Tag Archives: family room

Katie’s House: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Before we surge forward with our plans for 2016, Mera and I thought it would be fun to pause a moment to reflect on some of our favorite projects we completed last year.

I’m starting my look back at 2015 with something that didn’t really make it onto the blog. Though I shared our adventures in roofing (aka the most ungratifying before and after ever), that was just the tip of the iceberg. In the waning days of autumn, with clear skies overhead but rain on the horizon, we tackled the exterior of our house. And by tackled, I mean destroyed.

destroyed house 2

destroyed houseWhen I texted Mera the picture above, captioned with a silently screaming emoji, she said it looked like the aftermath of a hurricane. We were racing the weather, and for a couple weeks it was a frenzy of paint scraping, siding replacement, and endless caulking. We hired out the actual painting except for the trim, and finally our sweet red house was looking more like itself.
painted house
It was a pretty miserable couple of weeks, with lots of worry that the weather would change and we’d spend all winter living behind a sheath of Tyvek, but now when the rains lash against the house it’s nice to know everything is sealed up tight.

The other big project we completed in 2015 – one that was very well documented here at RHW – was the Chamber of Secrets.

Red House West || Looking Back, Looking Forward

Months after finishing it, I continue to love this room and – most uncharacteristically – I’m hard-pressed to find a single thing I would change. The process of designing and building the shelves and closet with Cameron was really fun, and it was so gratifying to see sketches on paper transform into the real thing. Turns out that all the back-and-forth we did about the Chamber’s design elements (deciding on the curved shelves, the trim on the cabinetry, the placement of the closet) was very good practice for a pretty big project that we’re currently in the midst of. More on that in just a minute.

Red House West || Before & After - Chamber of Secrets RevealNot all of last year’s projects at Red House (south) West were big ones – I had a lot of fun making the oil painting bulletin board and the wood-tiled table, and refining my easy method for making fabric-covered mats (maybe 2016 will be the year that all the art makes it off the floor and onto the walls! Maybe!).

Red House West || Looking Back, Looking Forward

Red House West || DIY Fabric Mats

So last year was really good, but I’ve got a feeling that 2016 is going to be fantastic. Do you remember when I shared plans for the family room? I honestly thought (despite lots of evidence to the contrary) that it would be a quick project. I mean, I painted over those yellow walls and I was pretty sure I was home free:

Red House West || Family Room Redo
I had a plan, after all, and the only thing left was to put this green dream of a mood board into action:

Red House West || Family Room RedoRed House West || Family Room Redo

Red House West || Family Room Redo

Clockwise from upper left: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The sticking point of my plan, as you may remember, was the couch. I put in some serious (like seriously serious) time searching Craigslist and thrift stores, but couldn’t find anything in our budget that was even remotely (not even with lots of elbow grease and ingenuity) what I wanted. And so we decided to build one ourselves! And though it’s smaller in scale than the built-ins in the Chamber, it has taken just as many drawings, adjustments, and conversations. Here’s a sneak peek of it mid-process, before adding the back:

Red House West || Looking Back, Looking ForwardAs we move into 2016 I’m so excited to share the finished couch – including an attempt at diy down-wrapped cushions – and finally, finally to share the whole family room (the plan for which has shifted, think more blue than green). I’m also really excited that soon we’ll be snuggling during Netflix marathons, rather than sitting in side-by-side chairs holding hands across the great divide.

Check in next Wednesday when Mera shares her own reflections on 2015 and plans for the new year.  We’re both heading into a particularly busy time at work, so for the next couple months we’ll be posting once a week – on Wednesdays – rather than twice. We’re planning to get back to our regular schedule when things calm down a bit, hopefully in March.

As always, thanks for being a part of Red House West – here’s to an amazing 2016!


Katie’s House: Progress in the Family Room

I’ve had a whirlwind couple of weekends – two weddings of two long-time friends (one of whom I’ve known since birth!), and lots of time with dear friends I rarely see.  I haven’t had much time for house projects, but I did manage to squeeze in a day of painting.  The family room transformation has begun and I am so, so excited.  In case you missed it, this room is on the main floor and is our primary lounge space – a copious amount of Netflix is watched in here during the winter months.

It is a testament to the diverting power of television that we managed to spend so much time in this room.  Behold the overcooked egg:

beforeI am always amazed by what a little paint and a day of toil can do.  Here’s a photo of the room taken from the opposite angle:

Red House West || Family Room RedoI used Miller Paint’s Crystal Ball on the walls with Casper White on the ceiling and trim.  I also did a little Restor-a-Finish/Howard Feed n’ Wax combo on the window frames. The room feels so much fresher and brighter.  Crystal Ball is the same color I used in my living room and hallway, and the newly unified color palette really improves the flow through the downstairs.  Here’s the view standing in the freshly painted room and looking through the hallway and into the living room:

Red House West || Family Room RedoAnd this picture is taken from the dining room looking into the family room:

Red House West || Family Room RedoThis summer has been uncomfortably and uncharacteristically hot.  My eyes and soul are yearning (pining, longing, aching) for the emerald greens of Oregon’s rainy winter.  The scorched browns and yellows of our yard have me dreaming of turning our family room into a verdant oasis.

Red House West || Family Room Redo Seeing my plants against the soft gray walls and fir trim has helped me focus my vision for this room – and the vision is green indeed.

Red House West || Family Room RedoRed House West || Family Room Redo

Red House West || Family Room Redo

Clockwise from upper left: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

I haven’t had any luck yet with finding a secondhand couch.  I missed out by mere minutes on what looked like a good possibility on Craigslist.  I’m bummed but I’ve been telling myself that even though it looked great in the photo, it definitely smelled of mildew or cat pee or worse (if there is a worse?  maybe dead whale).  And so the hunt continues.  In other progress news, I ordered some fabric swatches for the recliner, and I’ve been eyeballing this light fixture from Schoolhouse Electric:

Schoolhouse ShadeI’m happy to have the painting done, and planning a monochromatic green room sure makes the design process easy (I’m kidding… sort of).  I’m looking forward to doing some research to find plants that will thrive in the west-facing space.  The way I see it, the function of an indoor jungle is two-fold: Not only are plants beautiful, but their improvement of air quality will surely mitigate some of the brain-deadening effects of winter nights spent glued to the boob tube.  I mean, right?

Please keep your fingers crossed that I find an odor-free couch soon, and have a great week!

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!