...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

04.18.14 / Made Me Smile

hey you're awesome

How was your week? I felt like mine was full of busyness but I have nothing to show for it. Oh well. There’s always next week, right?

A few smile-worthy things to take you into the weekend…

*A DIY kitchen makeover that looks way more expensive than its $500 price tag.

*A modern, family-friendly deck.

*My new hanging planter arrived. You can never have too many houseplants, can you? The correct answer is no. No, you can’t.

*Long live the library! And one man’s photographic essay of interesting American libraries. (We visit our local library weekly. It’s such a huge part of our lives!)

*My favorite movie of 2013 is now available on DVD. It’s also one of my fave movies of all-time.

*On a similar note, if movies were written by kidsWarning: they’re snort-milk-through-your-nose HILARIOUS.

*Proud mom moment.

*The coolest video on instagram this week.

Have a very hoppy weekend! ;) And hey, you’re awesome.

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

dresser revive 1

I owe you guys a long and wordy post about what’s happening in the boys’ room. The gist of story is that they need more closed storage for their clothing and the wall color makes the room feel depressing. I’ve gone mad trying to pick a new color which is evidenced by the random paint swatches on the wall. I’ll post all the details next Monday but today’s post is about reviving a vintage dresser I scored on ebay this past winter. It was $150 and included a large matching mirror with a wood frame that I’ll be hanging elsewhere. (Hint: it’s going in the hallway.) Fortunately, the seller was in Ohio so we were able to pick it up ourselves and skip shipping costs.

dresser revive 2

The dresser was in great condition. Fully functional with a few scratches and water marks from normal wear and tear. The thing is HEAVY. It’s solid walnut and features all the signs of great craftsmanship which are so hard to find in today’s furniture without spending an arm and a leg. Since it’s going in the boy’s room, it didn’t need to be perfect but I was hoping to improve the finish.

revive dresser 4

I had heard and read so many wonderful testimonials about Restor-A-Finish that I had to try it myself. (Orlando’s testimonial was especially convincing.) The application is a one-step process and it requires no sanding. It sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? I chose the walnut tone and set to work reviving the new old dresser.

revive dresser 5

Application was super easy. I poured a little Restor-A-Finish onto a soft cloth and rubbed it into the wood. A little goes a long way. The stuff is a bit stinky so I opened the windows during application. (This is the main reason it’s taken me so long to get around to reviving the dresser. Too cold to open the windows!) Immediately, I could tell it was working. It’s subtle but noticeable. I liken it to a good pregnancy glow or a natural sun kissed glow. It blended the imperfections and restored the wood’s luster. But it didn’t leave a shiny finish. It was more of a healthy sheen.

dresser revive 3

If you compare this image to the second one at the top of this post, you can see the difference. It’s pretty miraculous!

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I couldn’t believe how much richer the wood looked. It really did have a glow to it minus the gloss.

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Following the directions on the back of Restor-A-Finish, I decided to protect the I-can’t-put-my-finger-on-it-but-there’s-something-different-about-you finish with Howard’s Feed-N-Wax. I waited 30 minutes after refinishing the dresser to apply the wax. I applied the wax with a soft cloth and was a little more generous with this application than the oil. Then I set a timer for 20 minutes. When time was up I buffed out the dresser with a clean soft cloth. Again, super easy.

revive dresser 7

After restoring the finish and applying the protective wax topcoat, the dresser almost looked brand new!

revive dresser 9

The results were enough to motivate me to restore the dresser in my bedroom using the same technique.

But back to the boys’ dresser…

dresser hardware

I didn’t particularly care for the dresser’s original hardware. The knobs are brass with laminate stickers glued to the centers. One knob was missing its laminate center so I tried everything in order to remove the laminate from the other knobs to no avail. I also didn’t like that each drawer had a knob. It was too knobby for my taste. I thought I’d try switching out the middle knobs for horizontal pulls and see what happened. You know, to break things up a little.

dresser hardware 1

I found these streamline pulls at Anthropologie and ordered four. (Btw, it was my very first Anthro purchase. I’m no longer an Anthro virgin.) I love them! They’re so dainty, so midcentury modern. Best of all, they make the dresser feel less knobby. Knobby…it’s a technical term.

Here’s a little before-and-after action for your viewing pleasure…

subtle dresser before and after

I know, it’s not a WOW! makeover. But that wasn’t my goal here. Restoring the finish and changing up some of the hardware gave this dresser a much needed facelift but it still looks like a classic midcentury piece. (Notice how the finish looks less orange-y, too. I like that.) It’s not trying to be something it’s not. I guess it’s more like Cindy Crawford on Botox versus Joan Rivers on plastic surgery. Sometimes subtle changes are the best.

Have you ever used Restor-A-Finish? It has me wanting to buy more vintage pieces just to love ‘em up with a little oil.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking