...because home doesn't happen overnight.

I shared the top 10 features of my dream home a few weeks ago. I thought it would be fun if Steve made a list, too, for comparison. He was game and created his list before reading mine to keep things unbiased. I asked him to mainly think about the shell / structure of the house – not so much about the location. I asked him to choose a few images to demonstrate the features he most desires in a house. As with my list, the images aren’t exact interpretations of the dream home in Steve’s mind but, hopefully, they give you a better feel for it. (He mentioned that the houses shown are all larger than the dream home in his mind.) Here’s what he came up with…

open loft layout

open loft layout

metal sliding partition in open loft

1. Open floor plan. Steve’s dream home has an open kitchen – living – dining space as opposed to separate, walled-off rooms. Movable partitions would be used to close off certain areas for added privacy.

right-sized modern, minimal exterior

right-sized prefab cabin

2. Just enough square footage. Call him Goldilocks. Steve’s dream home isn’t too big or too small. It’s just right. There’s no wasted space and every room serves a purpose or three.

high ceilings with exposed ductwork

high ceilings with exposed ductwork

high ceilings with beams and exposed brick wall

3. High ceilings with exposed ductwork / brick / beams. The “just right” dream home feels spacious and airy thanks to high ceilings. Interesting structural features like exposed ductwork, exposed brick and wood beams lend a loft-like vibe.

vaulted ceiling featuring beams, tongue and groove, skylights

4. Lots of natural light. Big windows, skylights, sun tubes and open air access let light pour in.

5. Solid flooring throughout. Wood, cork, concrete, tile or vinyl plank flooring is a must-have with area rugs thrown down for comfort.

separate modern workshop / shed

6. Detached workshop. Since we’re dreaming…Steve’s dream home is accompanied by a dream workshop / shed. It’s spacious with electrical and plumbing and maybe even small living quarters on the second level. In addition to the one shown above, he also loves the detached outbuildings seen here (designated as ph-1) and here.

7. Great outdoor space. A nice lawn with simple low-maintenance landscaping, a deck / patio and a big ass grill or smoker (Steve’s words exactly) make his dream home just as livable outside as it is inside. He’s really drawn to this outdoor space but prefers a less urban setting. And he basically wet himself when he found this built-in, floating, cantilevered grill setup.

8. Energy efficient. The house is inexpensive to heat / cool and includes a well-organized mechanical room.

9. Well-designed storage. A mixture of freestanding furniture and built-in cabinets provide adequate storage so that everything is in its place.

10. Side or rear entry garage. Also, his dream garage wouldn’t have disassembled bathroom fixtures sitting in it taking up precious space. I’m just guessing on that one.

For reference, here was my list:

1. right-sized
2. plenty of natural light
3. connection to the outdoors
4. open living space
5. high ceilings
6. architect-designed
7. warm wood tones
8. flex space
9. dark exterior
10. prefab construction

When Steve and I compared lists, it was reassuring to find that many features of our (non-existent) dream homes were the same: open layout, right-sized, high ceilings, an abundance of natural light. It was also nice to discover that we both dream of a more intimate space that can be closed off (perhaps with a movable partition?) from the main living space when necessary.

When we exchanged lists, there were a few “Ah! Why didn’t I think of that?!” moments. For me, it was his #5 (solid flooring throughout). I definitely want solid flooring in my dream home. For Steve, it was my #10 (prefab construction) if his dream home was a new build.

I found it interesting that I seemed to focus a little more on how my dream house would look (architect-designed, warm wood tones, dark exterior) while Steve was more concerned with how his dream house would function (detached workshop, energy-efficient, low-maintenance landscaping, well-designed storage). But that’s pretty indicative of how we approach projects in real life. Typically, I’m more focused on the aesthetics while Steve tends to think about how things will be used or how things work. Together, our concerns usually lead to outcomes that address both form and function.

Finally, it was fun to see what images Steve chose. His aesthetic is sleeker, more industrial and more modern than my decidedly warmer vibe. But we both agreed we wouldn’t be upset living in any of the spaces shown on either list.

Have you and your significant other ever exchanged dream home lists? If you like houses (and I’m assuming you do since you read this blog), I’d encourage you to try this exercise. Not only is it fun to see the hits and misses between the two lists, but I think the lists are actually a good jumping off point for buying or renovating a home. Identify the features you both dream of and make them a priority. Then compromise on the other stuff.

If you do happen to make some lists, feel free to share them in the comments section!

images: 1) Bethany Nauert for Apartment Therapy 2) Laure Joliet for Remodelista 3, 6 & 7) Lincoln Barbour for Remodelista 4) House Design 5) Method Homes 8) Morten Holtum for Bolig magazine 9) David Butler for Apartment Therapy 10) Cultivation Design

09.08.14 / Arhaus Giveaway!

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Leslie! She’s got her eye on the Wordsmith for her modest midcentury den.

arhaus interior 1

Today’s giveaway comes from the kind folks at Arhaus. By combining their passion for design with a focus on quality and a commitment to sustainability, it’s easy to see why the company has been furnishing interiors for more than 25 years. I was invited to visit a local brick and mortar store (near the Dayton Mall in Dayton, Ohio) to scout potential prizes for the giveaway. Not only did I find a slew of amazing pieces, the store itself was an inspiring display of texture and warmth. Here are a few of the standouts.

arhaus den 1

I fell hard for this particular setup. It reminded me of a cozy den with its dark walls, warm wood tones and layered textures.

arhaus den 2

The outside corner of the sectional was softened by a glittery, floor-to-ceiling chain chandelier. If executed well, an inspired DIY version could be great in an open living space to delineate a casual seating area without blocking the view.

arhaus den 3

“Chandelier” and “Fancy” wouldn’t stop playing on the little radio in my head.

arhaus pouf

The store had a good mix of high and low. I was surprised! I guess I’ve always thought of Arhaus as a high-end retailer and assumed they only offered big, incredibly expensive items. This navy and white round pouf proved me wrong. It was less than $200.

arhaus knot pillow

arhaus felt pillow

There were loads of pillows with textures that made me want to rub my hands all over them. (I suppressed the urge.)

arhaus deer heads

These wood deer heads caught my eye, too. You know I’m a sucker for anything with antlers.

arhaus fabric wall

I even had a moment with the fabric sample wall. It was like a muted rainbow and the golds and rusts made me ache for fall. But then I stumbled upon a trifecta of comfy leather chairs and that’s all she wrote.

arhaus alex leather sandalwood recliner

I found this cushy recliner first. I love that it looks like an unassuming club chair in the upright position. The slender arms are so much better than the oversized puffy or rounded ones you typically see on recliners. Hello, Midwest. I hear you. You want to have your cake and eat it (in a good-looking AND comfortable chair with your feet elevated) too.

arhaus wordsmith leather recliner

Next I found this handsomeness with its perfectly patinaed leather and sleek wood frame. The funny thing is I had no idea it was a recliner until I took a picture of the tag for reference and realized it said RECLINER. Mind. Blown. Yes, indeedy, this is a real recliner. Your display screen isn’t playing tricks on you.

arhaus kerouac leather chair

And, lastly, there’s this understated beauty. Okay, so it isn’t a recliner but it is a hand-crafted statement piece with a midcentury modern vibe. For kicks, I sat in each of the chairs. They’re all comfortable!

I found many other great pieces at Arhaus but a post can only be so long before people start falling asleep and brains explode so I’ll stop here. So what’s up for grabs today? Lucky for you, Arhaus is graciously offering up one of the three leather chairs just mentioned! The choice is yours. See entry details below.

PRIZE: a choice of one of the following: the Alex leather sandalwood recliner (retail value $2,999) OR the Wordsmith leather recliner (retail value $2,099) OR the Kerouac leather chair (retail value $2,399). Prize is non-refundable, non-exchangeable. Prize cannot be exchanged for cash.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post proclaiming “ARHAUS IN MY HAUS!” and let me know which chair you would choose if you won.

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

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, September 14th. One random winner will be announced Monday, September 15th.

Good luck!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Today I’m sharing the top ten features of my (nonexistent) dream home. Financial factors aside, you know, since we’re dreaming and all. Oh, and I’m not addressing decor in this list just general features of the shell of the house. The images shown are meant to demonstrate the features I’m discussing. They aren’t exact interpretations of how I picture my dream home. Obviously, they would look a little strange mixed together under one roof and, quite frankly, most of them are larger than I envision my dream home being. Although, they’re all pretty dreamy. Here we go!

right-sized home

1. Right-sized. In contrast to the average American’s idea of what a dream house should be, my dream house would not be super-sized. My dream house is right-sized, meaning every square inch is utilized efficiently. It includes multipurpose rooms. It doesn’t include tons of wasted space or extra rooms that are rarely used. The floor plan is deliberate and thoughtfully laid out. It’s just what my family needs and nothing more. The design is so carefully considered that it allows us to live in the least amount of square footage as possible. No mansions for me!

large windows

dining room windows

clerestory windows in dining space

2. Plenty of natural light. I crave a bright space and I get a kick out of watching how the light in a house changes over the course of a day. My dream home has an abundance of natural light streaming in through carefully placed windows, doors and skylights. I’m especially drawn to clerestory windows and windows placed in the backsplash of a kitchen. All that natural light would help to make my right-sized dream home feel larger. Ideally, I wouldn’t have to use a single artificial light source until after the sun goes down at night. I don’t think I could ever be happy in a dark house.

indoor outdoor living room

interior courtyard

indoor outdoor living room

3. Connection to the outdoors. This kind of goes along with plenty of natural light but I don’t only want to see what exists beyond the walls of my house, I want to experience it. Maybe it’s a wall of sliding glass doors that can be opened up to extend our living space. Maybe it’s an interior courtyard or atrium. Maybe it’s an outdoor shower. Maybe it’s an outdoor living space. Maybe it’s as simple as a set of french doors that opens up to a private backyard or a wide, deep porch to watch cars pass by. Whatever it is, it encourages an indoor-outdoor lifestyle and connects the house to its surroundings.

4. Open living space. An open kitchen-living-dining space suits our casual lifestyle best. It needn’t be large (see #1) or entirely open but a communal layout in the main living area promotes family togetherness as we go about our daily routine.

vaulted ceiling

vaulted ceiling in kitchen

5. High ceilings. Having lived in a home with standard 8′ ceilings (our first home, lower than 8′ in some areas), a home with 9′ ceilings (our second home) and a home with vaulted ceilings (our current home), I have to say my preference is anything over the standard 8′. This is one of those features that has a huge impact in the way a space feels and once you’ve lived with it, it’s difficult to imagine living without it. My dream home has high ceilings. Perhaps not throughout the entire house but definitely in some of the most frequently used spaces.

6. Architect-designed. My dream home is designed by an architect – past, current or up-and-coming. I have so much respect for architects and they’re ability to design structures that are durable, functional and beautiful. Over the years, I’ve found that I have a hankering for architects’ personal residences. They feel practical and livable yet incorporate interesting and unique architectural elements. They always seem to flow well from room to room. From thick moldings in older houses to cantilevered structures in modern homes, I’m amazed by the way architectural elements play a part in the overall vibe of a home. It’s all in the details – no matter how intricate or simplistic.

wood lined pantry

wood walls, floors

7. Warm wood tones. As much as I enjoy drooling over all white spaces, I know they’re not for me. To keep things cozy and inviting, I need natural wood tones in my life. So, of course, my dream home features hits of warm wood. Floors, accent walls, cabinetry, countertops, built-ins…they’re all game. I absolutely love teak cabinets in a kitchen.

8. Flex space. If there’s one space we’re missing in our current home, it’s a multipurpose space that acts as a den, library, TV room and guest room all in one. It isn’t big but my dream home has one. And it can be opened up to the rest of the house during the day or closed off at night for privacy. I love the idea of having a separate, more intimate room off the main open living space where we can regularly watch movies together, just chill or, on special occasions, host overnight guests. Ideally, it has a deep built-in sofa or sectional that doubles as a bed.

stained wood siding

dark blue exterior

midcentury modern dark exterior

9. Dark exterior. So by the time my dream home comes to fruition (ha!), I might have changed my mind on this feature but right now I’m into dark exteriors. Inky blue, deep charcoal, black, dark-stained cedar…I love ‘em. My dream home has a dark exterior and a mix of materials that help it blend in with its surroundings.

modernist prefab

10. Prefab construction. Alright, this one is a bit of a stretch and it isn’t a MUST for my dream home but I’m completely fascinated by prefabricated homes. Not only are today’s designs in line with my preferred aesthetic but I’m in awe of the construction process. The process of manufacturing off-site then transporting and assembling a structure on-site over a relatively short period of time has many benefits. Steve and I have both agreed that the only way we would ever build is by way of prefabrication.

A few things not on my dream home list? A specific location, a particular architectural style and land. I think I must be half chameleon. Honestly, I could be happy living almost anywhere (okay, maybe not Antarctica) and I change my mind daily about the location of my dream home. Plus, I feel like I haven’t seen enough of the world to choose just one place to live for the rest of my life. I appreciate an array of architectural styles and as long as a space incorporates most of the features listed above, I would consider it dream status. Also, my dream home needn’t be a multi-acre property. As long as there is somewhere nearby to get in touch with nature (a park would suffice), I’m good. I don’t need to own it to enjoy it.

There you have it! My dream home in list form. My must-haves are constantly evolving so this list could look very different 10-15 years from now when my kids are all grown up. As I’m scanning the list, it looks like our current home ticks off about 50% of the features to some extent. Not bad, considering we’ve never thought of this house as our dream home. Now I want to ask Steve to make a top 10 list and see how it compares to mine.

If you have a moment, I’d love to know what’s on your dream home list. Happy dreaming!

images: 1) tourfactory.com 2) Prue Ruscoe for HomeLife 3 & 4) Joe Schmelzer  5) Arthur Casas 6) Kim Lucian for Apartment Therapy 7) House & Home  8) Eve Wilson for The Design Files 9) Sean Fennessy for The Design Files 10) Adrienne Breaux for Apartment Therapy 11) Lincoln Barbour for Jessica Helgerson Interior Design 12) Arthur Casas 13) Warren Heath for House and Leisure 14) Dan Semar via Flickr 15) Joe Fletcher for Dwell

UPDATE: This post has been edited to remove a distasteful, insensitive and tacky introduction that does not reflect my true intentions. I apologize.

08.20.14 / The Nursery

The nursery we weren’t expecting…

nursery before

The before: not a lot to say here. Questionable green carpet, peeling paint, disintegrating baseboards but, LOOK!, a new window! This is the smallest of the three bedrooms (it’s not even 10′ x 10′) but it faces south and receives a good amount of natural light. When we bought the house, we had planned on this being Everett’s room. But a week before we sold our previous house, we discovered we were unexpectedly expecting. Surprise! In an instant, this room became the nursery. Well, not really in an instant. Mabrey was five months old by the time the room resembled anything remotely close to a nursery.

nursery after 1

nursery after 4

I don’t know about you but my number one goal for a nursery is to make it conducive to sleeping – the more, the better. I chose a deep blue-gray for the walls and Steve thought I was insane. (I was extremely sleep-deprived at the time so it wasn’t much of a stretch.) Once the paint was up on the walls, though, he came around. Somehow, the moody walls made the teeny space feel larger. There’s so much depth to the color, it’s as if the walls recede. It continues to be one of my favorite paint colors in the house.

nursery after 2

Along with a good amount of natural light, I used lots of white to brighten the space. I love the contrast. I chose pinks and corals as accents. In keeping with the vibe of the rest of the house, I added hits of texture with layered rugs, a woven shade and seagrass baskets. Since the room is so small, I chose a simple (and inexpensive!) crib that can be converted into a toddler bed. Two years later, I have nothing but good things to say about it. The quilt is a family heirloom. My great-grandmother made it. It was my dad’s when he was a baby then mine. I’ve used it with all three of my kids. It’s starting to show some wear but I think that only adds to its beauty.

I created the art above the crib using an old mirror frame, leftover tongue and groove planks (from our mudroom renovation) and paint. It’s reminiscent of a sunset. It’s secured to the wall with drywall anchors and 3M adhesive strips. Mabrey has never shown an interest in playing with the art but it’s nice to know it’s not going anywhere if she decides to make it her toy. (I know it looks substantial but it weighs less than three pounds.)

The room wouldn’t accommodate an oversized rocker so I chose one with a small footprint. A lumbar pillow and floor pouf (which now lives in the living room) made late night feedings comfortable enough. Luckily, Mabrey was a fast eater so I never spent more than 15-20 minutes in the rocker at a time. Today, it’s where we sit to read nap time and bedtime stories. We’ve made a lot of good memories in that rocker.

nursery after 3

A trio of floating shelves holds books, baskets and decorative items without taking up precious floor space. Two fabric bins on the floor corral toys for easy access and cleanup.

nursery after 5

A makeshift changing table sits opposite the crib. We’ve had the horizontal bookcase for several years and it has served as a living room console, playroom storage and media stand in our previous residences. It’s so versatile! I added a contoured changing pad, toiletry basket and lamp to give it a completely different function in the nursery. The bins and baskets hold the majority of Mabrey’s clothes and diapers.

nursery after 6

Just like in the other bedrooms, I removed the closet door. The door to the room opens up right in front of the closet and it was cumbersome having so many doors (if you can consider two doors “so many”) in such a small space. I hung a curtain panel from a tension rod in the door frame and called it a day.

The closet is super tiny. I put a standing utility shelf in it for extra storage. The closet primarily holds a few hanging items (like dresses, coats and jackets) that are currently in rotation along with hand-me-downs that don’t fit just yet. I keep a laundry basket in the closet and throw in things that are too small as Mabrey outgrows them. When the basket is full, I donate them. It’s a good system. The basket on the floor next to the changing table acts as a hamper.

nursery after 8

The curtains framing the window match the one hanging in the closet. The woven shade is mounted outside the window frame while a room-darkening roller shade is mounted out of sight, inside the window frame. The trunk under the window was a wedding gift from my mom. I tweaked an off-the-shelf dollhouse (it originally featured blue and orange accents) because I’m crazy like that. Sometimes we bring it out to the living room to play.

nursery after 7

nursery after 10

nursery after 9

nursery after 11

nursery after 12

nursery after 13

I caught quite a bit of flack in the online world for creating a dark nursery but I don’t regret it one iota. It’s actually a very happy place to play and sleep. I’m pretty sentimental about this room. I never thought we’d have a little girl in our family (and I was content with that) so I’m really grateful for this space and the amazing little person in it. She’s quite the firecracker and I can’t imagine life without her. Also, I’m already brainstorming ideas for a “big girl” room. It probably won’t happen for a year or so but, be warned, it’s coming. And then, technically, I won’t be able to call it a nursery anymore and I will sob. The end.

Resources of note:

wall paint – Benjamin Moore dark pewter
trim paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
flooring – Jasper engineered hardwood handscraped birch in Texas brown via Build Direct
ceiling light – Ikea, discontinued
curtains – West Elm, discontinued
curtain rod – Target
woven shade – petite rustique from Overstock
room-darkening roller shade – Levolor from Lowe’s
dollhouse – Plan Toys terrace dollhouse
trunk – gift
area rug – jute chenille herringbone from West Elm
sheepskin rug – Ikea
floor lamp – gift
crib – GULLIVER from Ikea
organic mattress pad – Amazon
crib sheet – Amazon
crib bumper – Amazon (white version unavailable)
artwork above crib – DIY
quilt – vintage
striped crib pillow – West Elm, discontinued
rocker – Amazon
lumbar pillow – etsy
floating shelves – Ikea
wire book bins – Kroger
various seagrass baskets – Ikea, Kroger
fabric toy bins – Target
resin deer head – White Faux Taxidermy
fabric garland – DIY
wall mirror – Ikea
table lamp – Morten table lamp from West Elm
extra long, contoured changing pad – Amazon
changing table – EXPEDIT from Ikea, discontinued
striped bins – Ikea, discontinued
doll stroller – Land of Nod

In case you haven’t seen enough of this itty bitty room, here are a bunch of links documenting its evolution:

RENOVATION

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/01/04/the-painting-saga/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/01/11/the-flooring/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/07/05/hold-the-door/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/10/15/a-date-with-my-doors/

FURNITURE, DECOR & ORGANIZATION

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/08/28/mabreys-room/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/10/03/diy-fabric-circles-chandy/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/01/22/a-crib-review-with-special-guests/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/02/25/playing_in_the_nurser/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/09/10/free-for-all-white-faux-taxidermy/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/13/making-the-most-of-small-closets-nursery/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/01/07/a-dollhouse-for-mabrey/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/03/the-boy-version-of-mabreys-room/

*BONUS* – Mabrey’s birth story.

You can access this nursery tour (along with a general house tour and individual room tours) under the “See My House” tab in the side bar. I’ll be adding more rooms in the weeks to come. Thanks for reading!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking