...because home doesn't happen overnight.

interior door 2

Inquiring minds want to know, “Where did you get the black hinges and doorknobs?” I could’ve sworn I shared the source years ago, but after some digging I realized I hadn’t. Better late than never!

interior doorknob 1

We replaced the interior doors and hardware after we moved in. One caveat: We had already removed the original doors, so we lived without any interior doors for quite a while. With a newborn. And two other rugrats. It sucked. I wouldn’t recommend it.

You can read more about the doors we selected here and here. (Eek! Mabrey looks so little.) We wanted a simple design that didn’t stray too far from our home’s midcentury roots, but we were hoping for something slightly less boring than a flush door slab. We were stoked to discover the Berkley from Masonite’s West End collection with its subtle inset detailing. Steve saved us >$2,000 by hanging the doors himself. Eventually, I painted them to match the trim. (It took me a year to get around to it!)

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We liked the idea of matte black hinges and doorknobs to contrast against the white doors. We went with these hinges. For the bathrooms and bedrooms, we used these privacy doorknobs. For the linen closets, we used these passage doorknobs. For the man door to the garage, we used this keyed entry doorknob along with this deadbolt.

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Four years later, the doors and hardware are holding up extremely well. (My kids should work at a door/doorknob testing facility.)

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The Safe ‘n Sound solid core doors have been a worthy investment. They provide great acoustical insulation in our smallish house (i.e., I lock myself in the bathroom from time to time for a quick, quiet recharge). The doors get a lot of compliments from visitors. They’re unique yet understated. I absolutely LOVE the matte black hardware.

In summary, living with interior doors trumps living without interior doors any day. I hope I never have to do that again.

P.S. – Create your own attic access.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

studio matsalla fireplace 1

I receive emails from readers all the time asking for advice on particularly troublesome areas in their homes. Unfortunately, I’m not able to respond to each one, but a problematic area that keeps popping up is the pesky angled fireplace. I would never suggest an angled fireplace in a new build, but sometimes they’re inevitable in homes bought by successive owners. The good news is I don’t think an angled fireplace should be a deal breaker if other attributes of the home are desirable: location, layout, size, price, potential, etc. In fact, they can really amp up the cozy factor in a space. Personally, I’ve never lived in a home with an angled fireplace, but I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts on working around one. If I ever end up with an angled fireplace, there are a few general guidelines (no hard and fast rules) I would follow.

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clj fireplace

Update an angled fireplace, but don’t make it the star of the room. If an outdated surround is cramping your style, feel free to give it a fresh coat of paint, add trim, upgrade the mantel and/or install new tile on the surround or hearth to better suit your aesthetic. Keep the updates simple so that the fireplace melds with the rest of the space without creating a distracting focal point in a corner. If you opt for a mantel, keep it shallow. Amber Lewis painted the stone fireplace in her previous living room, while Julia and Chris Marcum added basic trim and paint to a contemporary version in their basement family room. In spaces where you don’t want the corner of a room taking center stage, allow the fireplace to become part of the background.

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rafterhouse fireplace

Don’t arrange main furniture pieces parallel to an angled fireplace. It’s so tempting to orient a sofa facing the fireplace. However, when dealing with an angled fireplace, it’s better to place the sofa on OR facing another wall in the room to establish a conversation area. This creates a more practical and appealing layout.

makerista angled fireplace

makerista fireplace 1

amber lewis fireplace 1

Balance an angled fireplace with adjacent built-ins, shelving, a large window, french/sliding doors or furniture items similar in scale to the fireplace. In other words, place something of similar size on a wall at 135° in relation to the fireplace. This keeps your eye traveling around the room instead of dead-ending in a corner. In essence, you are creating a new focal point while still benefitting from the coziness a fireplace can provide. Gwen Hefner designed built-ins using IKEA bookcases for a client’s living room. If desired, you could bring in a media cabinet and TV instead. I wouldn’t recommend placing a TV above an angled fireplace!

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Keep fireplace accessories to a minimum. Placing a small accent chair, ottoman, planter or basket near the fireplace can help soften awkward angles. Just make sure you aren’t drawing unnecessary attention to the corner. Hang a simple mirror or piece of artwork above the mantel, or just leave it bare. This is one time you don’t want to layer a bunch of accessories on the mantel. Studio Matsalla added patterned cement tile to an angled fireplace but opted out of a mantel. A modern planter and round mirror are subtle decorative accents. (You can see how this fireplace fits into the bigger picture in the very first image of this post.)

I hope this gives those of you struggling with angled fireplaces some ideas! No need to sell your house ;)

images: 1,9) Studio Matsalla 2,4,8) design by Amber Interiors; photography by Bryce Covey for Style Me Pretty 3) Chris Loves Julia 5) Rafterhouse 6,7) The Makerista

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Jill whose favorite recent mail includes anything from Amazon. Ha!

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We live in a township which means we avoid city taxes and must abide by ordinances that help keep property values high such as mowing the lawn regularly, not parking broken down vehicles in the driveway and generally maintaining our home’s appearance. When we were in full on renovation mode, we received a notice from the township regarding peeling paint on the front door, garage door and mailbox post. I found it comical, if not a bit infuriating. Here we were breathing new life into a decrepit property  – removing dead and overgrown trees, installing a new roof and windows, completely updating the interior, etc. – and we were being served a letter for a petty thing like peeling exterior paint. I couldn’t help but thinking that if we had left the trees in place (they completely blocked the view of the house from the road) until some of the major work was finished, the township wouldn’t have even noticed the peeling paint.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the township’s commitment to optimizing property values, but wasn’t it obvious we were working hard to improve the property already? We were addressing more pressing issues and would get to the peeling paint eventually. In the end, to avoid fines, I slapped a few coats of paint on the garage door and mailbox post as a stopgap measure. Steve shuffled around projects so he could tackle the restoration of the original front door. Meanwhile, a full bathroom sat gutted inside the house.

Fast forward four years, we’re finally in a place where we can address little things like a mailbox. (No pun intended.) The mailbox that came with our house had seen better days. It looked like someone had taken a baseball bat to it. The door didn’t close properly, and the flag had fallen off and been “fixed” numerous times. The *painted* wood post was rotted.

I’ve had my eye on Modbox USA, a sleek mailbox reminiscent of midcentury modern designs. I contributed to the Kickstarter program last year and even mentioned it on the blog at one point. The creator Greg, a midcentury design enthusiast, got the idea for the midcentury-inspired mailbox when he stumbled upon an issue of Atomic Ranch in which a reader asked, “Do you know of a good source for ’50s period mailboxes?” The editor replied, “The retro market seems to be wide open.” And an idea was born. The fundraiser was a success, and Steve and I were giddy when the mailbox and post showed up on our doorstep.

modbox install

The mailbox came with installation instructions, and Steve installed it without too much trouble. Due to the depth of the frostline here in Ohio, he did have to add a length of metal rod to the post to avoid shifting. He set the post with concrete in a cardboard form tube then rigged a support system constructed of lumber scraps and clamps to hold the post in place while the concrete cured. Once the concrete had cured, he added the mailbox.

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I’ve never been so excited about a mailbox in my life! It’s one of those things you don’t really think about until you make the upgrade. The simple design is perfection. The fabrication is impeccable. The company uses 20 gauge steel which is 75% thicker than today’s standard mailboxes.

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Checking the mail has never felt so luxurious. The door has a magnetic closure, and the handle has some heft to it. It’s a far cry from the rusted door we had to yank open and slam shut on our previous mailbox.

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The two-tone color highlights the streamlined design. The mailbox is offered in all original Eichler exterior color accents. We went with the eucalyptus and white color scheme to tie in with the metal roof and garage door.

Greg at Modbox USA has agreed to offer up one mailbox to a lucky House*Tweaking reader! No curbside mailbox? No problem. Modbox USA offers wall-mounted mailboxes, too. Find giveaway entry details below.

PRIZE: one wall-mounted mailbox (including letter tray) or one curbside mailbox (including post) from Modbox USA in your choice of color.

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

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

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, May 8th. One random winner will be announced Monday, May 9th.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: What’s the best mail you’ve received lately? Tax refund? A wedding invitation? A letter from a good friend? We got a statement from the bank officially showing our mortgage balance as $0.00. Feels so good!

Use the discount code TWEAK15 to score 15% off your entire Modbox USA purchase now through May 11th, 2016.

Good luck!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking