted it. Turned out, I’d measured things a little inaccurately, so if we sacrificed the ‘plane docks, it would actually just fit.

So, around went the 118 LI slab of land by 90-degrees, moving the footpath winding down the side so that it descends directly to the “field” at the foot of the cliffs. So far, so good, other than the loss of the ‘plane docks – and the burying of half the duck pond (which was not looked upon too kindly by our TLC ducks!). Cue a reshuffle of the landscape 🙂 .

The Botanical Enchanted Forest Tower and MSD Among the ruins – Isolde tower can be nicely merged to form a single ruin, and as both are mod, the stonework can be textured to they match. The upper platform on the Enchanted Forest Tower makes for a perfect setting for our MSD Dragon Garden piece.

I won’t bore you with a huge delve into things. Suffice it to say that the reshuffle actually improved things no end. For one thing, moving the pond helped me realise that with a little bit of re-texturing of the stonework, Kriss Lehmann’s Botanical Forest Ruins Tower could be combined with the MSD Among the Ruins – Isolde tower to produce a nicely expanded ruin on the west side of the island. This in turn provided a new home for our MSD Dragon Garden  (which is (reviewed here alongside the Among The Ruins Tower), with a cosy little snuggle beneath it, overlooking the relocated pond.

Looking across the pond from the sitting nook under one of the ruined towers

Moving the Rocky Island around also presented a much more flexible space in which to set the house and  gardens, with a little bit of terracing to break things up a bit. Everything is now much more conveniently located, and finally provided just the right post for out old well (a genuine steal from DIVAs Design at L$25), accessed via a gate (from Cube Republic’s Meadow Farm Fence kit, another recommendation) opening off the back of the garden.

And the ‘planes? Well, moving the pond made room for a smaller set of moorings, and a quick raid of my inventory produced an old Smith Fizz scene rezzing system. Nicely customisable, this now lets us rez whichever float ‘plane or helicopter we fancy using, whilst keeping the dock otherwise clear for friends to use when visiting, whether they come by air or water.

The towers lit at night, and the cottage in its new cliff-top location

So, are we happy with things – finally? Believe it or not, we both are. Will there be more changes in the future? Obviously, as there will always be nips and tucks, tweaks and additions. But unless we decide on a total make-over of the island for something completely new, I think that this time Isla Pey with its walks, ruins and house, is exactly how we both like it.