...because home doesn't happen overnight.


That image is one I shared when I painted the dining room / mudroom for the THIRD time. I’ve made some progress since then {a new table, a new rug, a DIY succulent centerpiecea cozy window nook, etc.} but have always envisioned discreet yellow artwork occupying the wall space between the wardrobe and french doors.

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And there she blows. She’s yellow and dainty and perfect. Exactly what I had in mind.

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It’s Swirl by the ever popular and insanely talented Clare Elsaesser. I popped the giclee print into one of my favorite walnut frames. I love how the natural wood tones of the frame and the bright yellow of the print look against the dark wall.

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The piece has a lonely and mysterious vibe so I thought it fitting to hang it by itself on a sliver of wall in a room with two other gallery displays. I find myself staring at this new stranger wistfully throughout the day.

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Also, I brought my outdoor planter inside to save it from the frost. Technically, HH brought it inside but whatever. I don’t know what I’m more proud of: remembering to bring it in or the fact that I transplanted these babies and kept them alive all summer? I wasn’t sure where to put it but I quite like the planter here. It receives good light and is mostly out of the way. If these plants live to see spring, I’ll consider it a miracle.

Me + living green stuff usually = dead brown stuff.

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Hanging new art motivated me to finally fill up a few empty / temporarily filled frames in the gallery wall. {The jade plant was an outdoor plant that I recently brought inside as well. Finding spots for all of these LIVING outdoor plants is a problem I’ve never encountered before!} I marked them with starbursts above.

dining art collage

What’s better than one really great Clare Elsaesser print? Two really great Clare Elsaesser prints, of course. I was so happy with the first piece that I ordered a second one, Watching Trees. The mini green leaves are from Amelia Kay and the abstract looking piece under them is just a page I tore out of Martha Stewart Living. I think it’s actually a photograph of different salts but I was drawn to the colors and textures so up on the wall it went.

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No more empty frames on the gallery wall! But that’s not to say I won’t switch things up whenever I feel the itch which happens often and causes HH to imagine cuckoos circling my head.

Oh! And the lightbulb in the dining pendant…I’ve received so many questions about it! We found it here and it’s the largest lightbulb we have ever owned. HH and I are all for saving the world with CFL’s but neither of us can stand the harsh blue light that some of them cast. We have CFL’s in other fixtures but we wanted this room to have a nice warm white light to eat by and the bulb needed to be shapely since it’s visible through the wrought iron pendant. This oversized globe bulb was the best we could find. Any suggestions for CFL’s that give off a warm white glow and are pretty to look at?

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That’s the latest and greatest on the dining area. I’m anxiously awaiting the tulip chair seat cushions to return from the upholsterer. If they turn out anything like the image I have in my head, they are going to be awesome. Can’t wait to share!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

11.28.12 / Well Hung

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving. It was also my birthday. It was also the day HH hung a bunch of stuff in our house. He knows me all too well. I’ll take home decor projects over traditional birthday gifts anytime.

We finally added curtains to the picture window in the family room. It’s an improvement. What hasn’t improved is my ability to shoot directly into a window.

The curtain panels are from West Elm and you can find them here. I bought them over a year ago when they were on sale with free shipping and I had a stash of gift cards. The rod that West Elm suggests using with the panels doesn’t come long enough to work with our large window. Ideally, I was wanting a plain matte black curtain rod with enough thickness to it to hold its own above the big window. I finally found this less expensive simple rod that fits our window but the diameter doesn’t allow for the curtain rings to slide over.

I resorted to buying two $7 packs of metal shower curtains rings from Meijer to hang the curtains. I actually don’t mind the ring on ring action. It feels casual and undone. If I ever tire of the look, there’s enough length to the panels for me to remove the tabs & rings and sew a rod pocket into the top. By then, maybe our kid/guest bathroom will be complete and I can use the shower curtain rings in there??

One day we’ll add some textured woven blinds to fill the gap between the top of the window and the curtain rod. I’m thinking I’ll probably have to buy two or three narrower blinds to extend the full width of the window as a single blind that size would be crazy expensive and might sag. I’m also going to woo HH into building a window seat bench with open cubbies in it for toy and book storage. Or I might go all Ana White and bust it out myself. I keep asking HH to show me where all his tools are and how to use them but he keeps doing everything for me. I think he’s afraid I’ll mess it up. Which is highly possible. But it wouldn’t be the end of the world, would it? I should totally start wielding some power tools.

The curtain panel on the right is doing one of my favorite curtain tricks: hiding the big a$$ subwoofer on the floor. My feelings towards this piece of home entertainment equipment are similar to my feelings towards the surround sound speakers in/on the wall. As long as HH keeps hanging stuff for me, I’ll keep covering up his ugly speakers. Hehe.

Love the narrow ivory frame around the panels. You could DIY something like this with inexpensive gray curtains from IKEA by hot gluing narrow ribbon along the edges or even painting the narrow frame around the panels. In fact, you should do this. Don’t be lazy like me.

HH assembled and installed this shoe cabinet next to the front door months ago. I don’t speak of it because we don’t use it yet. Our original front door is, well, original and still out of order. Once we start accessing the house through the front door, this slim cabinet is going to be all the rage. Last week, I was feeling brave and ventured up into the attic to rescue the capiz mirror. It’s from a Ballard Designs outlet near Cincy and it used to live in the master bedroom of our previous house. It’s found a new home in our new old home. I love seeing the reflection of the kitchen in it.

Eventually, we’ll hang something on the other side of the window to balance out the mirror on the left. Not necessarily a round mirror though. That would be too matchy.

HH also hung a light over the dining table. Surprise! It’s the Hoyne pendant and it’s pretty much the most amazing light ever. We had purchased a really inexpensive FOTO pendant from IKEA and spray painted it matte black. HH had been trying to install it for months with no success due to a missing bracket part that IKEA was refusing to send us and HH was fuming over the idea of having to go buy one. After the snafu, I realized the solid pendant probably wasn’t a great choice for the room. The dining table needs direct light and the FOTO would have provided that but the rest of the room also needs lit. The ceiling light is the main artificial light source in the mudroom. There is a small can light in the laundry nook but it doesn’t provide enough lighting for the rest of the room.

This pricier pendant is the result of a new collaboration in the works {I can’t divulge all the details yet!} and it was my inspiration light. It’s the light I was dreaming would live in our dining room/mudroom and if I’d have had $350 burning a hole in my pocket I would have snatched it up before now. With the open weave of the Hoyne, the rest of the room recevies light – not just the dining table. The shadows that the light casts onto the ceiling at night are beautiful! And I like how the pendant lets natural light from the window and the french doors pass through.

Did you notice a change in the location of the dining table? When we moved, we thought we’d like to have the table over by the sofa for a casual place to eat. But after living with our mudroom/dining room for a while now, we’ve found that placing the table in the center of the room works better. We toss mail on it when we come in. I fold laundry on it sometimes. It’s multipurpose. Of course, we still need chairs around the table but having the table in the middle of the room makes the room flow so much better and keeps all the big furniture from tilting the visual weight of the room to one side. It reminds me of those fancy entries you see in magazines where there’s a big pedestal table gracing the middle of the foyer.

The sofa is staying put but I’m going to make a slipcover for it. And add pillows. Ahhhhh. Pillows.

So stuff is happening here. Slowly but surely. It’s starting to look and feel more like home with each tweak.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking


Congrats to Melanee who just purchased a new house and needs to lighten it up!

I’ve been on a lighting kick recently. We’ve yet to find ‘the one’ for our master bedroom. But that’s okay. The hunt is half the fun. That’s why when Lamps.com contacted me about a reader giveaway, I was game. Seriously. Does anyone else spend way too much time browsing lighting fixtures online? Be honest. That’s what I thought. Prepare to waste some time being wowed by  inanimate {yet glowing!} objects.


From table lamps to living room ceiling lights to ceiling fans, Lamps.com has a wide variety of styles to choose from. On top of that, the bulb{s} required for your new light are shipped to you FREE along with your purchase. How cool is that?! Could you use some more light in your life? Great! See entry details below.

PRIZE: $150 gift card to Lamps.com

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a U.S. shipping address. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post proclaiming “LIGHTEN UP!”

DEADLINE: Enter before Thursday, September 20th at 9:00 p.m. EST. One random winner will be announced Friday, September 21st.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: What/who do you need to lighten up on? Sweet treats? The kids? The impossible task of keeping your house spotless? I’ll go first. I think I need to give my kids a break. Does it really hurt anything if Everett wears five costumes in one day? Or if Layne  takes ten minutes to brush his teeth? No, really it doesn’t.

Don’t forget to follow Lamps.com on Twitter!

images: Lamps.com

Now that the master bathroom is done {from a renovation standpoint}, we’ve made a shopping list of what finishing items are left to purchase. One item on the list is a ceiling light for the master bedroom. I thought it sounded like a fun item to start with. More fun than register covers, that’s for sure.

{view of master bedroom from master bathroom}

Yes, I finally got around to deep cleaning all the bedrooms over the weekend. No more construction dust! We can actually see out the windows now, too. More details on that coming in a separate post. Back to the lighting issue…

So far the rest of the Underdog’s lighting is simple – even industrial. In the bedroom, though, I’m thinking of something a little more dreamy. But still simple. Since we’ve been frugal with our lighting options elsewhere, I’ve set the master bedroom ceiling light budget at $200. Not outrageous but I consider it a splurge for us. {The cost of the boys’ bedroom, nursery and dining lights was less than $80 total.} I’ve just started browsing and put together a roundup of my favorites to date. Of course, I may end up buying a light that’s not even on this list but I thought I’d share my search for those of you who are curious about my thought process.

master bedroom lighting

1 – Dandelion Chandelier {$200} This chandy features thin brushed steel wire wound into a sphere. I like the feathery texture and think it would put off a warm glow when lit.

2 – Star Chandelier {$196} Twinkle, twinkle little star. I imagine the rays of light and shadows this starlight puts off are amazing.

3 – Golden Bronze Criss-Cross Pendant {$200} The mix of bronzed metal, fabric shade and crystals is unique. I especially like the ‘X’ pattern of the metal.

4 – Capiz Pendant {$70} This shimmery chandy may look familiar. I hung it in the master bedroom of our previous home and it stayed there with the sale of the house. It’s the least expensive option I’ve found so far but a lighting kit has to be purchased separately as the chandy doesn’t include one. As much as I dig it, I kinda feel like ‘been there done that.’ It would totally work but I’m itching to switch things up. I don’t want the Underdog’s decor to be a reproduction of our last home. Still, it’s a great piece.

5 – White Cloud Pendant {$150} Sleeping under this cumulus-like pendant would feel like sleeping under the open sky. It has a very organic aesthetic that I’m lovin’ too.

6 – Zig Zag Acrylic Pendant {$177} This is probably the most modern option I like. The frosted acrylic zig zags are arranged in a way that gives the light a woven appearance. This pendant is also one of the smaller options so I’d have to double check measurements before saying ‘yay’ or ‘nay.’

A few other thoughts I have about lighting for the master bedroom…

  • The placement of the bed will be beneath the window seen above, directly across from the bathroom. That means the centered ceiling light will hang just above the foot of the bed so a hanging pendant/chandy will work – as opposed to a flush mount light – since there won’t be anybody walking around under the light.
  • The wattage of the ceiling light doesn’t have to be super powerful. For one, I like a dimly lit bedroom. Second, I really want to hang two wall sconces bedside for reading. HH and I are both bedtime readers. Between the ceiling light and two wall sconces {not to mention mounted lights in the closet}, I think the lighting will be sufficient for what we need. Ambience.

How does Handy Hubby feel about the possibilities? He likes them all – some more than others. Like with any other decorating decisions, he’s leaving the search up to me. I narrow the options down, show them to him and then we make the final decision together to ensure it’s something we can both live with. Over the years, we’ve found this is the best way for us to make home decor choices together.

Narrowing down the possibilities to a select few is key. HH isn’t good at making decisions when there’s a huge playing field to choose from. {Unless you’re talking about girls, that is. He did make a pretty good choice on that one. Ha!} For example, HH has been looking for a new pair of shoes for months now. Zappos has him corn-fused with their huge selection. He’s easily distracted.

What about you? Any lighting purchases recently? Any in your future? Any thoughts on bedroom lighting? Any other ideas on how to make joint decorating decisions?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking