Good Score, the Spooky Edition!

Over the past few weeks we’ve gotten a few submissions that seemed best saved for our favorite ghoulish holiday–welcome to a special Halloween edition of Good Score!

If you’re new to Red House West, Good Score is a monthly feature here at Red House West highlighting our readers’ secondhand finds. If you scored a great bargain at a thrift store, found a treasure on the side of the road, or discovered a one-of-a-kind gem at a yard sale, we’d love to hear about it! Please send a picture and a brief description of what, where and how much to -OR- use the hashtag #rhwgoodscore on Instagram and the last Friday of each month we’ll share a few highlights. To see previous Good Scores, click here.

Okay everyone, gird your loins because things are about to get freaky.

From Leslie:

I was in a really great local vintage furniture store when I spied these two lamps made from some species of deer’s legs behind the counter. I had this really weird feeling of “I can’t really explain it, but I think I need those?” and before I knew it, they were in my car. Now, I paid about $100 for the pair, so it wasn’t a rock bottom price, but something about them spoke to me, and they seemed like a good score in the unique/haunting way. Anyway, I think that with the right shade (which will be extremely neutral – these guys have enough going on without adding pattern/colour/other doodads!) these will look really cool on either side of my bed.
Anyway, I hope they don’t offend anyone. I know that taxidermy was in vogue at some point, but it’s not everyone’s taste, and even my facebook community was pretty divided when I posted a photo of them. Feel free to put it to a vote in the comments. :) 
Red House West||Good Score
From Scott:
Purchased at a semi-permanent garage sale in Coos Bay. The woman had dreams of owning an antique store, but I don’t think quite has it right yet.
Red House West||Good Score
From Katie:
I’ve got two to share.  Technically I guess they’re not Good Scores because no way was I bringing these things home; coming across them when I’m flipping through photos on my phone is harrowing enough.  For real – this portrait of a doll gives me the heebie jeebies.  No matter where you go she’s watching you.  All plump cheeks and diabolical eyes.  The question that must be asked is who had this hanging on their wall, and contemplating the answer makes my blood run cold.
doll for GS
Clowns are inherently freaky, but this one’s awkwardly lewd pose juxtaposed against a quite benign facial expression takes it to the next level.  Just imagine this thing illuminated in an otherwise dark room.  Like I said, I didn’t actually bring it home, but if anyone needs it chances are it’s still there.  On the shelf.  With it’s tiny feet and tension-filled hands.  Being disgusting and evil.
clown for GS
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!  Have a fun one!

Tutorial: Envelope Pillows with Piping

My beloved heavy-lidded Beatrice has resumed her rightful place above the sofa and all is once again right with the world.  I spent some time this last week reassembling this corner of our living room, which has been in chaos for the duration of the Great Painting Escapade of 2014 – seemingly forever.

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

More than a year ago I found this lovely blue and green floral fabric at a thrift store.  I brought it home, carelessly wrapped it around a pillow to see how it looked with the orange couch, and left it like that… dangling price tag and all.  Unable to withstand Beatrice’s disapproving stare any longer, I decided the time had come to get out the sewing machine and sew them up properly.

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

Requisite disclaimer: I am a beginning-level sewer (one who sews, not a pipe of effluvia), and this tutorial is presented in the spirit of ‘if I can do it, anyone can!’ not ‘prostrate yourselves and heed my masterful advice for I am the sewing expert of the universe.’

I have referred to this great envelope pillow tutorial over on Little Green Notebook for previous projects and in previous posts.  For these pillows I decided to modify it and upgrade by adding some piping.  I found this pretty navy color piping for $1.99 at JoAnn Fabric (I can’t find it online to provide you with a link, but it’s definitely available in stores).  One package was enough for one pillow, so I bought two.

red house west//envelope pillows with pipingA note on pillow inserts: I’ve had really good luck finding high quality down inserts at thrift stores.  I wash them in hot water and then put them in the dryer with tennis balls.  Way cheaper even than Ikea (and actually available here in town)!

Here are the steps for making simple envelope pillows with piping:

1.)  For a 17-inch pillow I cut a square that was 16.5 inches on each side (one inch smaller for a snug fit plus a half inch seam allowance).  I also cut two smaller pieces for the back of the pillow, 16.5 by 10 and 16.5 by 12.

2.)  I laid the square piece of fabric right side up on the floor and pinned the piping around the perimeter with the rounded part facing toward the center.  On the corners, I cut slits so the piping would form a nice curve.

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

3.)  To attach the two loose ends, I held one end in my hand and cut it at an angle, then used a seam ripper to peel back the fabric and expose the cord underneath.

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

I wrapped my angled piece over the other end (about a quarter inch) and cut the exposed cord so the two pieces fit together and lay flat.  For a really finished look you could fold the raw edge under, but I’m not worried about it fraying so I left it as is.

red house west//envelope pillow with piping

4.)  I put the zipper foot on my sewing machine so I could snug right up to the edge of the cord, and stitched the piping onto the fabric.

red house west//envelope pillows with piping5.)  I set the square piece with the attached piping aside and then pinned a nice, thick folded hem on the long side of the two other pieces of fabric (which will be the envelope flaps) and then sewed the hems.
red house west//envelope pillows with piping6.)  Next, I laid the square fabric with the attached piping right (patterned) side up.  I put the larger rectangle (the 16 x 12 piece) right side down on top of the square, lined up the edges and pinned them along the edge.  I put the small rectangle on top and lined up the edges; it overlaped the larger rectangle by about four inches.  When I sewed, I made sure to reinforce the edges where the flaps overlap since that will get the most strain when inserting the pillow.
red house west//envelope pillows with piping

I turned it right side out and used my finger to poke out the corners.  Here’s a photo of the finished back:

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

And here’s the front – I love how finished the piping makes it look!

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

I’m really happy with the way this part of the room is coming together.  It’s comfortable and colorful and increasingly eccentric.  You might take note that I’ve started bringing home lamps with a fervor formerly reserved for chairs.  The one in the corner was a birthday present (my birthday is still more than a week away, but I’m a strong proponent of the the birthmonth) and is a converted fish trap.  It makes the greatest shadows and provides the perfect warm glow for the dreary days we’ve been having.

red house west//envelope pillows with piping

Thanks for reading along!  Please let me know if I can clarify anything!

Playroom Plans and the Woes of Living in an Old House

A while back I posted a poll about which of two rooms–one upstairs and tiny, the other downstairs and bigger–should eventually become our bedroom.  The results were overwhelmingly in favor (84% to be exact) of the larger downstairs room that is currently our playroom/office/junk room.  I hemmed and hawed, but ultimately I decided that in the short term (the next 6 or 7 years) we’re going to buck the crowd and use the upstairs room.  Before we had Opal I didn’t realize that kids don’t spend time in their bedrooms.  Now it seems so obvious–of course they want to be a part of the action.  Plus Opal is still too little to go up and down the stairs without supervision, and having the playroom downstairs also helps to curb the spread of toys in the living room.  It also means we can cook or fold laundry while she plays nearby and still carry on a conversation with her and pop in to be part of whatever game or story she’s come up with.

Here is what the room looks like these days:

Red House West||Playroom Plans

It’s a generously sized room, but it’s serving too many purposes at once right now.  I want it to be less of a dumping ground, and more of a dedicated play space.  I’m a huge fan of Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook (seriously, she’s AMAZING) and the playroom that she created for her girls is so bright and happy:

Red House West||Playroom Plans 39

I love that it’s bright and colorful, not theme-y, and leaves tons of space for imagination.  So I thought that I’d try to create something similar.

Opal loves to read and having a comfortable spot to curl up with her in the playroom would be great.  My plan this weekend was to move my old red chaise in here–it would be perfect!

Red House West||Playroom Plans

In its current position the chaise is cramped and not very inviting.  It’s awkwardly butted against the Broyhill Brasilia credenza that I recently refinished (which I would love to show you, but until I can get the chaise out of here the credenza is stuck in an unappealingly off-center position in the room).

I love the vibrant yellow curtains in Jenny Komenda’s playroom.  I found these cheery ones from ModCloth and I made a quick mood board to get a sense of how they’d look with the red chaise.  I think it would be really cheerful!

Playroom Plans
But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  In this funky old house our interior doors vary in size, and the door into the playroom is just 28 inches wide.  We tried getting the chaise through the mini doorway every way we could think of.  The legs don’t come off and the frame is all one piece so cutting them off and reattaching them isn’t an option (I was disbelieving about this so I consulted a professional and he confirmed.  Boo.).  We explored taking the chaise outside and then getting it back in through a window.  But NO.  There is literally no way to get the chaise in there.  ARGH!
So, trudging onward through small-door frustration, I recalled that we have a captain’s bed in the basement that was in Opal’s room back when it was little-boy Chester’s room (for new readers, we live in the house where my husband grew up. You can read more about how that happened here if you’re interested).  We had to cut it in half to get it out of the room in order to fit the crib in there (see old house with small doors frustration explanation, infra).  I searched the web for images of kids’ rooms with similar day bed set ups, and came up with some inspiring images.

Okay so this last one isn’t similar at all to our captain’s bed, but I’m in love with the lacquered yellow paint, and now I’m inspired to paint our version a similar sunny hue (apparently I’m really determined to bring a lot of yellow into this room!).   And maybe you noticed that all of the previous inspiration images are the same daybed–I’m fairly certain it is from Ikea.  Ours was built by a handy neighbor decades ago, but it is really similar including the three drawers on the bottom.  Since it’s already in two pieces it will (fingers crossed) fit through the door, and Chester thinks that he’ll be able to reattach the two halves.

So I’m reimagining the playroom now along these lines:

Another Playroom

My image editing skills are nonexistent so you’ll have to use your imagination for the lacquered yellow daybed–hopefully the yellow pillows on the bed trick the eye at least a little.  The floral curtains are actually a shower curtain–you know what’s super expensive?  Curtains.  You know what’s not super expensive?  Shower curtains.  I’m hoping that with one cut down the middle and a little hemming no one will know the difference.

It’s worth it, but this charming old house definitely comes with the occasional frustration!  Anybody else out there been stymied by the quirks of an old house lately?

Six Great Halloween Costume Ideas

Katie and I are both big Halloween people–soon after we first met we found ourselves swept up in a raucous Halloween parade, where we hula hooped for hours. I can’t remember what we dressed up as, but we both have dreamlike memories of being surrounded by bizarrely costumed crowds on a dark, cold night.

I love dressing up, and this year I tried to convince Chester that I had the PERFECT couples costume for us:

But then we started bickering about who would be who, and it deteriorated from there. Here are some great runner up costume ideas from around the web.

Ghosts are typical Halloween fare, but how about invoking a different kind of ghost this year:

A Freudian slip, hehe.

Dressing up as Tippi Hedron would be so fun! This girl does a good job though the costume needs a lot more blood:

She captured the dead taxidermied eyes perfectly:

And finally, my favorite. Several years in a row I elected this school photo backdrop.  This was back when people still spelled out the acronym L-A-S-E-R.  So cutting edge.

P.S. (from Katie) In sixth grade I established myself as a real renegade by dressing as Santa Claus for Halloween. I just spent an hour digging through old photos so I could share a picture here, to no avail. You’ll have to use your imaginations to envision the wonder of my pillow-stuffed short red bathrobe over tights and the cotton balls I had glued directly onto my face. The cotton balls fell off throughout the day, leaving me with a peeling white residue more reminiscent of Freddy Krueger than old St. Nick. I’ll probably never top the wonder of that costume, but there are some real contenders here.

Small Victories: Getting Art off the Floor and onto the Wall

Now that our living room is painted and I have few new tricks for creating inexpensive frames up my sleeve, I thought it was time to give a gallery wall a try.  I have always liked the look of walls filled with art, and I’ve been debating what to put above the credenza for quite a while.  To refresh your memory, here’s a picture of the space I’m talking about:

Red House West//Miller Evolution Paint

The last time I tried hanging a gallery wall – at our old house – it was an abject failure.  In retrospect I think the pictures I hung were too small and the wall too large, but whatever the reason the result wasn’t good.  This time I decided to be more scientific about my approach, so I made a round up of art walls I love then tried to dissect why.  Here are the pictures I referenced:

Looking at these images I decided I like art walls that:

1. Have a mix of sizes and shapes, and a variety of frames (not all matching)

2. Have a loose arrangement – I don’t like a perfect grid, but prefer irregular space between the pictures

3. Have a mix of media

4. Cover the whole expanse of the wall

5. Balance color – it looks more like a collection when there are common colors among the images

The first thing I did was gather my pictures together.  The art for this wall is comprised mostly of woodcuts and drawings, and is a mix of pieces I’ve had for years and a few things I’ve recently picked up at thrift stores.  I measured a space on the floor in the same dimensions as the wall and played around with the arrangement.  In trying to make a balanced composition, I considered the size and color and how much black there was in the image and frame.  I’m sorry I don’t have a photo of this step, but the picture I took is on my phone which is – most inconveniently – in my mom’s car an hour away.  I am pretty alarmed by how unmoored I feel without it.

To make things more cohesive I painted the frame of the portrait black (bottom right in the photo below) and painted the matting of the two kelp drawings with a leftover sample pot from Farrow & Ball (top right).  Once I had an arrangement I liked, Cameron and I worked together to place most of the art on the wall.  We started by hanging the largest picture in the bottom left, then worked our way up and over.  We decided to line up the outside edges of the frames but just eyeballed the spacing otherwise, so the layout wouldn’t be too rigid.  Our living room walls are plaster so we used a drill to make pilot holes for the nails, and we used a little level to make sure things were hanging straight.  There were four pictures I had trouble deciding on where to place, so I traced them onto newspaper and played around with the configuration. Once I figured out their placement, I measured where the nail needed to go for them to hang at the right height and drilled right through the paper.  This method worked great for arranging the smaller frames!

gallery wall with newspaper templates

And here’s the completed wall:

Gallery wall

The picture on the bottom left (by Alaska artist Sydney Bishop) is one of the very first pieces of art I ever bought, back in my transient days when I never lived anywhere long enough to actually hang things up.  I carried it around for ages and then my mom had it framed as a gift a few years ago–I love the style of it and the setting.  The two smaller pieces are also from Alaska, and I like them next to my  $0.99 thrift store drawing and its fabric-covered mat.

gallery wall left sideI was determined to include this art deco frame on the wall.  I liked that the shape was different from all the other frames, and it’s way too pretty to be languishing in a closet.  I don’t have art that fits it though, so I covered a piece of cardboard with black fabric and attached two ravishing airplants.  I just balanced the plants on straight pins so they’ll be easy to take down to water.  They’re looking mighty fine above the adenoidal lady portrait.


As I was taking pictures, Dean got sick of all the attention that he wasn’t getting and decided the gallery wall would be much improved by the addition of a fat fur beast.

gallery wall 2

He was right of course!  I’m liking the gallery wall, and like how the many frames on this wall are balanced by Beatrice’s looming visage on the opposite one (don’t know who Beatrice is?  You can see a picture of her in this post).  Hope you all are having a great week – come back on Friday for a round-up of costume ideas for Halloween!

When Shibori and Batik Love Each Other Very Very Much . . .

Remember this chair that I scored off Craigslist this spring? She’s a beaut, but seriously in need of a new ensemble.

chair cushions

You might remember that for the short term I took off the back cushion and covered the seat cushion with a wool blanket.  But with sub-freezing temps all of a sudden I kind of want my blanket back, so I thought I would try to make some new clothes for this guy.


The blanket I was using is a white and grey plaid, and I liked the look of the pattern in my living room.  I thought I would try to replicate it with a simple accordion fold shibori technique (you can read my shibori tutorial here).

I had some yardage of really nice heavyweight hemp fabric left over from a previous project, so I folded it up and dyed it with the indigo I had left over from my first attempt at shibori.

I don’t know if it’s because I was using a larger piece of fabric, or something about the fabric itself, but it didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped.

Red House West||Shibori Batik

The dye bled unevenly, some creases didn’t get any dye and others got too much.  It was just a mess.  Luckily I wasn’t totally wedded to the idea of shibori on this chair, so I wasn’t too disappointed.  I decided to see what would happen if I did a little batik on top of the shibori mess.

I had read that Elmer’s blue gel glue works as an alternative to wax for batiking, so I grabbed some out of Opal’s craft supplies.  I was still stuck on the idea of plaid, so using the glue I drew lines diagonal to the shibori pattern, and then another set of lines parallel to the shibori pattern.  I used the side of a cardboard box as a rough guide to help me draw relatively straight lines.

Red House West||Shibori Batik

I let the glue dry overnight, and then gave it a quick dunk in the indigo bath.  Wearing gloves, I swirled it around in the dye for about two minutes or so, and then laid it flat on top of a drop cloth to oxidize and dry.

Red House West||Shibori Batik

When the fabric first came out of the dye bath the glue lines where dark, almost black, and I wasn’t sure whether that was just the glue, or whether the fabric was actually going to be darker.  I liked the look of the dark lines, but when I rinsed the fabric (after letting it oxidize for about 10 minutes) the glue rolled right off and the fabric underneath was still pristine white.

After rinsing I let the fabric dry thoroughly.  It was sort of sticky all over from the glue, so I just tossed it in the washing machine and washed it in warm water.  It came out looking really great, not at all sticky, and the indigo didn’t bleed into the batik lines at all.

Red House West||Shibori Batik
Red House West||Shibori Batik

Actually, the non-batiked side of the fabric is pretty fetching too:

Red House West||Shibori Batik

I laid the fabric on the chair to get a sense of what it would be like.  I really like the pattern, but I’m not sure it’s quite right for this chair.

Some might say that there's something not quite right about that cat, but not me.  To me he's perfect.

Some might say that there’s something not quite right about that cat, but not me. To me he’s perfect.

Cromwell did his best to convince me that the fabric was perfect for the chair, but even his entreating gibbous eyes and sweet, loose-fleshed belly couldn’t convince me.

Red House West||Shibori Batik

Maybe it’s that my shibori-batik lacks any hint of the preppy gray and white plaid, or maybe it’s just that there’s too much going on.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but despite the fact that this emperor chair still has no clothes I’m glad to have experimented with this batiking technique, and I’m sure I’ll make good use of this fabric in another project.  Cromwell suggests a down-stuffed, heated cat bed.

Thanks for reading along, stay tuned for Wednesday when Katie posts about creating a gallery wall!


Unexpected Color Combo We’re Loving: Pink and Mustard

Hot Damn It’s Friday (HDIF)!  We’re happy to be on the cusp of some free time, and also glad to bring you a color combination that is perhaps on the cusp of good taste: mustard yellow and pink. It’s a combo we find strangely appealing–complementary yet contradictory in a way that’s pleasing all over.  Here are some rooms that use this mix in just the right way:

Found on Pinterest, if anyone knows the proper source please let us know so we can add it in!

Found on Pinterest, if anyone knows the proper source please let us know so we can add it in!

Found here, image from the book Urban Vintage by Ida Magntorn.

Found here, image from the book Urban Vintage by Ida Magntorn.

Are you picking up what we’re putting down?  Or were you mentally captioning each photo with the words “bilious flesh”?  Either way, we’d love to hear!  Have a terrific weekend and make sure to check in on Monday for a new post!