...because home doesn't happen overnight.

I try not to live in the past, but I do like to reflect at the end of every year to get a feel for what worked and what didn’t.  You know, figure out what I did well and need to keep doing {for instance, working out regularly}…AND also what I let get away from me and need to improve upon {for instance, living in the moment and not in fear}.  If you’da told me last year that I would write 200 posts, try some HTML coding and land a house tour on Apartment Therapy in 2010, I wouldn’t have believed you.  To say I’m over the moon about House*Tweaking is an understatement.  I’m so happy I’ve found a way to free many of the creative {or crazy} ideas that have been whirling around in my brain for years.  In fact, that’s the reason this whole blog got started…I needed an outlet for the paint colors, furniture, DIY projects, pillows and kitchens floating around in my head.  Just ask Handy Hubby.  Then to learn that other people are actually interested in those ideas has been even more fulfilling.  This may be sappy or lame to admit, but knowing I have some readers who want to see how project ‘X’ {X = anything I want to change in our house} turns out really gives me the motivation to actually get it done.  In return, I hope I’ve inspired you to paint something white or gray, scour your local thrift store for budget-friendly home accessories, save wisely for those new countertops you’re ogling, give IKEA a chance, find an organized place for all the stuff in your house, or just try something different.  For kicks and giggles, let’s have a look at the top 10 H*T posts of 2010.  If you’re new to H*T, they’ll give you a taste of what this is all about.  If you’ve been following for a while {thank you!}, maybe they’ll be some of your favorites.

10 – You Asked For It: Paint Colors where I revealed most of the paint colors used in my home.

9 – How NOT To Hang Wallpaper where I demonstrated that one non-thoroughly informed person + wallpaper + bookcase = an ‘eh’ wallpapered bookcase.

8 – DIY Painted Circles Border where I showed how to use empty toilet paper tubes as paint brushes.

7 – We Painted The Kitchen Cabinets White! where I went against everything my Dad and Grandpa ever taught me and painted over perfectly good {albeit orange} wood.

6 – Master Bedroom Sneak Peek where I teased you with a snippet of my bedroom makeover progress then let it simmer for over a month.  {I’m working on it, I promise.}

5 – My Kids’ Bedroom where I toured my sons’ newly made over shared bedroom.

4 – My Mini Mudroom where I let you in on the hardest working room in our house.  Surprise!…it used to be a closet.

3 – You Make Me Happy When Skies Are Gray where I painted a drop cloth on purpose and hung it in our foyer.  For real.

2 – Tips For Decorating An Open Floor Plan where I devoted an entire week to making wide open spaces feel cohesive, comfy and stylish.

1??!! – My Kitchen where I proved that builder grade kitchens can be upgraded on a budget.  {Imagine confetti falling and horns blowing.  Now kiss someone.}

Rest assured there’s more to come in 2011.  Happy New Year!

A side note: If one of your favorite 2010 H*T posts wasn’t on the list, feel free to share it in the comments section.

images: all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

12.28.10 / Speak Now Or…

In blogging years, I’m considered a rookie.  {I’ve only been blogging for a little over a year now.} But I enjoy it and have so many ideas to implement and share that I can see myself doing this for years to come.  That’s why, every once in a while, I like to survey you readers and make sure I’m staying true to what House*Tweaking is all about…tweaking houses into homes with a lot of creativity and a little bit of money…with small doses of mom humor thrown in to keep it real. With a new year upon us, what better time to take inventory and figure out what you guys are thinking of H*T?

{I don’t know that woman.}

So, if you don’t mind, please take a few minutes over the next couple of days to answer some questions about H*T.  Even if you’ve never spoken up before, make this your first time!  Let your ideas and opinions fly.  I won’t be offended.  I see it as constructive criticism. Believe me when I say that I read every comment made here. My hope is to use your feedback to make this a better place for you…and me.

2010 H*T Survey

  1. Who are you? {gender, age, location, career field, marital status, family, pets}
  2. How often do you read H*T?
  3. What type of post do you like best? {tutorials, mood boards, giveaways, etsy finds, family life, DIY, etc}
  4. What type of post do you like least?
  5. What’s been your favorite H*T post{s} to date? {Feel free to peruse the archives!}
  6. What other blogs do you enjoy reading? {not necessarily home decor blogs}
  7. Anything new you’d like to see from H*T over the next year? {certain topics, an area of my life you’d like to know more about, design services}

Thank ya in advance!

image: Super Stock

A kind House*Tweaking reader, Lisa, emailed me a few weeks ago about her sunroom.  Here are some pictures she attached in her email…

Lisa’s sunroom is located right off her kitchen and opens up into the backyard.  It serves as a dining room, craft area and somewhat of a mudroom.  {The hutch holds art and office supplies.}  Lisa had already decided to paint over the bright yellow walls with Valspar’s {Lowe’s} Bonsai.  She also knew the honey stain of the dining table wasn’t working and that it would look more polished in a darker, richer stain. To provide more seating and allow for better traffic flow, Lisa plans to build a corner bench seat in the left-hand corner of the first picture above.  Lisa asked for advice on how to incorporate her favorite color, turquoise, into the room along with her kids’ artwork and a bird or branch or two…she loves birds and branches.  Like anyone, she was on a budget and looking to tweak her bold sunroom into something a little more clean, simple, and fresh.  Here’s the mood board I came up with for her…

Lisa's Simply Fresh Sunroom

1 – To go along with the Bonsai paint color for the walls, I suggested that Lisa sand, prime and then paint her dining chairs in Sherwin William’s Meander Blue.  This grayed-down turquoise hue will add a pop of color and contrast with the darker stained table {more on that in #8}.

2 – Lisa didn’t specifically mention anything about a light fixture, but pendant lights are a great way to define a dining space.  I chose this IKEA one because of the texture, lighter wood tone and simplicity…and price.  (My sister owns the table lamp version of this light and says it casts pretty designs on her walls/ceiling in evening light.)  This IKEA Böja pendant could be hardwired into the current ceiling light box and then swagged over to the center of the dining table once the table is moved closer to the corner.  Just use a ceiling hook to secure and swag the wire.

3 – I suggested grabbing up a trio of IKEA’s square RIBBA frames in white to showcase Lisa’s kids’ art in style.  (Displays look better when done in 3’s.)  Hung along the wall in the first image above the chair rail and spaced closely, these frames would house artwork that could be changed up quickly and easily whenever Lisa’s heart desires.  Keeping the spacing between the frames tight – no more than 4 inches apart – gives them the feeling of one display versus 3 disconnected frames.

4 – This inexpensive geometric door mat would be a good spot for wiping shoes when placed in front of the doors.

5 – I found this bubble glass bottle/vase and thought it would look darling on the dining table paired with some branches…either real or faux.

6 – The capiz metal branch wall art just might be my favorite thing in this mood board.  I have shown it turned on its side for a more natural effect.  I would hang this on the wall opposite the french doors.  As far as placement, I’d hang it so that when standing by the french doors directly across from where the dining table will be {once bench seating is installed}, the pendant light doesn’t hang directly in front of it…some overlap is good.  That means moving the branch art a little further down the wall towards the kitchen.  Being across from all those doors, this wall art will reflect the light and sparkle.  To save money, Lisa could totally DIY something similar out of real branches and glue little mirrors or crystals to them for the same effect!

7 – I threw in a couple of decorative pillows for the future bench seating.  Guess what?  They’re from Etsy.  See the Moroccan inspired one here and the coffee sack one here.

8 – I agree that sanding down and staining the  yellow-ish table a darker tone would fit better into Lisa’s desired color scheme of gray, white and turquoise.  It would be a lot of work/mess but very much worth it. A walnut stain would go with the hutch but they wouldn’t have to match perfectly. This is just a picture of a table in a color of stain that I think would look nice in Lisa’s sunroom. No need to buy a new table.  The corner bench seating would look nice in white to blend in with the wainscoting and take up less space visually.  For added storage, the bench seating could be open underneath for shoe baskets or the top could be hinged to open up and hide seasonal apparel – coats, hats, gloves, scarves, beach towels, etc.

9 – Finally…the hutch vignette.  Moving the hutch over to the short wall near the kitchen, would balance out the room.  {Remember, the dining table and new bench seating will be in the corner diagonally opposite this wall.}  Say it isn’t so, but the hutch is great the way it is!  {I know.  Who’da thought I’d say don’t paint it?}  The wood tone will lend warmth to the light room.  I would just declutter the top and add some decorative storage boxes in white to disguise messes.  I found these at Target.  I think Lisa could scout out a bird figurine from a thrift store and spray paint it turquoise.  She said she likes birds, so I wanted to incorporate one.  {Even though I’m deathly afraid of them.  Weird?  Yes.}  Lastly, a nice white oval mirror hung horizontally above the hutch would really lighten up that little corner. I told Lisa to look for a mirror in the right size, shape and price range that could be painted white if need be.

So, that’s how I virtually tweaked Lisa’s sunroom.  I’m happy to say that Lisa has painted her room Bonsai and it looks 100% better already!  Not that it was that bad to begin with.  Did you notice those light-drenching doors OR the wood floors OR the wainscoting OR the bead board ceiling? So much potential!  It’s amazing what a little paint, some decluttering and a few accessories can do.  Really.  I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finished.  Thanks, Lisa, for letting me play with your room!

images: 1 & 2) Lisa’s befores  3) Polyvore collage created by Dana Miller using images linked within

I’m not a regular coffee drinker but, lately, I’ve been enjoying a cup every once in a while in front of the fireplace.  It must be the chilly, snowy weather we’re having here.  As of right now, I own a boring matched set of 4 coffee mugs.  They’re nothing spectacular but, since Handy Hubby doesn’t drink coffee at all, we don’t really have a need for more.  Still, I had fun rounding up several cozies and mugs available over on Etsy.

I’m not sure these cozies are necessary – or even practical – but they definitely have a way of dressing up an otherwise boring mug.  If you can knit or sew, they’d be a quick DIY gift, wouldn’t they?  {Note to self: make mug cozies as Christmas gifts next year.}  The knitted sweater cozies add great texture while the sewn fabric wrap lends color and pattern.  Adorable.  Find them here:

1 & 3 – Natalya’s Studio

2 – Boutique Karma

These hand painted mugs are colorful and lively…just the pick-me-up to go along with a steaming cup of coffee in the morning.  Again, a totally plausible DIY project that would make a great gift. {Another note to self:  if the mug cozies don’t work out, try hand painted mugs instead.}  See these bright and happy mugs here:

4 – A Quartzy Life

5 – Indobay Inc.

6 – Sometimes She Does

7 – McCheek’s Mayhem

So, the question of the day is…Do you drink coffee? If so, what’s your fave and how do you take it?  Milk, creamer, sugar?  Is a cup of joe part of your daily routine or do you only partake on special occasions?  I’m into Archer Farms’ French Vanilla at the moment.  {It’s available at Target.}  I like it with milk and sugar.  I drink maybe 3 or 4 cups a month and thoroughly enjoy them.  Although, if this winter weather keeps up, I may find myself delving into it more frequently!

FYI – I was not compensated in any way for this post.  I just love sharing yummy stuff.

images:  collages made by Dana Miller with images as linked above