...because home doesn't happen overnight.

little things 1

With the major renovations completed, we’ve been able to turn our attention to smaller projects here and there. Most of these pesky projects are leftovers from bigger projects. We never truly finished some projects because we let minor details fall by the wayside in favor of: pretending we did them, feeding the kids, going outside, sleeping, working on our fitness, drinking wine, watching “New Girl,” smothering all the edible things in Trader Joe’s cookie butter, reading, showering, singing karaoke to “All About That Base,” petting the cat, talking with our faces, (insert any action or inaction here). Whatever. It happens. And when we finally do get around to tackling these measly projects, they don’t seem blog-worthy.

But lump all those lil’ effers together and, BAM!, blog post. At least, that’s how I see this playing out. I don’t know. I might be wrong. Let’s give it a go anyway, shall we?

new fans 1

new fans 2

We replaced the ceiling fans. We loved the look of the first fans (seen here) but they hummed and whirred so loudly. In the fans’ defense, they were listed as commercial fans and we overlooked the possibility that they might not be ideal for a residential setting. The other problem we had with them was the fact that, due to unique installation requirements, the canopies didn’t mount flush against the ridge beam so there was a visible gap.

Last month Steve said, “All I want for Christmas is new ceiling fans.” Santa came through with these plus coordinating downrods. (Apparently, Steve made the nice list.) Installation was uneventful which is always a good thing when it comes to DIY. But the best thing? They are quiet. Like, silent. The canopies are flush with the ridge beam. No gap! And we really like the aesthetic. The fans are matte white and super sleek. Functionally, they’re better too. They’re slightly larger than the previous fans and a better fit for the room. They also have reverse switches at the motor so we can change the rotation based on our needs. (Clockwise in winter; counter-clockwise in summer.) The only thing that would make them more awesome is if they were self-cleaning. Someone please invent a ceiling fan that cleans itself.

trim 1

trim 2

trim 3

We installed and painted trim around the fireplace surround. After painting the brick surround and building & painting the TV wall, we lived with gaps at the mantel-wall and brick-floor seams for several months. We added trim last spring (that can’t be right?!) and I just got around to painting it a few weeks ago with the same paint I used on the surround. It’s Benjamin Moore white dove, semi-gloss finish, mixed in Clark + Kensington’s primer + paint in one. It’s really, really good.

painted man door 1

Notice anything else?

painted man door 4

I have been cropping out the man door to the garage for years. It’s solid wood but was orange-y and drafty. I kept an old towel pushed up against the bottom to prevent cold air from blowing in but you can imagine how (in)effective my efforts were.

We reworked the door frame and added a new threshold, weatherstripping, hardware and trim. I painted the door and trim when I had the paint out for the fireplace trim. Now the mudroom / dining room isn’t nearly as cold as it used to be but I still wish we would have added radiant floor heating.

painted man door 3

I added a double hook to the back of the door for my purse and reusable shopping bags. The three wall hooks in the mudroom have been overtaken by the kids’ coats, hats and backpacks. And a certain toddler likes to play “Quick! Take and hide all the things in mom’s purse!” So this seemingly trivial hook is, in all actuality, a game-changer. There’s a set of key hooks to the left of the door which recently caught the attention of said toddler, ifyaknowwhatimean.

You might also notice that we rotated the sisal rug in the living room. See the corner in the image above? That corner used to live over by the media cabinet and the corner that was here (now by the media cabinet) sported a perpetual roll that drove Steve mad. (You can catch a glimpse of it in the seventh image of this post.) He tried everything. It was comical. If you can’t beat ‘em, rotate ‘em.

kitchen plinth

Finally, FINALLY!, we added a piece of filler plinth to the corner in the kitchen. (You can see the gap here.) This was one of those minor details that we overlooked when we installed the cabinets. We bought the plinth shortly after “finishing” the kitchen but didn’t put it up until, oh, THREE YEARS LATER. We still need to caulk at the wall seam. According to my highly technical estimates, that should happen in 2018. Don’t worry. It will be a blog post.

Have you been putting off little finishing projects too? What’s your excuse? It can’t be any worse than ours.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

clean floor 1

I hope you don’t mind if I stick with the organizing / cleaning theme for one more post. Another housekeeping-related question that pops up in my inbox frequently (even more so than the globe light question) is “How do you clean your floors?” I try to clean them thoroughly every week but sometimes it’s more like every other week. Here’s what I do…

clean floor 2

1 – First I vacuum up loose dirt, dust and debris. I use a Shark Navigator that I bought 2+ years ago when our horrible ten-year-old vacuum finally died. At the time, I was *this close* to splurging on a Dyson. Then I found the Shark. It was affordable and had stellar reviews so I gave it a try. I LOVE this vacuum. It does what it’s supposed to do and is versatile & super easy to maneuver. I use it with the brush turned off on the wood floors. I also use it on all the rugs in our home. For shorter pile rugs, I turn the brush on. For the shag and jute rugs, I turn the brush off. The attachments are great for upholstery and reaching dust bunnies up high, in corners and under furniture. If you’re in the market for a budget-friendly vacuum that works well on hard and soft surfaces, I can’t say enough good things about this one.

2 – After all the crumbs and dust bunnies are cleared, I use a Bona spray mop to condition the wood and give it that clean floor sheen. A hand trigger makes mopping quick & painless. For our medium toned floors, I prefer the shaggier dusting pad. It does a better job of attracting dust and cat hair than the lower pile cleaning pad. I just throw the dusting pad in the wash (no fabric softener!) and let it air dry. The cartridge is refillable. I keep a large jug of Bona cleaner on hand for refills. It’s odorless, non-toxic and doesn’t leave any residue. Our floors have a satin-like finish (as opposed to a high gloss finish) and this cleaner is perfect for them. *BONUS* – I also use the Bona cleaner in a spray bottle to dust the lower wood cabinets in the kitchen. So many uses!

3 – I use a smaller Eureka handheld vacuum for quick cleanups in between the more thorough cleanings. I’ve only owned this vacuum a month (it was a Christmas gift and had been on my wish list forever) but I’m really happy with it so far. It’s great for the inevitable crumb messes after every meal and for Cheetah’s fur balls. Before, I was dragging out the upright a few times a day. It did the job well but the handheld is much more convenient. We don’t have stairs but I’ve heard it’s great for that application, too.

So there’s everything you’ve (n)ever wanted to know about my floor cleaning routine. We take our shoes off at the door which helps keep dirt to a minimum. And I’ve noticed a HUGE difference since the new driveway was installed. One more thing to keep in mind…my floors always look cleaner in photographs ;) If you were visiting right now you would notice stray popcorn pieces under the stools at the kitchen island. That area is my nemesis.

Any floor cleaning products you swear by?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

clean globe lights 1

Recently, I’ve had several readers contact me about the globe lights that are suspended above the kitchen island. I thought it would be helpful to address the questions in a post since others might have similar queries. The lights are the 11″ clear globe pendants from West Elm. I love how they punctuate the island. Since purchasing them 3 years ago, they’re now available in a larger size (14″) and a different finish (milk finish with antique brass base).

One of the most popular questions I receive regarding the lights are “How do you clean them?” A few times a year, I give them a deep cleaning. Here’s what I do…

clean globe light 3

1 – I carefully remove the glass globes and clean them one at a time. The globe separates from the base with the twist of two screws. A screwdriver isn’t necessary.

2 – I place the globe in a plastic laundry basket in the kitchen sink to keep it from rolling into the sink or countertop and shattering. (You could do the same thing in a tub if your sink isn’t large enough.) *BONUS* – It cleans your laundry basket at the same time! #twobirdsonestone

3 – Using a microfiber cloth, I wash the globe, inside and out, with warm water and dish soap to remove grease and dust.

4 – I rinse the globe, inside and out, with warm water. I dry the globe with a streak-free, lint-free cloth.

FYI – My grandma, who is the queen of clean, gifted me the microfiber and streak-free cloths several years ago. THEY ARE THE BOMB. Especially the white ones. I use them to clean windows (house & car), mirrors, the TV screen, the computer screen, etc. I don’t use any cleaner – just water! And they’re reusable which makes them eco-friendly and cost-effective. I’ve had mine for 5+ years. They are machine washable – just be sure to avoid fabric softener!

clean globe lights 5

To clean the bases, I use just a tad of Bar Keepers Friend (less than $2) with water on one of the green microfiber cloths. I’m careful not to scrub so hard that I leave scratches. Rinse well. It works like a charm. I use it to clean the canopies (seen on the ceiling in the reflection), too. I have to stand on a counter stool on the island in order to reach them but, hey, whatever works. Sorry, no circus act photos ;)

clean globe lights 6

I slip the globe back on the base, tighten the screws and, voilà, a crystal clear light! Here you can see the difference between a dirty (on the left) and clean (on the right) globe. World. Of. Difference.

clean globe lights 2

I should probably do it more often but I average ~4 of these deep cleanings per year. On a more regular basis, I wipe the globes down with vinegar + water on one of the green microfiber cloths then follow up with a little water on a streak-free cloth.

I’m always afraid I’m going to break one of the lights when I’m removing / cleaning them. Every time I clean them I think, “I should order a replacement…just in case…while they’re still available.” But I never do.

Everett came home from school after I cleaned the lights this week and said, “Hey! You got new shiny lights!” That same night Steve was all “Whoa. These lights are extra bright.” Yep, they were that dirty.

Any deep cleaning going on at your house this month?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking