Category Archives: Mera’s House

Mera’s House: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going

With January half way over it feels a little late for reflections on 2015, especially as I’m writing this surrounded by construction noise and dust from what will be our big project of 2016.  In 2015 I think I came to understand for the first time that decorating means a deeper level of engagement than just putting things I love, or at least like, in a room.  In other words,  I learned that if you want your house to look decorated, you have to decorate it.  Duh.

Take for example our breakfast nook.  This was added as part of our big kitchen remodel in 2009, and we always loved it and used it constantly, yet I never decorated it.  Here is what it looked like before:

Red House West || Where We've Been, Where We're Going

And here is what it looked like after my 2015 revelation.  Nothing extraordinary or dramatic necessarily, but it’s definitely a much more pleasing space (see more here):

Red House West || Where We've Been, Where We're Going

Wolsey is immovable.

I also tackled Opal’s room, and our living room.  Here is the closest thing I have to a before shot of the living room (more details here):

Red House West || Where We've Been, Where We're Going

This before shot has the unfair advantage of Katie’s beautiful presence.

And here is what it looks like in more recent days.  Again, no huge dramatic changes (although the rug is definitely dramatic), but with the help of some more appropriately scaled furniture and less clutter, it feels much more put together:

Red House West || Where We've Been, Where We're Going

Red House West || Where We've Been, Where We're Going

Opal’s room is a similar story — the changes are just paint and textiles, but I think it made a big difference:

Red House West || Where We've Been, Where We're Going

Red House West || Where We've Been, Where We're Going

And last but not least, the playroom, which, with the addition of wallpaper and the DIY hinged chalkboard playhouse, was definitely my biggest project of 2015.  Here is a super flattering before pic:

Red House West || Where We've Been, Where We're Going

And here is what it looks like now:
Red House West || Where We've Been, Where We're Going

I plan to share more details about how we made the playhouse soon.

Red House West || Where We've Been, Where We're Going

The big project of 2016 will be our new master bedroom!  We are turning what has been our guest room into our bedroom, with the addition of a closet that will *hopefully* hold both of our clothes.  The room is tiny, with a steeply pitched roofline and barely enough space for a queen bed.  It’s not without challenges, but I think it’s going to work!

I came up with two plans for the room, and I’ve since scrapped both of them.  Here is what the room looks like as of yesterday:

Red House West || Where We've Been, Where We're Going

Super promising, right?  But really, I think the end result is going to be beautiful!

What are your house goals for 2016?  Any big projects in the works?

In case you missed it, Katie’s house tour was on Design*Sponge last week!


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.

Tracing a Lineage #2

Part of the fun of finding a treasure at the thrift store is learning a little more about it.  There’s a thrill to searching for an artist’s signature or a maker’s mark, and it’s so fun to put together a story for how an item came to be at a thrift store in Eugene, Oregon or Anchorage, Alaska – or wherever you may be.  We’re excited to share the second installment of our series ‘Tracing a Lineage.’ If you missed it, you can check out the first one here.

Mera and the Mystery of the Hidden Fire

Lately my thrift store forays have been few and far between, and when I do get to pop in to my favorite spots it’s because I’ve found myself with an extra ten minutes before I need to pick Opal up from preschool. On such a recent trip, as I traversed the aisles with a lightening pace and the metronomic hips of a speed walker, a glint of brass caught my eye.  Amidst the dust and ’80s dingy tri-pillowed couches sat a pretty three-legged stool:

Red House West || Tracing a LineageThe stool looks small and delicate, but weighs a hefty 13 pounds.  On the bottom it says “NADER” and “Made in Iran.”  A quick google search told me that Nader is a factory in Tehran, but not much else.

Red House West || Tracing a LineageAll three legs unscrew, and around the perimeter of the stool are sickle shaped holes.  Turns out the stool is a foot warmer; apparently hot coals were placed into the main chamber through the leg holes, and the stool would get nice and toasty.

Although I don’t know much about its provenance and nothing about its trajectory from Iran to a thrift store in Anchorage, I’m glad to have this lovely stool.  I love its verdigris patina and, as a person who sleeps with at least one hot-water bottle every night, I like to think that I am particularly suited to appreciate its function and form.

Red House West || Tracing a Lineage

Katie and the Tale of the Foppish Prince

I met my prince at the end of an unassuming driveway in the golden morning hours of a slow Saturday.  His presence heralded a garage sale just up the drive, but I was too enamored of his neon stockings and the twee way he pointed his beribboned foot to look at much else.  The price to bring him home?  A mere $3 – and the monetary equivalent of about $3,000 in skeptical looks from Cameron.

Red House West || Tracing a Lineage There’s nothing in this photo for scale, so you may not be able to really feel the towering majesty of the electric-hued prince.  At over four feet tall, by my quick calculations, he cost a mere 0.001 cents per square inch, but would have been a bargain at any price.

Red House West || Tracing a LineageRed House West || Tracing a LineageI came home sure I had something plundered from the bedchamber of a 16th century French castle.  My hopes were dashed when I noticed the modern printing on the back of the tapestry, but at least it provided ample clues for my sleuthing.

Red House West || Tracing a LineageThis tapestry is actually called ‘Depart pour la Chasse,’ or ‘Leaving for the Hunt.’  It’s not an antique — SEG de Paris is a well-known needlepoint company that still operates today.  For anywhere between $792 and $1,592, depending on whether you choose wool or silk thread, you can buy a kit to make your own prince (or falconer, as they prefer to call him)!

The kits include a much more subdued palette, trending toward traditional rusts and murky greens (the hot pink that drew me to my own prince is sadly lacking).

Red House West || Tracing a LineageSee?  More traditional and, in my opinion, leagues less lovely.  It makes me happy to think of someone carefully assembling their custom neon palette and then painstakingly stitching this enormous tapestry.  I’m not sure yet where the prince will end up – I would love to include him in an upholstery project, but I’m still looking for the right one.

So there’s the tale of our two treasures: fire for your feet and fire for your heart.  Have you found any thrifted flames lately?