...because home doesn't happen overnight.

FYI: No mention of houses here other than one swept up by a tornado.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Last Saturday, Steve and I had the opportunity to hear Ira Glass speak at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati. I’m a regular This American Life listener but it was my first time seeing Ira live. He did not disappoint. The event was titled “Reinventing the Radio” and, even though I have no professional ties to radio or journalism, I left feeling inspired as a writer.

Ira has a way of drawing listeners in without gimmicky promos and he talked about his storytelling version of journalism. In contrast to most news media, Ira’s broadcasts aren’t a series of big news stories with an underlying serious tone. Obviously, there’s a need for major, factual news programs (I’m not talking about the biased, sensationalized, fearmongering programs. I seriously think we could do without those.) but Ira claims there’s also a need for personal storytelling to put the world into perspective, to bring down the scale of the world to a human level. I couldn’t agree more.

He gave an example of a radio interview with a tornado victim and played some audio of the homeowner recounting her experience. She talks about what she was doing, what her kids were doing, what she saw and how it felt to be in a house that was picked up, swirled around and put back down on the ground three blocks away from its original location. There were no images or video but you could envision her story in your mind as it unfolded. It was riveting and really gave you a sense of what it might feel like to live through a tornado.

Ira then asked the audience to picture the nonexistent television news version of the same story. Most likely there would be video panning the wreckage, the victim’s home, the neighborhood. A very serious reporter would stand next to the victim and ask a few surface-scratching questions all the while ticking down the seconds. Maybe viewers would subconsciously judge the victim based on her, her home’s or her neighborhood’s appearance. The focus would be the damage but there wouldn’t be any real connection. And then the program would move on to another big scary story. It’s all very abrupt and fleeting.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Ira’s method of storytelling is the reason why I find myself sitting in my car in the driveway with the engine off, radio on, after running an errand. I can’t stop listening! I’m caught up in the story. I want to find out what happens next. And, because the story is given time to unfold, I’m more likely to remember the details and make a permanent connection. It’s probable that I will recall the story at a later time and share it with someone else. Then that one little story will spark thoughts on bigger ideas and it causes me to look at things from a more human perspective than I would otherwise. Or it brings to light issues I normally wouldn’t consider.

Ira has a genuine talent for showcasing the humor and candor inside the bigger, scarier stories and I find it all very inspiring.

“Great stories happen to those who can tell them.” – Ira Glass

What about you? Are you a story lover? What is your favorite way to get the news? Do you listen to This American Life? Serial? I haven’t tuned in to Serial yet because I’m too afraid of getting sucked in!

P.S. – A dog dressed as Ira for Halloween and my dream radio.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

10.25.14 / Made Me Smile

tub progress

That, my friends, is the first time the (declawed) claw foot tub has been filled with water…at least while in our possession. And it happened yesterday. It felt extremely momentous. I’ll share more soon. The installation was tedious with inevitable hiccups but, look!, running water!! We feel like we’ve cleared a huge hurdle in this never-ending bathroom project. And that definitely makes us smile. Ear to ear.

More feel good stuff…

*Waltzing vacuum cleaners.

*The perfect lil’ reading nook.

*Since I’m “a little weird,” for fun I scoped out vacation rentals in Austin, TX. How ridiculously cute is this remodeled Airstream?! WANT.

*Add art to your kitchen.

the black shack

the black shack

*A black shack: equal parts edgy and beautiful.

*Ghost lights.

*Ikea’s take on The Shining. (Red rug. Ha!)

Have a great weekend! Steve and I are going to hear Ira Glass speak at the Aronoff tonight. I’m so excited! (Have you read or seen Sleepwalk with Me? Ira co-wrote and produced the film version.) I love listening to This American Life. I’m curious to see how similar / different it is to hear Ira in person. Either way, it should be fun! Storytelling is the best.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2 & 3) Ansis Starks

modern shed and playhouse 1

Today I’m sharing two more golden nuggets from our friends’ home: a modern shed and playhouse nestled in a corner of the backyard. James designed and built both structures on his own. (If you haven’t noticed by now, his craftsmanship is impeccable.) The outbuildings are covered in 12″ HardiePlank lap siding, a fiber cement product known for its beauty, strength and durability. The planks are meant to be lapped over each other but James installed them flush for a simpler, sleeker look.

modern shed 1

Since James uses the attached garage to work on client projects, the family needed a separate space to store tools and equipment for lawn maintenance and gardening. A wood ramp allows James to wheel out the lawnmower easily. I wasn’t able to snap a shot of the shed’s interior, but the walls are lined with leftover walnut paneling from the home’s interior renovation. (It’s the same paneling that wraps the pony wall as seen here.) It’s the most attractive shed interior I’ve ever seen.

modern shed 2

The exterior is painted a rich chocolate brown. Colored acrylic windows (from TAP Plastics) are a surprising and fun feature.

modern playhouse 1

Many elements are repeated in the playhouse for cohesion: chocolate brown HardiePlank siding, colored acrylic windows and a mono-pitched roof. The door is painted the same turquoise as the home’s front door. Large outdoor playthings are stored underneath the raised structure and concealed by timber slats. A small deck cantilevers off the front of the playhouse supporting a staircase on one end and a slide on the other.

modern playhouse 4

A series of five small acrylic windows in orange and blue tie in to the shed’s colored windows.

modern playhouse 3

The interior is outfitted with interlocking foam floor tiles, a chalkboard wall, a small picnic table and a toy box. A niche in the chalkboard wall (not shown) provides a convenient spot for storing a bucket of chalk.

modern playhouse 5

modern playhouse 6

modern playhouse and shed 2

modern playhouse 2

The modern designs of the shed and playhouse fit the family’s midcentury home so well. James and Kristina have a knack for incorporating their style into everything they do. When you visit their home, you experience the different spaces – inside and out – as parts of a bigger whole. The spaces flow into one another with ease thanks in part to deliberate, consistent design. I love that.

So what do you think? What’s your favorite aspect of the shed and / or playhouse? Obviously, my kids are big fans of the slide ;)

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

reclaimed shelves 2

I received an email from a reader a few weeks ago asking for help tracking down unfinished boards to fit Ikea’s BJÄRNUM brackets. (You may recall we fitted the brackets with reclaimed fence boards to create open shelving in the kitchen.) The brackets are meant to support 1″ thick, 11″ deep boards. Unfortunately, the “common” boards carried by most big box home improvement stores aren’t actually 1″ thick – even though they’re labeled as such. So annoying!

Anyway, I’m afraid I wasn’t much help. I advised the reader to scope out craigslist or other secondhand sources for reclaimed boards that could be cut to size. (We cut our fence boards so that the ends taper into the brackets.) A little while later I received a followup email. The reader had found the perfect unfinished boards at her local home improvement store: stair treads! Ingenious. Sometimes, a little creative thinking leads to materials that are less expensive and / or more unique than blatantly labeled materials.

This renovation trick was on my mind while reading the November issue of Dwell. In the magazine, I came across a few more examples of not-so-obivous material choices.

maple shorts

This modest new build incorporates maple “shorts” as flooring. The cut pieces were left over from previous projects and sold at a discount.

cedar shelves

In this same home, leftover cypress (used elsewhere on the exterior as siding and decking) is incorporated in the kitchen as shelving.

“…you’re using basic things, but you’re using them in new and unique ways.” – Jonathon Kemnitzer, designer

marble thresholds as bathroom tile

I spotted another clever use of material in this bathroom. The “tiles” are actually 6″ wide marble thresholds that have been cut to length to cover the floor and shower walls.

“This is considered junk stone in the interior design world but we saw something really handsome in it.” – Paul Syme, architect

I love the idea of thinking outside the box when it comes to building materials. As I mentioned, we repurposed reclaimed fence boards as kitchen shelving. We’ve also created outdoor art using wood salvaged from our home’s attic, and we recently constructed a tub cradle base from an old beam. Have you made not-so-obvious material choices in your own home?

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2 & 3) Kem Studio 4) Nathan Dykstra