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Behind the Scenes, little crew studios, Our Story, Return to New Haven -

Construction chronicles

Our construction crew continued to make steady progress through the month of February (2020). As the rooms neared completion, it was time to begin wall treatments and set decorating - the fun stuff!

We were excited to find pre-stick wallpaper for the mayor's office that gave the antique look we wanted. (Above) However, it wasn't the easy fix for which we'd hoped, for after a day of happy paper hanging, we came back the next morning to find all the paper peeling off the wall! Lesson learned: the stick-on kind doesn't adhere to OSB! :( (Wallpaper adhesive finally did the trick - back to the old-fashioned way!)

(Above) The mayor's hidden room was actually built beneath the mayor's office, as it was portrayed in the movie. Since the room was inside our pole building without any daylight coming in, we placed LED lights with daylight gels beneath the windows to give a realistic outside/daytime feel.

(Above) Finishing up the construction of the hideout.


(Above) Decorating the Golden Barrel Inn! A collection of antiques from the family farm served as useful props for both Defense and Return.


(Above) And this brought us to the end of February, when the boys began the arduous task of clearing the pond. Since the weather was often inclement at this time of year, the boys spent rainy days in the pole building creating props and furniture. Harrison led the crew in rebuilding the CDF boat. [After Defense, we had torn the boat down to its original form, not knowing that we'd be using it again in Return! So the boys had to restore the boat to exactly as it looked in Defense. Learning how to bend wood and trim out the boat made it a very educational experience!]

As spring arrived, and the weather improved, we were able to work more outside on set construction. The walls of our town buildings went up quickly, which was fun to see!

We had saved all the faux stone paneling we used in Defense; we like it because it looks good and is easy to put up. However, the panels didn't go very far with our larger outdoor set, so we had to use them sparingly and spread them out throughout the town.

Old shingles and lumber repurposed from the old barn at the family farm were an economical way to cover our walls. However, when we surveyed the end result, we decided it wasn't the look we wanted - New Haven looked like an Old West town! So down went the wood (some of it). Plaster was our next try - we found it to be a decent solution that fit our budget.

With all hands on deck, the plaster went up quickly...

Sometimes I think more plaster ended up on the kids than the walls! :)

We liked the look of the plaster - until the rains came, and it started sloughing off the walls! We covered as much as possible with tarps to save what we could.

In July we enjoyed a fun visit from my parents, who were a huge help with construction, costume fittings, and even sewing patches on jackets and hats!

It was fun to hang Amelia's handpainted signs and see the town start to come together.

Construction crew chief!










  • Rebecca

    The setting in Return looked so much like Defense, I thought you had used some of the same sets (didn’t know you had moved :) Good job! And so wonderful to have family support! Praying for you all still!

  • Team Ente

    We just watched Return to New Haven tonight!!! Now we have to go back and watch it again <3 We have so loved all three of the movies. Thank you for such uplifting and sweet entertainment. And for sharing how you worked your magic!
    Blessings – The Ente Family

  • Rebekah Polder

    Loved seeing all of these behind-the-scenes photos! This was such a great post, Steege Family!

  • Bree M.

    Wow, so much love went into those fantastic sets!! Amazing!

  • Alexis Holston

    So neat! Thanks for sharing the behind the scenes!

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