...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Remember the secondhand media cabinet I bought back when we were in the throes of renovating? It was the perfect size for our needs but after living with it for a year and a half, it was clear that something lighter in color and design would work better.

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This little number fits the corner of our living room like a glove. I like that it’s white with solid doors and a leggy base. HH bought and installed this sensor back when we had the old cabinet because we were having problems with our universal remote not working properly. The sensor worked great then and now it allows us to control the media equipment through the solid doors of the new cabinet, too. It’s a crowd pleaser. I like that it lets us keep the ugly black boxes under wrap. HH is comforted by the fact that he can control the TV from any room in the house, including the bathroom. Men. The kids no longer become frustrated trying to point the remote just so. Everybody wins!

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This corner of the living room is pretty dark at night but Nate’s new task lamp does the trick. I’m trying out a few accessories – potted jade transplanted from an outdoor planter, books, a wood back massager and a black and white print. All things I had on hand. But you know me. I can’t guarantee the little vignette will stay this way for long.

Oh yes, little corner, I am going to have fun tweaking you whenever boredom strikes. Beware!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

I’ve had requests to share my favorite etsy shops and finds. Dare I say I spend more time browsing etsy than pinterest? It’s true. I’ve decided to try weekly etsy features and see how they go over. Let me know if you enjoy them!


This week on etsy I stumbled upon the most amazing collection of handmade chandeliers and sconces via Stimulight. The urchin-like starburst lighting has a midcentury vibe that reminds me of the Sputnik but is more affordable than the popular vintage pieces. Most of the fixtures are listed with a price tag of less than $400 while true Sputniks and even high end replicas can sell for upwards of $1,000.


The custom fixtures are made with the utmost attention to detail. The metal spines are crafted from high quality wire and can be adorned with hand painted wood beads for an explosive effect.


Along with chandeliers, the shop also offers handsome wall sconces and table lamps. I could see a pair of urchin sconces above a buffet in a dining room or flanking the bed in a master bedroom. A single sconce near a rocking chair or glider would be so adorable in a nursery.

After discovering this inspiring little shop, I was delighted to find out more about the maker and designer behind the pieces. The shop is the result of a creative collaboration between a visual display manager and an engineer. Zach Dutton, one half of the Stimulight duo, is a visual display designer for West Elm. Yes, THE West Elm. I’m a huge fan of West Elm so it’s really no surprise that I’m drawn to the experimental lighting gig spurred by one of their designers. I don’t think this newly introduced tangent shop will be sitting on the sidelines for long!

What do you think of these affordable spins on a vintage design? Are you a fan of West Elm too?

images: Stimulight


A few weeks ago I mentioned a last minute gallery wall above the fauxdenza that we threw together for the Tile Shop photo shoot. For being a totally spontaneous {i.e., unplanned and non-researched} project, it turned out pretty well and served the purpose of filling up the wall above the fauxdenza for a photo op. I guess it wasn’t totally unplanned. I had been imagining a gallery wall in the mudroom/dining room but hadn’t put any real thought into it. I was assuming it was something that would happen over time. But opportunity knocked and I answered.


We started out with a blank canvas. Well, pretend you don’t see those white pock-marks all over the wall. Those come later. I was a baaaaad blogger and didn’t take any pictures of the wall’s creation in real time. I had a good reason. I was in bed. Sleeping. Basically, I designed the wall quickly the night before the shoot then HH took over the reigns and actually installed the gallery wall. He practically forced me to go to bed. It was midnight and I was already crazy sleep deprived and needed some rest before the big day. At least, that’s what HH told me. I obeyed and went to bed. Yeah, HH is awesome. He knows me better than I know myself.

My “in-progress” images are simulated.


Before I hit the hay, I mapped out a spot on the floor in front of the fauxdenza to mimic the wall area above the fauxdenza. It happened that three rows of floor tile were the same height as the wall area above the horizontal planks on the fauxdenza wall but, if that happy accident hadn’t occurred, I would have just used masking tape or painter’s tape to map out a fake “wall” on the floor. I gathered frames, art, photos and scrap fabric from our attic {oh, the attic. It could use some organizing. It will happen.} and a few new frames from Target that I had picked up earlier in the day while shopping for photo shoot accessories.


After configuring, stepping back, reconfiguring, editing, stepping back and then nearly falling over from sheer exhaustion, this is the arrangement I ended up with. I was going for an asymmetrical arrangement that looked good as-is but could be added to in the future. I didn’t fret over keeping the same distance in between all of the frames. I didn’t measure anything. The entire process was pretty loosey-goosey.


I mixed white frames, wood frames, metal frames, a fabric-covered frame and even an unframed canvas to keep things interesting.


I was under the gun to have the wall ready for the photo shoot the next morning so I used framed photos that you might recognize from my previous house. There was no time to get new photos developed. This is also why there are no photos of Mabrey included. I do have pictures of her developed but none made it into the gallery wall…yet.

While I was coming up with the layout, HH ran to Lowe’s to pick up a bunch of 3M Command picture hanging strips. It was nearly 10 o’clock at night on a Tuesday and Lowe’s was the only place open.


At midnight, HH took over the installation of the frames and art so I could catch some zzzzz’s. You should have seen his reaction when I told him not to worry about the frames being exactly level or perfectly spaced. He’s an engineer, people. When it comes to hanging stuff on a wall, the words “unexact” and “imperfect” aren’t in his vocabulary. I didn’t watch him hang everything but I’m pretty sure the finished wall is an exact replica of my haphazard floor arrangement.

Why the 3M strips? Two reasons: 1) The wall that the fauxdenza hangs on is a block wall. On the other side of the wall is the garage. Drilling into a concrete wall would have been time-consuming and labor intensive. 2) Drilling into a concrete wall at midnight would have awakened all the sleeping little people in our house. I don’t know about you but when our little people are asleep, we like to keep them that way as long as possible.


The picture hanging strips are basically velcro strips that adhere to the wall and frames. They are super strong and can handle up to 16 pounds of weight. You stick one side of the velcro onto the wall and the other onto the frame so they will line up with each other. Then hold the frame up to the wall and press. You will hear a loud “click” when the strips line up properly and secure themselves to one another. Pretty sweet stuff right there.

FYI – Be sure to adhere the velcro directly to the frame – not the cardboard backing that holds the frame’s contents in. We had one casualty due to overlooking this important detail. When I woke up early the next morning, one frame had fallen and busted on the tile floor. Oops.


It helps to start with the lower frames and work your way up the wall.


There she blows.

Up close, from left to right…




It’s difficult to take non-glaring pics of the gallery wall because it’s directly across from a set of french doors. If it wasn’t BELOW FREEZING here I would have opened the doors and got a wider angled shot. I tried my best.


I absolutely love how the open ironwork of the pendant light lets you peek beyond to the gallery wall.


And because I know I would want the specifics if I were reading about a gallery wall on someone else’s blog…

A – IKEA frame, family vacation photo

B – IKEA frame, wedding photo

C – estate sale, abstract painting on canvas

Fun fact #1: The previous owner of our house painted the abstract art. I bought it at the Underdog’s estate sale before the house was officially ours. I’m so glad we finally found a place to hang it.

D – Ikea frame, Allposters.com print

E – Target frame, fabric scrap

F – IKEA frame, candid photo of Everett at 7 months old

G – Target frame, fabric scrap

H – West Elm frame, photos of Spain from HH’s high school trip abroad

I – IKEA frame, photo of Layne’s shadow kissing my shadow’s belly when I was nine months pregnant with Everett

J – IKEA frame, photo of HH and Layne as a newborn

K – Target frame, photo of me pregnant with Layne

Fun fact #2: HH gifted me a professional maternity shoot when I was pregnant with my firstborn, Layne. It was so much fun!

L – Target frame, fabric scrap

Fun fact #3: After failing to get this little round tabletop frame to stick to the wall, we decided it looked better just resting on the chair rail.


My favorite frames are the new distressed wood ones from Target. I’m pretty sure I need to run back and grab at least a half-dozen more. Megan, from The Tile Shop, said the frames tie into the reclaimed wood shelves in our kitchen. That must be why I like them!

The wall isn’t done but it’s done for now. I’d like to switch out some of the contents of the frames and, over time, I want to add to the gallery wall. {Don’t worry. I’ll share any changes I make.} As-is, it’s feeling a little too feminine and white-on-white for my taste. But it sure does make our house feel more personal and homey. Gotta love any project that does that.

I want to share a few tips for creating a unique gallery wall but think this post is already too lengthy to include here. So, look for my gallery wall tips in a future post. Coming soon!

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