...because home doesn't happen overnight.

calvin & hobbes 5

My kids are OBSESSED with Calvin and Hobbes. It’s a daily read around here. I credit the comic strip with advancing Everett’s reading skills over the summer. It has prompted a lot of good questions from the kids, too. (“Mom, what does ‘pizzazz’ mean?”) Even though Calvin and Hobbes was a favorite of Steve’s when he was little, he never pushed it onto the kids. It just sorta happened. I think it was Layne who first chose a Calvin and Hobbes book at the library and it was love at first sight read.

So when I was brainstorming ideas for a blank sliver of wall next to the boys’ closet, a DIY mural of Calvin and Hobbes was the first thing that came to mind. Luckily, everyone else thought it was a cool idea, too.

calvin & hobbes 1

We searched high and low for an image that would fit the narrow wall space. We settled on a simple image of Calvin and Hobbes standing next to each other. Steve printed the image onto a transparency at work. (Shhhh, don’t tell.)

calvin & hobbes 2

We used a projector to project the image onto the wall. The projector is the same one we used for a similar project in our previous house. We borrowed it from Steve’s office and they told us to keep it because they had no use for it. I have no idea how the projector made the cut and managed to stay in the “keep” pile when we downsized. In fact, I thought we had given it away but Steve found it in the attic space above the garage last week.

calvin & hobbes 3

Steve traced an outline of the image onto the wall with a pencil. The image was a tad too wide. We didn’t want the bedroom door to obscure Calvin when opened. So after tracing Hobbes, Steve repositioned the transparency to move Calvin a little closer to Hobbes. Then he traced Calvin.

calvin & hobbes 4

Using paint we already had on hand (Clark + Kensington primer + paint in one, color-matched to Ace Paint color “besalt” D36-7 in a flat finish) and a small paint brush, Steve filled in the lines. It took two coats to get adequate coverage.

calvin & hobbes 8

The matte charcoal paint worked perfectly. The end result is similar to what you would find in print. Except it’s life-sized and on a wall.

calvin & hobbes 6

The area under the basketball hoop no longer feels like a void and the mural should hold up to free throws.

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For reference, here’s the same view with the bedroom door open.

Layne and Everett were away at their grandparents’ house when Steve painted the mural. Even though we had talked with them about creating a mural, the boys had no idea it was happening while they were away. They were so surprised (and excited!) to discover it when they came home. Everett talks to Calvin and Hobbes. It’s hilarious. And ironic. And awesome.

The best thing about the mural (other than it being FREE!) is that it’s easily “erased” with a coat or two of paint should the boys tire of it. But seeing as how their dad is still a fan after 25+ years, I don’t think Calvin and Hobbes are going anywhere.

Fun fact: Did you know Bill Watterson first created the popular comic strip characters in his spare time when not working at an advertising job he detested? The mischievous first grader and his tiger sidekick were originally side characters in a strip that was rejected by a syndicate.

How do you feel about wall murals? Would you consider painting your child(ren)’s favorite character on a wall? I would never agree to a character-themed mural on a wall in a main living area but when done in a kid’s space and in a simple, non-garish design, I think it’s harmless fun.

FYI - If you’re interested in DIYing a wall mural but don’t own a projector, try borrowing one from a local business, school, library or church.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

07.02.14 / The Living Room

Thank you for all of the wonderful comments and encouraging words on the house tour! Seeing the before-and-after images next to each other was a little surreal even for us. Like, whoa, we actually bought that dump?! But mostly we feel happy about how much light and life are in this lil’ house now. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the major renovations. I’d like to feature individual rooms and discuss them in more detail. First up, the living room!

HouseTweaking living room before 2

HouseTweaking living room before 1

It came to us dirty and dated but we liked the large, south-facing window and the orientation of the fireplace.

living room 2014-1

We had the aluminum window replaced with a better insulated vinyl one but we were adamant about retaining the look of the original. The center pane is fixed and the two outer panes are sliders. Whenever weather allows, the sliders are open. We salvaged the original slate windowsills throughout the home. I love the way this window frames the view behind the couch. It’s almost like a work of art and it brings in so much natural light. Plus, we enjoy watching the world go by.

For window treatments, we hung woven shades and gray linen curtains. I have a thing for natural textures so that’s where the woven shades come in and I read somewhere about hanging non-white curtains to distract from a less-than-perfect view. Just across the street is a nondescript shed painted hunter green soooo…yeah, gray curtains. The shades and curtains are functional but we leave them open 99.9% of the time. We don’t mind living in a fish bowl.

living room 2014-4

We replaced the orange shag carpet with engineered hardwood. (We’re on a concrete slab.) Installing the floors nearly did us in. We had to glue each and every plank to its neighbors and we did it all ourselves…while I was seven months pregnant. It was awful but we saved a ton of money by DIYing the install and we’re happy with the results. Although, next time (ha!) I think we’ll opt for something that’s easier to install.

We tried living with the red brick fireplace surround for over a year but we ended up painting it out in white. It really lightens up the space and it’s much easier to clean now, too. We don’t regret painting it one bit but we do feel better knowing we gave the red brick a try. We had the wood-burning fireplace converted to gas with an affordable insert we bought via craigslist.

The TV was quite the conundrum. I was all for giving it up but Steve enjoys it…along with (what I think are) unsightly surround sound speakers. The TV / surround sound setup was a complete compromise. I don’t particularly care for TV’s mounted above fireplaces but, since we removed the wall separating the living room from the kitchen, we didn’t have much of a choice. Our solution was to run the TV and speaker wires up and over to the adjacent wall and house the media components in a small cabinet. (You can see the wires via related links at the end of this post.)

living room 2014-13

To make the TV less ominous, we DIY’d a planked bump-out above the mantel that reaches all the way to the vaulted ceiling, recessed the TV within and painted the planks to match the fireplace surround. The bottom plank is removable in case we ever need to service / replace the TV. This setup appeases Steve and me. He has his fancy TV and speaker system but the wires are hidden and the TV isn’t too obnoxious. It also makes for a great architectural feature. That was a happy accident.

living room 2014-9

I’ve tried disguising the dreaded “boob speakers” with decorative mirrors hung on either side of the TV. They’ve been up for over a year but I haven’t decided if they work. We’ve tossed around ideas to make this wall even more of a focal point. Contrasting paint? Grasscloth wallpaper? Who knows what it will look like in a year!

I designed a wood box that slips over an ugly subwoofer on the floor next to the media cabinet. Are you sensing a theme?

living room 2014-7

I played around with a few different furniture arrangements before settling on the one you see. We discovered that placing the sofa in front of the window gave us more open floor space and encouraged casual conversation. Someone sitting on the sofa can easily converse with someone in the kitchen and vice versa. And the scale of the sofa fits the window so well. (I strongly suggest moving around your furniture until it feels right. No harm, no foul and it’s free!) We also switched out a large, round coffee table for a slimmer, rectangular one to better suit the space.

living room 2014-5

With such a major piece shoved up against the window / wall, it was important to “float” other pieces within the room. I positioned an oversized chair perpendicular to the sofa. Not only does this close off the conversation area, it also helps to separate the entry from the living room.

A shag rug layered over sisal defines the living room part of the main living space and gives the kids a soft place to romp. Bringing in the cloud-like rug upped the comfort factor 1000%. It’s where everyone wants to be.

entry 2014

We don’t have a true entryway or foyer. The front door opens up into the living room. The small area behind the chair acts as our “entry.” Peg hooks give guests a place to hang their coats and the bench is a great spot for stashing deliveries until we open them.

living room 2014-3

The front door is original but it was in sad shape when we bought the house. The previous homeowner had added numerous locks and light-blocking, privacy screens to ward off strangers. The only problem was it warded off everyone. In fact, we couldn’t use the front door (we normally enter through the garage or mudroom) for over a year after our move-in date. Our UPS man made deliveries through the window! Eventually, we rebuilt the door jam and rehabbed the door.

The old door was in such disrepair that at one point we considered getting rid of it and starting from scratch. We’re so glad we didn’t! It’s one of our favorite original features – albeit all gussied up.

living room 2014-8

To bring down the height of the wall near the entry and balance out the TV wall on the opposite side of the living room, we installed simple DIY shelving. I display decorative items on the higher shelves safe from our toddler’s reach and use kid-friendly baskets on the bottom shelf for easy storage. And, bonus!, this shelving unit hides yet another pair of surround sound speakers.

So that’s the gist of the inner workings of the living room. As far as aesthetics, I really wanted this room to ooze comfort and coziness. We hang out here. We watch movies here. We read here. The kids play and wrestle here. We have family dance parties here. We entertain here. A lot of life happens here so the room didn’t need to be brightly colored or overly patterned. I feel like the room gets enough personality from its inhabitants. Did I mention we have three rowdy kids? This isn’t one of those look-don’t-touch living rooms. (I detest those.)

living room 2014-12

living room 2014-10

living room 2014-6

living room 2014-11

I’m drawn to neutrals, cozy textures, a mix of wood tones, leather upholstery, vintage & tribal patterns and hits of black and gold so those run rampant. But everything is kid-friendly. On movie night, the kids use the zig zag poufs as bean bags and they’re never without a stockpile of pillows and blankets.

I hope you enjoyed this BIG tour of our little living room ;)

Resources of note:

wall paint – Benjamin Moore tapestry beige
trim, ceiling, fireplace, TV wall, interior door paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
exterior door paint – Behr evening hush
flooring – Jasper engineered hardwood handscraped birch in Texas Brown via Build Direct
entryset – Emtek
peg hooks – West Elm
woven bench – Target
black & white bull photography print – Minted
string art – DIY
tripod floor lamp – Target, spray painted gold
wall shelves – Lowe’s, DIY
sisal rug in entry – NaturalAreaRugs
gold clip-on lamp – Land of Nod
wood sculptures – Ballard Designs
woven baskets – HomeGoods
porcelain glove form – vintage
black & white vase – HomeGoods
vintage kantha on back of chair – ebay
oversized chair – Thrive Furniture’s Taylor chair in expectation grey, blonde stain
large sisal with gray border – Overstock
Keno Moroccan shag rug – RugsUSA
basket next to chair – Target
scalloped wood side table – Grandin Road outlet
patterned pillow on chair – Crate & Barrel
leather pouf – Joss & Main
leather sofa – Soho leather sofa by Elements Fine Home Furnishings (google for the best price)
fringed blankets – Target
sheepskin – Ikea
kilim pillow covers – vintage, etsy (try Sheepsroad or YASTK shops)
light gray squiggle pillow – HomeGoods
slat bench / coffee table – Overstock
gray curtains – West Elm
curtain rod – Amazon
curtain rings – Meijer
woven shades – petite rustique from Overstock
wood bowl on coffee table – Target
shed antler – ebay
various decor books – Amazon
brass-bottomed vase – Target (it’s actually a toothbrush holder)
zig zag floor poufs – West Elm
media cabinet – West Elm (I added vintage brass knobs)
gold task lamp – Target
“Generations” photography print – Steven L. Miller photography (custom gold frame from JoAnn’s)
faux roe deer antlers – One Kings Lane
gas fireplace insert – craigslist
tongue and groove planks – Home Emporium
Monrovian star mirrors – Joss & Main
ceiling fans – Barn Light Electric Co.

In case you’re interested in seeing how this room has evolved, a few living room-related posts:

FURNITURE

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/12/14/we-bought-a-sofa-or-couch/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/02/13/she-loves-me-she-loves-me-not-hey-girl/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/04/23/rearranging/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/11/06/media-cabinet-switcharoo/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/03/19/its-just-a-really-awesome-chair/

DECOR

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/03/27/one-coffee-table-three-ways/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/05/13/puppies-rainbows/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/10/10/layers-in-the-living-room/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/10/11/a-light-for-the-living-room-shelves/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/18/steven-l-miller-photography/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/23/a-little-bit-of-christmas/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/03/25/diy-undercover-subwoofer/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/04/08/diy-brass-string-hanging-art/

DIY SHELVES

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/08/01/library-day/

TV WALL

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2011/10/20/the-not-so-in-your-face-tv-plan/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/08/20/honest-mondays-surround-sound/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/11/26/planking-the-tv-wall/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/09/the-tv-wall-is-built/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/12/19/tv-wall-afters/

ENTRY

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2013/11/01/front-door-update/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/04/24/my-front-entry-part-i/

*http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/04/25/my-front-entry-part-ii/

Thanks for reading!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

06.23.14 / DIY Bullseye Art

Things are moving right along in the boys’ bedroom.

Currently, this lil’ corner of their room is a new family favorite. Layne requested the reading chair. I added a vintage ottoman and dresser (off to the side) for added comfort and storage, respectively. With the major furniture pieces in place, I’ve turned my attention to accessories and art. Ever since Apartment Therapy featured this home tour, I’ve been itching to DIY some bullseye art and this corner seemed like the perfect place for it.

glidden DIY

With the help of Glidden® paint, I was able to pull it off. Here’s what I did:

bullseye DIY

1 – I used a square canvas (found in my attic) and two quarts of Glidden paint in blue-grey and fire engine red. First, I painted the entire canvas a warm white that I already had on had. This step is the secret to achieving nice smooth curves in the final product so don’t skip it! (You can easily touch up stray brushstrokes with the white paint later on.) I let the white paint dry completely.

2 – I found the center of the canvas then used a pencil to trace a large pot lid right in the center. This would later become the inner curve of the outermost bullseye ring. I determined how thick I wanted my outer ring then cut a length of string accordingly and tied one end to my pencil and the other end to the handle of the pot lid. Holding the lid in place, I carefully drew a larger circle around the pot lid. I had my outer bullseye ring.

3 – For the inner bullseye, I traced around a small glass container in the center of the canvas.

4 – My pencil lines were faint which made them easy to edit and also easy to paint over.

5 – Working from the center out, I painted the canvas using foam brushes and a steady hand. I gave the center bullseye and outer ring two coats of paint each. After the paint dried for 30-60 minutes, I went back with the white paint used in step #1 to touch up any brushstrokes that inevitably made their way out of the lines.

DIY bullseye art via House*Tweaking

I decided to frame the canvas with inexpensive wood trim. I left the wood unfinished for a casual look. I think the thin frame is the perfect touch!

DIY bullseye art via House*Tweaking

Glidden paint made it easy to finally turn my inspiration into reality. The boys LOVE the bullseye art! They keep telling me how cool it is. I think the bullseye is a great symbol to use in a boy’s room without feeling too theme-y. What do you think?

FYI – Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Glidden paint through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write about Glidden paint, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

paint boy room 1

Two weeks ago I painted the boys’ room. For anyone keeping count, this is the third time I’ve painted the room. Layne wanted black walls. Everett wanted white walls. (Initially, they wanted orange walls but I put my foot down.) I’m not scared of an all black room but Steve said he didn’t want another dark bedroom. (Mabrey’s room is Benjamin Moore dark pewter.) I painted one wall black and the rest white. It was a compromise but everyone is loving the results.

To keep things cohesive with the rest of the house, the black is Besalt by Ace paints color-matched in Clark + Kensington primer + paint. It was leftover from the mudroom so it was “free.” The white is Benjamin Moore white dove. It’s the color of all the trim in our home including the painted fireplace and planked TV wall. I snapped these pictures in early evening light so they’re reading a bit warmer than I would prefer. In real life, the room reads more black and white. Literally.

Immediately after painting a room, I can usually tell if it has staying power or if I’m going to repaint it in a year. I’m not repainting this room for a long, LONG time.

paint boy room 3

The painter’s tape on the walls is standing in for art. I haven’t finalized anything yet so green rectangles it is! Also, this is what the boys’ beds look like on any given day. Messy. I’m thinking of going with all white bedding and a mix of patterned pillows. The boys are begging for sheepskin body pillows of all things. (?!) I’ll see what I can do.

paint boy room 2

I switched out the chunky feet on the KARLSTAD for these pretty pegs. It was a breeze. Such a clever product! The new feet give the chair a totally different look.

I found the vintage ottoman on ebay for $30. It’s vinyl but is a good leather lookalike. It should stand up well to boy feet. The legs are dreamy – wood with brass tips. I haven’t had a chance to clean them up yet but I’m going to give ‘em a little rub down with some Restor-A-Finish.

paint boy room 4

I’m brainstorming ideas for this bare wall. I think I’m going to hang a few open shelves for display and storage. (The Ikea bag has brackets in it that I’m testing out.) I want to add a trio of hooks for the boys to hang their pajamas, library bag and other crap that usually ends up on the floor. I found the two Nate Berkus baskets at Target yesterday. One basket for each boy. At the end of each day, they can quickly grab a basket and round up all the books, toys, socks, etc. that have found their way into the living room. That’s the plan anyway. I’m also going to hang longer closet curtains from a rod above the closet like we did in the master bedroom.

paint boy room 5

Last but (most certainly) not least, Everett asked me to paint his orange basketball rim gold. Um, okay. I think my obsession with spray painting everything gold is rubbing off on my kids. I haven’t decided if this is something I should be proud of or not.

paint boy room 6

So it goes in the boys’ room. Hopefully, I’ll have more updates to share soon!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking