Tag Archives: design plan

Ranch Rambler: Whole-House Inspiration

I realized I’ve been a little higgledy-piggledy in my approach to decorating the Rambler, so I’m using this post as an opportunity to step away from the immediate concerns of gaping holes where light fixtures should be and missing trim, and I’m going to expand my gaze to take in the whole picture.

I’m still very much a design novice.  Paying attention to the details and intentionally creating the space we live in really only started when Mera and I began writing RHW two years ago.  What I’ve come to realize, since moving, is just what a gentle design teacher the Red House was.

As I see it, there are two main differences between the Rambler and the Red House in terms of decorating:

  1. Less architectural interest at the Rambler than the Red House
  2. Open floor plan in the Rambler. I worked hard to create flow between the rooms at the Red House, but this is a whole other ball game: Here the kitchen, dining, and living space are all in a single room.

1. Less architectural interest at the Rambler than the Red House

Red House West

The high ceilings, arched doorways, and old fir floorboards of the Red House were an effortlessly charming backdrop

Cameron and I both have a preference for simple furniture with streamlined shapes; much of what we own (in fact almost everything that made the cut when we moved to this smaller home) is mid-century modern.  Looking back, I realize that achieving a look that was – to cadge my own wording from an earlier post – “eclectic and collected, with a mix of eras” at the Red House was pretty easy; all we had to do was place our furniture into that vintage setting and voila! Instant charm and juxtaposition.

Here at the Rambler, on the other hand, the effect of placing mid century furniture in a 1978 generic white box is much different.  I shared a cropped version of this photo over on our Instagram:

Red House West || Whole House Inspiration

It’s coming along… but has a ways to go

I have to admit that I’m excited by the challenge of achieving that charming ‘eclectic mix,’ when a vintage house isn’t part of the equation.  Can I do it?  I dunno; I feel like I just graduated to second grade in design school.

This is very much a space in progress (you can check out the before here); white paint is up, light fixture is down, furniture is in place, a few decorative items have been pulled out of boxes, it still needs curtains, and on and on.  I’m planning a gallery wall for in here, but am treading carefully because I don’t want it to overwhelm the space (see #2, below).

Here are some inspiration images I refer to again and again when making choices for this house:

This room is a beautiful mix of traditional and mid-century and though the arched bookcase is a lovely architectural detail, it’s not what makes the space:

I love, love, love this image, and it perfectly captures the mix I’m going for.  Now that I think of it, that arched mirror would be a great way to bring in the charm of the built-in bookshelf from the first photo:

This space obviously has a lot going for it architecturally, but it’s the antique pieces and worn wood juxtaposed with the oversized Noguchi light and the awesome art that’s giving me inspiration for the Rambler:

These photos not only evoke the feeling I want in our house, but also offer up some concrete ways I can introduce a little more charm into our white box: Mix in more antique pieces (rugs, small tables, worn wood) and mimic architecture by bringing shapes, such as arches, in via mirrors and other furnishings.  Mera, when editing this post, pointed out that globes are also a feature in each of these rooms and that perhaps I’m unconsciously drawn to the potential these rounded shapes have to soften the boxy lines of the Rambler.  She’s a genius and is, of course, right.  No doubt that’s part of why I was so set on a globe light for our entryway:

Red House West || Whole House Inspiration

Look! Progress! And globes! I’m hoping to pick your brains soon about what I should do with that front door.

And so we’re on to #2:

2. Open floor plan in the Rambler

If you were to play a drinking game in which you took a shot every time the phrase “open concept” is uttered on HGTV renovation shows, you’d be drunk as a skunk in about five minutes. But I gotta say, I’m finding it a lovely way to live.  When we have guests, it’s so fun to have people lounging on the couch and chatting while we prepare dinner.  It’s also great when it’s just the two of us; I work on projects at the dining table while Cameron cooks, or vice versa.  I get it now HGTV!  I’m a convert!

To help both you and me better visualize the space, I did a quick (not-to-scale) floor plan of the main room in the Rambler:

Red House West || Whole House Inspiration

So open!  So convenient!  And so much potential for visual chaos and clutter.  In my mind, there are two ways we’re going to be able to make this open floor plan thing work on a design level: Mitigate clutter, and keep a unified color palette.

I didn’t realize until I went hunting for photos of beautiful open floor plan images just what a desert the internet is of pulled back, whole-room shots.  In fact, I’ve only found one that really inspires me.  This room is obviously fancier than the ol’ Rambler, but really speaks to the effectiveness of a tight color palette – including in the gallery wall – and is also an excellent example of using rugs to define the space:

The color palette I’m planning is much the same as I used in the Red House; in the Rambler I’ll stick to the familiar combination of black, white, indigo, green, and wood.  My preference for accent colors shifts with the seasons, but for now I’m loving soft pink and mustard:

All Benjamin Moore colors: White Dove, Onyx, Hale Navy, Vintage Vogue, Soft Blush, Spicy Mustard

All Benjamin Moore colors: White Dove, Onyx, Hale Navy, Vintage Vogue, Soft Blush, Spicy Mustard

I’m still working out how to mitigate clutter (I’ll let you know if – nay, when – I come up with some genius solutions), but I feel like summarizing these thoughts has given me a much more clear design direction for the Rambler.  I hope it’s helped you see where we’re heading too!  Thanks for reading along, have a great week!


An Updated Bedroom Design Plan & A Thank You Note To My House

We’ve hired pros for our new master bedroom remodel, so it is rapidly zooming into focus. The room is going to be done soon, but my decorating “plan” is still just a loosey-goosey collection of ideas.

As a reminder, here is what the room looked like in the raw “before” state:
Red House West || Bedroom Decisions
Red House West || Bedroom Decisions It’s hard to get a clear sense of scale, but just know that the room is tiny. The bed in these photos is a full, and it takes up pretty much the whole room. How to fit a queen bed and a closet for two was the challenge, and after taping out the size of a queen size bed on the floor, going through a whole pad of graph paper, and meeting with our awesome contractor, we’ve got a plan that’s going to work.
The closet is going in this long skinny eave that was housing Chester’s bitty closet and my sewing area:
Red House West || Master Bedroom
I had thought that we would each have a side of the eave as our designated closet, with a mix of drawers and hanging space (see my original closet plan here).  But after monkeying with the design I decided that the simplest solution is best.   The entire left side (where the dresser is in the photo above) will be built in drawers, and the entire right side will be hanging space with sliding doors.  This plan works better because the knee wall on the right side is actually higher than the one on the left (which slopes like a funhouse) so there’s more height for hanging clothes.  Will it be a long closet tube?  Yep.  Will it house both of our wardrobes? I desperately hope so.  Will it be a big improvement on our current closet sitch?  Most definitely.

Here’s a peek (in terribly lit iPhone photos) at what it looks like currently:

IMG_3538 IMG_3539Back to the decorating plan.  You might remember that I was debating between a spool bed and an upholstered bed.   I love spool beds, and I think they look especially sweet in small attic-y rooms, so when I found this I convinced myself it was the one (not in this color though):

The company’s website doesn’t include dimensions, but here’s the description: “The Farmhouse Spool Bed enjoys a vintage look that makes one nostalgic for the relaxed pace of a summer cottage. With its smaller scale, this bed will fit the coziest of bedrooms.”  Perfect!  My bedroom is cozy, I’m nostalgic for a relaxed pace, I enjoy a vintage look!  But when I got the dimensions I learned that what they bill as basically a dollhouse bed is TOO BIG for our bedroom.

Next I found this petite and simple bed at Serena and Lily:

Red House West || Master Bedroom

A totally different look, but I think it’s versatile and simple and, most importantly, it will fit in the room.  I thought I wanted a patterned fabric like the one I shared here, but after ordering fabric swatches I decided on a solid indigo linen.  With the sloped ceilings, paneled walls, and newly revealed wood floors, there’s a lot of pattern and texture in the room already.  I want the room to feel like a cozy and serene retreat for grown ups, so I figured solid was the way to go.  I bought the bed while it was on sale and got an email a few weeks later saying it was going into production, then nothing. For months. Finally in December I called customer service, and after talking to several people learned that my bed hadn’t gone into production because they didn’t actually have enough of the fabric to upholster it. They say they’ll get more in February, and to make it up to me they gave me an additional 40% off, and free shipping! Free furniture shipping to Alaska makes me feel like they’re paying me to buy this thing! I’m not counting my bed chickens before they hatch, but fingers crossed they’ll have enough fabric soon.

Assuming it all works out, I think it will look something like this (click here if you want to see previous plans):

Bedroom Plan Round 3

Finally, you might have heard about (or experienced) the big 7.1 earthquake we had here last weekend.  Nothing was damaged at our house, but the kitchen drawers and cabinets swung open, everything on the walls was akimbo, and a few things fell off the bookshelves.  To my dear darling house, house that survived the 1964 earthquake too, I say thank you.   You’ve earned those janky angles and sloping floors, and I am very grateful that you are strong and solid and keep my family safe.

Katie’s House: Plans for the Family Room

Since finishing the Chamber of Secrets I’ve been mulling over where in our house I next want to direct my attention.  There’s a long list of candidates, but I decided I’m in the mood for something that requires neither demolition nor construction, and that the time has finally come to eradicate the last vestige of yellow paint from our downstairs.

 beforeThe overcast day that I took these pictures did the paint color some real favors, but when the evening sun streams in it lights up like a radioactive egg yolk.  Upon looking at this photo, I realize that the motley collection of furniture in here might warrant an explanation.  One recent day, in a fit of pique (and with Cameron, who was in full-on purge mode after reading ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ egging me on), I up and sold the couch that was in this room on Craigslist.  Something in me snapped, and I couldn’t bear the thought of sinking into its lumpy microfiber depths even one more time.  The woebegone and empty bookshelf (the skeletal remains of books devoured?) is a casualty of the recently built shelves in the Chamber of Secrets.

carpet cornerThe state of this room might suggest that it is little used, but au contraire, we spend a ton of time in here.  It’s the best insulated room in the house and, come winter, it’s where we hunker down to hibernate with Netflix or books and mugs filled with steaming drinks.

pass through

This funny little window connects the family room to the kitchen, and has been the site of many puppet shows by our nieces.

Even though it’s been woefully mistreated, this room has a ton of potential.  I’m pretty sure that when I remove the stacks of homeless art and cull the unloved furniture it will be the familiar tale of a nerdy girl, maligned by all, who needs only to remove her glasses and shake out her hair to be suddenly beautiful and desirable.  I mean, painting over the yellow will probably be as dramatic a transformation as Ally Sheedy’s goth-to-lip gloss makeover at the end of the Breakfast Club, right?  That’s what I’m hoping anyway.

The domino-inspired design plan I put together for the Chamber of Secrets was invaluable for keeping me on track while we worked on it, and I’ve started putting together something similar for this room.

Step One: Find Inspiration

I love the use of botanicals and black in these next two rooms:

This next room is lighter and brighter and the vibe is definitely more relaxed. I love the mix of patterns and how welcoming it is.

The palette of this next room is not me (too neutral, too beige), but the plants and achromatic art are really speaking my language.

So maybe the colors and botanicals from the first two, the vibe of the second, and the art & plants from the third?

Step Two: Determine Your Style

The right words remain elusive, but what I came up with before is: Eclectic and collected, with a mix of eras.  I think it’s pretty close.

Step Three: Consider How You’ll Use the Room

This is our cozy room, so above all it needs to be comfortable.

Step Four: Assess Your Stuff

As comfortable as those side-by-side ma and pa armchairs are individually,  they’ve reduced movie-watching cuddling to holding hands across a great divide.  So I’m planning to buy a couch, but because the budget is tight I’m mainly searching Craigslist and thrift stores hoping to find a used one I like.

The [putative] Adrian Pearsall recliner will definitely stay in there, which means reupholstering it has moved to the top of the list.  In case you didn’t recognize it underneath its dowdy covering in the first photo, this is the one I’m talking about:

chair from sideThe rest of the furniture is on the chopping block, including the yellow-banded schoolhouse light fixture.

Step Five: Create a Design Scheme

I’m still sorting out the rest of the details (things are a little up in the air until I find a couch), though I do know that I’m going to paint this room in Miller Paint’s Crystal Ball. It works as well in our south-facing and light-flooded living room as it does in our windowless hallway, so I’m confident it will work here too. I like the idea of a unified paint palette throughout the house, and I think the slight hint of blue-grey will be a good complement for the unpainted fir trim around the windows.

Step Six: Make a Decorating Schedule (a to-do list)

To do

  • Paint walls, ceiling and trim (just the trim that’s already painted, not the fir)
  • Decide what furniture to keep and put everything else on Craigslist or donate it

To Make

  • Alter window blinds so they’re better at blocking light
  • Upholster chair (maybe do the tufted cushion myself and hire the rest of it out)

To Purchase

  • Find a couch.  Preferably a really amazing one with nice upholstery (I’m manifesting destiny with these positive thoughts :))

I’m really excited to get going on this project – have a terrific week!