...because home doesn't happen overnight.

space saving cabin 1

We recently stayed at this amazing modern cabin in Lake Leelanau, Michigan. The home has three bedrooms, two bathrooms plus a powder room and is modestly sized. (If I had to guess, I’d say it’s roughly 1,800 square feet.) Immediately upon arrival, it felt airy and spacious thanks to numerous windows throughout, vaulted ceilings in the main living space and, of course, the innately uncluttered decor that typically comes with a vacation rental. Once we settled in, however, I noticed several space-saving tricks that weren’t as obvious. I thought I’d share them with you since many of the clever ideas could easily translate to a residential property. Here they are…

space saving entry 1

1. A built-in entry closet. The small entry is sandwiched between a powder room and exterior walls, leaving very little room for a legit closet. Recessed IKEA cabinet frames maximize storage space for outerwear, bags, sports equipment and other miscellaneous.

space saving entry 2

The top cabinet provides hanging space while the lower cabinet houses several drawers. Often times, the space below a hanging rod is underutilized, so I thought this setup was ingenious. In a real home, I could see the drawers being used to corral mail, parent-teacher communication and children’s homework. You could even designate a drawer for each child.

space saving kitchen 4

2. Loads of kitchen drawers. The kitchen occupies one wall. The owner opted for a trio of windows with lake views in lieu of upper cabinetry. (Duh.) The base cabinets open to reveal ample drawer space.

space saving kitchen 1

Shallow drawers are ideal for smaller items like silverware, cooking utensils, cutting boards and baking sheets. Deeper drawers are perfect for pots and pans.

space saving kitchen 2

A single pull-out below the sink provides hidden storage for trash and recycling bins and also houses dish soap, dishwasher detergent and extra trash bags. The lower drawer to the left of the trash is actually a drawer dishwasher hidden by a cover panel. The compact size allows for a separate drawer above which houses silverware and makes the task of unloading the dishwasher a breeze.

FYI – I mentioned my thoughts on having a trash pullout at the sink in this post, and my concerns were validated. The setup worked well for us when there was only one person in the kitchen, but we tend to clean up after meals together and prefer separate zones for trash/recycling and dishwashing. Otherwise, the person at the sink is constantly being asked to move out of the way. That’s just our preference.

space saving kitchen 5

Yes, this is an IKEA kitchen and, no, I didn’t know about it when I booked the place. I was so excited (and, quite honestly, surprised!) when I opened a cabinet and made the discovery. All the cabinet frames and drawers in the house are IKEA, even the bathroom vanities.

space saving kitchen 3

From a design standpoint, I liked the seamless look of the single panel fronts versus several individual drawer fronts. Opening one drawer to gain access to another drawer really wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be. Inside and out, the cabinets are tidy. The custom fronts are furniture grade plywood outfitted with raw brass pulls. I loved the warm, natural look. I also loved the owner’s decision to repeat the cabinet design in the bathrooms. It just made the entire house feel really cohesive.

space saving pantry 1

3. A freestanding pantry. With no room for a walk-in pantry, a floor-to-ceiling pantry is an effective alternative.

space saving pantry 2

Not only does it provide storage for dry goods, it houses dishes, bowls, glasses, mugs, serveware – even a slim refrigerator with bottom freezer! An open space above the refrigerator acts as a minibar out of kid reach. Note: There is no microwave in the house which perplexed us at first, but the only thing we missed it for was popping bagged popcorn.

space saving pantry 3

Once again, drawers, drawers and more drawers glide in and out for easy access and loads of storage. The placement of dishes and serveware near the dishwasher facilitates dishwasher unloading.

space saving kitchen table 1

4. A kitchen table. No dining room? No problem. A large table punctuated by a pair of oversized pendants takes the place of an island and acts as buffer between the kitchen and adjacent living room.

space saving kitchen table 2

Reclaimed wood and an X-base are reminiscent of a farmhouse table, but the waterfall edge is a modern touch. A mix of vintage chairs lends a casual vibe. I loved the juxtaposition of the rustic table and chairs against some of the sleeker elements in the space.

space saving media stand 3

5. A custom, low-slung media stand. An extra low media stand allows the flatscreen to reach just below the window line, allowing for uninterrupted views of the landscape.

