...because home doesn't happen overnight.
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

My boys start school next week so we’re squeezing in a few more fun things before summer break is officially over. As a result, things might be quieter on the blog over the next week. I hope you understand. The good news is that once school starts, my afternoons are freed up for more projects. My goal is to finish tweaking the boys’ room by the end of the month. The last time I shared my sluggish progress in the room, I got a ton of questions regarding the hanging plant(er). I thought I would give it a quick mention today since there was so much interest.

burro's tail 1

The boys requested a “cool plant” for their room. I decided a hanging plant would work best to keep floor space open for play. I stumbled across a sprawling burro’s tail at a local nursery. (Berns nursery in Beavercreek for any locals.) It came in a plastic hanging planter from the nursery but I wanted to dress it up a little.

I found the modern macrame planter on etsy. (I’ll take one of everything in that shop, btw.) Then I returned to my local nursery and found the cracked, glazed pot. To allow for proper drainage, I kept the burro’s tail in its original plastic pot and dropped it into the glazed one. (The glazed pot doesn’t have drainage holes.)

To hang the planter, I installed a toggle ceiling hook. After eyeballing where I wanted the planter to hang, I drilled a pilot hole in the ceiling then inserted and screwed in the hook. I don’t remember the weight capacity but it’s well above that of the planter. My one suggestion for ceiling hooks is to match them to your ceiling so they aren’t an eyesore. The one I used is white and it blends into the ceiling.

I carefully slipped the pot into the macrame planter and arranged the stems then suspended the entire thing from the ceiling hook. The length of the macrame hanger is perfect for standard 8′ ceilings. One thing to be aware of: the plant is delicate and if you manhandle it, it will drop its fleshy leaves. It drops a few leaves each week but they’re super small and non-toxic. I just pick them up when I see them or vacuum them during weekly cleanings.

burro's tail 2

Burro’s tail (a.k.a. donkey’s tail or lamb’s tail) is a succulent and it likes sun, rocky soil and infrequent watering. I hung it in front of an east-facing window and water it every 2-3 weeks. It’s been going strong for over two months. I think I can keep it alive! I love all the different textures going on in this planter and I adore the simple macrame hanger with its natural wood beads. It’s got me scheming for more hanging planters in the house. In the living room? My bedroom?

engineer print frame and mat

And while I’m thinking of it, I added a mat to the framed engineer print. You might remember my conundrum with the $3 engineer print being a few inches too short to fill the entire poster frame. Since this piece will be a mainstay in the room for years to come (I’m going switch out the engineer print each year for a current candid of the boys), I felt like it was worthy investment. It definitely gives the inexpensive, black and white print a polished look. I’m really happy with it!

burro's tail 3

I have a few more fun ideas to bring to life in this room. In fact, today the boys and I picked up samples for the next big project. Can’t wait to share!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

07.30.14 / The Master Bedroom

Once upon a time our bedroom was a very scary place.

master br before 2

From what we can discern, the previous owner used it as a painting studio. The room was home to dozens of canvases and numerous dressers holding art supplies when we first toured the house. The green shag carpet was horribly stained. One corner of the room showed signs of water damage. (We later learned from neighbors that a tree fell and damaged that corner of the house when Hurricane Ike barreled through in 2008.)

master br before 1

The room faces northeast and receives the least amount of natural light of all the rooms in the house. In the summer (shown here and in the “afters” below), the room takes on an eerie green glow.

master br before 3

An adjoining bathroom – albeit small – was the only thing this room had going for it. Please notice the dark trail from the hallway to the bathroom. (!) I don’t even want to know. Let’s hope it was paint.

master br 5

We added foam insulation to the exterior walls, ripped up the carpet, sprung for new windows, laid engineered hardwood flooring, installed chunky new baseboards and had the electrical upgraded to include a ceiling fixture. Among other things. Choosing a paint color for this room proved difficult. Before moving in, we painted it the same color as the main living space but the light hue looked very dingy in this room. I repainted the walls a warm gray with green-blue undertones that play nicely in the dim light. Sometimes it looks gray. Sometimes it looks green. Sometimes it looks blue. But it always feels calm and soothing – even under artificial lighting at night.

Placing the bed under the eastern window was our only viable option in this room. I initially bought a curved headboard but the lines were all wrong under the squarish window. I switched it out for the straight, upholstered one seen here.

master br 6

In each of the bedrooms, we ditched the closet doors in favor of curtain panels hung high and wide. For us, it’s easier to access the closet contents this way. The panels make it feel a little like a dressing experience, too, if that makes any sense. Most of the time, I stand inside the closet to dress. Hanging the curtains outside of the frame gave us a good 6″ of extra closet depth. All of Steve’s and my clothing is in this modest closet. Everything is organized with off-the-shelf wire racks and drawers. We were even able to incorporate two pull-out hampers (one for darks, one for lights) in the closet design. Shoes currently not in rotation are stored in the slim wall cabinet to the right of the closet.

We’ve been pleasantly surprised by how wonderful it is to have a pared down closet. Steve and I both enjoy expressing our styles via our wardrobes and, before living in this house, we were accustomed to large, walk-in closets. What we’ve found though is that we are much more focused on quality vs. quantity when it comes to buying clothing now. We’re spending less money on clothing by buying more long-haul pieces. Since space is limited (we have a set number of hangers and shelves) we subscribe to the “one thing in, one thing out” policy. And the closet is always tidy! Don’t let anyone fool you into believing you need a walk-in closet to be happy.

master br 7

Matching sconces and nightstands flank the bed. Framed prints bridge the gap between the sconces and the top of the nightstands. We don’t keep too much bedside but I love having greenery (I clip it from the backyard) and a stack of books nearby.

For cohesion, we hung the same woven shades found throughout the house. For privacy, we installed blackout roller shades within each window frame. They aren’t visible until we pull them down at night. A nubby jute rug picks up on the woven blinds.

master br 11

I tried to keep the bedding gender neutral with a striped duvet and embroidered hemp pillow. IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I like stripes and natural textures.

master br 3

A vintage dresser sits opposite the bed. I think it’s my favorite craigslist find of all time. The black and white abstract art was painted by the previous owner. I leaned it against the wall to “try it out” nearly two years ago and liked the casual look so much I left it that way.

master br 4

We rigged the top dresser drawer so that it’s hinged and can be used as a keyboard pull-out. It’s lined with cork so no mouse pad is needed. The “dresker” is the perfect place for Steve to take evening conference calls or work from home when necessary. I keep a wool blanket in the second drawer for freezing winter nights but the bottom two drawers are empty!

master br 12

This is the view looking into the bedroom from the doorway. You can barely see the door frame to the bathroom on the left. The large canvas was a controversial DIY. (You can read more about it via a link near the end of this post. There’s an interesting discussion in the comments section.) I love it nonetheless.

master br 9

master br 10

master br 1

master br 8

It took us every bit of two years to get our bedroom just right. I can still remember the nights of insomnia staring at the ceiling contemplating this room. My goal was to create a peaceful place to retreat at the end of every busy day. I can’t say I won’t tweak things in here ever again but it does offer the calming respite I was hoping for. We sleep well.

Resources of note:

wall paint – Benjamin Moore half moon crest
trim paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
flooring – Jasper engineered hardwood handscraped birch in Texas brown via Build Direct
ceiling fixture – Robert Abbey axis aged brass ceiling light
woven shades – petite rustique from Overstock
blackout roller shades – Levolor from Lowe’s
curtain panels – Ikea
curtain rods – Target
closet organization – ClosetMaid
bed – West Elm (discontinued)
headboard – West Elm nailhead upholstered headboard in brushed heather cotton, gray haze
duvet – DwellStudio draper stripe
white blanket – Target
embroidered pillow – OrientalTribe11 on etsy
sconces – House of Troy addison swing arm lamp in antique brass
nightstands – Vilas one-drawer nightstand from Overstock (I spray painted the knobs gold.)
wood frames – Target
art prints – printwork on etsy
yarn-wrapped gazelle – Target
Barcelona bench – Rove Concepts in palermo caramel leather
sheepskin – Ikea
9′ x 12′ jute rug – Overstock
shoe cabinet – Ikea (I spray painted the knobs gold.)
mirror – RSI from Wayfair
desk chair – West Elm saddle office chair
kilim pillow – Sukan on etsy
chevron art – DIY
dresser – vintage Willett via craigslist
lamp – Robert Abbey delta table lamp
black and white abstract art – estate sale
faux antlers – One Kings Lane
driftwood sculpture – thrifted

If you’re interested in seeing how this room evolved, here are a slew of bedroom-related links:

FURNITURE

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/08/10/recent-purchases-3/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/06/11/i-like-to-move-it-move-it/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/06/17/wayfair-in-the-house-lets-talk-about-my-bed/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/09/06/a-desk-disguised-as-a-dresser-a-k-a-the-dresker/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/17/a-bench-in-the-bedroom/

DECOR

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/03/29/looking-for-a-bedroom-light/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/08/31/the-pursuit-of-a-casual-bedroom/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/02/27/wayfair-in-the-house-swing-arm-wall-lamp/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/06/05/i-dont-want-to-leave-my-bedroom/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/06/17/wayfair-in-the-house-lets-talk-about-my-bed/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/06/21/our-bedroom-window-treatments/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/07/11/his-hers-nightstands/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/08/01/wayfair-in-the-house-a-bedroom-mirror/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/02/12/the-fruits-of-my-antiquing-adventure/

ORGANIZATION

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/06/14/closetsmaid-right/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/10/25/making-the-most-of-small-closets-master-bedroom/

DIY

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

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/09/04/diy-hinged-drawer/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/10/09/one-ticket-to-hell-please/

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

You can access this master bedroom 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

engineer print trend 4

Framed engineer prints are everywhere. Have you seen them? I especially love the ones featured here, here and here. I had been looking for a large piece of artwork to hang in the boys’ room when it dawned on me that an engineer print might be the ticket.

I had taken a photo with my phone of Layne and Everett on our recent trip to Florida. They’re mid-air jumping into a pool and it just exudes BOY. I had the photo blown up into a 2′ x 3′ black and white engineer print at Staples. (I quickly ordered the print online.) One day and $3 later, I had the print in hand. Since the print was so inexpensive, I “splurged” on a wood poster frame.

The print isn’t the highest quality and the paper is thin but for $3 I wasn’t expecting perfection. Also, the image doesn’t fill out the entire 3′ length – it’s more like 32″. This probably has something to do with the fact that I took the photo using the VSCO app. I might DIY a mat but next time I want the image to fill the entire frame. The frame itself is nice for a poster frame. The wood gives it a more expensive look and the facing is acrylic (not glass) which is ideal for a kids’ room.

engineer print trend 3

Layne and Everett LOVE it and that’s all that matters anyway. The plan is to switch out the print for a current photo of the boys each year. I really like the idea of this being a feature that evolves as the boys grow. And at $3 per print, we can afford to change the imagery whenever boredom strikes.

Have you tried enlarging a candid photo into an engineer print yet? It’s so easy and inexpensive and instantly adds personality to any space.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking