Katie’s House: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Before we surge forward with our plans for 2016, Mera and I thought it would be fun to pause a moment to reflect on some of our favorite projects we completed last year.

I’m starting my look back at 2015 with something that didn’t really make it onto the blog. Though I shared our adventures in roofing (aka the most ungratifying before and after ever), that was just the tip of the iceberg. In the waning days of autumn, with clear skies overhead but rain on the horizon, we tackled the exterior of our house. And by tackled, I mean destroyed.

destroyed house 2

destroyed houseWhen I texted Mera the picture above, captioned with a silently screaming emoji, she said it looked like the aftermath of a hurricane. We were racing the weather, and for a couple weeks it was a frenzy of paint scraping, siding replacement, and endless caulking. We hired out the actual painting except for the trim, and finally our sweet red house was looking more like itself.
painted house
It was a pretty miserable couple of weeks, with lots of worry that the weather would change and we’d spend all winter living behind a sheath of Tyvek, but now when the rains lash against the house it’s nice to know everything is sealed up tight.

The other big project we completed in 2015 – one that was very well documented here at RHW – was the Chamber of Secrets.

Red House West || Looking Back, Looking Forward

Months after finishing it, I continue to love this room and – most uncharacteristically – I’m hard-pressed to find a single thing I would change. The process of designing and building the shelves and closet with Cameron was really fun, and it was so gratifying to see sketches on paper transform into the real thing. Turns out that all the back-and-forth we did about the Chamber’s design elements (deciding on the curved shelves, the trim on the cabinetry, the placement of the closet) was very good practice for a pretty big project that we’re currently in the midst of. More on that in just a minute.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealNot all of last year’s projects at Red House (south) West were big ones – I had a lot of fun making the oil painting bulletin board and the wood-tiled table, and refining my easy method for making fabric-covered mats (maybe 2016 will be the year that all the art makes it off the floor and onto the walls! Maybe!).

Red House West || Looking Back, Looking Forward

Red House West || DIY Fabric Mats

So last year was really good, but I’ve got a feeling that 2016 is going to be fantastic. Do you remember when I shared plans for the family room? I honestly thought (despite lots of evidence to the contrary) that it would be a quick project. I mean, I painted over those yellow walls and I was pretty sure I was home free:

Red House West || Family Room Redo
I had a plan, after all, and the only thing left was to put this green dream of a mood board into action:

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

The sticking point of my plan, as you may remember, was the couch. I put in some serious (like seriously serious) time searching Craigslist and thrift stores, but couldn’t find anything in our budget that was even remotely (not even with lots of elbow grease and ingenuity) what I wanted. And so we decided to build one ourselves! And though it’s smaller in scale than the built-ins in the Chamber, it has taken just as many drawings, adjustments, and conversations. Here’s a sneak peek of it mid-process, before adding the back:

Red House West || Looking Back, Looking ForwardAs we move into 2016 I’m so excited to share the finished couch – including an attempt at diy down-wrapped cushions – and finally, finally to share the whole family room (the plan for which has shifted, think more blue than green). I’m also really excited that soon we’ll be snuggling during Netflix marathons, rather than sitting in side-by-side chairs holding hands across the great divide.

Check in next Wednesday when Mera shares her own reflections on 2015 and plans for the new year.  We’re both heading into a particularly busy time at work, so for the next couple months we’ll be posting once a week – on Wednesdays – rather than twice. We’re planning to get back to our regular schedule when things calm down a bit, hopefully in March.

As always, thanks for being a part of Red House West – here’s to an amazing 2016!


23 responses on “Katie’s House: Looking Back, Looking Forward

  1. Brittany @ white dog vintage

    The couch is a super-exciting project! I love the shape and can’t wait to see how you finish it out. The Chamber of Secrets bookshelves remain one of my favorite shelving solutions on the web. Can’t believe I never pinned them before…but I have now!

  2. Katy Gilmore

    Love this roundup of your accomplishments in 2015 Katie. And you could add: “wrote wonderfully about all these projects for happy and engaged readers!” Looking forward to Mera’s report, I think it takes all January to settle the previous year, and once a week seems a good schedule to keep up both life and blog. Thank you!

  3. Courtney

    Wow! Everything looks great! I am so impressed with you deciding to make your own couch…I am eager to see the end result! I had the same issue with not finding any couches I loved, and I thought reupholstering a thrifted couch as well as changing the shape myself was crazy… but you have taken it to a whole new level with starting from scratch!


  4. Carol Bryner

    What a busy and productive year you’ve had, Katie. And I love the way you’ve shared it all through your writing and photos. I still marvel at your skills and energy, and follow the progress of your various projects with much joy. I can’t believe you did the siding on your house! Wow! Looking forward to the family room report and to Mera’s reflections on 2015. Thanks again for all the enjoyable posts on the two red houses!

  5. Tere lopez


    Will you please advise us if you used a matte or satin paint for the exterior?
    Will you kindly tell us what red color you used. Thank you..

  6. Judy lehman

    Wow Katie! You two are totally amazing! The roof and exterior too!!!! I love reading red house west as I sit in as west coffe shop “fog lifter” in McCall Idaho where we actually have snow
    To X country on… Unlike home in Alaska! Kenn is worried that you and Mera will inspire me for a few projects!!! Happy new year, judy

  7. Gillianne

    Whew! Exciting, exhausting, gratifying–the frugal DIYer’s trifecta? Looking forward to the reveal for your sofa, with those elegant lines and handsome wood.
    P.S. I’ve seen houses with vaguely similar rooflines here in Friendly and elsewhere, but nothing with the extreme angles of yours. How old is your house?

    1. Katie Post author

      That is absolutely the trifecta! And it would serve me well to remember, while giddy with exciting plans, that there will be a (sometimes prolonged) period of exhaustion. And to remember again, from the dark recesses of exhaustion, that the gratifying stage will come 🙂

      Our house was built in 1930. We’re in the north part of town and there are a number of similar ones out here; the style is pretty distinctly 1930s, but maybe there was a particular builder in this area who favored the more dramatic roof pitch. Happy new year Gillianne!

  8. Marcelo Gamanacasa

    I come to your blog through designsponget! The post there and your home attracted me so much that I got curious to know more. I was sure I would find something interesting but it is even better than expected. I’m glad to find you, now I’m looking forward to spend hours with your blog!!

    1. Katie Post author

      Thank you and welcome! Thanks, too, for teaching me the word ‘vitrine’ over in the Design Sponge comment thread. It’s a good one that I’m glad to know now 🙂

      1. Marcelo Gamanacasa

        Oh I’m so glad to hear that Katie!! Since I’m not native english speaker I’m often unsure if the vocabulary is appropriate. I guessed that would be international 😉
        Congratulations again for the blog &home. Great inspiration for me!!

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