Category Archives: Before & After

Anthropologie-Inspired Geometric Table Top

My desire for crafting seems to be inversely proportional to the weather: for every degree that drops on the thermometer, my need to make something increases.  As the wind howled and the rain fell this last week, I decided to tackle a small project I’ve been meaning to do for ages.

I’ve had this metal table for a few years now, but I have zero recollection of where I got it.  The side of a road? The thrift store?  Your house?  Whatever its origin, it was cute enough to drag home (or steal, or however I got it), and we fashioned a top from a piece of scrap wood, stuck it in a corner with a lamp on it, and forgot about it.  Until a whisper carried on a late October wind reminded me.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired TableInspiration came, as it so often does, in the form of an Anthropologie catalog.  I like to think my style is unique, but the reality is that only financial constraint keeps me from a home and closet cloned straight from Anthropologie.  They, more than any other brand, create the fantasy life I’d like to live.  Soon after it appeared in my mailbox, I dogeared the pages with the new Sura collection, liking the geometric patterns and achromatic palette.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table Pretty sure I could pull something similar off for significantly less than the $1200 Anthro price tag, I gathered my supplies:

  • Four strips of 1/16″ thick Basswood (I can only find the packaged quantity online, but they were sold individually for less than $5 with a coupon at JoAnn’s)
  • Matte black paint
  • Paint brush and rag
  • Utility knife
  • Ruler
  • Wood glue (I used this)
  • Polyacrylic (or another clear topcoat)

To begin, I painted two of my boards with black chalkboard paint then used a rag to vigorously rub them so the grain would show through.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table I used a utility knife and straight edge to cut four-inch squares of both the natural and painted wood, then cut those into two halves, making triangles.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table

The thin wood cuts easily with just a utility knife.

I had fun playing around to see what layout I liked best.  I’m sorry for the photo quality: The hideous lighting and off-kilter framing can both be attributed to the late hour at which I was doing this.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table Once I had a design I liked, I put a thin layer of glue on the piece of wood we’d been using as a table top, attached half the tiles, then quickly put a board and a pile of heavy objects (a zillion-pound kitchen mixer among them) on top.  I then did the other half of tiles exactly the same way.  A thin, even layer of glue and a quick application of weight is essential (ESSENTIAL!) to keep the thin tiles from curling.  I let things dry overnight, then finished up with a coat of Polyacrylic.  Not counting dry time, the whole process took me less than two hours.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table A similar look could have maybe been achieved by taping and painting a single piece of wood, but I like the tiled effect and the way the grain goes in different directions.  I can totally imagine doing this again on a larger table surface, a cabinet front, or as a frame.  Maybe next time instead of painting, I’ll even try cerusing the wood using this tutorial from Little Green Notebook.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table

Red House West || Anthro Inspired Table I’m liking it so much that this morning I picked some of the hardy pink roses that are still blooming along our driveway, made a cup of tea, and just sat there appreciating my newest craft.

Red House West || Anthro Inspired TableAnyone else been bitten by the cold-weather crafting bug?

Mera’s House: Playroom Before & After

The playroom is done!  For real this time (sorry about the ghost post last week, email subscribers)!  To recap, here is where we started:

Red House West || Playroom

Okay, so this was when the room was going through a particularly awkward/heinous phase.  It wasn’t always this bad, but during the holidays last year we realized that we needed the space to function both as playroom, and as an occasional guest room when we have lots of family visiting.  We cobbled it together, but the room was a chaotic, rumpled mess.  Definitely not a welcoming retreat for weary travelers, nor a space to spark the imagination of a preschooler.  Fast forward five months, through drywall repair, painting (the prettiest pale peach shade), wallpapering, and changing out fixtures, outlets, and switches, and here is what it looks like now:

Red House West || Playroom

When I think of playrooms, antique Persian rugs don’t typically jump to mind, but this rug totally makes the room.  It came from my father-in-law’s childhood home, and was in our living room for a while.  As it was in our living room, it’s too big for this room and curls up on the edges, but I think that adds to the magic.  To me it looks like the secret room you would stumble into when the back of the antique wardrobe you’re hiding in gives way.

The element I’m most proud of in this room is the playhouse.  It is a simple piece of plywood, with a caster on the bottom, attached to the wall with a piano hinge (I’ll be sharing details on how we made it soon).

Red House West || Playroom

It’s painted with chalkboard paint and folds flat against the wall, or can be pulled out so that Opal can play store or house, or do puppet shows, or whatever she can think of.  Turns out a lot of imaginary scenarios are made better and more fun by the addition of a window.


Red House West || Playroom

The daybed is from Land of Nod, and is really really useful in this room.  Having a bed for guests was a must, but it’s also nice to have a cozy perch for reading together, and it makes for comfortable theater seating for the audience at puppet shows.

Red House West || Playroom

Behind the daybed hangs a thrifted miniature painting.  It’s tiny, only 3×4, but the details knock me out, and the colors are just right.

Red House West || Playroom

The curtains are lovely, light, and informal.  I’ve never had a room with matching drapes of any kind, and I suddenly feel like I get it — they really do tie the room together.

Red House West || Playroom

Katie helped me hang the wallpaper during her last visit to Alaska (read our tips for wallpapering success here), and I’m still completely in love with it.  It packs a graphic punch, but doesn’t overwhelm the room, and is a great backdrop for Opal’s storytelling performances, which lately usually begin with “back in the olden days . . .”

Red House West || Playroom

Red House West || PlayroomI’ve had the string lights for a while, and I love them.  I like the look of bare bulb fixtures, but they’re usually too harsh for my eyes.  Not these babies.  I have them on a dimmer, and they give off a warm and lovely glow.  I’ll share some tips I learned about how to hang things on wallpaper in another post soon.

Red House West || Playroom

I’m really happy with this room now!  We all spend more time in here, and Opal is often engaged in deep, imaginative play, rather than digging through rubble and rubbish.  I love that the room is clearly a playroom, but isn’t overwhelmed by toys or loud colors or designs, and that Opal’s creativity is the star of the show.

Red House West || Playroom

Winnie is insufficiently impressed that my child wrote “Oprah.”


Thanks for reading along, and in case you’re curious, here are sources:

Daybed, Land of Nod; Mattress Cover, Etsy; Curtains, (print no longer available, but same style) Urban Outfitters; Mural Wallpaper, Anthropologie; Buffalo Check Pillows, Ikea; String Lights, onefortythree; Wall Paint, Peach Fade by Behr.

Katie’s House: Progress in the Family Room

I’ve had a whirlwind couple of weekends – two weddings of two long-time friends (one of whom I’ve known since birth!), and lots of time with dear friends I rarely see.  I haven’t had much time for house projects, but I did manage to squeeze in a day of painting.  The family room transformation has begun and I am so, so excited.  In case you missed it, this room is on the main floor and is our primary lounge space – a copious amount of Netflix is watched in here during the winter months.

It is a testament to the diverting power of television that we managed to spend so much time in this room.  Behold the overcooked egg:

beforeI am always amazed by what a little paint and a day of toil can do.  Here’s a photo of the room taken from the opposite angle:

Red House West || Family Room RedoI used Miller Paint’s Crystal Ball on the walls with Casper White on the ceiling and trim.  I also did a little Restor-a-Finish/Howard Feed n’ Wax combo on the window frames. The room feels so much fresher and brighter.  Crystal Ball is the same color I used in my living room and hallway, and the newly unified color palette really improves the flow through the downstairs.  Here’s the view standing in the freshly painted room and looking through the hallway and into the living room:

Red House West || Family Room RedoAnd this picture is taken from the dining room looking into the family room:

Red House West || Family Room RedoThis summer has been uncomfortably and uncharacteristically hot.  My eyes and soul are yearning (pining, longing, aching) for the emerald greens of Oregon’s rainy winter.  The scorched browns and yellows of our yard have me dreaming of turning our family room into a verdant oasis.

Red House West || Family Room Redo Seeing my plants against the soft gray walls and fir trim has helped me focus my vision for this room – and the vision is green indeed.

Red House West || Family Room RedoRed House West || Family Room Redo

Red House West || Family Room Redo

Clockwise from upper left: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

I haven’t had any luck yet with finding a secondhand couch.  I missed out by mere minutes on what looked like a good possibility on Craigslist.  I’m bummed but I’ve been telling myself that even though it looked great in the photo, it definitely smelled of mildew or cat pee or worse (if there is a worse?  maybe dead whale).  And so the hunt continues.  In other progress news, I ordered some fabric swatches for the recliner, and I’ve been eyeballing this light fixture from Schoolhouse Electric:

Schoolhouse ShadeI’m happy to have the painting done, and planning a monochromatic green room sure makes the design process easy (I’m kidding… sort of).  I’m looking forward to doing some research to find plants that will thrive in the west-facing space.  The way I see it, the function of an indoor jungle is two-fold: Not only are plants beautiful, but their improvement of air quality will surely mitigate some of the brain-deadening effects of winter nights spent glued to the boob tube.  I mean, right?

Please keep your fingers crossed that I find an odor-free couch soon, and have a great week!