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. —Annie