...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Remember when I put the boys’ room together last year? Well, take a look at what it looks like now. As in this morning. I didn’t even bother to pick up. Go ahead; pin away.

boys room update 1

boys room update 2

boys room update 3

boys room update 4

As I mentioned in last week’s post on the vintage dresser, this room has issues. Or more like I have issues with this room. Of all the room’s in our house, I find this one the most difficult to decorate. I’ve pinpointed two reasons why:

1) To optimize open floor space for play, all the furniture is pushed up against the walls. My natural instinct is to pull furniture into a room so it doesn’t feel like a bowling alley which is exactly what this room feels like to me.

2) I’m trying to make it a “boy” room but I also want it to fit in with the rest of our home. It doesn’t have to look like every other room in our house (nor should it) but it should have a similar vibe. With the muddy gray walls (it’s Valspar Dry Riverbed and I actually love this color just not in this context) and gray Flor tiles, the room tends to feel drab in real life.

If you’re a frequent reader, you’ve probably noticed a few changes from last year. The open shelf bookcases are gone. That was such a horrible idea on my part. Why did I ever think two rowdy boys would keep those tidy? The boys would put their toys and costumes away in the baskets but there would be stuff hanging out of the baskets and the baskets were all crooked on the shelves. I sold the bookcases to one of the kids’ bus drivers. I lost money on them but the bus driver was so excited to use them that I didn’t feel too badly.

The Lego table is gone. My sister is giving it a spin as a coffee table in her apartment and the chairs are in the attic. If you’ll remember, my boys specifically requested a table for Lego building. Turns out, they loved the idea of a table but 99% of the time they sit on the floor to play Legos. Mabrey used the table more than anyone. If the table doesn’t work out for my sister, I’ll probably take it back and use it along with the chairs for a kids’ table during get-togethers with friends / family. I bought a Swoop bag and it’s perfect for my kids. They can carry it out to the living room to play or keep it in their room. I considered a Pinterest-worthy color-sorted setup but that’s just not realistic for us. My boys really enjoy sitting with a pile of Legos spread out in front of them and *BONUS* it keeps them occupied for longer periods of time because they have to look for pieces.

Doing away with the bookcases and Lego table allowed me to solve a bigger problem – not solely filter out items that weren’t working. There was some serious inadequate clothing storage going on. I don’t know when it happened but one day (I swear it happened in ONE DAY) my boys shot up and all of a sudden their clothes got bigger and didn’t fit in their 4-drawer dresser anymore. They literally could not close the drawers when all of their clothes were clean and in the dresser. I think I remember a reader predicting that would happen. She was right. Letting go of the bookcases, table and chairs made room for the 10-drawer dresser I shared last week. Now the boys have plenty of room for their clothes with empty drawers to spare.

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Luckily, the baskets that once lived on the bookcases work perfectly in the closet. I reconfigured the wire shelving so most of the toys are in the closet now. It gets messy from time to time but at least this way I can close the closet curtains and walk away. I have some of their playthings tucked away in other spots of our home but for the most part this is it. (Due to popular demand and even in response to some negative comments about how little toys my kids have, I’ll be writing a separate post on that. Stay tuned.)

Layne asked for a reading chair in the room for his birthday this past winter. (He’s an avid reader.) We got him Ikea’s KARLSTAD armchair and he loves it. Steve and I do, too. It’s much heavier than I expected! We sit in the chair to watch the kids play or to read them books before bedtime. The wood crate next to the chair was a gift to Everett from his grandfather. He wanted to make Everett a toy box of some kind and asked for ideas and dimensions. I asked if he could make an open book crate on wheels and gave him measurements. The design is his. It holds books and has casters on the bottom so it can be rolled out of the way when the trundle bed is pulled out. It’s so useful!

The basketball hoop was another gift to Everett. This time from Santa. It’s not my favorite addition to the room ;) but Everett enjoys it and it was a good energy burner during our long, cold winter.

Now that the room is functioning well for everyone, I need to address some other issues.

ISSUE #1: Drab wall color.

SOLUTION: Paint! I’m leaning towards something light and fresh. (See the paint samples on the walls.) This will be the third time I’ve painted this room. And, yes, Steve likes to remind me that the room started out light.

ISSUE #2: Hidden bed. The bunk bed hideout is awesome but most days it looks like the image above with the curtains closed.

SOLUTION: Add a system for tying back the curtains during the day.

ISSUE #3: Lifeless walls.

SOLUTION: Add interest with wall art and inexpensive shelving. Have fun with it!

ISSUE #4: No vibe.

SOLUTION: Bring in a few textiles, plants and accessories to make the room feel more like a part of our home but not too serious. It is a kids’ room after all.

You probably think I’m crazy for switching up the boys’ room so soon but when a room isn’t working for my family (whether for kids or adults or both) I’m all for making it right. Notice I didn’t say perfect. In hindsight, I was way too hasty in getting the room “done” last summer. Hindsight is 20/20. This isn’t a room do-over just for blog fodder. (Although, I will be blogging about it.) This is something I would be doing even if I didn’t have a blog.

As much as I like eye candy online, I also think it’s important to show a room’s evolution and to show when things don’t go as planned. Or when things do go as planned but the plan was all wrong. I guarantee behind every drool-worthy room there is a wrong paint color that had to be painted over or a wrong piece of furniture that had to be returned / sold or a wrong layout that had to be tweaked. Or a simple “I changed my mind.” And that’s okay!

But it doesn’t feel okay when no one talks about it. It’s like a big secret in the blogosphere. Here’s what the room looked like two years ago and here’s what it looks like now. Yay! They leave out the part about trying out three different lamps, ten different pillows or the massive DIY fail. But that stuff most definitely happens. Personally, I have so much respect for bloggers whom share when things go awry. I find them more relatable, more human. It makes their “afters” that much better because I know a real person is behind them.

Do you have a room that irks you? Are you feeling stupid or guilty about wanting to make it right? (Because, yes, there are bigger problems in the world.) I feel the same way but I’m trying not to let it hold me back from creating a space that my family wants to be in. I encourage you to do the same.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Confession: I’ve been holding out on you.

dining progress 1

Earlier this year the dining part of the everything room {for anyone new here…the “everything room” is a mudroom, dining room and laundry room all wrapped together in one hardworking space} was looking rough. It was in that weird middle stage where stuff definitely looks better than pre-renovation but there’s no real style shining through yet. The round table was on loan from family as a space filler. I actually really liked that table but it wasn’t working for the space.

While the pedestal table could extend to seat six, we didn’t have anywhere to store the leaf and opening / closing the table was cumbersome. The room’s size and shape were screaming for something larger and rectangular. I had my eye on this West Elm table for months and months until I saved the money to snatch it up. Then it was on backorder. Then I waited impatiently for shipping confirmation. Then it arrived damaged. Then it was sent back. Then I waited impatiently again for the repaired table. Then it arrived. Then it was perfect. It was totally worth the waiting game.

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The tulip chairs are still here {more on those in a future post…I just dropped the seat cushions off at the upholsterer. My first professional upholstery job!} and I found two wishbone chairs at a local liquidation outlet for the ends of the table. Those wishbone chairs have been on my wish list for years but I could never justify the usual $150-$1,000+ price tag. When I spotted these knockoffs for $70 each, I was sold. They aren’t the most comfortable chairs but they aren’t uncomfortable either. If we’re going to be sitting at the table for a long time {hello, never-ending Monopoly game with kids} we sit in the super comfy tulip chairs. But, my oh my, are the wishbones dreamy! They get moved around a lot. Sometimes they’re in the dining room; sometimes they’re in the living room. I love them no matter where they end up.

dining progress 2

There are a few other changes to share. Maybe you remember me trying out our old cowhide, maybe not. Well, not only did the room need a larger table, a larger rug was in order, too. I found a vintage kilim on etsy from this shop for cheap. You have to look long and hard and haggle to get kilims cheap. Turns out, I’m a great haggler online. Notsomuch in real life. Typically, kilims don’t come in conventional sizes so there’s a lot of measuring going on during kilim searches. Luckily, I was able to find one that fit this room perfectly. I love that it’s “used” and isn’t too precious. Food and dirt happen and I vacuum ‘em up. No fretting.

dining progress 4

I also removed the curtains from the window in between the two Pax wardrobes. Many of you suggested nixing the curtains and you all were right! I was missing out on a ton of natural light with those weirdly placed curtains. I was so worried about the window not being centered {it’s not centered on the wall} between the wardrobes but it’s barely noticeable.

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I donated the petite sofa that used to sit below the window. It was leftover from our McMansion days and I was trying to make it work but it just wasn’t. I found an inexpensive carpenter guy just starting out on craigslist and commissioned him to make this wood bench. I gave him dimensions and an inspiration photo and this is what I got for $125. That price includes sanding, staining and sealing. It’s solid and well built. Sure, HH could have made it for less but he has been so crazy busy at work lately that, most likely, it wouldn’t have happened for a couple of years. I wish I had some Ana White in me but, sadly, I don’t. #thatswhatshesaid I’ve been dying for HH to teach me how to use more power tools but I think he’s secretly scared. The pillows are from an etsy store I’ve mentioned before.

dining progress 5

So the real reason for this post is to share my plans for making this little nook under the window a cozy reading / hangout spot for the kids or, who am I kidding, me. It shouldn’t be too difficult. A pair of sconces and something to corral a stack of books will do.

jonathon adler havana

 

I kindasorta have my heart set on two of these plug-in sconces.

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Wouldn’t they look lovely mounted to the sides of the wardrobes? We do need more lighting in this part of the room at night. During the day it’s bright but at night the only light sources in the everything room are the chandelier and a lone recessed light over the laundry nook. This side of the room is pretty dim even with those two lights on. I’m justifying the cause here, people.

dining progress 9

Other than taking that little nook up a notch, there isn’t much left to do in this room. I mentioned the tulip chair cushions are being reupholstered. The man door to the garage {not shown} needs painted and trimmed out. I want to add art to some of the empty frames that make up the gallery wall. The wardrobes could use a healthy dose of reorganization. But those are all fairly easy projects. The hardest part is finding the time.

I apologize for not updating you on the everything room until now. I have a tendency to overanalyze blog posts. Do I show one minuscule change or wait for something meatier? Or both? Or somewhere in the middle? Ah, I don’t know. What I do know is this room is easily becoming one of my favorite spaces in our entire house. Yes, I do say this every time improvements are made but I really mean it this time.

I’ll never forget going to The Tile Shop to select floor tile for this room.

“What room will the tile go in?” the salesperson asked, ready to direct me to the correct aisle.

“Oh, it’s a mudroom / laundry room / dining room right off the garage with french doors to the backyard,” I replied nonchalantly as if it were as common as a bathroom.

Awkward silence.

Then, “Honestly, I haven’t seen one of those,” the salesperson admitted, stumped.

Well, now you have.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Our master bedroom has taken a backseat to many other projects.

casual bed 1

We bought nightstands, organized the closet, hung an awkward curvy headboard under the window and pretty much lived with it like that for the past year. But I finally said to HH, “Enough is enough! Time to make this a room we want to sleep in every night.” I’ve slowly been acquiring pieces over the past six months and recently repainted. This past weekend we got around to hanging window treatments and installing new lighting. We’re not done with the room just yet but take a peek.

Clearly, I am still in the process of fine tuning the details {nightstand styling, hemming curtains, adding accessories, etc.} but I am already in love with this room.

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It’s so weird. I had envisioned a dark and moody bedroom but somehow I ended up with a calm and airy one. If it had been totally up to me, I would have gone for those dark walls but HH was leery and told me more than once he didn’t want to feel like he was sleeping in a cave. So we went lighter and I’m surprised by how much I like it! The wall color {Benjamin Moore half moon crest} reminds me of a light gray-blue oxford shirt and it’s growing on me. Big time.

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We hung a curtain rod above the closet and added four floor-to-ceiling curtains. It’s so nice not to see our jumble of clothes from bed.

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The panels easily slide over to give us access to the closet. We thought doors would have been too cumbersome and we like how the curtains balance out the window on the other side of the room. And hanging the curtains high on the wall go a long way in making the room feel bigger.

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We hung woven blinds and curtains on the window opposite the closet. The plan is to embellish the plain white curtains {maybe on the closet too?} with ribbon or something. And hem them. Obviously. I always like to wash, dry, iron and hang curtains BEFORE I hem them so I know they aren’t going to shrink up on me.

masterbed1

Ideally, I wouldn’t put my bed under a window unless it was architecturally interesting but we don’t really have a choice in this room. I tried to make the most of it. I looked at a bunch of pictures online of beds in front of windows. Many of them showed curtains falling behind the headboard but they were a little too fussy for me. The images I liked most were of simply dressed windows. So we just hung some woven blinds and called it a day. I like the texture and laid back feel of the shade.

We also switched out the curvy headboard for a straighter one to help the bed “fit” under the window better. I made sure to find one that wouldn’t overlap with the window. We love the original slate windowsills and like showing them off.

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Our bedroom receives very little natural light. To keep it bright, good artificial lighting is a must. We added a new ceiling fixture, a table lamp on a dresser on the other side of the room and two swing arm lamps flanking the bed. The swing arm lamps are my favorite pieces in the room and are super functional for two like-to-read-in-bed kinda people. I actually ordered the wall lamps back in January and they’ve been sitting boxed on our dresser up until a few days ago. I was waiting to paint and receive our new headboard before we hung them. There has been a running joke in our bedroom for the past several months…

HH, trying to read his Handyman magazine by the light of a lone lightbulb on the ceiling: Boy, it sure would be nice to have some reading lights in here.

Me: Technically, we do have reading lights in here. They’re just in boxes.

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The lamps support up to 75W which is more than enough for nighttime reading. The arm and shade are adjustable but I need to WD40 them. They’re a little stiff. I was this close to ordering the lamps in silver. That was my initial safe choice. But I am so glad I went for the antique brass. They feel so grown up. And I do turn 35 this year. Now if I could only keep my teenaged inappropriate humor under wraps…NAH. Borrrrrrrrring. {In my defense, I did just quell the urge to throw in a “that’s not the only stiff thing in the bedroom” joke. So sorry.}

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The room is narrow so I thought horizontal striped bedding would make it feel wider. Plus, I never met a stripe I didn’t like.

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I know you guys probably have a bunch of questions about where I got what but, if you don’t mind, I’d rather address those in a true “after” post. Especially since I’ll be adding in more accessories. But if there is something you are just itching to get your hands on, ask in the comments and I’ll be sure to source it for you. I just couldn’t wait any longer to share how things are looking.

In the meantime, I’ll be hanging out in my bedroom tweaking ’til my heart’s content. It’s funny. I used to blaze through this room on the way to the bathroom {the other bathroom is still gutted} and do my nighttime reading in the living room on the sofa but, now, I want to be in this room all. the. time. And it’s not even done.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

You already saw our kitchen go from this…

…to this…

Yeah. That was a complete gut job. Since then, we’ve been doing what we do best. Tweaking.

We originally installed four open shelves near the range. They were totally functional and got me on the open-shelving-in-the-kitchen bandwagon but left a lot to be desired. The white MDF boards got lost against the light-colored wall and looked a little meh. A reader with a keen eye also noted that the shelves seemed too low and would look better if they were in line with the hood.

We lived with them that way for a few months. I really liked having our everyday serving ware {plates, bowls, glasses, etc.} out in the open for quick access but felt that something was off. I went back through my kitchen inspiration photos and noted that many incorporated wood shelving. And after I looked further, I noticed that {as the wise reader above had suggested} the open shelving was in line with either: 1) a range hood 2) wall cabinets or 3) both. Aha!

I mentioned to HH that I thought the shelves would look better if they were raised so that the top shelves were in line with the hood and the bottom shelves were in line with the bottom of our wall cabinets {on the perpendicular walls}. He just looked at me.

He didn’t say a word but I’m pretty sure he was thinking, “What?! I just hung those shelves. They’re not going anywhere.”

Then I added, “And wouldn’t it be nice if we could find some reclaimed wood to replace the MDF?”

Still, the look and no words. This is what HH has to put up with on a daily basis. Have pity on him.

But I had planted a seed. And eventually it sprouted some roots because a few weeks later HH told me we had a few fence boards leftover from our DIY ‘love’ headboard. On top of that, they were 1″ thick – exactly what we needed. He thought we had enough to replace the MDF shelf boards. He also said something about installing a backsplash while he was at it.

I love that man.

I’ll have full-on ‘how we did it’ posts next week but feast your eyes on this…

How you like dem apples?

First, let’s discuss the most obvious tweak. The backsplash.

We chose 2″x12″ white subway tile and a contrasting warm gray grout.

We decided to tile up to the hood but not to the ceiling because we really didn’t want the hood to be an ‘in your face’ focal point from the adjoining family room.

Likewise, we chose to only go three tiles high with the rest of the backsplash. Don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy an entire wall of tile now and again but when it’s visible from a not-so-utilitarian space {like our wide open adjoining family room} then it feels a little cold to me. Not to mention, keeping our backsplash minimal saved us time and money. Unless your kids are doing the cooking in your house {in which case TELL ME YOUR SECRET}, you really don’t need a backsplash that extends to the ceiling.

It’s hard to tell from this shot but the low backsplash wraps around under the microwave.

No backsplash along the desk area. I’m reserving the under-cabinet space for an inspiration board, memos, reminders, etc.

Now for the less obvious tweak. The reclaimed wood shelves…

Seriously. They might be my favorite thing in the entire kitchen. Besides the skylights. The wood is old fence boards from HH’s family farm back in Pennsylvania. Like I mentioned, it was from the same lot that we used to DIY our previous headboard. {Don’t worry. HH sealed it so there’s no risk of contaminating our dishes with nasty chemicals or harmful dust.}

This shot shows how the raised shelves follow the lines of the kitchen better. I liken their new, higher position to a good {not Joan Rivers} facelift. It’s like that’s where they were supposed to be all along. Oh, and I have no problem reaching stuff on the shelves at their current height. At 5’4″, that was a slight concern for me but, turns out, it’s just like reaching up into a wall cabinet for something on the bottom or middle shelves.

The wood isn’t perfect. It’s bowed and warped which did pose somewhat of a challenge to hang. It has an aged patina that can’t be bought and only comes with time. We purposefully left some of the old paint on the boards.

Each shelf is actually made up of two boards placed side by side. Since we reused the IKEA brackets, HH had to cut the boards length and width wise to fit. Even though there are two boards and they aren’t perfectly smooth, it’s not enough to make our dishes wobble precariously above us.

I love the function of the open shelving so much that I bought two more brackets and we added a low shelf over near the fridge for easy water drinking. {See how the backsplash continues along this wall?} The height of the shelf is in line with the backsplash and still allows us to utilize the electrical outlets properly. This corner needs work. I want to hang the paper towel roll and I’ll probably remove the coffee maker since we rarely use it.

HH was worried the area under the shelf would be wasted but it’s perfect for storing cutting boards.

Some more shots because I can’t enough of the reclaimed wood and it’s Friday!

The mix of the shiny white tile, glass globe pendants, stainless steel brackets & appliances, weathered wood shelves, warm walnut island top, dark lower cabinetry and aluminum stools are so us. We love the contrast of light + dark, old + modern, shiny + matte.

I still have a short list of things to add to the kitchen, mostly final touches and accessories: window treatment, rug, maybe some hooks under the lower shelves near the range for towels/kitchen tools, wall art to the left of the window, etc.

Last week, one reader guessed another addition to the kitchen…

Cabinet lighting. {I’ve yet to paint those damn french doors. Why?! It’s not that hard!}

HH installed it himself. I have no idea how. I’m clueless when it comes to electrical work. I do know our electrician-in-law {who did the rest of the electrical work on the house} ran supply wire and hooked it up to switches so the cabinet lighting turns on/off with the flip of a switch. Presto! If you have any questions about it, feel free to ask in the comments section and maybe HH can answer them. I’m sorry. I have no desire to be an electrician.

But I do love what lighting can do for a space. I wish I could capture the ambience of the cabinet lighting at night. It’s the only lighting we use in the great room in the evenings after the kids are tucked in bed, lunches are packed for the next day and the kitchen is cleaned up. Cabinet lighting – that’s about as romantic as we get, people.

One last thing before I go…THANK YOU for voting for Mabrey’s room in the Room for Color contest over on Apartment Therapy. We won the dark division! I couldn’t have done it without you.

Have a happy weekend! I’ll be attempting a weekend warrior project that involves paint. Fingers crossed the kids cooperate.

Click here to see who won this week’s Bona giveaway.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking