...because home doesn't happen overnight.
02.16.14 / My Home Workspace

Welcome to my workspace!

workspace 1

I don’t have a separate room designated as an office. Instead, I carved out a home office in a corner of my kitchen. This is where bills are paid, mail is sorted, the kids’ school communication lands, grocery lists are written, design work is completed, blog content is created, and – let’s be honest – falling down the virtual rabbit hole happens. It’s a small space with many functions and, up until a few weeks ago, it wasn’t living up to its full potential. I was finally able to give it some much needed attention and turned it into an organized and inspiring place to werrrrk.

First, let’s take a look at the evolution of this lil’ corner.


During renovation, we removed walls to open up the kitchen to the living room. This space was originally a teeny dining room off the kitchen. We relocated the dining room to the mudroom (sounds strange, works beautifully for us) to make better use of the space. We vaulted the ceiling, added skylights and replaced the original dining room window with french doors.

We installed Ikea cabinetry, including a 9′ island. For the office portion of the kitchen, we created a built-in desk with plenty of closed storage. The base cabinets house the printer, paper, kids’ art supplies, gift wrap and even a charging station for battery-powered tools. The glass front cabinets hold glassware, decorative accessories, my camera bag and plenty of baskets and bins which corral everything from vitamins to paint decks to the kids’ flash cards.

We added a tongue and groove backsplash (it matches our TV wall) to the desk area and painted it white. The backsplash links the upper cabinets to the base cabinets. Before, the upper cabinets “floated” on the wall and felt disconnected from the lower desk area.

Recently, I organized the contents of the glass front cabinets and moved the shelves in line with the grids on the doors for a more unified look. I added accessories to make the workspace more appealing from both practical and visual standpoints.

before_after_workspace 2

The photo on the left was taken the day we closed on the house. It’s a view of the original dining area from the front door. The image on the right is the view from the front door now. It’s safe to say I don’t miss the orange shag carpet or 8′ ceiling one iota.

workspace 5

Let’s take a closer look.

workspace cabinet

For the upper cabinet contents I stuck to mostly glass, white, wood and silver for an organic feel. I threw in a pair of textured gray letter boxes to tie in to my desk stool and other gray elements in the adjacent living room.

(My fiddle leaf fig is still alive! I just wanted to point that out. I think he likes it here.)

workspace cubby

The glass front cabinets work great for me. They force organization and discourage clutter while providing a display area protected from dust. The right side of my desk has always been a natural dumping zone so I brought in a wood cubby with hidden storage to give inevitable clutter a sightly place to chill. A decorative tray on top holds fresh flowers and my glasses.

There are two items in my office that always spark compliments from visitors: the wood cubby and the fiddle leaf fig. I guess you could say they are the popular kids.

workspace file

At the opposite end of the desk, I brought in a letter tray to address my family’s never-ending paper trail. Each family member has their own (labeled!) pull-out tray. I temporarily store current catalogs and glossies in the magazine files until I get a chance to read them. #printlimbo For fun, I personalized the metal files with photo magnets.

workspace 6

A desktop organizer holds smaller items like pens, pencils, planners, a tape dispenser, scissors, a tape measure and my phone. I splurged on a fire engine red stapler after a decade of living with a mini stapler that constantly jammed. And, yes, it reminds me of Office Space which makes me laugh out loud.

“…but then they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler but I kept my Swingline stapler because it doesn’t bind up as much and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it’s not okay because if they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire.” – Milton Waddams

workspace 4

I’ve long admired loosely arranged inspiration boards. It makes for a casual display that can be easily changed when boredom strikes. I decided to try one myself. I used washi tape and double-sided tape to tack business cards and inspirational images to the backsplash. I hung a framed print with 3M adhesive strips. I tapped a finish nail only partially into the tongue and groove and hung a few rolls of washi tape and a leather bracelet. I shopped my house for the items displayed on my inspiration board so this project was free yet completely fulfilling. It’s so nice to work surrounded by items and images that inspire me in some way.

workspace chair

I spent months searching for a comfortable stool that would go along with the modern organic vibe I had envisioned for my workspace. When I stumbled upon this clean-lined upholstered counter stool, I knew it was the one.

workspace 2

The cushy seat, supportive back and appropriately placed footrest are conducive to long blogging sessions. The simple silhouette and rich wood base are in line with the aesthetic of our open kitchen-living space. I’ve been using the stool for a few months now and it looks and feels just as good as the day it arrived. I am much more productive when my legs aren’t falling asleep.

workspace afar

I always appreciate a pulled back shot to help me visualize how a niche, nook or corner fits into the bigger picture. I thought you might, too. Our kitchen is on the left; our living room is on the right. Can you see how the DIY shelves balance out the desk area on this wall?

I need more Buddha heads. Obviously. Also, I think I may be the only person I know with a high chair in their office. It’s for my assistant.

workspace 7

And that’s my home workspace in a nutshell – almost literally. It’s modest in size yet totally functional and so me. I love working here! I want to work here. Ever since I made organization and inspiration priorities in this lil’ space, I have been waaaaayyyy more productive.

After working for over a decade in a career field that sucked all inspiration out of me, I feel EXTREMELY lucky and am so grateful to be able to do the work I do now and to do it here. I have you guys to thank for that. Thank you! From the bottom of my stripe-lovin’ heart.


wall color – Benjamin Moore tapestry beige
backsplash color – Benjamin Moore white dove
cabinets – Ikea
letter boxes – Ikea
framed wall art – Clare Elsaesser
high chair – Ikea
wood cubby – Wayfair*
letter tray – Ikea
magazine files – Ikea
desk organizer – Ikea
photo magnets – StickyGram
counter stool – Wayfair*
photography prints – Walter Helena
blue & white desktop planter – JoAnn’s
black & white floor planter – vintage
rug – vintage

*This post was sponsored in part by Wayfair. Items marked with an asterisk were chosen by me and donated by Wayfair. All opinions and images are my own. Hop on over to Wayfair to see my top five tips for creating a functional and stylish workspace.

Happy start to the work week, my friends!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

01.14.14 / Workspace Progress

Progress on my workspace is coming along. (You can see the plans here.) I hit up IKEA this past weekend to pick up the KVISSLE items and all of a sudden I know where crap is. It’s life-changing! Thanks to the new organization, I’m two for two having Everett appropriately dressed for Spirit Week. Monday, school colors. Check. Tuesday, hat day. Check. Mom of the Year 2014?

married to the sea 2

The frame for my Married to the Sea print arrived last week and I finally took advantage of Mabrey’s naptime to assemble and hang it. It’s lovely. If you’re counting, that brings the total number of Clare Elsaesser prints in our house to three.

married to the sea 3

It was my first time using a legit gallery frame as opposed to the ones I normally use from IKEA or Target. Not that there is anything wrong with the frames from IKEA or Target. They’re actually great and I have them all over my house. But this gallery frame is museum quality. It’s that good. The razor thin metal face gives it such a sharp look.

married to the sea 4*

It has me thinking I should use several of these frames to create a big floor-to-ceiling gallery in the nearby hallway. Snowball effect. Don’t you love it?!

married to the sea 1

My home “office” is the only one I know of that houses a highchair. But it’s temporary. Soon enough Mabrey will be sitting on a stool / chair at the island / table with us. (She already insists on eating her snacks at the island like her brothers.) I could see a step stool or plant stand living there in the future. I have a hard time reaching the top shelves in the upper cabinets so a step stool would come in handy.

Now that I have my desk countertop under control, I’m thinking I should go ahead and address the contents of the glass-fronted cabinets. They aren’t awful but they could definitely use some editing and maybe some attractive storage boxes. I spotted these when I was at IKEA a few days ago. Sorta wish a few had made it home with me.

What about you? Has tackling one project only led to another? What are you organizing these days?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

messy desk 1

This is how the kitchen desk looks right now. I didn’t even bother to close the upper cabinet door before I snapped this pic. I’m really happy with the tongue and groove backsplash so it’s time to turn my attention to other aspects. Namely, organization and function.

Not only do I conduct most of my blog work here but this is also where bills are paid, where the kids’ school communication lands and where outgoing mail is processed. As is, there’s no rhyme or reason to the paper trail. I’ve been tossing receipts, school papers, catalogs to be browsed, forms to be completed / filed, invitations and other random stuff into the woven basket but I never meant for it to be a permanent solution. The box on the left is a damaged item waiting to be returned. I picked up the black and white tray in hopes of corralling my planner and numerous notebooks but it isn’t ideal. The contents are spilling over onto the countertop. I’m so ready to whip this space into shape!

messy desk 2

My stopgap stool is gone and I’m borrowing a stool from the island for now. Since I only had $16 invested in the craigslist stool, I donated it. It served the purpose for a year and a half. I actually adored the stool but I’m spending more and more time at the desk and it wasn’t exactly the most comfortable place to sit. Frequently, my legs would fall asleep. I’d like to incorporate a comfy, upholstered stool that’s a little more forgiving to my back, bum and legs. I tried out a stool from JCPenney that you may have seen here but in person it was cheap – the upholstery and the construction. I returned it. I’d rather upgrade to a higher quality stool that will last me a good long while.

After the desk is in working order, it’d be nice if it felt inspiring, too. I just need a few motivational quotes or inspirational images that can be easily displayed and taken down since I like to switch things up often. And even though this space is essentially a home office, it is open to our main living area so I’d like to incorporate items that give it a cozy vibe.

Here are the plans for my workspace…

home workspace


1 – KVISSLE letter tray Paper mess no more! With four pull-out trays, I should finally be able to get a handle on my family’s paper trail. The lips of the trays would be easy to label so I can file / find papers quickly.

2 – KVISSLE desk organizer My pens and phone are easily lost in the paper shuffle. I like the idea of having a designated spot just for them.

3 – Kalon Studios storage unit This furniture-like unit can be used horizontally or vertically, freestanding or wall-mounted. I think it would be the perfect solution to my overflowing planner / notebook pile.

4 – Linen lamp We have under- and over-cabinet lighting installed in the desk area so this petite lamp isn’t totally necessary but I think it will be just the thing to tie the desk space into the adjacent living room. I’ve always loved the look of shaded lamps in kitchens and workspaces. It makes them look so cozy!

5 – KVISSLE magazine file I’ll admit it. I have a bit of an addiction to glossies and catalogs. I want to read them all! I get so many ideas from print publications but more often than not I have several on deck waiting to be devoured. A pair of magazine files would be perfect for stashing the most recent issues until I get around to reading them. Also, can you tell I’ve been stalking the KVISSLE series at IKEA?

6 – Married to the Sea It’s no secret that I adore Clare Elsaesser. I have two of her prints hanging in the dining room / mudroom. I recently ordered a print for my MIL as a birthday gift after she got all dreamy-eyed over the ones in my dining room. There was a slight delay with the order and Clare was kind enough to send a surprise, complementary print of Married to the Sea for compensation. (This was totally unprovoked, btw. I had no problem with the order arriving a little later than expected.) I hadn’t planned on including any art in the desk makeover but as soon as the print arrived I knew it would be lovely hung to the right of the upper cabinets. I’ve already purchased a simple frame for it.

7 – Blu Dot knicker stool (counter height, chalk fabric) This modern, upholstered stool should support hours of sitting at a time sans numb toes. And it’s going to look mighty fine doing it. The wood legs will provide some warmth while the gray fabric will pick up on the gray chair and curtains in the living room.

I am partnering with Wayfair for this project. I plan to have my workspace completed late January / early February and will share the reveal with you then. Although, it looks like that linen table lamp is on backorder until mid-February so it might not make the big reveal but I’ll be sure to share it as soon as it arrives!

Are you working on getting a messy spot in your house in order? The start of a new year always has me itching to tackle problem areas in my house. Watch out unfinished bathroom, you’re next.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Two weekends ago HH installed a tongue and groove backsplash in my home workspace {sounds fancy but it’s just a desk area in our kitchen} and this past weekend we shellac’d and painted it. It was a team effort as we traded off between painting and parenting duties but we got ‘er done!

desk paint 1

Don’t you love it when preparation for a painting project only involves a strip of protective paper + painter’s tape and the removal of two outlet covers? I do. Normally, the prep is what I loathe the most but this project was super easy and instantly gratifying.

desk paint 2

We used two coats of Zinsser B-I-N shellac-base primer and two coats of Clark + Kensington’s primer + paint in one, color-matched to Benjamin Moore white dove in a semi-gloss finish. All coats were brushed on. The color is the same as the rest of the trim and planking {ceiling, wainscoting, TV wall} in the house. I didn’t try to match it to the upper cabinets.

desk paint 3

desk paint 4

The plain white outlet covers aren’t such eyesores now and the simple backsplash is the perfect blank canvas for my workspace.

desk paint 6

The upper cabinets feel grounded whereas before they were floating on that big wall. Even without a stool and accessories, the entire space has a more finished look to it. It’s really coming along!

desk paint 5

I’m going to like working here.

By the way, we also knocked out the painting of the TV wall this weekend! We’re just waiting for things to dry thoroughly before we reinstall the removable plank below the TV. I’ll share after pictures later this week but you can catch a glimpse of the *almost* finished product on instagram. Man, I love productive weekends. Being snowed in has its benefits.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking