...because home doesn't happen overnight.

tn house

This past weekend Steve and I met up with some friends from college at their home in Nashville. John and Sara happen to have the same disease that plagues Steve and me. It’s called “We Love Old Houses and Want to Save Them All.” Ever heard of it? Symptoms include weight loss (because who has time to eat when there are cabinets to hang, walls to paint and tile to install?), insomnia, shortness of breath, muscle pain and general fatigue. There is no known cure. Haha.

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Anyway, John and Sara bought a lovely 100-year-old home last year and have been working non-stop to update it, doing a lot of the work themselves. (Sara points out that she is very good at holding stuff and telling John how bad his ideas are.) The first major project was a complete kitchen overhaul. The couple’s goal was to optimize the kitchen’s function while merging their modern masculine aesthetic with the home’s age and good bones. As with any renovation of an older home, obstacles were plentiful and included wavy walls, sagging ceilings, uneven floors, ancient electrical wiring and even a case of pneumonia. (That was John. He ran himself ragged working his full-time job and then working on the kitchen until the wee hours of the morning for months.)

But nearly a year later, the couple is enjoying the fruits of their labor. And, fortunately, they were kind enough to let me snap away so I can share their amazing kitchen with you. We spent much of our time catching up and eating our way around the town but I had a few minutes of downtime one evening to set up my tripod. The sun was setting quickly so I apologize for the lack of natural light. Enjoy!

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The kitchen sits at the back of the house where the original kitchen once lived. An original door leads to a backyard patio. A wall separating the kitchen from the living room was removed during renovation to open up the space. The original butler’s pantry was closed off from the kitchen. During demolition, John discovered a doorway and transom (seen on the right above) that had once joined the kitchen and butler’s pantry. The couple restored it and plan to set the butler’s pantry up as a bar / coat room.

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Looking in from the adjacent living room, the left side of the kitchen houses the stove and refrigerator. The thick baseboard is original but I love how John updated it with a stripe of gray paint. It’s little details like this that had my eye traveling all around the room.

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The stove is Kitchen Aid and features a built-in griddle. I had to wipe the drool from Steve’s chin.

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The backsplash is composed of white subway tile with contrasting grout.

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Between the stove and refrigerator is a tall window that extends down to the countertop. I am so envious of this window! The perimeter countertops are quartz. John wanted the look of marble. Sara wanted something low maintenance. It was a no-brainer.

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Built-in cabinetry surrounds the refrigerator. The gray cabinets are from Anderson, a local business that specializes in custom cabinetry. Satin nickel hardware complements the stainless steel appliances.

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The other half of the kitchen houses more cabinetry for storage, including a large pantry. A magnetic side panel painted in chalkboard paint is a fun touch and a great spot for writing down grocery needs or just doodling. (John and Sara’s two-year-old daughter, Avery, is obsessed with Buzz Lightyear.)

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This corner of the kitchen functions as a coffee station. The couple doesn’t rely on a microwave most days so a small one sits discreetly on the counter next to the pantry. Glass-fronted upper cabinets hold dishes and glasses. The “eat” and “beer” signs were bought at a local flea market. (And they pretty much sum up what the weekend was all about.)

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Avery likes to hide in the pantry. It’s that big!

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A large island in the center of the kitchen is the hub of the house. It’s topped in walnut butcher block and seats six comfortably. (Four farmhouse stools with backs line one side of the island and two backless stools slip under the overhang at each end.)

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The island houses a wide, deep undermount sink. The style of the sink is unique and was new to me. It has two basins which are separated by a divider only a few inches tall. It’s conducive to washing large pots but still allows for that separation that many homeowners prefer. I’ve always been a single basin sink lover myself but this sink’s creative design might convert me.

The walnut is unfinished. John oils it regularly but admitted it was due for another oil.

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The dishwasher is next to the sink, housed within the island as well. I really liked this setup – with the sink and dishwasher in the island. The person washing dishes can interact with those at the island or in the living room instead of turning their back to them.

Marble hexagon tile covers the floor. The oversized scale of the hex is spot on for a room with 12′ ceilings. And speaking of soaring ceilings…

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The coffered ceiling was the icing on the cake for me. It gave the entire room a feeling of grandiosity that suited the historic home. The DIY ceiling is decked out in alternating bead board and decorative tin tiles – all painted white. Steve and John installed the last of the ceiling corbels and bonded over caulk during our visit.

Throughout our stay, John had music streaming in through surround sound speakers in the ceiling. It is Music City after all.

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The pendants, sink and many other fixtures are from Ferguson’s, a local bath, kitchen and lighting gallery.

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Even though the kitchen is in all regards “new”, it doesn’t feel contemporary. The color scheme, fixtures and finishes are all classic in style, making the kitchen a perfect fit for this old home. I’m so happy John and Sara found this home and are invested in updating it while respecting the things that make it special.

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With the kitchen reno finished, the couple is slowly plugging away at other projects as time and money allow. They affectionately refer to the home as their “ten year plan.” Their home has amazing bones and potential but they want to be considerate and patient when it comes to renovating. I can’t wait to visit them again and check out their progress.

Thanks to John and Sara for allowing me to share their kitchen. Because it’s just too good not to!

P.S. – Check back later to see the home’s newly constructed mother-in-law suite! Steve and I stayed there during our visit and basically didn’t want to leave.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking, published with the consent of our friends John & Sara

11.11.13 / The Door is Gray!

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WOW, you guys! I am so appreciative of all the feedback we got on painting the front door. HH and I read every. single. comment. and were blown away by the range of suggestions. In a good way. Here we were thinking that choosing a color for the *finally functioning* front door was a completely objective decision when, lo and behold, I think it’s much more subjective. What makes one person smile might make another cringe. Thank goodness we are free to paint our doors whatever color makes us happy, right?

At any rate, I could NOT make a decision. I left it up to HH and the kids. It was unanimous. They had no problem quickly choosing the inky gray. {Mabrey said “moon” and I took that to mean gray since gold is closer to the color of the sun. Obviously.}

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So gray it is and we are all smitten with it. It’s a deep gray with a hint of navy – Behr evening hush. It feels cohesive {the french doors at the back of the house are painted the same color}, modern and masculine. Depending on the light, the trio of windows contrasts as black or a reflective gloss. I think we’ll live with them as is for a nice long while and if we feel they are getting lost, then I might try some window film.

Some of you asked if painting the red brick was an option. Sadly, it’s not an option for us. Due to how our house is constructed and the climate here, paint would likely result in mold or mildew. Staining or liming the brick are options. {This transformation is especially convincing!} In fact, lime washing / lime painting the brick has been on the table since day one of this renovation. But it’s a huge project that we’re happily placing on the back burner while we tackle more pressing ones. While we don’t love the red brick, we don’t completely hate it either.

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The gray door picks up on the newly slatted window planter and looks handsome with the satin nickel hardware. Normally, when I paint doors I use a small angle brush to cut in and then switch to a foam roller for the larger sections. The end result is void of brush marks. This time, I was without my trusty foam roller. Long story short, I was stranded at home with no working vehicle {#lovehousesloathecars} and decided it was time to paint the door. After trimming in, I realized we were out of foam rollers but I was already in the “painting zone” and didn’t want to wait. I ended up brushing the entire door and it shows. It isn’t horrible but there are noticeable brush marks that I plan to roll over with a foam roller as soon as I get back to the hardware store. What’s that saying? Done is better than perfect? I’m down with that.

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We’re currently on the hunt for modern house numbers. If you look closely, you can see where the previous house numbers were mounted on a teeny plaque just to the left of the door at the same height as the top square window. They were basically useless unless you tote around binoculars in your glovebox in which case, rock those binoculars. We’re looking for larger numbers but not too large. I think they could take on a “commercial” look if we aren’t careful. Also, we want a simple modern font. It’s barely noticeable above but there is a recessed can light in the eave above this stretch of brick that will illuminate the house numbers at night.

The hard part here is determining how exactly to share an after picture of the house numbers. You know, for safety and privacy reasons. Do we show our actual house number? We have a security system and I’m pretty sure that if someone really wanted to, they could find our house – house numbers on the blog or not. I’m always thankful and inspired when other people share images of their curb appeal online so I’d like to share ours, too.

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I’m itching to add a planter under the not-there-yet house numbers. Something to add color and texture. But that will have to wait as the weatherman is calling for snow this week. I like winter and all but why does it have to last so long?

Bonus: spot the crazy kid making faces in the window.

P.S. – 10 DIY holiday wreath ideas!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

11.05.13 / The Final Two

What day is it? I’m in over my head this week with other blog-related and nonblog-related obligations but I am determined to finish the front door.

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I knocked out the interior side of the door today. {It’s Benjamin Moore white dove mixed in Clark + Kensington primer + paint, semigloss…the same as these doors.} It was pure chaos and it took me all day to apply three coats of primer + paint. Remind me never to paint with kids in the house again.

First, our power went out and I had a hard time seeing what I was doing. Then the neighbor’s cat mistook the open front door as a welcome sign to come in and rub up on the wet {!} paint. He’s such a nice kitty. He was so confused. My tone of voice didn’t match my words at all. “Go on, kitty. No, kitty.” But I was using my nice “Here, kitty kitty…” voice. I couldn’t be mad at him. After all, I’m pretty sure he was the sole reason we didn’t have mice squeeze in through the gap at the bottom of the door last winter. The three coats went on very slowly. I decided I’m over painting doors. When I was finished and washing out my brush, Mabrey grabbed my wet roller and tried her hand at painting the entry rug in 0.2 seconds flat. While I was trying to rinse the paint off the rug, Mabrey stuck her hand in the wet paint on the drying door. Ugh, babygirl keeps me on my toes and makes my head spin!

So the interior side of the door is done. I’m halfway there.

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I posted that picture on instagram this past weekend. I was trying out a paint sample for the door. The minute I saw it I knew it wasn’t the one. The majority of IG commenters agreed. It was too bright, too primary yellow. It was not the mustard I had in mind. So back to the paint store I went. I was looking for something with a bit more green and gold in it – a color that on its own might be considered “ugly.” I found it by way of Sherwin-Williams alchemy.

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It’s a muddy gold that looks right at home with our midcentury ranch. I had my spicy mustard but was curious about a moodier blue-gray. I decided to paint the other side of my foam board in Behr’s evening hush, the same color I used on the french doors at the back of the house.

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The darker hue is a nice contrast against the red brick and ties into the metal roof even though it isn’t an exact match. It also picks up on the composite slats we added to the planter from this post. My only hesitation is that the trio of square windows might get lost in the dark color from a distance. The windows read black and we plan on painting the narrow trim around them the same color as the rest of the door. {White trim around windows on painted exterior doors looks very “builder” to me.} Maybe peel-and-stick frosted window film would help accentuate the windows?

At any rate, HH and I are torn between the two colors. We love them each for different reasons.

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The gold feels welcoming and highlights the door and its design. It’s also a nod to some of the bright green-yellow shrubs and yellow roses in the landscaping. The gray feels like a safe, cohesive choice and probably represents our style better. It definitely gives the house a more masculine look from the road.

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As is, the exterior of our house is very linear and one-dimensional. The gold breaks it up and wakes up the entrance. The gray is a bit more sophisticated, somber even.

I like when the color of a front door is a clue as to what is happening design-wise on the other side. Both colors hint at what we have going on indoors. There are traces of mustard and gold in our living room, dining room and bedroom. Dark moody walls make an appearance in the mudroom and nursery and I will always be a lover of high contrast.

Ah! I can’t decide. Which color would you pick and why? FYI – Painting the brick is not an option. Our inspector advised against it due to the construction and climate. The paint wouldn’t allow the brick to breathe and we would be at risk of developing mold and mildew. No, thank you, but I still love me some painted brick.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

My boys are back in school as of this week. Layne is in third grade and Everett goes to half-day kindergarten in the afternoon. When Mabrey takes her nap after lunch, I have two whole hours TO MYSELF. It is heavenly. I savor every minute but I always have something to do. Today, I took pictures of the boys’ room and I want to share them with you. Their room is really coming along! Just a few little things left to do but I’ll probably drag them out because as soon as I call a room “done”, I start thinking about changing it. It’s a disease.

So, the boys’ room…

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It’s a difficult room to photograph because of the room’s orientation, the furniture layout and the bright southern sunlight but let’s take a tour around, shall we? The bedroom is roughly 11′x14′. Not teeny tiny but not huge. My older kids {boys, ages 8 & 5} share this room. The room doubles as a playroom for all three of our kids. Above is the view from the hallway looking straight into the room. The bookcases are “styled” now – as much as you can style bookcases in a children’s room. To the right, is the closet. During renovation, we removed all the bedroom closet doors and opted for fabric panels in their place. They are less cumbersome, quieter and safer for the kids {no smashed or pinched fingers}. I have a few things to add to the closet wall and I’ll share those in another post soon!

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This is another view from the hallway looking towards the far corner of the room. There is a second bookcase and a play table + chairs sits in between the bookcases, under the window. This is where you heard Mabrey playing blocks in the sensor switch video. I bought the table primarily for the boys’ use but Mabrey LOVES sitting at the table to stack blocks.

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Walking into the room and turning to the left, you get a nice view of the striped accent wall. It’s actually peel-and-stick wallpaper! Everyone who visits our house comments on the wall and then proceeds to smooth it over with their hands. The wallpaper has more depth than painted stripes and it draws people in. I like that it makes the rectangular room feel wider. Typically, I don’t shove all furniture up against the walls in a room but, in this case, it’s kinda necessary to leave as much floor space open for play.

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I let the boys pick out their bunk bed. It isn’t what I would have chosen myself but it was inexpensive and it gets the job done. The kids love it. I do like that it has a detached trundle for sleepovers and overnight guests. We’ve used it a ton already! And that’s another reason why the middle of this room is open – to pull out the trundle without having to move anything out of the way. I added floor-to-ceiling curtains to make the beds feel like a hideout per the boys’ request. Each boy has their own reading light and book ledge. We recently added a small clip-on fan to the top bunk’s book ledge. It can get pretty hot up there on warm nights.

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This is the view from the play table looking over to the beds, dresser and door. If you look closely, you’ll see that the bunk sits in a little bump out ~8″ deep. Placing the largest piece of furniture here helps keep it from crowding precious floor space.

That’s it! The boys’ room in a nutshell. With the kids back in school, I want to put together a room-by-room tour of this house. Right now, the only tour under the “see my house” tab is of our previous house. For those of you who want a video tour, it’ll come but I really want to finish up a few larger projects before I share that. I hope you will stick around to see it.

For more details on the styling of the boys’ bookcases and pictures of a certain babygirl playing in the room, you can read this post I wrote for Wayfair.

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Bookcase sources: Warner bookshelf // work lamp spray painted with Rust-Oleum’s metallic gold // rattan baskets // colored slabs geometric art No.1 //colored slabs geometric art No.2 // step stool painted in Behr citrus zest, semi-gloss // sweater weather carpet tiles // Valspar dry riverbed on the walls

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking