Author Archives: Katie

Well Hello There [Alternate Title: We’re Alive!]

We’re very sorry for the long hiatus from posting; we had really good reasons, we swear! First of all, and most importantly, Mera gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby boy! More on that in just a moment. Almost concurrently – and far less joyously – I broke my right arm badly enough to require surgery, bringing all house projects, typing, and solo hair-washing to a screeching halt. Seven years of roller derby, but it was the perilous combination of my own carelessness and a flailing child at the local skating rink that finally sent me to the Emergency Room.

It just don't seem right


I’d had big plans to share progress in the Rambler while Mera had an RHW maternity leave, but the combination of a broken wing and remarkably poor voice recognition technology proved lethal to my good intentions. Here’s an unedited snippet of this post that I dictated into my computer:

We’re very sorry for the unexpected hiatus from blogging, but we had really good reasons we square exclamation point I went ahead and broke my arm. Her right arm, Which pretty much brought all projects and wanting to a screeching halt. Seven years of playing roller derby without any broken bones, but I couldn’t withstand the perils of whaling kiddos at our local skating rink.

Those darn whaling kids! Anyway, onto far cuter things!

From Mera:  August James Gilmore arrived at the beginning of the month, weighing in at a hefty 9 pounds.  My water broke in the locker room at the gym, and forty crazy minutes later Gus was in my arms!Red House West || We're Alive!

Gus is hale and hearty, and sweet as can be.  We’re smitten!

Red House West || We're Alive!

While Katie is healing and I’m cooing at my baby and getting through these days filled with everything but also nothing, we won’t be posting on a regular schedule.  We’ll pop in now and again (all the more reason to subscribe so you’ll know when we’re posting), and we’ll resume our regular posting schedule in a few months.

Thanks for bearing with us! xoxo

Ranch Rambler: Whole-House Inspiration

I realized I’ve been a little higgledy-piggledy in my approach to decorating the Rambler, so I’m using this post as an opportunity to step away from the immediate concerns of gaping holes where light fixtures should be and missing trim, and I’m going to expand my gaze to take in the whole picture.

I’m still very much a design novice.  Paying attention to the details and intentionally creating the space we live in really only started when Mera and I began writing RHW two years ago.  What I’ve come to realize, since moving, is just what a gentle design teacher the Red House was.

As I see it, there are two main differences between the Rambler and the Red House in terms of decorating:

  1. Less architectural interest at the Rambler than the Red House
  2. Open floor plan in the Rambler. I worked hard to create flow between the rooms at the Red House, but this is a whole other ball game: Here the kitchen, dining, and living space are all in a single room.

1. Less architectural interest at the Rambler than the Red House

Red House West

The high ceilings, arched doorways, and old fir floorboards of the Red House were an effortlessly charming backdrop

Cameron and I both have a preference for simple furniture with streamlined shapes; much of what we own (in fact almost everything that made the cut when we moved to this smaller home) is mid-century modern.  Looking back, I realize that achieving a look that was – to cadge my own wording from an earlier post – “eclectic and collected, with a mix of eras” at the Red House was pretty easy; all we had to do was place our furniture into that vintage setting and voila! Instant charm and juxtaposition.

Here at the Rambler, on the other hand, the effect of placing mid century furniture in a 1978 generic white box is much different.  I shared a cropped version of this photo over on our Instagram:

Red House West || Whole House Inspiration

It’s coming along… but has a ways to go

I have to admit that I’m excited by the challenge of achieving that charming ‘eclectic mix,’ when a vintage house isn’t part of the equation.  Can I do it?  I dunno; I feel like I just graduated to second grade in design school.

This is very much a space in progress (you can check out the before here); white paint is up, light fixture is down, furniture is in place, a few decorative items have been pulled out of boxes, it still needs curtains, and on and on.  I’m planning a gallery wall for in here, but am treading carefully because I don’t want it to overwhelm the space (see #2, below).

Here are some inspiration images I refer to again and again when making choices for this house:

This room is a beautiful mix of traditional and mid-century and though the arched bookcase is a lovely architectural detail, it’s not what makes the space:

I love, love, love this image, and it perfectly captures the mix I’m going for.  Now that I think of it, that arched mirror would be a great way to bring in the charm of the built-in bookshelf from the first photo:

This space obviously has a lot going for it architecturally, but it’s the antique pieces and worn wood juxtaposed with the oversized Noguchi light and the awesome art that’s giving me inspiration for the Rambler:

These photos not only evoke the feeling I want in our house, but also offer up some concrete ways I can introduce a little more charm into our white box: Mix in more antique pieces (rugs, small tables, worn wood) and mimic architecture by bringing shapes, such as arches, in via mirrors and other furnishings.  Mera, when editing this post, pointed out that globes are also a feature in each of these rooms and that perhaps I’m unconsciously drawn to the potential these rounded shapes have to soften the boxy lines of the Rambler.  She’s a genius and is, of course, right.  No doubt that’s part of why I was so set on a globe light for our entryway:

Red House West || Whole House Inspiration

Look! Progress! And globes! I’m hoping to pick your brains soon about what I should do with that front door.

And so we’re on to #2:

2. Open floor plan in the Rambler

If you were to play a drinking game in which you took a shot every time the phrase “open concept” is uttered on HGTV renovation shows, you’d be drunk as a skunk in about five minutes. But I gotta say, I’m finding it a lovely way to live.  When we have guests, it’s so fun to have people lounging on the couch and chatting while we prepare dinner.  It’s also great when it’s just the two of us; I work on projects at the dining table while Cameron cooks, or vice versa.  I get it now HGTV!  I’m a convert!

To help both you and me better visualize the space, I did a quick (not-to-scale) floor plan of the main room in the Rambler:

Red House West || Whole House Inspiration

So open!  So convenient!  And so much potential for visual chaos and clutter.  In my mind, there are two ways we’re going to be able to make this open floor plan thing work on a design level: Mitigate clutter, and keep a unified color palette.

I didn’t realize until I went hunting for photos of beautiful open floor plan images just what a desert the internet is of pulled back, whole-room shots.  In fact, I’ve only found one that really inspires me.  This room is obviously fancier than the ol’ Rambler, but really speaks to the effectiveness of a tight color palette – including in the gallery wall – and is also an excellent example of using rugs to define the space:

The color palette I’m planning is much the same as I used in the Red House; in the Rambler I’ll stick to the familiar combination of black, white, indigo, green, and wood.  My preference for accent colors shifts with the seasons, but for now I’m loving soft pink and mustard:

All Benjamin Moore colors: White Dove, Onyx, Hale Navy, Vintage Vogue, Soft Blush, Spicy Mustard

All Benjamin Moore colors: White Dove, Onyx, Hale Navy, Vintage Vogue, Soft Blush, Spicy Mustard

I’m still working out how to mitigate clutter (I’ll let you know if – nay, when – I come up with some genius solutions), but I feel like summarizing these thoughts has given me a much more clear design direction for the Rambler.  I hope it’s helped you see where we’re heading too!  Thanks for reading along, have a great week!


Ranch Rambler: Progress in the Office and the Prettiest Green Paint

I love the look of painted furniture, but most things in our house are the kind of wood you just don’t paint.  So I was excited to discover that my office at the Rambler was in dire need of closed storage, and that this slender little armoire – found on Craigslist – would fit perfectly into the space.  Red House West || A green cabinet and progress in the office

This photo might illustrate two things: one, that it doesn’t take much to get me excited; and two, that my office was in a disreputable, unusable state.   What is perhaps not readily evident in this photograph is the fair amount of progress that had already taken place in this room.  A month and a half ago it was still sporting its brown trim, popcorn ceiling, and bright blue paint:
Red House West || Ranch Rambler BeforeI have a bad habit of just kind of perching in a space until my plans for it can be realized in one fell swoop.  For instance in this room, I had resigned myself to a pile of book-filled boxes until we’re able to build a shelf to hold them.  No matter that building shelves is a ways down the to-do list (we’re still replacing doors and will be for the foreseeable future – how can such a small house have so many doors?), somehow it didn’t seem like a good use of energy to unpack this room until everything had a place to go.  Except when I found that dingy, mildly busted cabinet my whole outlook changed, and I was suddenly excited to steer this room toward a functional, pretty midway point.

Red House West || A Progress in the Office and a Vintage Vogue Green Cabinet

Red House West || A Progress in the Office and a Vintage Vogue Green CabinetThis was a test run of sorts, the color I chose for the armoire is Vintage Vogue by Benjamin Moore, which is one I’m also considering for the cabinets in our kitchen.  It’s really pretty!  Reminiscent of an army green, but with a nice depth that reads a little more ‘forest’ in dim or shadowed light.

Red House West || A Progress in the Office and a Vintage Vogue Green Cabinet

The cupboard itself is the perfect place to store my printer and scanner, as well as extra paper and other craft supplies.  Unfortunately it doesn’t address my need for a bookshelf, but Beatrice and her bird are doing a good job presiding over the tomes-without-homes.

Red House West || A green cabinet and progress in the office
This room still needs some work, obviously. The new door and trim need to be installed and I’m figuring out a way to organize my fabric and sewing things in the closet, but I couldn’t be happier with the way this weekend project turned out.  My practical self balks a little at the impracticality of stacked books, but a precarious game of Jenga when I want a book is still far preferable to digging through a cardboard box.

Red House West || A Progress in the Office and a Vintage Vogue Green CabinetAnyone else suffer from that “live in squalor until every change can be made at once” attitude? Have a great week!