...because home doesn't happen overnight.

I hope you enjoyed the exterior tour of our front entry. Now on to the interior!

interior entry progress collage

This corner of our home has come a long way. Again, rehabbing the original front door was the biggest project in this space and you can read more about that here. In addition, we added weatherstripping around the door jamb to prevent drafts. The mortise handset looks just as good from the inside!

interior entry 1

Our house doesn’t boast a foyer. The front door opens up into our living room. To carve out an “entry” I placed an oversized chair perpendicular to the door which visually separated the living room from the entryway. DIY wood shelves line one wall but don’t take up precious floor space. A durable sisal rug designates the area as an entry. I didn’t want the door to stand out in the living room so I painted it the same white as the trim.

interior entry 3

A woven bench, petite in size, sits next to the door. It’s the perfect spot for slipping shoes on or off. It also comes in handy for boxed deliveries. The design is simple but the woven top is a nod to patterns and textures found elsewhere in our home. The wooden knobs provide a place for jackets and bags. I keep a sweater wrap here to throw on on chilly mornings. The hanging brass and string art is a fun touch.

I should point out that we typically enter our home through the mudroom at the back of the house. We keep outerwear, backpacks, shoes and other outdoor gear in there. This setup by the front door is mainly for guests or quick trips outside to grab the mail or get a kid on / off the bus.

interior entry 4

The great thing about the coat hooks is that they have a built-in shelf which is ideal for stashing a pair of sunglasses, a set of keys or incoming mail. I couldn’t help displaying a rock Mabrey gave me and some live greenery. A framed photography print picks up on an antler theme that runs throughout the house.

interior entry 5

A major drawback to the original entry was that it was extremely dark. Removing light-filtering screens from the trio of windows in the door let light pour in and I hung a mirror to reflect the natural light even more. It’s nice for quick once-overs, too, before heading out or answering the doorbell. I love looking into the mirror and seeing our living room from a completely different perspective. It’s kind of amusing to see our open kitchen-living space flipped around! (Sorry, I’m a visual nerd.)

interior entry 6

The gold frame of the mirror ties in with other brass and gold elements in the room. My goal was to make the entry function with style but I didn’t want it to be a focal point. I kinda just wanted it to fall to the background.

interior entry 2

I hope you enjoyed the tours of our little entry! It’s nothing to write home about but it works for us. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when decorating a nearly nonexistent entryway:

*Optimize floor space. Keep as much furniture up off the ground as possible to provide a clear path for traffic.

*Create a dropzone. A modest bench, some coat hooks and a shallow wall shelf do the trick!

*Less is more. Don’t go overboard with the decorating. One really good art piece is sufficient. Do add personality with one or two meaningful objects that you’ve made or found.

*Hang a mirror. It doesn’t have to be huge. A dainty round mirror suspended from a leather strap achieves the same effect as a larger, framed mirror. They both bounce around light and provide a spot for checkin’ yourself out.

*Blend well. If your “entry” is part of a larger space, decor choices should jive with the rest of the room. Repeat materials found elsewhere in the room.

Sources:

door – original, vintage
door paint – Benjamin Moore White Dove in semi-gloss
entryset – Emtek*
framed print – Minted*
wall hooks – West Elm
small concrete planter – JoAnn’s
brass and string art – DIY
bench – Target
mirror – Wayfair*

*This post was sponsored in part by Wayfair, Minted and Emtek. Items marked with an asterisk were chosen by me and kindly donated by these companies. All opinions and images are my own. See more of my entry over on Wayfair. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

For fun, a little before-and-after action…

interior entry b&a

The top photo was taken the day we closed on the house. Really, any “after” would look amazing compared to that!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

exterior entry 1

I’m so happy to share our front entry with you! To avoid a lengthy photo laden post, I’ll be sharing the entry’s exterior and interior in two separate posts. Look for a second post later today. Now, onto the exterior!

exterior entry b&a

The biggest undertaking in improving the entry was rehabbing the front door. When we moved in, using the front door was cumbersome. There was a heavy screen door that was so LOUD when opened and closed. The process of opening one door outward only to open another door inward didn’t make sense to us so we removed the screen door to reveal the original front door. We loved the midcentury vibe of the front door and decided to keep it.

Steve rebuilt the jamb and added a new threshold so the door would open properly. (We rarely used the front door during the first year of living in the house because it was so difficult to open.) Once the door was working we focused on modernizing it with hardware and paint. Steve installed a sleek mortise handset. A mortise lock is one that requires a pocket to be cut into the door. Installation isn’t for the faint of heart but the handset comes with a template – whether you choose to DIY or hire out the installation. The new handset immediately brought a high-end quality to the door. Its simple design fit the midcentury door perfectly.

With the handset in place, Steve filled the holes left behind from the old deadbolt. I removed privacy screens and security stickers from the trio of windows then painted the exterior side of the door in a deep, moody blue-gray to contrast with the red brick. We also added new trim and painted it out in crisp white. Our old door looked brand new!

exterior entry 3

No longer embarrassed by the state of the front door, we were itching to bring in a few details to make the entry feel more welcoming and fit in with our simple modern style. The previous house numbers were so small and difficult to read from the road. We switched them out for  3″ stainless steel numbers with a standoff mount. A striped doormat made of natural fibers hints at what to expect from the decor inside. (I love stripes and natural textures.)

exterior entry 5

We also switched out a boring doorbell for a larger button-like one. The metal finish is similar to that of the handset and house numbers to keep things cohesive.

exterior entry 4

I brought in a modern plant stand to hold greenery. The planter fills an awkward bare spot next to the door and the height brings the eye up to the doorbell and house numbers. Our front door faces south so I wanted to choose foliage that thrives in the sun. I went with rosemary! I love the color, texture and fragrance that it adds to the space. The scent of rosemary is such a welcome surprise at the front door.

exterior entry 2

I hope you enjoyed the mini tour! We’ve received so many compliments on the improvements from visitors, neighbors, passersby and even the UPS man. (The futuristic doorbell is a hit with the neighborhood kids and the UPS man.) I used to be embarrassed by our front entry and was always apologizing to guests for it. But now I love it!

Our entry isn’t much. There are no steps leading to a covered porch, no double doors, nothing fancy. And we didn’t want to make it something it’s not. The goal was to respect the original entry but modernize it. A few tips to  keep in mind when making the most of a small exterior entry:

*Make a statement with the front door. Choose a style that suits your home’s exterior and paint it an unexpected color to contrast with the facade.

*Focus on quality hardware. Splurging on little details like an entry set, door knocker, house numbers or even a fun doorbell can make all the difference. For a cohesive look, stick to one finish for all hardware.

*Less is more. Use only a few favorite decorative items to avoid cluttering a small exterior entry. Accessories should hint at what to expect inside.

*Get creative with greenery. Consider color and texture when choosing greenery. Think outside the box. Fragrant herbs can be a fun and fragrant choice. *BONUS* You can cook with them!

Sources:

door – original, vintage
door paint – Behr Evening Hush
house numbers – Wayfair*
entryset – Emtek*
doorbell – Wayfair*
planter – Modernica
doormat – Wayfair*

*This post was sponsored in part by Wayfair and Emtek. Items marked with an asterisk were chosen by me and kindly donated by Wayfair and Emtek. All opinions and images are my own. Read more about my entry over on Wayfair.

Stay tuned for a look at the interior entry!

P.S. – I know showing house exteriors and house numbers online is a touchy subject. We have a security system and a neighborhood watch program so we’re comfortable with the decision to share images of our entry.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Moving right along in the boys’ room

removable wallpaper 1

I decided to nix the striped wall. Like the wall color, I actually love the wallpaper (which is removable) just not in this context. I originally used it to widen the room visually and make it feel less like an alley. In that sense, it worked. But now that different pieces of furniture have made their way into the room, the layout is feeling less linear. In particular, the angled reading chair and book crate are cutting away at the alley-ness. I have a few more ideas for softening the rectangular shape of the space, too. I’m on a mission to brighten the mood of this room so I think painting this wall is the best way to go.

Removing the wallpaper was quick and painless. It is removable after all. But I didn’t want to be wasteful and ball it up in the trash. I’ve always wondered if anyone actually reuses removable, reusable wallpaper. I mean it’s marketed as such and it seems to grab the consumer’s attention but I can’t recall any reuse testimonials.

Anyhow, Everett’s school is always asking for any and all art supply donations. I thought this wallpaper would be a good fit whether the school decides to use it for an art project, as a theater prop or as wallpaper. (The school’s common areas have the cutest decor most of which hails from Ikea.) I came up with a method for removing and “packaging” the wallpaper so that it could be reused.

removable wallpaper 2

I bought a 10′ x 20′ plastic drop cloth from Home Depot. Did you know Home Depot has their own generic brand now on many items? It’s HDX. I’m impressed with the few HDX items I’ve bought so far. (That’s not a sponsored plug, btw.) This drop cloth being one of them. It was less than $3 and it was the only money I spent to remove and reuse the wallpaper. Mabrey was my assistant. She insisted on having her picture taken holding the drop cloth. At this rate, she’ll have her own HGTV show by the time she’s 10.

removable wallpaper 3

First, I wiped down the wallpaper. I figured it would be easier to clean while still on the wall. Then I removed the wallpaper in the reverse order in which it was installed. (You can read about the installation here.) This way I could remove each section individually even if there was some overlap on neighboring sections.

removable wallpaper 4

As I removed each section, I placed it sticky side down on the plastic drop cloth. I tried to keep the drop cloth and wallpaper as smooth as possible. I cut around the wallpaper, leaving a narrow frame of drop cloth.

If anyone is wondering about the adhesive quality of the wallpaper, it’s still great. It could definitely be rehung and would stay in place. In fact, there were a few times I wasn’t careful and the wallpaper folded over on itself. When that happened, I had to stick one end of the wallpaper on the bunk bed’s frame to hang it and pull it flat again.

removable wallpaper 5

I worked my way up the wall, section by section. I removed the outlet cover and tie-off for the window shade cord but left the shade itself in place. I simply scored the wallpaper around the brackets to remove it from above the window.

removable wallpaper 6

Even with a toddler in the room (which normally triples the time it takes to do anything), I had all of the wallpaper down in twenty minutes.

When we hung the wallpaper, I remember Steve asking what was the benefit of wallpapered stripes versus painted ones. Well, if the stripes had been painted I’m guessing I would have had to hit up the wall with some sandpaper to smooth things out before repainting. (Taped off stripes tend to have slightly raised edges.) The wallpaper didn’t damage the wall in any way so there’s one benefit over painted stripes.

removable wallpaper 7

I stacked the wallpaper sections on top of one another and then rolled them up. I’ll be dropping them off at Everett’s school tomorrow and they should fit in my car easily. The one drawback is that the plastic drop cloth will end up in the trash at some point. But Everett’s school is really good about using everything (last year they made an art display from plastic “trash” and it was beautiful!) so I’m hoping the drop cloth will see a second life.

If I wanted to store the wallpaper for personal use, I would stick it in a plastic bin or bag to keep it from getting dirty. I’m not sure how the adhesive would fare at high temps so I’d probably stash it in a closet versus the attic or garage.

With the striped wall out of the picture, I’m off to pick a paint color…and I’m afraid I’m making it way more difficult than it should be.

Pssst…click here to see who won the Seed Furniture giveaway! Don’t fret if you didn’t win. You can score 40% off any piece until Monday, April 28th with the discount code “TWEAKING”.

images: Dana Miller

Remember when I put the boys’ room together last year? Well, take a look at what it looks like now. As in this morning. I didn’t even bother to pick up. Go ahead; pin away.

boys room update 1

boys room update 2

boys room update 3

boys room update 4

As I mentioned in last week’s post on the vintage dresser, this room has issues. Or more like I have issues with this room. Of all the room’s in our house, I find this one the most difficult to decorate. I’ve pinpointed two reasons why:

1) To optimize open floor space for play, all the furniture is pushed up against the walls. My natural instinct is to pull furniture into a room so it doesn’t feel like a bowling alley which is exactly what this room feels like to me.

2) I’m trying to make it a “boy” room but I also want it to fit in with the rest of our home. It doesn’t have to look like every other room in our house (nor should it) but it should have a similar vibe. With the muddy gray walls (it’s Valspar Dry Riverbed and I actually love this color just not in this context) and gray Flor tiles, the room tends to feel drab in real life.

If you’re a frequent reader, you’ve probably noticed a few changes from last year. The open shelf bookcases are gone. That was such a horrible idea on my part. Why did I ever think two rowdy boys would keep those tidy? The boys would put their toys and costumes away in the baskets but there would be stuff hanging out of the baskets and the baskets were all crooked on the shelves. I sold the bookcases to one of the kids’ bus drivers. I lost money on them but the bus driver was so excited to use them that I didn’t feel too badly.

The Lego table is gone. My sister is giving it a spin as a coffee table in her apartment and the chairs are in the attic. If you’ll remember, my boys specifically requested a table for Lego building. Turns out, they loved the idea of a table but 99% of the time they sit on the floor to play Legos. Mabrey used the table more than anyone. If the table doesn’t work out for my sister, I’ll probably take it back and use it along with the chairs for a kids’ table during get-togethers with friends / family. I bought a Swoop bag and it’s perfect for my kids. They can carry it out to the living room to play or keep it in their room. I considered a Pinterest-worthy color-sorted setup but that’s just not realistic for us. My boys really enjoy sitting with a pile of Legos spread out in front of them and *BONUS* it keeps them occupied for longer periods of time because they have to look for pieces.

Doing away with the bookcases and Lego table allowed me to solve a bigger problem – not solely filter out items that weren’t working. There was some serious inadequate clothing storage going on. I don’t know when it happened but one day (I swear it happened in ONE DAY) my boys shot up and all of a sudden their clothes got bigger and didn’t fit in their 4-drawer dresser anymore. They literally could not close the drawers when all of their clothes were clean and in the dresser. I think I remember a reader predicting that would happen. She was right. Letting go of the bookcases, table and chairs made room for the 10-drawer dresser I shared last week. Now the boys have plenty of room for their clothes with empty drawers to spare.

boys room update 5

Luckily, the baskets that once lived on the bookcases work perfectly in the closet. I reconfigured the wire shelving so most of the toys are in the closet now. It gets messy from time to time but at least this way I can close the closet curtains and walk away. I have some of their playthings tucked away in other spots of our home but for the most part this is it. (Due to popular demand and even in response to some negative comments about how little toys my kids have, I’ll be writing a separate post on that. Stay tuned.)

Layne asked for a reading chair in the room for his birthday this past winter. (He’s an avid reader.) We got him Ikea’s KARLSTAD armchair and he loves it. Steve and I do, too. It’s much heavier than I expected! We sit in the chair to watch the kids play or to read them books before bedtime. The wood crate next to the chair was a gift to Everett from his grandfather. He wanted to make Everett a toy box of some kind and asked for ideas and dimensions. I asked if he could make an open book crate on wheels and gave him measurements. The design is his. It holds books and has casters on the bottom so it can be rolled out of the way when the trundle bed is pulled out. It’s so useful!

The basketball hoop was another gift to Everett. This time from Santa. It’s not my favorite addition to the room ;) but Everett enjoys it and it was a good energy burner during our long, cold winter.

Now that the room is functioning well for everyone, I need to address some other issues.

ISSUE #1: Drab wall color.

SOLUTION: Paint! I’m leaning towards something light and fresh. (See the paint samples on the walls.) This will be the third time I’ve painted this room. And, yes, Steve likes to remind me that the room started out light.

ISSUE #2: Hidden bed. The bunk bed hideout is awesome but most days it looks like the image above with the curtains closed.

SOLUTION: Add a system for tying back the curtains during the day.

ISSUE #3: Lifeless walls.

SOLUTION: Add interest with wall art and inexpensive shelving. Have fun with it!

ISSUE #4: No vibe.

SOLUTION: Bring in a few textiles, plants and accessories to make the room feel more like a part of our home but not too serious. It is a kids’ room after all.

You probably think I’m crazy for switching up the boys’ room so soon but when a room isn’t working for my family (whether for kids or adults or both) I’m all for making it right. Notice I didn’t say perfect. In hindsight, I was way too hasty in getting the room “done” last summer. Hindsight is 20/20. This isn’t a room do-over just for blog fodder. (Although, I will be blogging about it.) This is something I would be doing even if I didn’t have a blog.

As much as I like eye candy online, I also think it’s important to show a room’s evolution and to show when things don’t go as planned. Or when things do go as planned but the plan was all wrong. I guarantee behind every drool-worthy room there is a wrong paint color that had to be painted over or a wrong piece of furniture that had to be returned / sold or a wrong layout that had to be tweaked. Or a simple “I changed my mind.” And that’s okay!

But it doesn’t feel okay when no one talks about it. It’s like a big secret in the blogosphere. Here’s what the room looked like two years ago and here’s what it looks like now. Yay! They leave out the part about trying out three different lamps, ten different pillows or the massive DIY fail. But that stuff most definitely happens. Personally, I have so much respect for bloggers whom share when things go awry. I find them more relatable, more human. It makes their “afters” that much better because I know a real person is behind them.

Do you have a room that irks you? Are you feeling stupid or guilty about wanting to make it right? (Because, yes, there are bigger problems in the world.) I feel the same way but I’m trying not to let it hold me back from creating a space that my family wants to be in. I encourage you to do the same.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking