...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Last week I shared our friends’ renovated kitchen and dining space. There was interest in seeing how the renovation affected other areas of the house so I thought it would be helpful to feature the entry, family room and office as well. First, let’s recap how James and Kristina reworked the floor plan without adding square footage. (FYI – These are rough sketches showing changes made to the layout. They are not to scale.)


modern family reno floor plan before


modern family reno floor plan after

A wall separating the kitchen from the original family room was removed and a doorway in the kitchen that provided access to the original dining room was closed up. Keeping their casual lifestyle in mind, the homeowners turned the former family room into an open dining space. The original (more formal) living room at the front of the house became a family room and the original dining room became a home office. Part of the wall separating the new kitchen from the new family room was opened up to give the space better flow.

modern family entry before

The original entry included vinyl flooring and a few midcentury gems (i.e., front door, pendant lights and brick pony wall planter).

modern family room 1

Not wanting to stray too far from the home’s midcentury roots, the homeowners kept the original front door but painted it a lively turquoise. They kept the statement pendants and pony wall but chose to nix the planter setup. (They didn’t think the planter would go over well with their two young kids and two dogs.)

modern family entry 2

Instead, James covered the brick pony wall with MDF, painted it black and then wrapped the entire thing in walnut paneling salvaged from the paneled wall that once separated the kitchen from the old family room. (You can spy a glimpse of it here.) He capped it with the same quartz countertop material found in the new kitchen. The pony wall provides a welcome pause upon entering the home without completely blocking off the entry. James was able to reuse more of the walnut paneling as shelving in the entry closet for added storage.

modern family entry 1

The new entry boasts the same large scale tile found in the kitchen and dining space. It’s durable and provides a cohesive look.

modern family room before

To James and Kristina, the original living room felt too formal and too disjointed from the heart of the home (the kitchen). The adjoining dining room was dark and didn’t jive with the family’s desire for an open kitchen-dining space.

modern family room 2

They decided the formal living room was unnecessary and repurposed it as a casual family room. The dining room was sealed off from the kitchen and relabeled as a home office. James is a self-employed contractor and runs his business from home. Kristina is currently taking college courses. The new room designation just made sense.

The entire home’s carpet had recently been replaced when James and Kristina took possession of the house. They considered installing hardwood flooring but the new carpet was in excellent condition and reminiscent of a 50s shag. In the end, they decided to keep the carpet out of the landfill and embrace it.

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A wide doorway between the family room and kitchen lends an openness and a simplified traffic pattern between the two spaces.

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Staying true to their preferred minimal and masculine aesthetic, James and Kristina mix midcentury finds with clean-lined contemporary furnishings.

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For contrast (and to play up the room’s inherent darkness), the office is painted a deep charcoal with blue undertones. Since photographing the space, James and Kristina have hung an oversized black and white print on the far wall to draw the eye into the office.

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modern family office 2

One side of the office features a sitting area and has a cozy den vibe. Vintage end tables play nicely with a big box daybed.

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The opposite side of the room functions as a workspace. James installed LED can lights overhead. The wall-mounted flatscreen can be used as a computer screen or a TV screen (for watching movies or playing video games). Two tall Ikea cabinets flank the desktop. James wrapped the cabinets and center desk support in a tiger wood laminate from a countertop supply store. The desktop is marbled Corian with a 3″ lip to give it a chunkier appearance and to hide unsightly wires. Transparent chairs take up little visual space in the small room.

Rescources of note:

family room and entry wall paint – Behr ocean pearl, matte finish
TV wall paint – Behr mocha accent, matte finish
office wall paint – Behr dark ash, matte finish
entry tile – Kaska Italian porcelain tile from Build Direct
entry cabinet – vintage
entry pendants – original to the house c. 1965
walnut paneling – original to the house c. 1965
pony wall top – Silestone white zeus quartz
media center – BESTÅ, Ikea
family room end tables – Urban Outfitters
family room coffee table – $20 garage sale find
family room chair – vintage, given as a tip from one of James’s clients
sectional – Kardiel
family room table lamps – Ikea
desk cabinets – ABSTRAKT, Ikea
desk chairs – TOBIAS, Ikea
office daybed – Urban Outfitters
office coffee table – Target
office end tables – vintage via craigslist
pillows – Target

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modern family media

modern family office 1

modern family light

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There are so many good ideas to take away from these spaces:

*Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and relabel rooms to suit your needs and lifestyle.

*Always consider what’s on the other side of a wall. Closing off and / or opening up doorways can have a huge impact on a home’s flow.

*Some original statement features are worth keeping – even if it means putting your own spin on things.

*Quality materials can be salvaged and repurposed as a way to pay homage to a house’s past life.

*You don’t have to rip out all the carpet to make an improvement. Replacing the flooring in the most highly trafficked areas will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Keep durability, cohesion and traffic patterns in mind when contemplating materials and location.

*Mix old and new successfully with a unifying theme.

Once again, thanks to James and Kristina for sharing their livable yet stylish, modest yet modern home! I can’t get over the entry pendant lights and the modernized pony wall. What’s your favorite part? I have a few more ideas from this renovation to share as inspiration. Stay tuned…

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

10.11.14 / Made Me Smile

vintage batik fabric

Happy Saturday! We’re busy sanding, staining, priming and painting today. The (declawed) clawfoot tub and accompanying DIY cradle base are coming along. Can’t wait to share our progress! This project has been so much fun mostly because we feel like we’re sailing uncharted waters. I’m not sure if the final result will resemble anything close to our vision but we’ve enjoyed the challenge.

More things I enjoyed this week…

*Vintage batik fabric for a special project.


*DIY wabi-sabi wood tiles.

*Bekah’s airstream redo.

*Danielle and Austin’s big reveal.

auhaus architecture

*There’s an Australian version of Houzz now?! Whoa. Where have I been?

*Tracy Anderson’s new workout DVD.

*Currently reading and loving: The Big Tiny.

*Trivets anyone?

Have a great rest of the weekend. I’m off to give the tub yet another coat of paint!

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Auhaus Architecture

flexifelt 1

This is the first house we’ve lived in that doesn’t have carpet. When we moved in, we put adhesive protector pads on the feet of all the furniture that rests directly on the wood floors. For larger, stationary pieces (i.e., the sofa, living room chair, media cabinet, etc.) the standard felt pads work fine. But we’ve always had an issue with the protectors staying put on the counter stools at the kitchen island. The stools get moved in and out several times a day and I’ve had to replace the felt pads at least four times. New pads start shifting out of place after only a few days. They attract dust bunnies to the bottom of the stools. I’m constantly cleaning adhesive residue off the floor under the island overhang. At one point, I decided to forego the pads all together because they were more work than they were worth. But the kids like to tip the stools when they’re sitting on them (drives me bonkers) and it was leaving small dents in the floor.

Steve did some googling and came across these flexi-felt covers. The presentation videos are super hokey but the concept was appealing. The flexi-felt cover is basically a small sleeve of clear, flexible plastic that grips around furniture feet. A quality felt pad on the bottom of the sleeve allows furniture to glide along floors without leaving scratches or dents. Out of desperation, we measured our stools (an essential step) and shelled out $35 for sixteen felt sleeve covers. It seemed like a lot of money but we realized we had spent as much – or more – on furniture pads that had failed over the past two years.

flexifelt 3

When the felt covers arrived, Steve couldn’t get them on fast enough. I’ve never seen a grown man so excited about furniture pads. The process of putting the covers on, however, was NOT exciting. Even with the included installation tool, it took nearly forty-five minutes to put on all sixteen covers. Our stool legs don’t taper perfectly (a section of the metal leg juts out just above the feet) so it was difficult to slide the tool out during installation. But once all covers were in place, we were surprised by their appearance and performance.

flexifelt 2

Sure, we could have slipped cut tennis balls onto the stool legs but I wasn’t keen on the stools looking like geriatric walkers. Rubber cane tips would probably prevent dents and dings but, again, geriatric. Not to mention, they don’t glide easily. The transparent flexi-felt covers aren’t obnoxious looking at all. In fact, they’re barely noticeable. But the game changer? THEY WORK. It’s been over a month since we installed the new covers and they haven’t budged. Steve and I are impressed. The pads come with a one-year warranty but the limitations are questionable. For instance, the warranty doesn’t cover “normal wear.” At any rate, we have no complaints so far and I’m curious to see how they hold up in the long run. I’ll keep you posted.

Do you use furniture pads? Have you discovered any pads that stay put on frequently moved furniture?

FYI – This post is NOT sponsored in any way. Just sharing a non-geriatric furniture pad option that’s working for us so far.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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I first met Kristina while I was waiting at the boys’ elementary school for a parent-teacher conference. I was pregnant with Mabrey and due any day.

“I’m sorry. I just have to tell you that you are the cutest pregnant woman I’ve ever seen. You’re adorable.” I turned to see a beautiful tall woman who looked to be about my age. She had the most amazing olive skin, shiny brunette hair, watery brown eyes and the friendliest smile framed by full lips.

We exchanged introductions and I knew right away we were going to be good friends. Which is weird because it’s not always easy making friends as an adult. In fact, it’s downright awkward. (Especially when you’re somewhat of an introvert around strangers.) But I liked Kristina right off the bat. We talked and quickly discovered that our oldest sons were in the same class so we exchanged phone numbers to schedule a playdate.

A few weeks went by. I gave birth to Mabrey and shortly thereafter Kristina called to invite Layne over for an hour or two to play. She thought subtracting one kid from my house would help lighten my load a little and I was grateful. Yes! She gave me her address and we were both surprised to learn we lived less than five minutes apart. I loaded up all three kids and made the short drive over to Kristina’s. I had every intention of dropping Layne off with a quick hello-goodbye and taking advantage of my two-kid status by hitting up the grocery store.

But the minute I stepped foot in her house, I was hooked. From the outside, it was an unassuming midcentury brick rancher. Inside, Kristina and her husband, a self-employed contractor, had transformed the house into a modern family home. To make a long story short, I didn’t go grocery shopping that day. I stayed for the entire two hours but it felt more like 15 minutes. And it wasn’t just because the house was super cool. Although, that was a good icebreaker. Kristina was very easy to talk to and we discovered we had a lot in common – as did our sons and our husbands. Everything clicked.

Two and a half years later, we’re great friends. And so are our children and husbands! We have a lot of fun together and share similar interests. One of which is a love of all things home and home improvement. (Kristina’s husband, James, is the one who helped Steve with the pesky hexagon tile in the main bathroom.) We’ve bonded over renovation stories – good ones and not-so-good ones.

I always knew I wanted to share their home on the blog but I have so much apprehension about asking people to let me broadcast their home on the Internet. I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable or unsafe. And I don’t want people to think I’m using them for blog material. But, earlier this year, I decided to JUST ASK! (That’s how this post came about.) Luckily, James and Kristina were more than happy to share their home with me, my camera and the interweb. I hope you enjoy it and that it inspires you in some way!

modern family before 1

First up, the befores. James and Kristina were on a budget when they were searching for a house in the area. They were looking for a midcentury modern ranch in good condition. They didn’t want a house that had been updated already. They wanted a house that they could put their spin on by switching up the layout and / or making cosmetic changes. They stumbled upon this 1965 ranch in immaculate condition. It was an estate sale. They snatched it up and James took three months off work (an advantage of being self-employed) to revamp the main living spaces: kitchen, family room, dining room, living room and laundry room. He did nearly all of the work himself.

The remodel involved removing a wall that closed off the kitchen from the adjoining family room (seen above) and reworking the kitchen.

modern family before 3

The original kitchen was connected to a formal dining room (via the doorway seen above) but the couple opted to close up the doorway and turn the dining room into an office. The adjoining family room became a casual dining space. A wall separating the new kitchen / dining space from a front living room was opened up to give access to the room which they now use as a family room.

modern family before 2

Here’s an “in progress” shot looking at the kitchen from the new dining area (former family room). The paneled wall is gone and the space already feels larger and brighter. The door on the left leads to a laundry nook. On the right, you can see that the doorway to the original dining room has been closed up and access to the front family room (former living room) has been added.

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And here is the space now! The new open layout is conducive to the family’s casual lifestyle. Not to mention, it gives the house better flow. The original layout felt jumbled and loopy.

modern family 2

Here is the view looking toward the new dining area (former family room) from the kitchen. Sliding doors on the right lead out to the backyard. Keeping durability in mind, the carpet and linoleum were replaced with large scale, rectangular tile. It’s hard to imagine a wall ever divided this space.

James and Kristina’s style is decidedly masculine, modern and minimal. They list Atomic Ranch as their number one source for inspiration. Many of the furnishings in their home are from the same era as the house but it doesn’t feel like a time capsule.

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The kitchen is a mix of custom and Ikea cabinetry. The frameless wood cabinets are Ultracraft and the white cabinets are Ikea. (The home’s original kitchen cabinets were installed in the garage for closed storage.) To break up the dark wood, a horizontal cabinet in glossy white was installed above the sink. The doors lift up to reveal everyday dishes. The color and texture of the backsplash pick up on the floor tile. The tiled backsplash extends to the ceiling above the horizontal wall cabinet for a finished look.

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An island does double duty providing a surface for both food prep and casual dining. White quartz countertops contrast with rich wood tones. Three glass pendants punctuate the island without obstructing the view.

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A tall Ikea cabinet stands in as a pantry. It houses usual pantry goods plus a trash can and ties in to the horizontal wall cabinet and quartz countertops. Mixing affordable Ikea cabinets with higher end cabinetry was a smart move, design-wise and budget-wise.

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modern family 1

The wood burning fireplace is an original feature and functional. Muddy taupe walls pair well with the red brick and red accents provide a complementary pop of color.

modern family reno 17

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The dining table, chairs and hutch are vintage Drexel and were all craigslist finds. James and Kristina reupholstered the chair seats in a gray tweed. The sideboard (left of the fireplace) was a wedding gift from family.

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Resources of note:

wall paint – mocha accent by Behr, matte finish
floor tile – Kaska Italian porcelain tile from Build Direct
wood cabinets – Ultracraft frameless cabinets
white cabinets – Ikea ABSTRAKT
countertops – Silestone white zeus quartz
faucet – Moen
appliances – LG
backsplash – cooltiles.com
glass globe pendants – Lumens
counter stools – Amazon
dining furniture – vintage, craigslist scores (table + buffet was $450)
dining rug – Flor
dining pendant – Lumens
red retro play kitchen – Amazon

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So what do you think? They had quite the vision and their execution was impeccable, wasn’t it? When you tear down walls and move doorways around in an older home you risk losing the home’s original character. But, by keeping the fireplace and incorporating materials and furnishings reminiscent of midcentury modern design, James and Kristina were able to retain their home’s MCM roots while bringing it up to speed with their family’s lifestyle. I’m always inspired by real homeowners on a real budget who manage to turn an otherwise ordinary house into a home that reflects their style. Are you inspired? Would you like to see more of this house? Currently, James and Kristina are remodeling their master bathroom. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

A big thanks to James and Kristina for allowing me to share their home! If you’re local and in need of a reputable contractor, I’ve added James’s business, JK Designs, to the side bar.

UPDATE: Due to popular demand, rough sketches of the floor plan before and after the remodel…


modern family reno floor plan before


modern family reno floor plan after

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking