H&H Home Ec: Grout Cleaner

Can we have a super real, honest (somewhat icky) moment? Because I feel like we’re all friends here, and with your friends, you can share things. Important things. Secret things you don’t want to tell anyone. Like how you had mildew plaguing your upstairs bathroom. */hangs head/* Grout cleaner is a totally acceptable topic between friends, right?

Our master bath in the new (old) house is far down the list for a remodel. We have bigger fish to fry. But because it doesn’t have a fan, it is plagued with mildew. I’d tried several products and just could not seem to scrub the black stuff away. I dread shower time. Enter: Mrs. Meyers Multi-Surface Spray Cleaner. This spray + a designated cleaning toothbrush is all you need!

H&H Home Ec: Cleaning Grout | Hannah & Husband

We’re big fans of Mrs. Meyers products, but I had no idea the same thing we use on our kitchen countertops could get rid of that horrid black stuff. I sprayed it on, let it sit for a couple minutes, and then scrubbed away. Clean grout achieved!

Whew! I feel better. We’ll keep this just between us 😉

For more Home Ec posts, click here.

Bonus: there’s a 20% off coupon on Amazon for this magic spray right now.

3 Ways to Add Soul to a Room You Don’t Use

We all have those rooms–the ones we shut the door on and try to forget the Christmas gifts we’ll never use that are piled on the chair we meant to have reupholstered. Shudder no more my friend! It’s a new year. You can do this. Here are three ways to add soul to a room you don’t use. In no time, you’ll have guests thinking, “They just know exactly what to do with their space!”

For us, that room is an upstairs bedroom. We have the one guest room that is used for guests and the other one that is used for linen storage/books/that pile for Goodwill. Sure, we could have kids some day and this space could come in super handy, but at the moment we think of it as that one other room we have to vacuum. So one weekend we took a few easy steps to add a little soul, and now it’s known as our “sitting room” thankyouverymuch.

3 Ways to Add Soul to a Room You Don't Use | Hannah & Husband

The gallery wall and rug in our “sitting room.” If you want to learn how to make the upholstered bench, click here.

3 Ways to Add Soul

Cozy things up

ie: Buy a cheap rug. You can sometimes find vintage orientals on Craigslist* or in antique malls. Another option is salvage stores. My instinct is always to look for color and pattern (hides the wine drips). But if you want a lighter look, find a white rug with some seriously soft texture.

*The one rule here is to make sure they don’t smell like smoke.


Hang some art. Better yet, hang a lot of it. Gallery walls are a great alternative to painting walls. (Hello, renters!) When we first bought our house, I was paralyzed by the fear that I would hang something in the wrong spot. Remember, if you don’t like where you hang something, you can always move it later.

Click here for an easy way to hang a gallery wall.

Next: Books, board games, and linens. Extra rooms are a great place for storage (thus all the piles) so why not embrace that? But (pro tip) this is not the place to put your DVD collection. Think of tactile personal objects that add warmth–a shelf full of clean quilts ready to be grabbed for a spur-of-the-moment picnic perhaps!

3 Ways to Add Soul to a Room You Don't Use | Hannah & Husband

We picked this vintage hanging light up for $5 and redid it. Here’s how.

Look at Your Fixtures

Fixture: A legal concept referring to something that
is permanently attached to a property.

Think door knobs, light fixtures, outlet covers, even the hooks in the bathroom. What one fixture could you replace to make things feel a bit more you? Regardless of what you choose, this is an upgrade that makes a big impact with less than an hour of effort!

Pro Tip: Scour the vintage shops for fixtures. They always come with a bit of the story, and that’s just what you need.

Finally, a little recommended listening for your room redo. Trust me on this one…

DIY Cleaning Recipes

Made + Remade On Location | Hannah & Husband

The Made + Remade crew (& Peter from the Scripps video team) plotting out the awesome. Clockwise from Peter: Michele, Emily, Ellen, and Kelly

Do you remember a few months ago when the Made + Remade crew headed to Asheville? Well, we can finally share the videos we were creating! My series was all about DIY cleaning recipes for everything from homemade dishwasher pellets to nifty ways to remove stains from your carpet.

Above, you’ll find a link to the DIY Cleaning Recipes playlist. You can also click here to watch Ellen’s “Essential Knots to Know” videos or click here to see Emily’s videos on “How to Fold Anything.”

Please take a sec to watch a video or two on YouTube and comment to let us know what you think!

For more great DIY projects, check out the Made + Remade blog on diynetwork.com

Evolution of a Home Pt. 2

Evolution of a Home Pt. 2 | Hannah & Husband

This is part 2 of our home’s evolution. To read part 1, click here. 

As I mentioned in part one, I’ve been lucky enough to know all the families that have ever lived in our house. When we bought our house in 2006, we bought it from really good friends. They knew I’d always wanted to live in the house and, since they were planning to start building in the country, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. It was fate I suppose.

A couple months before we moved in, we brought Woo-Woo and my aunt, a real estate agent visiting from her home in NYC, over to see it. Our friends were still living there and the one thing that my aunt went on and on about was the “spirit” of the house. It was friendly and inviting from the moment you stepped onto the porch. I like to think a small part of it was the house, but it was also due in big part to its inhabitants. Through the decor, they put so much of themselves into the house, which you can see as you flip through the pictures.

Evolution of a Home Pt. 2 | Hannah & Husband

I loved Trish’s hippie garden. She now has a much bigger yard with wildflowers everywhere! (Also, please note that we come by our Volkswagen devotion honestly.)

Evolution of a Home Pt. 2 | Hannah & Husband

The front porch is always one of the favorite rooms of the house. It overlooks the city park.

Evolution of a Home Pt. 2 | Hannah & Husband

Of Note: Carpet and white walls

Evolution of a Home Pt. 2 | Hannah & Husband

The living room’s mixture of Americana and antiques.

Evolution of a Home Pt. 2 | Hannah & Husband

Evolution of a Home Pt. 2 | Hannah & Husband

Of Note: contact paper on the walls with a 60s-tastic strawberry print

Speaking of strawberries: Trish is the one who taught me how to make strawberry jam! Get the recipe here.



Domestic Wannabe: Laundry Essentials

Domestic Wannabe: Laundry Essentials

Someone asked me recently if I could share some ways to make everyday chores like doing the laundry a bit more glamorous. The real answer would be to make yourself a martini and hire a maid. However, a more practical economic answer is this Domestic Wannabe series. So here goes…

Domestic Wannabe: Laundry Essentials

Our laundry basics are probably the same as everyone else: I’m a big fan of Tide & Bounce. Now here are a few tricks…

  • Something get extra dirty? Are there stains? Maybe you left something in the washer, and it got a little mildewy? Throw in some Clorox 2.
  • Take a night every 2 weeks to hand wash the big stuff: sweaters, blouses, etc.
  • Washing delicates in the washer? Get yourself a delicates bag.
  • Drying racks are your friend. Dryers are not.

Domestic Wannabe: Laundry Essentials

  • Now, and this is very important, I have a stain lifter that will change your life: Goop. I found it when I was in art school. It’s perfect for getting ink stains off your fingers and out of your favorite clothes. When it’s a little stain, we use Oxi Clean. When it’s worse, pull out the big guns.
  • Finally, do a load each day to stay on top of things. Put a load in the washer, pick up a good book, and make yourself a root beer float–you deserve it!

Domestic Wannabe: 5 Essential Cleaning Products


How are you at keeping house? When I was little, watching episodes of Martha Stewart and reading every lifestyle magazine I could get my hands on, I dreamed of what a fabulous housekeeper I’d be. But 6 years into home-ownership, I’ve realized that scrubbing floors and doing the laundry is not nearly as glamorous as I’d thought it would be. Then, last week I was talking with a friend about the guilt that can come along with cleaning (or not cleaning) the house. We both work for one of the top lifestyle brands in the country, and yet our reality is that we don’t scrub our baseboards monthly or even always pick up after ourselves.

So, after getting a few questions on the subject, I thought it was time to get super real on the blog. We’re going to talk about cleaning house–top to bottom. Tips, tricks, and ways to deal with the inevitable guilt that comes from not spending your Saturday scrubbing that bathroom floor by hand like Martha would. For this first post, I thought I’d share the 5 things that are always in my cleaning closet.


Swiffer Sweeper

I feel like Dexter and I shed the equivalent of a small kitten every day so the Swiffer is essentail in our house. It’s not a hassle to deal with like the vacuum so you can do it every day or two and save vacuuming for the weekends. I also use the cloths for dusting the rest of the house.

Castille Soap

This stuff is simply amazing. Add a bit to water and scrub down anything. It’s powerful enough to remove the greasy film that builds up on that wall above the stove, but it’s gentle enough to mop wood floors and bath the dog. I also used it as a face wash for a while. Husband claims I like the peppermint scent because it makes the house smell like Christmas, which I’m sure, on some level, is true.

Cloth Towels & Rags

I went through a phase where I was using paper towels for everything. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Bounty on a weird, I-ONLY-buy-Bounty sort of level, but using paper towels for everything gets expensive and wasteful. So I stocked up on cloth rags and towels and try to use those as much as possible. Just remember to have enough on hand so you can change them out every day or two so germs don’t live in them.

Method Cleaning Products

We’ve been a Method household since college when we attended a lecture by Karim Rashid and learned about Method’s great design & environmental practices. My latest love has been for their furniture polish–it works wonders on our antiques and smells divine!


While I’m not a huge fan of using harsh chemicals, I do understand that sometimes you need a stronger cleaner. I use it  disinfect after someone’s been sick or when we buy something old for the kitchen that makes me a little nervous (think things with small enclosures).

Morning Ritual: Illustrated

They say that things in the South move at a slower pace. That we tend to take things as they come and appreciate the moment we are in, be it sitting on the front porch sipping tea or having Sunday lunch with the family.

However, I have a tendency to contradict this on a regular basis, which is one of the reasons Husband is so good for me. He regularly reminds me to slow down and breathe. To appreciate the moment we are living. And, to appreciate the processes that bring about the things that we love. The latest of these things? Coffee.

In February, one of our Valentine’s Day gifts was a coffee grinder you turn by hand and a French press. It has transformed our mornings.

Morning Ritual Illustrated | Secrets of a Belle

Morning Ritual Illustrated | Secrets of a Belle

Morning Ritual Illustrated | Secrets of a Belle

What is a daily ritual you love?


Black & White

On Monday, one of my friends that is an amazing photographer captured this moment at the Knoxville Zoo. Fast forward a few hours, and I came across these amazing pictures of AnnaSophia (new favorite name) Robb from Teen Vogue.

annasophia robb in teen vogue, feb 2013

Needless to say, I am now caught in a frenzy of black & white. Who said the starkness of January couldn’t be inspiring? Winter whites tend to make me sleepy, but pair them with a bold black and I’m all over it. Here are a few ways to bring this contrasting combo into your own home this week…

This Week: Love Some Black & White | Secrets of a Belle

Misia Vase / Sonia Kashuk / Black Lilies

Make Something Pretty with Empty Tea Tins

tea tins before

In my circle of friends, I have always been known as that girl that never throws anything away. Case in point, a good friend recently brought over these tea tins. “I hated for them to go to waste,” he said, “and I knew you’d make something out of them.” Well, they sat in my studio for a while, until one day when I just really had the itch to make something but didn’t have any particular thing in mind. Here’s what I came up with…

tea tins, mod podge, paper clippings

1.) First, I applied a layer of acrylic white paint to each tin as a primer. Then, I painted them whatever color I wanted.

2.) I gathered scraps… Right to left you’ll see: a photocopy of a black & white children’s book illustration that painted with watercolors, part of a map cut to fit the tin, and magazine clippings.

3.) Finally, I got out the matte Mod Podge. Apply this in a thin layer with a foam brush to the paper and place the paper on the tin. Allow this to dry completely before adding one more layer on top to seal it.

Display desk accessories.

Keep stationery and stamps beside the door for quick note writing.

This round lip was perfect to put a ball of yarn in for easier gift-wrapping.


Picking an Exterior Palette

Yesterday, I shared the Before & After of our recent paint job. Today, I wanted to share with you just how we got there.

Picking a color palette, especially one that is such a bear to get done as well as quite costly like your exterior paint, should not be taken lightly. However, I am also a firm believer in ‘just going for it.’ What’s the worst thing that could happen? If you are going with your gut, the odds are that whatever colors you choose will be great. Here’s how I like to go about choosing a palette.

First, I go to Pinterest. I look through all the images that speak to me at that moment and see if I can spot any similarities. Above is a collage of some of the pictures that were really singing when I was choosing the palette for our home.

Next, I go to the paint store and start looking. Live with the paint chips for a while. Carry them around in your bag. Get them out and mix them up. Odds are, after a couple of days, you will be looking at the same few every time you get them out. When you find a few that work, I highly suggest trying them out online. In the world of computerized everything, each paint brand has a way to “try on” their colors. We chose these 3 from Sherwin Williams.

Finally, look at accent fabrics. For this step, go back to your original set of pictures. What are the accent colors that are repeated in several photographs. Then, start sorting fabrics by what type of fabric you need (in this case we needed Indoor/Outdoor fabric.) and colors.

I chose the 4 fabrics you see above on Fabric.com, and then let Husband make the final decision. If you have a significant other, this is a great step to do together. To be honest, the fabric he chose was just one I’d thrown in the mix. It seemed a bit much for me at first, but now I am completely in love! Significant others have a way of seeing things that you may not even know you like, but you’ll be surprised at how much this stretches you!

Finally, don’t be scared! Try something new. If you don’t want to start with your whole house, maybe you just need some encouragement to liven up that old guest room. A little fabric and a fresh coat of paint can totally change your outlook. Just take my word for it!