...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Victoria emailed me needing help with the long, skinny room above her garage.  She wanted it to function as a retreat for guests using a color scheme of blue, chocolate and tan.

Here’s what I came up with…

Victoria's Cloud Nine Bonus Room1 – Instead of being too literal with the desired color scheme, I switched up the combination to blue-green, gold, white and espresso…to keep things a little more airy in a room lacking tons of natural light.  For the wall/ceiling color, something along the lines of Olympic’s Carolina Inn Club Aqua {as seen over on Young House Love} would give guests the feeling of sleeping in the sky.  To complement the blue-green walls, I chose a textured gold duvet cover to fold up and lay across the bottom third of the proposed all white bed. The subtle chrysanthemum pattern adds interest and ties into the wall art nicely.

2 – For the sleeping area, I found these inexpensive espresso nightstands to flank either side of the bed.  I suggested using these crisp tear drop lamps on each nightstand placed in front of these reflective wall sculptures to bounce even more light around and add glimmer to the room.  Adding a sophisticated, circular monogram {either vinyl or DIY’d} in dark gray or navy above the center of the bed would help to establish a focal point on the long wall.  And what bed couldn’t use a pair of Etsy pillows?  Mixing an ikat pattern with a geometric motif keeps things from going department store matchy.

3 – Victoria wanted a place for her guests to work on their laptop if necessary.  I suggested moving the workspace to the small wall where a floor lamp lives in the before picture above.  I found this crazy affordable version of a white parsons desk for tossing papers, computers or phones onto. Partnered with this contrasting espresso bentwood chair, the work area suddenly becomes a modern vignette.  Hanging this floral print above the desk in an all white frame/mat, would tie in all the colors of room: aqua, gold, white and espresso.

4 – Also on Victoria’s must-have list was a sitting area for her guests to lounge and read.  Placing the sitting area on the side of the bed opposite the work area will help to balance the long room and also separate the workspace from the leisure space.  These patterned slipper chairs angled in towards this rich, clean-lined side table would cozy up empty space on the other side of room.  The floor lamp in the before pic would provide ample reading light.

Here’s hoping these ideas help Victoria turn her bonus room into the soothing room she wants for her guests.  And maybe it inspired you as well.  As for me, I’m seriously digging those reflective wall sculptures.

images:  1) bedroom before via Victoria  2) mood board by Dana Miller via Polyvore

01.28.11 / DIY Kale Chips

I know this isn’t a food blog.  In fact, I was not born with nor have I acquired a love or knack for cooking.  But there are 2 things that force me to cook {sometimes}:  I love to eat and I love to keep things cheap. Honestly, cooking is just another DIY project to me…minus the warm, fuzzy feeling. So, I hope you don’t mind if I share a {what-I-think-is} good recipe here and there.  Seriously, it won’t be that often because I don’t cook that often.  Just ask Handy Hubby.  He’s the head chef. In fact, the idea for this quick snack recipe came while reading Kristin van Ogtrop‘s {managing editor at Real Simple magazine} account of introducing her family to kale last year.  She mentioned making kale chips, and I love chips so I thought I’d give ‘em a try.  {This required me to buy kale for the first time in my life!}  Here’s what happened:

1 – Buy kale.

2 – Cut leaves off main stem.

3 – Tear leaves into chip-sized pieces.  Wash and dry in lettuce spinner.

4 – Place on non-insulated cookie sheet.  Drizzle over with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Bake in oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes.  {Watch to make sure the edges of the chips don’t burn.}

Those are mine right out of the oven.  I probably could have used less olive oil.  But they were surprisingly good!  The even bigger surprise???  The pickiest, slowest eating, most indecisive, and difficult to feed 2-year-old LOVED the kale chips.

So maybe I cheated and let him dip them in sour cream, but seriously, it was the most green leafy vegetable that kid has consumed in all of his almost 3 years on earth.  I was amazed.  It was the first thing I told Handy Hubby when he walked through the door after work that day.  “You’re never going to believe it!  Everett just ate a bunch of kale!”  I don’t think he quite believed me, but I’ve got the pictures to prove it.

I’m definitely going to have to make them again.  Just for this lil’ guy.

Now, that’s how you tweak a healthy veggie into a kid-friendly snack.  Have you tried any new successful recipes lately?  Do you have a picky eater in your house?  Maybe you eat kale regularly?  Take a break from home improvement and interior design today to tell me all about it.

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

I found a scrap piece of jute burlap at JoAnn’s a few months ago.  I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I liked the texture and the price tag – just a few bucks.  So, I brought it home with me and stuck it in my craft closet.  While ‘shopping’ in the closet for my winter mantelscape, I rediscovered the burlap and decided it was a good, rustic texture for winter.  One morning I threw together this simple centerpiece wreath using my burlap scrap, twine and scissors.

I didn’t go by any tutorial.  I just kinda winged it.  If you wanna try it for yourself, follow these simple steps.

1 – Cut burlap into squares.  {Mine were roughly 3″ x 3″.}  No need to be precise.

2 – Fold burlap square in half and poke with scissors to make a hole.  Alternate placing the hole nearer the folded side and nearer the rough edges.  {Squares with holes nearer the fold will have rough edges facing out, while squares with holes nearer the rough edges will have folds facing out.}

3 – Thread burlap ‘ruffles’ onto twine…alternating as you go.  Folded side out, rough edges out, folded side out…until you have the size of wreath you want.  Then simply tie loose ends of twine together in a knot. Adjust burlap ruffles as needed.

I put my wreath around a Goodwill glass bowl and placed a tea light inside.  Then I propped the whole thing up on a cake stand.

It’s all things I love in one:  textural, shiny, white, simple and rustic.  Oh, and crazy cheap.  I love that too.  Couldn’t you see these burlap wreaths used as centerpieces at a wedding reception? They’d look lovely with soft flowers in smaller vases and tiny votives sprinkled around them in the middle of a table, no?

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

I’m guest blogging over at Bloom today.  It’s a post all about easy and unique ways to make your home more personal.  Click here to check it out.  If you’re wondering what Bloom is, this is what Emily and Anne have to say about it…in their own words…

“Home is the definition of God; a place of infinite power”
Emily Dickinson

We believe that. We also believe that it takes a mighty effort to make it so.
We believe in making the effort.

We also believe in:
mindful parenting
whole foods
kindness
creative play (for children)
creative outlets (for their parents)
graceful living
great books
home making
finding your passion
keeping your sparkle
“Living the life you’ve imagined” (a la Henry David Thoreau)

We also believe in authenticity. And sustainability. We’re not above scrambled eggs for dinner. Or going to the grocery store in yesterday’s make-up. We believe in using what you have and being who you are. We believe there’s more than one right way to do most things. We believe in practicality over frivolity, and that even the simplest life can be beautiful.

Lastly, we believe in evolution – that getting from where we are to what we imagine is a process.

If any of those ideas ring true to you, then you should hop on over to their blog for some inspiration on insightful living.  {See this amazing house tour for example.}  They’re proof that a passionate life indeed exists after childbirth.

Happy blog hopping!

images:  from Jordan’s Cicada Cottage House Tour via Emily & Anne at Bloom