...because home doesn't happen overnight.

clubhouse exterior 1

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…

 

clubhouse

 

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!)

clubhouse interior 3

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

Dear etsy,

I like you. Especially your art, handmade treasures, and vintage textiles & knick knacks. I just want you to know that you’re appreciated.

xo,
Dana

And now for some stuff I recently bought on etsy…

etsy stuff

 

1 – vintage indigo jar ($20) I store garlic bulbs in this lil’ cutie and keep it next to the stove.

2 – red sliced wood garland ($30) This crazy cool garland is going in the boys’ room. (An update on their room is coming next…) I probably could have made one for less but who has time to paint a wood dowel, cut it into a million pieces, then string and knot each slice? Apparently, not me.

3 – hanging planter ($57) The boys requested more plants in their room. To optimize floor space, I thought a hanging planter would be the way to go. Again, I decided to leave the tedious task of knot-tying to someone else. WHO AM I?

4 – vintage Hmong fabric ($35) I bought two Hmong pillow covers a while back for the mudroom and ever since I dream of covering my house in Hmong fabric. It has the best patterns and patina in a denim-like indigo color. I’m going to sew more pillow covers and fill my house with them. Because I do have time for sewing but not for knot-tying??

5 – vintage kilim pillow ($55) I put this beauty in ‘my favorites’ weeks ago and would stop in daily to gaze longingly at it. Then I decided life was too short to love a pillow virtually when I could love it in real life.

6 – New Zealand panoramic photography print ($145) I’ve slowly been adding black and white photography prints to our home. (I spy three from my desk right now.) I guess I’m into them. The scale and orientation of this panoramic should be perfect for what I have in mind.

I go through phases of browsing etsy and curating ‘my favorites.’ Then every once in a while I pull the trigger on items I’m especially drawn to. I have to have a clear purpose or spot for each item. That’s the one caveat. There’s no room here for buying first, thinking later.

What about you? Any recent etsy purchases? Any etsy shops I should know about?

images: polyvore collage by Dana Miller

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.

entry

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