...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Many of you want to know what’s become of our outdoor furniture this winter. We don’t have room for it in the garage. We don’t have a shed. We don’t have an off-site storage unit.

snow covered outdoor furniture 1In the fall, we arranged the sectional, chair and coffee table pieces into two rectangular shapes (kinda like a 3D puzzle), covered them with two outdoor covers and pushed them up against the back of the house under an eave. Everything sits up off the ground on the platform deck. I washed the cushion covers and sealed them in plastic bags then took them and the cushions up to the attic to hibernate for the winter.

On a tangent, you can see more of our newly organized attic here. The Home Depot contacted me earlier this year about collaborating on a storage / organization post. Seeing as how we had been living with two pieces of foam board taped over our attic access for months in order to prevent heat from escaping into the attic, it seemed like a good fit. I love it when collaborations work out that way. When they give us a kick in the butt to tackle something we should have done already. Deadlines are good motivators!

Anyhow, the outdoor sectional cushions are up in that tidy, blue-carpeted attic space waiting for spring.

snow covered outdoor furniture 2

Let’s get back to the sofa. (I feel like this is a very scatter-brained narrative. Steve is out of town this week and I’m running on two hours of sleep sooooo…yeah, that explains a lot.) Our hope was that the deep eave would shelter the furniture from the elements somewhat. It does okay. Obviously, snow and rain still get on the furniture but that’s where the covers come in.

We bought the covers online. I don’t remember where (Steve has all that info. I’ll ask him when he’s back.) but I do remember we opted for ones near the “high quality” end of the spectrum but they weren’t the most expensive option we came across. We figured it was worth it to protect the not-so-cheap furniture we invested in. With the way this winter has been, we’re happy with our decision.

snow covered outdoor furniture 3

The one drawback is that snow, water and ice tend to accumulate on the covers causing them to dip. Every few days I go out and brush them off. The worst is when it’s water or ice. Water and ice are HEAVY. I use a pitcher as a bail to scoop and dump the water. When it’s ice, I gotta put my back into it. My fear is that the weight will pull on the covers and rip them. So even though the covers are protecting the furniture, our setup isn’t completely maintenance free. Then again, it’s been some kind of winter.

You may have noticed the outdoor dining chairs hanging out under the eave as well. They’re plastic and don’t hold snow like the bigger furniture so we left them uncovered. They’re swell.

snow covered outdoor furniture 4

The outdoor dining table is uncovered, too. We left it open to the elements all last summer and it was fine so no cover here either. It has a slatted top so water can drain off. If anyone’s been wondering about the DIY wood art, it still looks brand new. No worries.

And now this is the end of a very boring, snowy post. Wish it was the end of a very boring, snowy winter instead.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to browse beach cottage rentals online just to torture myself a little more.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

02.28.14 / Made Me Smile

mabrey book 1

So much to smile about this week!

*Cuddling with Mabrey and reading her absolute favorite book before nap time is something I look forward to every day. Our copy was Steve’s when he was little. Dare I say it’s vintage?

*Finally, we created attic access in our home where there was none and then we organized said attic. Hurray for not paying to heat / cool attic space anymore!

*These painter’s pyramid stands came in handy when I tweaked an Ikea step stool earlier this week. Such a clever product!

*Lauren’s tips for styling a console. Her home is featured in the current issue of Domino magazine which I just picked up this morning. Guess what I’ll be reading tonight with wine in hand!

*A little bathroom humor never hurt anyone.

*You know that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow we’ve all been searching for? Turns out, it was in someone’s backyard.

*We got a taste of spring. It was delicious.

*I placed second wayyyyyy behind one of my all-time favorite designers in the annual Homies Awards. Emily slayed it and rightfully so! Thanks to everyone who took the time to vote. Love ya.

Do something that puts a smile on your face this weekend. We’re hoping to level out the floor in our unfinished bathroom after our plumber came and adjusted a water line last week. Gotta start somewhere!

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

02.16.14 / My Home Workspace

Welcome to my workspace!

workspace 1

I don’t have a separate room designated as an office. Instead, I carved out a home office in a corner of my kitchen. This is where bills are paid, mail is sorted, the kids’ school communication lands, grocery lists are written, design work is completed, blog content is created, and – let’s be honest – falling down the virtual rabbit hole happens. It’s a small space with many functions and, up until a few weeks ago, it wasn’t living up to its full potential. I was finally able to give it some much needed attention and turned it into an organized and inspiring place to werrrrk.

First, let’s take a look at the evolution of this lil’ corner.


During renovation, we removed walls to open up the kitchen to the living room. This space was originally a teeny dining room off the kitchen. We relocated the dining room to the mudroom (sounds strange, works beautifully for us) to make better use of the space. We vaulted the ceiling, added skylights and replaced the original dining room window with french doors.

We installed Ikea cabinetry, including a 9′ island. For the office portion of the kitchen, we created a built-in desk with plenty of closed storage. The base cabinets house the printer, paper, kids’ art supplies, gift wrap and even a charging station for battery-powered tools. The glass front cabinets hold glassware, decorative accessories, my camera bag and plenty of baskets and bins which corral everything from vitamins to paint decks to the kids’ flash cards.

We added a tongue and groove backsplash (it matches our TV wall) to the desk area and painted it white. The backsplash links the upper cabinets to the base cabinets. Before, the upper cabinets “floated” on the wall and felt disconnected from the lower desk area.

Recently, I organized the contents of the glass front cabinets and moved the shelves in line with the grids on the doors for a more unified look. I added accessories to make the workspace more appealing from both practical and visual standpoints.

before_after_workspace 2

The photo on the left was taken the day we closed on the house. It’s a view of the original dining area from the front door. The image on the right is the view from the front door now. It’s safe to say I don’t miss the orange shag carpet or 8′ ceiling one iota.

workspace 5

Let’s take a closer look.

workspace cabinet

For the upper cabinet contents I stuck to mostly glass, white, wood and silver for an organic feel. I threw in a pair of textured gray letter boxes to tie in to my desk stool and other gray elements in the adjacent living room.

(My fiddle leaf fig is still alive! I just wanted to point that out. I think he likes it here.)

workspace cubby

The glass front cabinets work great for me. They force organization and discourage clutter while providing a display area protected from dust. The right side of my desk has always been a natural dumping zone so I brought in a wood cubby with hidden storage to give inevitable clutter a sightly place to chill. A decorative tray on top holds fresh flowers and my glasses.

There are two items in my office that always spark compliments from visitors: the wood cubby and the fiddle leaf fig. I guess you could say they are the popular kids.

workspace file

At the opposite end of the desk, I brought in a letter tray to address my family’s never-ending paper trail. Each family member has their own (labeled!) pull-out tray. I temporarily store current catalogs and glossies in the magazine files until I get a chance to read them. #printlimbo For fun, I personalized the metal files with photo magnets.

workspace 6

A desktop organizer holds smaller items like pens, pencils, planners, a tape dispenser, scissors, a tape measure and my phone. I splurged on a fire engine red stapler after a decade of living with a mini stapler that constantly jammed. And, yes, it reminds me of Office Space which makes me laugh out loud.

“…but then they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler but I kept my Swingline stapler because it doesn’t bind up as much and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it’s not okay because if they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire.” – Milton Waddams

workspace 4

I’ve long admired loosely arranged inspiration boards. It makes for a casual display that can be easily changed when boredom strikes. I decided to try one myself. I used washi tape and double-sided tape to tack business cards and inspirational images to the backsplash. I hung a framed print with 3M adhesive strips. I tapped a finish nail only partially into the tongue and groove and hung a few rolls of washi tape and a leather bracelet. I shopped my house for the items displayed on my inspiration board so this project was free yet completely fulfilling. It’s so nice to work surrounded by items and images that inspire me in some way.

workspace chair

I spent months searching for a comfortable stool that would go along with the modern organic vibe I had envisioned for my workspace. When I stumbled upon this clean-lined upholstered counter stool, I knew it was the one.

workspace 2

The cushy seat, supportive back and appropriately placed footrest are conducive to long blogging sessions. The simple silhouette and rich wood base are in line with the aesthetic of our open kitchen-living space. I’ve been using the stool for a few months now and it looks and feels just as good as the day it arrived. I am much more productive when my legs aren’t falling asleep.

workspace afar

I always appreciate a pulled back shot to help me visualize how a niche, nook or corner fits into the bigger picture. I thought you might, too. Our kitchen is on the left; our living room is on the right. Can you see how the DIY shelves balance out the desk area on this wall?

I need more Buddha heads. Obviously. Also, I think I may be the only person I know with a high chair in their office. It’s for my assistant.

workspace 7

And that’s my home workspace in a nutshell – almost literally. It’s modest in size yet totally functional and so me. I love working here! I want to work here. Ever since I made organization and inspiration priorities in this lil’ space, I have been waaaaayyyy more productive.

After working for over a decade in a career field that sucked all inspiration out of me, I feel EXTREMELY lucky and am so grateful to be able to do the work I do now and to do it here. I have you guys to thank for that. Thank you! From the bottom of my stripe-lovin’ heart.


wall color – Benjamin Moore tapestry beige
backsplash color – Benjamin Moore white dove
cabinets – Ikea
letter boxes – Ikea
framed wall art – Clare Elsaesser
high chair – Ikea
wood cubby – Wayfair*
letter tray – Ikea
magazine files – Ikea
desk organizer – Ikea
photo magnets – StickyGram
counter stool – Wayfair*
photography prints – Walter Helena
blue & white desktop planter – JoAnn’s
black & white floor planter – vintage
rug – vintage

*This post was sponsored in part by Wayfair. Items marked with an asterisk were chosen by me and donated by Wayfair. All opinions and images are my own. Hop on over to Wayfair to see my top five tips for creating a functional and stylish workspace.

Happy start to the work week, my friends!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

01.14.14 / Workspace Progress

Progress on my workspace is coming along. (You can see the plans here.) I hit up IKEA this past weekend to pick up the KVISSLE items and all of a sudden I know where crap is. It’s life-changing! Thanks to the new organization, I’m two for two having Everett appropriately dressed for Spirit Week. Monday, school colors. Check. Tuesday, hat day. Check. Mom of the Year 2014?

married to the sea 2

The frame for my Married to the Sea print arrived last week and I finally took advantage of Mabrey’s naptime to assemble and hang it. It’s lovely. If you’re counting, that brings the total number of Clare Elsaesser prints in our house to three.

married to the sea 3

It was my first time using a legit gallery frame as opposed to the ones I normally use from IKEA or Target. Not that there is anything wrong with the frames from IKEA or Target. They’re actually great and I have them all over my house. But this gallery frame is museum quality. It’s that good. The razor thin metal face gives it such a sharp look.

married to the sea 4*

It has me thinking I should use several of these frames to create a big floor-to-ceiling gallery in the nearby hallway. Snowball effect. Don’t you love it?!

married to the sea 1

My home “office” is the only one I know of that houses a highchair. But it’s temporary. Soon enough Mabrey will be sitting on a stool / chair at the island / table with us. (She already insists on eating her snacks at the island like her brothers.) I could see a step stool or plant stand living there in the future. I have a hard time reaching the top shelves in the upper cabinets so a step stool would come in handy.

Now that I have my desk countertop under control, I’m thinking I should go ahead and address the contents of the glass-fronted cabinets. They aren’t awful but they could definitely use some editing and maybe some attractive storage boxes. I spotted these when I was at IKEA a few days ago. Sorta wish a few had made it home with me.

What about you? Has tackling one project only led to another? What are you organizing these days?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking