The Chamber of Secrets is Revealed!

Well dear readers, here we are.  In the time it takes a baboon to gestate its young, we have turned the most unloved room in our house – a room whose door we kept firmly closed for most of the last two years (the better to contain its horrors) – into my favorite place in the house.

If you’re new here and looking to get caught up, you can read more about the inspiration and process of the whole remodel here.

This is where we started:


desk-and-windowsAnd now?

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealRed House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealRed House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealLast week, prompted by a desire to fill this room only with things I love, I did a ruthless culling of my books.  I cut my collection almost in half (which I thought would feel like amputating a limb, but instead just felt liberating and joyful).  It’s interesting to run my eye over the remaining books and think about why they made the cut and the answer, for almost all of them, is nostalgia.  But those are musings for another time.

Having fewer books meant there was extra space on the shelves, and I had fun going through the house and picking some of my favorite items to display.  The little portrait of Jane Eyre came from Etsy seller Isabella Di Sclafani. I love her quirky portraits and this one, though it is beautiful quality, is just a $1.00 postcard.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets Reveal

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealI sorted the books in a way that’s logical to me: loosely by genre, author and color.  The only casualty of my system is an arrangement of hardbacks – grouped because of their vintage cloth covers rather than their content – that includes both the 1941 children’s horse story ‘My Friend Flicka’ and a collection of erotica by Anais Nin.  It cracks me up every time I see it and it’s kind of awkwardly perfect.  Perfectly awkward.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets Reveal

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealAs we mentioned in Monday’s post, neither Mera nor I are strangers to the bit of quirk lent by animal decor. As I placed yet another bird on the shelves I could hear Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen manically advising me to put a bird on it.  Which I obligingly did, again and again.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealThe window seat has become my absolute favorite spot in our house.  I am inordinately proud of the striped cushion – representing my first box cushion, my first piping (I don’t know what I was so scared of – it’s easy!), my first hidden zipper, a fair amount of cursing, and many, many ripped seams.  Seriously, the construction of this room has already become kind of a blur, but the day I spent on that cushion is etched in sharp relief.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealYou may remember that I originally planned to do a roman shade for the windows, but even after months of searching I couldn’t seem to find a fabric or design that I loved enough to have filling that big space.  Everything seemed too heavy, and I worried it would look like a great, grumpy brow scowling down from atop the windows.  Just as I was losing hope we put together our portiere post, and I found myself really inspired by the relaxed, bohemian vibe of the cafe-clipped curtains in many of the photos.  I found this beautiful French cotton print at L’Etoffe, a fabric store that recently opened up in our area.  I don’t think I realized quite how dire it was to have JoAnn fabric as my only shopping option until this alternative universe of fine cloths and inspiring prints arrived – and now I’m in heaven.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealThe daybed has a trundle underneath which rolls out, pops up, and forms a very comfortable king size bed.  It’s a close second to the window seat as my favorite place to lounge (the same two places that are, perhaps not coincidentally, also Fat Bunny’s favorite places to lounge).

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealThe murmuration of starlings print is from this Etsy seller, and the lucite table is my most exciting recent thrift store score.  The white coverlet and macrame pillow both came from a garage sale (and both cleaned up perfectly with a little bleach), and the other pillows – except the green one, which I made with more pretty fabric from L’Etoffe – are from Ikea.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets Reveal

My mom traded me the desk (I painted the legs black) for one of our tables, the brass lamp and Herman Miller chair are from Craigslist, the pillow was a gift from Mera, and the oil painting bulletin board is DIY.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealThe Paul McCobb chair got a quick update with a piece of gingham fabric from the thrift store (I left the hand-printed cover on underneath the new fabric).

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealI’m always interested in how much renovations cost, so I thought I would share a rough budget breakdown.  We didn’t keep a careful record, so these are estimates, but I think it’s pretty close.  I always think doing things ourselves means it’s going to be cheap and, though it’s certainly cheaper than hiring someone else to do it, man do the materials still add up.

Budget Breakdown:

Hickory wood floors from Lumber Liquidators: $500 (though we have some left over to get the hallway started)

Building materials (wood for the built-ins, trim, drywall): $400

Benjamin Moore paint: about $150

Light fixture: $40 at Ikea

Fabric for the curtains and fabric and foam for the window seat: about $120

Decor (Ikea pillows and Etsy art): around $100, though I had gift cards to both places.

Miscellanea (paint rollers, some electrical supplies, hardware, and other things I’m forgetting):  about $100

The furniture and lamps in this room are all vintage and mostly from thrift stores, yard sales and Craigslist (and a lot of it I owned before we started planning this room).  The big ticket item was the trundle bed, which was $100 on Craigslist and then we splurged on two new, good quality mattresses so that our guests (and Fat Bunny) would be comfortable – which added another $250.  All told, we probably came in just around $1600 for the whole renovation.  An amount which, when I compare the baboon butt of the ‘before’ with the adorable baby baboon of the ‘after,’ seems worth every penny.


from-door-2To, “Won’t you please come in?”

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealThank you so much for following along on this looooooong process!  It has been really fun to share the inspiration, tribulations and – ultimately – triumph with you here on the blog.  If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments!

27 responses on “The Chamber of Secrets is Revealed!

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    What a roaring success! From trash to treasure for sure. I love your book shelves, that little right angled shelf and the curves at the other end. Wonderful curation of the objects in the room too. I would love to be a guest in that room.

    1. Katie Post author

      Thanks, Pam! I’m feeling pretty happy about it. I’ve popped my head in about 20 times since I got home from work just to make sure it’s still there.

  2. Nina

    Fantastic job! Agree with Laura: that bookcase and all the built-ins are amazing.

    Love that you placed the wooden hand on top of the Italian-English dictionary. Everybody knows, we Italians need our hands in order to talk!

    Congratulations – the chamber looks great.

  3. Carol Bryner

    This is fantastic, Katie. I love everything about it, but my favorite things are the curtain and the striped cushion. I’m so glad you didn’t use a Roman shade. This delicate and airy window “treatment,” and the portrait of Jane Eyre (which I think is the focal point of the whole room) make the “Chamber of Secrets” a lovely and romantic place. Great job!

    1. Katie Post author

      Thanks Carol! I’m glad about the curtain too. It feels just right and now it’s hard to imagine that I wanted it any other way.

  4. Katy Gilmore

    Well done Katie and Cameron! Just a beautiful room – tranquil and interesting. And that fabric store sounds fabulous – how perfect to be able to wander about and enjoy unusual material – and I love how you’ve used your new fabric.

    1. Katie Post author

      Thanks Katy! Yes, finding that store is a boon (and a pocketbook danger) for sure. I’m excited to hop up on that window seat and read more of the excellent book recommendations from your blog 🙂

  5. Susan Glassow

    In the midst of sorting our books for the wall- rolling ladder bookshelves in our newly completed studio-cabin, I am so very inspired by how lively and lovely your shelving is. I’m looking forward to a sleepover here and a closer perusal of who is living by whom…The room invites and offers tranquillity and at the same time there is a happy, creative energy. Are the two connected? Cameron should have a signature plate somewhere in those shelves and cupboards…Bravissimo to you both!

  6. Michelle

    An amazing and inspiring transformation Katie (and Cameron)! Everything looks perfect, and I really appreciate you sharing the process with us—thank you!

  7. Gillianne

    What an inviting space you’ve created! (I’d have arm-wrestled you for that acrylic table if we’d spotted it at the same time–Green Acres Goodwill?)

    Also, former English major and writer/editor here: I’ve been meaning to comment that I read your blog for its wordsmithing qualities even more than for the design and decor content. Scarcely (nary?) a typo or grammatical error, plus wit and style in every post. The whole package is what keeps me coming back. THANK YOU!

    1. Katie Post author

      Thank you for your very kind words Gillianne! Your comment made my day.
      I actually found that table in Springfield – sounds like I’d better start pumping up my guns just in case we meet while treasure hunting next time 🙂

      1. Gillianne

        Actually, you’re safe from me as a rival thrifter. We recently downsized, and I’m appreciating the smaller footprint and not keen to fill it up. But for something truly special? Well, I might contrive. 🙂

  8. Jenny

    Love this room — inspiring! Any tips on where to source the day bed and trundle? That would be a fantastic solution for our rather small guest room.

    1. Katie Post author

      Thanks Jenny! Our Craigslist has them pretty regularly (I searched ‘trundle’ ‘daybed’ ‘rolling bed’), and they’re usually fairly inexpensive. I’ve also seen just the trundle part online for around $100 and I think it would just fit under a regular twin frame, which I often see at thrift stores and on CL. Good luck!

  9. Tina

    Looks great! In my next life, I’m marrying someone who moonlights as a carpenter.

    Tina (via your comment on my comment on Hendo’s blog.) 🙂

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