...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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After receiving several emails asking about our GULLIVER crib, I thought I would answer in the form of a post.

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You may remember that I bought the crib last summer shortly after we moved into the Underdog. I liked the crib’s clean lines, price tag {it’s only $100!} and versatility.

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Now that we’ve lived with the crib for over seven months, I think it’s safe to say I love it. I assembled it myself and it was easy. It’s sturdy without being bulky or heavy. It’s perfect for a small nursery {Mabrey’s room isn’t even 10′ x 10′} or the corner of a guest/master bedroom.

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Miss Mabrey and her friend, Miss Strawberry.

The crib is petite but still works with a standard crib mattress. It’s just about the smallest standard-sized crib you could imagine.

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Baby jail.

Mabrey is nine months old now and has started pulling up on furniture…including her crib. We lowered her crib mattress recently and it took about thirty minutes to do but was relatively easy.

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The white painted finish has held up well to playtime in the nursery. There aren’t any scratches to report but I think you could touch up with a white paint marker if you had to. The boys love playing with Mabrey in her room but they save rough play for their room. No jumping in the crib!

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Zorro leaves his weapons at the door.

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Mabrey is growing like a weed. Growing, inevitably, like all babies do. It makes me a little sad. Especially since she is our last baby.

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The crib will grow with her. One side can be removed when/if she starts to climb out OR whenever we feel the need to convert her to a toddler bed that she can get in and out of herself.

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Once Mabrey has outgrown the crib, I’ll probably save it for my sisters. They’re younger than me and haven’t started families yet. I don’t see any reason why this crib couldn’t last through several children. The color and style make it gender neutral. And, again, you can’t beat the $100 price tag.

If you’re looking for a simple, modest and inexpensive crib, the GULLIVER comes highly recommended by me and I’ve heard similar things about other IKEA cribs. Do you have any experience with a small-ish, inexpensive crib that you’d like to share with other moms out there?

FYI – I wasn’t compensated for mentioning the crib. I just love sharing good finds!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

I was recently introduced to Fashion for Home, an online modern furniture and accessories store based in the UK. Even though I’m not able to shop here in the U.S., I was drawn to the store’s modern masculine style. I said from the very beginning of our downsizing journey that I was leaning towards a slightly more masculine aesthetic for this house. thought it would be fun to share ideas for incorporating a masculine feel into any space. First, though, let me address what my idea of masculine is not.

In my world, masculine isn’t only for males. It’s not a sparse bachelor pad. It’s not a dark man cave. It’s not a sports themed room. It’s not a trophy room. It’s an aesthetic that anyone, male or female alike, can work into their home if they choose to. It’s all about comfort, ease, simplicity, practicality. Here are my tips for making it masculine:

1 – Keep it simple. Whether you’re contemplating something little such as a lamp or something more prominent like a furniture arrangement, choose the less complicated version. For the lamp, clean and straight lines fit the bill. Think tripod lamp. For the furniture layout, place two chairs opposite a sofa and call it a day. It’s all about no fuss. Avoid intricate or elaborate designs. Filigree, fringe and floral are examples of more feminine designs.

2 – Less is more. Purge! Keep only what you need and love. Stick with the basic furniture pieces and add minimal accent pieces. For example, if you have a coffee table in front of your sofa, do you really need to flank the sofa with two end tables? Or if you like the idea of two end tables then maybe skip the coffee table. Keep clutter and accessories to a minimum. Opt for one large canvas painting as opposed to a frame-filled wall. Or adorn a dining table with one oversized vase as opposed to several smaller vases. Corral items you do keep in a simple bookcase for a unified look.

3 – Bigger is better. Choose large scale pieces as opposed to daintier options. For example, a sectional with clean lines would be a more masculine choice than a settee with curvy legs. Be careful. You want to keep the proportion of your large scale pieces in sync with the size of your space. Use the largest size that your room will allow without it hogging literal and visual space. You still need to be able to move around comfortably. Supersizing goes for accessories and patterns as well. Lean a tall floor-length mirror against a wall or use a rug with wide stripes in a family room. Even though you have less items {see #2}, the items you do incorporate will have more presence.

4 – Go neutral. Warm whites, taupe, charcoal, heather gray, deep navy, saddle brown and black are great masculine colors for furniture, textiles and walls. Purchasing mainstay items in a neutral color is practical. It allows you to switch out accessories {pillows, fresh flowers, artwork, etc.} when the mood strikes – at little cost.


5 – Play with contrast. To keep things from becoming boring or sterile, mix materials, colors and textures. Use a warm wood mirror in an all white tiled bathroom. Place a glossy white coffee table in front of a worn leather sofa. Spread a plush textured rug onto a shiny wood floor. Separate matching upholstered chairs with a rustic side table. Use an array of materials: wood, stone, glass, metal, natural fibers. Likewise, if your walls are light {white or gray} go with at least one piece of furniture in a darker color {charcoal, saddle brown, black}. In a bedroom consider cozy taupe walls and white bedding.

6 – Comfort rules. Choose furniture and fabrics that encourage lounging. Opt for deep-seated sofas and clean-lined chaises. Forget satin, silk and lace and choose soft cotton, breathable linen, worn leather {faux or real} or fluffy sheepskin {again, faux or real} instead. Making your space comfortable doesn’t only benefit you but guests as well. Create a casual environment for you, your family and friends.

7 – Get outdoorsy. Bring the outdoors in with a branch display or a rustic bench. Keep window coverings spare to allow views to the outside. Add skylights or glass doors and watch the natural light pour in. Things should feel as easy and casual inside as they do outside.

There you have it. My take on masculine style. Of course, you can take it as far as you want. The more you tips you apply, the more masculine the look. The less tips you apply, the less masculine the look. I love the idea of mixing in a little femininity here and there to keep things interesting.

I’m incorporating all of these ideas to some extent in my own home. My furniture arrangements are practical and simple which works well in our small space. I’ve edited our belongings – from clothing to toys to furniture and everything in between – down to only the things we use frequently and love. We built a huge 9′ island in our modest eat-in kitchen. Our kitchen is black and white. Our family room sofa is saddle brown leather. The majority of our walls are painted a light beige-gray. We have a mix of walnut and granite countertops in our kitchen. Our sofa is extra-long and deep-seated for comfy lounging. We added skylights and french doors to bring in more natural light. My long-term goal for our house is for it to feel like a well-worn pair of jeans and comfy t-shirt. Easy, casual, effortless.

Do you have any other tips for making a space feel masculine? Share!

This post brought to you by Fashion for Home. However, all thoughts and words are my own.

images: Fashion for Home

02.01.12 / Houzz*Tweaking

Ever heard of Houzz? If not, then you should check it out. That is, if you like tons and tons of home design and decorating inspiration.

Houzz offers a huge compilation of photos from professionals, designers and architects alike. You can search through the database by style, space {wine cellars, anyone?} or keyword.

If you create an account {free of charge}, you can save images that spark your interest in Ideabooks to look back on for inspiration when decorating your own home. You can write up little notes attached to your saved Ideabook images to specify what exactly about the space caught your eye.

If you have heard of Houzz before now then you probably knew all that. But there’s more. Product Picks Ideabooks.

I’ve been an avid Houzz follower for over a year now and didn’t know a thing about the Product Picks…that is until Houzz contacted me and asked me to create my own Product Picks Ideabooks. Basically, Product Picks feature items {instead of entire room shots} that can be incorporated into the design of spaces. Of course, I jumped at the chance to become a member of the Houzz contributing team! How couldn’t I?

You may have already noticed the link on H*T’s side bar to my first Product Picks Ideabook, A Gender-Neutral Nursery. It’s a selection of products that I put together that would be appropriate for a boy or girl. Not only is it relevant to parents who choose not to find out the gender of their baby prior to the birth but also to families who plan on reusing nursery items from one child to the next. I wasn’t given a budget to work with and a few of the items reflect that {i.e. crib and chair}, so it’s more of a ‘dream’ nursery to me. Still, it’s meant to inspire an overall look.

And, yes, I do plan on referring to my gender-neutral Ideabook for our own nursery. Maybe not item-for-item but as a loose reference. So, for those of you who have been wondering and asking how I would approach the design of our unborn baby’s {boy or girl??} nursery, there you go! I definitely want to incorporate pieces that can follow baby through to his/her older years, and I want to avoid a theme of any kind. I really want the nursery to fit into the rest of our home but be sweet and warm and cozy too. Of course, our nursery will have to be completed on a budget. As much as I looooove that freakin’ awesome chair, it’s not going to happen. Neither is the modern crib. I’ll be working with what I’ve got to tweak an old crib {already on hand…the only baby thing we have leftover from our boys} and secondhand chair {hint} into affordable, stylish options for us. Stay tuned…

I’m set to create a Houzz Ideabook monthly and I’ll be linking to them on my sidebar and probably giving you a heads up about them in blog posts. You can follow me over on Houzz too if you want. I’m crazy excited about this newest venture. It’s fun. I have free reign – no forced themes. I find it way more fulfilling than I probably should.

So now that I’ve spilled the beans about my newest gig, I have a quick question for ya. Any requests for future Ideabooks? It could be as specific as ‘striped rugs’ or as broad as ‘family living.’ Have at it, peeps.

images: Houzz

We’re not ready to paint the Underdog yet.  In fact, we don’t even have drywall up!  But that’s not stopping me from gathering a bunch of paint samples to get a color scheme going.  Handy Hubby is 100% on board the figure-out-the-paint-colors-now train. And he’s leaving it up to me.  He says he trusts my eye.  We’ll see if he really means it when the paint goes up.

In the past, I’ve mostly used Valspar {Lowe’s} and Sherwin-Williams paint colors and paints.  No particular reason.  Those were just the nearest stores to our previous home.  Things might be a little different this time around.  We live in a new city that has a Benjamin Moore paint store located just minutes from the Underdog.  Seeing as how many of the paint colors I find inspiring online hail from BM, I decided to hit ‘em up for some paint swatches.

That first image is a pic of some of the BM colors {Coastal Fog, Stone Hearth, Stingray, Mount Saint Anne, Old Navy, Gravel Gray, etc} I’ve been adoring from afar, online, in various settings.  I decided to grab them up for reference in case I ever want them but they aren’t available anymore. Yes, I have an ongoing list of paint colors I like on my iPhone…categorized by brand.  It makes things a lot easier when I’m actually in the store.  I just look at my phone instead of standing there blankly pondering “Now what was that color I saw online that I wanted to check out?”

This week I stopped by our new {to me} BM paint supplier store and browsed through all the swatches.  Let me tell you that paint swatches are to me what free crack samples {do they even do that?!} must be to a crack head.  No offense to the crack heads out there.  When I get back in my car with a stack of free paint samples, I’m on a high.  That’s healthy, right? Healthier than crack at least.  And completely legal.

I left with this assortment of swatches.  I didn’t really have a deliberate scheme in mind – just started pulling swatches that spoke to me or that I thought would work well in the Underdog and work well together.  So far, the only sure thing at the house is the kitchen cabinetry which we purchased over the summer during an IKEA kitchen sale.  The lower cabinets are black and the few uppers are white.  Pretty much everything goes with either of those neutrals, so, like I said, I was just feeling the moment and grabbing what tickled my fancy.

In the mix, I ended up with a few light gray-ish, tan-ish, taupe-ish neutrals that I could see working well in the main great room.  I have every intention of keeping that space light and airy since we’re working so hard to make it that way {removing walls, vaulting the ceiling, adding skylights}. Painting it out in a dark taupe or gray would totally defeat the purpose…even though there are some great darker colors out there that I do love.

I also chose a few whites {man, there are sooo many white choices!} as possible trim paint options.  Then there are those pops of contrast and color in the more saturated teal, gray and olive swatches.  Not sure that any of those will actually make it onto walls in our house, but I like the overall scheme.  Bringing those colors into rooms either as painted pieces of furniture, throw pillows, patterned curtains or artwork would be a more subtle way to incorporate them.  I’m already picturing one of the dark teals on the front door in a nice, glossy finish.

What’s more…when I got home from the paint store and started looking more closely at the swatches, I made a fun discovery.

My on-a-whim color scheme loosely mimics the original art that I purchased at the Underdog’s estate sale back in late spring.  {Yes, I finally hung some stuff in our apartment!}

Can you see the light grays, tans and taupes?  The whites?  The contrasting jades, teals and charcoals?  The dark olive is in there too.

We have big plans for this large piece of art.  Without giving too much away, we’d like to use it as a ‘unique’ focal point in the living room area.  So pulling color inspiration from it – albeit subconsciously – seems like a reasonable idea.  Who knows? Maybe this original artwork {painted by the Underdog’s previous owner} will become the color inspiration for the entire house.  I think it’d be a great way to pay homage to the house’s previous owner. While the house may be unrecognizable by the time we’re done with it, I like the idea of letting this artwork take center stage and pulling subtle color inspiration from it. I’m being nothing but sentimental when I think of honoring it in such a way.  But it feels good.  It feels right. Plus, I like the colors.  Guess that’s why I bought it in first place.

images:  all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking