...because home doesn't happen overnight.
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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

02.14.14 / Made Me Smile

adler doonan cottage

Here are the things that had me smiling this week.

*Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan’s beach cottage in the current issue of Dwell magazine is sick and the interview is hilarious. Two words: tampon commercial.

*Along the same lines…things you won’t find in a boring house.

*I scored this mid century dresser on ebay. (Deets to come.)

*Layne turned 9!

*Belinda is surviving an amazing kitchen reno with three kids underfoot and one on the way!

*15 design bloggers at home. (I just pre-ordered my copy.)

*My sister is visiting for the long weekend. That means chocolate is on the menu.

I hope you do something that makes you smile this weekend. Preferably with someone you love. We are celebrating Layne’s birthday with family. He’s a pretty special kid.

Oh! And I almost forgot. My workspace reveal is Monday!! See you then.

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

instalove 1

There’s a short hall that connects our mudroom / dining room and great room. (You can see the original man door to the garage that we still need to trim out and paint. Sometimes the littlest projects take the longest. Grrrr.) It’s so short that I’m not sure it even qualifies as a hall. But we refer to it as a “hall” nonetheless.

Way back when I painted the mudroom (for the third time), I had the inclination to DIY a magnetic display wall in this deficient hall. I thought it would be fun to display the kids’ creations and give the pass-through something. I rolled on four coats of Rustoleum magnetic primer and two coats of paint on top of that to match the rest of the room. Then I hung the kids’ works of art…with one major snafu. The wall was barely magnetic. No magnets would stay on the wall, let alone a magnet plus a piece of paper. I followed the directions to a T and even added an extra coat or two but the magnetic property of the wall was weak at best. I’m not sure what went wrong.

instalove 2

So the kids’ art was moved to the quintessential home gallery – the side of the refrigerator – and my magnetic wall was forgotten. I added word magnets to the fridge when Everett was learning to read and quite liked the messy display of brightly colored rainbows and jumbled words. If you ask me, every family needs at least one vertical surface on their fridge smothered in rainbows, stick people and barely legible love notes.

At some point, someone (I think it was Steve) had the idea to leave funny messages on the magnetic wall using the word magnets. They stuck! The magnetic force wasn’t super strong but the words stayed on the wall and that’s all that mattered.

My magnetic wall wasn’t a lost cause after all! I just needed magnets with a decent magnetic surface area.

instalove 4

Enter StickyGram. (This is not a sponsored post, btw.) You’ve probably heard of this before but if not StickyGram allows you to turn your instagram photos into 2″ x 2″ magnets. They are a little pricey ($14.99 + free shipping for a sheet of nine) so I waited until they were running a sale earlier this year to order several sheets.

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For Valentine’s Day I thought it would be fun to create a heart-shaped display using my StickyGrams and barely magnetic wall. The little magnets stick! There are a few duplicates that will eventually make their way to Steve’s file cabinet at work. Can you spot them?

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The heart could stand to be larger but I think it will be fun to add more StickyGrams over time. My goal is to cover the entire wall someday.

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For fun, I added “love always” with our magnetic words. You could go crazy and add all kinds of phrases if you wanted.

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I love how the colorful images look against the dark wall. The magnets read as one display from a distance but then you get closer and the individual images draw you in.

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This is definitely a cutesy V-day idea that could hang around all year long. Instalove!

BONUS – Use the code “FRIENDKU0H” (that’s a zero, not the letter “O”) to score $2 off your first purchase.

Find and follow me on instagram @housetweaking.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Yesterday you caught a glimpse of what caught my eye on a recent antiquing adventure. Today I’m sharing what made it home with me. The bad news is I didn’t find what I was looking for. (More on that in a future post.) The good news is I did find a few things that didn’t break the bank.

vintage throw 2

First up is a vintage wool blanket ($35) in a color palette that had me at hello. Immediately, I thought it would be a fun color burst at the foot of our bed during this cold, cold winter.

vintage throw 3

The red-orange, deep coral and heathered brown color scheme ties in to other pieces in the room. Namely, the striped duvet, the embroidered pillow on the bed and the kilim pillow on the chair. It’s difficult to see in the pictures but there are thin mint / seafoam stripes in the blanket, too, that pick up on the wall color. The scraggly poms on the corners sealed the deal for me.

The blanket is HEAVY and warm. Steve asked why I bought a horse blanket. (He thinks he’s hilarious.) But guess who is pulling said horse blanket up over their down comforter when it’s, like, 0ºF at night and they’re shivering in the fetal position? Yeah, the funny guy.

vintage throw 4

Stripes on stripes are a-okay in my book. Gimme all the stripes!

vintage throw 1

Most likely, I will remove the wool blanket from our bed come summer when we don’t need extra layers to stay warm at night. But for now this brightly striped find is a welcome addition at the foot of our bed.

vintage spool 1

There are more new old things in our bedroom, too. I’ve been on the hunt for a porcelain glove mold for a while. They always look so pretty draped with necklaces and bracelets. I came across a few glove molds at the Heart of Ohio Antique Center but couldn’t justify the $45-$80 price tags. Imagine how happy I was when I found one at the Springfield Antique Center for just $12! I politely asked for a cash discount and ended up scoring it for $10. Bam. Mine.

It needs a good Magic Eraser cleaning session and I’ve yet to untangle my necklaces and put them on display but that should be a quick and easy styling project one day when boredom strikes.

vintage spool 2

The wooden spools came from the Springfield Antique Center as well. There was a booth full of them and I was drawn to all the different shapes, sizes and wood tones. At $1-$3 a pop, I thought they would make for some great inexpensive, kid-friendly tabletop decor. Seriously, my kids can’t hurt these. They’re cheap and they create a fun little vignette bunched up together. I feel a collecting habit coming on. Buddha heads and wooden spools are my jam?

vintage knobs 1

The Heart of Ohio Antique Center had bins upon bins of vintage hardware. Knobs, handles, hinges, door knockers, etc. You name it, they had it. From the minute we switched up the media cabinet, I’ve been wanting to dress it up with a pair of knobs or handles. I dug through dozens of knobs and was able to find a matching pair of mid century brass knobs ($1 each) that ended up being the perfect jewelry for the cabinet. They’re like little gold stud earrings! I love how they tie in to the gold task lamp and gold frame in this corner of our living room.

vintage knobs 2

The threading on them ended up being metric which threw us for a loop. But (I know I’ve mentioned this before) we could run a well-stocked hardware store from our garage. Wouldn’t you know Steve had metric screws on hand? Don’t ask.

The knobs show some patina and wear which I like. They give the new media cabinet some personality and life. Adding the knobs instantly upgraded the cabinet. Gotta love $2, 5-minute upgrades.

There you have it. The fruits of my cabin fever antiquing which rang in under $60 total. What have you been doing to curb cabin fever? (I’ve found chocolate no-bake cookies mighty comforting, too.)

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking