...because home doesn't happen overnight.

dresser revive 1

I owe you guys a long and wordy post about what’s happening in the boys’ room. The gist of story is that they need more closed storage for their clothing and the wall color makes the room feel depressing. I’ve gone mad trying to pick a new color which is evidenced by the random paint swatches on the wall. I’ll post all the details next Monday but today’s post is about reviving a vintage dresser I scored on ebay this past winter. It was $150 and included a large matching mirror with a wood frame that I’ll be hanging elsewhere. (Hint: it’s going in the hallway.) Fortunately, the seller was in Ohio so we were able to pick it up ourselves and skip shipping costs.

dresser revive 2

The dresser was in great condition. Fully functional with a few scratches and water marks from normal wear and tear. The thing is HEAVY. It’s solid walnut and features all the signs of great craftsmanship which are so hard to find in today’s furniture without spending an arm and a leg. Since it’s going in the boy’s room, it didn’t need to be perfect but I was hoping to improve the finish.

revive dresser 4

I had heard and read so many wonderful testimonials about Restor-A-Finish that I had to try it myself. (Orlando’s testimonial was especially convincing.) The application is a one-step process and it requires no sanding. It sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? I chose the walnut tone and set to work reviving the new old dresser.

revive dresser 5

Application was super easy. I poured a little Restor-A-Finish onto a soft cloth and rubbed it into the wood. A little goes a long way. The stuff is a bit stinky so I opened the windows during application. (This is the main reason it’s taken me so long to get around to reviving the dresser. Too cold to open the windows!) Immediately, I could tell it was working. It’s subtle but noticeable. I liken it to a good pregnancy glow or a natural sun kissed glow. It blended the imperfections and restored the wood’s luster. But it didn’t leave a shiny finish. It was more of a healthy sheen.

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If you compare this image to the second one at the top of this post, you can see the difference. It’s pretty miraculous!

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I couldn’t believe how much richer the wood looked. It really did have a glow to it minus the gloss.

revive dresser 8

Following the directions on the back of Restor-A-Finish, I decided to protect the I-can’t-put-my-finger-on-it-but-there’s-something-different-about-you finish with Howard’s Feed-N-Wax. I waited 30 minutes after refinishing the dresser to apply the wax. I applied the wax with a soft cloth and was a little more generous with this application than the oil. Then I set a timer for 20 minutes. When time was up I buffed out the dresser with a clean soft cloth. Again, super easy.

revive dresser 7

After restoring the finish and applying the protective wax topcoat, the dresser almost looked brand new!

revive dresser 9

The results were enough to motivate me to restore the dresser in my bedroom using the same technique.

But back to the boys’ dresser…

dresser hardware

I didn’t particularly care for the dresser’s original hardware. The knobs are brass with laminate stickers glued to the centers. One knob was missing its laminate center so I tried everything in order to remove the laminate from the other knobs to no avail. I also didn’t like that each drawer had a knob. It was too knobby for my taste. I thought I’d try switching out the middle knobs for horizontal pulls and see what happened. You know, to break things up a little.

dresser hardware 1

I found these streamline pulls at Anthropologie and ordered four. (Btw, it was my very first Anthro purchase. I’m no longer an Anthro virgin.) I love them! They’re so dainty, so midcentury modern. Best of all, they make the dresser feel less knobby. Knobby…it’s a technical term.

Here’s a little before-and-after action for your viewing pleasure…

subtle dresser before and after

I know, it’s not a WOW! makeover. But that wasn’t my goal here. Restoring the finish and changing up some of the hardware gave this dresser a much needed facelift but it still looks like a classic midcentury piece. (Notice how the finish looks less orange-y, too. I like that.) It’s not trying to be something it’s not. I guess it’s more like Cindy Crawford on Botox versus Joan Rivers on plastic surgery. Sometimes subtle changes are the best.

Have you ever used Restor-A-Finish? It has me wanting to buy more vintage pieces just to love ‘em up with a little oil.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

barcelona bench 1

The horse blanket isn’t the only new thing at the foot of our bed. But before we get to it, let’s back up for a minute.

barcelona bench 2

Our bedroom is rectangular in shape. We placed the bed on one of the smaller walls, opposite the bathroom, which is really the only feasible location for a bed in this room. I haven’t mentioned it before but the area between the foot of our bed and bathroom is a decent size. And it has always felt a little empty. I’m all for open space in a room but it felt like something should be there – either a bench or a pair of ottomans. Something. I hadn’t taken it any further than that though. I mean, a bench wasn’t completely necessary and we were getting along fine without one.

Then one of my friendly sponsors, Rove Concepts, sent me an email asking if I might be interested in a piece of their furniture. I politely decline the majority of these types of requests because they don’t jive with my purpose and / or aesthetic. And I turned this one down as well. But six months later I received another email from them so I quickly glanced at their inventory to see if anything caught my eye. When I came across the Barcelona bench inspired by Mies van der Rohe, I was smitten. It was the ideal scale and style. I ordered the 52″ length in natural ash with a palermo caramel cushion. It had a twelve week lead time but finally arrived two weeks ago and it’s practically perfect in every way.

barcelona bench 3

As I was assembling it, Steve and I had a moment. We didn’t feel worthy of this bench. It’s a true work of art. The craftsmanship and attention to detail are impeccable. The bench is one of those forever pieces that’s crazy versatile. It’s sturdy and has a presence to it without feeling heavy…if that makes any sense. I like that it sits up off the floor with open space between the seat and floor. That gives it a lighter feel than, say, a slipcovered bench with a skirt.

barcelona bench 4

The leather is beautiful. It’s the perfect shade of caramel with flawless tufting and piping. It’s so soft, smooth and supple. Like butt’ah. It will only get better with age and wear. I love the natural patina that worn leather takes on over time. The warm hue of the cushion picks up on the wood tones of the nearby dresser, chair legs and bathroom mirror.

barcelona bench 5

Our bedroom can be a flurry of activity with three kids who like to romp on the bed and only one functioning bathroom which also happens to be the adjoining master bath.

Fun fact #1: I make the bed every morning but it rarely stays that way.

Fun fact #2: Sometimes there is a line for the potty in our bedroom. 

Our bedroom definitely isn’t a kid-free zone. Often times, all five of us can be found hanging out in here. The bench sorta acts like a buffer for our bed and provides extra seating, too. It’s a welcome addition. (Mabrey loves climbing onto the bed via the bench.)

barcelona bench 6

I haven’t cheated on my mattress and taken the bench for a sleeping spin (yet!) but the thought has crossed my mind. And that awkward space between our bed and bathroom? It’s not awkward anymore. The bench shrunk the barren area but we still have plenty of room to move around without feeling cramped.

While I’m happily working for and claiming the Barcelona bench, I understand that it may overreach some budgets. If you can afford it, I would highly recommend it. However, if you’re in the market for a similar bench with a smaller price tag, may I suggest this, this or this?

I’m curious. Do you have anything at the foot of your bed? A bench, a pair of ottomans, a trunk? Maybe you prefer nothing?

Stay tuned for a Rove Concepts giveaway later today! I told you those peeps were friendly.

This post was sponsored in part by Rove Concepts. All images and opinions are my own.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

girl nursery 1

So many times I get asked, “What if Mabrey had been a boy? What would the nursery look like then?” I thought it would be fun to turn my answer into a mood board and share it with you. Here we go. The nursery. Boy edition.

boy nursery

First off, the room’s layout would remain the same. It just works so I wouldn’t mess with it. There are so many items in Mabrey’s nursery that I love and would work well in a baby boy’s room, too. I would definitely keep most of the larger, basic items. The crib, the changing table with baskets & bins, the mirror, the wall shelves, the rocking chair, the trunk under the window, the ceiling light, the rug, the woven shade, the deer head…all that would stay. (For the sake of keeping the mood board simple, I show only a few of these items above but all of them would remain in the room.) The majority of this stuff hails from Ikea. The rocker and woven shade are from Overstock. The trunk was a wedding gift. The rug is from West Elm. The deer head is from White Faux Taxidermy.

I am still head over heels for the wall color. It’s Benjamin Moore dark pewter and I would use it all over again. (That’s saying a lot as I have been known to paint a room three times before I land on the perfect hue.) It’s a deep, moody gray blue with green undertones. It makes the small room feel oh-so-cozy and is conducive to sleeping. And I like sleeping babies – boy or girl. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with boys and pink but I think it would be fun to add red-orange, mustard and green accents against the dark walls along with a lot of white for contrast.

On to the items I would change. The pattern on Mabrey’s curtains is pretty feminine. I would hang these at the window and closet instead. As for the DIY art above the crib, I would probably DIY a gradient wood stain for the same effect but a more masculine look. So it would go from a natural to rich wood tone. But since you guys don’t have this exact empty frame hanging around at your house, I also love the idea of DIYing a big wooden Ohio and painting a small heart or star in the location where my baby boy was born. (The Ohio in the mood board is an ornament but you get the idea.) I would pair all white bedding with a colorful quilt. I really like this vintage kantha. And I would bring in more color and pattern with pillows (here, here, here and here) and scatter them throughout the room in the crib, on the trunk and on the rocker. Two or three green rope baskets (eek! They sold out in between creating the mood board and writing this post but they’re from Target.) would corral toys and sit on the floor below the wall shelves. To bring a little more life to the open shelves, I’d add green boxes and framed nature photography.

All that’s left to add is a bouncing baby boy! Don’t get me wrong, I love my babygirl and her room. But sometimes it’s fun to re-imagine a room for someone else. Or is that just me?

P.S. – A few more shots of M’s room these days…

girl nursery 2

girl nursery 3

girl nursery 4

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

I’m on a roll! This is the fourth post in a series I’m devoting to all things closet at my house. {Find the previous posts here, here and here.} Today I’m taking you on a tour of Mabrey’s closet. Of all the bedroom closets, it is by far the smallest.

nursery closet 1

The closet is located behind the bedroom’s door when open which makes things cumbersome. I removed the closet door and replaced it with a curtain for easier access. I hung a curtain panel from an inexpensive tension rod. The closet curtain matches the panels hanging at the window. They’re from West Elm a few years back.

nursery closet 2

For consistency, I painted the closet the same color as the rest of the room. The walls in all of our home’s closets are textured or else I would have been tempted to trying something fun like wallpaper. When the curtain is open, the closet feels like a continuation of the nursery and I like the way everything pops against the dark background.

nursery closet 3

I utilized a freestanding shelving unit to keep items off the floor. The shelving once lived in the craft closet of our previous home. I was happy to be able to reuse it here. Since this is a nursery, I couldn’t justify the installation or cost of a legit closet organization system. This a closet that will evolve over time as needs change so the fact that the shelving unit is easily removable is a plus.

nursery closet 5

I line up Mabrey’s shoes on the top shelf. This is the only closet in the house that has shoes in it! All other shoes live in a shoe cabinet in the master bedroom, a basket in the mudroom or on a shoe rack in the garage. But Mabrey’s shoes are so little and rarely dirty that it doesn’t hurt to have them taking up residence in her closet. Plus, they’re cute! A side note: all the shoes you see here are hand-me-downs. Love.

I hide items with not-so-pretty packaging in baskets on the next shelf down. I use cloth diapers on Mabrey most of the time but always have disposables on hand for nighttime and outings. The baskets contain a small stock of disposable diapers, swim diapers and wet wipes. There are even disposable training pants in there that were handed down to us from a neighbor.

nursery closet 6

Below the diaper paraphernalia is the diaper bag and portable changing pad. I don’t tote them around regularly now that Mabrey is a toddler and requires less stuff. The bag works great as her overnight bag and I’ll grab the changing pad if I know we’re headed somewhere with less than stellar bathroom facilities. I keep a laundry basket on the bottom shelf for outgrown items waiting to be donated.

nursery closet 8

I hang dresses that fit Mabrey on matching hangers next to the shelving unit. The rest of her clothing currently in rotation is stored in bins and baskets within her changing table – an IKEA EXPEDIT. I find it easier to dress her and keep her room tidy by only having the things that fit her readily accessible. Little ones grow so quickly, I can’t see spending money on pricey, child-sized wood hangers. Instead, I have white plastic hangers from Target. $1 for a pack of ten. For the few dresses that have matching leggings or tights, I hang them on the Target hangers but keep the bottoms on the off-the-shelf piggyback hangers.

nursery closet 4

I store hand-me-downs that are too big in baskets along the top shelf of the closet. They are separated by size. Once they fit, I bring them down to the changing table to go into Mabrey’s regular rotation…and the “too littles” go into the donation basket. It’s a system that works well. No digging through piles of clothing to find something that fits. It also allows me to make a clear and concise shopping list for items Mabrey may be lacking. Thanks to our nieces {we have no nephews!} and generous friends, the list is usually short.

nursery closet 7

An item I keep in the closet that isn’t much to look at but might come in handy is the conversion kit to remove one side of the crib when / if Mabrey starts climbing in / out of bed. I taped the instructions to the bed rail because I know it will be a race to convert the crib should Mabrey decide to take up bed climbing.

nursery closet 9

And that’s it! A tiny but tidy closet. A few things before I go:

*This closet series is so effective! Even if you guys are getting nothing from it {I hope that isn’t the case}, I am. I am on a mission to whip all the closets in our house into shape. In fact, I painted the nursery closet and hemmed the curtain just this week. It only took me a year and a half!

*Now I’m itching to paint the other two bedroom closets to match their room’s walls. Since, you know, I repainted the rooms after we moved in.

*The open space under the hanging dresses is reserved for Mabrey’s toy vacuum coming this Christmas. Not a word!

*Little red cowgirl boots are UH-DOORRRRRABLE.

nursery closet 10

*So are naked toddler buns.

Put some clothes on, girl! Can’t you see I’m taking pictures of your closet to post on the world wide web?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking