...because home doesn't happen overnight.


Congrats to Taylor who has the perfect spot for the “Torched” print!

Myra contacted me about adding function and style to her family’s foyer. Even though the entry is spacious, the family is having a difficult time making it work for their lifestyle. With two young boys in the mix, the entry needs to provide organization for shoes, outerwear, a diaper bag, pumpkin seat, mail, keys and other miscellaneous.

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As is, the walls are only primed and the space is broken up by french doors that lead to a living room, an open staircase, a doorway and a coat closet. There isn’t enough storage near the front door so discarded shoes and hats turn into tripping hazards. A clunky bench blocks the french doors. The dresser was originally meant to hold small outerwear items but instead it has become a catchall for odds and ends, like board games and items left behind by guests. Myra isn’t sure it’s the best fit for the space. She and her husband recently spruced up the stairs with new paint and stain. They would love for the open staircase to be more of a focal point as it’s one of their favorite things about their home. And Myra wants the foyer to feel more inviting – both for her family and for guests – as it’s the main point of entrance. She leans towards neutrals, natural textures and hits of black and gold.

Here are my ideas for Myra’s foyer…

inviting + family-friendly entry

1 – First up, I would keep the wall color light. Benjamin Moore super white would look bright and clean. If white walls aren’t practical for Myra’s family, a light gray (i.e., Benjamin Moore gray owl or stonington gray) could be great. I think the front door would look more substantial with a few coats of black paint. Try Benjamin Moore onyx. Hanging two rows of hooks (one at kid height, one at adult height) on the sliver of wall just to the left of the front door as you enter would provide immediate storage for everything from jackets to backpacks to the diaper bag. These leather and peg hook racks are so handsome. A more affordable option would be to DIY similar racks using stained wood boards and black hooks from a local home improvement store.

2 – Since the staircase wall is the view that greets the homeowners and guests upon entrance, it should feel welcoming and act as a focal point. This is the place to hang art and add a few accessories. I would repurpose or sell the current dresser and bring in a narrower one with straighter lines so as not to compete with the staircase. A small teardrop lamp on top of the dresser lends warm ambience and makes the large space feel more intimate. The “Torched” art print has an organic vibe that helps to soften all the sharp angles in the entry. I would frame it and hang it a few inches above the dresser then lean the bird art (currently near the front door) in front of it for a casual, layered effect. A gold leaf-like bowl can corral everything from Hot Wheels to keys to the baby’s pacifier. Because it’s metal, it’s virtually indestructible. Greenery is always a good thing! Keep a large floor basket next to the dresser for miscellaneous items such as random toys, stray socks or a bike helmet.

3 – Textured rug squares in putty or taupe are perfect for high traffic areas. They’re so good at upping the cozy factor while simultaneously hiding dirt. The antique bench is too bulky and completely crowds another great feature of the foyer – those glass doors! I would like to see a simpler bench used elsewhere in the space. (More on that in a minute.) For immediate hidden storage near the front door, I would hang a slim shoe cabinet on the wall where the bird art currently resides. The cabinet is meant to hold shoes but it’s also great for smaller items like gloves and hats that don’t always make it into the closet or dresser. The plastic material is family-friendly (just wipe it down!) and inexpensive but could be dressed up by wrapping the sides and top in plywood. The top horizontal surface is a great spot for dropping keys or mail. Hanging a small round mirror above the shoe cabinet allows for quick once-overs. I love the leather detail on this one!

4 – Between the coat closet and staircase (on the window wall) I would provide seating with a bench. I like the simple design and natural materials of this one. The cork looks really organic and should be crazy durable, not to mention a little more forgiving to lil’ ones than the hard corners and arms on the current bench. A sturdy basket, shoes and/or the infant pumpkin seat can be slid underneath the bench and out of the way. I always think it’s a good idea to have a basket at the bottom of a staircase to corral items that need to be taken upstairs. Just grab the basket on your way up and go! A kilim pillow lends color and pattern. (Every room needs a pillow. Duh.)

5 – To finish off the space, I’d switch out the traditional chandelier with something more modern. I absolutely LOVE the lines and black finish of this blacksmith chandelier. The finish ties in to the metal legs on the bench, the black ink in the artwork and the leather loops on the hook rack.

Lastly, I would also encourage Myra and her family to utilize the backside of the closet door. A clear hanging organizer can keep extra pairs of shoes in check along with other small items like scarves, hats, gloves, etc. I know keeping an entryway (no matter how large or small) tidy with kids present can feel like a losing battle most days, but I’ve found that having a system in place is essential. It doesn’t take much to quickly throw hats in baskets and shoes in cabinets and hang bags and coats on hooks before walking away. When there’s a place for everything, it’s a cinch. I hope this gives Myra and her family – and maybe even you – some ideas for injecting function and style into one of the busiest spaces of a home.

After making it through all that, I’m excited to announce today’s giveaway! Minted is offering up some art for the taking. (I seriously can’t stop thinking about that dreamy print above.) See entry details below.

PRIZE: one $200 credit to Minted

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a physical shipping address. (No P.O. boxes please.) One entry per email address. This giveaway is open to international readers!

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

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, November 15th. One random winner will be announced Monday, November 16th.

*BONUS* I’m throwing in a signed copy of Lovable Livable Home to the winner! John & Sherry were nice enough to send me an early copy but I had already preordered one. I met up with them when they were in town last month and asked if they wouldn’t mind signing my preordered copy for a giveaway. They were game so it’s up for grabs! Shipping is on me.

Good luck!

Do you have a space in need of help? You can email me at housetweaking (at) gmail (dot) com with photos and a description of your space for consideration for a complimentary mood board and blog feature. I’m not able to help everyone but I will do my best to select spaces with the best potential. Thanks for reading!

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With the two older kids back in school and summer slowly slipping away, I find myself trying to make the most of what little daylight time we have together in the evenings. Eating dinner together as a family has always been a priority for us. Often times, Steve doesn’t return home from work until after 7:00 p.m., or he’s traveling. So when we do get the chance to eat dinner all together (as opposed to just the kids and me) during the week, we jump on it. It’s a great way to reconnect and share stories from the day. It’s never formal but it always feels special. The weather has been so pleasant lately that we’ve been eating al fresco on the back deck. We have an outdoor dining table but gathering on the outdoor sectional for dinner feels cozier, more comfortable. Everyone is at ease.

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With the busyness the school year brings, I’ve started ordering meals from Blue Apron again, too, depending on our schedule. The family plan is meant to serve four, but we’ve found that it’s the perfect plan for us since our youngest two usually eat half of a full serving. That equates to roughly $6.99 per person (for a family of five) which is less than what we normally pay to eat out yet a little more than what we pay for grocery shopping + meal planning on our own. The convenience of having fresh ingredients delivered right to our door in just the right amounts is kinda priceless though. Especially during chaotic weeks.

A new-ish feature of Blue Apron allows subscribers to see what’s on the menu up to a month in advance. You’re able to select which recipes you want to try and/or opt out of delivery for upcoming weeks. Shipping is always free!

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Our most recent delivery included the steak gyros & corn on the cob with tzatziki sauce & spiced butter and now it’s our all-time Blue Apron favorite. It was super quick and easy to prepare. Mabrey even helped ;)

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I served it family style on the coffee table outside.

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The kids loved the “help yourself” setup and made their own plates. Everything was good but the corn was AMAZING. Coming from me, that says a lot. I’ve lived in the midwest all my life and corn is a summer staple around here. Growing up, we had a large garden and rows of corn. Some of my fondest childhood memories include corn roasts at our house with all my aunts, uncles and cousins. My dad would get a large brush pile burning and we would roast ears of corn at the top of the pile, sticking them between the smoldering branches. When they were done, we ate them standing around the bonfire. The corn was so good that butter was entirely optional, rarely necessary.

Admittedly, when I first scanned the Blue Apron recipe and saw the corn + spiced butter combo I was leery. Adding anything to corn other than butter and salt felt almost sacrilegious. But it was DELICIOUS. The sauce is basically a mixture of butter, garlic and greek spices. Steve and I both agreed it was the best corn we have ever had. If you take only one thing from this post, let it be the corn + spiced butter recipe. Trust.

I like how Blue Apron nudges us out of our usual dinner comfort zones. In the same delivery, I also ordered the crispy catfish & roasted potatoes. The side of summer bean salad with garlic-lemon aioli was so good that we are bringing it to a family cookout next weekend. I want to try the oven-braised tandoori cauliflower and the piri-piri chicken next.

How are you eking out the last few weeks of summer? Did you know today is National Eat Outside Day?! How will you celebrate?

BONUS: The first 50 readers can grab two free meals on their first Blue Apron order by clicking here!

*This post sponsored in part by Blue Apron. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking


Congrats to Mary Ann and Kelly! I have already emailed you two with more info about your prizes. Thanks!

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My kids are on summer break which means they are either bored or hungry until mid-August. Ha! (I’m half joking.) I signed the boys up for a free camp program that our local park district offers three mornings per week, and they are taking a tennis class twice a week in the evenings. Mabrey takes a gymnastics class with her cousin (same age) once a week. Other than those activities we have the library, a pool pass and the studio to keep us busy this summer.

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The kids have been good sports about hanging out in the empty studio while I clean, take measurements, check in on progress, paint and make plans. In fact, they’re usually excited to go and that makes me happy. (It could have something to do with the NatureBox snacks.) I’ve always envisioned them playing, crafting, messing next to me at the studio. I want it to be a creative haven for them, too. But a few changes need to be made in order for that to happen.

For one, I need a large work table. I’ve been stalking an old dining table on ebay that would fit the bill, but I want to add casters to make it portable. It’s located here in Ohio. I could avoid shipping costs by picking it up myself. I haven’t pulled the trigger just yet only because I’m working on painting the floors. The table has been up for auction numerous times and keeps getting relisted when it doesn’t sell. With the floors almost done, I think I’m pulling the trigger this week!

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The other must-have is storage. Originally, I had planned on bringing in a wardrobe or armoire for storage, but with the kids in tow I’m leaning toward adding a few cabinets with drawers. I’ve rolled the idea around in my head over and over and I think a simple dry bar setup would work best. The space doesn’t have plumbing and there’s a cleanup sink just down the hall. I’m thinking a small bank of base cabinets, a mini fridge and a simple open shelf would suffice for housing the kids’  art supplies, snacks and packed lunches. The entry wall (shown above) would be the perfect location.

I busted out a very rudimentary sketch of what I have in mind. On graph paper…because that’s where the magic happens for me.

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As far as aesthetic, I’ve been writing down words that come to mind when I think of how I want the studio to look and feel: industrial, modern, farmhouse, imperfect, casual, durable, versatile, informal, functional, ever-changing, simple, inspiring. That list is pushing me toward Ikea cabinet frames paired with notched, flat panel drawer fronts similar to these.

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Lately, I’ve been drawn to cabinets painted in earthy greens. If I can make it work with the painted concrete floors, I’d love to use the DIY slab-style drawer fronts from Semihandmade and paint them a shade of green. I’ve always wanted to try Semihandmade drawer fronts / doors and this seems like the perfect excuse to do so. Even though there is a cleanup sink down the hall, the water isn’t drinkable as-is. Hence, the mini fridge so I can utilize a water filter.

One of the cabinets will be designated the snack cabinet. My kids are huge NatureBox fans. The monthly snack subscription is great for busy (summer!) months when we’re traveling back and forth to the pool, the library, the park, the studio, etc. They make great snacks for longer trips, too. I’m able to select which snacks are delivered to my doorstep. With over 100 options and no high fructose corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated oils, no artificial colors, it’s easy to find delicious snack options everyone loves. Each bag contains 3-5 servings so one bag feeds my crew. The salt & pepper lentil loops, antioxidant boost and granny smith apples are their favorites.

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Does NatureBox sound like something your family would like to try this summer? Maybe you have a vacation coming up? Today NatureBox is offering TWO free 6-month subscriptions. See entry details below.

PRIZE: Two H*T readers will win a 6-month subscription to NatureBox.

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

TO ENTER: Browse NatureBox’s snack selection here then leave a comment on this post sharing which snack(s) you’d like to try.

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST Tuesday, June 23rd. Two random winners will be announced Wednesday, June 24th.

BUT, WAIT!, THERE’S MORE: Join NatureBox today and get a FREE sample box of some of their fan favorites. Click here to get started.

Good luck!

*This post sponsored in part by NatureBox, a product and service I use personally. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

images: 1-4 & 6) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 5) (clockwise from top left) Lincoln Barbour for Jessica Helgerson Interior Design; The Urban Farmhouse; Mazen Studio; Laure Joliet for Remodelista