...because home doesn't happen overnight.

How ironic is it that my last post was entitled “Sometimes DIY Sucks” and this one contains “DIY” as a descriptive? You win some. You lose some. Thank you all so much for your words of encouragement! We’re feeling more hopeful about tackling the bathroom tile this weekend and will be sure to share what goes down. xo

subwoofer cover DIY 5

I’ve already discussed my thoughts on surround sound here. In short, I don’t care for it. BUT my husband enjoys it and I do care for him so I’m dealing with it – boob speakers and all – the best way I know how. And that involves creative disguises…or squinting.

subwoofer cover b&a

Take the subwoofer for instance. It’s basically this big black box that is responsible for low bass frequencies. (i.e., it’s the speaker that makes the floor shake when we watch movies…and we’re on a slab, soooooo yeah, I don’t get it.) We’ve had the thing for 10+ years. There’s probably some new sound technology that doesn’t require such an eyesore but we aren’t willing to invest any money into something like that when what we have works just fine. (i.e., it creates small earthquakes.)

In our first house, the subwoofer was in plain sight next to our media console. In our previous house, it sat behind an accent chair in the family room. I draped a floor-length curtain around it to disguise it even more.

In our current home, due to the placement of media components and audio wiring, the subwoofer sits between our sofa and media cabinet. The blue power light drives me bonkers. I tried concealing it behind the curtain but, at best, it looked like a small child hiding. I decided enough was enough and Steve and I came up with a plan for a DIY subwoofer cover. The cover doesn’t interfere with Steve’s audio experience and it keeps me from giving the subwoofer the stink eye so Steve and I are still married. Best of all, we made it from leftover supplies so it was “free.”

Steve created the basic box from premium grade plywood leftover from topping off the fauxdenza and building the living room shelves. It’s just four sides with a top and no bottom. The inside measures ¼” larger than the subwoofer on all sides to allow the box to slip over the speaker. There is a 2″ gap between the bottom of the box and the floor to let sound waves flow freely. (Apparently, sound waves come from the bottom of this subwoofer. I learned something new.) Wood glue and finish nails hold it together. Veneer edge banding was added to all visible cut edges except for the one on the back. #cheap #lazy

subwoofer cover DIY

The back is cut out for wire access. (Can you see where I inconspicuously tested out some stain on the back?) We added felt pads inside to protect the subwoofer and achieve a snug fit.

subwoofer cover collage

I applied Minwax wood conditioner and Minwax natural stain to the external surfaces. Then I set to work creating a design for the front panel. Basically, I drew up a bunch of ideas on paper and when I had a winner I transferred the design to the cover with a pencil.

1 // I wanted at least one section of the design to be a darker stain but I predicted the edges would bleed so I decided to tackle that triangle first. My thought was at least I could clean up one edge with a neighboring painted triangle. I taped off one section using Frog Tape and applied two coats of Minwax special walnut stain. I left the tape on until the stain was completely dry to avoid as much bleeding as possible. The stain did bleed a little but it wasn’t too bad.

2 // I taped off the second section and took the cover outside to apply two coats of Design Master Gold Medal spray paint. For crisp lines, I carefully removed the tape before the paint dried.

3 // I brought the cover back inside (looking good!) to hand paint the final two sections.

4 // One at a time, I taped off the sections and brushed on two coats of Benjamin Moore white dove primer + paint in satin. Again, I carefully removed the tape before the paint dried.

subwoofer cover design

The Frog Tape marked up the gold section when I was taping and painting the last white triangle but it’s only noticeable when light shines on it in a certain way. For the most part, the edges are crisp (save for the one stained edge that has no neighboring paint) and the points meet up like I had envisioned. I especially like the texture of the wood grain in the gold section.

subwoofer cover DIY 8

Subwoofer-turned-table, voilà!

I opted out of a topcoat because I like the unsealed look so a cloth napkin or coaster under sweaty glasses is a must. In real life, Mabrey likes to climb on top of the subwoofer to catapult herself onto the sofa (!) so there’s usually just a magazine or book resting here. I shot this during nap time so I had fun styling without kids in mind.

subwoofer cover DIY 4

subwoofer DIY 1

I’m happy I went with a natural stain on the majority of the cover. Anything darker would have been too brown next to the sofa. The natural stain picks up on lighter wood tones in the room: coffee table, woven shades, decorative bowl (on the media cabinet) and scalloped side table (not shown).

In case you’re wondering, I moved the lil’ red table to the boys’ room. Some changes are happening in there but that’s a whole ‘nother post.

subwoofer cover DIY 6

Steve didn’t see the painted / stained front panel until after it was finished. He loves it! That makes me happy. Know what else makes me happy? No more big black box.

Good design can save marriages. It’s a fact.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

03.21.14 / Made Me Smile

spring morning

It’s spring (!) which means the morning light in my bedroom turns from cool to warm in a matter of minutes. I love witnessing the transformation. I’m like a plant following the sun around my house throughout the day. Are you the same?

A few more things that have me smiling…

Building houses with a giant 3D printer. Those Dutch folks are always one step ahead.

All kinds of good stuff happening in this eclectic modern home.

Playing house.

Prefab homes are becoming more accessible and more affordable.

We have no plans to add on to our home but Steve has mentioned building a separate modern outbuilding. I wouldn’t mind something like this. (Be sure to check out the custom shelving which incorporates a horizontal window and clean-up sink.)

A magnetic sink rail answers the question “where to hang the dishcloth in a single basin kitchen sink?”

The premier of American Dream Builders airs this Sunday. Will you be watching? They had me at “Nate Berkus” and “Erinn Valencich.” (If you have a half-hour to kill, watch this interview with the can-do-no-wrong Nate to learn more.)

spring morning 2

Do yourself a favor and carve out time this weekend to do / make / eat / drink / see something that makes you smile! We’ll be laying tile in the kids’ bathroom. Eeeeek!!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

burnt chair 1

So that happened.

A popular anti-drug commercial from the late ’80′s comes to mind.

This is your chair. This is your chair on fire. Any questions?

I’m blaming it on my toddler but it was probably *mostly* my fault. Mabrey discovered how to unscrew the lid on her sippy cup then proceeded to dump all her water on the seat cushion of The Chair. Me being the clever stir-crazed, impatient, cabin fevered, frazzled, frustrated mom that I was in that moment (and more moments if I’m being totally honest) decided it would be a good idea to prop the wet cushion up in front of the gas fireplace to facilitate the drying process.

Steve and I have talked to our kids many times about not touching the fireplace. We remind them over and over that they aren’t allowed to turn it on. We’re quick to remove items that come within a foot of the hot fireplace for fear they will burn. In general, we keep a watchful eye over things when the fireplace is on.

So, yeah, I stood the wet cushion up on end in front of the fireplace and supported it with our drying rack so it wouldn’t fall over. I specifically told Mabrey “no touch!” It was the hundredth time Mabrey had dumped out her sippy cup that day. Steve was working late. Again. It was, like, our hundredth snow day. My kids were complaining that they were bored and I was trying to prep dinner. (I fully realize my liberal use of the number 100. It might not be completely accurate. Just go with it.) Not to mention, my brain falls apart at 5:00 p.m. on a daily basis.

I turned my back on the sopping cushion for only a few seconds to check the pot of water on the stove that still wasn’t boiling. And immediately, I smelled it. I knew what had happened before I even turned around.

burnt chair 2

Mabrey had swiftly and silently pushed the cushion over onto the fireplace. (Toddlers are incredibly silent when doing things they aren’t supposed to do.) I ran over and literally peeled the cushion away, leaving fabric and foam charred to the glass insert along with an open lesion on the cushion. I turned off the fireplace. All three of my kids were frozen in fear of what would happen next.

I took a few minutes to compose myself. Basically, that consisted of sitting with my head in my hands, eyes closed, breathing deeply.

It’s just a chair. It’s just a chair. It’s just a chair. It’s just a really f@$#ing awesome chair.

Everyone got a lecture on fire safety but I knew I shouldn’t have put the cushion anywhere near the fireplace with Mabrey awake and I admitted it to my kids. I had to toss the cushion out in the garage because it smelled awful.

After I had calmed down to a point where I could think somewhat rationally, I assessed the damage. The fireplace looked bad but I figured after it completely cooled I could scrape it off with some Goo Gone and a razor blade. (FYI – it worked.) Then I took a look at the cushion. The removable cover was a lost cause. There was no saving it. The side facing the back of the chair is zippered so I couldn’t turn it around and pretend nothing had happened. Upon closer inspection, I determined the foam cushion could be salvaged. I could turn the damaged area to face the back of the chair if I needed to.

I considered my options. I could 1) try the contrasting seat cushion trend and DIY a non-matching cover for the cushion or 2) contact Thrive about having a custom cover re-made for the cushion. I decided I would try the latter.

I was so happy to see the Taylor chair still available. Hopeful, I sent an email to customer service explaining my situation. They replied back within an hour saying they could make and ship a matching cushion cover for $75. Sold.

Things might have been different if we didn’t love the chair. But we LOVE the chair. It’s comfy, oversized, good-looking, sturdy and made here in the U.S. Plus, I didn’t feel like making a cushion cover anyway. It was an easy decision.

I let the burnt cushion air out in the garage for a few days. It didn’t smell after that so I brought it inside and threw a blanket over the seat while we waited for the replacement to arrive. During that time, I would pull back the blanket to show guests the damage. You can imagine the faces made upon seeing a burnt hole in the chair. (Nearly everyone who visits compliments the chair so they were almost as devastated as us.) Steve likens them to the face I made on our wedding day when I got to the end of the aisle and saw that he had squeezed the hell out of a ginormous zit right between his eyes.

thrive chair 1

This long story has a happy ending. Not only did the new cushion cover arrive and match perfectly, it came with a new foam cushion as well. I guess it was easier to make them both? I don’t know. I’m not asking questions. It’s all good.

thrive chair 2

In fact, I think the new cushion is thicker than the original. Sure, the first one was likely worn down from use but I swear this one is thicker than the first when it was brand-new. Steve’s really happy about that. He was regularly adjusting the cover on the first cushion (it didn’t bother me – just felt lived in and reminded me of this post from Lauren) and he hasn’t had to touch this one. We’re about one month in so I’ll let you know how it goes. The burnt cushion is currently residing in the attic…just in case.

I get emails all the time asking if we still love this chair, how it’s holding up, would we recommend it, etc. We love it. It’s a highly sought after seat in our house. We all fight over it. Good thing it can seat up to three people! Other than the fireplace incident, it’s holding up really well. The felt isn’t pilling. I didn’t put any kind of stain guard on it and was able to get black face paint out of the upholstery last Halloween with a little soap and water. My only complaint is that the legs sometimes twist and look crooked but I think it has everything to do with my kids running and jumping onto the chair. They could probably stand to be tightened up a bit. If you’re looking for a high quality, comfortable chair with a modern look I would recommend it. Just remember that it is oversized (it’s almost 40″ wide!) so measure, measure, measure.

thrive chair 3

In conclusion, watch your toddlers and think twice about using your fireplace as a dryer. I’m an idiot. Luckily, this time it only cost me $75 and no one was hurt.

P.S. – It was super dark and gloomy when I took these pictures. I normally try to shoot on bright days but they have been few and far between.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

painted door 4

entry before

We rehabbed the original front door back in the fall. (Read about it here and here.) And now that we’re actually using it, it’s time to spruce up the entry.

I should point out that we don’t have a true entry or foyer. The front door opens up into the living area of our great room. To create the feeling of an entry, I placed an oversized chair perpendicular to the door and hung DIY wood shelves on one wall. This setup hugs the front door so when you enter the house there’s a “pause” or a moment before you step foot into the living room. Don’t mind the zigzag floor poufs. Those things act as bean bags for my kids and they get moved around a lot – from the entry to the living room to the boys’ bedroom and back. More than likely, they’ll get booted from the entry.

I want the entry to have a clear purpose (welcoming guests, taking off shoes, hanging coats and bags, etc.) but it needs to have the same vibe as the rest of the space. Adding a few key pieces will optimize the entry’s function and style.


Outside, I’ll be adding satin nickel house numbers, a crazy cool doorbell button, greenery in a sculptural planter, and a striped coconut fiber doormat to make the plain entrance more inviting. A fun bubble umbrella might make an appearance, too. The simplicity, texture and clean lines of the items hint at what’s going on inside the house.

Just inside the front door, there will be a woven bench, steel & wood coat hooks and a framed “Staredown” print.

I scored the hooks for $35 due to a pricing error in West Elm’s winter catalog. They were listed at $35 in the catalog and I immediately went online to order them but was disappointed to find them listed at $60. I sent an email to their customer service department kindly stating that I thought they should honor the price in the catalog even if it wasn’t the correct price. They did!

I had a hard time finding a bench that was the right size, style and price (preferably less than $100) for the entry. But on a late night date with myself at Target, I found the woven cotton and jute bench marked down from $110 to $82. (It’s now priced at $77.) It’s the exact size I was looking for and the organic vibe is my jam.

*UPDATE: I checked to see if Target would do a price change on the bench. They said they couldn’t since I bought it more than two weeks ago. I asked if I could return it and then turn right back around and buy it for the $77 clearance price. They said yes so that’s what I did just today. Aw yeah. Who used to work in retail? This girl.*

I want to DIY a simple wall hanging reminiscent of a dreamcatcher to hang near the front door. I love the gold and string fiber art featured on The Merrythought last month. It will be my inspiration.

entry before 2

A thin-framed mirror will go on the wall perpendicular to the door. I had a hard time finding a mirror I liked that was shallow enough for the narrow space between the wall and door when opened but I finally hunted one down. FYI: It’s already hung and the way it reflects light from the trio of windows on the front door it nothing short of amazing.

Of course, there will be a few surprise (!) last-minute accessories to liven things up even more. I’ll be working with Wayfair (like I did for my workspace reveal) to bring this project to fruition. It should go live late April / early May and I’ll be sharing all the nitty gritty details along with before-and-afters right here. Stay tuned…

Click here to find out who won the NatureBox giveaway.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking, linked within