space saving media stand 1

space saving media stand 2

The simple design raises the flatscreen to a comfortable viewing height and provides space for thin electronics and books.

space saving desk 2

6. A desk behind a sofa. Bringing in a console table is the knee-jerk reaction when considering the space behind a floating sofa, but what about a drop-leaf table that doubles as a desk? It’s an instant home workspace!

space saving desk 1

In a traditional setting, I could see it being used to pay bills, check email, work from home and tackle homework. It’s conducive to adults and children alike.

space saving headboard 3

7. Nightstand alternatives. In moderately sized bedrooms, nightstands can crowd the room and eat up precious floor space. Floating shelves attached to an extra wide headboard are an effective option.

space saving headboard 2

There’s just enough space for a glass of water, a candle, eyeglasses and nighttime reading material.

space saving headboard 1

They’re great in children’s rooms, too! Forgo lamps and mount wall sconces on the headboard.

space saving bedside chairs 2

space saving bedside chair 1

In one of the bedrooms there wasn’t quite enough room for shelves, so the owner brought in folding chairs to flank the bed. Bonus: The chairs can be used for extra seating in a pinch when company visits.

space saving pocket doors 1

8. Pocket doors. Here, a pocket door separates a powder room from the hallway. When space is tight, everyday motions like opening a door can be cumbersome. In hallways or in doorways that adjoin two rooms where the space required to accommodate a swinging door is minimal or non-existent, consider installing a pocket door.

space saving pocket doors 2

Another pocket door separates the master bathroom from the master bedroom.

I hope these ideas inspire you to think outside the box when coming up with space-saving solutions in your own home! Admittedly, there were so many great details in the cabin that I had a hard time condensing them into a readable post. (Still, here I am at 25+ photos and 1,000+ words. Are you still awake?!) I encourage you to go back through the images and make note of more features, like the simple trimwork, the flooring materials, the mirror-less powder room, the mirror at the end of the hallway, the freestanding soaker tub, the DIY platform beds (constructed of the same plywood found in the kitchen and bathrooms), the custom cabinet bases, the artwork and ALL. THE. CORNER. WINDOWS. What catches your eye?

P.S. – See more vacation houses here and here.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

mabes

When Mabrey was two years old, her spunky personality blossomed. My dad started calling her “Mabes” (rhymes with babes) and “Mabers” (rhymes with neighbors). The playful nicknames felt less formal and, before we knew it, we were affectionately using them as well. To this day, we beckon Mabrey with “Mabes!” in casual conversation. Even the boys call her Mabes. As she grows older, more than likely she’ll outgrow the moniker but, for now, she seems happy with it.

When Everett (whose middle name is James) was born, we called him E.J. for a few years until one day he finally exclaimed, “I’m not E.J.! My name is Everett!” That was the end of E.J. I find it ironic that the nickname we planned for Everett didn’t stick, while the accidental nicknames for Mabrey have lingered. Layne has never had a nickname, mostly because his name is only one syllable.

Does your child have a nickname? Do you? Do you love or loathe nicknames? Our niece Savannah goes by Vannah, and I love it.

P.S. – A website chock full of unexpected nicknames.

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

bedside book

My kids are out of school next week. Spring break always sneaks up on me! Initally, we hadn’t planned on going anywhere, but at the last minute I booked an Airbnb rental. We’re excited to explore a new area and spend time together, but it looks like the weather is going to feel more like winter than spring. We’ll take what we can get! If nothing else, it will be a great excuse to cozy up with a pile of books.

I just finished When Breath Becomes Air and it was beautiful. I can’t stop thinking about it. Steve is reading it now, and I can’t wait for him to finish so we can discuss it.

If you’re interested, here are a few books I’ve read and/or reread over the past year and would highly recommend…

book recs

Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating

Room

Simple Matters

Cabin Porn

Big Magic

The Big Tiny

Euphoria

The Inner Game of Tennis

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (Not shown, I borrowed it from a local library after my favorite librarian told me it changed her life.)

As you can see, my personal library tends to be heavy on the non-fiction. While I enjoy it, I think I need to spice things up with more fiction. We’re loading up on books before we leave, so here’s my question for you: Do you have any book recommendations? Have you read any books recently that have stuck with you? Feel free to share fiction and non-fiction suggestions. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks in advance!

P.S. – Good reads for home lovers.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking