...because home doesn't happen overnight.

night in 3

Remember the shade sail project I mentioned a while back? We finally tackled it! I realize I’m totally jumping the gun by giving you a lame sneak peek in the dark, but I promise to follow up with a ‘how we did it’ post soon, along with general changes we’ve made to the backyard and daytime pics. The thing is a few blogger friends asked me to share a favorite nighttime scene at our house, warm glowy lights and all. I had my heart set on sharing the back deck for the ‘A Night In’ series hosted by Julia and Kim. A week’s worth of rain nearly foiled my plans, but one night the downpour held off just long enough for me to quickly towel things off, bring out dry cushions, light a few candles and snap pics. Raindrops were sprinkling my lens by the end of the harried shoot and I’m not 100% comfortable shooting in such low light, but here are some of the better shots. It’s really magical in person!

night in 2

night in 5

night in 7

Since installing the shade sails, this outdoor spot has become my favorite nighttime hangout. (Recently, it’s been way too hot to enjoy it during the day – even in the shade.) After the kids are in bed, I plop down on the sectional with some rosé and a book and listen to the crickets do their thing. One good thing about the kids’ school year starting so early is that reasonable bedtimes are back. I have kid-free evenings once again! At least until someone gets up to tell me they’re thirsty. It’s inevitable.

night in 8

Three years in, the sectional cushions are holding up well. To promote longevity, I store them in the attic for the winter and stash them in the garage on a tarp during wet summer weather. The throw pillows are a mix of outdoor and indoor cushions. You might recognize a few kilim pillows from our living room. After tossing them on the sectional last minute for color, I now want to hoard etsy kilim covers, treat them with Scotch Guard outdoor spray and stuff them with outdoor inserts. The gold bulb string lights are from Rejuvenation. They create the prettiest ambiance.

a night in 1

It’s difficult to tell from the nighttime pictures, but the bottom halves of the bulbs are gold. I originally chose them because I like the metallic detail, but the gold actually gives the string lights two benefits: 1) The bulbs look like they’re glowing during the day when they aren’t plugged in. 2) The gold reflects the light upward at nighttime for a more diffused, less glaring effect from below. They can be used indoors or out. I’d love to see them on a Christmas tree! If string lights and ornaments had a baby, these would be it.

night in 4

In case you’re wondering, the shade sails do not hold water. The smallest raindrops pass right through which is ideal. We don’t want sagging sails! They’re purely sun-blocking. At night, they give the impression of a ceiling which feels really cozy.

There are still a few tweaks to make out here. I’ve been itching to switch out the coffee table for a non-matching one. The dining table has seen better days. We need a fan for relief from the heat and mosquitos. I want to plant climbing, flowering vines (clematis?) at the base of the shade sail poles to soften them. All in good time. Did you notice I rotated the sectional to face the house? We like it so much better this way! It really makes the deck feel like an outdoor room now instead of a stage facing the darkness. Plus, it makes for a great view from the kitchen window.

If you love peeping houses at night (I do!), be sure to check out more nighttime scenes from these talented bloggers:

Chris Loves Julia
Yellow Brick Home
The Makerista
The Faux Martha
Making It Lovely
Brittany Makes
A NIGHT IN LOGO 2

*This post sponsored in part by Rejuvenation. Much thanks to Julia and Kim for organizing!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

kid-friendly home 1

During our stay in Toronto, I kept noticing colorful baskets in various sizes and shapes all over the house. A large basket in the living room held books. A smaller version in the playroom held a toy Viewfinder along with a pile of reels. A tall, slender basket in the master bathroom held magazines. Several baskets in the laundry room held sewing supplies. By the end of the week, I was so smitten with the baskets that I messaged the homeowner about them. She said they were bolga baskets from Ghana. An online search quickly revealed a whole new world of baskets to me. Bolga baskets are on pinterest, etsy, ebay… you name it! Where have I been?

Bolga Baskets

They’re pretty and practical, and you know I’m all over that woven texture. Of course, I had to have one. (Or two.) After some slightly obsessive internet stalking, I discovered affordable options from this online retailer. They offer free shipping on all U.S. orders and are members of the Fair Trade Federation.

bolga basket mudroom

We now have bolga baskets hanging out in our mudroom…

bolga basket living room

…and living room. They’re perfect for corralling shoes, toys, reading material, craft supplies, produce, cats and, oh I don’t know, maybe your 23 Olympic gold medals. They arrive flattened to keep shipping costs down but are easily reshaped with water. I wetted, reshaped and dried mine in the bathtub. Bam! Baskets!

bolga basket kitty

I wasn’t kidding about the cat part.

Did you already know about the bolga basket thing? If so, sorry to bore you, but I was too excited not share! #basketnerd

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

mama chair 2

For years I’ve been thinking it would be great to have extra seating near the fireplace. We spend the majority of our winters huddled around the fire trying to stay warm. The poufs I tossed down several years ago are super kid-friendly and worked well when our kids were a little younger. They were essentially glorified bean bags. However, as you can imagine, they were quite low and not really suitable for adults. An epic chair hunt commenced.

For a while, finding a chair wasn’t a huge priority. The poufs were fine, and we were trying to wrap up the main bathroom anyhow. But it didn’t stop me from looking. I knew I wanted something low and squatty to keep sight lines unobstructed from all angles. (Something like a tall wingback would have cut off the space.) I also wanted something unique which meant I was willing to wait for the right chair to come along.

I browsed thrift stores, craigslist, ebay, etsy and several other online sites for over a year before I found THE ONE on ebay. It was listed as a “Danish chair with walnut armrests and neckrest in Kurt Østervig style” – although I don’t think it’s a legit Østervig. While the frame was in great condition, the upholstery left a lot to be desired. It was upholstered in a satinish, tone on tone floral fabric (most likely not the original upholstery) and it was badly stained. (See the before here.) The scale and lines were perfect though, and I knew a good upholstery job would make a world of difference. I immediately nabbed it for $150.

Then it sat in the garage for another year while I saved up the money to have it reupholstered. I wasn’t even going to try DIYing my way around those walnut armrests and neckrest. When it came time to select an upholstery fabric, I considered a nubby polyester in mustard or gold (similar to this), but ultimately decided I’m too fickle when it comes to textiles to commit to it. I wanted a true neutral that would stand the test of time. With a saddle leather sofa and an oversize gray chair already in the room, I kept it simple and chose ivory.

But.

BUT!

It had to be 100% family-friendly. I worked with a local upholsterer who suggested a fabric line pre-treated with Nano-Tex. You can learn more about Nano-Tex here, but it basically renders fabrics stain- and spill-proof…permanently. Sign me up!

mama chair 5

I brought a bunch of samples home and tried them out in the space. In the end, I went with dublin oyster (pre-treated with Nano-Tex) from Luxury Fabrics. It’s a chenille that feels like velvet, looks like linen and wears like microfiber. Upholstery trifecta! Then I had to wait ANOTHER SIX MONTHS before I could pick it up from the upholsterer.

(For locals, I use Springboro Upholstery. The guy does excellent work, but he isn’t exactly cheap – this cost ~$525 for the fabric + labor – and lead times can be crazy. He’s busy for a reason though. I also used him for the tulip chair cushions in the dining room. They’re a leather lookalike and have held up tremendously well.)

It was totally worth the wait! When I picked it up from the upholsterer he said, “It’s definitely the most unique piece I’ve ever worked on. Very 60s.” Bingo.

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I love it. It’s even better than I had envisioned. It’s low-slung and kinda sexy and looks amazing from every angle which is great since it’s visible from the living room, dining room and kitchen. To me, it looks like the chair form of those preppy equestrian blazers with leather elbow patches. I would totally wear this chair.

The day I brought it home, Cheetah was curled up in it within five minutes, and that very same evening Mabrey wiped spaghetti sauce on it. The spaghetti sauce literally came up with one swipe of a wet cloth. If we were to have a fourth baby (we’re not), I would name it Nano-Tex.

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mama chair 8

I placed the front feet on the shag rug and angled the chair in toward the coffee table. I stuck felt pads (from the junk drawer) on the back feet to protect the wood floor. Eventually, I’ll probably upgrade to these, but the “free” felt ones are fine for the time being. I really like how the chair closes off the seating area. Before, the space always felt a little lopsided with most of the furniture sitting off to one side. It feels more balanced and intimate now.

Obviously, I couldn’t leave the chair floating by itself looking all lonesome.

Obviously.

It needed a side table and a reading light to keep me it company. Since the chair was a splurge, the table and light had to be budget-friendly, but, again, I wanted them to be unique. I wanted a petite, round table to allow traffic to flow freely and mesh with the low arms and scale of the chair. It took me a while, but I found the perfect reclaimed teak table from Overstock of all places. (Shopping Overstock is a lot like shopping secondhand stores, except the inventory is new. You have to sort through a bunch of junk to find the good stuff.) I scored it for $111 with a 12% coupon. The natural wood and organic curves give it a bohemian vibe. The open spaces keep it from feeling too heavy.

mama chair 3

The lamp is vintage from ebay. It set me back $25 and was originally a weird mauve-brown color (seen here). I taped off the wood accent, light socket and cord and gave it a few coats of flat black, heat-resistant spray paint which we already had on hand. I love how the black paint sets off the shape.

mama chair 4

I wrapped the upper third of the fugly cord in leather lace from JoAnn’s ($4 with a coupon) using the same method I used on the kitchen desk lamp. Then like the sly cord hater I am, I snaked the cord through the table. One more reason to love that lil’ table!

mama chair 1

The kuba cloth pillow and indigo mudcloth throw are from here and here, respectively. I stole the pouf from the gray chair and now no one wants to sit there because it’s impossible to lounge with your feet on the floor. Which begs the question, “Are two poufs in one room too many?” The little blue and white pot on the mantel is the peruvian planter from West Elm. The snake plant hides the gas shutoff for the fireplace. I still haven’t figured out a way to disguise the dreaded boob speakers :/

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mama chair 9

I’ve been jokingly referring to the new chair as my mama chair, yet every time I go to sit in it someone has already beat me to it. It’s the new favorite seat in our house. Burning fire or not, it’s a great little reading and/or wining spot regardless.

But seriously, kids and cat, BACK OFF IT’S MINE. If you’re good, maybe I’ll leave it to you in my will.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking