...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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When I started this blog my family was living in a builder spec home. The finishes were cheap and I was doing my best to put my stamp on things. I turned to the internet for inspiration but was disappointed in what I found. Most looks weren’t achievable in our house. We had nondescript carpet and vinyl flooring – not hardwoods. There were no particularly alluring architectural features. We also had practical things like ceiling fans and light-filtering window shades. Tweaking that house taught us many things. Eventually, we came to value quality over quantity which prompted our downsizing adventure. But it also taught us that you don’t have to wait until bigger, future projects (i.e., installing new flooring) are completed to start making little changes that better reflect your preferred aesthetic.

“Nothing you do for your home is ever wasted.” – Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan for Apartment Therapy

We never did install new flooring in our previous home. But we did paint the walls & kitchen cabinets, install new countertops & a backsplash, experiment with furnishings and hang curtains & artwork. By the time we moved, the space definitely felt more like us than it had when we moved in.

All that to say, you don’t have to wait until you can do everything to do something.

And that’s what this makeover is all about. My clients moved into their home less than six months ago. They would love to upgrade the flooring, redo the kitchen, install statement light fixtures, fully furnish each room and improve the bathrooms but, as with most newly acquired houses, those things just aren’t in the budget right now. Instead, they’re tackling smaller projects as time and money allow, injecting their sense of style as they go. So far, they’ve painted nearly every room in the house and I recently helped them revamp the master bedroom. (You can read about my plans for the space and see a mood board here.) It’s a real room with carpet, blinds, a ceiling fan and even a TV. I hope it inspires you to do something.


arhaus bedroom before 1




arhaus bedroom before 2



We made a lot of changes but, in my opinion, rotating the bed, painting the walls a deep charcoal and bringing in mismatched furniture were the game-changers.

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Relocating the bed to a blank wall makes it a natural focal point and lets more light pour in through the windows. The tufted headboard makes a grand statement. I love how the sides turn in for an intimate effect. So cozy!

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My client’s style is decidedly more luxurious than my own. When she requested sequins, I cringed a little. But this Moroccan wedding blanket was the perfect solution. It jingles ever so lightly! I wanted to take it home with me. I searched high and low for a vintage one that was large enough to fit the king bed but not a bazillion dollars. I kept the rest of the bedding simple with a linen duvet and lumbar pillow. The bordered euro shams are a nice detail and tie in to the khaki stripes on the Moroccan blanket.

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Patterned sheets are a fun surprise when the duvet is pulled back.

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X-based campaign-style nightstands pop against the moody walls. The geometric lines contrast with the headboard’s curves. I LOVE the lamps. They’re oversized to match the scale of the headboard. Anything smaller would have been dwarfed. The wood bases warm up the white nightstands and bedding.

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I turned to one of my favorite artists, Clare Elsaesser, to fill the void between the windows. I’ve always loved her work. The rich color combinations, tangled poses and fluid brush strokes create a dream-like quality making her pieces ideal for a bedroom. I framed the large print in a poster frame spray painted gold to match the curtain rods (also spray painted gold). At the eleventh hour, I decided to add black ribbon trim to the leading edges of the curtains for a little drama. It was more work but not expensive and totally worth it.

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I think a TV in the bedroom is a personal choice and my clients choose to have one in theirs. To make it less conspicuous, we mounted it on the wall above one of the vintage dressers I rehabbed. (The dark walls go a long way in hiding the TV, too.) An accordion-like bracket allows the screen to be angled toward the bed for easier viewing.

I was the teensiest bit apprehensive about the dressers. I absolutely LOVE how they turned out and knew they would look great in the space. However, when I met with my client initially, she told me she didn’t like gold and preferred “rustic” furniture pieces. The minute she saw them, she was sold – on the gold and the midcentury style. I was so glad because the clean lines and warm wood tones were very much needed in the space. I made her a believer! (Her husband loves them, too, but I knew he would.)

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The feather finish tops were a hit, too.

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I brought in a bench and mirror for easy dressing and quick once-overs. (A hallway leading to his and hers closets is located just to the left of the bench.) The mirror actually came with the dresser I used in my boys’ room. I had no use for it but hung on to it because it’s a solid piece. It finally found a home! At night, the Moroccan blanket can be folded up and placed on the bench.

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My client had her heart set on a chaise for the adjacent sitting area. She imagined it as a quiet space for lounging with a book and / or a glass of wine.

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A metal accent table picks up on other gold details in the room and provides a surface for reading material and a drink. Layered textiles create a relaxed vibe. The kilim pillow repeats the color scheme of the artwork in the sleeping area. The hanging planter fills vertical space and adds life to the vignette. We treated the two smaller windows as one large one (one curtain rod, two curtain panels) to make the space feel lighter and brighter.

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I paired the other dresser with black and white abstract art to give the sitting area a modern edge.

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The best part? My clients absolutely love the room. I can’t tell you how good it feels to witness people go from detesting a living space to not wanting to leave it. I’m so grateful they allowed me to put my spin on things. Not everyone is willing to go dark or try things outside of their comfort zone, but they were game. Thanks Maggie & Jeremy!

Resources of note:

wall paint – Benjamin Moore kendall charcoal, color-matched in Valspar Reserve
ceiling fan – Amazon
headboard – Mariah headboard in taft pewter, Arhaus*
Moroccan wedding blanket – etsy
linen duvet, lumbar pillow – Ikea
euro shams – Ralph Lauren in polished bronze, Macy’s
sheets – Target
nightstands – Overstock
wood lamps – Lamps Plus
ring holder – Target
curtain rods – Amazon (spray painted gold with Rustoleum Universal pure gold)
curtains – Ikea
black ribbon trim – Amazon
large print – “Unclasped” by Clare Elsaesser, etsy
poster frame – Amazon (spray painted gold with Rustoleum Universal pure gold)
dressers – vintage, DIY
pierced hurricane candleholders – Target
woven basket – Target
bench – Overstock
mirror – vintage
chaise – Audrey chaise in tumble natural, Arhaus*
black and white abstract art & wood frames – Minted*
jute plant hanger – Amazon
olive throw – Overstock
kilim pillow – etsy
metal side table – Urban Outfitters
hide & sheepskin rugs – Ikea
task lamp – Ikea
ivy planter – thrifted

*Denotes items provided specifically for this project. This is NOT a sponsored post but I would like to thank Arhaus and Minted for providing the items listed above. I am grateful to be in a unique position to pass along quality products to my clients to help stretch their budgets. You can see more pictures of this space and read my tips for creating a beautiful bedroom over on Arhaus’s blog, Greenhaus.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking


Congrats to Linzy! She’s tackling a bathroom reno soon and is in need of lighting and hardware so this gift card should come in handy.

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I’ve always loved the idea of adding special hardware to the Ikea vanity in the master bathroom, but it’s never been a necessity as the standard plastic pulls (mounted to the top of the drawers) functioned well. I was more than content waiting for the perfect handles to find me. And find me they did – just a few weeks ago in the form of the 11″ edgecliff pull from Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. They were a bit of a splurge but they instantly brought the vanity’s level of sophistication up a notch. Totally worth the wait.

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Installation was easy enough. Two screws per pull (which were included with the purchase) screwed into two pilot holes and that was it. (The new pulls are mounted 2½” from the top of each drawer.) The handles are quite substantial and feel hefty underhand. They’re one of the those subtle details that bring a sense of luxury to the space and they’re used so frequently that they really do make a regular, mundane task (opening a drawer) feel special.

I don’t think I’ll tire of the gray-brass combo anytime soon. And, yes!, you CAN mix finishes in a small bathroom! The brass pulls pick up on the gold vase and wall urchins but they don’t “match” the chrome finishes in the rest of the bathroom. THAT’S OKAY.

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I love our new pulls so much that I asked Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. if they would be interested in a giveaway. They were kind enough to offer up a store credit! The timing couldn’t be better. The company just released their fall ’14 collection today. Like the rest of the inventory, the new items blend seamlessly with traditional or modern décor and the quality is superb.

schoolhouse electric fall 2014

sources: metal hoop stand // round brass tray // brass rail // Jack loveseat in nubby tweed

I’ve got my eye on the metal hoop stand. Even though we converted the original wood-burning fireplace to gas in the living room, I like the idea of displaying stacked split logs for an organic vibe.

See anything you like? Check out the full collection here and keep reading to enter to win a $100 gift certificate!

PRIZE: one $100 gift certificate to Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post proclaiming “SCHOOL ME!” and let me know which item(s) you would put the $100 toward.

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

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, September 21st. One random winner will be announced Monday, September 22nd.

Good luck!

images: 1 & 2) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 3 & 4) Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.

08.12.14 / The Master Bathroom

When we bought our house three years ago, the plan was to scrub the original bathrooms really well and live with them for a few years before renovating them. But in the midst of demolition, we discovered black mold behind one of the bathroom walls when we demo’d a shared kitchen wall. Upon further inspection, there were cracked shower tiles in each of the bathrooms allowing water to seep into the walls. We ended up gutting both bathrooms to remedy the mold problem. We finished the master bathroom before moving in and it’s been our only functioning bathroom for the past 2+ years. Yep, all five of us use one bathroom. And I’m still alive to tell its story.

master bath before 1

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The original bathroom was pink and gray – complete with a matching vinyl shower curtain, window curtain and valance (!). The vanity was way too small. The fluorescent lighting had to go and the only ventilation was an open window. However, we didn’t mind the layout and the window in the shower provided a decent amount of natural light.

master bath after 1

To save time and money, we kept the original layout and toilet but all the other fixtures and finishes are new. The electric was upgraded to service a sconce above the vanity, a can light above the tub and a proper ventilation fan.

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The original aluminum window was replaced with a vinyl one featuring privacy glass. The glass is smooth to the touch (and easy to clean) but textured in between the double panes for privacy. I am so, so, SO happy to have a window in the shower! It’s as close as I’ll ever get to an outdoor shower in Ohio.

The original shower tile was only installed about two-thirds of the way up the wall. We chose to take the new wall tile to the ceiling to give the appearance of taller ceilings and a bigger space. We contemplated a glass door or partition on the tub / shower but the placement of the plumbing would have made entry / exit into the shower tricky. We opted for a simple floor-to-ceiling shower curtain instead and it works great.

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Bathrooms tend to feel very slick and sterile but I’m drawn to natural, nubby and woven textures. To achieve that tactile vibe I love, I chose tiles with interesting textures. The shower tile almost has a glittery appearance. It shimmers in the light from the window. Not to mention, the reflective surface is another way to trick the eye into seeing a brighter, larger space.

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The sink area of the bathroom is visible from our bed(room) so I wanted something super simple that would tie in to the bedroom and not look too utilitarian. I had my heart set on a floating vanity but Steve requested drawers for all of his beauty supplies. (He’s kinda high maintenance.) The compromise was a floating vanity boasting two deep drawers. It was the perfect solution! We have plenty of storage and I can slip the kids’ step stool underneath the vanity. The floating design makes for quick and easy floor cleaning, too.

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Eventually, we added a small wall cabinet to the left of the sink to house Steve’s electric razor, electric toothbrush and more of his manly toiletry surplus. (I told you he’s high maintenance.) I got tired of knocking over all the charging stations on the sink. We cut a hole in the side of the wall cabinet to gain access to an outlet so Steve can charge his grooming tools sight unseen and no one’s the wiser. THIS IS HOW YOU STAY MARRIED, PEOPLE. You won’t read about this in any of those self-help marriage books. Good communication? Showing appreciation? Healthy sex life? Yeah, those are all noteworthy and all but, I’m telling you, hidden charging stations are where it’s at! And they lived happily ever after…

For warmth, I hung a round teak mirror above the sink. I didn’t seal it or anything and it looks as good as new. Teak has a good reputation in wet conditions so it’s kinda perfect for a bathroom.

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The original floor tile tested positive for trace amounts of asbestos but there was no way we were keeping it. Now the proper way to remove asbestos tile (at least in the great state of Ohio) is to hire a certified abatement contractor for anything >50 square feet. (This one bathroom contained less than that but we were dealing with two bathrooms which put us over by ~20 square feet.) But that is expensive and Steve will try anything at least once. So he removed the asbestos tile himself using a wetting method along with full-body coverup gear and a respirator. I was pregnant at the time so the kids and I steered clear of the house during and for some time after removal. Steve did dispose of the tile in a landfill that accepts asbestos. In sharing this, I’m NOT saying you should attempt this yourself. I’m just being honest about what we did. You should probably follow your state’s regulations, m’kay? M’kay. Now that that’s settled…

The new floor features (asbestos-free!) penny rounds and they lend yet another texture to the bathroom. It reminds me of reptilian scales and, after we first installed it, I wanted to rub myself all over it. We chose a sandy, dirt-colored grout that has held up well over the past two years. A woven trash can disguises ugly water lines. The basket on top of the toilet tank holds toilet paper. We couldn’t decide on a good place to hang a toilet paper holder (I vetoed the side of the vanity because I didn’t want to see toilet paper from the bed) so we threw a few rolls in the basket temporarily and, well, now it’s permanent.

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I don’t think either of us expected to live with only one bathroom for this long. (We’re slowly plugging away in the other bathroom as I type.) But if we must share a bathroom, I’m happy it’s this one. On any given night, you can find all five of us squeezed in here getting ready for the kids’ bedtime. It works but, man, I am totally looking forward to having a second bathroom. It’s going to be a game changer. No more difficult questions about what happened to my penis!

Resources of note:

wall & trim paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
floor tile – penny round moss from The Tile Shop
shower tile – capua blanco from The Tile Shop
tub, drain, shower fixtures – Kohler archer
shower curtain – 96″ seersucker curtain from Amazon, discontinued
double hook shower curtain rings – Amazon
shower curtain liner – Amazon
toilet – reused, Kohler
wall sconce – Barn Light Electric
mirror – Home Emporium
vanity – Ikea GODMORGON, high gloss gray
sink – Ikea ODENSVIK
faucet – Ikea DALSKÄR
soap dispenser – Target
wall cabinet – Ikea, painted white
towel holder & hooks – Lowe’s
trash can – Target
wall urchins – Target (I spray painted them gold because that’s what I do.)
hand towel – West Elm
peshtemal towels – etsy

Curious about the evolution of this bathroom? Here are a bunch of bathroom-related links:

























You can now access this master bathroom tour (along with a general house tour and individual room tours) under the “See My House” tab in the side bar. I will be adding more rooms in the weeks to come. Thanks for reading!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking