...because home doesn't happen overnight.
02.28.14 / Made Me Smile

mabrey book 1

So much to smile about this week!

*Cuddling with Mabrey and reading her absolute favorite book before nap time is something I look forward to every day. Our copy was Steve’s when he was little. Dare I say it’s vintage?

*Finally, we created attic access in our home where there was none and then we organized said attic. Hurray for not paying to heat / cool attic space anymore!

*These painter’s pyramid stands came in handy when I tweaked an Ikea step stool earlier this week. Such a clever product!

*Lauren’s tips for styling a console. Her home is featured in the current issue of Domino magazine which I just picked up this morning. Guess what I’ll be reading tonight with wine in hand!

*A little bathroom humor never hurt anyone.

*You know that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow we’ve all been searching for? Turns out, it was in someone’s backyard.

*We got a taste of spring. It was delicious.

*I placed second wayyyyyy behind one of my all-time favorite designers in the annual Homies Awards. Emily slayed it and rightfully so! Thanks to everyone who took the time to vote. Love ya.

Do something that puts a smile on your face this weekend. We’re hoping to level out the floor in our unfinished bathroom after our plumber came and adjusted a water line last week. Gotta start somewhere!

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

This winter has been brutal. Most of you already know this from first-hand experience. We’re in the midwest and have had record snowfall and cold temps. Part of our bedtime routine with the kids is sharing something we’re thankful for and every night this winter I’ve been thankful for shelter from the cold and snow. So many people don’t have basic necessities (shelter, coats, warm meals, etc.) during winter and I think it’s something easily taken for granted. I try to remind my kids how lucky we are to have a roof over heads, all decorating aside.

On a lighter note, I thought it might be helpful to share a few of my favorite winter essentials (non-shelter related) today. You know, since there’s a polar vortex right outside my door. Also, can I just say that persons in southern California should not be permitted to do winter essential roundups? That’s just ridiculous. But maybe Canadians feel the same way about midwesterners??

Anyway, here are six things that made this winter a tad more tolerable for me.

winter essentials

1 – organic, unrefined coconut oil I switched from regular body lotion to coconut oil last winter and I have nothing but good things to report. I picked up a jar at a local health food store and keep it in my bathroom vanity. I rub one to two teaspoonful into my skin right after showering to lock in moisture for days. My husband and kids use it as well. The oil is solid at room temp but melts to the touch. It might seem expensive but the nearly empty jar pictured here is the original jar I purchased last year. It’s lasted me that long! A little really goes a long way. I use it in the summer, too, but in the winter it is a godsend. Bonus: you can cook with it!

2 – easy-to-maintain houseplants In Ohio, everything goes dormant and turns brown for the winter but I need greenery around me. To me, houseplants are signs of life and warmer things to come. They purify indoor air and, since we spend most of our time inside during cold & flu season, they help to keep us healthy. I’ve been known to have a black thumb but I’ve had luck keeping jade and snake plants alive throughout winter.

3 – honest dryer cloths It’s so dry here in the winter that static cling is inevitable. I find it sooooo annoying. Typically, I don’t use dryer sheets but this winter I’ve had to. The static is that bad. I’m a big fan of The Honest Co. (This isn’t sponsored, btw.) I buy their products with my own money and usually receive an order from them every other month. You can easily customize your personal ship date by clicking a box online – no phone calls necessary. For the past few months, I’ve been ordering these dryer sheets. They are wet, plant-based cloths with no artificial fragrances or animal fats. Each sheet can be used twice. And best of all, they work!

4 – vitamin D3 About one month into winter, I wasn’t feeling like myself. I was drained – emotionally and physically. On a hunch (I’m a pharmacist by trade although I’m not practicing at this time), I picked up a bottle of vitamin D tablets at the grocery store to see if they would help. You guys, I noticed a difference within 24 hours of taking my first dose! I had more energy and felt more like myself. This might be a little TMI but…the vitamin D also helped regulate my out-of-whack menstrual cycle, too. My vitamins are a cheap-y version because I wanted to see if they made a difference before I invested in something pricier. When my current bottle is empty, I’m upgrading to a higher quality, organic softgel. FYI – Check with your physician regarding vitamin D deficiency and dosing.

5 – fekkai advanced brilliant glossing conditioner By far, the best conditioner I’ve ever used. Back to the static cling that drives me insane in the winter…it affects my hair, too. But when I use this conditioner, BAM!, no staticky flyaways. I use it year round and it’s worth every penny. One bottle usually lasts me a year (I use it once or twice a week on the bottom half of my hair after shampooing) so, like the coconut oil, a little goes a long way. Pssst – I tried using the coconut oil as a conditioner since I read it was great for hair but it was a total flop. Using a little resulted in oily hair for days.

6 – C.O. bigelow night balm Dry, cracked lips are no joke but I’m prone to them during winter months. My sister gifted me this balm for Christmas after raving about it. She was right. It’s the bomb. I apply just a little before bed every night and it’s enough to keep my lips supple for 24 hours.

I’d love to hear about your winter essentials! This list is mostly health and beauty related but a glass of red wine in the evenings always helps take the chill off for me, too. Mmmm…warm fuzzies.

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

When I posted my workspace reveal, one item was missing from the original mood board. (Some of you noticed. Good eye!) It was the mini linen lamp. It was on backorder and didn’t arrive in time for the big reveal but it’s here now.

mini lamp before

It’s just about the cutest lil’ lamp I’ve ever seen. It’s about 13″ tall and 9″ wide and it fits perfectly under the glass-front cabinets. The nubby linen gives it a cozy texture which feels really homey even though the silhouette is pretty modern. You know how I feel about cozy modern.

There was one downfall. The black electrical cord irked me. I don’t understand why companies go through all the trouble of producing beautiful lamps only to stick an ugly black cord on them. Why?! It’s like a handsome guy with no sense of humor. Deal breaker.

But I really LOVED the lamp and it was the ideal scale for my desk so I decided to do what I do best: tweak it. (Not to be confused with ‘twerk it.’)

sueded cording

I found some red sueded cording at JoAnn’s. I paid less than $2 (with a 40% off coupon) for three yards. I thought the red suede would make a fun cord cover. Here’s how I went about disguising the black cord eyesore…

DIY cord cover collage

1 – I used a small piece of double-sided adhesive tape and stuck it on the backside of the cord.

2 – I ran the sueded cording up the tape then wrapped it over on top of itself to secure the end.

3 – I continued wrapping the electrical cord with my sueded cording making sure to pull it taut for a snug fit.

4 – I wrapped the cord to the rotary line switch then used a drop of hot glue on the backside of the new red cord to secure the end. (It’s important not to apply the hot glue directly to the electrical cord.)

5 – I snipped off the excess sueded cording with fingernail clippers.

DIY sueded cord cover

And that’s it! It took me all of 5 minutes. I only wrapped the cord to the rotary switch because I knew the rest of the cord would be hidden behind the wood cubby on my desk but you could easily wrap the full length. For reference, I wrapped ~13″ of electrical cord and I had ~9″ of the sueded cording leftover. Of course, that number will vary depending on the circumference of your electrical cord but three yards of cording for every foot of electrical cord seems like a good rough estimate.

DIY sueded cord cover 2

This cute lamp just got a little cuter. Steve even noticed and he loves it! Funny. I can rearrange our living room and he doesn’t notice for days. But I slap some new cording on a teeny lamp and he catches it right away. I don’t get it.

DIY sueded cord cover 5

The lamp isn’t totally necessary. We do have over- and under-cabinet lighting. But, I have to say, the soft glow of the little lamp is nice on overcast days or late at night when I don’t want to light up the entire kitchen.

DIY sueded cord cover 6

I’ve always liked the idea of a lamp in the kitchen, too. It feels cozy, warm and casual.

DIY sueded cord cover 7

I wish companies would pay more attention to lighting cord aesthetics. It kinda sucks that I had to spend $2 to make my $40 lamp look like a $40 lamp but I’m really happy with how it turned out.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

stop stool 1

That’s Everett. He’s five. He wants to do everything his big brother does including wash his hands at the kitchen sink even though he can’t reach the faucet. Instead of walking back to the bathroom, because you know it’s sooooo far, he climbs up on the counter and precariously balances on the edge of the sink. Obviously, it isn’t safe. I keep picturing him falling head first into the sink or backwards onto the floor. Plus, there’s no center support in the cabinet under the sink so I don’t really think it’s meant to hold the weight of five-year-olds.

Enter the Ikea BEKVÄM step stool. It’s $15, constructed of solid wood and sturdy. (We have one in the boys’ room so I can vouch for it.)

stop stool 2

(I got a little carried away with laying out the unassembled pieces. Doesn’t it look like a graphic group cheerleading pose?)

Before assembly, I painted the legs and stained the steps. I walked into Sherwin Williams (I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket) and was immediately drawn to a fiery red-orange swatch. The paint color is called “stop”. I guess because that’s what you do when you see it. STOP! I like mostly neutrals in our house but I thought it would be fun to have a shot of color on the stool. Also, I seem to be on a red-orange kick lately. The paint guy said since it was in the red family I was to use a primer first. I didn’t. I’m such a rebel. I brushed on two thin coats in a semigloss finish and the coverage was great so I left it at that.

Ikea advises against painting the steps due to the risk of slipping. And since safer was my goal in the first place, I decided to stain the steps with one coat of Minwax special walnut. We had some leftover from previous projects so all I had to do was walk out in the garage and search for a half an hour through our own private paint department. Oh, wait!, first I used a coat of wood conditioner…then I stained. I always use a wood conditioner before staining. Okay, so that was one coat of wood conditioner then one coat of special walnut. I decided not to seal the steps because I like the raw, matte wood and I kinda love the idea of it getting beat up and taking on a patina over time.

stop stool 6

Isn’t it spicy against the black cabinets?! HOT. With hints of orange and coral, it’s such a great modern red. I’m so happy I only did one coat of stain on the steps and left them unsealed. I love me some rustic-modern juxtaposition.

stop stool 8

Now the lil’ man can wash his hands, no problem. Everett was so excited when I told him the stool was for him.

stop stool 9

But there was a *slight* ulterior motive for this stool. I have a hard time reaching a cabinet above our microwave. I usually end up hoisting myself onto the counter or dragging over an extra tall stool from the island. No more.

stop stool 7

When the stool isn’t in use, I’ve been stashing it next to the fridge. (Mabrey is all about climbing up and messing with the papers and magnets. One problem solved, another created.) Eventually, it will go live where the high chair is now in my workspace.

I am a little worried about the paint marking up the cabinets but I talked to Everett about it and so far he’s been really careful not to bump the stool against the cabinets. Like I said, he LOVES the fact that this is his stool and he’s taking it very seriously. Ha! I’m hoping the high quality paint won’t be prone to leaving marks. I also made sure to let the paint cure thoroughly before bringing the stool into the kitchen. So far, so good.

Isn’t it just the hottest lil’ thing? All of a sudden I’m craving a margarita and chips & salsa. Any takers?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking