10 Easter Egg Dyeing Ideas

Opal spent a good portion of the weekend dyeing eggs with my mom for Easter.  Despite everything I know about my mom, I assumed that they were going to use one of those grocery store “seasonal aisle” staples: a PAAS dyeing kit.  But this is my mom we’re talking about, the woman who for years spun, dyed, and wove her own yarn, so of course they didn’t do that. Instead she boiled purple cabbage, onions, and other produce to make her own all-natural dyes.  The results were vibrant blues and purples and deep russet reds–so pretty!

Although I’m not sure anyone can get close to my mom’s egg decorating prowess, here are ten great ideas for embellishing Easter eggs from around the web:

1.  Dye eggs and then burnish them with gold leaf, a la Martha Stewart:


2.  Cross stitched eggs.  These blow my mind.  There’s not a tutorial accompanying this image, but Design Sponge has one here.

3.  If you have young kids, you probably have temporary tattoos laying around.  Use them on Easter eggs and save yourself from having to scrub nubby remnants off your kids’ skin:

4.  This is basically the opposite of Mama Matthews’s natural dyes, but marbleizing with nail polish yields vibrant results:

5.  Anyone who frequents thrift stores knows that gaudy ties are a secondhand staple.  This dyeing technique gives dated silk ties a second life–just add vinegar!

Red House West || Easter Egg Decorating Ideas

6.  Patterned paper napkins and Mod Podge yield adorable results in this tutorial:

7.  Using electrical tape creates crisp lines in this dye resist technique:

8.  Using a stamp on a convex surface doesn’t work so well.  This tutorial solves the problem by stamping on a white paper napkin and then Mod Podging it onto the egg:

9.  These lovely eggs were created by cutting out images from vintage magazines and, again, using Mod Podge to affix them to the eggs:

10.  Simple, dye free, mess free, and cute–these graphic patterns are created with washi tape:

Happy April everyone! I hope you have a great weekend, whatever your plans may be!

Home Office Inspiration

As people who spend a considerable amount of time on our computers, we’re both trying to figure out how and where to create small, functional, and attractive work spaces in our homes.  Here are some beautiful and inspiring home offices where we would love to blog our hearts out (we’d have to bring our own computers to most of them–these spaces seem to have the necessities of actually working styled out of them):

Mera’s favorite is the first one with Dall sheep-esque chair, and Katie feels like she could write a novel and a half in the second to last one (sustained, naturally, by the cereal already on the table). Which is your favorite?

Tutorial: Slide Lampshade

One of my favorite gifts I’ve ever received, and one of my very favorite items in our house, is a lampshade that my dear friend Brandi gave me made of vintage slides. I love looking at the pictures she chose to use in my shade and making up stories about the people and places in them. This past weekend I went to visit her on the Oregon coast and she helped me make another one – and also helped me put together this tutorial for you!

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial

There are other examples of slide lamps on the internet, but I’ve never seen one like this. Brandi and her husband have experience as book binders and so the tools she uses are tools from that trade, and the result is clean-lined and very sturdy.

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial

I’ve included links to the supplies you’ll need in the list below, but Brandi said she’s been able to find all of them at her local art supply store – so that may be a better source. I’ve seen slides listed on eBay (here‘s a current auction), at yard sales, and in thrift stores. If you find yourself here in Eugene, the amazing recycled craft supply warehouse, Mecca, has a huge bin of slides for cheap. You could certainly also do this project with slides of your own – Brandi made a gorgeous one for a friend of ours using black and white slides of micrographs (picture taken through a microscope) from her PhD research.


  • Slides (for an 8″ x 8″ lampshade like mine you’ll need 64 slides)
  • Light box (you can do this project without one, but it’s much easier with one)
  • Vellum (enough for four 7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ pieces)
  • Archival double-sided tape
  • Book binding tape (we used a white 5/8″ linen tape and a 1″ thick black satin tape)
  • Utility knife
  • Straight edge
  • Cutting mat
  • Carpenter’s Square (optional, but helpful)
  • Scissors (tiny ones work best)
  • Bone knife
  • Lamp frame – You could get one from a thrift store and disassemble it, or we used a square 8″ x 8″ frame that Brandi bought here

1.) Choose your slides.  Brandi told me this would be the hardest part, and she was right!  She hauled out a big Rubbermaid packed with slides for me to rummage through.  It was daunting but so fun; I could have spent hours looking at pictures and imagining all those different lives.

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial

I chose slides mostly from the 1950s, 60s and 70s of travels, animals, and – of course – interiors.  My criteria was really just that it be a picture that made want to know its story.

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial

2.) Once you’ve selected your 64 slides, arrange 16 of them in a 4×4 grid.  The only rule is not to have vertical images in the corners (you can see I put the vertical photo in the second row down).

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial

3.) Line up your first two columns of slides on your cutting mat.  They should be oriented with the image right-side-up but with the side of the slide you want on the outside of your shade to be face down.  Which side faces out is entirely up to you – I like to see the hand-written captions some people put on their slides so I made sure to face them down on this step.

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial

4.) Cut strips of the 5/8″ white linen tape to connect the first two columns.  The strips should be about 7 1/2″ long – just so they don’t go all the way to the edge of the slides.  This doesn’t need to be exact and it doesn’t need to be totally pretty since this is the inside of your shade.  Connect the third and fourth columns in the same way.

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial

5.)  Burnish!  Brandi kept hollering at me to burnish (rub the tape with the bone knife).  It’s the secret to a neat, tidy and sturdy shade.  Don’t be shy about putting some serious pressure on the bone knife; you want that tape to stick.

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial

6.) Repeat steps 2-5 to make the remaining three sides of your shade.  Don’t forget to double check that the slides are oriented correctly and don’t forget to BURNISH!

7.) When you’ve completed step 6 you will have four separate panels.  Using the same taping method described above, connect them into one long sheet.

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial

8.)  Use your straight edge and utility knife to cut four sheets of vellum then set them aside.  Each side of your lamp shade is 8″x 8″ and you want the vellum to be just a little smaller, but still cover the photo part of the slides – so each sheet of vellum will be about 7 1/2 inches square.  The vellum acts as a diffuser so the lamp gives off a gentle glow, and so you’re able to look at a slide when the light is on without burning your retinas.  Brandi is smart.

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial

9.) You will use the double-sided archival tape to attach the vellum.  Make sure you’re attaching it to the wrong side of the slides (the side that will be inside your lampshade).  Cut tape strips the same length as the linen tape (about 7 1/2″) and put them on top of your taped seams.  BURNISH!  Then peel off the backing.  Place one sheet of vellum shiny side down and… BURNISH!

This photo shows three seams with double-sided tape, but in step 9 you want to do four.

This photo shows three seams with double-sided tape, but in step 9 you want to do four.

10.) Repeat step 9 until all four sheets of vellum are attached.  The reason you do them separately is so the shade will fold into a square more easily – if it were a single sheet of vellum it would be hard to get those crisp corners.

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial11.) Use a piece of the 5/8″ white linen tape to connect the final seam to make your lampshade a square shape.  This was easily done with two people, but Brandi said it’s a little tricky with only one.

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial12.) Place the top ring of the frame inside your shade.  You want it flush with the top of your slides.  Binder clips can be handy for holding the ring in place.

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial13.) Place linen tape lengthwise around the top of your slides then fold it over the wire ring and stick it to the inside of the shade.  Then… BURNISH!  Seriously, it is really, really important that you burnish the heck out of the tape.  Use the pointy end of the bone knife to really get that edge along the wire ring and in the corners.  It’s helpful to use your little scissors to cut a strip in the tape so it can go around the crosspieces of the frame and fold into the corners.

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial14.) Flip the shade over and repeat the same process as in step 13 with the bottom ring.

15.) Optional: Cover the white tape with the black satin tape (I liked the contrast of the black, but leaving just the white looks nice too).

16.) Burnish.  Use your bone knife to run over every taped seam.  BURNISH!

A couple last thoughts:

The color of the slides will fade over time.  The more you keep it out of direct sunlight, the longer the colors will last (the images don’t disappear, they just turn to shades of blue).

If you don’t like the writing on the slides, or if you’d just prefer a more uniform look, you can color them in with paint pens.  I saw some Brandi colored and it looked pretty sharp.  As I said before, I personally like the handwritten notes people put on the slides and I don’t mind the variation in color and markings.

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial

Red House West||Slide Lamp Tutorial

We were wearing jammies while making the lamps and I didn’t get a photo of Brandi, but it feels wrong to share this project without including one – so here’s a photobooth pic of her at our wedding:

Brandi wants YOU to burnish that lampshade.


Huge thanks to her for developing (ha!) this project and for being willing to share it here on Red House West!  Please ask any questions you may have in the comments!

Design Definitions: Modern vs. Contemporary

Two words that often come up when talking about style, furniture, or design are “contemporary” and “modern.”  In a non-decorating context, we think of the words as synonymous, but in the design world they seem to mean very different things.  We decided to poke around and try to figure out what, precisely, contemporary and modern mean in the design context.  First, definitions of the words:

Contemporary: adj. belonging to or occurring in the present.
Modern: adj. of or relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past.

Sounds the same, right?  But add on the word “style” to either word, and they evolve to mean something very different.

First, “modern style”:  modern style references a specific movement characterized by clean lines and minimalism.  “Modern” emerged in the 1920s-1950s (according to dubious, but numerous, internet sources), so the word in this context doesn’t mean ‘relating to the present,’ but is a specific and static design style.  In other words it’s the style of a design, not how recently it emerged, that designates something like the Panton Chair (cir. 1960) as modern.  Perhaps the most recognizable iteration of modern style is mid-century modern style, which is, confusingly, quite popular in contemporary interiors (as in, right now).  Here are some examples of ‘modern style’ rooms:

At its most broad, ‘contemporary style’ seems to mean a style that focuses on design trends from the second half of the 20th century.  Contemporary decor incorporates neutral colors, with lots of brown, taupe, cream, and white, as well as stainless steel, nickel, and chrome.  Pattern is eschewed in favor of tone-on-tone solids and furnishings are ultra linear.  We found that most often ‘contemporary style’ is defined by what it’s not: traditional (another design definition post in the making!).

Here are some spaces that illustrate contemporary style:

Red House West||Modern vs. Contemporary

This is from ‘Better Homes and Gardens,’ where contemporary style is described as being “defined by clean lines with a casual atmosphere, open spaces, neutral colors, and elements and materials inspired by nature.”

Red House West || Design Definitions

Going through this exercise has shed light for us on the difference between modern and contemporary decor, and the ways in which the styles overlap and intersect.  What do you think? Have we cleared it up or further confounded you?

Mera’s House: A Mid-Century Chair Gets a Much Needed Make-Under

Anchorage Craigslist is not exactly awash with mid-century treasure (although we have a corner on the market of contemporary microfiber sofas) so when I saw this chair listed for $60 last summer, I knew I had to bring it home.

Red House West || Mid Century Chair Make-Under

I could tell this chair was a classy gent–maybe not the most handsome man you’ve ever laid eyes on, but he’s steady, solid, friendly, and timeless.  Alas, the brown floral corduroy was a serious mismatch.  It was like Ernest Borgnine accidentally got dressed in Little Richard’s clothes.

Incidentally I have met exactly two celebrities in my life: Ernest Borgnine and Little Richard.  I took Ernest Borgnine across Kachemak Bay during my skipper days, and a few years later Little Richard fondled my hair (which was waist-long at the time) in LAX while I was going through security.  Other than that I am celeb repellant.  I never see ANYONE.  Even Chester sees more famous people than I do.  A few years ago he saw Kristen Bell, and realized she must be famous “because she was wearing so many layers.” (He was right, other friends saw her too.)

Anyway, this guy obviously needed a new suit, and I’ve been trying to find the perfect upholstery for a long time.  You might remember my experiment with batik and shibori.  I nixed using the resulting fabric because it was like Ernest Borgnine dressed up in Erykha Badu’s clothes:

Red House West || Mid Century Chair Make-Under

Last week in a Pinterest-induced fever I organized my fabric stash, and found the perfect thing.  My mom, who can sew anything (the woman scoffs at smocking and laughs in the face of pleats), recently gifted me with most of her fabric stash.  She used to make her own clothes, and the stash includes lots of beautiful wool suiting fabric.  You know who looks great in a wool suit?  Ernest Borgnine.

Red House West || Mid Century Chair Make-Under

I originally intended to do a tutorial on how to sew basic box cushions.  But one seam into the process I remembered that I’m really not very good at sewing, and definitely not qualified to tell anyone else how to do it.  I will say this about sewing box cushions though: I have found that I get nice sharp corners when I sew the edge pieces together before sewing on the top and bottom pieces.

Red House West || Mid-Century Chair Make-Under

Here are the edge pieces sewn together, awaiting the top and bottom pieces.

The chair’s frame is solid and the wood finish is inoffensive, so I just rubbed it with Danish Oil.


Red House West|| Mid-Century Chair Make-Under

Although the old foam was in good shape, at four inches it seemed too bulky so I replaced it with three inch foam.  Even though my stitching is less than perfect (I am an insult to my mother’s legacy), the wardrobe change is a big improvement and I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

Red House West || Mid-Century Chair Make-Under

Red House West || Mid-Century Chair Make-Under

Have a great rest of the week everyone!

Etsy Finds!

We both love finding inspiration and unique treasures on Etsy, so once a month or so we share round-ups of some of our favorite Etsy items and sellers so you can see them too.  Thanks for joining us!

From Katie:

I return again and again to admire the work of The Link Collective, an Etsy shop based in Tokyo, Japan.  Their textiles are gorgeous, and would be perfect to wear, to gift, or to hang as art.

Red House West||Etsy Finds March

Red House West||Etsy Finds March

They even sell leather straps so the fabric can be folded into a pretty bag:

Red House West||Etsy Finds March

I am blown away by how much personality Sarah Walton is able to put into her art using just some thread and a few scraps of fabric.  She sells mostly prints in her Etsy shop, but there are a few originals in there too.  Here’s Mera and me sometime down the road with our vibrant dresses and unruly dogs:

Red House West||Etsy Finds March

Red House West||Etsy Finds March

From Mera:

With verdant colors on a clean white background, Louise van Terheijden’s watercolors give me a welcome spring feeling:

Red House West || Etsy Finds il_570xN.405788394_r2unI am seriously tempted by these elegant pendant lights by Iumi Design.  They come in an appealing-looking kit for assembly, which might be just enough to scratch the mild DIY itch I have about the light in our breakfast nook.

Red House West || Etsy Finds


Mera’s back on Wednesday with a make-under of a mid-century chair found on Craigslist–come on back!

Katie’s House: A Quick Update for the Hallway

First and foremost: We are so excited to announce that we’ve been asked to become regular contributors to the domino.com website!  Our first feature – an updated post about Mera’s downstairs bathroom – ran yesterday (we may or may not have had a squeal-filled phone call when we saw it).  You can check it out here.

And in other news…

All hail the power of paint!  I’m so desperate to finish the Chamber of Secrets (which is taking forever – this is renovation in real time folks) that this Sunday I grabbed my painting supplies, marched downstairs, and gave the hallway a little makeover.  Sound counter-productive?  The truth is that I desperately needed to finish something, and now that I did I totally have my house-fixin’ mojo back.

I’ve been steadfastly ignoring this hallway for years, but since painting the living and dining rooms, it’s become much harder.  The yellow hue – perhaps sweet and sunny in its younger life – has become through the years dingy, and more evocative of urine-soaked snow.

Red House West||Quick Hallway UpdateWe use the hutch to store linens and extra bathroom supplies.  It’s a really sweet piece, and definitely deserved better than it was getting.  This hallway had become the repository for stacks of homeless art which became, in turn, repositories for Dean and Carl’s copious furballs.

Red House West||Quick Hallway Update

Even the magical blue dining room paint that I love so much was suffering in its proximity to the hallway.

Red House West||Quick Hallway Update

I decided to paint the hallway the same color as the living room – Miller Paint’s Crystal Ball, the prettiest shade of pale gray.  Behold the difference:

Red House West||Quick Hallway Update

Hallelujah!  Now that the color palette is more unified, the flow through these spaces is so much better.  When the hallway was yellow, the three different colors made the view into the living room visually hectic.  Things are much more serene now.

Red House West||Quick Hallway Update

To give the hutch a little update I lined the back with this chalkboard-printed paper by Lily & Val; I just used double-sided tape to hold it in place.

Red House West||Quick Hallway Update

Red House West||Quick Hallway Update

I’m crazy about the Bakelite handles.

Red House West||Quick Hallway Update

I decided to keep the art simple (which means the stack of homeless art is now seining for furballs in another room), but these two little pieces feel right to me.  The Picasso drawing is a page torn from a Sotheby’s catalog that I got for really cheap on Etsy.

Red House West||Quick Hallway Update

The photo of the dove is from a thrift store.  On the back someone wrote, “1980.  Taken in a small courtyard in Alicante Spain, after a night train from Madrid, killing time before an afternoon bus.”  It’s funny how photographs taken with real film have an undeniably vintage cast to the them – a look that many Instagram filters attempt but few achieve.

Red House West||Quick Hallway Update

I’m so, so happy I made time to do this.  I get a little lift every time I walk through here and I feel reinvigorated and excited to dive back into the Chamber.

Red House West||Quick Hallway Update

Anybody else sometimes need to switch gears when they’re in the middle of a big project?  Thanks for reading along!