...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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.


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

05.03.14 / Made Me Smile

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

It was such a good week! I’m so grateful for the warmer weather, all of the green popping up outside, open windows, good friends, a chance to travel and new experiences. And more smile-worthy stuff…

*A modest ranch gets an Ikea kitchen that looks nothing like “Ikea.”

*An AMAZING bathroom in the works.

*Tricks for styling your home like a magazine.

*The definition of success is changing.

*I’m prepping a pair of outdoor chairs and using this tung oil. Love it!

*Crate & Barrel has the best kitchen towels. I have this one, this one and this one and I just bought four more because they are soooo good. Plus, free shipping!

*Making out with John & Sherry’s show house.

Have a wonderful weekend! If you follow me on instagram, you already know I’m visiting my sister in DC and hitting up the Young House Love show house. So far, it’s shaping up to be a really awesome weekend. xo

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Before our trip to Nashville, Steve and I fully expected to fall head over heels for our friends’ kitchen. John and Sara had emailed us pictures of their renovation and we were so excited to see it in person and trade DIY war stories. What we didn’t expect was a suite all to ourselves in a detached, newly constructed building. The couple worked with an architect to design the shell but John is responsible for most of the finishes. The lower level is a workshop / garage and the upper level is a modern day mother-in-law suite. Steve and I felt like royalty when we were showed to our sleeping quarters. AMAZING.

MIL entry 1

You enter through a dormer (there’s a matching dormer on the opposite side of the room) and it pretty much sets the tone for the 450 sq. ft. living space: simple and masculine with a few vintage touches. The white box above the door is actually an LG inverter. I was super impressed with its performance. During our visit the temps reached into the mid-80′s but our upper level suite stayed at a comfortable temperature minus the cold drafts and stale air that normally accompany a whole house or window A/C unit. The inverter unit is so quiet, too! I couldn’t even tell when it was running.

MIL entry 2

The tiled entry is decked out in the same marble hex as the kitchen in the main house and gives way to wood. A shoe and coat rack made of salvaged materials sits just inside the door.

MIL kitchen 1

A small but functional kitchenette includes a sink, mini fridge, microwave and toaster oven. The cabinets (which were stocked with snacks!) are off-the-shelf red oak but John finished them with Minwax water-based wood stain tinted to charcoal gray. At first, John was leery of how the gray stain showed up as blue-gray on the red oak but it ended up being a happy accident. The cabinets are topped with butcher block.

The MIL suite has an angled, sloped ceiling and you get a peek here of how it’s highlighted with contrasting gray trim. These two and their ceilings! I fully appreciate how the couple incorporated special details on the ceiling in the MIL suite and in the main home’s kitchen. It’s a surface commonly overlooked.

MIL dormer 1

Across from the entry is a matching dormer although this one houses a window. The two dormers balance the space and are great architectural elements. The industrial pendants are Feiss via Wayfair. The wood planks in each dormer are the original floor boards from the main house’s second floor. The planked wall is finished in the same wood stain as the kitchenette cabinets.

To the left of this dormer is a small seating area complete with a coffee table made from a salvaged door. But all of our crap had it cluttered up so I didn’t snap a shot of it.

MIL bed 1

The sleeping area consists of a bed, two small side tables / stools and a pair of matching lamps. The comforter is from Target. I did NOT want to leave this bed.

MIL bed 3

It might sound silly but my favorite feature of the entire suite were these built-in wall niches. (There’s a matching one in the seating area.)

MIL niche 2

They’re perfect for books, a cell phone, a glass of water or a pair of eyeglasses. They’re quite useful in a small space.

MIL bed 4

Here you can see more of the ceiling trim I mentioned earlier. It felt so cozy sleeping under the sloped ceiling.

MIL armoire

The armoire is antique and provides extra storage in the closet-less space. John added a hook to the side. Such a thoughtful touch! (And, yes, I hung my clothes up and pretended I lived here for two whole days.)

A small, en suite bathroom is positioned under the sloped ceiling. Typically, this can be problematic when laying out fixtures but this bathroom is well-designed. Even though it’s windowless, the bathroom feels bright and airy. It’s set up as a European-style bath with a shower that drains into the floor. There is no separate shower pan. A slim glass divider protects the vanity and entrance from water splashes. The toilet is located under the shortest part of the ceiling.

The door is the original back door to the main house. John frosted the glass for privacy but it still lets in light from the main living space. The floor is white hex with a black hex border. (Steve and John shared horror stories of installing hexagon floor tile.)

MIL bath

An open vanity is stained to match the kitchenette cabinets. The mirror is from a vintage dresser that once belonged to John’s grandmother. Two wall sconces flank the mirror. They are from Home Depot.

MIL collage

This modern day MIL suite is a new construction but industrial and vintage elements tie it to the main house. The tiled entry and color scheme are particularly helpful in linking it to the newly renovated kitchen in the main house. Keeping the color palette tight (white, gray, blue, black) makes the small space feel cohesive and gives it good flow. And I love how they reused materials from the renovation of their main home. It’s eco-friendly and also gives the new space a story, some history.

MIL bed 2

I’m still dreaming of the MIL suite. I told Steve that if we didn’t have kids (I’m not wishing away my kids, just making an observation) I could totally live in a space like this. I don’t need anything big or fancy. Or maybe this is the type of setup we’ll have when we’re empty nesters? Who knows.

I mentioned putting the MIL suite on airbnb to John and Sara. Nashville is such a cool place to visit and the MIL suite is better than any hotel room I’ve ever stayed in. But local regulations might not make that a feasible (or legal) option. In the meantime, I have an open invitation the couple is renting out the space short-term for extra income. Then maybe one day a real mother-in-law will take up residence.

Once again, John and Sara, thank you so much for putting us up and allowing me to share the fruits of your labor! You have one lovely home. Mwyah!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking, published with the consent of our friends John & Sara

tn house

This past weekend Steve and I met up with some friends from college at their home in Nashville. John and Sara happen to have the same disease that plagues Steve and me. It’s called “We Love Old Houses and Want to Save Them All.” Ever heard of it? Symptoms include weight loss (because who has time to eat when there are cabinets to hang, walls to paint and tile to install?), insomnia, shortness of breath, muscle pain and general fatigue. There is no known cure. Haha.

tn kitchen 6

Anyway, John and Sara bought a lovely 100-year-old home last year and have been working non-stop to update it, doing a lot of the work themselves. (Sara points out that she is very good at holding stuff and telling John how bad his ideas are.) The first major project was a complete kitchen overhaul. The couple’s goal was to optimize the kitchen’s function while merging their modern masculine aesthetic with the home’s age and good bones. As with any renovation of an older home, obstacles were plentiful and included wavy walls, sagging ceilings, uneven floors, ancient electrical wiring and even a case of pneumonia. (That was John. He ran himself ragged working his full-time job and then working on the kitchen until the wee hours of the morning for months.)

But nearly a year later, the couple is enjoying the fruits of their labor. And, fortunately, they were kind enough to let me snap away so I can share their amazing kitchen with you. We spent much of our time catching up and eating our way around the town but I had a few minutes of downtime one evening to set up my tripod. The sun was setting quickly so I apologize for the lack of natural light. Enjoy!

tn kitchen 1

The kitchen sits at the back of the house where the original kitchen once lived. An original door leads to a backyard patio. A wall separating the kitchen from the living room was removed during renovation to open up the space. The original butler’s pantry was closed off from the kitchen. During demolition, John discovered a doorway and transom (seen on the right above) that had once joined the kitchen and butler’s pantry. The couple restored it and plan to set the butler’s pantry up as a bar / coat room.

tn kitchen 2

Looking in from the adjacent living room, the left side of the kitchen houses the stove and refrigerator. The thick baseboard is original but I love how John updated it with a stripe of gray paint. It’s little details like this that had my eye traveling all around the room.

tn stove 1

The stove is Kitchen Aid and features a built-in griddle. I had to wipe the drool from Steve’s chin.

tn stove 2

The backsplash is composed of white subway tile with contrasting grout.

tn kitchen window

Between the stove and refrigerator is a tall window that extends down to the countertop. I am so envious of this window! The perimeter countertops are quartz. John wanted the look of marble. Sara wanted something low maintenance. It was a no-brainer.

tn fridge

Built-in cabinetry surrounds the refrigerator. The gray cabinets are from Anderson, a local business that specializes in custom cabinetry. Satin nickel hardware complements the stainless steel appliances.

tn kitchen 3

The other half of the kitchen houses more cabinetry for storage, including a large pantry. A magnetic side panel painted in chalkboard paint is a fun touch and a great spot for writing down grocery needs or just doodling. (John and Sara’s two-year-old daughter, Avery, is obsessed with Buzz Lightyear.)

tn kitchen pantry 1

This corner of the kitchen functions as a coffee station. The couple doesn’t rely on a microwave most days so a small one sits discreetly on the counter next to the pantry. Glass-fronted upper cabinets hold dishes and glasses. The “eat” and “beer” signs were bought at a local flea market. (And they pretty much sum up what the weekend was all about.)

tn kitchen pantry 2

Avery likes to hide in the pantry. It’s that big!

tn kitchen 4

A large island in the center of the kitchen is the hub of the house. It’s topped in walnut butcher block and seats six comfortably. (Four farmhouse stools with backs line one side of the island and two backless stools slip under the overhang at each end.)

tn kitchen sink

The island houses a wide, deep undermount sink. The style of the sink is unique and was new to me. It has two basins which are separated by a divider only a few inches tall. It’s conducive to washing large pots but still allows for that separation that many homeowners prefer. I’ve always been a single basin sink lover myself but this sink’s creative design might convert me.

The walnut is unfinished. John oils it regularly but admitted it was due for another oil.

tn dishwasher

The dishwasher is next to the sink, housed within the island as well. I really liked this setup – with the sink and dishwasher in the island. The person washing dishes can interact with those at the island or in the living room instead of turning their back to them.

Marble hexagon tile covers the floor. The oversized scale of the hex is spot on for a room with 12′ ceilings. And speaking of soaring ceilings…

tn kitchen island 2

The coffered ceiling was the icing on the cake for me. It gave the entire room a feeling of grandiosity that suited the historic home. The DIY ceiling is decked out in alternating bead board and decorative tin tiles – all painted white. Steve and John installed the last of the ceiling corbels and bonded over caulk during our visit.

Throughout our stay, John had music streaming in through surround sound speakers in the ceiling. It is Music City after all.

tn kitchen pendant

The pendants, sink and many other fixtures are from Ferguson’s, a local bath, kitchen and lighting gallery.

tn kitchen collage

Even though the kitchen is in all regards “new”, it doesn’t feel contemporary. The color scheme, fixtures and finishes are all classic in style, making the kitchen a perfect fit for this old home. I’m so happy John and Sara found this home and are invested in updating it while respecting the things that make it special.

tn kitchen 5

With the kitchen reno finished, the couple is slowly plugging away at other projects as time and money allow. They affectionately refer to the home as their “ten year plan.” Their home has amazing bones and potential but they want to be considerate and patient when it comes to renovating. I can’t wait to visit them again and check out their progress.

Thanks to John and Sara for allowing me to share their kitchen. Because it’s just too good not to!

P.S. – Check back later to see the home’s newly constructed mother-in-law suite! Steve and I stayed there during our visit and basically didn’t want to leave.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking, published with the consent of our friends John & Sara