...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Shortly after posting the plans for my bedroom, I received an email from Jessica sharing a photo of her own cozy bedroom. Immediately, two things were clear: 1) I want a dark and cozy bedroom. 2) I want to feature Jessica’s bedroom on House*Tweaking. Since then, I’ve bought the paint for our bedroom {Benjamin Moore Anchor Gray} and Jessica has sent over a few more images of her bedroom. Take a peek.


The walls are Valspar {Lowe’s} Falcon. The hand-blocked quilt and shams are from West Elm. The sheets are from the Threshold collection at Target. Jessica says the sheets are amazing quality for their affordable price tag and come in the best colors. The bed frame, headboard and nightstand hail from the Boerum line at West Elm.


Jessica says the remote control pocket from IKEA is life-changing. No remotes on the nightstand!


In the winter, Jessica switches out the springier quilt for a plaid wool blanket from Lands’ End. The table fan is from Restoration Hardware. The lamp is vintage and the digital clock is from Pottery Barn. I don’t know the story behind the skateboard but it’s fun and unexpected.


A nook in the bedroom houses Jessica’s work space for her etsy stationery shop, Jack and Ella Paper Press. The office furniture is from Pottery Barn.



The colorful stationery looks happy and bright against charcoal walls. The white furniture is crisp in contrast to moody walls.


Thanks for virtually sharing your cozy bedroom with us Jessica!


Who else is inspired to create a cozy bedroom retreat now?! I’m so there. Be sure to check back tomorrow for a giveaway from Jessica’s etsy shop!

images: Jessica Bates

I’m about to show you a house tour. Don’t peek! First, I need to tell you how this came about. A few months ago, I blogged about my affection for fig trees. Many of you kindly offered green advice for my black thumb. But one reader actually sent me a picture of her happy little fig tree. Just from the image of the fig tree vignette, I could tell this reader’s home was special. I graciously thanked Heather for the picture and advice she openly gave, then all but begged her for a house tour. Four months later, here it is! The time lapse is all my fault – not Heather’s. As the saying goes, “Good things are worth waiting for.”


Who lives in your home?  I live with my husband, Win, and our dog, The Baron.

Where is your home located? New Orleans, Louisiana

What do you do for a living?  I work in the Oil and Gas industry and Win is a documentary filmmaker.

What is the architectural style of your home? We live in a Victorian shotgun cottage.

How would you describe your style?  The best way to describe our style is cottage/contemporary. We paid homage to our 100+ year old cottage in most of the design elements, but also incorporated a few contemporary pieces to shake things up a bit. Our style may be a bit all over the place for some, but I love that everything in our house has a story, whether it be original artwork from Win’s talented family, an antique night stand salvaged after Katrina, or an old soda bottle I dug up in my garden.

Where do you find inspiration for your home decor? When we first bought our home in 2008, my best friend Rachelle brought over three binders filled with gorgeous images and articles pulled from Cottage Living magazine. She compiled the binders while rebuilding her home after it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. I spent an untold amount of time poring over the binders, soaking up the inspiration brought forth from its pages. Cottage Living was such an amazing resource to me. I still have a hard time believing that it’s no longer in publication. I would say that most of my current home décor inspiration comes from the web. I cut my teeth on amazing blogs such as Young House Love and The Lettered Cottage, and lately it seems like my day is not complete until I check out the latest projects over on Chezerbey, Manhattan Nest, The Brick House and House*Tweaking.

Where did you splurge? Those who know me know that I pride myself on being a serious bargain hunter and that I rarely splurge on anything other than a great meal. Looking around my house, I can say that 99% of the furnishings and appliances were either passed down from our families, bought on sale, picked up at a thrift/consignment shop, or plucked off the street. With that said, there have been one or two splurges along the way and our custom walk-in shower in the master bath is definitely one. Everyone was trying to convince us to install an inexpensive fiberglass shower stall, but Win and I wouldn’t hear of it. We knew what we wanted and even though it was a quite a splurge, it’s been worth every penny.

Where did you pinch pennies?  As for as supplies go, we definitely saved quite a bit of money by reusing our existing cabinetry and purchasing IKEA wood countertops in the kitchen. Our carpenters pushed the idea of custom cabinetry, but being an avid reader of house blogs, I knew that all they needed was a paint job and new hardware. We also saved by purchasing stock tile and stone from a discount retailer for our bathrooms and kitchen instead of custom ordering it from a tile shop or stone yard.

Favorite space in your home? For meit’s got to be our kitchen. Being an avid cook, baker and collector of all things culinary, I love being in the kitchen. I still can’t believe that it took us over three years to get around to gutting and rebuilding it. Thankfully, we worked with an amazing carpentry team that worked tirelessly to develop my kitchen vision into a warm, inviting area that maximizes every inch of usable space.

Least favorite thing about your home? We both love the fact that we have reached the point where there are many more positives than negatives about our home, but there are still a few things we can’t wait to transform. Our backyard is definitely something we try to avoid because of the sheer “ugly factor”. It’s downright hideous and that’s no joke. My main problem with the yard stems from my love of gardening. The gardening gene runs deep in my family. Some of my favorite childhood memories include digging in the dirt with my mother and grandmother. Currently, I have planted and pruned every inch of my front yard, but unfortunately, my back yard is completely useless to me because it is covered by a virtually impenetrable 10” thick concrete slab. One of these days Win and I will rent a jackhammer and get to work on transforming it into an inviting space filled with fruit trees and a large vegetable garden.

From your point of view, what’s been the best improvement you’ve made to your home? It’s really hard to pick one improvement over the others since each project has made such a significant difference to the house as a whole, but if we had to pick one, the renovation of the master bath is high on the list. When we bought the house, it was two separate spaces: a huge fire-charred laundry room and a miniscule bathroom with the toilet falling through the floor. Until the space was renovated in 2010, it was a depressing, dark disaster area that I only ventured into long enough to do a load of laundry. Now, it’s bright, inviting and absolutely fantastic. Friends that have witnessed the slow transformation of our home still can’t believe it’s the same space.

Do you have any special housekeeping rituals? I don’t know if this is a ritual or a sign of OCD, but I cannot go to bed with a messy kitchen. When we host large gatherings, I am sometimes up for hours afterwards cleaning the kitchen and putting everything back in its place. Win can easily nod off with a mountain of dirty dishes in the sink, but I cannot fathom the idea of relaxing when there is a chaotic mess going on in my favorite room of the house.

What’s your next home project or purchase? Realistically, our next project will probably be tweaking the remaining bedrooms, but our dream project is gutting and renovating a cinderblock workman’s shed in our backyard. It is already equipped with a bathroom and power, but the amount of work required is quite daunting. Ideally, we would like to turn it into a guesthouse, but that’s years away.

What’s your favorite thing to do at home? I would say that it’s a three-way tie between working in my garden, relaxing on my front porch with Win and The Baron, and whipping up meals for the people that I love.

Advice for other homeowners? I would say the best advice to new, first-time homeowners like ourselves is to take your time when it comes to renovations. When we bought our home, we lived in it for a full year before embarking on any interior projects. That decision was partly due to financial constraints, but mostly for the fact that we wanted to get to know our “new” old house first. Living in it for a while allowed us time to develop a plan of attack as well as refine our slightly contemporary style around such an old house. On a lighter note, never underestimate the transformative power of a can of spray paint.

Isn’t that one amazing cottage?! I absolutely adore the cottage aesthetic mixed with industrial touches and pops of happy color. Thank you so much, Heather and Win {and The Baron!} for letting us peek into your happy home.


Living Room/Dining Room

wall color:  Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee

trim color: Benjamin Moore Decorators White

sofa: Ikea

chandelier: Design Within Reach


Guest Bath

wall color: Benjamin Moore Nightingale (25%)

trim color: Benjamin Moore Decorators White

tub, toilet & sink- Kohler

fixtures: Kohler

tile: Floor and Décor

medicine cabinet: Home Depot

shower curtain: Urban Outfitters



wall color: Benjamin Moore White Dove

trim color: Benjamin Moore Decorators White

cabinet paint: Behr Graceful Gray

countertops: Ikea

lighting: West Elm

ceiling fan: Hunter

refrigerator: Samsung

range: LG

sink: Kohler Vault


Master Bedroom

wall color: Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee

trim color: Benjamin Moore Decorators White

lamps: Target

headboard: Wayfair.com

bedding: Macy’s


Master Bath

wall color: Benjamin Moore Nightingale

trim color: Benjamin Moore Decorators White

sink: Kohler

fixtures: Delta

toilet: American Standard

tile and stone: Floor and Décor

medicine cabinet: Home Depot

armoire: Nadeau

washer and dryer: Samsung


Guest Bedroom

wall color: Martha Stewart Plumage

trim color: Benjamin Moore Decorators White

bedding: TJ Maxx

throw pillows: Bliss Living

Do you have a room makeover, DIY project or house tour that you’d like to submit to House*Tweaking? Great! Please contact me at danarmiller@hotmail.com. I’d love to see what you’ve been up to.

images: Heather Riley

*WARNING: Crazy good before-and-afters ahead!*

A few weeks ago, Julia contacted me wanting a little advice concerning her dining room.

{Julia’s dining room BEFORE}

 {Julia’s dining room BEFORE}

She wanted to introduce some contrast with a navy and white color scheme.  Julia mentioned painting the ceiling. She asked that the dining table, bench seating, curtains and mirror stay. She was ‘iffy’ on the pendant light and dining chairs.  Julia felt the hand-me-down rug was too small for the space as well.

I suggested that Julia first declutter the room by removing the bookshelf, wall art and kid’s table. You know I like some high contrast, so I suggested Julia paint the walls above the chair rail navy and the walls below the chair rail white.  If she really wanted to paint the ceiling, I thought a nice light gray would look nice.  While the dark velvet curtains were of high quality, I asked Julia if she would be able to relocate them to another room in her home.  The visual weight of the dark curtains would have felt heavy against navy walls.  Instead, I suggested Julia hang lighter, subtly patterned panels to pop against the navy walls and give the room a touch of pattern.  I am fond of natural seagrass or sisal in dining spaces – especially when kids are involved – as they hold up nicely against crumbs and spills. I relayed this to Julia as well.  Julia was wanting new dining chairs to contrast with her warm wood table but I told her I didn’t think new chairs were necessary since the current ones had a nice simple shape to them. If anything, she could paint them white for more contrast if she so desired.  I recommended painting the wall mirror gloss white to pop against the navy walls.  Finally, I asked Julia to DIY a nature-inspired table centerpiece by gathering a bunch of leafy branches from outside and plopping them into a vase.

Julia did exactly what I love to see people do when I offer them advice.  She took all my suggestions, interpreted them to fit her time frame and budget, and RAN with them!

Check out Julia’s warm and inviting dining room now…

The navy walls are Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy which Julia chose herself and had color-matched in Olympic’s no VOC paint.  She painted the chair rail and walls below white to match the existing trim.  The white chair rail keeps the navy from feeling oppressive.  Julia decided against painting the ceiling gray once she saw the result of the navy walls and white chair rail together.  Julia also chose to remove the heavy velvet curtains to reveal white sheers beneath.

The chunky table and bench stayed and, to save time and money, Julia borrowed a larger 8’x10′ cream and gray rug from her living room. For now, Julia has chosen to keep her dining chairs as is. Personally, I hope they continue to grow on her.  I love ’em just the way they are, contrasting warmly with the white and navy.

Julia did a great job of decluttering and emptying the room of unnecessary furniture pieces.  She opted to keep a petite console beneath the wall mirror to ground the mirror.

The newly painted white mirror really pops against and brightens the moody navy walls.

And check out those amazing, blazing branches on display in the center of the table!  Julia clipped them from outside and brought them indoors, adding just the right amount of accent color to the room.  Gorgeous.

Even though the adjoining kitchen and sunroom are lighter in color, the new navy walls tie in nicely with Julia’s tiled kitchen backsplash and patterned throw on the back of the sofa in the sunroom. Making an effort to repeat colors – even in small doses – in each room of a home is a great way to keep things feeling cohesive.

And now for a side-by-side, before-and-after comparison because…well, because everyone likes a good before-and-after.

That’s one amazing transformation, isn’t it?!  The navy walls work well in Julia’s dining room because there are a lot of ‘breaks’ in the walls: doorways to adjoining rooms, a large window, a light-bouncing mirror and the white chair rail.

Who would have guessed that this jaw-dropping makeover only cost Julia the small price of paint and painting supplies for the navy walls?  {She used leftover white paint in her basement for the chair rail.} Yet another great example of how decluttering + a little paint can transform a ho-hum room.  Ah, the power of paint.  Not every great ‘after’ has to happen with demolition and renovation!

Thanks, Julia, for sharing your new dining room.  You did an awesome job!  I’m inspired.  And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

What’s your favorite part of Julia’s dining room makeover?  I’m totally diggin’ the deep navy walls and that Mother Nature-inspired centerpiece.

FYI – To read and see more about Julia’s dining room makeover, including a few in-progress shots, click over to her Happy Happy Home blog.

images:  all courtesy of Julia from Happy Happy Home