...because home doesn't happen overnight.

space saving cabin 1

We recently stayed at this amazing modern cabin in Lake Leelanau, Michigan. The home has three bedrooms, two bathrooms plus a powder room and is modestly sized. (If I had to guess, I’d say it’s roughly 1,800 square feet.) Immediately upon arrival, it felt airy and spacious thanks to numerous windows throughout, vaulted ceilings in the main living space and, of course, the innately uncluttered decor that typically comes with a vacation rental. Once we settled in, however, I noticed several space-saving tricks that weren’t as obvious. I thought I’d share them with you since many of the clever ideas could easily translate to a residential property. Here they are…

space saving entry 1

1. A built-in entry closet. The small entry is sandwiched between a powder room and exterior walls, leaving very little room for a legit closet. Recessed IKEA cabinet frames maximize storage space for outerwear, bags, sports equipment and other miscellaneous.

space saving entry 2

The top cabinet provides hanging space while the lower cabinet houses several drawers. Often times, the space below a hanging rod is underutilized, so I thought this setup was ingenious. In a real home, I could see the drawers being used to corral mail, parent-teacher communication and children’s homework. You could even designate a drawer for each child.

space saving kitchen 4

2. Loads of kitchen drawers. The kitchen occupies one wall. The owner opted for a trio of windows with lake views in lieu of upper cabinetry. (Duh.) The base cabinets open to reveal ample drawer space.

space saving kitchen 1

Shallow drawers are ideal for smaller items like silverware, cooking utensils, cutting boards and baking sheets. Deeper drawers are perfect for pots and pans.

space saving kitchen 2

A single pull-out below the sink provides hidden storage for trash and recycling bins and also houses dish soap, dishwasher detergent and extra trash bags. The lower drawer to the left of the trash is actually a drawer dishwasher hidden by a cover panel. The compact size allows for a separate drawer above which houses silverware and makes the task of unloading the dishwasher a breeze.

FYI – I mentioned my thoughts on having a trash pullout at the sink in this post, and my concerns were validated. The setup worked well for us when there was only one person in the kitchen, but we tend to clean up after meals together and prefer separate zones for trash/recycling and dishwashing. Otherwise, the person at the sink is constantly being asked to move out of the way. That’s just our preference.

space saving kitchen 5

Yes, this is an IKEA kitchen and, no, I didn’t know about it when I booked the place. I was so excited (and, quite honestly, surprised!) when I opened a cabinet and made the discovery. All the cabinet frames and drawers in the house are IKEA, even the bathroom vanities.

space saving kitchen 3

From a design standpoint, I liked the seamless look of the single panel fronts versus several individual drawer fronts. Opening one drawer to gain access to another drawer really wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be. Inside and out, the cabinets are tidy. The custom fronts are furniture grade plywood outfitted with raw brass pulls. I loved the warm, natural look. I also loved the owner’s decision to repeat the cabinet design in the bathrooms. It just made the entire house feel really cohesive.

space saving pantry 1

3. A freestanding pantry. With no room for a walk-in pantry, a floor-to-ceiling pantry is an effective alternative.

space saving pantry 2

Not only does it provide storage for dry goods, it houses dishes, bowls, glasses, mugs, serveware – even a slim refrigerator with bottom freezer! An open space above the refrigerator acts as a minibar out of kid reach. Note: There is no microwave in the house which perplexed us at first, but the only thing we missed it for was popping bagged popcorn.

space saving pantry 3

Once again, drawers, drawers and more drawers glide in and out for easy access and loads of storage. The placement of dishes and serveware near the dishwasher facilitates dishwasher unloading.

space saving kitchen table 1

4. A kitchen table. No dining room? No problem. A large table punctuated by a pair of oversized pendants takes the place of an island and acts as buffer between the kitchen and adjacent living room.

space saving kitchen table 2

Reclaimed wood and an X-base are reminiscent of a farmhouse table, but the waterfall edge is a modern touch. A mix of vintage chairs lends a casual vibe. I loved the juxtaposition of the rustic table and chairs against some of the sleeker elements in the space.

space saving media stand 3

5. A custom, low-slung media stand. An extra low media stand allows the flatscreen to reach just below the window line, allowing for uninterrupted views of the landscape.

space saving media stand 1

space saving media stand 2

The simple design raises the flatscreen to a comfortable viewing height and provides space for thin electronics and books.

space saving desk 2

6. A desk behind a sofa. Bringing in a console table is the knee-jerk reaction when considering the space behind a floating sofa, but what about a drop-leaf table that doubles as a desk? It’s an instant home workspace!

space saving desk 1

In a traditional setting, I could see it being used to pay bills, check email, work from home and tackle homework. It’s conducive to adults and children alike.

space saving headboard 3

7. Nightstand alternatives. In moderately sized bedrooms, nightstands can crowd the room and eat up precious floor space. Floating shelves attached to an extra wide headboard are an effective option.

space saving headboard 2

There’s just enough space for a glass of water, a candle, eyeglasses and nighttime reading material.

space saving headboard 1

They’re great in children’s rooms, too! Forgo lamps and mount wall sconces on the headboard.

space saving bedside chairs 2

space saving bedside chair 1

In one of the bedrooms there wasn’t quite enough room for shelves, so the owner brought in folding chairs to flank the bed. Bonus: The chairs can be used for extra seating in a pinch when company visits.

space saving pocket doors 1

8. Pocket doors. Here, a pocket door separates a powder room from the hallway. When space is tight, everyday motions like opening a door can be cumbersome. In hallways or in doorways that adjoin two rooms where the space required to accommodate a swinging door is minimal or non-existent, consider installing a pocket door.

space saving pocket doors 2

Another pocket door separates the master bathroom from the master bedroom.

I hope these ideas inspire you to think outside the box when coming up with space-saving solutions in your own home! Admittedly, there were so many great details in the cabin that I had a hard time condensing them into a readable post. (Still, here I am at 25+ photos and 1,000+ words. Are you still awake?!) I encourage you to go back through the images and make note of more features, like the simple trimwork, the flooring materials, the mirror-less powder room, the mirror at the end of the hallway, the freestanding soaker tub, the DIY platform beds (constructed of the same plywood found in the kitchen and bathrooms), the custom cabinet bases, the artwork and ALL. THE. CORNER. WINDOWS. What catches your eye?

P.S. – See more vacation houses here and here.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

04.11.16 / Liked & Linked

We celebrated Mabrey’s and Everett’s birthdays in the last two weeks. Fun fact: My due date with Mabrey was Everett’s birthday, but, like the majority of babies, she wasn’t born on my due date. Still, their birthdays are so close we usually lump them together to celebrate with extended family because it’s easier for everyone. On their actual birthdays, we do something special yet not extravagant.

For her birthday, Mabrey wanted a balloon, bubbles, bubblegum and to visit her favorite park. We made a special trip to Target just for bubbles and bubblegum. The look on her face when she laid her goodies on the conveyor belt at checkout was pure happiness. She smiled at the cashier and said, “I’m four!” Every time someone wished her “Happy birthday!”, she replied with “Happy birthday to you too!” It was so cute. We spent the entire afternoon at the park where we met another little girl also celebrating her fourth birthday with her father and little sister. Trips to the park must be in high demand in the four-year-old world. On the way home, we stopped off at a local bakery, and Mabrey picked out a huge chocolate cupcake as her birthday treat. All the excitement wore her out. She fell asleep in the living room with her balloon floating overhead while I made spaghetti for dinner, her favorite. She still can’t make the hand signal for four without putting up three fingers first. When someone asks her how old she is, she initially signals three then slowly raises her pinky. It’s hilarious. I hope she always does it that way.

Everett’s birthday coincided with spring break, so we celebrated it while on vacation. (More on our vacation later this week.) He asked for a Kylo Ren voice-changing mask, a lightsaber and pizza. Amidst the chaos of packing, I ordered the mask and saber before we left and had it shipped to our cabin. Seriously, what did procrastinating parents do before Amazon? I didn’t have any wrapping paper, so I presented the drab brown box in dramatic fashion. I screamed from the top of the stairs, “Ahh! Everett, I caught an animal in a box on your bed!! I need you to see what it is!” (We had heard a squirrel in the attic the night before.) Everyone came running upstairs. I secretly shook the box from behind (imitating a frisky varmint) while Everett cautiously opened one flap and the mask and saber came tumbling out. He said, “I knew it wasn’t an animal!” But he had a huge smile of relief on his face ;) We had the most delicious pizza at a local pizza joint later that evening followed by a cookies and ice cream cake from the frozen section of the grocery store. Everett said it was the best cake ever. #momoftheyear He’s been wearing his new mask out in public which has prompted some comical reactions.

A few things…

*Did you fall for it?

*I have this new album on repeat.

*The happiest nation in the world.

*Tiny house getaway.

*Bathroom goals.

kitchen / conservatory

conservatory

dining / conservatory

*The house tour that made me add “conservatory” to my dream home wish list.

*Finally!! Super soft jeans that my tall, thin and picky boys will wear without complaining! They feel and fit great.

*Everett’s mask and lightsaber, if you’re interested. (More theme-y than I normally buy, but he loves them and they work really well.)

I hope it feels like spring wherever you are!

P.S. – THANK YOU for all of the book recommendations! My reading list is full and that makes me so happy.

images: 1-4) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 5-7) Emily Billings for Apartment Therapy

surprise DC trip

In the fall of 2011, I surprised the boys with a road trip to Washington, D.C. (Technically, Mabrey went too, but she was just a bump. Can you see her?) I was still working as a pharmacist at the time and managed to get a rare Friday off that coincided with a long weekend for the boys. A few weeks prior, I had called my sister (who lived in Fairfax, Virginia, at the time) to see if she’d be interested in having some visitors. She quickly said, “Yes!”

On the Thursday before the long weekend, while Layne and Everett were at school and daycare, respectively, I packed their bags and loaded up the car with snacks and pillows. I picked Everett up from daycare then we drove home and waited for Layne to get off the bus. We didn’t even get out of the car. I’ll never forget the looks on their faces when Layne climbed in and I revealed my secret. They were so excited! They couldn’t believe we were up and leaving in the middle of a perfectly normal afternoon. The wonderful part is they were more excited about being surprised than actually going on a road trip.

surprise DC trip

Years later, they still bring up that mini vacation. The thing they remember most is me surprising them – not seeing the Lincoln Memorial or riding the Metro.

Have you ever planned a surprise vacation? Would you ever sign up for a surprise vacation? (Apparently, it’s the new way to travel.) Do you even like surprises? I like surprising my kids with trips, but I don’t know if I could give up complete control of vacation planning! We’re leaving for a little family vacation tomorrow. The kids know we’re driving somewhere and will be gone for a few days, but Steve and I haven’t told them where we’re going yet.

P.S. – That one time I was wifenapped.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking