Before & After: Mera’s playroom makeover

By Mera Matthews from Red House West

Okay, so this before photo was taken when the room was going through a particularly awkward/heinous phase.  It wasn’t always this bad, but during the holidays last year we realized that we needed the space to function both as playroom, and as an occasional guest room when we have lots of family visiting.  We cobbled it together, but the room was a chaotic, rumpled mess.  Definitely not a welcoming retreat for weary travelers, nor a space to spark the imagination of a preschooler.  Fast forward five months, through drywall repair, painting (a really pretty pale pink that I love!) and changing out fixtures, outlets, and switches, and here is what it looks like now:


When I think of playrooms, antique Persian rugs don’t typically jump to mind, but this rug totally makes the room.  It came from my father-in-law’s childhood home, and was in our living room for a while. (As it was in our living room, it’s too big for this room and curls up on the edges, but I think that adds to the magic.) To me it looks like the secret room you would stumble into when the back of the antique wardrobe you’re hiding in gives way.

The element I’m most proud of in this room is the playhouse.  It is a simple piece of plywood, with a caster on the bottom, attached to the wall with a piano hinge (I’ll be sharing details on how we made it soon).

It’s painted with chalkboard paint and folds flat against the wall, or can be pulled out so that Opal can play store or house, or do puppet shows, or whatever she can think of.  Turns out a lot of imaginary scenarios are made better and more fun by the addition of a window.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.56.33 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.56.50 AM

The daybed is from Land of Nod, and is really really useful in this room.  Having a bed for guests was non-negotiable, but it’s also nice to have a cozy perch for reading together, and it makes for comfortable theater seating for the audience at puppet shows.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.47.56 AM

Behind the daybed hangs a thrifted miniature painting.  It’s tiny, only 3×4, but the details knock me out, and the colors are just right.


The curtains are lovely, light, and informal.  I’ve never had a room with matching drapes of any kind, and I suddenly feel like I get it — they really do tie the room together.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.51.43 AM

Katie helped me hang the wallpaper during her last visit to Alaska (you can read our tips for wallpapering success here), and I’m still completely in love with it.  It packs a graphic punch, but doesn’t overwhelm the room, and is a great backdrop for Opal’s storytelling performances, which lately usually begin with “back in the olden days . . .”


I’ve had the string lights for a while, and I love them.  I like the look of bare bulb fixtures, but they’re generally too harsh for my eyes.  Not these babies.  I have them on a dimmer, and they give off a warm and lovely glow.

I’m really happy with this room now!  We all spend more time in here, and  Opal is often engaged in deep, imaginative play, rather than digging through rubble and rubbish.  I love that the room is clearly a playroom, but isn’t overwhelmed by toys or loud colors or designs, and that Opal’s creativity is the star of the show.

Thanks for reading along, and in case you’re curious, here are sources:

Daybed, Land of Nod; Mattress Cover, Etsy; Curtains, (print no longer available, but same style) Urban Outfitters; Mural Wallpaper, Anthropologie; Buffalo Check Pillows, Ikea; String Lights, onefortythree; Wall Paint, Peach Fade by Behr.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.48.16 AM

Mera is a lifelong Alaskan with a passion for decorating and design.  Together with her pal Katie she writes Red House West, a blog about creating stylish, personality-filled homes in cities perhaps not best known as epicenters of design.  Check out Red House West for tales of DIY victory and woe, hotshot thrifting tips, and musings on style and decor.