Interiors

A Red House Legacy Way, Way West

by Annie Werbler

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, we’re able to visit interesting homes throughout the country and around the world. This blogger’s Anchorage, AK abode happens to be a little bit of both. Mera Matthews and husband Chester Gilmore are a couple of attorneys who work together by day, and reside at the 1944 home in which Chester grew up. Mera joined him eight years ago, and then came three-year-old daughter Opal, along with four beloved rescue pets – dogs Cora and Winifred, and cats Cromwell and Wolsey, who complete the family. (“Adopt, don’t shop!,” the pair insist.) To indulge her visual side, Mera co-writes the blog Red House West with her best bud Katie, who inhabits a similar structure in faraway Eugene, OR.

Chester’s parents bought their house back in 1972 just before he was born. In 2006, once the senior Gilmores retired and decided to leave the state, they were able to sell this ideally-located downtown home directly to the kids. It’s one of the oldest residences in Anchorage, and is situated one block north of access to over 100 miles of maintained ski trails, and one block south of a favorite bakery. Mera has always felt passionate about decorating, but it took some time before she felt comfortable making changes to a home that held 40 years of her husband’s family history (through no fault of her in-laws, who have been supportive in watching the young brood make the space their own). She managed to complete a major kitchen remodel about five years ago, and since then has felt more at liberty to put her own stamp on the interiors.

That is, when she can see them. Due to its northern geographic location, the city receives only four hours of daylight in the winter. In the summer, it’s showered with almost 20 hours of sun each day. Residents adapt their decor to facilitate normal waking and sleeping conditions as much as possible. Mera’s eyes get hungry for color in the snowy season, and the bright pinks and yellows in her decorating feel to her like a little bit of sunshine. Chester’s parents did their own remodeling years ago, and one of the things they accomplished was adding a south-facing window to every room but one, which maximizes available natural light. The renovation also left rooms with lots of quirky angles and unique charm, which will allow Opal to experience the personal history of the place as she grows. β€”Annie

A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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The eclectic mid-century living room of Mera Matthews and Chester Gilmore in their Anchorage, AK home.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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To the left, Cora the herding mutt does her duty to supervise her family wherever they go.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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Mera plans to reupholster the couch she inherited from her grandmother, but hasn't found exactly the right material yet in which to do so. For now, throws and pillows update the look.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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The drop-leaf table pushed against the back of the sofa works in lieu of a full dining room. It has three leaves and can seat ten people.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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The living, dining, and kitchen areas are all one flowing space. Mera's co-blogger and best friend Katie gave her the little tulip table for her birthday this year. The gallery wall is edited almost daily.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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The "adult lounge" is where Mera and Chester retreat to enjoy a beer and watch TV after Opal has gone to bed.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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Opal's playroom is decked out with a beautiful but massive inherited rug that only fits in this room.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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Winifred the dog is the family's most recent addition to their menagerie, and she is adored.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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The remodeled kitchen. Mera made her shibori tea towel using this Design*Sponge tutorial.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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The breakfast nook just off the kitchen, where the adults spend most of their time. Wolsey the cat shows his appreciation for Mera's handmade bench cushions.
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The main floor bathroom was remodeled just over a year ago.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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Mera grew up spending summers at her parents' cabin in rural Alaska, and she got the cherry-red cabinet from a neighbor's property when it was being gutted.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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Opal's bedroom, which was Chester's when he was a kid. The birch tree that runs through the book shelves came from Mera's parents' yard.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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Another view of Opal's room. The hanging poster is reminiscent of her favorite book, "Babar's Moon Trip."
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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The master bedroom with three sides of windows.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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Cromwell the cat is polydactl - he has extra toes on all of his paws. "He came from the pound, and he is perfect in every way," says Mera.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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A vintage piano shawl softens the light from an internal window between Opal's room and the hallway.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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The stairway looking down into the entryway, with its new striped stair runner.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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The house from just beyond its front yard.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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Opal, Mera, and Wolsey hang out in the backyard. "Wolsey's tolerance is as vast as his belly!," jokes Mera.
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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"My favorite thing about our home is... the family history it holds." - Mera Matthews
A Red House Legacy Way, Way West, on Design*Sponge
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Floorplans of the historic Anchorage home.

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Comments

  • I loved this house tour, so much history and character! ItΒ΄s so fullfiling when in addition to a beautifuly styled home, you connect with the people that live in it…The thing I liked the most is the fact that every member of the family is so loved. I apprettiate big time kind folks who adopt, and promote it (YES, adopt, adopt, adopt). To me, the best you can fill a home with is rescue pets. IΒ΄ll definetly start following Red House West blog :-D thank u!

  • This is such a well written article – I enjoyed it. I love that they have 100 miles of ski trails to work off what they buy at the bakery!

    • Hi Baanou,

      This rug is a moldavian kilim rug from the south of the country
      (several bouquet of flowers – the number depends on rug’s lenght, with flower frame). In the north the have a diffrent design. Bonth styles are beautiful with a lot of flowers, of course handmade and 100%wool

      KR,
      Lidia

  • So nice to see this home featured on D*S. I’m a fan of Red House West’s witty (and grammatically correct!) content. The writing here is a fit match for the entertaining personalities that shine through in Mera and Katie’s blog. Kudos all around.

  • I first heard of Red House West when Mera’s bathroom redo was featured on Apartment Therapy. I visited the blog and practically inhaled all of its posts up to that time in one sitting. Now I’m a regular reader/stalker.

    Mera and Katie have such refreshing styles and attitudes, and a warm, occasionally strange, sense of humor through which their love for each other and their families shines. You will not see the same old/same old over at Red House West. Check it out for yourself.

    (They did not pay me…)

  • One of my favorite home tours ever. SO much warmth! I love that this house fills lived in and it’s rich history. Now I want to go and adopt two more animals to complete our fur family.

  • I love the ladies of Red House West. Been following them for over a year. I find their interiors dreamy and their pets more than adorable!

  • Oh I love this so much! I’ll definitely be following their blog. Anchorage is my home and I feel like it’s so rare to see this kind of design there, and especially to see a home this old! I just love it.

  • I love this home. I learned so much about design potential just by seeing how amazing that rug looks in that living room!

  • Loved this tour! The “adult lounge” and the kitchen nook are probably my favorite rooms. I also love that Chester grew up in the room that Opal now has. Such wonderful stories to tie together!

  • What a gorgeous home! I love how bold and fearless you are with colour and pattern. Everything looks effortless and beautiful. One of my favourite tours!

  • I’m currently creating my first baby’s room. I would love to know where the crib in Opal’s room came from. I really appreciate the use of modern style in there!

  • Delightful and I know nothing about Alaska as I live on the CΓ΄te d’Azur I think I imagined log cabins. I love your cat names too (Wolf Hall ?), ginger toms, my favourite.

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