Tag Archives: ranch rambler

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!


Ranch Rambler: Creating a Blank Slate

We had a two-week window between our renters moving out of this house and our closing date on the red house.  Time was of the essence, so we lined up a local contractor to remove the popcorn texture from the ceilings.  Luckily there wasn’t any asbestos (our house was built in 1978, and thankfully it had become much less common by then) and it only took them a couple days to scrape everything down.  It’s a project that we definitely could have DIY’d if we had more time, but in the midst of moving it was relief to hand the messy task off to someone else.

Before they came we removed all the trim in the whole house (we’re planning to replace it anyway, and knew it would make painting go much faster), and took down all of the ceiling fixtures.  When the popcorn was (blessedly! beautifully!) gone, Cam and I primed and painted all of the ceilings and then our awesome family came over to help us paint every single room in the house.  Before we could do that though?  I had to pick a color.

I knew I wanted a white – part of my vision for this house includes ceilings, walls, trim, and doors all the same color, so they blend and recede – but just which white I wasn’t sure, though I narrowed it down to three:

Red House West || Creating a Blank Slate

They look laughably similar on my monitor but once they were up on the walls, the choice was easy:

Red House West || Creating a Blank Slate
White Dove by a mile! Swiss Coffee read really tan in our (lack of) natural light, and Simply White was just too glaringly bright; it looked kind of cheap and clinical. White Dove is the color we used in the upstairs of the Red House, and I’m convinced it’s the most perfect, versatile, luminous white.  We went with a flat finish to minimize the orange peel texture on the walls, and everything feels so much fresher.

You may remember from the list of whole-house updates I shared in  my last post that in addition to removing the popcorn and painting everything the same color, we also want to upgrade all the doors and lighting.  Once I had the paint picked out – and once I’d spent an inordinate amount of time online and in stores looking at doors and hardware – I was able to nail down some of those big decisions.  The light fixture in this mood board is for the entry, but its simplicity makes it a good proxy for where we’re heading with the lighting in the whole house:


Definitely simple and neutral; in this smaller, open-plan house, I feel like our art and furniture will be bringing in plenty of color and I don’t want the permanent fixtures to compete with that.   My initial thought for doors was a five-panel shaker, but I quickly realized that all those boxes would look pretty busy in this door-riddled house.  I love the ones we chose.  They are solid core – such a difference from the dented and peeling hollow-core doors we have now! – and the square edging on the panel (vs. a rounded bullnose, which was an option) feels both classic and modern.  I’m also so happy about those doorknobs! They are relatively inexpensive – $19 – but very weighty and substantial.  A huge upgrade from what we have now.

I’m driving up to Portland this weekend to pick up the Luna pendant (when Schoolhouse Electric says there’s a four-week lead time on light fixtures, they aren’t joking), and I’ll talk a little more about why I chose that one once we install it.

We put our first door up last weekend.  The process was, as Cameron says, a shakedown cruise, and hopefully the next 10 (!) will go a lot faster.  For now though, that one beautiful door with its smooth-actioned doorknob is making my heart go pitter-patter.  Here’s a real time before and after:
Red House West || Creating a Blank Slate

Hot damn.  Even without trim, she’s looking fi-ine.  And that ceiling?  Only a million times better.

Oh, and you may have noticed that we sneaked in (it sure feels like it should be ‘snuck’) a short Monday post!  Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be doing some mini posts about whatever we’re into at the moment – design or otherwise.  If there’s a topic you’d like to hear about or discuss, let us know in the comments!