Category Archives: Mera’s House

Decorating With Kids: Hide the Wallpaper Samples!

Right now my to-do list looks something like this:

  1. Redecorate the living room, the upstairs hallway, and our old bedroom;
  2. Buy a mini van with the highest safety ratings and also hopefully some cache (that’s possible, right?);
  3. Clean all surfaces in the house with non-toxic products, including walls and ceilings;
  4. Clean all surfaces in the basement with straight bleach (cats are supposed to be clean, so why are mine so filthy?);
  5. Push a human out of my bits.

Of course I can’t actually do any of these things myself (except #5, hopefully), because I’m laid up with a huge belly and a condition called PGP, but I’ve been making plans and scheming hard for when I’m able-bodied again.

Our plan is to have baby boy in our room for the first few months, and then to move him into Opal’s room, and move Opal into our old room.  Opal is down with this plan on one condition: her room has to be purple and pink.

Red House West || Plans for Opal's Room

Our old bedroom, soon to be Opal’s new bedroom.

Purple and pink are surprising favorites for a kid who refuses to wear dresses even for special occasions, and whose current interests include dinosaurs, construction equipment, and slugs.  But she’s a person all her own, and her absolute favorite colors are, and have been for a long time, purple and pink.

I love pink, but purple isn’t one of my go-to colors.   I wanted to use wallpaper in Opal’s room, and I thought long and hard about Hygge and West’s “Daydream” on the ceiling, like in this room:

I ordered samples in green and in purple.  I loved the green and figured I could work in lots of purple and pink through textiles and art, like this:

Yet another girl's room

But I made the mistake of not hiding the purple wallpaper sample, and Opal got really attached to it, and to the idea of purple birds in her room in particular. And by attached I mean she slept with the sample in her bed for weeks.  Trouble is I didn’t like the purple version at all.  The hue was cold, and having lived in her future bedroom through many long winters, I know that room does best with warmer tones.  So I started looking for a purple bird alternative.

After lots of searching I came across wallpaper that fits the bill from Trustworth.  I ordered a sample, and started putting together a design.

Red House West || Plans for a Big Girl Room

The wallpaper is beautiful, and maybe just the tiniest bit creepy in that art nouveau way I love.  The purple is more of a warm mauve than chilly lilac, which I like better, and while it’s hard to tell from the photo, the background is the prettiest blush pink.

I put together a mood board to see how it might come together, and this is what I ended up with:

Big Girl Room Plans

This rendering is more matchy than I think it would be in real life, and while I like it, I’m not totally sold.  Somehow it doesn’t feel very “Opal” to me.  If I can get her off the purple bird kick, or incorporate purple birds in some non-wallpaper way, I might scrap the wallpaper idea altogether and do something a little less involved, but more playful, like this:

Another girls room

Still pink and purple, but more fun, and more flexible if she changes her mind about her favorite colors.

What direction do you think I should go?  Give in to the icy purple birds, go with the mauve Trustworth avians, or not use wallpaper at all?  Do you let your kids decide what their rooms will be like?  Or just let them offer general guidelines?

The Ups & Downs of Roman Shades

One of the features I love most about our newly remodeled bedroom is the roman shades. I grew up here in Alaska, and it used to be that in mid-June when we have 20+ hours of daylight I would slumber blissfully in a sunbeam all night long.  But in my dotage I require a darkened room for the chance at a few solid hours of sleep, so good window-wear was a priority in our new bedroom.

On the windows behind our bed, the window trim meets the peaked ceiling at the top corners, which makes hanging drapery next to impossible.  I’ve loved the look of roman shades for a long time, and they were the obvious choice here.
Red House West || The Ups & Downs of Roman Shades

I custom ordered our shades from Smith & Noble, and I’m really happy with them.  They are flat roman shades, but you can also choose classic roman shades, which have more pronounced boning at the fold points, or relaxed roman shades, which have a slight swoop at the bottom edge.  Here are three things, good and bad, I’ve learned about roman shades since installing ours.

1.  They Really Work–Almost Too Well

Because of our long hours of summer daylight, I ordered our shades with blackout linings.  When they’re fully down, it’s pleasingly dark in our room, although there are slivers of light visible on the sides.

Red House West || The Ups & Downs of Roman Shades[Cromwell requests that we all take a moment to recognize the depth of his sacrifice in service of this GIF.  It took him at least one full minute to get back to sleep.]

The flip side of how well they block light is that when the windows are open but the shades are down, almost no air gets through them.  I’m sure we’ll be grateful for how insulating they are during the winter, but for now we’ve been leaving the shades open a crack at the bottom to let a little breeze through.

2.  Cordless is Best

The three larger windows in our bedroom have cordless shades, but the shades on the two small windows have cords.  Maybe other companies are different, but Smith and Noble can only make roman shades cordless when they’re over a certain width.  I thought that the cordless controls would be like those on honeycomb shades, where you just apply a little pressure upward and they lift.  Instead they are like the controls on roller shades–you pull down and release.  This makes me a little nervous because we took ancient roller shades out of this room as part of the remodel.   Most of the time they wouldn’t retract all the way no matter how gently or vigorously you pulled down on the mechanism.

So far these seem solid and work reliably, and I’m hopeful that they’ll hold up because I really prefer them to the cord control versions on our two small windows.

Red House West || Roman Shades

The cord control versions don’t have a self-stopping mechanism, so the cord has to be wrapped around a cleat screwed to the window frame.  This isn’t a big deal, but pulling the cord to the outside of the shade to loop it around the cleat does make it a little harder to keep the shade folded neatly and evenly when it’s all the way up.

3.  They’re Not Great for Small Windows

Apart from the closet construction, the biggest remodel-ly thing we did in the bedroom was to add this tiny, south-facing window.  It has to be tiny because of the way the roof slopes, but it lets in a ton of light, and was totally worth it.  That said, I wish I had figured out an alternative to the inside-mount roman shade for it.  The window is only 18 inches tall, and the shade takes up almost 6 inches.  Plus I think because it is so small, it doesn’t fold up as cleanly as the others and always looks a little schlumpy.

Red House West || The Ups & Downs of Roman Shades

If your windows are small, or if they’re set low in the wall (with the top of the frame close to eye-level) I wouldn’t recommend inside-mount roman shades.   They cover too much of the window, meaning less view and less light. Any suggestions for other window coverings for this bitty window?

Despite a few drawbacks, I am overall very pro roman shades. They do the job, and to me they look tailored and unobtrusive.  What do you think?

Mera’s House: The New Master Bedroom

It’s been a long time coming, but our new master bedroom is done!  If you recall, the room is tiny, full of sloped ceilings, tricky angles, and little eaves.  If you want to revisit the plans and progress for this room you’ll find them here, here, herehere and here, but suffice it to say this has been a slog.  Seeing these before and after shots gives me a proud sense of achievement.  Let’s get into it!

Looking from the doorway into the room, before:

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

and after:

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal


Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

And after:

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

Looking back toward the doorway and closet, before:

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

and after:

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

And finally the closet eave, before:

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

And the closet eave, after:

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

Ahhhhh, so fresh and clean and, best of all, functional!  The closet easily houses both of our wardrobes, and a few of the drawers are even still empty (once this baby makes his debut (in approx. 47 days, not that I’m counting) bring on the fall fashion!).

One of the best things about the closet is the simple brass hardware on the sliding closet doors and drawers.

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

Red House West || Master Bedroom RevealHere’s the view from the closet looking back toward the bed:

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

Those of you who’ve followed these chronicles might remember that I had my heart set on an indigo upholstered bed from Serena and Lily.  I ordered it, and then I waited, and waited, and waited.  Seven months later, the bed still hadn’t arrived, and I started looking for alternatives.  This bed from CB2 appealed to me because of its small size and simple shape.  I posted a plea for input, and that very day I got an email from Serena and Lily saying that the bed was in production and would ship a few days later!  But after getting great feedback from you, dear readers, and after several calls to Katie in which she design and life-coached me, I cancelled the order for the Serena and Lily bed.  The CB2 bed got the rose, and like Trista and Ryan Sutter, I’ve never looked back.

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

I’m so glad I went this route.  The Serena and Lily bed is beautiful, but the reality of this room is that with the angled ceiling, the paneling, and all of the nooks and mullioned windows, there is a lot going on in here before you even begin to talk about color.  As it is now, the subtle palette of mostly white and off-white, with touches of peach, indigo, and deep teal green gives it a quiet, restful, and slightly unstudied look that I love.

In its naked form, the CB2 bed was a little too masculine for me so I layered my antique piano shawl over the headboard.  I love the way the inverted triangle mirrors the triangle shaped ceiling above, and that it adds a quiet dash of romance.

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

Once during this long process I googled “feng shui bedroom” and learned that a bed (1) should never be under a window, (2) should never face a door, and (3) should never be under a sloped ceiling. Check, check, and check.  Despite breaking all the feng shui rules, I find this set up restful and comfortable.  My side of the bed is under the sloped ceiling, and I was worried about hitting my head or having to stoop uncomfortably every time I crawl into bed, but so far, even with pregnancy-induced limited mobility, it hasn’t been a problem at all.

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

The bed faces this over-sized mirror and bench.  The mirror isn’t so low that we stare at ourselves from bed, but it’s the perfect height to reflect the view out the window behind our heads.  It gives us the feeling of gazing at the trees and sky, and also functions well as a close-to full-length mirror.

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

In the other eave I made a nursing command station.  Eventually I think we’ll build a hinged window seat with storage below for linens, but for the foreseeable future me and my boobs will be right here.

Red House West || Master Bedroom Reveal

So there you have it!  I’ll be sharing more details in upcoming posts, but for now here are sources:

|| sliding door hardware || drawer hardware || ceiling light || rug ||  necklace holder || small triangle mirror ||


|| roman shades || bed || linen sheets (a gift from my mother in law!) || peach linen pillowcases || Catherine of Aragon portrait (a present from Katie!) || peach sky print || bench || round mirror (no longer available in gold) || face planter || peach planter || table lamps (no longer available) || pendant lamp (similar) || wall hooks ||


|| chair || pillow ||