Tag Archives: toran

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!


Design Definitions: Toran

One of the questions we are frequently asked here at RHW is where the curtain in Opal’s room came from. Today we thought we would share what the textile is, and also give the inside scoop on where to look for one of your own!

The textile is called a toran.  The word is from Sanskrit, and means a sacred gateway. Decorative torans range in size from quite large – ones made to span wide entryways – to smaller torans designed to adorn a narrow door or window.

Red House West || Torans

At over 70 inches, Opal’s toran is on the larger side.

Torans are versatile pieces – they work well as a way to add color to achromatic rooms, but are also at home in bright, eclectic spaces.  This room is restrained and antique-y, and the toran adds just a hint of playfulness.

The pinks and maroons of this toran make this wee kitchen space particularly inviting, even if it is just to practice the sacred art of washing dishes.


The colorful toran hung over the bed makes this simple room a gateway to beautiful dreams.

The deep burgundies of the toran framing this window seat work beautifully with all the indigo textiles in this lovely room.

We love the way this toran spans the work area (a gateway to writing and reading of other worlds!) in this eclectic space.

When looking for a toran of your own on eBay or Etsy, we suggest also using the search terms ’embroidered valance’ or ‘Indian valance.’  Here are some lovely ones we found that are currently for sale:

Would you hang a toran in your home, or are they too over the top for you?  We love to hear your thoughts!

Opal’s Room: A Quick Tour and Plans for a Big Girl Room

At 2 1/2, Opal is an extraordinarily good-natured person, and quite the conversationalist.  She often inhabits an elaborate imaginary scenario in which she is Baby Boy’s mom (Baby Boy is the proper name of one of her dolls) and she drives around in her pickup truck (we have a Volvo) with him safely in his carseat and flies him around in a floatplane (she has never been in a floatplane).  Also, her favorite place to go on a rainy day is Cabela’s, where she has taken an archery class, and she can tell you about the finer properties of waders and different types of camouflage.  Her good nature must come from my husband, and I have to claim the love of driving and flying, but the truck and hunting equipment fascination is all her own.

Opal's room

She also loves to instruct us about things.  For example, she recently taught me how one would, if one wanted to, climb out of a crib: “you put your hands here, and your foot over the top . . . .”  She hasn’t actually climbed out yet, but she is obviously able to should she so choose.  So I’ve been thinking more and more about the transition to a big girl bed, and what I’m hoping to do in phase two of her room.

Opal's room

The room is tiny, full of angles and slanted rooflines.  It’s a sweetheart of a room, with windows that look out on three (yes, three!) sides of the house, plus an internal window into the hallway.  The internal window allows a lot of light from the big windows in Opal’s room to filter into the hallway, but because light also goes from the hallway into Opal’s room, we have covered the window with a beautiful quilt, a gift from a relative when Opal was born (thanks Netzy!).

Netzy's quiltOpal's room

I painted the room green long before Opal came along, and added the blue skyline and creature decals (purchased from Etsy) just before her arrival.  The animals are cute and have a hand-painted look in person.  Opal used to love saying goodnight to each of them, but it has been a long time since she mentioned them and I don’t think she’s very attached to them anymore.

Opal's room

Opposite the bed there’s a window seat, and these great bookshelves that we had built before Opal was born.

Opal's windowseat

The birch tree running through the bookshelves came out of my parents’ yard.  The room has always felt like a little treehouse to me, and I love the way the tree brings that in without being too theme-y.

Opal's shelves

Another thing I love in this room is the handles on the closets and drawers: orange leather!

Opal's room

Opal's room

So orange is a given in any future color scheme, which is fine by me since I love orange (in small doses).

As you can see, her crib is in its own little alcove, and the future big girl bed will have to go in the same spot.

Opal's roomAs I’ve mentioned before, I have an idea for creating a curtained and canopied sleeping area for Opal.  I love forts and tucked in nooks, and I think I could create something really sweet in this spot.  I don’t picture it being too frilly or pink–that’s not Opal (at least in this stage of life), and I would like for phase two of her room to be something that can easily transition with her as she grows up.  I recently scored this vintage embroidered fabric valance, which is just a little wider than the width of the bed nook in Opal’s room.

Hung here for demonstrative blog purposes only.

Hung here for blog demonstrative purposes only.

I asked Opal if she would like to have it in her room, and she said “yes, right now!”  Then she went on to list the animals she recognized:  “monkeys, horses, mariposas, elephants, peacocks–I don’t like peacocks but I love parakeets!”  Doesn’t like peacocks?  Loves parakeets?  Who is this kid?  I didn’t know she even knew the words peacock or parakeet, let alone held strong opinions about their relative virtues!

Needless to say, I think she’s excited about it, peacocks and all, and I’m hopeful that the valance animals can replace the wall-decal animals without any strife.  The idea is to hang this across the width of the alcove, and then make curtains to go behind it.  I have a vintage cut-lace table cloth that I think I can use to make the curtains, and in the end I’m hoping it looks similar to this, but on a larger scale:

From Oh Dear Drea (I really like this blog, by the way).

From Oh Dear Drea (I really like this blog, by the way).

I’m still trying to figure out how to craft the canopy and sides.  The idea is to have Opal’s bed enclosed so that the interior window doesn’t have to be covered.  Also on the to-do list is to paint the walls white (the list of walls to be painted white in this house grows ever longer….).

So that’s the plan.  I could use some engineering help figuring out the best way to suspend the canopy and curtains.  Any suggestions?  Check back with us later in the week for another installment of Pinterest Friday!  Thanks everybody!