...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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

03.25.16 / Bedroom Refresh!

bedroom refresh 2

A few months ago I was craving a fresher look for our bedroom. The blue of the patterned sheets had bled and faded from years of use and washing. They never looked clean. The striped duvet and matching shams were stained from my overnight acne lotion. (Adult acne is my nemesis.) After upgrading to linen bedding in the boys’ room, I thought it would be ideal for the master bedroom, too. We made the switch from cotton to linen four months ago. We’ll never go back!

bedroom refresh 6

bedroom refresh 5

bedroom refresh 4

I bought two linen shams, a fitted linen sheet, a zippered duvet cover and skipped the flat sheet. Sleeping without a flat sheet took some getting used to, but making the bed is super quick and easy now! Slipping into a bed outfitted in linen is pure bliss.

Hint: To make a queen bed appear wider, pull pillows to the outermost edges of the headboard then fill the gap between them with a fun throw pillow.

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The other great thing about linen is that it always looks good. Rumpled, wrinkly linen is so cozy and inviting in its imperfection, and it just gets better with each wash.

bedroom refresh

I think I finally zeroed in on my simple-but-layered happy place when it comes to bedding. I layered the white linen with olive lumbar pillows for contrast. The small kilim pillow – which I had on hand already – makes a colorful focal point. At the foot of the bed, I folded two light throws. The ivory knit provides texture, and the indigo remnant lends color and pattern.

cheetah bed

They also protect the duvet cover when Cheetah curls up at the foot of the bed :)

brentwood home mattress

Shortly after we made the switch, we realized that outfitting an old, dirty mattress with linen bedding is like putting lipstick on a pig, so we hunted for an affordable, eco-friendly upgrade. Mainly, we were looking for something crafted in the U.S. with quality materials (preferably organic), no chemical flame retardants and low VOC emissions. We found all that and more in the Brentwood Home s-bed. Backed by a 120-night guarantee and 25-year limited warranty, we couldn’t not give it a try.

We ordered the queen mattress in medium feel ($800 with free shipping, made to order) four months ago and purposefully held off on reviewing it until we could give it an honest assessment after sleeping on it for several months. Steve and I are both side sleepers who prefer a supportive yet not overly firm mattress. When the box arrived (yep, the mattress ships vacuum sealed in a box), my immediate thought was that they had sent the wrong size. I removed our old mattress, opened the new mattress box (by this point, I was sure it was a twin), placed it on the bed and cut away the plastic wrap. Over the course of a minute, it swelled into a true queen mattress. The kids thought it was the coolest thing ever. It reminded me of those little foam figurines that expand in water – minus the water.

We’ve had two mattresses before this one (a hand-me-down and a new purchase) and were fully prepared for the inevitable new mattress adjustment period. But you know what? It took us longer to get used to sleeping without a flat sheet than to adjust to the new mattress. In fact, there was absolutely no adjustment period. From day one, it felt like we were sleeping on nothing which sounds strange but is pretty much the best thing you can say about a mattress. Four months in, we’re still loving it and sleeping soundly. Steve is somewhat of a mattress snob. (He always checks the mattress tags at hotels and vacation rentals.) He tells me at least once a week how much he loves this mattress. It’s been a wonderful upgrade.

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Bedding sources:

mattress protector – Coop Home (I use these on all the mattresses in our home.)
linen shams, fitted sheet, zippered duvet cover – Vilenda Linen (same etsy shop I bought from for the boys’ linen bedding)
olive lumbar pillows – Amber Interiors Shoppe
kilim pillow – etsy, similar
ivory bedspread – lovee
shibori throw – Morrissey Fabric
shibori pillow – Homegirl Collection

To share the love, I reached out to the nice people at Brentwood Home to see if they would be up for a giveaway. They said yes! They’re kindly offering up one of their s-bed mattresses to a lucky reader. See entry details below.

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Dana Leigh and her husband!

PRIZE: one s-bed mattress from Brentwood Home (size and feel to be determined by winner)

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address within the contiguous U.S. (No P.O. boxes please.) One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post proclaiming, “MATTRESS ME!”

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST Sunday, April 3rd. One random winner will be announced Monday, April 4th.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: Besides a good mattress and cooperative kids, what else do you need for restful sleep? I’ll go first. A light cotton tank is a must for me, even in the winter. #sweatysleeper We also have one of these trusty sound machines in every bedroom and take them with us when we travel.

House*Tweaking readers can score 10% off their Brentwood Home order by using the discount code Housetweaking10.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

mudroom doors black 3

As winter slips into spring, I’m itching to put away the snow boots, toboggans and heavy coats in favor of sandals, sun hats and light jackets. For a seamless transition, I rely on our versatile back entry. We don’t have a true mudroom. Instead, I carved out a corner of the dining room/laundry nook to act as a mini mudroom of sorts. A row of hooks, a saddler bench and a catchall floor basket keep in-season outerwear in check and provide a place to put on and remove shoes. (We have a similar setup near the front door.)

If you have room for one, a hardworking bench can be a great addition to an entry. I have a few stipulations when it comes to entry benches…

*Backless, armless, narrow, straight-lined. For those of us who don’t have the luxury of a separate entry, it’s essential to choose a bench that hugs the wall and doesn’t interfere with traffic flow.

*Robust. I prefer a bench that is primarily constructed of wood, metal and/or leather. It needs to hold up to kids and all four seasons.

*Leggy. A bench that sits up off the floor is easier to clean around. In small spaces, it’s lighter on the eyes, too.

*Opportunity for storage. A bench that includes hidden storage, shelving or an open design (i.e., no cross bars under the seat to allow for clearance of baskets or shoes) is ideal. For benches that don’t boast built-in storage, a woven or felt floor basket is an easy fix.

*<$200. Sure, there are a slew of pricey entry benches out there that I have all the heart eyes for, but in reality, I can’t see spending more than $200 on a piece of furniture that is going to get beat up on a daily basis – especially when I know there are affordable alternatives that can do the job just as well. It can’t be too precious. I think I would cringe every time a kid threw a muddy shoe at a more expensive bench.

*No espresso! There are plenty of benches that meet all the criteria above but many of them are only available in an espresso finish. Don’t fall for it! It will immediately cheapen the look of an entry (or any space for that matter).

For fun, here are eight entry benches under $200…

blu dot twilight

Target mid century modern bench

For closed storage plus a cushion top, I like the Blu Dot twilight bench and Target’s midcentury modern bench. I would consider reupholstering the cushions with indoor-outdoor fabric, mudcloth, a kilim rug remnant or another vintage textile for a bespoke look.

ikea skogsta bench

andover mill bench

For solid wood construction, I like the simple lines of the IKEA SKOGSTA bench and the Andover Mills thorndike bench. Keep the look natural with a wax topcoat, or use stain or paint for a custom look.

Saddler+Wood+Bench

leather + birch bench

Leather + wood is one of my favorite combinations. This saddler bench sits at our back entry. It has held up wonderfully to years of use and abuse. The Andalucia bench in white is a larger, more modern option.

mud hut wood + metal bench

universal shoe bench

For added durability, try a bench that combines metal and wood. The Mudhut asmara bench is marketed as a dining bench, but I could see it working well in an entry that opens up into a long, narrow hallway. The universal expert shoe bench from West Elm offers a compact design along with shelving. Use it where space is limited.

What are your must-haves for a practical entry? Do you have a dedicated mudroom? If so, I’m envious.

P.S. – Our front entry’s exterior.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking, sources linked within