Tag Archives: breakfast nook

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: The Breakfast Nook Reveal, 2 Ways

At long last, I’m ready to show you the progress I’ve made in the breakfast nook!  There are a few things I still want to do in this space, but for now I’m really happy with the way it’s coming along.

The ‘after’ in this post is coming to you in two parts.  You might recall from the inspiration post that Chester and I had a debate about the table.  We both love it, but to me it just seemed like too much wood with the floor and bench seats.  Chester, who rarely expresses an opinion about decorating, liked it just as it was.  Then this fall I found a tulip table (from Ikea–not the real thing. I wish!) on Craigslist.  So, version 1 of the ‘after’ includes the original table and version 2 is the tulip table.

This is what it looked like before:

Here's the before again, so you don't have to scroll up to see what I'm talking about.

Looking at this sunny picture from the depths of darkest January makes me yearn for light! But, apart from the lack of sun, the nook is looking a lot better now.   Here is the ‘after,’ Version 1:

Red House West || Breakfast Nook

And here is Version 2:

Red House West || Breakfast Nook

The rug is an eBay find.  With two dogs on constant high alert snack-patrol, it’s holding up well.  I made the bench seat cushions with 2 inch foam.  I’ve done enough upholstery projects now to know that cutting foam is a boar, so I went ahead and bought this electric carving knife and it made a huge difference.  The electric knife cut the foam like warm butter and left a nice even edge.  The fabric is canvas-like utility mattress ticking.  I sewed a zipper onto the back edge of the cushion covers so that they can be easily removed and washed when the inevitable hairball/muddy dog nose/marginally potty trained kid/coffee splash accident happens.

I also bought a Rust-Oleum cherry stain touch-up pen to repair and conceal scratches on the wood benches, and it worked wonders.  Most of the scratches can be traced back to the incorrigible Winifred.  I am happy to report that her behavior has improved considerably, especially in the table-cruising category.  It’s been at least two months since I’ve caught her with all four paws on the table–progress!

Oh, and at last the walls are white!  This has made a huge difference in the whole living room–I can’t wait to show you changes that we’ve made there too!

Here’s a breakdown of the differences between the two versions and the various things I did in each.


Red House West || Breakfast Nook

The chair in Version 1 is another craigslist score, and I’m not sure whether it’s the real thing or not, but it’s got a solid metal base and seems like it’s a quality piece of furniture.   It was covered in hideously stained burgundy suede when I got it.

Red House West || Breakfast Nook

Because this is where Opal usually sits, I reupholstered the seat with easy to clean oilcloth.

Red House West || Breakfast Nook

The artwork hanging in the corner is a pair of cross-stitched pansies that I found at a thrift store.  The reddish-purplish pillows are from eBay (they are the “Morroccan” pillows mentioned here that I got for a song because of a fortuitous (and embarrassing) misspelling on my part and the part of the seller).  The blue pillow is one that I sewed from my fabric stash.

Red House West || Breakfast Nook

Now for the specifics of . . . VERSION 2:

Red House West || Breakfast Nook

This version includes the sweet old bentwood chairs that I picked up at a thrift store a while ago.  I love bentwood, and I love caning, and these chairs have both.  I gave them a little rub down with Restor-a-Finish and they look much revived.

The artwork in the corner is a card from Carol Bryner that she gave to me when I got married. The portrait of Steinbeck underneath the shelves is another eBay find.

Red House West || Breakfast Nook

I have to say that I think the tulip table looks better, but the wood table is more solid and more tactilely pleasing.  What do you think?  Which version should we go with?

I’m still working on a pendant light fixture, and I’m trying to figure out blinds or curtains so that I can filter those glorious rays of sunshine that are coming our way in a mere 90 days or so (cue close up scene of a chapped wintery lips heaving a heavy sigh).

Thanks for reading along, have a great week everyone!

Mera’s House: Plans for the Breakfast Nook

Four years ago we remodeled our kitchen, which significantly improved the layout but it was PP (pre-pinterest), and I do have a few regrets.  Mostly I wish that I had added more color, so I’m setting about doing that these days.

One of the best things about the remodel was that we added a breakfast nook.  I love nooks, but I couldn’t have anticipated just how much time we would spend in ours.  Breakfast nook is really a misnomer; it’s more like the breakfast-snack-lunch-catch-up-on-email-while-Opal-naps-snack-dinner-Chester’s-work-space-after-Opal-goes-to-bed nook.

With all the time we spend in the spot, you’d think I would have focused my decorating energy here, but no.  Here’s what it looks like now:


I’ve really set myself up for success here.  I could just clean up and wow you with the big reveal.  Clean I shall, but I’m also going to make some decorating changes.  Here’s a little inspiration for where I hope we end up:


I love the textile mix here, by Amber Lewis.  It’s too pink for my house, and I or somebody in my family would surely end up trepanned by that light fixture, but you get the idea.

Here’s another version from Amber Lewis’s home tour:


Again, it’s a little too pink, but I love the rug and the bench seat cushion and pillows.  I’ve fully embraced the sheepskin thing, but not on dining chairs.  Food and fluffy don’t mix, at least not in my house.

I love everything about this. The lamp, the chairs, the rug. Obviously it’s an expansive space, but I think I can scale the design down and achieve something similar.  And here’s one more:

See any common denominators?  White+wood+kilim is apparently what I’m after.

So here’s the plan:

Step 1: Add a rug under the table to break up the brown.  I’ve been scouring ebay for the perfect kilim, and there are a lot of very affordable options out there.  The difficulty is that the kitchen/nook/dining/living spaces are all one room, so the color scheme can’t stray too much.

Step 2: Paint the walls white.  This has been on the agenda for a long time.  How do you paint with a toddler around? Stay up all night?  The bench and desk area match our kitchen cabinets and the wood is beautiful, but honestly I’d like to paint them white too.  Chester doesn’t like the idea, and since he expresses zero opinions about my interior design decisions, I feel like I should defer to him (just this once).  Our contractor made the table, and it’s solid and beautiful, and I want to leave it as is (by the way, if you live in the Anchorage area and need a great contractor send me an email.  He’s the BEST, and Chester and I both kind of want him to be our life coach. One day during the kitchen remodel Chester said to me, “I wonder what his view is on caffeine.”).

Here's the before again, so you don't have to scroll up to see what I'm talking about.

Here’s the before again so you don’t have to scroll up to see what I’m talking about.

Step 3: Make cushions for the bench seats.  Currently only one of the benches has a cushion.  I made that with ikat fabric that Chester brought home from his travels.  I love the fabric, but I never finished making the second cushion and now I’m ready for a change.  Wolsey spends a lot of time here, and he might be a little upset about a new cushion, but having lived outside for at least two Alaska winters (before he came to live with us) taught him a thing or two about resilience and I think he’ll be okay.  I’m debating about printing fabric myself, or maybe using ticking.  It has to be durable, washable, and something I don’t care too much about.

Step 4:  This one is a big maybe, but I’m toying with the idea of trying to make a new light fixture.  The current fixture is fine, just kind of blah.  In the summer when it’s light until 11:00 p.m. we don’t turn on the lights at all, but in the winter they are on pretty much all the time.  I love the look of bentwood pendant lights like this:

This pendant is from West Elm, which is a nice fallback.  But I worry that this design leaves too much bare bulb exposed, so I’m going to try to cook up my own design and DIY it.

So that’s the plan.  Whatever the results, I’ll share them with you here, hopefully in the not too distant future!  Any thoughts or ideas on my design plan?  We always love to hear your suggestions, so please comment away!