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

nursery lights

First full week of both boys back in school + a bully incident + potty-training a certain toddler = VERY. LONG. WEEK. It’s funny how the context of poop can make or break your day. Poop in the potty? Good day. Poop on a shirt? Less so. Also, bullies suck. Anyway, I shouldn’t complain. Everyone here is happy and healthy and that’s all that really matters.

A few goodies that got me through the week…

*A local midcentury gem in need of a good family. (The virtual tour is lengthy but totally worth it! I’ve watched it no less than three times.)

*Feeling the love in this nursery.

*In collaboration with LG, Nate designed a kitchen almost as handsome as himself. He also created a bunch of short videos that cover a range of kitchen-related topics. My favorites? Layering in the kitchen and a well-appointed kitchen. Seriously. Can’t he just stop being so good for one minute?!

*A reader suggested The Not So Big Life. I can’t wait to read it.

*I love seeing cool people making cool things in Ohio. Especially when it involves leatha.

*My kids are obsessed with Calvin & Hobbes. OBSESSED. Have you seen Dear Mr. Watterson? I think it’s going to be the feature of our next family movie night.

Enjoy the long weekend! We’re sticking close to home (ahem, we’re in throes of potty-training) and surprising the boys with a DIY project inspired by their love of Calvin & Hobbes. If it turns out half as good as the image in my mind, they are going to flip. Also, I gave Steve homework ;) He’s coming up with a list of the top 10 features of his dream home. I’ll share it next week. I’m curious to see how our lists compare.

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Did you know today is National Dream Day? It commemorates the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. On this day, dream sharing is encouraged. I have many dreams but I thought it would be fun to put a spin on Dream Day and share the top ten features of my (nonexistent) dream home. Financial factors aside, you know, since we’re dreaming and all. Oh, and I’m not addressing decor in this list just general features of the shell of the house. The images shown are meant to demonstrate the features I’m discussing. They aren’t exact interpretations of how I picture my dream home. Obviously, they would look a little strange mixed together under one roof and, quite frankly, most of them are larger than I envision my dream home being. Although, they’re all pretty dreamy. Here we go!

right-sized home

1. Right-sized. In contrast to the average American’s idea of what a dream house should be, my dream house would not be super-sized. My dream house is right-sized, meaning every square inch is utilized efficiently. It includes multipurpose rooms. It doesn’t include tons of wasted space or extra rooms that are rarely used. The floor plan is deliberate and thoughtfully laid out. It’s just what my family needs and nothing more. The design is so carefully considered that it allows us to live in the least amount of square footage as possible. No mansions for me!

large windows

dining room windows

clerestory windows in dining space

2. Plenty of natural light. I crave a bright space and I get a kick out of watching how the light in a house changes over the course of a day. My dream home has an abundance of natural light streaming in through carefully placed windows, doors and skylights. I’m especially drawn to clerestory windows and windows placed in the backsplash of a kitchen. All that natural light would help to make my right-sized dream home feel larger. Ideally, I wouldn’t have to use a single artificial light source until after the sun goes down at night. I don’t think I could ever be happy in a dark house.

indoor outdoor living room

interior courtyard

indoor outdoor living room

3. Connection to the outdoors. This kind of goes along with plenty of natural light but I don’t only want to see what exists beyond the walls of my house, I want to experience it. Maybe it’s a wall of sliding glass doors that can be opened up to extend our living space. Maybe it’s an interior courtyard or atrium. Maybe it’s an outdoor shower. Maybe it’s an outdoor living space. Maybe it’s as simple as a set of french doors that opens up to a private backyard or a wide, deep porch to watch cars pass by. Whatever it is, it encourages an indoor-outdoor lifestyle and connects the house to its surroundings.

4. Open living space. An open kitchen-living-dining space suits our casual lifestyle best. It needn’t be large (see #1) or entirely open but a communal layout in the main living area promotes family togetherness as we go about our daily routine.

vaulted ceiling

vaulted ceiling in kitchen

5. High ceilings. Having lived in a home with standard 8′ ceilings (our first home, lower than 8′ in some areas), a home with 9′ ceilings (our second home) and a home with vaulted ceilings (our current home), I have to say my preference is anything over the standard 8′. This is one of those features that has a huge impact in the way a space feels and once you’ve lived with it, it’s difficult to imagine living without it. My dream home has high ceilings. Perhaps not throughout the entire house but definitely in some of the most frequently used spaces.

6. Architect-designed. My dream home is designed by an architect – past, current or up-and-coming. I have so much respect for architects and they’re ability to design structures that are durable, functional and beautiful. Over the years, I’ve found that I have a hankering for architects’ personal residences. They feel practical and livable yet incorporate interesting and unique architectural elements. They always seem to flow well from room to room. From thick moldings in older houses to cantilevered structures in modern homes, I’m amazed by the way architectural elements play a part in the overall vibe of a home. It’s all in the details – no matter how intricate or simplistic.

wood lined pantry

wood walls, floors

7. Warm wood tones. As much as I enjoy drooling over all white spaces, I know they’re not for me. To keep things cozy and inviting, I need natural wood tones in my life. So, of course, my dream home features hits of warm wood. Floors, accent walls, cabinetry, countertops, built-ins…they’re all game. I absolutely love teak cabinets in a kitchen.

8. Flex space. If there’s one space we’re missing in our current home, it’s a multipurpose space that acts as a den, library, TV room and guest room all in one. It isn’t big but my dream home has one. And it can be opened up to the rest of the house during the day or closed off at night for privacy. I love the idea of having a separate, more intimate room off the main open living space where we can regularly watch movies together, just chill or, on special occasions, host overnight guests. Ideally, it has a deep built-in sofa or sectional that doubles as a bed.

stained wood siding

dark blue exterior

midcentury modern dark exterior

9. Dark exterior. So by the time my dream home comes to fruition (ha!), I might have changed my mind on this feature but right now I’m into dark exteriors. Inky blue, deep charcoal, black, dark-stained cedar…I love ‘em. My dream home has a dark exterior and a mix of materials that help it blend in with its surroundings.

modernist prefab

10. Prefab construction. Alright, this one is a bit of a stretch and it isn’t a MUST for my dream home but I’m completely fascinated by prefabricated homes. Not only are today’s designs in line with my preferred aesthetic but I’m in awe of the construction process. The process of manufacturing off-site then transporting and assembling a structure on-site over a relatively short period of time has many benefits. Steve and I have both agreed that the only way we would ever build is by way of prefabrication.

A few things not on my dream home list? A specific location, a particular architectural style and land. I think I must be half chameleon. Honestly, I could be happy living almost anywhere (okay, maybe not Antarctica) and I change my mind daily about the location of my dream home. Plus, I feel like I haven’t seen enough of the world to choose just one place to live for the rest of my life. I appreciate an array of architectural styles and as long as a space incorporates most of the features listed above, I would consider it dream status. Also, my dream home needn’t be a multi-acre property. As long as there is somewhere nearby to get in touch with nature (a park would suffice), I’m good. I don’t need to own it to enjoy it.

There you have it! My dream home in list form. My must-haves are constantly evolving so this list could look very different 10-15 years from now when my kids are all grown up. As I’m scanning the list, it looks like our current home ticks off about 50% of the features to some extent. Not bad, considering we’ve never thought of this house as our dream home. Now I want to ask Steve to make a top 10 list and see how it compares to mine.

If you have a moment, I’d love to know what’s on your dream home list. Happy dreaming!

images: 1) tourfactory.com 2) Prue Ruscoe for HomeLife 3 & 4) Joe Schmelzer  5) Arthur Casas 6) Kim Lucian for Apartment Therapy 7) House & Home  8) Eve Wilson for The Design Files 9) Sean Fennessy for The Design Files 10) Adrienne Breaux for Apartment Therapy 11) Lincoln Barbour for Jessica Helgerson Interior Design 12) Arthur Casas 13) Warren Heath for House and Leisure 14) Dan Semar via Flickr 15) Joe Fletcher for Dwell

08.23.14 / Made Me Smile

closet purge

How was your week? Ours was rainy which = perfect purging weather. I emptied the kids’ closets and got rid of everything that was too small / broken / unloved / missing parts. Then I organized the items that made the cut and put them all back. It. was. awesome. (Except for the part where Mabrey decided to “help”.)

More awesomeness…

*Do you remember Jessica Helgerson’s tiny house? (How could you forget?!) Well, it looks like the growing Helgerson family is spreading out from their 540 square feet of living space to a farmhouse on the same property. You can find amazing sneak peeks of the renovation here under the hashtag #wildgoosefarmhouse. From what I can gather, the family moved in about a month ago. I can’t wait to see the finished space (more than likely, it will be a magazine feature) and I’m curious to know what will become of the tiny house.

*Luckily, Liam is much better at selecting homes versus fiancées.


*A rolling pedestrian bridge.

*A Fresh Thyme market is going in near our home. It looks amazing!

*Guess what I’m making with this.

*Living with less fosters mindful consumption.

*Um, you guys like coffee. Thanks so much for sharing your favorite brands and brewing methods. I’ve read each and every comment which has spurred some brewing research. Like many of you suggested, I hit up a local roaster (only two minutes from my house!) for suggestions and the freshest coffee beans I’ve ever encountered. I might not sleep all weekend.

Have a wonderful weekend! Don’t forget to make time for those happy little moments which add up to something greater.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Heatherwick studio

08.16.14 / Made Me Smile

first day 1st grade

Everett started first grade this week. We did the obligatory “first day of ___” photos while waiting for the bus then Layne asked, “Why don’t we take a picture of dad on his first day of work on Everett’s first day of 1st grade? Wouldn’t that be funny?” Why, yes, yes that would be hilariously funny. Luckily, Steve was game so I think we’ve started a new tradition. #firstdaydads

More things that had me smiling this week…

*Are you following this DIY kitchen reno? Oh, the power of paint never gets old.

*An ingenious idea for concealing trash and recycling bins. (Thanks for the inspiration, Amber!)

*Project #5 in this roundup of bathrooms features black hex tile and Ikea kitchen cabinets fashioned into a vanity. LOVE IT.

schoolhouse electric & supply co house tour

*The house tour of Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.’s owner is pretty amazing.

*An Ohio guy dreams big. You guys, PotatoStock 2014 is happening.

*Can’t wait to read this book which addresses the princess problem.

*#RIPRobinWilliams (Smiling with a few tears in my eyes.)

Have a lovely weekend. Make someone laugh.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Jeremy Bittermann