I want the railroad to feel like it is in the deep South. In order to give it more of that feel, you have to start OUTSIDE of the track plan. In our case, the front facade of the layout will be the first thing that viewers will encounter. The basement is large enough that people can stand back from it and get a picture in their mind of the whole thing...so let's give it some Southern flavor.
When I think of cotton production I think of corrugated tin buildings for cotton gins, burlap wrapped bales of cotton, old wooden signs saying "cotton exchange" and incredible summer heat and humidity. We will NOT be modeling heat and humidity...though I do have a fireplace in the basement.
Here is the basement wall where the layout will go. The room is completely finished and very nice. Nothing needs to be done except to move the furniture to the opposing corner. Naturally my wife has ALREADY put some Christmas wrap and supplies along this wall, and this photo is not 24 hours old yet. Females MUST take over everything.
This is a photo of the area above the layout. The ceiling drops here as it is a cover for the HVAC duct work. The lighting and valence will have to attach here. Last check showed that this is all wood construction, so we should be ok if we keep the screws short.
Here is the kind of look and feel that I want. This is a photo of the cotton gin I plan to build. The rich rust and metal just scream "cotton gin!" The valence will follow the whole length of the railroad.
For the fascia, I'm thinking burlap. My complaint with fascia is that often it is just flat and painted. Very seldom do I see an fascia with some texture. So I thought we'd mount hardboard covered with burlap to give it a look and feel of a cotton bale, along with some sound deadening quality. I sound deadened one small layout using packing "peanuts" held in place by a layer of burlap under the railroad and it was VERY quite. We may do that again on this layout.
Burlap also has a smell all to its own. That unique smell would reflect what you would smell on the dock at the canal in Augusta.
Under the layout, most folks use a skirt of some kind. When I think railroad, I think crates and packaging stuff. Why not make removable crate facades and have them attached with Velcro for easy removal?
With addresses and markings stenciled on, this would give a great "working railroad" feel to the layout. So when you see the layout and approach it, you're thinking "this is a busy place!"