...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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

bath prep 1

This past weekend we prepped the unfinished bathroom for tile. Steve mudded, taped and sanded the seams in the cement board. Then he shop-vac’d the entire room and cleaned everything with a damp cloth. (Where I come from, shop-vac is a verb.)

Per the suggestion of a friend who also happens to be a self-employed contractor, we decided to try a new waterproofing product (it’s that hot pink stuff you see above) on the shower walls. It’s called RedGard and can be rolled onto surfaces before tiling to create a waterproofing barrier and prevent cracks.

tile prep 2

Some say this extra step isn’t necessary. (We didn’t use this product in the master bathroom because we hadn’t heard of it yet and things are just fine in there.) For us, it’s peace of mind. Plus, we like trying out new products along the way and sharing our experience with others.

The cement board in this bathroom was installed at the same time as the drywall in the rest of the house – which we hired out for. And while the rest of the walls turned out great, the cement board installation in this bathroom was a little wonky. I’m guessing it was the last room to be finished at the end of a long day and was completed in haste. The seams were less than perfect but not enough for us to rip everything out and start over. Steve asked our contractor friend what to do. He suggested mudding, taping and sanding the seams then applying the RedGard. So that’s what we did.

Steve rolled two coats of RedGard over the cement board. The stuff is really thick and stinky. For better control, he used a small roller. This method worked well but the RedGard can also be troweled on if desired. Steve wore a respirator during application while the kids and I spent most of the *mild* day outside. We turned on the bathroom ventilation fans and opened the windows to help dissipate the smelly fumes. Still, it was pretty stinky the day of application.

bath prep

The RedGard turns from pink to red when dry. It dries fairly quickly. See how it’s more red in the image above and pinker in the very first image of this post? That was the time between starting the first coat and cutting in around the window to finish up the first coat. The color is just as garish in real life as it is in these pictures. If not more so. Steve’s vision was screwed up for the the rest of the day after staring at the red-pink walls. The boys were relieved to learn this was NOT going to be the final color of their bathroom!

With the bathroom prepped for tile, we started thinking ahead. The original plan for the room was to use the same skinny subway tile we have in the kitchen for the shower walls and a continuous 36″ high tiled wainscoting around the rest of the room. For the floor, we planned to use carrara marble hexagon tile.

But right at “go time” we were second-guessing these choices. We hemmed and hawed over whether or not to do the tile wainscoting throughout the room…mostly because we knew it would be a lot of work but I also worried it might look too busy. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of having mostly tiled walls to wipe down from the kids’ splashes and messes. We decided putting in the extra time now for the wainscoting installation would pay off in the form of easy cleaning down the road. Not to mention, the wainscoting will serve as another “layer” in the room and you know how I feel about layers. So tile wainscoting it is!

Then we got to thinking about the floor tile. I love, love, LOVE the marble we chose. But my kids love, love, LOVE to not pee in the toilet. We have two boys and our toddler just started showing interest in potty-training. Need I say more? I knew the white marble wouldn’t last one day in this house without becoming stained. (We have light-colored penny tile in the master bathroom but it’s ceramic and isn’t easily stained like marble.) And I don’t really feel like being a slave to a bathroom floor, no matter how pretty it is.

I wasn’t on the computer two minutes before I found this noir hexagon tile. It’s tumbled travertine and it’s slightly less expensive than the marble we originally chose. We have a travertine floor in our mudroom and it has held up really well to all the mud, dirt, rocks and food my family throws at it so I know the same material will work great in the kids’ bathroom. And can we talk about the color of this tile for a hot second? From a distance it reads black but upon closer inspection there are variations of charcoal, blue-black and jet-black. The color gradient gives it a natural, organic feel. It’s soooooo goooooood. So good we changed our minds. Noir hex it is!

We’re (im)patiently awaiting the arrival of our noir hex order to swap out the carrara we have on hand. Since the floor tile needs to go down before we can begin the wall tile, our progress in the bathroom has come to a screeching halt. So goes DIY home improvement!

In the meantime, I went ahead and created an updated mood board for the bathroom.


Kid/Guest Bathroom


1 – barn wall sconce We have the same light over the sink in our master bathroom. We like it so much we’re using it in the kid / guest bath, too. Even though the two bathrooms will feature different finishes, keeping the lighting the same offers some consistency.

2 – imperial bianco 2″ x 12″ subway tile We used this tile for a minimal backsplash in the kitchen. Again, incorporating the same tile here provides cohesion throughout the house which is nice because this bathroom will serve as our main bathroom once finished (eek!) and it’s located near the kitchen.

3 – stainless steel first aid cabinet I bought this metal cabinet eons ago. We’re planning on cutting through the drywall and mounting the cabinet between the studs (recessed so that it’s flush with the wall) for hidden storage in the bathroom. I haven’t decided if it will hang above the toilet or on a sliver of wall next to the sink. Probably next to the sink?

4 – noir hex! Most everything else in the bathroom will be white or wood-toned so I’m banking on this tile for some high contrast.

5 – tork brass dripping mirror I like adding circles to boxy rooms so I’m thinking a round mirror will go above the vanity. I like the thin brass frame of this one but I’ll probably wait until most of the fixtures are in place before I finalize the mirror selection. As much as I like softening sharp lines with rounded edges, I wouldn’t be opposed to a rectangular one if it “fits.”

6 – cognac vanity with marble top We bought this vanity over two years ago on sale at Home Depot. I can’t find it available anywhere now. We bought it for the inexpensive price, open frame and clean lines. I’ve read it’s a pain to assemble and install so we’ll see how it goes.

7 – claw foot tub with wood base Do you remember the claw foot tub we found on craigslist? It had four feet when we bought it, three feet when we got it home and now it’s down to two. (!) The plan is to DIY a simple wood base and forego the claw feet all together. I have a feeling we’ll be flying by the seat of our pants during this project as I haven’t come across any detailed DIY’s for wood tub bases. It might not work out but it sounds fun so we’re giving it a go. We’re trailblazing!

We’re itching to whip this bathroom into shape. Whenever we’re in the middle (or even beginning stages) of a project, it feels like a major waste of time (and, honestly, a complete drop in confidence) to take a step back and reassess our plans. But sometimes it leads to changes that make more sense in the long run. That’s how I feel about our decision to switch up the floor tile in the kids’ bathroom. It’s a good change.

Do you find yourself second-guessing every step of a project? Does it help or hinder you? We’ve seen it go both ways for us. Sometimes taking a second look at plans reaffirms our original decisions which gives us a boost of confidence to forge ahead. Other times, we doubt certain aspects and end up completely paralyzed which usually results in the project getting pushed further out.

Oh, home improvement, why are you so addicting?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

girl nursery 1

So many times I get asked, “What if Mabrey had been a boy? What would the nursery look like then?” I thought it would be fun to turn my answer into a mood board and share it with you. Here we go. The nursery. Boy edition.

boy nursery

First off, the room’s layout would remain the same. It just works so I wouldn’t mess with it. There are so many items in Mabrey’s nursery that I love and would work well in a baby boy’s room, too. I would definitely keep most of the larger, basic items. The crib, the changing table with baskets & bins, the mirror, the wall shelves, the rocking chair, the trunk under the window, the ceiling light, the rug, the woven shade, the deer head…all that would stay. (For the sake of keeping the mood board simple, I show only a few of these items above but all of them would remain in the room.) The majority of this stuff hails from Ikea. The rocker and woven shade are from Overstock. The trunk was a wedding gift. The rug is from West Elm. The deer head is from White Faux Taxidermy.

I am still head over heels for the wall color. It’s Benjamin Moore dark pewter and I would use it all over again. (That’s saying a lot as I have been known to paint a room three times before I land on the perfect hue.) It’s a deep, moody gray blue with green undertones. It makes the small room feel oh-so-cozy and is conducive to sleeping. And I like sleeping babies – boy or girl. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with boys and pink but I think it would be fun to add red-orange, mustard and green accents against the dark walls along with a lot of white for contrast.

On to the items I would change. The pattern on Mabrey’s curtains is pretty feminine. I would hang these at the window and closet instead. As for the DIY art above the crib, I would probably DIY a gradient wood stain for the same effect but a more masculine look. So it would go from a natural to rich wood tone. But since you guys don’t have this exact empty frame hanging around at your house, I also love the idea of DIYing a big wooden Ohio and painting a small heart or star in the location where my baby boy was born. (The Ohio in the mood board is an ornament but you get the idea.) I would pair all white bedding with a colorful quilt. I really like this vintage kantha. And I would bring in more color and pattern with pillows (here, here, here and here) and scatter them throughout the room in the crib, on the trunk and on the rocker. Two or three green rope baskets (eek! They sold out in between creating the mood board and writing this post but they’re from Target.) would corral toys and sit on the floor below the wall shelves. To bring a little more life to the open shelves, I’d add green boxes and framed nature photography.

All that’s left to add is a bouncing baby boy! Don’t get me wrong, I love my babygirl and her room. But sometimes it’s fun to re-imagine a room for someone else. Or is that just me?

P.S. – A few more shots of M’s room these days…

girl nursery 2

girl nursery 3

girl nursery 4

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

messy desk 1

This is how the kitchen desk looks right now. I didn’t even bother to close the upper cabinet door before I snapped this pic. I’m really happy with the tongue and groove backsplash so it’s time to turn my attention to other aspects. Namely, organization and function.

Not only do I conduct most of my blog work here but this is also where bills are paid, where the kids’ school communication lands and where outgoing mail is processed. As is, there’s no rhyme or reason to the paper trail. I’ve been tossing receipts, school papers, catalogs to be browsed, forms to be completed / filed, invitations and other random stuff into the woven basket but I never meant for it to be a permanent solution. The box on the left is a damaged item waiting to be returned. I picked up the black and white tray in hopes of corralling my planner and numerous notebooks but it isn’t ideal. The contents are spilling over onto the countertop. I’m so ready to whip this space into shape!

messy desk 2

My stopgap stool is gone and I’m borrowing a stool from the island for now. Since I only had $16 invested in the craigslist stool, I donated it. It served the purpose for a year and a half. I actually adored the stool but I’m spending more and more time at the desk and it wasn’t exactly the most comfortable place to sit. Frequently, my legs would fall asleep. I’d like to incorporate a comfy, upholstered stool that’s a little more forgiving to my back, bum and legs. I tried out a stool from JCPenney that you may have seen here but in person it was cheap – the upholstery and the construction. I returned it. I’d rather upgrade to a higher quality stool that will last me a good long while.

After the desk is in working order, it’d be nice if it felt inspiring, too. I just need a few motivational quotes or inspirational images that can be easily displayed and taken down since I like to switch things up often. And even though this space is essentially a home office, it is open to our main living area so I’d like to incorporate items that give it a cozy vibe.

Here are the plans for my workspace…

home workspace


1 – KVISSLE letter tray Paper mess no more! With four pull-out trays, I should finally be able to get a handle on my family’s paper trail. The lips of the trays would be easy to label so I can file / find papers quickly.

2 – KVISSLE desk organizer My pens and phone are easily lost in the paper shuffle. I like the idea of having a designated spot just for them.

3 – Kalon Studios storage unit This furniture-like unit can be used horizontally or vertically, freestanding or wall-mounted. I think it would be the perfect solution to my overflowing planner / notebook pile.

4 – Linen lamp We have under- and over-cabinet lighting installed in the desk area so this petite lamp isn’t totally necessary but I think it will be just the thing to tie the desk space into the adjacent living room. I’ve always loved the look of shaded lamps in kitchens and workspaces. It makes them look so cozy!

5 – KVISSLE magazine file I’ll admit it. I have a bit of an addiction to glossies and catalogs. I want to read them all! I get so many ideas from print publications but more often than not I have several on deck waiting to be devoured. A pair of magazine files would be perfect for stashing the most recent issues until I get around to reading them. Also, can you tell I’ve been stalking the KVISSLE series at IKEA?

6 – Married to the Sea It’s no secret that I adore Clare Elsaesser. I have two of her prints hanging in the dining room / mudroom. I recently ordered a print for my MIL as a birthday gift after she got all dreamy-eyed over the ones in my dining room. There was a slight delay with the order and Clare was kind enough to send a surprise, complementary print of Married to the Sea for compensation. (This was totally unprovoked, btw. I had no problem with the order arriving a little later than expected.) I hadn’t planned on including any art in the desk makeover but as soon as the print arrived I knew it would be lovely hung to the right of the upper cabinets. I’ve already purchased a simple frame for it.

7 – Blu Dot knicker stool (counter height, chalk fabric) This modern, upholstered stool should support hours of sitting at a time sans numb toes. And it’s going to look mighty fine doing it. The wood legs will provide some warmth while the gray fabric will pick up on the gray chair and curtains in the living room.

I am partnering with Wayfair for this project. I plan to have my workspace completed late January / early February and will share the reveal with you then. Although, it looks like that linen table lamp is on backorder until mid-February so it might not make the big reveal but I’ll be sure to share it as soon as it arrives!

Are you working on getting a messy spot in your house in order? The start of a new year always has me itching to tackle problem areas in my house. Watch out unfinished bathroom, you’re next.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking