I’m not a total packrat, but I have saved and stored a few boxes worth of stuff that is useful for wargaming scenery over the years. I’ve also purchased a few other inexpensive items when and as I’ve needed them. Here's a brief list of the things used to create my own old school "Grantian" buildings and houses:
*Heavy card from the back of writing and artist’s sketch pads (I'm embarrassed to mention how much of this I've saved over the years).
*Elmer’s carpenter’s glue
*Acrylic or poster paints
*Small carpenter’s square
*X-acto knife and plenty of standard triangular blades
*Black Sharpie or Flair permanent marker of felt tip pen
*A little imagination and handiness
The first thing you need to do is to find suitable photos of the building “type/style” you wish to model. Things like books and vacation brochures or pamphlets are invaluable here, but the internet can be a great help too whether you are creating structures for the American Civil War, the Old West, or Japanese samurai scenarios.
Although I have a coffee table book on the Hanseatic League, with lots of great color photos, I turned to the web because I wanted to see examples of buildings from smaller (once German or German inhabited) cities and towns across Poland and the Baltic countries. So, I thought back over my history and geography and did an image search on Google, typing in former names like Reval, Dorpat, Allenstein, Tapiau, Soldau, Gumbinnen, Heydekrug, Eydtkuhnen, and the like. Try it yourself and see what you turn up.
Whatever you particular period/area of interest, the number of images out there in cyberspace is amazing and impressive. After finding a bunch of old and newer photos, I created a folder on my computer desktop and saved the results of my query into it, providing easy points of reference whenever they were needed. You can see one such image above. Next time, we’ll begin the building process in earnest.
Almost forgot to mention -- There have now been more than 20,000 visits to the Grand Duchy of Stollen!