...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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We’ve been living with TWO bathrooms for almost a year. It still feels like a luxury after sharing one bathroom for nearly three years. I get a lot of questions wanting to know how the main bathroom is or is not working for us. Now that we’ve lived with it a while, I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts on the space: things I’m loving, things I would change if I had it to do over and how I’m keeping the room looking as good as new. (Hint: It has something to do with The Honest Company and their promise to deliver safe and effective products at an affordable price point. I’ve been using their products for years on my own, unsolicited, and am happy to share a discount from Honest at the end of this post. If you aren’t interested in the offer, feel free to skip it but I hope you still find this post helpful when/if you’re brainstorming a bathroom renovation.)

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First up, the tub and its DIY cradle base are solid. We LOVE them. I was really nervous about losing the claw feet and adding the wood base (which we kind of made up as we went) but the setup turned out beautifully. Steve did a superb job contouring the wood cradles to match the profile of the tub because the tub hasn’t budged, not even a wiggle. The cradles are protected with Waterlox so inevitable bath time splashes aren’t a problem. I’ve only managed to take one bath in the deep tub but it was glooooorious. It needs to happen again. And I’m even not a fan of baths. Scratch that. I made it happen last night.

Many people warned us about cumbersome showers in an old cast iron tub, claiming water would spray everywhere and the curtains would stick to wet bodies. Surprisingly, neither of those things have been an issue. As long as we remember to close the curtain (there are actually two separate liners that enclose the entire tub), water from the shower head stays in the tub. Using liners with weights along the bottom and running the ventilation fan during showers prevents the liners from billowing into the shower and doing that annoying curtain-to-skin-contact thing.

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If there is one thing I would go back and change, I’d add recessed wall niches near the tub, if possible, to hold toiletries. As is, we only have a small rack on the plumbing kit. It’s big enough to hold the kids’ shampoo + body wash and a bottle of bubble bath from The Honest Company but it would be nice to have a little more room for rinsing cups and guests’ toiletries.

By the way, we’ve been using the shampoo + body wash as a family for years and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Steve even uses it. Real men use body wash. Ha! Obviously, the combined function is ideal for small bathrooms. It’s one less bottle in the shower. It’s naturally tear-free (it contains no added numbing agents like other tear-free products) and super gentle which makes it perfect for kids AND color-treated hair. Plus, it smells delicious. My favorite part, though, is that since it is soap-free we don’t get the nasty pink build-up caused by bacteria feeding on residual soap scum. It’s a win-win-win situation.

One thing that was a little unexpected is the height of the shower head. It’s slightly lower than what we’re accustomed to. It’s because the floor of the tub is higher than a standard tub or shower pan, and the ceiling is 8′ so we didn’t have extra vertical space to work with. It’s not a deal breaker, just something we’ve noticed. Steve and I have taken showers in the bathroom with no problem. Oh! And we remedied the leaky shower head. The company sent us a replacement. Problem solved.

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Overall, I would do this whole tub / cradle base / shower setup again but I’d consider the addition of a wall niche or two.

I wouldn’t change a thing about the wall and floor tile. I’m so happy we took the subway tile to the ceiling in the tub area and then carried it around the rest of the room at a height of ~41″. It’s super easy to wipe down and, with kids, that’s definitely a pro. I’m also glad I threw in the pencil liner detail at the last minute but, in my opinion, the best part of the bathroom is the hex tile on the floor. It was an absolute pain to install but totally worth it in the end. The black travertine hex paired with a light gray grout has proven to be extremely kid-friendly. Our boys seem to be, um, distracted when using the bathroom. Still, their stray streams (if you catch my drift) haven’t discolored the tile or the grout.

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After trying various store-bought and homemade cleaning solutions on the travertine hex with subpar results (I was usually left with a hazy film on the matte tile), I turned to Honest‘s bathroom cleaner and couldn’t be happier. It cleans mean and smells nice.

As for the square toilet, it’s a good thing it’s cute. It’s comfortable to the tush (inquiring minds want to know) and I love the modern shape against the old tub, but I didn’t even consider how difficult it would be to clean the interior of a square toilet. (!) Without giving away too many repulsive details, the corners can get pretty gross. I avoid chemical-based toilet cleaners because I like this planet we live on, but my homemade concoctions were no match for this toilet. I needed something thicker that could be easily directed toward the offending corners. Enter Honest‘s toilet cleaner. The natural ingredients work like a charm and have the faintest, most pleasant eucalyptus scent. It’s the best. Ever. Hands down. Seriously. HAVE YOU ORDERED THIS TOILET CLEANER YET? Yes, I’m attempting to proselytize toilet cleaner. This is what happens when you own a square toilet. My only words for someone considering a toilet with a square bowl are “How bad do you want it?”

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I wasn’t sure how the double handle sink faucet would go over with the kids but it’s worked well. If anything, we’re using less hot water because it’s easier for them to just turn on the cold. I’m NOT a fan of the vanity. Save for a basket (which I added) and a small drawer too low to be of much use, the vanity provides no real storage. If I had to do it again, I would go with a white version of the same floating Ikea vanity in our master bathroom. Yes, it’s ubiquitous, but for good reason. For starters, it’s affordable. The deep drawers provide ample storage and the floating design is practical for small bathrooms. The recessed medicine cabinet is totally saving my a$$. We’d be lost without it.

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Not having to share a bathroom with the kids means the master bathroom stays cleaner longer. We like having a bathroom close to the main living area, too. And I think our guests appreciate not having to pass through our bedroom to use the bathroom anymore. That always felt awkward. I love you second bathroom.

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And, obviously, I love Honest products. This is a sponsored post which means I’m being compensated to share my thoughts about the company with you. But it’s easy when it’s a brand I’ve been subscribing to and paying for on my own for years after buying and reading The Honest Life. Without being preachy, the book raised my awareness of what’s really in the products we bring into our home. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about making informed decisions. The subscription service ensures that I have only what I need when I need it. I can easily edit my bundles and shipping dates to suit my family’s needs. Typically, I receive orders 4-6 times per year.

I regularly order the shampoo + body wash, conditioning detangler (necessary for combing through Mabrey’s mane!), toilet cleaner, bathroom cleaner, dryer cloths and stain remover. Honest let us try the bubble bath and foaming hand soap for this post :) When Mabrey was a baby, I also used the wipes and organic healing balm. Looking ahead to the winter flu season, I added the organic breathe easy rub to my last bundle. Fingers crossed I don’t have to use it.

Do you subscribe to The Honest Company? Which items are your favorites? If you’re interested in trying safe and effective household essentials in your home, Honest is offering an exclusive 25% discount to House*Tweaking readers on their first bundle. Use the code HT25OFF at checkout.

*Offer valid only for first-time bundle buyers at Honest.com now through November 30th, 2015, 11:59 p.m. PT. This offer can only be redeemed once per customer and cannot be applied to international surcharge, taxes, shipping, previous purchases, current bundles, the purchase of gift cards or gift bundles. Offer cannot be redeemed for cash or combined with any other coupons or promotions. Terms of offer are subject to change. This post has been sponsored by The Honest Company who provided products and payment. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

(It’s not all bad news. I promise.)

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How do you clean your living room rug?

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that I’d have a lot of dollars. And I’d probably spend them all on books or Trader Joe’s cookie butter. Or hand soap.

In all seriousness though, up until a few weeks ago the only cleaning our living room rug had seen was frequent vacuuming – maybe once or twice per week – and spot cleaning over the last 2+ years. I’ve always used this vacuum and vacuumed the shag rug with the roller brush turned OFF. We don’t wear shoes in the house and only allow water and popcorn in the living room for family movie nights. Keeping shoes, food and drinks off the rug helped us avoid major spills. (Except for that one time I floundered a glass of rosé. Oops. Luckily, it came right up with vinegar + water.)

However, I was terrible at rotating the rug regularly and, eventually, there was a noticeable difference in appearance between the part of the rug near the kitchen and the part hidden under the sofa. On the rare occasions when we would pull out the sofa to look for a lost library book, we were struck by the pure whiteness of the untouched area under the sofa. It completely called out our family’s filth and made the rest of the rug look dingy. When it was covered up, no one was the wiser. So I left it covered up.

But I kept getting that question.

How do you clean your living room rug? Cha-ching. Kidding.

I started to become a little self-conscious. Was I supposed to be cleaning the rug? According to Martha Stewart, no. The rug was two and a half years old; I had two and a half years of vacuuming and spot cleaning left to go. It really didn’t look bad unless you saw the virgin part under the sofa. But curiosity got the best of me. I called a few local rug cleaners for quotes. Prices ranged from $2-$2.50 per square foot. For our 8′ x 10′ rug, I was looking at $160-$200 for a cleaning. Having only paid $270 for the rug to begin with, a $200 cleaning seemed pricey. But I had already been bitten by the rug cleaning bug and started researching a way to DIY the cleaning to save money.

(It’s worth noting that we had a horrible experience with a reputable big brand carpet cleaning service several years ago. They came in and cleaned the carpet in our first home and told me their methods were “safe” for kids and pets. An hour after they left, our dog had an anaphylactic reaction to whatever “safe” chemicals had been used. She spent an entire weekend in triage loaded up on epinephrine, steroids and antihistamines. We didn’t know if she was going to live and, if she did, if she would be able to come home to our “safe” carpet. Long story short, I don’t trust carpet cleaners.)

I assume you can predict where this is going.

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I made up a solution of water + vinegar + OxiClean and poured some into a spray bottle.

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1 – I dragged the rug outside to the deck, a feat in itself. I turned it upside down and vacuumed the backside several times.

2 – I turned the rug right side up and vacuumed it several more times. (You can see how dingy the rug really was!)

3 – Working from the middle to the edges, I saturated the rug with my homemade cleaning solution and let it sit for 10-15 minutes then rinsed it well with the hose. My plan was working! The rug looked brighter and whiter.

4 – I rolled the rug towards the yard end of the deck to squeeze out excess water. Easier said than done. The rug was so SO heavy. I had to put my back into it. I was sweating.

5 – I unrolled the rug and used a wet/dry Shop-Vac to suck up more water (plus miniscule Legos, Play-Doh crumbs and leaf bits). It was slow going. The rug was soaked and I took my time dragging the attachment tool slowly to get up as much water as possible. I had to empty the Shop-Vac canister twice. I got to a point at which the rug felt slightly damp and less slushy. I stopped vacuuming.

6 – I snipped loose threads and used a hairdryer to help dry things a little more. Basically, I groomed and styled that shag. I was happy with how the rug was looking!

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I pulled the rug up and over the outdoor dining table to finish drying. This required more muscles than I anticipated. I rubbed my knuckles raw pulling on the heavy rug and dropped a few f-bombs under my breath. But the rug looked so much better! I patted myself on the back for saving a few hundred dollars. The forecast predicted mild temps, low humidity and plenty of sunshine so I left the rug outside for a few days to allow it to dry completely.


But after 3 days it smelled like a big, wet dog. I tried to salvage the rug by hanging it over sawhorses in the garage with a box fan blowing under it. I did a great job of making our garage smell like a big, wet dog.

After several more days, it was apparent that there was no way the rug was coming back in the house. In retrospect, I think I did a pretty decent job of cleaning the rug but a horrible job of drying it. The smell was most likely due to mildew from not drying it quickly or thoroughly enough.

I felt awful. I loved that rug. As bad as I felt about ruining the rug, I felt worse about sending it off to a landfill. Ugh. I promise I don’t hate you earth. I should have listened to Martha’s rug guru.

Having lived with the durable but scratchy sisal rug in the living room for a week while I “cleaned” the shag rug, we discovered just how much our living room’s cozy factor rode on the shag rug. Without it, we found ourselves spending less time in the space and what time we did spend there wasn’t as comfortable as it had once been. Needless to say, the entire family was stoked to discover that the rug is still available from RugsUSA. A 75% off coupon code sealed the deal. We didn’t think twice about buying the rug…again. This time it cost us $280…$10 more than what we paid two and a half years ago…and about $80-$100 more than what it would have cost us to have the old one cleaned.

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The rug arrived last week. Our cozy living room is back! We’re completely smitten with the new rug. It doesn’t smell like wet dog. It’s plush and clean and barely sheds. Most likely, it’s better than whatever results a professional cleaner could have achieved with the old rug.

Surprisingly, there are some other differences, too, even though the rugs are technically the same. The pile of the new rug is slightly shorter. (I wish I had measured the previous one for comparison.) While I really LOVED the look of the longer pile on the previous rug, it would get caught in the roller brush of the vacuum which is why I had to turn it off while vacuuming. It made hunting for lost Legos nearly impossible. It’s also the reason why I was leery of using a powered carpet cleaner on the previous rug. I had read that long shags don’t do well with agitation. It can lead to knotting, fraying and unraveling. With the shorter pile of the new rug, I’m able to vacuum it with the roller brush on, no problem! I’m hoping this means I’ll be able to clean it with a powered carpet cleaner in the future. You know, to save money ;)

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Another subtle difference lies in the zig-zag pattern. The zig-zags are slightly narrower with more brown in them. The older rug’s zig-zags were more taupe/gray in color. The difference in color isn’t a deal breaker at all – just something we noticed. In case you’re wondering, the light background is pretty spot on when compared to the previous version. Overall, we’re impressed with the new version. It’s already proven to be more family- and user-friendly. I’m calling it a happy accident.

A few things I’m taking away from this whole rug cleaning experience:

*I need to do a better job of rotating the living room rug.

*Extremely shaggy rugs aren’t the most family-friendly rugs.

*Water + white vinegar + OxiClean does a decent job of cleaning grimy rugs.

*Wet rugs are super heavy.

*Sometimes I have really bad ideas.

*I love having no carpet in the house. After seeing what came out of the old rug, I like being able to remove our floor coverings for thorough cleanings (or, um, replacements).

*DIY isn’t always better or cheaper.

*Having a cozy rug in our living room makes a world of difference.

*My kids are horrible at picking up their Legos.

*I like my knuckles best when they have skin on them.

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I’ll let you know how things go with the new rug in, oh, two years or so ;) Until then, I’ll be vacuuming and spot cleaning away!

Pssst…if you’ve ever considered using the same rug in your home, it’s on sale through 10/12! #notsponsored

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

UPDATE: Apparently, I was operating on no coffee / no sleep / no brain cells at the time this post was written. So sorry for all the confusion! I have edited the post to clarify the main points and terminology. I hope it makes a little more sense. Thanks for all your feedback!

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A few years ago, I shared my bunk bed making secrets. Two and a half years later, I want to edit that post…starting with the removal of the cheesy lead shot. (Ugh.) But no, for real.

For the most part, the tips I shared are still in full force over here. I still use a step stool and sheet clips. (They’re like suspenders for your sheets.) I still keep pillows to a minimum. I’m still nixing the flat sheets. (They’re pointless with kids.) But there is one little thing that has been making my life even easier when it comes to making the boys’ bunk beds.

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They’re linen duvet covers in European sizes. Let me repeat. Linen duvet covers. European sizing. They will change your life. No more ironing. (Who am I kidding? I have never ironed bedding.) No more baggy, ill-fitting duvet covers. No more balled up, bunched up comforters inside said duvet covers. No more comforter clips.

European-sized duvet covers are smaller (narrower & shorter) so they actually fit the comforters. There’s less shifting of the comforters inside so I’ve been able to lose the comforter clips. (I still use sheet clips on the fitted sheet on the top bunk.) Also, the smaller sizing means less fabric to tuck around the mattress. Less tucking = less linen wrestling = less sweating = happy mama.

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I went with white European singles from this etsy shop and opted for the zipper closure for the boys’ twin mattresses. (If you are thinking of purchasing a European duvet cover, double check that it says EUR sizing. Not every listing in this etsy shop has EUR sizing available at this time which is why I didn’t link to a specific item.) For me, I prefer the zipper closure over any fold over, button or tie closure. It’s convenient and there’s no comforter slipping out over time.

I made the switch over a year ago. At the time, it seemed like such a splurge but now it feels like money well spent, an investment in my sanity. Bed making is quicker and the wrinkly linen is super kid-friendly. I’m hoping the white will stand the test of time. I can always pair it with something more colorful when boredom strikes.

When the BHG crew was here last month, the stylist brought in different bedding for the bunks. She was huffing and puffing, sweating and cursing by the time it was all said and done. We agreed that making bunk beds is the worst.

Thank goodness for those linen duvet covers that always look great with little effort. I’m tempted to make the switch in my bedroom, too.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking