...because home doesn't happen overnight.


modern family laundry 1

modern family laundry 5

James and Kristina‘s laundry room is less of a room and more of a hallway that runs between the kitchen and garage.

modern family laundry before

The original laundry room consisted of nothing more than a washer and dryer. James and Kristina were looking to add storage without adding square footage.

modern family laundry

So they built up! James created a platform for a front-loading washer and dryer and took advantage of wall space by installing horizontal wall cabinets from Ikea. (They are a nod to similar cabinets above the kitchen sink.) A laminate countertop provides a surface for laundry detergent and grab-n-go early morning coffee. Keeping the coffee maker in the laundry room frees up counter space in the minimal kitchen.

modern family laundry 4

Kristina is a hair stylist for friends and family and works out of the house so a separate utility sink for washing and rinsing clients’ hair is a must-have. Food and water bowls for the family’s two dogs sit at the base of the sink cabinet. The entire space is tiled in the same porcelain tile as the entry, dining area and kitchen. (Sock feet photobomb.) The wall color is Behr ocean pearl, the same color used in the entry and family room.

It just goes to show that a laundry room needn’t be big (or even a room) to be tidy and functional. I’m especially inspired by how the space flows so well with the rest of the house due to repeated elements like the horizontal wall cabinets, floor tile and paint color. Way to work with whatcha got!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Last week I shared our friends’ renovated kitchen and dining space. There was interest in seeing how the renovation affected other areas of the house so I thought it would be helpful to feature the entry, family room and office as well. First, let’s recap how James and Kristina reworked the floor plan without adding square footage. (FYI – These are rough sketches showing changes made to the layout. They are not to scale.)


modern family reno floor plan before


modern family reno floor plan after

A wall separating the kitchen from the original family room was removed and a doorway in the kitchen that provided access to the original dining room was closed up. Keeping their casual lifestyle in mind, the homeowners turned the former family room into an open dining space. The original (more formal) living room at the front of the house became a family room and the original dining room became a home office. Part of the wall separating the new kitchen from the new family room was opened up to give the space better flow.

modern family entry before

The original entry included vinyl flooring and a few midcentury gems (i.e., front door, pendant lights and brick pony wall planter).

modern family room 1

Not wanting to stray too far from the home’s midcentury roots, the homeowners kept the original front door but painted it a lively turquoise. They kept the statement pendants and pony wall but chose to nix the planter setup. (They didn’t think the planter would go over well with their two young kids and two dogs.)

modern family entry 2

Instead, James covered the brick pony wall with MDF, painted it black and then wrapped the entire thing in walnut paneling salvaged from the paneled wall that once separated the kitchen from the old family room. (You can spy a glimpse of it here.) He capped it with the same quartz countertop material found in the new kitchen. The pony wall provides a welcome pause upon entering the home without completely blocking off the entry. James was able to reuse more of the walnut paneling as shelving in the entry closet for added storage.

modern family entry 1

The new entry boasts the same large scale tile found in the kitchen and dining space. It’s durable and provides a cohesive look.

modern family room before

To James and Kristina, the original living room felt too formal and too disjointed from the heart of the home (the kitchen). The adjoining dining room was dark and didn’t jive with the family’s desire for an open kitchen-dining space.

modern family room 2

They decided the formal living room was unnecessary and repurposed it as a casual family room. The dining room was sealed off from the kitchen and relabeled as a home office. James is a self-employed contractor and runs his business from home. Kristina is currently taking college courses. The new room designation just made sense.

The entire home’s carpet had recently been replaced when James and Kristina took possession of the house. They considered installing hardwood flooring but the new carpet was in excellent condition and reminiscent of a 50s shag. In the end, they decided to keep the carpet out of the landfill and embrace it.

modern family room 3

modern family room 8

A wide doorway between the family room and kitchen lends an openness and a simplified traffic pattern between the two spaces.

modern family room 6

modern family room 5

Staying true to their preferred minimal and masculine aesthetic, James and Kristina mix midcentury finds with clean-lined contemporary furnishings.

modern family room 4

For contrast (and to play up the room’s inherent darkness), the office is painted a deep charcoal with blue undertones. Since photographing the space, James and Kristina have hung an oversized black and white print on the far wall to draw the eye into the office.

modern family office 3

modern family office 2

One side of the office features a sitting area and has a cozy den vibe. Vintage end tables play nicely with a big box daybed.

modern family office 4

modern family office 5

The opposite side of the room functions as a workspace. James installed LED can lights overhead. The wall-mounted flatscreen can be used as a computer screen or a TV screen (for watching movies or playing video games). Two tall Ikea cabinets flank the desktop. James wrapped the cabinets and center desk support in a tiger wood laminate from a countertop supply store. The desktop is marbled Corian with a 3″ lip to give it a chunkier appearance and to hide unsightly wires. Transparent chairs take up little visual space in the small room.

Rescources of note:

family room and entry wall paint – Behr ocean pearl, matte finish
TV wall paint – Behr mocha accent, matte finish
office wall paint – Behr dark ash, matte finish
entry tile – Kaska Italian porcelain tile from Build Direct
entry cabinet – vintage
entry pendants – original to the house c. 1965
walnut paneling – original to the house c. 1965
pony wall top – Silestone white zeus quartz
media center – BESTÅ, Ikea
family room end tables – Urban Outfitters
family room coffee table – $20 garage sale find
family room chair – vintage, given as a tip from one of James’s clients
sectional – Kardiel
family room table lamps – Ikea
desk cabinets – ABSTRAKT, Ikea
desk chairs – TOBIAS, Ikea
office daybed – Urban Outfitters
office coffee table – Target
office end tables – vintage via craigslist
pillows – Target

modern family room 7

modern family media

modern family office 1

modern family light

modern family entry 3

There are so many good ideas to take away from these spaces:

*Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and relabel rooms to suit your needs and lifestyle.

*Always consider what’s on the other side of a wall. Closing off and / or opening up doorways can have a huge impact on a home’s flow.

*Some original statement features are worth keeping – even if it means putting your own spin on things.

*Quality materials can be salvaged and repurposed as a way to pay homage to a house’s past life.

*You don’t have to rip out all the carpet to make an improvement. Replacing the flooring in the most highly trafficked areas will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Keep durability, cohesion and traffic patterns in mind when contemplating materials and location.

*Mix old and new successfully with a unifying theme.

Once again, thanks to James and Kristina for sharing their livable yet stylish, modest yet modern home! I can’t get over the entry pendant lights and the modernized pony wall. What’s your favorite part? I have a few more ideas from this renovation to share as inspiration. Stay tuned…

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

10.11.14 / Made Me Smile

vintage batik fabric

Happy Saturday! We’re busy sanding, staining, priming and painting today. The (declawed) clawfoot tub and accompanying DIY cradle base are coming along. Can’t wait to share our progress! This project has been so much fun mostly because we feel like we’re sailing uncharted waters. I’m not sure if the final result will resemble anything close to our vision but we’ve enjoyed the challenge.

More things I enjoyed this week…

*Vintage batik fabric for a special project.


*DIY wabi-sabi wood tiles.

*Bekah’s airstream redo.

*Danielle and Austin’s big reveal.

auhaus architecture

*There’s an Australian version of Houzz now?! Whoa. Where have I been?

*Tracy Anderson’s new workout DVD.

*Currently reading and loving: The Big Tiny.

*Trivets anyone?

Have a great rest of the weekend. I’m off to give the tub yet another coat of paint!

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Auhaus Architecture

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It’s been almost three years since I’ve worked as a pharmacist. Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t quit my job to blog. (Although having the blog as an outlet has been wonderful.) We found ourselves unexpectedly expecting a third child in the midst of a pretty intense renovation and things were messy, literally and figuratively. The decision to quit my job was a joint one. When I was pregnant with Mabrey, Steve and I sat down and made a list of pros and cons. He came to the decision more quickly and easily than me. I knew giving up a steady paycheck to stay home with the kids wasn’t going to be all fun and games. And it hasn’t been. There are days I would rather be at work – not that being at home isn’t work. Here are the things I miss (and don’t miss) about working in the traditional sense.


*the money. I took an 80% cut in pay when I quit my job. It’s not 100% because I’ve been able to bring in a little money via the blog and some design work. I miss contributing significantly to our household income. I miss that feeling of accomplishment that came with each paycheck almost more than the money itself. But, when Steve and I did the math, the money I would have brought home after paying for three kids’ childcare / after school care didn’t seem worth the hassle of drop-offs and pickups and hurried mornings and evenings. At the time, I proposed Steve staying home and me working full-time. From a strictly financial standpoint, it made sense. I made more money than Steve. But I really detested my job and Steve’s exact words were, “I couldn’t do it.” Steve regularly reminds me that my worth isn’t directly related to the amount on my paycheck. I know he means well but it sounds too much like a cliché.

*a more equal division of parenting and housework. I typically worked second shift as a pharmacist which meant I did the morning routine and Steve did the evening routine on the days I worked. I also worked one or two weekends per month so Steve had weekend duty sometimes. Now that I’m home, the majority of parenting responsibilities and housework chores fall on me by default. Don’t get me wrong. Steve is an AWESOME hands-on parent. But he works 10-12 hour days and travels so he isn’t here all the time. Now, more than ever, I feel like if one of the kids is having a problem or the house is a disaster it’s a reflection on me – as opposed to us. And I feel like it’s my sole responsibility to fix it. Some days, that’s a lot of pressure. I fully realize this is self-induced and I’m working on it.

*using my brain. I swear my IQ has dropped by 30 points in the last three years. I adore having conversations with my kids but there’s a lot of talk about poop and butts. It’s not particularly stimulating on an intellectual level. For a while, I forgot how to have an adult conversation. That’s starting to change. Our kids are getting older and asking great questions which prompt interesting conversations. Still, I miss being challenged even though some days are extremely challenging – if that makes any sense.

*the freedom! After drop-offs on the days I worked, I would have a few hours to myself to do WHATEVER I WANTED. Sometimes I worked out. Sometimes I treated myself to lunch. Sometimes I watched TV or read a book. Sometimes I cleaned without anyone going behind me undoing what I had just done. Sometimes I simply savored driving home in my car alone. Now, just scheduling my annual pap smear is a logistical nightmare. I find myself choosing not to do things because the thought of working around school, naps, bus drop-offs / pickups, extracurricular activities, meals, schedules, etc. is daunting. To be honest, I have felt a twinge of jealousy when Steve shows up after work with a freshly cut head of hair. For him, it was so easy. Again, I’m working on it.

*missing my kids. After a 12-hour day at work, I wanted nothing more than to chill with my kids the following day. I missed them! And they missed me! Now, some days I want to lock myself in the bathroom. Or get a hotel room for the night. There are days I think my kids would happily fork over their own money for said hotel room. Steve is really good at recognizing this and he basically forces me out of the house when he sees that I am in need of a break. I love him for that.

*a sense of productivity. In the pharmacy, my work was constantly being evaluated. There were productivity measures on our computer screens that turned green when things were running smoothly and red when we were backed up. At closing, we printed out reports that summarized the day’s work. We recorded the number of prescriptions we filled and dispensed. We had semi-annual peer reviews that provided us with a look at the things we excelled at and those things we needed to improve upon. Now, there are days where I run around like crazy staying busy, moving from one task to the next, but when it’s all said and done, I have nothing official to show for it. Look! A clean bathroom! A fully loaded dishwasher! The kids’ nails are trimmed! woo. hoo.

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*the rat race. I so do NOT miss the harried busyness of getting myself and the kids dressed, fed, gathered and out the door just to arrive at the pharmacy hours later feeling like I’d already put in a full day’s work. Did I remember to pack Everett’s lunch? Did I remind Steve Layne has a spelling test to study for tonight? Did I set out the chicken for dinner? And I know Steve doesn’t miss leaving work abruptly to pick up the kids before daycare closes then rushing home for dinner, homework, baths and bedtime. When I was working, I felt like we were infinitely thinking three steps ahead. Things are still busy. Things will always be busy when kids are involved. But it’s a less frantic busy. Our mornings and evenings are less hectic. There’s less driving. There’s less shuffling hither and thither. Our family schedule is more simplified. I recently asked Layne and Everett what they liked most about me not working as a pharmacist. They had the same answer. “We like getting off the bus at our house and you being here.” And it’s little things like this that almost erase the “I miss…”

*the line of work. Even though I miss the money, the feelings that came with it (accomplishment, productivity, worth, etc.) and my hilarious co-workers, I do not miss working in a retail pharmacy. After being in the field for over a decade, I was disgusted with the way our society, in general, views healthcare. Health is not a privilege. It’s a way of life. It does not come in pill form (for most people). It’s not acute. I also saw the other side of things. The big drug companies marketing and pushing pills like a ShamWow infomercial. I was appalled. I wanted out. I also felt stifled creatively. By contrast, the last few years have been thoroughly rewarding. I’m grateful I get to be here for my kids and experiment with writing, photography, renovating and decorating on the side. I’m glad my kids get to see me throw myself into something I’m passionate about.

*spending more. Since our household income was cut in half, we were forced to scale back on our spending. That might sound like a drawback but it’s actually been very freeing. We only buy / do things that we really want to buy / do. We rarely make spontaneous purchases. We drive old cars. That being said, we’ve taken more vacations in the past few years because we’ve made them a priority. And we would love to travel more. We’ve been throwing extra cash at our mortgage and are on track to be mortgage-free by early 2016 (if not sooner) so, hopefully, we’ll see those traveling dreams come to fruition. It’s been really insightful to buckle down and prioritize financial goals. As a result, our finances are more streamlined.

*missing special events. When you work in any retail setting, you work evenings, weekends and holidays. I missed plenty of family gatherings, school parties and programs. We don’t make it to every gathering and school function but at least they’re options now. (Okay, sometimes we’re guilted into thinking we don’t have a choice.) I’m very protective of the time we have together. When someone is sick, it doesn’t throw a wrench into our schedule as much as it would have if I were working. (Btw, stay-at-home parents don’t get sick days.) Steve and I are able to spend more time together now, too.

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What’s the point of this post? (If you’ve made it this far.) Your guess is as good as mine. When I’m feeling things, it’s usually easier for me to write them down and dissect them. None of this is news to Steve. We’ve discussed everything I’ve laid out above. He’s always been supportive of my work – the pharmacy, the kids, the blog. Looking at the list, there are more items listed under “I miss…” vs. “I don’t miss…” But when I look closer, the things that most directly affect our quality of family life in a positive way are listed under “I don’t miss…” Looking back fifteen years from now, I don’t think I’m going to wish I would have worked more.

On the other hand, I don’t want motherhood to completely consume me. Is that selfish? Shouldn’t I be happy that we can make one income work for us? That I have the option to be home with the kids? It’s just that I’ve seen far too many women stay home to raise children only to become confused, lost, depressed, aimless when their nest empties. How do you prevent that? That’s what I’m trying to figure out, I guess. I’m getting involved outside the house. I’m making time for things I like to do. I’m getting better at telling Steve when I need a break. I’m reading more to challenge my brain. I’ve discovered I’m happiest when I’m learning something new. Sometimes I learn new things from a book. Sometimes my kids teach me new things.

“Self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton, American social activist / abolitionist / feminist, c., 1895

“We can have it all. Just not all at once.” – Rosalind Brewer, president and CEO of Sam’s Club, 2014

Have you quit working to be home with your kids? What do you (not) miss about working? Maybe you’ve decided to keep working after kids? Maybe you’ve decided to go back to work after your kids are grown? At any rate, what do you do to satiate your need for intellectual stimulation? What do you do just for you?

Personally, I am forever grateful for this little slice of the blogosphere where I get to share all the big and little things that pique my curiosity. x

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking