Staying the Course: Learning to Stick with a Design Plan

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you might remember that the impetus for Red House West came from the many texts, emails, and phone calls between Mera and me about our homes – sharing thrift store finds, inspiration, and seeking advice.  Even with the advent of the blog, the number of these missives has not abated.  In fact, they might even have increased.

In the last year, I have sent – and received – many texted pleas for help sent while standing guard over an item in a thrift store (too weird? Smells okay), and photos of projects we were working on (charming? Or only charming if a three year-old made it?).

Sometimes we text photos of things that are just too good not to share.  Like this enormous painting I found for Opal’s room:

amazing painting

Mera declined.

Or this exquisite and romantic porcine sculpture:


I mean, wtf?

Moving on.

About two weeks ago I sent Mera a last-minute plea for advice.  We are ending the construction stage of the Chamber of Secrets, and nearing the decor stage (can I get a hallelujah?).  Decisions need to be made and I’ve got a couple of sewing projects that it’s seriously time to get cracking on (namely the window seat cushion and the window shade).  You might remember, dear readers, a couple of weeks ago when I told you I had chosen linens for these projects.  Well… that was a wee fib.  I had found linens I liked, but I hadn’t actually bought them.  A last-minute sale at JoAnn on an alternative fabric I’d been considering prompted this email to my must trusted style adviser:

Mera! I need your help!

Remember this photo I sent you?

blue fabric for cos

The one on the bottom would be for the window seat and the top one for the curtain.  I really love the fabrics, but I haven’t been able to commit. What’s holding me back are the inspiration pics I put together for the CoS:

Red House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design PlanAlso this picture, which is a major inspiration for the room:

See? All blacks and pinks and a few other things. I’m worried that the blue fabrics will throw the look I’m going for off.

Within the palette what I’m thinking of is black ticking for the window seat and then perhaps something similar to this linen roman shade made by JK [within our correspondence, Mera & I are on an initials-only basis with Jenny Komenda], but in a lighter gray or an oatmeal:


jk shade

Black and white ticking is 75% off for the next hour at JoAnn. Should I go get it?

I honestly have no idea.

Please help.



As I’ve mentioned before, the Chamber of Secrets is the first time I’ve ever put together a room from an entirely blank slate. I’ve been much more deliberate in this process than in any I’ve undertaken before, laying out a step-by-step design plan that includes a color palette and some very specific inspiration.

Red House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design Plan

I really, really love the mood board I put together for the room – including this inspiration image for the window seat textiles:

After some discussion, Mera gave me the sage counsel to stick to my gut – and my original plan – and buy the ticking.  It was definitely the right choice!  Those blue fabrics are really beautiful but they would have altered the whole look, and it feels good to refocus my vision and keep heading toward the design I want.

And now I need your help!  I’ve been hunting, mostly on eBay, for trim to use on a window shade similar to the one Jenny Komenda made in the pictures above.  Here are a few possibilities (the fabric I use will probably be a little lighter in color than what’s in these photos):

1.  Floral trim in blush.Red House West || Design Decisions2. Floral trim in coral.Red House West || Design Decisions3. Multi-colored geometric trim with black and coralRed House West || Design Decisions

Thanks for your input and have a great week!

9 responses on “Staying the Course: Learning to Stick with a Design Plan

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    I’m looking forward to seeing how the Chamber turns out. I think you guys need to write a post showcasing the most bizarre and bonkers things you’ve found in thrift stores. I take photos of those things too and text them to my husband for a chuckle.

  2. y2knina

    OK, I shouldn’t be allowed to vote on things fabric-related because I really have no idea about such things. When a friend asks me what kind of fabric a curtain I’m talking about is made of I might answer, “um….beige?” So from that lofty peak of knowledge, I voted to keep looking. While I liked the two floral options, your inspiration photos seem to lean geometric. I would have voted for that option above, but it seemed to have an alien turquoise-y aspect which I didn’t think worked with your color theme. Again, in my EXPERT opinion. 🙂

    Add my vote to Laura’s for weird thrift store finds being a semi-regular post! I actually saw a used girdle at St. Vincent de Paul this morning. A. Used. Girdle. WTF?

    1. k80bennett

      Thank you for your expert opinion, madame! There would be many clowns to feature in a thrift store post – but hopefully none wearing a girdle.

  3. Carol Crump Bryner

    I did vote for the geometric pattern, but now that I reconsider, I am not sure I like any of them. And maybe it’s because I don’t like Roman curtains especially, or because the fabric is so very grey. I DO like your original blue and white fabrics. They seem so airy and jolly. I had striped ticking on window seats and a sofa once and got very tired of it. The rest of your house seems softer than that somehow. (I’ve been too wordy – sorry. And rather grumpy. I’m sure that whatever you choose will be wonderful!)

    1. k80bennett

      I have long loved ticking but never used it – I like that it can read French or country or industrial, and I’m really excited to have a spot in the house to try it out. I’m still mulling over curtain designs, but because the windows abut a wall on one side and the bookshelves on the other I think roman shades are the way to go (there’d be nowhere to pull curtains aside and I don’t want to block the light and view). I agree that the fabric I showed on the blog is too grey – I’ll go lighter for sure. Thanks for your thoughts Carol!

  4. Katy Gilmore

    Oh and I love the ticking! And there are certain things in houses I never get tired of – ticking and beadboard, old fir floors and white walls. So though I am way late for the JoAnn’s sale – I hope you got the ticking. And I voted (maybe alone?) for the blush flowers, because I associate your house often with flowers, and this seemed so subtle – like one would notice when looking close up and enjoy. I’m also fond of the colors in your mood board – thinking of all the different ways you can put pillows and textiles, changing things up as time goes by if you are so inclined. I’m also convinced you will find a place for those terrific blue and whites (another favorite). I’m excited for this room – what a chamber of calm it will be!

    1. k80bennett

      Well as Mera gently reminded me when I sent her my panicked note in the 11th hour of the sale – sales at JoAnn are hardly a rarity 🙂 And you weren’t alone with those blush flowers! It actually has the most votes. Thanks Katy!

  5. emily

    i’m always swayed by blue fabrics…so I can see your dilemma! but, I think you are going to be really happy with your initial plan…black ticking is such a classic great choice. I have that same image pinned on one of my boards too! I love all the trims you chose, but I think the top option is my favorite. so exciting that you are nearing the end of your project…can’t wait to see more!

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