...because home doesn't happen overnight.

main bath tiled 1

Steve finished tiling the bathroom walls two weekends ago. Working in spurts around his real job, family life and appendectomy recovery, the entire process strung along for most of the summer. Between the uneven walls and Steve’s perfectionist tendencies, it wasn’t the most enjoyable DIY. The window wall put up a good fight. It was all kinds of wonky. And our choice of tile probably wasn’t the easiest to work with on the wavy wall. The narrow subway tile is extra long at 12″ which didn’t allow for much “play” along some of the most troublesome spots. Luckily, the worst spot (along the bottom of the window wall) will eventually be hidden behind the bathtub so it shouldn’t be too noticeable in the end.

main bath tiled 2

But we do have perfectly wrapped corners. (The water lines denote the vanity’s location.)

main bath tiled 3

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And exact 90º angles. Those are always fun.

We are SO HAPPY with how the black pencil liner and bullnose trim turned out! I was a little worried about the profile of the pencil liner sticking out further than the subway tile but I actually love it. It’s a great finishing touch that’s simple yet sophisticated. And it gives the walls some added dimension, too.

With all the tile in, we started to second-guess our choice of white grout for the walls. The contrasting spaces between the subway tile looked decent so we contemplated a contrasting grout for a split second. But when we pulled back the cardboard protecting the hex floor tile, things felt very busy all of a sudden. So we decided to stick to our original choice of white grout.

main bath grout 1

Which we tackled this past weekend! It was a joint effort and we let the kids fend for themselves while we knocked it out. Let’s just say, once we were finished, the rest of the house was looking waaaaaaaay scarier than the bathroom. When you have three kids and a bathroom remodel on your hands, you do whatcha gotta do. Sometimes the bathroom takes precedence while your kids run wild and eat whatever / wherever they want for a day. It’s all good.

main bath grout 2

The freshly grouted bathroom! And a piece of unpainted baseboard for reference! I’ve never been so in love with a room that doesn’t serve any purpose (yet!).

main bath grout 4

The grout is standard white unsanded grout from The Tile Shop. It’s the same color we used on the shower walls in the master bathroom.

main bath grout 3

Pictures really don’t do this room justice. It’s difficult to photograph because of the small size and layout. Just being in the space – even sans fixtures – feels like a luxury. At one point, we considered only tiling the shower / tub area but I’m so, so glad we went for a tiled wainscoting around the entire room.

main bath grout 6

I was having so much trouble capturing the room on camera that I went outside and snapped some shots through the window to give you a different perspective. Do you spy a glimpse of the open shelves in the living room?

main bath grout 7

Someday, a toilet, vanity and wall sconce will live on this wall.

main bath grout 8

Someday, towel hooks and shower / tub plumbing fixtures will live on this wall. Maybe one day we’ll even have a bathroom door. Who knows?! The possibilities are endless.

main bath grout 9

Here you can see how the short hallway (to the bathroom) juts off from the main hallway. There’s a small linen closet to the left just beyond the bathroom. I don’t think I’ve ever shown this view before but, hopefully, it gives you a better idea of the bathroom’s location in relation to the rest of the house. Hint: on the other side of the right-hand wall is the kitchen desk.

main bath grout 11

We still need to seal the walls, install baseboards and caulk. (The floor is already sealed.) Then we start work on the tub. We’re equal parts stoked : horrified. Especially considering what happened the last time we touched it. If anything, it should be a good learning experience. At least, that’s what we’re telling ourselves.

*Thanks to The Tile Shop for partnering with us on this bathroom remodel. Tile and grout were graciously donated to the project. All product choices, labor and opinions are ours.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

08.23.14 / Made Me Smile

closet purge

How was your week? Ours was rainy which = perfect purging weather. I emptied the kids’ closets and got rid of everything that was too small / broken / unloved / missing parts. Then I organized the items that made the cut and put them all back. It. was. awesome. (Except for the part where Mabrey decided to “help”.)

More awesomeness…

*Do you remember Jessica Helgerson’s tiny house? (How could you forget?!) Well, it looks like the growing Helgerson family is spreading out from their 540 square feet of living space to a farmhouse on the same property. You can find amazing sneak peeks of the renovation here under the hashtag #wildgoosefarmhouse. From what I can gather, the family moved in about a month ago. I can’t wait to see the finished space (more than likely, it will be a magazine feature) and I’m curious to know what will become of the tiny house.

*Luckily, Liam is much better at selecting homes versus fiancées.

rolling_bridge

*A rolling pedestrian bridge.

*A Fresh Thyme market is going in near our home. It looks amazing!

*Guess what I’m making with this.

*Living with less fosters mindful consumption.

*Um, you guys like coffee. Thanks so much for sharing your favorite brands and brewing methods. I’ve read each and every comment which has spurred some brewing research. Like many of you suggested, I hit up a local roaster (only two minutes from my house!) for suggestions and the freshest coffee beans I’ve ever encountered. I might not sleep all weekend.

Have a wonderful weekend! Don’t forget to make time for those happy little moments which add up to something greater.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Heatherwick studio

DIY Hmong pillow 7

Other than sporadic curtain hemming, I haven’t touched my sewing machine much over the last two years. So I took some baby steps towards more sewing by churning out two pillows last week.

DIY Hmong pillow 1

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Hmong pillows are having a good run in the design world. I jumped on that wagon a while back when I bought a Hmong lumbar cover for Mabrey’s room. Since then, I’ve purchased two more Hmong pillow covers. I love their imperfect tribal patterns, rich colors and the history behind them. I thought it would be fun to make a few for the boys’ room. This simple project was the perfect way to ease back into (hopefully more) sewing.

Hmong fabric tends to come in narrow widths which makes it ideal for lumbar or bolster pillows and even table runners. I purchased my fabric here and it was about 12″ wide and roughly 8′ long. I decided to make two lumbar pillows. I bought two 12″ x 20″ down pillow inserts to accommodate the 12″ width of my fabric.

FYI – Just in case you don’t already know…pillow covers should measure an inch or two smaller than their respective inserts for a nice plump pillow.

DIY Hmong pillow 2

There are a million and one tutorials out there for envelope pillows so I won’t bore you with another. I loosely followed this tutorial with a few tweaks to fit the measurements of my lumbar inserts. The only cuts I had to make were lengthwise (the 12″ width was perfect!) and I had two finished pillows in less than fifteen minutes. FIFTEEN MINUTES. And that includes the time it took me to set up and thread my machine. The main thing to keep in mind is that you want an overlap of 5″ or so on the back of the cover so your insert doesn’t bulge out of the opening. Also, right sides facing in when you’re sewing.

DIY Hmong pillow 5

DIY Hmong pillow 3

DIY Hmong pillow 4

I’m happy with how they turned out. I spent about $34 on each pillow – cover + insert. It isn’t pennies but it’s definitely affordable when you consider most quality Hmong pillow covers (inserts NOT included) run upwards of $50.

DIY Hmong pillow 6

I tossed the new pillows on the bunk in the boys’ room but they could work just about anywhere. They would make great travel pillows, too.

I have a small scrap of fabric leftover from this project. I’m itching to make something with it. I might just have to bust out my sewing machine again. Whoa, baby steps. Setting the damn thing up is usually the rate-limiting step for me. Then I realize I don’t have any thread on my bobbin and I’m ready to quit before I’ve even started. How long has it been since you fired up the ol’ sewing machine? Are you working on any sewing projects?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

08.20.14 / The Nursery

The nursery we weren’t expecting…

nursery before

The before: not a lot to say here. Questionable green carpet, peeling paint, disintegrating baseboards but, LOOK!, a new window! This is the smallest of the three bedrooms (it’s not even 10′ x 10′) but it faces south and receives a good amount of natural light. When we bought the house, we had planned on this being Everett’s room. But a week before we sold our previous house, we discovered we were unexpectedly expecting. Surprise! In an instant, this room became the nursery. Well, not really in an instant. Mabrey was five months old by the time the room resembled anything remotely close to a nursery.

nursery after 1

nursery after 4

I don’t know about you but my number one goal for a nursery is to make it conducive to sleeping – the more, the better. I chose a deep blue-gray for the walls and Steve thought I was insane. (I was extremely sleep-deprived at the time so it wasn’t much of a stretch.) Once the paint was up on the walls, though, he came around. Somehow, the moody walls made the teeny space feel larger. There’s so much depth to the color, it’s as if the walls recede. It continues to be one of my favorite paint colors in the house.

nursery after 2

Along with a good amount of natural light, I used lots of white to brighten the space. I love the contrast. I chose pinks and corals as accents. In keeping with the vibe of the rest of the house, I added hits of texture with layered rugs, a woven shade and seagrass baskets. Since the room is so small, I chose a simple (and inexpensive!) crib that can be converted into a toddler bed. Two years later, I have nothing but good things to say about it. The quilt is a family heirloom. My great-grandmother made it. It was my dad’s when he was a baby then mine. I’ve used it with all three of my kids. It’s starting to show some wear but I think that only adds to its beauty.

I created the art above the crib using an old mirror frame, leftover tongue and groove planks (from our mudroom renovation) and paint. It’s reminiscent of a sunset. It’s secured to the wall with drywall anchors and 3M adhesive strips. Mabrey has never shown an interest in playing with the art but it’s nice to know it’s not going anywhere if she decides to make it her toy. (I know it looks substantial but it weighs less than three pounds.)

The room wouldn’t accommodate an oversized rocker so I chose one with a small footprint. A lumbar pillow and floor pouf (which now lives in the living room) made late night feedings comfortable enough. Luckily, Mabrey was a fast eater so I never spent more than 15-20 minutes in the rocker at a time. Today, it’s where we sit to read nap time and bedtime stories. We’ve made a lot of good memories in that rocker.

nursery after 3

A trio of floating shelves holds books, baskets and decorative items without taking up precious floor space. Two fabric bins on the floor corral toys for easy access and cleanup.

nursery after 5

A makeshift changing table sits opposite the crib. We’ve had the horizontal bookcase for several years and it has served as a living room console, playroom storage and media stand in our previous residences. It’s so versatile! I added a contoured changing pad, toiletry basket and lamp to give it a completely different function in the nursery. The bins and baskets hold the majority of Mabrey’s clothes and diapers.

nursery after 6

Just like in the other bedrooms, I removed the closet door. The door to the room opens up right in front of the closet and it was cumbersome having so many doors (if you can consider two doors “so many”) in such a small space. I hung a curtain panel from a tension rod in the door frame and called it a day.

The closet is super tiny. I put a standing utility shelf in it for extra storage. The closet primarily holds a few hanging items (like dresses, coats and jackets) that are currently in rotation along with hand-me-downs that don’t fit just yet. I keep a laundry basket in the closet and throw in things that are too small as Mabrey outgrows them. When the basket is full, I donate them. It’s a good system. The basket on the floor next to the changing table acts as a hamper.

nursery after 8

The curtains framing the window match the one hanging in the closet. The woven shade is mounted outside the window frame while a room-darkening roller shade is mounted out of sight, inside the window frame. The trunk under the window was a wedding gift from my mom. I tweaked an off-the-shelf dollhouse (it originally featured blue and orange accents) because I’m crazy like that. Sometimes we bring it out to the living room to play.

nursery after 7

nursery after 10

nursery after 9

nursery after 11

nursery after 12

nursery after 13

I caught quite a bit of flack in the online world for creating a dark nursery but I don’t regret it one iota. It’s actually a very happy place to play and sleep. I’m pretty sentimental about this room. I never thought we’d have a little girl in our family (and I was content with that) so I’m really grateful for this space and the amazing little person in it. She’s quite the firecracker and I can’t imagine life without her. Also, I’m already brainstorming ideas for a “big girl” room. It probably won’t happen for a year or so but, be warned, it’s coming. And then, technically, I won’t be able to call it a nursery anymore and I will sob. The end.

Resources of note:

wall paint – Benjamin Moore dark pewter
trim paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
flooring – Jasper engineered hardwood handscraped birch in Texas brown via Build Direct
ceiling light – Ikea, discontinued
curtains – West Elm, discontinued
curtain rod – Target
woven shade – petite rustique from Overstock
room-darkening roller shade – Levolor from Lowe’s
dollhouse – Plan Toys terrace dollhouse
trunk – gift
area rug – jute chenille herringbone from West Elm
sheepskin rug – Ikea
floor lamp – gift
crib – GULLIVER from Ikea
organic mattress pad – Amazon
crib sheet – Amazon
crib bumper – Amazon (white version unavailable)
artwork above crib – DIY
quilt – vintage
striped crib pillow – West Elm, discontinued
rocker – Amazon
lumbar pillow – etsy
floating shelves – Ikea
wire book bins – Kroger
various seagrass baskets – Ikea, Kroger
fabric toy bins – Target
resin deer head – White Faux Taxidermy
fabric garland – DIY
wall mirror – Ikea
table lamp – Morten table lamp from West Elm
extra long, contoured changing pad – Amazon
changing table – EXPEDIT from Ikea, discontinued
striped bins – Ikea, discontinued
doll stroller – Land of Nod

In case you haven’t seen enough of this itty bitty room, here are a bunch of links documenting its evolution:

RENOVATION

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/01/04/the-painting-saga/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/01/11/the-flooring/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/07/05/hold-the-door/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/10/15/a-date-with-my-doors/

FURNITURE, DECOR & ORGANIZATION

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/08/28/mabreys-room/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/10/03/diy-fabric-circles-chandy/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/01/22/a-crib-review-with-special-guests/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/02/25/playing_in_the_nurser/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/09/10/free-for-all-white-faux-taxidermy/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/13/making-the-most-of-small-closets-nursery/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/01/07/a-dollhouse-for-mabrey/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/03/the-boy-version-of-mabreys-room/

*BONUS* – Mabrey’s birth story.

You can access this nursery tour (along with a general house tour and individual room tours) under the “See My House” tab in the side bar. I’ll be adding more rooms in the weeks to come. Thanks for reading!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking