...because home doesn't happen overnight.

I want to thank all of you for your well wishes and words of encouragement. THANK YOU. I wasn’t planning on it, but I had to take some time off. The kids ended up getting sick, too. Luckily, Cheetah hasn’t made anymore attempts to run away and I haven’t had anymore run-ins with opossums ;)

DIY leather pull 11

I’ve been tweaking things here and there in our bedroom. Mostly because I like change every now and then, but also because a few things felt slightly off. Take the IKEA HEMNES shoe cabinet, for instance. It actually started out in our entry, then I moved it to the master bedroom after I realized it made more sense functionally. (We don’t enter through the front door on a regular basis, so we don’t really need shoe storage there.) I hung a mirror (an octagonal one at first, then a rectangular one) and spray painted the knobs gold, but the vignette always felt flat to me. (Also, looking back at old posts is a little like looking at pictures of myself from college or high school. It’s embarrassing.)

Additionally, in my opinion, the cabinet knobs were awkwardly placed. They were positioned about one-third of the way down the drawer fronts. We had to give them a good tug to open the shoe compartments. I always thought handles/pulls located higher up on the fronts would work and look better. (IKEA must have received similar feedback because they now offer the STÄLL cabinet with notched handles.) I decided to try my hand at making leather pulls for the shoe cabinet.

DIY leather pull 1

I removed the original knobs, filled the holes with wood putty then sanded the putty smooth taking care NOT to sand the surface of the drawer fronts. (I just wanted to do a quick and easy patch & touchup job. If possible, I didn’t want to paint the entire fronts/cabinet.) After the putty had dried completely, I used a small watercolor brush from my kids’ art supplies to brush on two coats of paint over the putty only. I used Benjamin Moore white dove in semigloss (leftover from our baseboards and trim) because it was what I had on hand and there was a snow storm and I wasn’t dragging the kids to the store for eight drops of paint. It isn’t a perfect match but it worked just fine for the minuscule touchups. These photos are untouched other than lightening them up a little, but you really can’t tell where the knob holes used to be unless the sun is shining and you look at the cabinet from just the right angle.

Of course, you can have paint color-matched for a flawless finish if you’re worried about inconsistencies.

DIY leather pull 2

Once the holes were patched and painted, I got to work on the pulls. I found a faux leather belt at my local Salvation Army store. It was long enough for four pulls and the $1.99 price tag was perfect. When I got to the counter and found out it was included in the daily special (50% off all yellow tags!), I was stoked. The belt rang in at a whopping 99¢ and, after a grueling week from hell, it completely made my day. It’s the little things, people.

DIY leather pull 3

I cut the buckle off the belt then measured and cut four 4½” strips for the pulls.

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I folded each strip over on itself, measured 3/8″ down from the cut ends then drilled a hole through each pull. (I don’t remember the exact size of the drill bit, but it was slightly smaller than the shaft of the machine screws I bought for the project. Keep reading for more info on those.) I used the same wood scrap from the DIY wood bead strand for a cleaner cut and to protect the floor. If you haven’t noticed by now, I tend to work on the floor in whatever room I’m working on at the moment. I’m too impatient to set things up elsewhere!

DIY leather pull 5

I bought four 10-24 x 1″ brass machine screws plus washers and nuts in the same size for this project. I found them at Lowe’s and they cost ~$6 total. For each pull, I slipped a screw through a washer then the hole in the leather.

DIY leather pull 6

DIY leather pull 7

I removed the shoe compartments from the cabinet (they simply pull up and out) and used the same drill bit to drill a hole in each front ~½” down from the top. I wanted the tops of the pulls to line up with the tops of the fronts without interfering with opening/closing. Again, I used a wood scrap underneath for a clean cut.

DIY leather pull 8

DIY leather pull 12

Then I used a flathead screwdriver to screw the pulls onto the fronts. I secured them with a 10-24 brass nut. I probably could have used a slightly longer screw as I had to bust out pliers to screw the nuts on, but it all worked out. Steve says the screws are perfect because they don’t stick out and pose a hazard to hands reaching into the cabinet for a pair of shoes. One thing is for sure. They aren’t going anywhere!

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I love, love, LOVE how the brass looks against the (faux) saddle leather. I was worried the pulls might scream “BELT!” but I actually like the stitching. Especially at <$2 per pull!

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The new pulls are way more functional, too. No more tugging at awkwardly placed knobs.

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Surprise! Two of the compartments are empty. Steve uses the one on the bottom left as a hidden charging station for his phone.

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I didn’t plan for it, but the new pulls tie in to the leather bench at the foot of the bed. #happyaccident I sprung for a new mirror. Maybe you noticed? I really felt like we needed something round to break up all the straight lines and I wanted a touch of black. I found an affordable, round mirror with a black frame here. The scale is spot on. FYI – It’s heavy!

Thanks to the new leather pulls, round mirror and some Trader Joe’s blooms, I’ve fallen in love with this little corner of our bedroom. It just feels right. And now I want to add leather pulls made from thrifted belts to all the things. #savethebelts

Stay tuned for more bedroom updates, coming soon!

P.S. – If DIY isn’t your thing, pre-made leather pulls on an armoire.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

02.10.16 / Liked & Linked

snow day

snowy night

Last week was a doozy. Steve was out of town. The kids took turns not sleeping. I swear they got together and planned their wakings so that I never logged more than three hours of sleep per night. Tantrums and bickering were at an all-time high.

Cheetah is usually pretty chill, but even her temperament leaned toward ornery. She went missing one night after I took the trash out. (I must not have closed the door all the way behind me.) I didn’t notice until hours later when I went to feed her and she didn’t come running. It was late and the kids were already in bed. I expected to find her sitting outside the back door but she wasn’t there. I quickly slipped on the first pair of shoes I could find (Layne’s high tops), grabbed a spotlight and locked up the house. I jumped in the car and drove around the block with the window down yelling, “Cheeeeetaaaaaaah.” About three-quarters of the way around the block, I spotted two glowing eyes and gray fur peeking out from under some bushes near a house. Cheetah! I pulled into the unsuspecting homeowners’ driveway, dimmed the headlights and sprinted towards the house. I was on my belly reaching into the bush for my cat when I came face-to-face with a opossum. “OH $#@*!!” Abort, abort! It’s funny now but I was totally freaked out at the time.

Eventually, I did find Cheetah in a neighbor’s fenced backyard. The house had recently sold and, luckily, was unoccupied when I slipped through the gate to retrieve my cat. Can you imagine the first impression I would have made if the new homeowners had been there?! Crazy trespassing cat lady in her pajamas and Air Jordans.

Not surprisingly, I came down with a fever, chills and extreme fatigue Thursday evening. I was so weak I collapsed on the couch and told the kids they were going to have to put themselves to bed. The mom guilt! I drifted in and out of consciousness while Layne helped Mabrey change into her pajamas, brushed her teeth, read her a book and tucked her into bed. The boys sat quietly at the kitchen island drawing for a while. During a foggy moment of awareness I heard Everett say, “I love Mom. I hope she makes it through the night.” I laughed on the inside. They readied themselves for bed, gave me hugs and went to bed with nary a complaint. It was probably the least dramatic bedtime in our house in the last few months. I thought, “Huh, maybe I’m raising decent human beings after all.”

A few links…

*Steve made paleo jerk chicken in the crockpot for the game on Sunday. So easy, so yummy.

*A brass tripod floor lamp on sale!

*The next kitchen trend?

*A tiny bathroom makeover. (Love the lil’ gold lever on the toilet.)

dreamy kitchen

black faucets

*House stalking via instagram: a dreamy kitchen and black bathroom fixtures.

*This affordable rag rug is popping up all over the place. For good reason!

*The kids and I watched Big Fish during a recent snow day. (I forgot how much I adore that movie.) Layne requested the book for his birthday.

May your kiddos and kitties be well-behaved this week ;)

images: 1 & 2) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 3 & 4) Bridget Ambrose

wood bead strand 13

Wood bead garlands have been popping up in interiors for years. I think I first noticed them styled in Scandinavian vignettes. Then they became pretty popular as holiday garland on trees and mantels. More recently I’ve spotted them casually gracing tabletops in interiors with a natural, organic vibe. (Lauren Liess’s coffee table and Anissa’s dining room table come to mind.) I love how effortless they look. Oh, this ol’ thing I just tossed on my table?

A few weeks ago when cabin fever hit hard, I was itching to make something. Putting my spin on the famed wood bead garland sounded fun so I gave it a whirl. Obviously, I’m not reinventing the wheel here but it was nice busying my hands and tweaking little details to my liking. Here’s what I did…

wood bead strand 1

I knew I wanted a pretty substantial strand with a longer length and chunkier profile (no measly little necklace of wood “pearls”) but when I started gathering my supplies I quickly discovered that pre-drilled wood beads are expensive! And I needed quite a few. To save money, I ended up buying wood balls in various sizes and drilling the holes myself. I bought three bags of 1″, two bags of 1¼” and one bag of 1½” wood balls along with four yards of leather cording. I raided the garage and found some heavy duty grip pliers to stabilize the balls during drilling.

wood bead strand 2

One by one, I placed each ball on top of a scrap piece of wood, secured the ball with the pliers in one hand and drilled a hole through the center with my other hand using a 3/16″ drill bit. (I’m a lefty so if you’re a righty flop the image above for a better visual.) You can drill whatever size hole you want. The key is to drill a hole at least slightly larger than your preferred stringing material: rope, string, jute, yarn, etc. Keep a firm grip on the pliers!

wood bead strand 3

Drilling through the ball into the wood scrap below prevents splintering and produces a clean cut. Ideally, this would be an outdoor project but below-zero temps kept me indoors. I kept the vacuum nearby and swept up sawdust as I went along.

wood bead strand 4

After all the holes were drilled, I wasn’t digging the cool grayish tones of the unfinished maple. I busted out my trusty beeswax + orange oil wood conditioner (previously seen here) and applied it with a soft cloth.

wood bead strand 5

This was about halfway through the waxing process. The beads on the left are unfinished. The beads on the right are waxed. I love how the beeswax warms up the wood tone and emphasizes the graining. Instant patina!

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Once waxing was complete, I strung the beads onto the leather cording.

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I decided to string the largest beads near the center of the garland and the smallest beads near the ends for a graduated effect.

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After all the beads were strung, I went back through and spaced them out a little so the garland wasn’t too stiff and had some play in it. I wanted the garland to drape easily. I knotted the ends and cut the excess cording. Done! (You could also tie the ends together to create a circular garland.)

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The end result is so pretty in a natural, unfussy way. I love that you can see little indentations from the pliers. Living proof that they were touched by hands – not just a machine. There’s really no wrong way to style them. They kinda just do their own thing and go with everything. They’re the J. Crew of home accessories. I’ve already had a heyday trying them out all over the house.

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As a cat-friendly centerpiece on the dining room table.

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Spilling out of a thrifted bowl on the media cabinet.

wood bead strand 12

Curled up in a large bowl on the coffee table.

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Dangling from a hook on a sliver of wall.

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Draped over a pile of books on my dresser.

They’re so versatile. I keep moving them around. Who knows where they’ll end up. I’m going to start a new blogger game called Where Are the Wood Beads? Should be a good time.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking