...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Once a month, I like to share an inspiring paint color with you.  Well, really, I’d like to repaint my walls once a month just because there are so many great paint colors out there to try…but that’s not realistic now, is it?  So, instead, I’ll stick with sanity and simply talk about the colors of my painted rainbow here.  This month I’d like to introduce you to Ralph Lauren’s Winchester #NA64.

The virtual color swatch comes off pretty dark, but it seems that Winchester is a medium gray with greenish undertones in reality.  I found this paint color inspiration by way of an Ohio home that was featured in Country Living.  {The house tour has been in my inspiration folder for quite some time.} The homeowner attests to Winchester’s ability to change throughout the day and take on different hues in different rooms.  {Which sounds a lot like our Valspar Bonsai that can look gray, green, muddy, or sandy depending on the light.} Take a look at how the greeny-gray paint serves as a neutral backdrop for pops of color in this fab mudroom.

Totally fresh and grown up at the same time.

Or go sophisticated by pairing Winchester with contrasting espresso and white accents as seen in the bathroom above.  Touches of natural wood, live greenery, and reflective surfaces keep it from feeling bland. Since Winchester is a medium-toned gray, remember that it will look quite different in rooms that don’t receive a flood of natural light.  Both the mudroom and bathroom above appear to be drenched in natural light.  Still, Winchester would look pretty darn cozy in a den.

This open concept kitchen/family room sports a few Winchester painted elements.  Notice the painted built-in surrounding the refrigerator and the architectural detail just right of the hood.  This picture is probably more telling of what this medium gray color would look like in a room where the walls aren’t flooded in natural light.  Isn’t  it downright homey and handsome?  I tend to lean towards light and airy rooms for inspiration but I’ve always been drawn to this somewhat dark and comfy great room.  It works because Winchester is used sparingly {you don’t see one huge wall painted in it} alongside shiny light-reflecting stainless steel appliances, a light backsplash and countertops, textural pops of white {rug, pillows}, and eye-popping green accessories {plants, pillows}.  That’s one no-fail design mix!

In a boy’s bedroom, I like the idea of mixing Winchester with yellow, white, light gray, and turquoise accents.  It could definitely span the life of a boy from infant to teenager.

Winchester is gender neutral.  I could totally see it in a girl’s room, too.  Make it light and feminine with lots of white and sand and pops of pinky coral.

Taking cues from the Ohio house tour above, try Winchester as a backdrop to olive, bright gold, and creamy accents.  Just remember to add in some shiny surfaces like glass, mirrors, or metal to avoid a dark, heavy feeling.

Winchester has a way of cozying up the un-coziest of spaces.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll stray away from white, white, white in our next home and go the warm route.

To see more of the warm, industrial house seen above check out this Country Living house tour.

images:  1) Ralph Lauren  2-4) Don Freeman  5-7) Ralph Lauren paint collages by Dana Miller


03.31.11 / Not Enough

We’re in the process of downsizing.  Which means our current home is for sale and we’re on the hunt for our next.  Every once in a while, I like to share a home that we’ve looked at along the way. Today is one of those ‘every once in a while’s’, so let’s go house hunting!

We toured this lil’ charmer several weeks back and continue to reminisce about it.  It was a 2-story home built in 1930 that had been completely renovated.  This is the view of the living room upon entering the front door.

Can you say character?  With the fireplace {gas but inoperable}, ceiling beams, and original windows and hardwoods, it was hard not to adore this quaint space.  Here’s the view looking back toward the front door {to the right} and stairway.

Isn’t all the restored woodwork amazing?!  With the configuration of the room’s features – fireplace, front door, stairway, dining room doorway – I knew right away furniture placement would be tricky and tight.  Right off the living room was a decent sized dining room that probably would have doubled as an office.

Notice all the original windows.  Glorious.  Especially when they let light stream onto those gleaming floors.  The dining room led to the totally remodeled eat-in kitchen.  The door way joining the dining room and kitchen was of standard width but Handy Hubby said he would want to widen it another 8″ or so to open it up more.

You know I love white kitchens, but Handy Hubby and I both agreed that we would have left these cherry cabinets as-is.  They really warmed up the room {with all the stainless steel and ceramic tile going on} and were of great quality.  We probably wouldn’t have picked out the laminate countertops ourselves but they weren’t awful…very doable…meant to look like a solid surface countertop.  And I absolutely loved all the windows – 3 in total – and the glass paned door leading to the backyard.  They let in tons of natural light.  We were smitten with the island, too…sink, faucet, dishwasher, two-tiered top and all.

We probably would have changed out the pendant lights and upgraded the refrigerator at some point.  But all-in-all, we were very impressed with the kitchen considering the age and size of the home.  Off the kitchen {back by the refrigerator} and down a flight of stairs was a small, clean, unfinished basement with a space for a washer and dryer.  Sorry, guys, no pics of that.  The second floor included 3 small bedrooms and 1 full bath along with more hardwoods and original windows.  {That’s right, folks, only one bathroom in the whole house and it was upstairs.}  I pictured this being Layne’s bedroom and somehow turning that little alcove into a reading nook…the kid loves to read.

I love bathrooms that have their own windows!  Don’t ask me why, but one of my favorite details of the entire house was this built-in for added storage.  Darling.

The backyard was teeny {the entire lot was 0.15 acres}, housing a detached 2-car garage, concrete turn around, and storage shed.

Overall, we left this place feeling pretty happy about it.  It was cozy with tons of original character throughout.  From what we could tell with our own eyes {we never had an official inspection done}, it looked like a house we could move right into {after a lot of purging} and just start living in.  It was located in an excellent school district and nearer to Handy Hubby’s work than any of the other homes we had looked at.

However…{there’s always a but}…

We were concerned about the immediate neighborhood.  While the location in general was great {close to HH’s work, great public schools, good eating, good shopping, etc}, the house was very close to a section of town devoted to rental properties.  {The schools are so good in the area that there’s a huge rental market.  Parents who can’t afford to buy a home in the district will rent just so their children can attend the premier school.}  Not that we have anything against renters; in fact, we’ve considered taking the landlord route someday waaaay in the future.  But, typically, nearby rentals limit the selling power of private residences.  And this house was located on a busy, busy, four-lane road.  It was nearly impossible to make a left turn out of the driveway, and I wouldn’t have trusted my kids to play in the front yard.  We would have gotten a lot of street noise…especially since the house still had many of the original, non-insulated windows.  Not to mention the neighbors on either side were right there.  Not a lot of privacy happening.

Another con was the size of the home.  The images above are all via the realtor, so everything is stretched to make the house and yard look bigger than it really is in person.  It was just over 1,200 square feet and the bedrooms were itty bitty with almost zilch closet space.  I’m all for paring down and living with only what we need, but we thought we’d need more closet space than this house provided.  More than likely, we would have had to replace many of our current, main furniture pieces with smaller, more-to-scale pieces.  Now, that was kind of a plus for me.  Thrifting and shopping, yay!  But Handy Hubby really enjoys his leather sectional and plasma TV, and I’d hate for him to give them up if he didn’t have to. {But, man, I could do so much better design-wise without those big, dark pieces.  Compromise, Dana.  You’re not the only one living in the house.}  I was fine with having only one bathroom to clean, but Handy Hubby would have liked at least another half bath.

Finally, the thing we had the problem with the most was the remodeling.  Yeah, can you believe that?  It wasn’t that the owner had done a shoddy job or anything.  In fact, from what we could tell without a formal inspection, the work seemed solid.  But the finishes – while quite nice – weren’t really our style…the cherry cabinets, the laminate countertops, the ceramic tile in the kitchen and bathroom, the bathroom fixtures and some of the lighting fixtures.  Sure, they could have been replaced but the home was already near the top of our budget, so we wouldn’t have had any $$$ left to change any of that stuff.  We would have been left feeling like we were living in someone else’s house.  After all, we’re not above getting down and dirty to make a house our home.  Just moving in, plopping furniture down, and slapping some paint on the walls sounded, dare I say?, boring.  I know.  ‘Be careful what you wish for.’

In the end, we didn’t put an offer in on this house.  We found it to be not enough for us.  Not enough space.  Not enough storage.  Not enough privacy.  Not enough yard.  Not enough $$ left for making it ours. Damn, we’re picky.

If you’d like to read more about our house hunting adventures, check out these past posts:

Um, No.

Too Much

The One That Got Away

images:  all via Timothy Chupka for Sibcy Cline

I saw this vintage apothecary matchstick bottle in the most recent issue of House Beautiful and thought, “I should try DIYing that!”  It was simply a small glass bottle filled with matchsticks and etched on the bottom for lighting the matches.  I already had a perfect little glass vase that I had found at Goodwill for $1 but had trouble scoring long {think 4″-6″} matchsticks to fit inside.  I finally found these 4″ matchsticks on Amazon.

They come in a set of three.  They were expensive for matches, but I planned on making two more of these matchstick bottles {for Mom and MIL for Mother’s Day} if the first one turned out okay so I figured ‘what the heck?’ and ordered ‘em.  One matchstick bottle for myself and two Mother’s Day gifts for less than $20 total is actually a steal, right?  I tried etching the bottom of the glass vase like my House Beautiful inspiration had on it, but the etching turned out not to be coarse enough for lighting the matches.  Scratch Plan A and onto Plan B which consisted of me cutting out the lighting strip from the matchbox, cutting it down to size, and adhering it to the exterior bottom of the vase with scrapbooking mounting squares.

I didn’t like the way the lighting strip showed through the glass when the vase was upright.

I cut out a circle of scrap fabric {from some leftover kitchen curtain material} and placed a folded piece of painter’s tape to hold it in place into the bottom of the vase.  {I wanted to be able to remove the fabric easily if I ever need to clean out the vase.}

I filled the vase with matchsticks and tied a small tag {another scrapbooking product that I already hand on hand} around the lip of the vase with twine.

Yes, that’s computer text added to the tag.  I didn’t want to write something on it just yet since I plan on gifting two matchstick holders to my mom and MIL for Mother’s Day.  I don’t have the other two vases {which I plan on buying at Goodwill} yet and want to make ‘em personal after I decide which one stays with me, which goes to my mom, and which goes to MIL.  I might even switch up the phrasing to something else but I like this one for my own home.

The lighting strip really works, too!  You just grab a match, hold the open mouth of the vase with one hand, and swipe the match across the bottom with your other hand.  Oh, and it doesn’t budge at all with those super sticky mounting squares holding it in place.  Just remember to keep it out of reach of little ones!

With the vase full of matches, you can’t see the fabric-covered bottom.  But as the match supply begins to dwindle, it will be revealed…instead of the lighting strip’s ugly backside.

I’ll have to keep you posted on how I tweak this DIY project into a Mother’s Day gift when that time approaches.  Wouldn’t it be nice to gift it along with a yummy-smelling candle? And to think that I’ll get 3 matchstick holders for the same price {$20!!} as the one in House Beautiful is pretty sweet. Nothing like taking inspiration from high-end products and dumbing it down into something affordable!

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Handy Hubby, the kiddos, and myself all headed down to Cincinnati on Saturday to check out an outlet that Handy Hubby discovered last year and has been wanting me see in person ever since. After his first visit to Building Value, Handy Hubby went on and on about the unique housing materials he’d found {but didn’t purchase}.  He thought I’d have fun imagining ways to repurpose all the salvaged inventory.  He knows me so well!  I had a blast.

Building Value’s inventory comes from manufacturer donations, local deconstruction projects, and generous remodelers.  They specialize in salvaging reusable materials for sale to the public in an effort to help the environment, reduce the cost of disposal, and give architectural gems a second life.  100% of the proceeds go to the Easter Seals Work Resource Center benefiting people with disabilities.  It’s a win-win situation.  I found several items that could possibly make an appearance in our next, downsized, home.  {Most of the homes we’ve looked at so far are foreclosures, short sales, or estate sales in need of some TLC.}  Wanna see the stuff that caught my design-lovin’ eye?

First up and right inside the front door was this rain barrel.  I’ve been wanting to collect rain water for some time now.  If we weren’t in the middle of purging in anticipation of a move, I’d have grabbed this bad boy and tried to talk ‘em down in price.  If I’m lucky, maybe he’ll still be there after we settle into our next home.

There was a huge selection of  interior and exterior doors…mostly old, some new.  And, like the sign says, they were unique.  A few had to have once lived in mansions because they were at least 12 feet tall – and gorgeous!

I found this glass panel door that I wouldn’t mind having as a front door some day.  It was marked at $50.

I absolutely fell in love with this chunky, square pedestal sink.  I even liked the fixtures.  And then I found its perfect bathroom soul mate…

…this vintage clawfoot tub.  I’d paint the outside a contrasting color {like black or charcoal} then hang a simple curtain around it from an industrial, oval shower rod.  To. Die. For.  I’m secretly hoping our next home needs a total bathroom overhaul.

One section of the outlet was devoted entirely to salvaged architectural elements:  columns, molding, trim, banisters, railings, spindles, corbels…you name it.  I was particularly smitten with these primitive fireplace mantels.  One of these installed on a long, blank wall would instantly scream “FOCAL POINT!”  I’d add a mirror where the firebox normally goes and call it a day. Okay, now secretly hoping that our next home has a blank canvas of a wall in desperate need of a faux fireplace.

And wouldn’t this arched window make a grand first impression installed above a front door? Although, I’m pretty sure it’d be too grand for whatever home we downsize to.  I’d love to have seen this window in its original home.  Maybe it wasn’t even over a door at all.  Maybe it was a third story attic window.  Wherever it used to live, this window has a great shape and could be a one-of-a-kind detail.

I’ve already professed my love for school on H*T before, so it should come as no surprise that I adored the selection of pull down/roll up school maps.  There were even retractable mounting kits available.  I thought the Ohio state map would look great in one of my kids’ future bedroom.

The outlet’s stock overflowed outside where more doors, tubs, lumber, windows, and various other building materials were stashed.  I was drawn to the pallets of bricks and pavers.  DIY patio, anyone?

I knew browsing through ‘house stuff’ {as my boys call it} wasn’t exactly my kids’ idea of a good time, but I was pleasantly surprised when Layne started picking out items he thought were pretty cool.  Like the orange dentist’s chair.  We spent a good 10 minutes at that chair letting the boys take turns ahhhing.  Funny how our dentist has a room devoted strictly to children with painted jungle wall murals, stuffed animals, and a flat screen TV to make the kids feel more comfortable.  I think my kids would be perfectly fine as long as this old orange chair was in the room!

My boys also had fun playing with Building Value’s mascot, Betty.  She was hard at work on her computer when the boys distracted her with a piece of twine.  It was a good ‘black cat crossing your path’ experience.

After all that, we ended up with 2 for sale signs that cost us $6…after a little friendly haggling.  Hey, we gotta sell this house before we can even begin to buy for the next.  I put them out at two busy intersections close to our home to draw in more traffic hopefully.  {So far, we’ve had tons of interest, decent traffic, and even one offer which, unfortunately, fell through.}

So, that’s a very small snippet of what Building Value has to offer.  Of course, this is just an edited selection of my finds.  They also sell tile, lighting, toilets, vanities, kitchen sinks, some antique furniture and probably a lot more that I missed.  Oh, and if you agree to put a Building Value bumper sticker on your bumper, you get 10% off your purchase.  We declined this time…just so we can accept that offer some day when we come back to purchase bigger ticket items.  Because we do plan on going back.  If you’re in the Cincy area and like to reuse or upcycle stuff for your house, you should definitely check this place out.  It’s not in the nicest of neighborhoods {although we found the people we encountered there to be very friendly}, so it’s a true diamond in the rough.  And just to keep things balanced, we hit up IKEA on the way home which we left empty-handed.  Nothing like mixing old with new – even if it’s just window shopping!

This family outing got Handy Hubby and I really inspired to bring more upcycled pieces into our next house.  This outing is pretty indicative of our design philosophy, too.  We like budget-friendly materials and decor found from all sorts of places.  Old and new is a mix that never goes out of style.

What about you?  Do you have a local diamond in the rough store to share?  Know of any other housing material outlets near Cincy/Dayton that would get my wheels turning?

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking