Bar or Counter Height?

It seems like there are two categories of trends: the inescapable ones that we go crazy for until they reach a saturation point (tuxedo cabinets, we’re looking at you) and we can’t stand them anymore, and the pernicious trends that are just as ubiquitous but somehow sneak by unnoticed. Eat-in spaces in kitchens are as common as basic appliances, but recently it dawned on us that we’ve only been seeing counter-height (around 36 inches) eating areas and hardly any with bar-height (42 inches).

Like a nondescript arctic lichen, has this ’80s and ’90s mainstay gone extinct without anyone noticing? The eradication is so complete that it’s hard to find pretty kitchens with bar-height counters. Seriously, we had to dig deep to find even just these three images:

So what is it about bar height that has caused it to be rejected in a whisper heard ’round the world? It seems practical–vertical space to accommodate outlets and hide small appliances or cooking messes is a good thing, right? Yet, looking at our own Pinterest kitchen board, there’s not a single kitchen with bar-height counters, though we never formed a conscious preference for one over the other.

Counter-level eating spaces seem to be the new normal, with plenty of beautiful examples. We’d love to perch atop the non-totteringly high bentwood stool in this kitchen and take in the lovely green cabinets and black hardware.

With so many beautiful things to look at in this home, we imagine that even diners at the formal table scarcely notice when the exposed counters are messy.

With its waterfall edge counter and golden stemmed lighting, this kitchen is glam, but not in a big-for-its-britches way.

Here’s a perk of counter-height: the extra inches between ceiling and counter accommodate dramatic blooming branches as in these next two images:

What do you think? Did you see bar-height counter’s swan song from a mile away, or did this sneak up on you too? Which height do you prefer in your own home?

We’re taking next week off from posting as we’ll be together in the flesh, hanging out and working on some fun new stuff for the blog. See you back here June 1!

Unexpected Ways to Display Art

There’s absolutely no doubt that art can make or break the way we feel about a space.  It’s often the most personal part of a room, and therefore the most compelling.  We continue to adore gallery walls – you can see the ones in our own homes here and here – but lately we’ve found ourselves especially drawn to art displayed in quirky, unexpected ways.  Here are four ways in which the placement of art is an art unto itself.

1.) The Lowdown

There are a lot of rules out there about the perfect height to hang art, and there’s something intriguing about spaces that are so flagrant in their disregard for those rules.  Paintings hung extra low invite us to investigate.

2.) The Shelfie

We love when art is incorporated into shelf styling, whether it’s hung on the front of a bookcase, in the back of a recessed shelf, or propped amid pottery in a kitchen.

3.) The James Dean Lean

There’s something appealingly impermanent – and perfectly nonchalant – about art that is leaned against a wall rather than hung upon it.  These rooms have mastered the lean – up high, down low, and in a set of three.

4.) Roguish Charm

No place is off limits for displaying art!  Place it over a doorway (or, better yet, on the door), or give a prized piece a place of honor perched upon a chair.


Do you have art displayed in unexpected ways at your house?  We’d love to hear!

Celebrating Two Years With Winifred

Red House West || Winifred

It’s been two years since I first brought Winifred home, and she has turned into the sweetest, most cuddly, difficult, unbiddable dog I’ve ever loved.

Before Winnie I always had herding mutts–dogs who lived to please and stuck to me like glue.  I don’t know what caused me to stray from my type and bring Winnie home, except the warmth I saw in her gaze, and my childhood dream of having my very own Sandy like Little Orphan Annie.

Red House West || Winifred

We don’t know Winnie’s breed, but she was labelled a “Delta Mix” (meaning the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta in Western Alaska) by the rescue organization.  My best guess is that she’s a combination of Alaska Husky and Wheaton Terrier.  It’s been a steep learning curve trying to figure out what makes her tick.  Terriers were bred to work alone without a human present at all, which pretty much means they don’t give a sh*t what you want them to do.  Unlike every dog I’ve had in the past, scolding Winnie only makes her act worse (we went through a period of about a month where every time I would leave the kitchen and come back I would find her with all four paws up on the counters or table).  I’ll still correct her in the moment, but I also heap praise on her for anything and everything she does that isn’t objectionable (you came inside from the backyard, what an amazing dog you are! Wolsey head butted you and you didn’t try to hump him in return, you’re fantastic!), and it seems to be working.

Red House West || Winifred

The other thing that has really helped is our new dog walker.  When my pregnancy turned difficult and I couldn’t walk the girls anymore, we hired Juli Morgan of Barks n’ Rec.  She’s been amazing–she is patient and sweet with Winnie, and just seems to really get her.  Both girls come home exhausted from afternoons with Juli, and Winnie also seems mentally exhausted, but in a good way.  Juli also takes great photos (all the outdoor photos in this post are hers)!

Red House West || Winifred

Our other dog Cora is basically Winnie’s life coach.  For her own part Cora isn’t that excited by other dogs, and that includes Winnie, but Winnie loooves Cora.  She’s always trying to get her to wrestle and play, and when we’re out on a hike Winnie sticks close to Cora and watches her for cues about what she’s supposed to be doing.

Red House West || Winifred IMG_3993

Winnie doesn’t always have the best reactions–she can be growly if she’s startled or nervous–and I always watch her with Opal.  But I have to give her credit and say that she is really devoted to Opal and has always been gentle and sweet with her.  She isn’t one to dole out kisses, but if Opal’s face is nearby, it’s another story.

Red House West || Winifred IMG_2235 IMG_3692

Winnie has a special spot in my heart.  She’s a complicated soul with a checkered past, and I’m really proud of how far she’s come.  She’s much more trusting and relaxed than she was two years ago, and I completely adore her.

By the way, she still sleeps on the dog bed I made for her to celebrate her official adoption, but I don’t recommend making a dog bed out of undyed muslin.  I’ve washed the bed lots of times and the printing has held up well, but the fabric is no match for Winnie’s perpetually damp and dirty lady beard.  Next time I’ll use a darker fabric!