...because home doesn't happen overnight.

painted bathroom 1

Staying true to the “slow and steady wins the race” motto, we’ve been plugging away at the hallway bathroom when time allows. All the grout has been sealed. Baseboards have been installed, painted and caulked. The walls are painted, too. I’ve been doing this for a while now but the effect of finishing touches (like baseboards and paint) never ceases to amaze me. All of a sudden a project feels like a room!

painted bathroom 2

We had to order additional base molding to match the baseboards in the rest of the house. We had a small section leftover from the whole house renovation but were ~20′ short. The baseboards in the rest of the house are painted Benjamin Moore white dove but when I held a swatch up to the subway tile in the bathroom, it was too creamy. I ended up painting the baseboards in Benjamin Moore super white. It’s a great match but I’d be lying if I said having a different white in the bathroom doesn’t make me the slightest bit twitchy. The tile is a very cool white with bluish undertones and the room itself is north-facing so the light in here isn’t as warm as in other areas of the house. But it’s all good. I think repeating black and wood accents in the bathroom will help to tie it in with the rest of the house.

painted bathroom 3

Steve and I had assumed I would paint the walls Benjamin Moore tapestry beige to match the hallway and main living space. But when I painted a swatch on the bathroom wall, it looked so wrong (i.e. dirty) in the context of the bathroom. That’s when I made the executive decision to stop worrying about “matching” the bathroom to the rest of the house. Instead, I focused on selecting a paint color that suits the room and its cool light.

I considered painting the whole room out in BM super white but, (I think I’ve mentioned this before) as much as I like looking at white rooms online, they don’t feel right in real life…at least not in this house. The super white looked, well, super white. So stark, so cold. I kept looking and searched hundreds of paint colors and finally landed on Ace Paint lost spur. (The color number is D35-2. Ace Hardware should have an Ace Paint color deck at the paint counter. If it’s not on display, ask for it. My local store doesn’t have it on display.) I had it mixed in Clark + Kensington primer + paint in one. This is my go-to brand ever since I painted the mudroom walls black. I’ve used it in the boys’ room and on the brick fireplace and TV surround. The coverage is great. (Not sponsored, just sharing.)

painted bathroom 4

painted bathroom 5

I love the color. It’s a subtle green-gray with some blue in it. It’s one of those colors that looks different every thirty minutes. Sometimes it’s white, sometimes gray, sometimes green, sometimes blue. Sometimes it’s warm, sometimes cool. I love chameleon colors like this – colors you can’t put your finger on. I like that it’s light but not an obvious match to the tile. Also, this room is so difficult to photograph. I wish you could see it in person. You really have to be in the room to get the full effect.

painted bathroom 6

Steve and I installed the wall sconce last night. It’s the same light we have in the master bathroom. I’m itching to get the vanity in so I can start The Great Mirror Search. But, first, the tub.

unpainted tub

Here it is hanging out in the garage in all its one-legged, heavy cast iron glory. We recently cleaned out the garage (yep, this is the cleaned up version) to gain access to the tub. We hadn’t looked at it in years and were pleasantly surprised to discover the inside is in excellent condition. (The previous owners had it reglazed.) There was a lot of drama surrounding the acquisition of the tub. So much so, that I think we forgot about the condition. To be safe, I tested the interior and exterior for lead. The results were negative. I know it looks kinda shabby but I think it just needs a good cleaning and a few coats of primer and paint on the exterior.

black jack paint swatch

We’ve already agreed on a paint color for the exterior. It’s Benjamin Moore black jack. I’ll probably go with an oil-based paint in a satin finish for durability and ease of maintenance.

reclaimed beam

For weeks we’ve been scouring the internet for wood to attempt a DIY cradle base for the tub. We were looking for specific dimensions. The ideal beam turned up at a local reclaimed materials supplier this week. It set us back $40 and Steve hauled it home in his truck on Wednesday. After some deliberation, it looks like we’ll need to take it to a saw mill to have it cut. We don’t think the rough cut of a chainsaw is the look we’re going for. We don’t want perfection (it is a reclaimed beam after all) but we don’t want rustic either. We’re hoping to have it cut to size this weekend. Steve and I both predict that once the tub is in, things will roll pretty quickly. Let’s hope so!

painted bathroom 8

So that’s where things stand with the bathroom. We ran out of caulk and still need to caulk around the window and where the tile meets the drywall but that’s small potatoes. I swear. Gathering supplies is almost always the rate limiting step for us in any project.

painted bathroom 7

In other news, Cheetah is my shadow and quite the camera lover. Such a photobomber! Is cat modeling a thing? If so, I’m signing her up for the next animal talent search.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

09.23.14 / DIY Lavender Sachet

DIY lavender sachet 1

I had a small scrap of fabric leftover from the Hmong pillows I made a few weeks ago. I’m trying not to let too much time pass between sewing projects (my sewing machine has sat unused for too long) so I brainstormed another easy DIY for the scrap…lavender sachets!

DIY lavender sachet supplies

Assuming you have a sewing machine, scissors, needle, thread and paper on hand, this project requires only a few supplies: fabric, leather lace and dried lavender flowers. As I mentioned, the fabric was leftover from a previous project. It was roughly 12″ x 11″. I found the leather lace at JoAnn’s for less than $3 on sale. (It’s with the jewelry supplies.) The bag of organic lavender was $19 from Amazon but it looks like it isn’t available directly right now so the price is screwy. Maybe check it in a few days or weeks and see if Amazon has it back in stock. Or this looks like a similar alternative. Of course, you could always opt for a difference scent if you wanted, too.

I ended up making two sachets (with plenty of leather lace and lavender leftover for future sachets). Here’s what I did…

DIY lavender sachet 3

1. I cut two 11″ strips of leather lace to create hanging loops for the two sachets.

2. I cut my scrap fabric into four equal “squares.” (With my scrap, this equated to four pieces that measured roughly 6″ x 5.5″. They weren’t perfect squares.) I layered two squares on top of each other – wrong sides facing out – and repeated with the other two fabric squares.

3. I folded a leather strip in half and placed it between two layered squares leaving ~½” of the loose ends sticking out past the fabric. I placed the leather loop about an inch or so away from the top right corner. I repeated this with the other strip of leather lace and remaining fabric squares.

4. Starting at the leather loose ends, I sewed around the squares in a clockwise manner but stopped about 2″ shy of my starting point to leave an opening.

DIY lavender sachet 4

5. This is how the inside-out sachets looked after sewing and leaving a small opening at the top. I trimmed the excess fabric around the edges then turned the sachets right side out.

6. I used the eraser end of a pencil to help push out the corners.

DIY lavender sachet 5

7. I made a makeshift paper funnel and used it to fill the sachet with lavender. I filled each sachet with about 1 cup of lavender.

8. I closed up the small opening at the top of each sachet using a blind stitch.

DIY lavender sachet 6

Voila! A super simple sachet that smells pretty amazing. As you can see, I switched up the fabric so one sachet has solid fabric showing and the other has patterned fabric showing. I like them both! The leather loops allow me to hang them up almost anywhere. The possibilities are endless.

DIY lavender sachet 2

Try one on a hook near the front door so guests are greeted with a gentle waft of lavender.

DIY lavender sachet 7

Hang one on a bathroom doorknob to keep things smelling fresh. *BONUS* – Steamy showers will help release the scent even more.

DIY lavender sachet 9

Instead of wearing perfume, loop a sachet over a hanger in the closet to scent clothes for a special occasion.

DIY lavender sachet 8

If you own thrifted or vintage furniture pieces, try tossing one in a drawer to ward off musty odors.

DIY lavender sachet 10

Sachets aren’t just for the home. Hang one from the rearview mirror in your car.

DIY lavender sachet 11

Handmade sachets are a great gift idea, too. Personally, I like giving gifts that are one part bought and one part handmade. Pair a handmade sachet with a pretty scarf or sweater for a more thoughtful gift. Seeing as how I have a bag of lavender leftover from this project, I can’t wait to hit up some local fabric stores for discounted scraps to make more sachets. Wouldn’t they make cute teacher gifts for the holidays?

Anyway, these were a lot of fun to put together and I’m happy I used up all the Hmong fabric. Two sewing projects in two months?! My sewing machine doesn’t know what to think.

images: Dana Miller fro House*Tweaking

So we got a cat. And there’s a burning question that keeps coming up: WHERE DO YOU KEEP THE LITTER BOX?

cat paraphernalia - litter box

Next to the dryer, naturally. I chose the spot on a whim when we brought Cheetah home but it’s actually kinda perfect. It’s out of the way and the tile hides stray litter and allows for easy cleanup. For the first few days, I kept the curtain open so Cheetah could maneuver in and out easily. Recently, I started closing it almost all the way. Cheetah can get to the litter box but we don’t have to see it 24/7. It’s pretty inconspicuous.

We have this litter box. It’s nothing fancy. (Don’t tell my nine-year-old there are automatic litter boxes. Next thing you know, one will be on his Christmas list and then how will he ever learn the discipline of scooping cat poop? #lifeskills) But it fits the small space and, more importantly, it works. The litter mat is here. It helps to catch stray litter.

You may recall a rolling cart used to live next to the dryer. I moved it to a linen closet to make room for the litter box. NBD. (I also stash the catnip, lint rollers, Frontline and cat brush in the linen closet.) I’m able to keep a drying rack and our small ironing board next to the dryer. Cheetah doesn’t seem to mind. She is a domestic cat after all. I hope she takes up ironing soon.

cat paraphernalia - food  water

The food and water bowl is under the bench on the other side of the mudroom. Again, the tile is super easy to wipe down. The bowl has non-slip feet so it doesn’t slide around on the tile.

cat paraphernalia - storage

I store cat food and litter in the wardrobe next to the bench. I was advised to purchase this cat food and this litter. Apparently, cats can have issues with grains? Since I have no experience with cats whatsoever, I can’t really attest to how good these are. And after I bought the walnut-based litter I realized that anyone with a serious tree nut allergy can’t enter our home. (Luckily, we don’t know anyone with a tree nut allergy but who’s to say we never will?) But Cheetah is alive and we haven’t had any issues with odors so I’m not complaining. One of my biggest qualms with potentially owning a cat was the smell. So far, we haven’t had any odor issues. Fingers crossed we can keep it that way.

cat paraphernalia - stand

For the first two days, Cheetah mostly slept. I think she was traumatized. Or she was pretending to be a in bad dream where a toddler follows her every move. Then on day 3 she suddenly perked up and started scratching the sisal rug in the entry and climbing the screens on the french doors in the kitchen. (!) This sparked an intense “why is my cat scratching / climbing?” google search. (I told you I was oblivious.) Apparently, Cheetah needs to scratch / climb and I need to provide appropriate items for her to scratch / climb or she will find some herself. In desperation, I snatched up the least offensive cat stand I could find at my local pet store. I AM THAT LADY. I know I could make one just as good (if not better) but, again, the desperation. Quick! Before all the window screens are torn to shreds!

The bones are there. I figure I can tweak it when it starts looking even more hideous. Whatever. Cheetah loves it. When I catch her scratching / climbing something I don’t necessarily want her to scratch / climb, I pick her up and place her on the stand. Sometimes I spray it with a little catnip solution. Watch out! Psychedelic cat! Luckily, she hasn’t damaged anything but I don’t trust her 100%. We’re a work in progress over here.

(Also, this picture has me itching to paint those french doors a glossy black like the ones in the kitchen.)

cat paraphernalia - lounger

To redeem myself of the Carpet Tree purchase, I found this cardboard lounger. I actually love it and so does Cheetah. She scratches it and also sleeps on it. I like that it slips under the living room shelves and doesn’t take up a ton of space. The world needs more pet paraphernalia like this.

cat paraphernalia - fiddle leaf fig

There seems to be some controversy about cats and fiddle leaf figs. I’ve heard and read that FLF’s are and are not toxic to cats. Cheetah hasn’t paid much attention to the tree so far but I did rig it with some frightening cooling racks to discourage her. I AM THAT LADY, TOO. If I have to choose, I’ll find a new home for the tree – not the cat. (Which should tell you something about my feelings toward this kitten because I heart that tree so hard.)

cat paraphernalia - leather sofa

I can count on three fingers the number of times Cheetah has slept on the leather sofa. Just today, I caught her pawing at it (no damage was done) and I quickly sprayed some water her way. The spray didn’t touch her but it was enough to grab her attention. I set the spray bottle on the speaker box next to the sofa for the rest of the day and its presence was enough to keep her at bay. I’ll have to update you on the sofa’s condition in a few months. To be continued…

In general, I’m either freaking out about the cat or completely ignorant. I think it’s a good balance ;) I don’t expect perfection. I made no décor choices based on cat behavior so I can’t fret if something gets scratched. As much as I love creating a stylish home, I want it to be livable for our family – which now includes a cat. If we can’t live in it, what’s the point? That being said, I’m making every effort to teach Cheetah which items are (not) okay to scratch / climb. Fortunately, she seems to be catching on.

I titled this post “Phase 1″ because I fully anticipate different or more cat paraphernalia entering our home. Things just got verrrrrry interesting over here, didn’t they? I shared the items we already have not as recommendations per se (although I really do love that cardboard lounger and the food bowl) but so you could see what we’re starting with and offer up any tips or advice. After reading all the wonderful comments on the previous post, I watched a video on how to clip cats’ claws at home and bought some trimmers. I AM ALSO THAT LADY. I can’t say I’m excited to cut Cheetah’s claws but we’ll figure it out.

If you made it this far and you’re a cat person, I hope you find my antics humorous and have wise words to share. Like, where does your cat sleep at night? Cheetah picks a different spot every night. Is this normal? If you’re not a cat person (like I was two weeks ago), I’m sorry and I hope you don’t think I’m too crazy. Also, I hope a snuggly kitten weasels its way into your life.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

WARNING: This post has relatively little to do with houses but a lot to do with home.

cheetah

“Dear friends, please help me find a home for this gorgeous rescue kitten! She is sweet, cuddly and litter box trained. She has a small voice so would be safest inside. We love her but have too many animals to give them all they need. Thank you!”

That was the exact text that popped up on my phone while we were watching the boys’ swim class two Saturdays ago. It was from my cousin. I showed it to Steve and he smiled but didn’t say a word. The kids had been asking for a pet for a while and my go-to response was “maybe after Mabrey is potty-trained.” I didn’t think I could nurture one more living thing. In fact, I had recently brainstormed a post all about why I wasn’t ready for a pet right now. I had a lot of excuses. However, when I received the text, Mabrey had been potty-trained for a week so my usual response wasn’t going to hold up.

I called my cousin to see if the kitten was spoken for yet. She said she was ours if we wanted her. I told her I wasn’t a cat person and was clueless about all things cat. Up to that point, my experiences with cats were limited to outdoor farm cats and Pet Sematary. Not only did I think I didn’t like cats, I was scared of them – afraid they would pounce and claw my eyes out at any given moment. Steve’s thoughts on cats were similar. We weren’t cat people.

But my cousin assured me that this kitten wasn’t skittish. She was good with kids and other animals. She liked to play and cuddle. And THE KITTEN EYES. I couldn’t say no. I knew deep down there wasn’t a good reason why we couldn’t take her in. And, of course, the kids would love her. So the next thing I knew we were driving down to my cousin’s to retrieve a cat without so much as a litter box.

Upon meeting the kitten, we learned a little more about her. The story goes that my cousin’s nine-year-old daughter found the kitten and (what they assumed to be) her sister in the woods behind their house. The kittens were super scrawny and barely breathing. They brought them inside and gave them food and water. For a few weeks, they lived in the garage, grew stronger and learned to use a litter box. But the sister eventually ran off leaving this kitten alone. Heartbroken for the lonely kitty, my cousin brought her inside until she could find a home for her. (They already had four cats and a dog as it was!) That’s where the text message came in. And that’s how I ended up with a kitten on my desk not even 24 hours after declaring we didn’t own a cat.

cheetah

After we brought her home (luckily, my cousin sent us home with a small litter box) Layne and I spent a good hour at a local pet store asking a million mind-numbing questions about litter boxes, litter, cat food, vaccines and such. You guys, I didn’t even know that cats drink water! I’m sure the employees were half-scared for our new kitten.

Anyway…

cheetah & mabrey

We’ve been living with a kitten for almost two weeks now. She’s a she and her name is Cheetah. (She came to us already named and we couldn’t bear to force another change on her.) The kids love telling people “We have a pet Cheetah!” A neighbor noticed the “M” marking on her forehead and informed us she’s at least part Maine Coon.

I fully expected there to be some difficulty with the transition to a new environment but Cheetah hasn’t had one single accident. (I hope I didn’t just jinx myself.) And she is SO GOOD with the kids. They love her! Layne scoops the litter box and Everett is in charge of food and water. Mabrey regularly manhandles her and Cheetah just goes with it. She is cuddly but has little bursts of energy when she likes to scamper and play. (Do cats scamper?) Her meow is almost silent. Having had a dog in the past, I can’t believe how quiet she is. Sometimes she will be right underfoot but I won’t know it until I nearly trip over her. She loves watching the birds, squirrels and rabbits out the window but never seems interested in escaping outside. She will come to us when called by name. She barely sheds. She has a daily schedule she made up herself which I find amusing. For instance, I know at 8:00 a.m. she will be perched in the boys’ windowsill waiting and watching for the neighbor dogs to go on their morning walk. She even naps when Mabrey naps and I don’t think it’s pure coincidence. She’s pretty much too good to be true. My friend who used to have her own pet-sitting business says we hit the cat jackpot.

That’s not to say I haven’t freaked out a few times. Domestic cats are nocturnal?! Cats have an innate need to scratch?! And climb?! Catnip is the cat equivalent of ecstasy?! I told Steve I sorta feel like a first-time mom. I want to do everything right but I’ll probably look back in a few years and laugh at all the ridiculous stuff I did in the name of ignorance.

Steve has really fallen for Cheetah, too. When he gets home from work he asks “Where’s Cheetah?” and the first thing he does after the kids are in bed is participate in a little kitty snuggle session. In short, this kitten is growing on us and we feel badly for having wrongly judged cats in the past. We aren’t entirely sure how it happened but we’re glad this kitten found us.

Are you a cat person? Have you ever ended up with a pet you never imagined owning?

Pssst – Since introducing our newest family member, everyone wants to know where we keep all the cat paraphernalia and how our décor is holding up. I’ll address those in a separate post later today!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking