Tag Archives: design

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!

Behind the Scenes at RHW

Hi everybody, it’s Mera and Katie writing together thanks to our mobile communication devices.  What’s the occasion you ask?  It’s Red House West’s half birthday!  At 6 months in we’re obviously still newbies to the blogging scene, but we definitely get a thrill seeing the 79 posts (80 counting this one) we have banked in the archives.   We thought we would celebrate by giving you a peek behind the blog curtain into some of the things we see and do each day. We recently got this helpful comment and we’ve decided to heed the advice, so expect some big changes around here:

I read a lot of interesting articles here. Probably you spend a

lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot of work, there is an online tool that creates unique, google friendly posts in minutes, just search in google 

Just kidding! We moderate all the comments we get here, sparing you the vast amount of spam that comes our way.  Every once in a while we get something hilarious, and it starts an absurd text conversation that goes back and forth all day. Like this:

If you aren’t home much, have children under

the age of ten, don’t enjoy chaos, or have a busy lifestyle which

would prevent a ferret from roaming freely, then these pet are not for you.

Not only that, but what happens is what is supposed to happen for that ferret.

It comes in two forms: juvenile (usually found in ferrets under the age of 14 months) and

classic, which is usually found in middle aged and older


This was a comment left on one of our most popular posts that you’ll surely remember.  You know, the one about ferret husbandry.

They must have been referring to our popular post about ferret husbandry

We also get a lot of great positive reinforcement, like this encouraging comment:

What i don’t realize is in fact how you are now not

really a lot more smartly-appreciated than you might be right now.

You are very intelligent. You know therefore significantly in the case of

this subject, made me individually imagine it from a lot of varied angles.

Its like men and women don’t seem to be involved until it’s one

thing to accomplish with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs excellent.

Always deal with it up!

Why thank you!  We certainly do try to always deal with it up!

Also, not to go all Big Brother on you, but did you know that we can see the search terms that get people to Red House West? Here are a few good ones:

mera wearing without any clouth pitcher

i envisioned an upside down feather fan

what colour toothbrush holder free standing to go with grey wall tiles in bathroom

right end of the matte knife and the calico cat,

my house is too beautiful

What, you missed Katie’s post about how she envisioned an upside down feather fan?  Or the post when Mera decided to just own it, and posted a bunch of pitchers without any clouth on? Check the archives, they’re good ones.

And sometimes we learn things from the search terms that pop up, like this one:

benjamin moore vomit smell

Is that a thing?!  Seriously?  We’re going to Google that right now.

The WordPress-provided site statistics also give us a breakdown of where in the world people are when they click over to Red House West.  Did you know that we’re international?  We’re totally trending in Slovenia:

Red House West||Behind the Scenes

Our blog redesign is underway (hooray!  we’re excited for a site that is both more user-friendly and more beautiful), and we can’t wait to roll out the new look.  More on this as the debut approaches, but for now we’re refining what, exactly, our style is.  You might remember this post where we tried to define our decorating style, and now we’re trying to distill that down to a graphic style.

Red House West||Behind the Scenes

1, 2

We’ve definitely identified that we’re a 1970’s woodcut plus a paper floral collage, (it’s so obvious, right?)  but we’re still trying to figure out how to visually represent our friendship, which is really the driving force behind the blog. Any ideas? See above comments for examples of excellent constructive feedback.

In all seriousness though we’d love to hear your input about Red House West and our future look.  Talk to us!  On Wednesday Mera has the first in what we hope will be a recurring post here, answering reader’s design questions.  Come back and check it out!