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

mabrey watercolor

It’s only Monday and this week is already feeling a bit “off.” Steve is out of town for work and our schedule is all over the place. We woke up to snow (nothing close to blizzard proportions) and Mabrey and I spent the better half of the morning clearing the front walk and driveway. We managed to squeeze in some creative time. Mabrey is really into watercolors at the moment. (They’re 90% water, 10% color. Hehe.) I am crazy grateful for these little people who remind me daily that life offline is so important. It makes me a better everything.

So I’m writing this post after having put the kids to bed. I’m in my pajamas. Cheetah is curled up at my side. I’m half-listening to her nose whistle and half-watching the Australia Open, trying to stay warm. It feels like home.

A few home-related links in case you’re cooped up trying to stay warm too…

*A “365 day a year” home.

*A thoroughly satisfying junk drawer before & after.

*A writer’s cozy retreat.

*How to paint stripes on a concrete floor.

ikea kitchen raw

*The successful juxtaposition of sleek Ikea cabinets against raw materials.

*A unique garage conversion.

*Things empty nesters want parents of little ones to know.

To my friends down under, happy Australia Day! To my friends in the northeast, be safe.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Dustin Aksland

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.*

Congrats to Amanda who would play JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound along with some Wilco. So good!

aether cone 1

You know how much I loathe the appearance of TVs, surround sound speakers and subwoofers, right? You also know how much my husband enjoys these audio / visual components. We make it work by compromising. Steve gets his cinema toys but we try to disguise them somewhat so they aren’t the eyesores I think they are. The TV is recessed above the fireplace. Media components are stored out of sight in a modest cabinet. Shelves camouflage wall speakers. A plywood box covers the subwoofer. (I’m still giving the boob speakers the side eye.)

aether cone 2

Well, FINALLY, there is one media component that we both approve of as-is. It’s going to save a lot of marriages ;) Introducing Aether Cone! Have you heard of it? It’s a well-designed, thinking music player. The simple yet striking appearance reminds me of a phonograph, but the portability and learning capabilities bring it into the 21st century. The more you use Cone, the better it gets at selecting songs you love.

aether cone 6

Cone features voice command. You simply touch the button in the center of the player and ask out loud for a radio station, artist or song. It’s so easy my kids were placing requests on their own within a few minutes of setting up the player (which was surprisingly easy as well). Curses! I’m so sick of The Gummy Bear Song. And in case you were wondering, yes, the songs “I Like Potato Chips” and “I Love Pizza” do exist. Unfortunately.

aether cone 7

To jump to a similar song, turn the dial a little. To play something completely different (no more Gummy Bear!), turn the dial a lot. There isn’t a single screen to read. Pretty cool, huh?

rdio vs rdio unlimitedCone gives you free access to over 30 million songs via Rdio. For additional features, you can sign up for a $10 monthly subscription to Rdio Unlimited. They offer a free 30-day trial period if you’re interested, too.

aether cone 4

aether cone 5

There’s roughly a 30-minute window between the time Mabrey goes down for her afternoon nap and the time Everett gets off the school bus. That’s when I get Cone all to myself. I listen to The Avett Brothers, Nickel Creek or really bad good 80s and 90s music. Sometimes, I let Cone do the choosing for me.

We’ve used Cone as background music for dinner, the deejay for family dance parties and the radio for morning NPR listening. You can even listen to podcasts. It’s so versatile. I can’t wait to take it outside on the deck next summer. Come on summer! Until then, Cone is helping us survive cabin fever.

aether cone 3

Does Cone sound like something you and your family would enjoy? Aether is offering up one Cone to one lucky House*Tweaking reader! See entry details below.

PRIZE: one black & copper Aether Cone ($399 retail value)

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address (no P.O. boxes please) within the U.S. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Follow Aether on instagram here. Then leave a comment on this post proclaiming “CONE ME!”

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Monday, January 19th. One random winner will be chosen and announced Tuesday, January 20th.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: Share which favorite song, album or artist you would request Cone to play.

Good luck!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

I keep a running list of my favorite house tours. I refer to them for inspiration or when I just need a good eye candy-induced pick-me-up. I thought you might enjoy seeing the online tours from the past year or so that made my it list. Here are 10 in no particular order.

laurel canyon cottage

1. Laurel Canyon Cottage – I absolutely love how an array of vintage items (textiles, furniture, accessories, art, etc.) gives this cottage a collected and cozy feel, yet careful editing keeps the space from feeling cluttered. I think I need some mudcloth in my life!

midcentury family oasis

2. Midcentury Oasis – I’ve touted Commune before. One of the firm’s designers is the homeowner of this amazing abode. More than the decor (which is fabulous), I adore the backstory of the home. I’m a sucker for underdogs. I want to save them all! I’m also inspired by the use of built-ins in this midcentury gem.

alyson fox new build

3. Austin New Build – Ironically, I am equally inspired by this home which was built new from the ground up. I’m drawn to the open layout, warm wood tones, dark kitchen cabinetry and the abundance of natural light. My dream house has tons of natural light and comes with a lifetime window cleaning service ;) This home was actually featured twice last year. See more of it here.

amber interiors

4. Eclectic California Home – Amber Lewis knocked it out of the ballpark with this remodel. I could move right in and wouldn’t change a thing. I’m always amazed at how effortlessly Amber mixes patterns. She makes it look so easy! And the master bathroom design is stellar.

house of schoolhouse

5. The House of Schoolhouse – The owner of Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. calls this place home. If you look closely, you will notice many Schoolhouse products on display but this isn’t a showhouse. It isn’t too precious. It was designed for a family of five with durability in mind. I’m taking note of the planked walls & ceilings and all the family-friendly nooks like the built-in desk area and mudroom.

casual modern loft

6. Casual Modern Loft – This small space feels homey thanks to lots of layering. I love all the natural touches & textures and how the owner worked with the builder grade cabinetry in the kitchen and bathroom. It’s a good reminder that not all kitchens and walls have to be white and / or custom to be great.

global family home

7. Global-Inspired Hideaway – Technically, this tour is from the tail end of 2013 but who’s keeping track? Again, lots of different textures and materials (sheepskins, Moroccan rugs, nubby linen, woven wall hangings, painted & unpainted brick, copper, concrete, wood, leather, etc.) work together to lend a cozy vibe. I also like how there isn’t a rigid color scheme and nothing “matches” yet everything goes together. This home was previously featured on Apartment Therapy before its Domino debut. See it here.

little cabin in the city

8. Little Cabin in the City – This 800 sq. ft. rental was originally featured in 2011 but it resurfaced this year and I’m glad it did so I could add it to my list. I have a soft spot for small spaces and this one does not disappoint. Every square inch is utilized. It has an imperfectly perfect, lived-in vibe that feels just right. Proof that bigger isn’t always better.

comfortable and stylish

9. Comfortable and Stylish Family Home – This original Streng has Steve and me itching to find a midcentury gem with good bones. (FYI – Steve said this is his favorite online house tour to date.) I’m so happy the homeowners kept the original kitchen and cork floors while bringing in modern pieces and finds from their travels. Even without a bunch of kid paraphernalia lying around, you can tell it’s well suited for a young family. I love that it isn’t overly designed. The outdoor space is pretty amazing, too. See before-and-afters here.

organic modern sweet spot

10. Organic Modern Sweet Spot – What do you get when you mix an architect’s attention to detail with a floral designer’s natural touch? You get one pretty amazing house, that’s what. From the interior courtyard to the tidy built-ins to the material choices (love the repetition of the gray tile), this home is exemplary of good design that will stand the test of time. It’s unique and trend-free with a focus on quality. If I had to choose one favorite tour from the past year, this would be it. There’s nothing else like it.

Do you keep a list of inspiring home tours? What are some of your favorites? I’d love for you to share links in the comments section!

images: 1) Tessa Neustadt 2) Douglas Friedman 3) Michael A. Muller 4) Tessa Neustadt 5) Jeremy Bittermann 6) Kim Lucian 7) Brittany Ambridge 8) Marcia Prentice 9) Ashley Bruhn 10) Kim Lucian