Tag Archives: before and after

The Chamber of Secrets is Revealed!

Well dear readers, here we are.  In the time it takes a baboon to gestate its young, we have turned the most unloved room in our house – a room whose door we kept firmly closed for most of the last two years (the better to contain its horrors) – into my favorite place in the house.

If you’re new here and looking to get caught up, you can read more about the inspiration and process of the whole remodel here.

This is where we started:


desk-and-windowsAnd now?

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealRed House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealRed House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealLast week, prompted by a desire to fill this room only with things I love, I did a ruthless culling of my books.  I cut my collection almost in half (which I thought would feel like amputating a limb, but instead just felt liberating and joyful).  It’s interesting to run my eye over the remaining books and think about why they made the cut and the answer, for almost all of them, is nostalgia.  But those are musings for another time.

Having fewer books meant there was extra space on the shelves, and I had fun going through the house and picking some of my favorite items to display.  The little portrait of Jane Eyre came from Etsy seller Isabella Di Sclafani. I love her quirky portraits and this one, though it is beautiful quality, is just a $1.00 postcard.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets Reveal

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealI sorted the books in a way that’s logical to me: loosely by genre, author and color.  The only casualty of my system is an arrangement of hardbacks – grouped because of their vintage cloth covers rather than their content – that includes both the 1941 children’s horse story ‘My Friend Flicka’ and a collection of erotica by Anais Nin.  It cracks me up every time I see it and it’s kind of awkwardly perfect.  Perfectly awkward.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets Reveal

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealAs we mentioned in Monday’s post, neither Mera nor I are strangers to the bit of quirk lent by animal decor. As I placed yet another bird on the shelves I could hear Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen manically advising me to put a bird on it.  Which I obligingly did, again and again.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealThe window seat has become my absolute favorite spot in our house.  I am inordinately proud of the striped cushion – representing my first box cushion, my first piping (I don’t know what I was so scared of – it’s easy!), my first hidden zipper, a fair amount of cursing, and many, many ripped seams.  Seriously, the construction of this room has already become kind of a blur, but the day I spent on that cushion is etched in sharp relief.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealYou may remember that I originally planned to do a roman shade for the windows, but even after months of searching I couldn’t seem to find a fabric or design that I loved enough to have filling that big space.  Everything seemed too heavy, and I worried it would look like a great, grumpy brow scowling down from atop the windows.  Just as I was losing hope we put together our portiere post, and I found myself really inspired by the relaxed, bohemian vibe of the cafe-clipped curtains in many of the photos.  I found this beautiful French cotton print at L’Etoffe, a fabric store that recently opened up in our area.  I don’t think I realized quite how dire it was to have JoAnn fabric as my only shopping option until this alternative universe of fine cloths and inspiring prints arrived – and now I’m in heaven.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealThe daybed has a trundle underneath which rolls out, pops up, and forms a very comfortable king size bed.  It’s a close second to the window seat as my favorite place to lounge (the same two places that are, perhaps not coincidentally, also Fat Bunny’s favorite places to lounge).

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealThe murmuration of starlings print is from this Etsy seller, and the lucite table is my most exciting recent thrift store score.  The white coverlet and macrame pillow both came from a garage sale (and both cleaned up perfectly with a little bleach), and the other pillows – except the green one, which I made with more pretty fabric from L’Etoffe – are from Ikea.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets Reveal

My mom traded me the desk (I painted the legs black) for one of our tables, the brass lamp and Herman Miller chair are from Craigslist, the pillow was a gift from Mera, and the oil painting bulletin board is DIY.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealThe Paul McCobb chair got a quick update with a piece of gingham fabric from the thrift store (I left the hand-printed cover on underneath the new fabric).

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealI’m always interested in how much renovations cost, so I thought I would share a rough budget breakdown.  We didn’t keep a careful record, so these are estimates, but I think it’s pretty close.  I always think doing things ourselves means it’s going to be cheap and, though it’s certainly cheaper than hiring someone else to do it, man do the materials still add up.

Budget Breakdown:

Hickory wood floors from Lumber Liquidators: $500 (though we have some left over to get the hallway started)

Building materials (wood for the built-ins, trim, drywall): $400

Benjamin Moore paint: about $150

Light fixture: $40 at Ikea

Fabric for the curtains and fabric and foam for the window seat: about $120

Decor (Ikea pillows and Etsy art): around $100, though I had gift cards to both places.

Miscellanea (paint rollers, some electrical supplies, hardware, and other things I’m forgetting):  about $100

The furniture and lamps in this room are all vintage and mostly from thrift stores, yard sales and Craigslist (and a lot of it I owned before we started planning this room).  The big ticket item was the trundle bed, which was $100 on Craigslist and then we splurged on two new, good quality mattresses so that our guests (and Fat Bunny) would be comfortable – which added another $250.  All told, we probably came in just around $1600 for the whole renovation.  An amount which, when I compare the baboon butt of the ‘before’ with the adorable baby baboon of the ‘after,’ seems worth every penny.


from-door-2To, “Won’t you please come in?”

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealThank you so much for following along on this looooooong process!  It has been really fun to share the inspiration, tribulations and – ultimately – triumph with you here on the blog.  If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments!

2015: The Year of Before & Afters

Happy New Year and thanks for coming back to Red House West!  We both had wonderful holidays and feel recharged and excited to be back on the ol’ blogging horse.  We took advantage of the break to get some work done on our own homes, which we’re looking forward to sharing with you in the next few weeks.

The amount of work we got done – and our excitement to share it with you – made us rethink our posting schedule a little bit.  Starting this week we’ll be posting on Mondays and Wednesdays, but no longer on Fridays.  Each Monday we’ll write a post together, and on Wednesdays we’ll alternate posting.  We think the change will give us more time to complete the bigger projects we’ve been wanting to do in our homes, keeping the blog exciting for us and for you.  We’re envisioning 2015 as a year of dazzling before and afters here at Red House West!

In honor of this change we thought we’d share a few of our favorite transformations from around the web, because is there anything that can make hours spent covered in drywall dust more bearable than seeing a beautifully completed project done by someone else?  (“No,” says Katie, speaking from recent painful experience, “there is not.”)

We are big fans of this kitchen remodel over on Remodelista.  The venetian plaster, simple cabinetry and marble-topped island turn this into a room with soul:




We’ve loved following the restoration of Daniel Kanter’s old home over on Manhattan Nest, and his dining room makeover almost makes us wish we had acoustic tiles on our ceilings just so we could have the satisfaction of removing them.

Manhattan Nest Dining Room Before

Manhattan Nest Dining Room After

Ariele Alasko’s chair redo with hand-printed fabric is the kind of project we turn to again and again for an adrenaline shot of inspiration:

Ariele Alasko Chair Reupholstery

Ariele Alasko Chair Reupholstery

We are big fans of everything Jersey Ice Cream Co. does (they did the first kitchen we shared in this post too) and this kitchen is no exception:

Red House West || Before & Afters JICC_02_kitchen1_after

Thanks again for joining us!  If the altered posting schedule leaves you missing us with the ferocity of the coming polar vortex, fear not!  We post photos of our fat and furry creatures (and other snippets of our lives and homes) over on Instagram and you can follow us there!

Come back on Wednesday to see all the work Mera has done on her breakfast nook and to weigh in on a couple of design decisions!  Happy 2015!

Katie’s House: Plans for the Laundry Room

Our laundry room is one hardworking space; it serves as our primary entryway, mudroom and utility closet. We store our cleaning products in here and it’s a dumping ground for shoes, coats, hats, mittens, bike gear, skate gear, and – more often than I’d like to admit in this public forum – cat vomit.

Looking at this picture you might say that just giving this room a good cleaning would make for a compelling before/after comparison, and you’d be right.

Looking at this picture you might say that just giving this room a good cleaning would make for a compelling before/after comparison, and you’d be right.

If you can look beyond the flotsam of our daily lives and beneath the dirt-scuffed yellow walls and torn and stained linoleum, this room is pretty. The multi-paned windows are charming and make the room feels like a greenhouse in the summer (which would be lovely if it smelled of flowers, but instead it’s redolent of stewed kitty kibbles) and a frigid ice box in the winter.

We've been hunting for a new-to-us utility sink, but no luck yet.

We’ve been hunting for a new-to-us utility sink, but no luck yet. In the meantime, we might just make a new set of legs for the one we have.

The addition of some closed storage will go a long way toward making this room better. Our plan is to replace the open shelves that are currently over the washing machine with a cupboard. Open shelves may look nice when they’re displaying pottery, but I can’t think of a less attractive and display-worthy collection of items than laundry detergent, cat brushes and cleaning rags. I’m looking forward to prying the linoleum-masquerading-as-a-backsplash from the wall and replacing it with something prettier, maybe tiles. They’re not in the budget right now, but down the road I’d love to use encaustic cement tiles like these.

Laundry Room Before south view with text

Cameron built this bench and the hook shelf above it right after we first moved in. The bench is great, and my plan is to move it over to the east wall (which you’ll see in the next picture). The shelf is just a little narrow to fit baskets, and I think we’d be best served by some closed storage over on this wall too. I recently found a file cabinet on Craigslist that has drawers on one side and shelves on the other and my hope is that with some spray paint and new hardware I can make it work as a place to keep shopping bags, hats, gloves and some shoes. It would be nice to have a bowl or basket here too, to put keys, wallets and sunglasses in when we come home. This area – a repository for keys and such near your home’s entrance – is widely referred to as a ‘landing strip’ on decorating blogs, but I suggest you never do a Google image search for it.

We're planning to relocate this table and put the shoe bench in its place

We’re planning to relocate this table to another part of the house and put the shoe bench in its place

Function is primary in this room, but I’d also like for it to be prettier. To that end, I’d like this room to have white walls, dark blue floors and hits of turquoise and bright yellow (in my imagination this cheerful color palette is not augmented by the copious and self-cloning dun-colored fur balls that Dean graciously contributes).

So here’s the plan:

  • Tear up the yellow linoleum and replace it with VCT tiles in a deep blue
  • Replace the open shelving over the washing machine with a cupboard
  • Make a backsplash for behind the washing machine (I’m fine-tuning a way to DIY something similar to the encaustic tiles. Failure or not, I’ll let you know here).
  • Paint the walls white
  • Create some kind of closed storage for shoes, grocery bags, hats, mittens, etc.
  • Relocate table to somewhere else and move the bench under the windows
Clockwise from top left: White pendant light; IKEA cupboard; green and gold knobs; VCT tiles in Gentian Blue

Clockwise from top left: White pendant light; IKEA cupboard; green and gold knobs; VCT tiles in Gentian Blue

We aren’t going to use that actual IKEA cabinet – it only comes in black and we want white, and we think we can make one for less money that fits our space better – but I love the slatted doors and so I included it here. We definitely need some kind of shade on the light, but I’m not sure that the door will be able to clear a pendant like this. We may resort to a flush fixture, but I’m hoping we can make this one work.

We used VCT tiles in both of the bathrooms at our old house. They are easy to install, inexpensive, and I think they look good. If you’re having trouble picturing them out of the context of a public institution, here’s an example of them used in a terrific – and affordable – kitchen remodel on one of my very favorite blogs:

So that’s the plan! I’m looking forward to making this a room I’m happy to come home to every day, that is bright and clean and functional. I’ll post progress updates soon, along with a budget breakdown. Thanks for joining us! Mera will be back on Wednesday with the result of this weekend’s quest for a Panton S chair in Seattle. Cliffhanger…