Category Archives: Katie’s House

Katie’s House: An Upstairs Update

We’ve been putting every spare moment to work around here lately –  painting, nailing, sawing, and caulking.  We are walking a perilous line between house project elation and house project burnout, but the satisfaction I get from seeing all the changes is worth it.  In my last post I showed you some progress we’d made in our upstairs:

hallway progress
The fresh white walls and new subfloor were already a big upgrade from the dirty carpet and urine-hued walls, but we’ve made a lot of progress since then.  Here’s where we’re at now:

Red House West||Charcoal Stairs

I’m so excited!  (And also sore and a little tired).  Look at the way the floor just keeps going into the Chamber!  It’s like it’s all part of the same house or something!

Red House West||Charcoal Stairs

The closed door leads to our bedroom – which is not yet part of the same house, alas.

While I never once considered that the slate floor of the bathroom would relate nicely to the charcoal of the stairs, I’m glad it does!

Red House West||Charcoal Stairs

Sorry the photos aren’t great (low light has been the name of the game around Eugene lately).

We’ve still got some trim work to finish up, but it feels like the lion’s share of the work is done.  Painting the stairs didn’t end up being too hard, though it did require a fair amount of pre-planning.  Pro-tip: make sure to put the lid of the paint can at the bottom of the stairs, so when you’ve painted yourself down there you have it.

Red House West||Charcoal Stairs

To prep the stairs, I hand scraped and sanded them to get the overspray from the wall texture off, then I filled the most egregious (splinter-edged) holes with wood filler. The stairs are old and worn-in and I don’t mind that, so I didn’t fuss about filling everything.

To paint, I started at the top 🙂 and had with me a dustpan and broom, a damp cloth, and a microfiber cloth.  I made sure each step was clean as can be before painting.  Because the stairs are a mix of plywood and hardwood, some of it painted, I did a coat of dark-tinted primer first.  I had floor and porch paint color-matched with Benjamin Moore’s ‘Raccoon Fur,’ which is the prettiest shade of charcoal with some blue-green undertones.

Red House West||Charcoal Stairs

Don’t worry about those paint splatters near the wall; they’ll be covered by trim soon enough!

You might remember that I was worried about keeping Fat Bunny at bay, but it ended up being simple.  I just painted down to the lower landing and shut the door, then waited until he’d entered his daily 10-hour torpor to do the bottom few steps.

Red House West||Charcoal Stairs
I’m so happy with the way it looks! There’s a fair amount of finish work still to do, but I dare say we’re well on our way to the British farmhouse aesthetic that I aspire to.
Red House West || Stairs

Red House West||Charcoal Stairs

Thanks for reading!  Have a great week!

Katie’s House: Upstairs Progress

The last phase of making the couch (we are so close!) is on hold while an essential package from my Mera wends its way south.  And so, with time on our hands and just a touch of masochism in our hearts, Cameron and I decided to tackle some long-dreaded projects upstairs: the painting of our stairwell and a whole lot of carpet removal.

This weekend we said farewell to the very last of the yellow paint that covered much of our house when we bought it (variously referred to in previous posts as ‘urine-tinged snow’ and ‘overcooked egg’).  Here it is in our upstairs hallway:

Red House West || StairsUnfortunately the photo above is not a true before – I had already pulled up the carpet before remembering to snap a picture (you’d think that after over a year of doing this blogging thing I’d remember to take photos first – but sometimes the frenzy of discovery overwhelms me).

The carpet in here was the same brownish industrial stuff that was in the Chamber of Secrets.  It was laid badly, with visible seams, and as soon as I got it out (chucked gleefully from the window – so fun!) the space felt much brighter and cleaner.

Just under the carpet was a hybrid of plywood, mdf, and planks, and I spent hours removing staples and tack strips before we decided that it needed to be entirely replaced. I don’t mind some old house squeaky-floor charm, but this one was a deafening symphony of groans, screeches, and even grunts.  We decided the extra effort was worth it, and put down some clean fresh plywood (with nary a squeak).

hallway progressI painted the walls and ceiling with Benjamin Moore’s ‘White Dove,’ like in the Chamber of Secrets, and the plan is to lay the same hickory floors that are in the COS in the hallway and our other guest room (just out of frame on the right of this photo – I’ll share more another time).  Just the fresh paint and the new plywood subfloor is a major improvement – so clean! So quiet!

I’d been really daunted at the prospect of painting the high ceiling over our stairwell; I envisioned leaning over the banister wielding a dripping paintbrush taped to a broomstick, but Cameron had a better idea.   He quickly screwed together some scrap wood to make a bridge on which I could stand and paint, suspended above the gaping abyss.

Red House West || Stairs

Red House West || Stairs

Though I failed miserably at taking before photos of the hallway, I did manage to snap a couple of the stairs while they were still carpeted.  Our stairwell is narrow and steep and we were initially worried that removing the carpet would make it treacherous, but it’s actually the opposite! The thick carpet that curved over the lip of the tread was a tripping hazard – the bare wood is much less slippery and a huge improvement.

Red House West || Stairs

Descending into the family room

Just look at the carpeting job on the bottom step – she’s a beaut, Clark!

Red House West || Stairs

When I first started pulling the carpet from the stairs I felt a frisson of excitement at the sight of wood.  Alas, it’s past restoration… but don’t worry, I’ve got a good plan!

Red House West || Stairs

The white is overspray from drywall texture, which is proving to be a bear to remove.

Red House West || Stairs

I’m strangely fond of the weird plywood wall on the right (it’s very Scandinavian, right?  Right??), and with the crisp white wall on the other side, I’m almost 100% decided that I’m going to paint the stairs a solid charcoal grey. Here’s some of my inspiration:


So pretty, right?  We can always add a runner if we feel like we need one down the road, but for now I’m beyond excited at the prospect of those dark grey stairs.  Finding a convenient time for painting is a little tricky (I can’t even imagine how we’ll keep our very determined Fat Bunny at bay while it dries), but I can’t wait!

Thanks for reading along!  Have an excellent week!

Couch Inspiration

We’ve almost wrapped up our couch project – the frame is complete (hooray!), but our dining room is buried beneath huge expanses of fabric, frayed and ripped upholstery thread, and the salt of a thousand tears.

For today I thought I’d show you some of the inspiration behind our couch. But first? A confession.

Do you remember back in September when I shared photos of this floral couch?  The couch that lost us a number of Instagram followers and was much maligned in the comments?
Red House West || Sometimes it ain't Pretty
Well, here’s the thing. I bought that couch. Yes I did.  Despite the gagging noises implicit in your feedback, I went in on a day it was 50% off and plunked down cold, hard cash.  Cameron was pretty stoked to come in the door one evening only to be hustled right back out as I said, “You know that couch that you and everyone else hated? Well I bought it and we need to pick it up before the store closes tonight.”

At the thrift store, we removed the cushions – dislodging a bounty of used tissues, pet hair, other hair (oh god) and assorted debris – and hefted that sucker into the truck. Have I mentioned that it was our anniversary and that we were leaving on a trip and had a to-do list a mile long? Wood may be the traditional fifth anniversary gift, but I commemorated ours with a large, dirty couch that, according to Instagram, conjured up images of culottes, the 1980s, and too many cats.

Red House West || Couch Inspiration

Just in case you need proof that I actually dragged that thing home

You see, dear readers, I was going to dazzle you with my incredible makeover skills.  If only the couch would have fit through our hallway, or the window we tried to cram it through, I’m very sure I would have succeeded.

The couch went back to the thrift store, and I did my best to move on. I couldn’t find anything I liked in the dimensions we needed (etched irrevocably in my brain after le soFiasco) at my usual haunts, but I saw this beauty on Anthropologie and thought, with my usual delusional confidence, pffft, we could totally make that.  And so it began.
Red House West || Couch Inspiration

I had an initial gut reaction to that Anthro couch, but when I wiped the hearts from my eyes and really looked at it, I realized it wasn’t totally practical for us.  I decided maximum lounging potential required two armrests to lean against, and more of an angle on the back.

I really loved this one by Australian designer Mark Tuckey, but decided it would be a lot of wood in a room that already has wood floors and wood trim.

Red House West || Couch Inspiration

I was drawn to the cant of these arms, but not the rigidity of the back:

This dreamy sofa by Pop & Scott has neither arms nor back, yet I almost managed to convince myself that it was perfect.



The couch we kept coming back to, and ultimately the one we based much of our design on, is this one found over on Italian flooring site Marazzi.  I loved the flare of the arms and the simplicity of the style, and figured we could up the comfort factor with deep cushions.

Red House West || Couch Inspiration

Once we had finally settled on a design for a frame, deliberations on the cushions began. I knew I wanted a single, long seat cushion with two back cushions and squishy, narrow cushions for leaning against the armrests.  Kind of like this:

I also knew I didn’t want the shape of the seat cushion to be too boxy – I wanted it to be thick and inviting, and I got downright obsessed with the way cushions are seamed and curved. Like this one, where the fabric wraps around the front with no visible seams:

One way to achieve this look is the knife edge seam (unlike a box cushion with two seams, there’s a single seam and a T-shaped edge), as seen on a lovely Pop & Scott couch:
Red House West || Couch Inspiration

Here’s an example with a more pronounced single seam that encircles the whole cushion:

There’s something very appealing about the insouciance of flanged cushions (maybe because it looks like they’ve been moved from the bedroom to the couch?), and I gave them some serious consideration.

After endless deliberation I did make a decision, and as soon as I wrestle the fabric into submission I’ll be glad to show you everything!   For now, here’s a shot of our couch sans back:

Red House West || Couch InspirationThanks for providing me with distraction (please send me some sewing mojo!) and for reading along, and have an excellent week!

*An update on the couch project is here