...because home doesn't happen overnight.

family photo books 1

I’ve been meaning to create family photo books for a while now. I held off as long as I did because I was waiting for the perfect photo book to come along. I really didn’t want the thick albums of yesteryear with their photo pockets. I’m horrible at printing out photos. Horrible. Not to mention, traditional bulky albums take up a lot of space – space we don’t have. It saddened me to know the photos of our life were stuck in limbo on our laptop and phones. Surely there was a tangible yet beautiful way to share family photos.

Enter Artifact Uprising. The company offers a variety of photo products you can hold in your hand: photo books (hardcover and softcover), calendars, postcards, prints, etc. It doesn’t sound all that different from any other company offering similar products but Artifact Uprising focuses on design-worthy aesthetics and eco-friendly materials. Photo book pages are made of 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper and wood items are handcrafted from local, fallen beetle pine – versus healthy trees. The commitment to quality along with the inspiring back story are what set this company apart from the rest of the pack.

“We believe that doing good is more important than doing well – and that kindness makes the world right. We believe in travel and the things you can learn from getting lost. And we believe the best lessons come from the listening. We try to laugh when light is needed and persist when the path requires it. We love wide open spaces and campfires and the kind of quiet that allows you to hear the snow crunching below your feet. We believe in those who wake up every day to choose joy. And we believe in the underdog. We believe in always remembering where you came from. We believe each of us will – in time – do something really, really nice for the world.” – Jenna Walker, CEO & co-founder of Artifact Uprising

family photo books 2

So, yeah, choosing Artifact Uprising was a no-brainer. I sat down one afternoon while the boys were at school and Mabrey was napping and created nine softcover photo books in the 5.5″ x 5.5″ size. They candidly document the last three years of our life. Most of the photos are from my instagram account but I downloaded a few from our computer as well. I didn’t include every photo from my instagram feed – only the ones that were family-oriented. I chose mostly nature-themed photos as cover photos so the books would look pretty on display. They. are. gorgeous.

family photo books 3

The day the books arrived I tossed them in a bowl on the coffee table and immediately the kids were flipping through them. They are the perfect size for little hands. To say we LOVE them is an understatement.

family photo books 4

I can’t believe how one photo can spark a memory and suddenly we’re talking about “that one time…” They are such great conversation starters for kids. Mabrey especially enjoys seeing pictures of people she knows in a book. “Dat’s ME!” She thinks they’re legit books and we’re all famous ;)

family photo books 5

One softcover book runs $16.99 and would make a special gift for a family member or friend. Mine are in chronological order but you can create “themed” books, too. A book that tells the story of a child from newborn to graduation would be great for a graduation party. A book dedicated to a family vacation could be fun. Steve and I have even talked about creating a book that documents our home’s renovation.

How do you display family photos at home? We have a gallery wall plus these new photo books and we also stream our computer photos on to the TV (via Apple TV) on the weekends when we have guests or are working on a project. The kids love seeing themselves on TV. #mininarcissists

*I love Artifact Uprising‘s mission so much that I contacted them about becoming an affiliate soon after our photo books arrived. They agreed! While I purchased the photo books shown above on my own with no special discount, I do earn commission on any orders placed via affiliate links. This post was NOT sponsored and Artifact Uprising didn’t request a post. I just love sharing good stuff. Thanks for your continued support!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Linzy! She’s tackling a bathroom reno soon and is in need of lighting and hardware so this gift card should come in handy.

schoolhouse electric hardware 1

I’ve always loved the idea of adding special hardware to the Ikea vanity in the master bathroom, but it’s never been a necessity as the standard plastic pulls (mounted to the top of the drawers) functioned well. I was more than content waiting for the perfect handles to find me. And find me they did – just a few weeks ago in the form of the 11″ edgecliff pull from Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. They were a bit of a splurge but they instantly brought the vanity’s level of sophistication up a notch. Totally worth the wait.

schoolhouse electric hardware 3

Installation was easy enough. Two screws per pull (which were included with the purchase) screwed into two pilot holes and that was it. (The new pulls are mounted 2½” from the top of each drawer.) The handles are quite substantial and feel hefty underhand. They’re one of the those subtle details that bring a sense of luxury to the space and they’re used so frequently that they really do make a regular, mundane task (opening a drawer) feel special.

I don’t think I’ll tire of the gray-brass combo anytime soon. And, yes!, you CAN mix finishes in a small bathroom! The brass pulls pick up on the gold vase and wall urchins but they don’t “match” the chrome finishes in the rest of the bathroom. THAT’S OKAY.

schoolhouse electric fall 2014-2

I love our new pulls so much that I asked Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. if they would be interested in a giveaway. They were kind enough to offer up a store credit! The timing couldn’t be better. The company just released their fall ’14 collection today. Like the rest of the inventory, the new items blend seamlessly with traditional or modern décor and the quality is superb.

schoolhouse electric fall 2014

sources: metal hoop stand // round brass tray // brass rail // Jack loveseat in nubby tweed

I’ve got my eye on the metal hoop stand. Even though we converted the original wood-burning fireplace to gas in the living room, I like the idea of displaying stacked split logs for an organic vibe.

See anything you like? Check out the full collection here and keep reading to enter to win a $100 gift certificate!

PRIZE: one $100 gift certificate to Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post proclaiming “SCHOOL ME!” and let me know which item(s) you would put the $100 toward.

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the continental U.S. One entry per email address.

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, September 21st. One random winner will be announced Monday, September 22nd.

Good luck!

images: 1 & 2) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 3 & 4) Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.

09.12.14 / Made Me Smile

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So last week I mentioned we didn’t own a cat. Then, in a strange turn of events, there was a kitten in our house the very next day. It’s a long story. I’ll share it next week. I know I’m not the first human to ever own a cat but when you’ve labeled yourself “not a cat person” for 35+ years and then all of a sudden there’s a kitten in your lap, it’s kinda a big deal. Life is weird like that. Anyway, we’ve been having fun with the newest addition to our family. Lots of cuddles and smiles this week.

More smile-worthy links…

*Textile artist, Maryanne Moodie, shared her home tour on etsy. I loved seeing how she mixes her weavings into her décor.

*Renovation inspiration.

*Hello, my name is Dana, and I am a house stalkerIt looks like I’m in good company. Search the hashtag #housestalker on instagram for more stalkers’ finds.

*An introduction for children (or adults) to modern houses and their architects. (Thanks for the heads up, Heather!)

genevieve gorder living room

*She’s baaaaa-aaaaaack. Genevieve Gorder launched a new website and magazine app. I hear she has a spread in HGTV magazine, too. I’ve always loved her so it makes me happy to see her doing well.

*Ikea’s version of a rock climbing wall.

*I couldn’t help but think of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road when I posted this week’s giveaway. Many of you bibliophiles made the connection as well.

Happy weekend! I hope you get a chance to curl up with a good book in your favorite reading spot.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Genevieve Gorder

I shared the top 10 features of my dream home a few weeks ago. I thought it would be fun if Steve made a list, too, for comparison. He was game and created his list before reading mine to keep things unbiased. I asked him to mainly think about the shell / structure of the house – not so much about the location. I asked him to choose a few images to demonstrate the features he most desires in a house. As with my list, the images aren’t exact interpretations of the dream home in Steve’s mind but, hopefully, they give you a better feel for it. (He mentioned that the houses shown are all larger than the dream home in his mind.) Here’s what he came up with…

open loft layout

open loft layout

metal sliding partition in open loft

1. Open floor plan. Steve’s dream home has an open kitchen – living – dining space as opposed to separate, walled-off rooms. Movable partitions would be used to close off certain areas for added privacy.

right-sized modern, minimal exterior

right-sized prefab cabin

2. Just enough square footage. Call him Goldilocks. Steve’s dream home isn’t too big or too small. It’s just right. There’s no wasted space and every room serves a purpose or three.

high ceilings with exposed ductwork

high ceilings with exposed ductwork

high ceilings with beams and exposed brick wall

3. High ceilings with exposed ductwork / brick / beams. The “just right” dream home feels spacious and airy thanks to high ceilings. Interesting structural features like exposed ductwork, exposed brick and wood beams lend a loft-like vibe.

vaulted ceiling featuring beams, tongue and groove, skylights

4. Lots of natural light. Big windows, skylights, sun tubes and open air access let light pour in.

5. Solid flooring throughout. Wood, cork, concrete, tile or vinyl plank flooring is a must-have with area rugs thrown down for comfort.

separate modern workshop / shed

6. Detached workshop. Since we’re dreaming…Steve’s dream home is accompanied by a dream workshop / shed. It’s spacious with electrical and plumbing and maybe even small living quarters on the second level. In addition to the one shown above, he also loves the detached outbuildings seen here (designated as ph-1) and here.

7. Great outdoor space. A nice lawn with simple low-maintenance landscaping, a deck / patio and a big ass grill or smoker (Steve’s words exactly) make his dream home just as livable outside as it is inside. He’s really drawn to this outdoor space but prefers a less urban setting. And he basically wet himself when he found this built-in, floating, cantilevered grill setup.

8. Energy efficient. The house is inexpensive to heat / cool and includes a well-organized mechanical room.

9. Well-designed storage. A mixture of freestanding furniture and built-in cabinets provide adequate storage so that everything is in its place.

10. Side or rear entry garage. Also, his dream garage wouldn’t have disassembled bathroom fixtures sitting in it taking up precious space. I’m just guessing on that one.

For reference, here was my list:

1. right-sized
2. plenty of natural light
3. connection to the outdoors
4. open living space
5. high ceilings
6. architect-designed
7. warm wood tones
8. flex space
9. dark exterior
10. prefab construction

When Steve and I compared lists, it was reassuring to find that many features of our (non-existent) dream homes were the same: open layout, right-sized, high ceilings, an abundance of natural light. It was also nice to discover that we both dream of a more intimate space that can be closed off (perhaps with a movable partition?) from the main living space when necessary.

When we exchanged lists, there were a few “Ah! Why didn’t I think of that?!” moments. For me, it was his #5 (solid flooring throughout). I definitely want solid flooring in my dream home. For Steve, it was my #10 (prefab construction) if his dream home was a new build.

I found it interesting that I seemed to focus a little more on how my dream house would look (architect-designed, warm wood tones, dark exterior) while Steve was more concerned with how his dream house would function (detached workshop, energy-efficient, low-maintenance landscaping, well-designed storage). But that’s pretty indicative of how we approach projects in real life. Typically, I’m more focused on the aesthetics while Steve tends to think about how things will be used or how things work. Together, our concerns usually lead to outcomes that address both form and function.

Finally, it was fun to see what images Steve chose. His aesthetic is sleeker, more industrial and more modern than my decidedly warmer vibe. But we both agreed we wouldn’t be upset living in any of the spaces shown on either list.

Have you and your significant other ever exchanged dream home lists? If you like houses (and I’m assuming you do since you read this blog), I’d encourage you to try this exercise. Not only is it fun to see the hits and misses between the two lists, but I think the lists are actually a good jumping off point for buying or renovating a home. Identify the features you both dream of and make them a priority. Then compromise on the other stuff.

If you do happen to make some lists, feel free to share them in the comments section!

images: 1) Bethany Nauert for Apartment Therapy 2) Laure Joliet for Remodelista 3, 6 & 7) Lincoln Barbour for Remodelista 4) House Design 5) Method Homes 8) Morten Holtum for Bolig magazine 9) David Butler for Apartment Therapy 10) Cultivation Design