I’ve been keeping a secret.
This week a team of art directors, editors, stylists and photographers from Better Homes & Gardens arrived at our house for a photo shoot! One of the home editors at BHG reached out to me this past spring about the possibility of a feature. I was asked to send over sample pictures and a narrative detailing the renovation and any special features of our home for a pitch. Honestly, I didn’t expect things to go any further than the pitching stage. I was so shocked when I got an email saying the editorial team had unanimously chosen our home for a feature. WTF?! Up until this week, I was half-expecting them to retract the offer, to realize their mistake and call off the whole thing. I mean, we’re just a normal family living in a normal house that we’ve slowly tweaked into our home.
But now that things are in full swing, I am so excited!
I’m excited to watch the pros work their magic. I’ll probably ask way too many questions and annoy the heck out of them. I’m excited to see our home through someone else’s lens. Sometimes it’s fun to see the place you live in a new light. I’m excited to witness what goes on behind the scenes of a legit photo shoot. Spoiler alert: A LOT. Our garage is standing in as a temporary prop room for the stylists and also a storage room for photography equipment. Obviously, I’m excited for the feature itself, too. I can remember reading my grandma’s BHG magazines as a kid and I’ve been a regular subscriber in my adulthood. To open the magazine and see the fruit of our blood, sweat and tears doesn’t seem feasible. It’s just plain crazy to even think about at this point.
What I’m most excited about though is the fact that a real house is going to be featured. We’re in Ohio – nowhere near a coast or trendy city. We live in a modest ranch built in the 60s – not a new, custom build or even an old house with charming architectural details. We have only the rooms we need and nothing more. There is no guest room or play room or sunroom or basement. I hope BHG readers will find our home inspiring because it’s relatable and achievable. There’s nothing extravagant about our home or lifestyle.
So the big secret is out! I’m jotting down notes and snapping a few behind-the-scenes pictures to share with you when the feature goes live sometime in 2016. I’m also bribing my kids to be on their best behavior. (Mabrey put on an impromptu dance recital for the team yesterday and Cheetah is stealing everyone’s hearts.) And it looks like the weather is going to cooperate, so YAY! I’ll be posting a few sneak peeks from the shoot over on my instagram account if you want to follow along.
As always, thanks for reading. There is absolutely no way this feature would be happening without this blog. And there’s absolutely no way this blog would be happening without you. You all are the best. Thank you.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
We’ve been scheming ways to disguise the electric meter on the back of our house for nearly two years. I had always pictured a slatted trellis with planters hanging from the eave in front of the meter. With a legit photo shoot scheduled for next week (!), we finally made it happen.
I don’t have any in-progress photos to share because: 1) I’m a bad, bad blogger and 2) they would be really boring. I will give you the play-by-play in text though. Because somehow that’s not boring??
We opted for cedar slats with ¼” spacing, similar to what we used for the trash / recycling enclosure. We simply ripped 1 x 6 kiln-dried cedar boards in half and used exterior wood screws to construct the screen. There was some math involved (details, schmetails) to have only full slats in the finished product, but there’s a sneaky trick to make things a little easier.
HELPFUL HINT: Construct the side and top pieces of the frame using mitered corners. Add horizontal slats all the way down on the backside of the bottomless frame until you reach your desired height. Then cut and install the bottom frame piece for a perfect fit.
Hanging the screen from the eave proved to be more difficult. First, we removed sections of the vinyl soffit above the meter. We discovered a layer of plywood covering the ends of the rafters and Steve drilled a few pilot holes to determine rafter spacing and location. Lo and behold, there was a 2 x 2 centered just above the meter but we needed supports on either side as well to support the screen. Using a hole saw, Steve cut two holes in the plywood on either side of center to place two 2 x 4 supports. He used a palm nailer to secure the additional supports to the ends of the rafters and the top plate of the wall. Then he replaced the sections of soffit and installed a trio of hooks tied into the three supports hidden in the eave. Three eyelets on the top of the screen slip over the hooks.
We installed a pair of Woolly Pocket wall planters on the front of the screen to bring in some greenery and break up all the hard surfaces.
To keep the screen from swinging into the house from the weight of the planters, Steve added what we’re calling a “prop” or “kickstand” to the back with L-brackets. The screen swings away from the house to gain access to the meter, although the verdict is still out on whether or not we’ll piss off our meter reader. He’s actually a pretty swell guy. We’ve had outdoor furniture, french door screens, deck boards and all kinds of other stuff piled up against the meter at one point or another and he’s never complained but, if there’s an issue, we figure we can easily hinge the slats in between the planters for direct access to the face of the meter. Yeah, we planned for that…just in case. #breakingthelaw
The bottom of the screen extends just below the top of the outdoor sectional for a layered look.
I’m pretty proud of myself for those planter arrangements. I didn’t really have a plan in mind when I went to the nursery. I knew I wanted something willy-nilly and organic feeling with greens and deep purples but beyond that I had no idea what I was doing. I grabbed some sedum, purple sweet potato vine and ferns and threw them together and I kinda love it.
Obviously, there’s no guarantee I’ll actually be able to keep them alive, but I’m hoping the Woolly Pockets are as foolproof as they sound. They’re self-watering (I think I read to water every other week) and the vented shells allow excess moisture to evaporate, promote healthy root systems and prevent plants from becoming pot bound – something I’ve had problems with in previous containers. They’re made in the USA from recycled materials and were super easy to install so I’m a fan regardless of the fate of their contents. #notsponsored #butIhopetheyareplantmagicians
Now if it would just STOP RAINING so we could actually enjoy our deck without a fugly meter mocking us that would be great.
P.S. – Immediately after snapping these pics, it started raining and I put the outdoor cushions back up in the attic where they have been all summer. On the bright side, the meter has never looked better!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
When I started this blog my family was living in a builder spec home. The finishes were cheap and I was doing my best to put my stamp on things. I turned to the internet for inspiration but was disappointed in what I found. Most looks weren’t achievable in our house. We had nondescript carpet and vinyl flooring – not hardwoods. There were no particularly alluring architectural features. We also had practical things like ceiling fans and light-filtering window shades. Tweaking that house taught us many things. Eventually, we came to value quality over quantity which prompted our downsizing adventure. But it also taught us that you don’t have to wait until bigger, future projects (i.e., installing new flooring) are completed to start making little changes that better reflect your preferred aesthetic.
“Nothing you do for your home is ever wasted.” – Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan for Apartment Therapy
We never did install new flooring in our previous home. But we did paint the walls & kitchen cabinets, install new countertops & a backsplash, experiment with furnishings and hang curtains & artwork. By the time we moved, the space definitely felt more like us than it had when we moved in.
All that to say, you don’t have to wait until you can do everything to do something.
And that’s what this makeover is all about. My clients moved into their home less than six months ago. They would love to upgrade the flooring, redo the kitchen, install statement light fixtures, fully furnish each room and improve the bathrooms but, as with most newly acquired houses, those things just aren’t in the budget right now. Instead, they’re tackling smaller projects as time and money allow, injecting their sense of style as they go. So far, they’ve painted nearly every room in the house and I recently helped them revamp the master bedroom. (You can read about my plans for the space and see a mood board here.) It’s a real room with carpet, blinds, a ceiling fan and even a TV. I hope it inspires you to do something.
We made a lot of changes but, in my opinion, rotating the bed, painting the walls a deep charcoal and bringing in mismatched furniture were the game-changers.
Relocating the bed to a blank wall makes it a natural focal point and lets more light pour in through the windows. The tufted headboard makes a grand statement. I love how the sides turn in for an intimate effect. So cozy!
My client’s style is decidedly more luxurious than my own. When she requested sequins, I cringed a little. But this Moroccan wedding blanket was the perfect solution. It jingles ever so lightly! I wanted to take it home with me. I searched high and low for a vintage one that was large enough to fit the king bed but not a bazillion dollars. I kept the rest of the bedding simple with a linen duvet and lumbar pillow. The bordered euro shams are a nice detail and tie in to the khaki stripes on the Moroccan blanket.
Patterned sheets are a fun surprise when the duvet is pulled back.
X-based campaign-style nightstands pop against the moody walls. The geometric lines contrast with the headboard’s curves. I LOVE the lamps. They’re oversized to match the scale of the headboard. Anything smaller would have been dwarfed. The wood bases warm up the white nightstands and bedding.
I turned to one of my favorite artists, Clare Elsaesser, to fill the void between the windows. I’ve always loved her work. The rich color combinations, tangled poses and fluid brush strokes create a dream-like quality making her pieces ideal for a bedroom. I framed the large print in a poster frame spray painted gold to match the curtain rods (also spray painted gold). At the eleventh hour, I decided to add black ribbon trim to the leading edges of the curtains for a little drama. It was more work but not expensive and totally worth it.
I think a TV in the bedroom is a personal choice and my clients choose to have one in theirs. To make it less conspicuous, we mounted it on the wall above one of the vintage dressers I rehabbed. (The dark walls go a long way in hiding the TV, too.) An accordion-like bracket allows the screen to be angled toward the bed for easier viewing.
I was the teensiest bit apprehensive about the dressers. I absolutely LOVE how they turned out and knew they would look great in the space. However, when I met with my client initially, she told me she didn’t like gold and preferred “rustic” furniture pieces. The minute she saw them, she was sold – on the gold and the midcentury style. I was so glad because the clean lines and warm wood tones were very much needed in the space. I made her a believer! (Her husband loves them, too, but I knew he would.)
The feather finish tops were a hit, too.
I brought in a bench and mirror for easy dressing and quick once-overs. (A hallway leading to his and hers closets is located just to the left of the bench.) The mirror actually came with the dresser I used in my boys’ room. I had no use for it but hung on to it because it’s a solid piece. It finally found a home! At night, the Moroccan blanket can be folded up and placed on the bench.
My client had her heart set on a chaise for the adjacent sitting area. She imagined it as a quiet space for lounging with a book and / or a glass of wine.
A metal accent table picks up on other gold details in the room and provides a surface for reading material and a drink. Layered textiles create a relaxed vibe. The kilim pillow repeats the color scheme of the artwork in the sleeping area. The hanging planter fills vertical space and adds life to the vignette. We treated the two smaller windows as one large one (one curtain rod, two curtain panels) to make the space feel lighter and brighter.
I paired the other dresser with black and white abstract art to give the sitting area a modern edge.
The best part? My clients absolutely love the room. I can’t tell you how good it feels to witness people go from detesting a living space to not wanting to leave it. I’m so grateful they allowed me to put my spin on things. Not everyone is willing to go dark or try things outside of their comfort zone, but they were game. Thanks Maggie & Jeremy!
Resources of note:
wall paint – Benjamin Moore kendall charcoal, color-matched in Valspar Reserve
ceiling fan – Amazon
headboard – Mariah headboard in taft pewter, Arhaus*
Moroccan wedding blanket – etsy
linen duvet, lumbar pillow – Ikea
euro shams – Ralph Lauren in polished bronze, Macy’s
sheets – Target
nightstands – Overstock
wood lamps – Lamps Plus
ring holder – Target
curtain rods – Amazon (spray painted gold with Rustoleum Universal pure gold)
curtains – Ikea
black ribbon trim – Amazon
large print – “Unclasped” by Clare Elsaesser, etsy
poster frame – Amazon (spray painted gold with Rustoleum Universal pure gold)
dressers – vintage, DIY
pierced hurricane candleholders – Target
woven basket – Target
bench – Overstock
mirror – vintage
chaise – Audrey chaise in tumble natural, Arhaus*
black and white abstract art & wood frames – Minted*
jute plant hanger – Amazon
olive throw – Overstock
kilim pillow – etsy
metal side table – Urban Outfitters
hide & sheepskin rugs – Ikea
task lamp – Ikea
ivy planter – thrifted
*Denotes items provided specifically for this project. This is NOT a sponsored post but I would like to thank Arhaus and Minted for providing the items listed above. I am grateful to be in a unique position to pass along quality products to my clients to help stretch their budgets. You can see more pictures of this space and read my tips for creating a beautiful bedroom over on Arhaus’s blog, Greenhaus.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking