...because home doesn't happen overnight.
I’m fixing up the clubhouse my dad built for my siblings and me over twenty years ago. Fortunately, it’s structurally sound so it just needs some TLC and a few fun additions to bring it to life. My kids like visiting the clubhouse as-is but I know it could be improved after so many years of neglect / unuse. After talking with my boys, we all agree that it should function as a “hangout” – a place to unplug, relax, read, picnic, take in the views and maybe even spend the night. Here’s what we came up with…
1 – Benjamin Moore Super White To create a clean slate, we’re going to paint the interior white. (And, yes, the boys are going to help paint!)
I do like how the clubhouse has aged over time so I think we’re going to leave the “ceiling” (the underside of the roof) unpainted to retain a weathered look. I’d like to frame the views through the windows so we may leave the window frames au natural, too.
2 – Hazelwood folding bed The boys want a place to sit / sleep so we’re bringing in a pair of metal folding beds to flank the window seen above. Carrying and lifting full-size furniture up to the clubhouse isn’t really an option. I think we should be able to hoist these up over the porch with the help of a rope and pulley. I’ll remove them and store them elsewhere (probably in my dad’s barn) during colder months.
3 – EKBY wall shelf To keep as much floor space clear as possible we’re forgoing any tables. Instead, we’ll hang a single shelf under the window in between the two folding beds. The clubhouse isn’t wired for electricity so a pair of solar-powered table lamps will provide artificial light.
4 – mosquito net canopy The mosquito situation in Ohio is verrrrry pesky (i.e., itchy) in summertime. Bugs aren’t that bad during the day but when the sun sets, watch out. The clubhouse doesn’t have windows or a door to close at night so we’ll hang a net canopy over each folding bed to prevent bug bites.
5 – army blanket I keep picturing the clubhouse as a camping or army bunk so army drab seems fitting.
6 – hanging hammock chair There used to be a pair of swings hanging from the clubhouse. One remains but the chains are rusted and the seat is cracked. We’ll remove it and hang a pair of hammock chairs instead. The boys are so excited about these!
7 – black & white pillow Totally unnecessary but I like pillows. I’m not spending any money on throw pillows for a clubhouse so I’ll just borrow two of these from the boys’ bedroom.
8 – SailorBags soft cooler Layne wants a mini-fridge for the clubhouse (the kid lives to eat) but I reminded him that there is no electric. So he said we should get a generator. (Like I said, he lives to eat.) I got him a cooler. #roughingit
I have a few other surprises in store for the clubhouse but if I told you then they wouldn’t be surprises. I’d really like to paint or stain the exterior, too, but I need to discuss that with my dad. (He’s the one who would have to look at it everyday). In the meantime, the boys and I will work on getting the interior cleaned up, painted and sleepover-ready. We’re working with Wayfair on this project and are super happy that they are just as excited about the clubhouse as we are. The kids and I will be away for a few weeks in June visiting family so, hopefully, the reveal will go live late June or early July. I’m really grateful for being able to share the clubhouse and this experience with my kids and you. I hope it inspires you in some way!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
One spring 20+ years ago, my dad built this clubhouse for my siblings and me. (There are four of us total – three girls, one boy. I’m the oldest.) My mom had taken us kids to visit my grandparents in Florida for a week and when we returned home there was a clubhouse. And not just any clubhouse. A clubhouse ON STILTS. At the time, I couldn’t fathom how in the world my dad had built it alone. I still can’t. But that’s what he does. He builds things. And this clubhouse is one of those things.
It’s nestled on the top of a hill among the trees overlooking a ravine, or “holler”…if you’re where I come from. My dad laid a telephone pole across the ravine for us kids to walk across. Again, I have no idea how. Admittedly, I mostly used it to reenact the famous Dirty Dancing log routine. Back then, my sisters, brother and I were free to roam (we had twelve acres) and there wasn’t the ever-present fear of children getting hurt / lost / kidnapped like there is now. It was a great way to grow up.
The clubhouse is roughly 12′ x 8′ not including a narrow, covered porch that faces the ravine. It is supported by six poles set within underground concrete piers. The sloped roof is corrugated metal with corrugated fiberglass over the porch. There used to be two aluminum windows within the window frames but they rusted out and my dad removed them several years ago. There’s a pull-up bar positioned between two stilts on the ravine side.
The clubhouse is accessed by a steep ladder…
…which leads to a trap door. At least, that’s what we always called it as kids.
Inside, it’s one room. The ceiling slopes from 95″ at the doorway to 72″ at the back window. Back in the day my parents let us put a play kitchen in clubhouse so we could pretend it was a real house but now there’s just a few plastic chairs, some boards and dead leaves. If you look closely you might even notice a little graffiti on the walls. #rebels
The trap door and large play space are nice but the view from the porch is AMAZING.
Like I mentioned, the clubhouse overlooks a deep ravine. Beyond that is part of the long, winding gravel driveway and beyond that is a big open valley. I don’t know what it is about the view but it always causes me to breathe more deeply. I guess that’s what being surrounded by nature and quiet does to you.
My childhood clubhouse (and home) are as remote and peaceful as they look. To this day, there is no access to cable or the internet and cell phone coverage is spotty at best. You can’t see the road from the house. The property is a 35-minute drive from our current home. I love bringing my kids here to unplug and explore. Best of all, they love it too. Which is why I’ve decided to fix up the clubhouse for them (with my dad’s blessing). Stay tuned for the plans coming up next!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
Two weeks ago I painted the boys’ room. For anyone keeping count, this is the third time I’ve painted the room. Layne wanted black walls. Everett wanted white walls. (Initially, they wanted orange walls but I put my foot down.) I’m not scared of an all black room but Steve said he didn’t want another dark bedroom. (Mabrey’s room is Benjamin Moore dark pewter.) I painted one wall black and the rest white. It was a compromise but everyone is loving the results.
To keep things cohesive with the rest of the house, the black is Besalt by Ace paints color-matched in Clark + Kensington primer + paint. It was leftover from the mudroom so it was “free.” The white is Benjamin Moore white dove. It’s the color of all the trim in our home including the painted fireplace and planked TV wall. I snapped these pictures in early evening light so they’re reading a bit warmer than I would prefer. In real life, the room reads more black and white. Literally.
Immediately after painting a room, I can usually tell if it has staying power or if I’m going to repaint it in a year. I’m not repainting this room for a long, LONG time.
The painter’s tape on the walls is standing in for art. I haven’t finalized anything yet so green rectangles it is! Also, this is what the boys’ beds look like on any given day. Messy. I’m thinking of going with all white bedding and a mix of patterned pillows. The boys are begging for sheepskin body pillows of all things. (?!) I’ll see what I can do.
I switched out the chunky feet on the KARLSTAD for these pretty pegs. It was a breeze. Such a clever product! The new feet give the chair a totally different look.
I found the vintage ottoman on ebay for $30. It’s vinyl but is a good leather lookalike. It should stand up well to boy feet. The legs are dreamy – wood with brass tips. I haven’t had a chance to clean them up yet but I’m going to give ‘em a little rub down with some Restor-A-Finish.
I’m brainstorming ideas for this bare wall. I think I’m going to hang a few open shelves for display and storage. (The Ikea bag has brackets in it that I’m testing out.) I want to add a trio of hooks for the boys to hang their pajamas, library bag and other crap that usually ends up on the floor. I found the two Nate Berkus baskets at Target yesterday. One basket for each boy. At the end of each day, they can quickly grab a basket and round up all the books, toys, socks, etc. that have found their way into the living room. That’s the plan anyway. I’m also going to hang longer closet curtains from a rod above the closet like we did in the master bedroom.
Last but (most certainly) not least, Everett asked me to paint his orange basketball rim gold. Um, okay. I think my obsession with spray painting everything gold is rubbing off on my kids. I haven’t decided if this is something I should be proud of or not.
So it goes in the boys’ room. Hopefully, I’ll have more updates to share soon!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
Remember when I put the boys’ room together last year? Well, take a look at what it looks like now. As in this morning. I didn’t even bother to pick up. Go ahead; pin away.
As I mentioned in last week’s post on the vintage dresser, this room has issues. Or more like I have issues with this room. Of all the room’s in our house, I find this one the most difficult to decorate. I’ve pinpointed two reasons why:
1) To optimize open floor space for play, all the furniture is pushed up against the walls. My natural instinct is to pull furniture into a room so it doesn’t feel like a bowling alley which is exactly what this room feels like to me.
2) I’m trying to make it a “boy” room but I also want it to fit in with the rest of our home. It doesn’t have to look like every other room in our house (nor should it) but it should have a similar vibe. With the muddy gray walls (it’s Valspar Dry Riverbed and I actually love this color just not in this context) and gray Flor tiles, the room tends to feel drab in real life.
If you’re a frequent reader, you’ve probably noticed a few changes from last year. The open shelf bookcases are gone. That was such a horrible idea on my part. Why did I ever think two rowdy boys would keep those tidy? The boys would put their toys and costumes away in the baskets but there would be stuff hanging out of the baskets and the baskets were all crooked on the shelves. I sold the bookcases to one of the kids’ bus drivers. I lost money on them but the bus driver was so excited to use them that I didn’t feel too badly.
The Lego table is gone. My sister is giving it a spin as a coffee table in her apartment and the chairs are in the attic. If you’ll remember, my boys specifically requested a table for Lego building. Turns out, they loved the idea of a table but 99% of the time they sit on the floor to play Legos. Mabrey used the table more than anyone. If the table doesn’t work out for my sister, I’ll probably take it back and use it along with the chairs for a kids’ table during get-togethers with friends / family. I bought a Swoop bag and it’s perfect for my kids. They can carry it out to the living room to play or keep it in their room. I considered a Pinterest-worthy color-sorted setup but that’s just not realistic for us. My boys really enjoy sitting with a pile of Legos spread out in front of them and *BONUS* it keeps them occupied for longer periods of time because they have to look for pieces.
Doing away with the bookcases and Lego table allowed me to solve a bigger problem – not solely filter out items that weren’t working. There was some serious inadequate clothing storage going on. I don’t know when it happened but one day (I swear it happened in ONE DAY) my boys shot up and all of a sudden their clothes got bigger and didn’t fit in their 4-drawer dresser anymore. They literally could not close the drawers when all of their clothes were clean and in the dresser. I think I remember a reader predicting that would happen. She was right. Letting go of the bookcases, table and chairs made room for the 10-drawer dresser I shared last week. Now the boys have plenty of room for their clothes with empty drawers to spare.
Luckily, the baskets that once lived on the bookcases work perfectly in the closet. I reconfigured the wire shelving so most of the toys are in the closet now. It gets messy from time to time but at least this way I can close the closet curtains and walk away. I have some of their playthings tucked away in other spots of our home but for the most part this is it. (Due to popular demand and even in response to some negative comments about how little toys my kids have, I’ll be writing a separate post on that. Stay tuned.)
Layne asked for a reading chair in the room for his birthday this past winter. (He’s an avid reader.) We got him Ikea’s KARLSTAD armchair and he loves it. Steve and I do, too. It’s much heavier than I expected! We sit in the chair to watch the kids play or to read them books before bedtime. The wood crate next to the chair was a gift to Everett from his grandfather. He wanted to make Everett a toy box of some kind and asked for ideas and dimensions. I asked if he could make an open book crate on wheels and gave him measurements. The design is his. It holds books and has casters on the bottom so it can be rolled out of the way when the trundle bed is pulled out. It’s so useful!
The basketball hoop was another gift to Everett. This time from Santa. It’s not my favorite addition to the room ;) but Everett enjoys it and it was a good energy burner during our long, cold winter.
Now that the room is functioning well for everyone, I need to address some other issues.
ISSUE #1: Drab wall color.
SOLUTION: Paint! I’m leaning towards something light and fresh. (See the paint samples on the walls.) This will be the third time I’ve painted this room. And, yes, Steve likes to remind me that the room started out light.
ISSUE #2: Hidden bed. The bunk bed hideout is awesome but most days it looks like the image above with the curtains closed.
SOLUTION: Add a system for tying back the curtains during the day.
ISSUE #3: Lifeless walls.
SOLUTION: Add interest with wall art and inexpensive shelving. Have fun with it!
ISSUE #4: No vibe.
SOLUTION: Bring in a few textiles, plants and accessories to make the room feel more like a part of our home but not too serious. It is a kids’ room after all.
You probably think I’m crazy for switching up the boys’ room so soon but when a room isn’t working for my family (whether for kids or adults or both) I’m all for making it right. Notice I didn’t say perfect. In hindsight, I was way too hasty in getting the room “done” last summer. Hindsight is 20/20. This isn’t a room do-over just for blog fodder. (Although, I will be blogging about it.) This is something I would be doing even if I didn’t have a blog.
As much as I like eye candy online, I also think it’s important to show a room’s evolution and to show when things don’t go as planned. Or when things do go as planned but the plan was all wrong. I guarantee behind every drool-worthy room there is a wrong paint color that had to be painted over or a wrong piece of furniture that had to be returned / sold or a wrong layout that had to be tweaked. Or a simple “I changed my mind.” And that’s okay!
But it doesn’t feel okay when no one talks about it. It’s like a big secret in the blogosphere. Here’s what the room looked like two years ago and here’s what it looks like now. Yay! They leave out the part about trying out three different lamps, ten different pillows or the massive DIY fail. But that stuff most definitely happens. Personally, I have so much respect for bloggers whom share when things go awry. I find them more relatable, more human. It makes their “afters” that much better because I know a real person is behind them.
Do you have a room that irks you? Are you feeling stupid or guilty about wanting to make it right? (Because, yes, there are bigger problems in the world.) I feel the same way but I’m trying not to let it hold me back from creating a space that my family wants to be in. I encourage you to do the same.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking