A Red House Legacy Way, Way West

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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

  1. This is just one of my favorite home tours ever! I adore the use of bold colors, especially that black floral rug!

  2. i second brynne- amazing home and LOVE that rug! off to visit the blog!

  3. Jo says:

    What a fantastically colourful home. Love all the rugs especially that one! Gorgeous.

  4. maria says:

    I loved this house tour, so much history and character! It´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. I´ll definetly start following Red House West blog :-D thank u!

  5. Jewelry Lover says:

    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!

  6. BAANOU says:

    That rug — In Love!!


    1. Lidia says:

      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


  7. Oh, that breakfast nook hits just the right notes of warmth, beauty, and light. Opal’s room and the exterior of the room are especially adorable!

  8. Jewelry Lover says:

    Thank you for this lovely post. I really envy the Brasilia console in the living room.

  9. I really enjoy reading Red House West, so it’s no surprise that I love Mera’s tour, too! The rug in Opal’s playroom is just divine, and the same goes for her wall mural. What a fabulous house to grow up in.

  10. Gillianne says:

    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.

  11. Nina D says:

    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…)

  12. Katie says:

    My favorite tour! Especially love all the animals!

  13. Tatsu says:

    Charming House. Am also much charmed by the Ballet Shoes and Wolf Hall pet names.

  14. Michelle says:

    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.

  15. Saffie says:

    Best. Pet. Names. Ever. (Someone likes Tudor History or Hilary Mantel!)

  16. pippin says:

    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!

  17. Greer says:

    That rug is epic! The colours are so lively.

    A truly fabulous style throughout too.

  18. Katie says:

    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.

  19. Gabriela says:

    That rug is gorgeous!

  20. Jen says:

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

  21. zandra zuraw says:

    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!

  22. Amy says:

    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!

  23. Lindsay says:

    I’ve never seen a wood stove look so good! Love all the colors throughout the house!

  24. Madeline says:

    That curtain in Opal’s room is stunning!! Where is it from?

  25. Susie Q. says:

    Oh my goodness! Their dog is the spitting image of Benji!

  26. emily says:

    I adore this home, and love their blog as well! what a cheerful place to live!

  27. Kristen says:

    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!

  28. michele says:

    anyone know where the beautiful rug comes from ??

    1. Lidia says:

      Hi Michele,

      The rug pictured is a moldavian rug and can be found on https://www.etsy.com/shop/Rugstory.


  29. Flora says:

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


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