Photography Idol: Jonas Ingerstedt

The most challenging new skill we’ve had to tackle as bloggers is photography.  There’s not much more frustrating than blogging about a project that looks beautiful in person, but might as well be cat barf in the photos.  And poorly lit cat barf at that.  Our quest to take effective, lovely photos is ongoing – this blog serves as a thorough and sometimes mortifying record of our efforts – and we often seek out inspiration and instruction in images taken by others.

Jonas Ingerstedt is a Swedish photographer and an absolute idol of ours.  His exquisite interior photography is featured in international magazines, including Elle Decor, and many of our favorite images are his.  While the trend in the blog world is toward hyper-bright overexposed spaces – images that at the extreme necessitate sunglasses and eradicate detail – Ingerstedt’s photos are luminous but soft, with a quality of light that makes the rooms he’s shooting somehow seem both magical and real.

Red House West || Jonas IngerstedtRed House West || Jonas Ingerstedt
Getting colors to read true in images is a struggle, but he captures them beautifully, making them look rich and saturated, but not overwrought.

Red House West || Jonas IngerstedtRed House West || Jonas IngerstedtRed House West || Jonas Ingerstedt

We’ve learned a lot by studying how he frames a shot – how he surrounds his focal point with just a glimpse of the surrounding furniture, providing context and enabling our eye to extrapolate the blissful whole.

Red House West || Jonas Ingerstedt
Red House West || Jonas IngerstedtHe also uses a home’s architecture to highlight a space, inviting us to walk in and look more closely:

Red House West || Jonas Ingerstedt

Red House West || Jonas IngerstedtThe angle from which he shoots vignettes makes it feel like you could reach your hand out to touch the spines of books, or as if you’ve just opened a drawer and are looking down into its colorful contents.

Red House West || Jonas Ingerstedt

Red House West || Jonas Ingerstedt

Red House West || Jonas Ingerstedt

His work is gorgeous, right? Do you have a favorite? We hope you had a fantastic weekend and we’ll be back on Wednesday!

Framing Tips: An Update

More than a year ago I wrote a post about some DIY ideas I had for framing art.  Some things haven’t changed much, the first sentence in that post reads, “I woke up this morning to the sound of a torrential downpour.  The rain lasted all morning and the light was flat and gray.”  But while the weather hasn’t improved, my method for DIY framing on the cheap has.

The impetus for revisiting that tutorial came from some art I recently bought on Etsy, including this original acrylic landscape and a $2 portrait card, both from Isabella Di Sclafani (who did the Jane Eyre print in the Chamber of Secrets), and this print by Israeli artist Tali, whose Etsy store is called TushTush.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsI like all of these pieces so much, and was determined not to add them to the towering stacks of unframed art already inhabiting many corners of our house.  So I read through my old post, made some tweaks to the process, then assembled my materials.


  • Poster board
  • Fabric
  • Spray Adhesive
  • Glue, Mod Podge, or double sided tape
  • Utility Knife
  • Ruler (I highly recommend a clear acrylic one)
  • Cutting Mat
  • Frames (I used ones from the thrift store)
  • Pencil

Red House West || DIY Fabric Mats
Step One:
Lay the glass pane from your frame on a piece of poster board and trace around it. Cut it out using either scissors or a utility knife.  Center your art on your cut poster board, and trace around it. You want your opening to be smaller than your art, so measure in about 1/8″ from all sides of your traced line, and use the utility knife and ruler to cut it out.

Here is a photo of two cut mats; I made the one around the piece on the left quite a bit larger than the portrait itself because I wanted to do a double mat:

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Two:

Cut a piece of fabric just slightly larger than the outer edges of your mat.  If necessary, iron it to get the wrinkles out, then lay it out on a flat surface.

Step Three:

Take your cut poster board outside (I did one at a time) and apply spray adhesive following the directions on the can.  It is really sticky, so I suggest using a hard, flat surface to spray on (last time I used a sheet and it was a mess).

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Four:

Carry your mat board back inside and lay it sticky side down on the fabric you cut and laid out.  Gently press the mat onto the fabric then flip it over and smooth out any creases.  When I did this project a year ago, I tried to do this step outside and the combination of wind and grit and stickiness was a nightmare.  I strongly recommend having the spray station outside and doing everything else inside.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Five:

When the glue has set, use scissors or a utility knife to trim the excess fabric from the edges of the board.  The outer edge will most likely be covered by your frame, so you don’t need to worry about making a perfect cut.  Use your utility knife to make an ‘x’ in the opening of your mat board (image on the right).

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Six:

Trim off the points of your triangles, then use Mod Podge, glue, or double-sided tape to adhere them to the back of your mat board.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsStep Seven:

Reassemble your frames!  You’re done!

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsBy following the same steps listed above, but doing it twice, I made a double mat for the little lady portrait, and I really love the way it turned out.  She’s a sweet and quirky addition to our hallway.

Red House West || DIY Fabric Mats

close up hallwayThe landscape hangs in our living room above Norma Jean, who is still awaiting new clothes.  Looking at this photo I wonder if I may have hung it a little high relative to the chair, but the height is consistent with the rest of the art in the room so I’m not sure.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsThe colors of the painting are a nice complement for Beatrice, who is on the opposite wall.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsI decided to use a floral fabric for the other portrait, and I think the pattern and colors work well with her winsome expression.

Red House West || DIY Fabric Mats

The bottom of this mat is a little thicker than the top – there are more details on the thought behind this in the original post.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsShe’s hanging on the blue walls in our dining room, and is doing a good job of making the early nights feel moody rather than gloomy.

Red House West || DIY Fabric MatsThanks for reading along – if any of you try this project I’d love to see! Mera and I are taking next week off from posting to enjoy Thanksgiving with our families; have a wonderful week and we’ll see you back here on Monday, November 28th!


Chairs Not for Sitting

In the comments to last week’s post about peacock chairs there was a consensus that, though beautiful, they are not actually comfortable enough to serve their primary funciton: sitting.  On the heels of that discussion, we thought we would look at non-sitting purposes to which chairs can reasonably be put. Longtime readers know that we are self-confessed chair hoarders (remember this picture?), and if there’s a decorative way to justify getting more of these leggy beauties out of the stables, we’re on board.

One non-sitting purpose for chairs, which is thoroughly endorsed by Pinterest, is using chairs as bedside tables.  As long as the seat isn’t angled back like most chairs, why not?  With sconces instead of lamps, there’s plenty of room for a book and a glass of water.  We love bentwood chairs forever and ever anon, and the graceful curves of this pair against the white wall are so pretty.

Back when we visited Design Within Reach in Seattle we tested out the iconic Wishbone Chair and found them to be less than lounge-worthy.  This might be the one way we would actually use this lovely perch in our homes.

This chair, levitating above the ground, is most certainly not for sitting, but adds a welcome dash of whimsy to this children’s room.

The unassuming chair in this bedroom brings natural wood tones into a space with a painted floor, and also provides nice vertical lines to an otherwise low-profile room.

The composition of this room is elegant, but we both think we wouldn’t like it half as much if not for that green chair cradling a pile of books.

We suppose you could sit in this chair as is, but you would be messing up a lovely composition and risking that dear little baby deer.

The effort it would take to unearth this chair from under its substantial stack of books and grand vase makes it unlikely that it’s used much for sitting.  We like it this way, though, and think that if it were just a little table holding this collection instead of a chair it wouldn’t have near as much charm.

Time to own up, do you have chairs not for sitting in your home? Happy Monday!