...because home doesn't happen overnight.

moody luxe 5

When I started this blog my family was living in a builder spec home. The finishes were cheap and I was doing my best to put my stamp on things. I turned to the internet for inspiration but was disappointed in what I found. Most looks weren’t achievable in our house. We had nondescript carpet and vinyl flooring – not hardwoods. There were no particularly alluring architectural features. We also had practical things like ceiling fans and light-filtering window shades. Tweaking that house taught us many things. Eventually, we came to value quality over quantity which prompted our downsizing adventure. But it also taught us that you don’t have to wait until bigger, future projects (i.e., installing new flooring) are completed to start making little changes that better reflect your preferred aesthetic.

“Nothing you do for your home is ever wasted.” – Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan for Apartment Therapy

We never did install new flooring in our previous home. But we did paint the walls & kitchen cabinets, install new countertops & a backsplash, experiment with furnishings and hang curtains & artwork. By the time we moved, the space definitely felt more like us than it had when we moved in.

All that to say, you don’t have to wait until you can do everything to do something.

And that’s what this makeover is all about. My clients moved into their home less than six months ago. They would love to upgrade the flooring, redo the kitchen, install statement light fixtures, fully furnish each room and improve the bathrooms but, as with most newly acquired houses, those things just aren’t in the budget right now. Instead, they’re tackling smaller projects as time and money allow, injecting their sense of style as they go. So far, they’ve painted nearly every room in the house and I recently helped them revamp the master bedroom. (You can read about my plans for the space and see a mood board here.) It’s a real room with carpet, blinds, a ceiling fan and even a TV. I hope it inspires you to do something.


arhaus bedroom before 1




arhaus bedroom before 2



We made a lot of changes but, in my opinion, rotating the bed, painting the walls a deep charcoal and bringing in mismatched furniture were the game-changers.

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Relocating the bed to a blank wall makes it a natural focal point and lets more light pour in through the windows. The tufted headboard makes a grand statement. I love how the sides turn in for an intimate effect. So cozy!

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My client’s style is decidedly more luxurious than my own. When she requested sequins, I cringed a little. But this Moroccan wedding blanket was the perfect solution. It jingles ever so lightly! I wanted to take it home with me. I searched high and low for a vintage one that was large enough to fit the king bed but not a bazillion dollars. I kept the rest of the bedding simple with a linen duvet and lumbar pillow. The bordered euro shams are a nice detail and tie in to the khaki stripes on the Moroccan blanket.

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Patterned sheets are a fun surprise when the duvet is pulled back.

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X-based campaign-style nightstands pop against the moody walls. The geometric lines contrast with the headboard’s curves. I LOVE the lamps. They’re oversized to match the scale of the headboard. Anything smaller would have been dwarfed. The wood bases warm up the white nightstands and bedding.

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I turned to one of my favorite artists, Clare Elsaesser, to fill the void between the windows. I’ve always loved her work. The rich color combinations, tangled poses and fluid brush strokes create a dream-like quality making her pieces ideal for a bedroom. I framed the large print in a poster frame spray painted gold to match the curtain rods (also spray painted gold). At the eleventh hour, I decided to add black ribbon trim to the leading edges of the curtains for a little drama. It was more work but not expensive and totally worth it.

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I think a TV in the bedroom is a personal choice and my clients choose to have one in theirs. To make it less conspicuous, we mounted it on the wall above one of the vintage dressers I rehabbed. (The dark walls go a long way in hiding the TV, too.) An accordion-like bracket allows the screen to be angled toward the bed for easier viewing.

I was the teensiest bit apprehensive about the dressers. I absolutely LOVE how they turned out and knew they would look great in the space. However, when I met with my client initially, she told me she didn’t like gold and preferred “rustic” furniture pieces. The minute she saw them, she was sold – on the gold and the midcentury style. I was so glad because the clean lines and warm wood tones were very much needed in the space. I made her a believer! (Her husband loves them, too, but I knew he would.)

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The feather finish tops were a hit, too.

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I brought in a bench and mirror for easy dressing and quick once-overs. (A hallway leading to his and hers closets is located just to the left of the bench.) The mirror actually came with the dresser I used in my boys’ room. I had no use for it but hung on to it because it’s a solid piece. It finally found a home! At night, the Moroccan blanket can be folded up and placed on the bench.

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My client had her heart set on a chaise for the adjacent sitting area. She imagined it as a quiet space for lounging with a book and / or a glass of wine.

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A metal accent table picks up on other gold details in the room and provides a surface for reading material and a drink. Layered textiles create a relaxed vibe. The kilim pillow repeats the color scheme of the artwork in the sleeping area. The hanging planter fills vertical space and adds life to the vignette. We treated the two smaller windows as one large one (one curtain rod, two curtain panels) to make the space feel lighter and brighter.

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I paired the other dresser with black and white abstract art to give the sitting area a modern edge.

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The best part? My clients absolutely love the room. I can’t tell you how good it feels to witness people go from detesting a living space to not wanting to leave it. I’m so grateful they allowed me to put my spin on things. Not everyone is willing to go dark or try things outside of their comfort zone, but they were game. Thanks Maggie & Jeremy!

Resources of note:

wall paint – Benjamin Moore kendall charcoal, color-matched in Valspar Reserve
ceiling fan – Amazon
headboard – Mariah headboard in taft pewter, Arhaus*
Moroccan wedding blanket – etsy
linen duvet, lumbar pillow – Ikea
euro shams – Ralph Lauren in polished bronze, Macy’s
sheets – Target
nightstands – Overstock
wood lamps – Lamps Plus
ring holder – Target
curtain rods – Amazon (spray painted gold with Rustoleum Universal pure gold)
curtains – Ikea
black ribbon trim – Amazon
large print – “Unclasped” by Clare Elsaesser, etsy
poster frame – Amazon (spray painted gold with Rustoleum Universal pure gold)
dressers – vintage, DIY
pierced hurricane candleholders – Target
woven basket – Target
bench – Overstock
mirror – vintage
chaise – Audrey chaise in tumble natural, Arhaus*
black and white abstract art & wood frames – Minted*
jute plant hanger – Amazon
olive throw – Overstock
kilim pillow – etsy
metal side table – Urban Outfitters
hide & sheepskin rugs – Ikea
task lamp – Ikea
ivy planter – thrifted

*Denotes items provided specifically for this project. This is NOT a sponsored post but I would like to thank Arhaus and Minted for providing the items listed above. I am grateful to be in a unique position to pass along quality products to my clients to help stretch their budgets. You can see more pictures of this space and read my tips for creating a beautiful bedroom over on Arhaus’s blog, Greenhaus.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

easy quinoa 3

One of my friends always brings the best quinoa dish to gatherings. I finally asked her to share the recipe and she happily obliged. It’s so quick and easy! I tweaked the recipe a little and have been making batches of it to eat for lunch throughout the week. I thought you might enjoy it, too.


1 bag frozen, microwaveable quinoa*
1 bag frozen, microwaveable brown rice*
1 bag frozen, microwaveable kale OR spinach
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil with herbs*
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced (Sauté if desired.)
¼ cup toasted pine nuts*
4 oz. log of goat cheese
lemon juice, salt & pepper to taste

*I use Trader Joe’s brand.

easy quinoa 1

Microwave the quinoa, brown rice and greens as directed. Mix together in a medium dish. Add the garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper to taste.

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Stir in sun-dried tomatoes (undrained) and pine nuts. Top with crumbled goat cheese. Done!

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The best part about this salad is that it tastes good at any temperature: cold straight out of the fridge for a quick lunch, at room temp for gatherings or picnics when fridge /cooler space is limited, warmed in the microwave for dinner. Variations of the recipe are limitless. My friend uses a frozen, microwaveable quinoa + barley mix, spinach and feta cheese. You can even add grilled chicken for a protein boost.

Do you have a go-to quick & easy lunch? What is your favorite dish to bring to summer gatherings?

P.S. – Another favorite summer dish.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

06.23.15 / Liked & Linked

studio progress

“Just paint it” was my motto last week. I spray painted the radiator at the studio (and, oops, my hair) white. I know that won’t sit well with some of you but I like the way it lets the windows take center stage. I also tackled the floor. It’s hard to tell in the pic above but I used a putty gray in gloss. I’m hoping it will hide dirty warehouse footprints and mop up easily. I’ll share more later this week. FYI – Painting with kids in tow takes 3x longer and requires 10x the patience. There *might* be floor paint handprints on the walls. It’s nothing a little touchup won’t fix but…grrrr.

Some things I found when I wasn’t painting…

*10 built-in Ikea hacks to try.

*I love how this bedroom is shaping up. Further proof that these things take time.

*600 square feet of big style. (see “boho retreat”)

*The real life, family-friendly renovation of a tiny house.

*After all these years, Steve is most proud of seeing our home pop up on The Chive. (I’m not. We weren’t credited properly, and the caption isn’t even funny or spelled / punctuated correctly.)

room for tuesday patio

*All the patio vibezzz.

*As a bibliophile, I love these book pouches.

*Really looking forward to seeing a collection of interiors designed for slow living.

*I finally donated the mismatched, hand-me-down plastic measuring cups I’ve had since college and invested in a stainless steel set. I feel so grown up and slightly embarrassed for waiting so long.

*Since some of you asked…the ab workout I’m trying this summer. (I substitute tennis for the Tabata drills.)

Happy first week of summer!

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Sarah Gibson and Jacqueline Brown via Room for Tuesday