Spring 2021 One Room Challenge: Week 1

Well, the day has come! I am participating in my first One Room Challenge, and I am so excited. For those who don’t know, the One Room Challenge is a biannual event that encourages bloggers/designers/Instagrammers to transform a space in a relatively short time frame (the current ORC is eight weeks long). I have been a big fan of the ORC for years. To say I’m nervous is an understatement. My first project includes multiple parts, and some are things I’ve never done before. There’s nothing like a deadline to keep you on your toes. Am I right?

For the ORC, I’ll be re-doing one of the hardest working rooms in our house – the home office! It’s a small room right off the entry and, as you can imagine, I spend a lot of time there. This is where I do all my design work, blogging, creative stuff, bill pay, my husband does all his volunteer work and where I have video chats with friends. Not only does it get used a ton, but it’s a major spot for storage. We store files, photography equipment, craft supplies, old memories, office supplies, old textbooks, picture frames, electronics, and more.

The Office & The Problems

The office is oddly shaped and measures about ~8.5′ x 9′ (the walls are a little wonky, no perfectly square room here). It hasn’t changed much since we first moved into the house. At move in, the room had green carpet, beige walls with a world map border, a boob light, and orange-toned wood trim. From the beginning, I knew I wanted to add cabinetry for storage. Until now (eek!), the room had a mish-mash of old office furniture to make it work…barely.

I got ambitious about a year or so ago, removed the border, and hung a new light (it’s staying, guys!). But, as you can see below, the room is cluttered! As I said, it’s a room that needs storage. It also happens to be the dumping ground for DIY projects (or test ideas). It does have some special features, like the self-opening filing cabinet, an old relic from my husband’s parent’s office. The back corner is, well…too embarrassing to show. It has picture frames, stacks of textbooks, and random computer parts (never know when you’ll need a hard drive!).

When looking at the wall closest to the door, you’ll see even more stuff. Most of these are random things that don’t belong. So the office is also serving as a weird waiting room for my stuff. Each piece hoping that I will soon get to it and determine its future. Despite all this stuff, I still really like the office. It gets great light and is a perfect size.

Design Plan

Now that everyone sees the mess, we can get to the fun stuff – the design! For the most part, the office’s floor plan is not changing; it’s just going to be upgraded with cabinetry, a built-in desk, and new furnishings! Some of the current items are staying, like the round rattan table from Target, the beaded light, and organizational pieces (magazine holders, etc.). Still, the majority of the room will be replaced.

The floor plan below shows the general setup (the colors are not accurate). A chair and side table will remain on the left wall. The wall across from the window will have one cabinet and be the main “work area.” The computer monitor will be here, the same as the current setup. The wall across from the chair hosts the majority of cabinetry and will be the main storage source in the room. Hallelujah.

Here is a detailed elevation of the cabinetry. This is from the supplier’s website, so it’s pretty basic but gives you a good idea of the setup. The wall will have an open shelf unit in the center flanked by two large cabinets. For the base cabinets, I ordered mostly single-door units. I included one two-drawer cabinet to serve as the filing cabinet. The three drawer cabinet that goes on the adjacent wall (the other part to form the desk) is not shown. The cabinets are white with inset doors.

I’ve played around with Homestyler, a great web-based floor planner program, and made a rendering of the room, so it’s easier to understand. Most of the details are different, but it communicates the general setup and feel of the room. Homestyler has been updating their program over the last year, and I’m still getting used to the new features. I honestly miss many of the old options, but I think I need more time to learn how to use the program.

The design board of the room below gives you the visual direction of the room. Over the course of the 8 weeks, I’ll talk more about the different components. A couple of things are still not ordered (blinds and a few accessories), so things may change slightly. The general vibe is a warm, comfortable pallet with blues and greens mixed in for good measure.

Wallpaper | Bamboo Shades | Bead Light (no longer sold) | Swing Arm Light | Chair | Rattan Table | Hardwood Floors | Magazine Holder | Paper Organizer | Blue Fabric (chair fabric) | Plaid Fabric (pillow)

The To-Do List

Alright, here is where my anxiety starts ratching up as I write down all the things that we need to do in a short period of time.

  • Replace carpet with hardwood floors
  • Paint window trim and door casing white
  • Replace baseboards (they’ll be thicker and white)
  • Wallpaper the entire room (I’ve only wallpapered 1 wall my entire life and used a completely different method. Please keep me in your thoughts)
  • Obtain cabinets (delivery date is early June) and assemble cabinets
  • Install cabinets (never did this before) & add needed trim
  • Install butcher block countertops
  • Replace light switches, outlets, and plates
  • Replace blinds
  • Sew a pillow cover
  • DIY a frame for some DIY art, maybe buy a frame?
  • Put the room together and pray the chair arrives before the end of the challenge.

Definitely check out the other guest participants and the featured designers. Hope to see you next week!!

May Link Up

A bird built a nest on our deck this year. Every morning we check on her, and she is dutifully sitting on her eggs. My husband snapped this picture one afternoon when mom went to get something to eat. Two beautiful blue eggs!!

The Mitchells Vs. The Machines – This is the best movie I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s technically a kids movie, but it has something for everyone. It’ll make you laugh and warm your heart.

The 12 Week Year: Do you need motivation and new strategies to help you achieve your goals? Well, the 12 week year REALLY delivers. It’s a short book, but it gets right to the heart of the things that hold us back.

How Long Can We Live: A fascinating article in the New York Times Magazine talks about human longevity. Do we have a limit? What is the limit? An interesting read.

Interior Design Book Review: Made for Living

Okay, I love Pinterest and use it all the time, but design books hold a special place in my heart. For whatever reason, I never tire of looking at them over and over and over again. Each time I find something new to appreciate. Plus, I love reading about design. Design books aren’t cheap and many aren’t sold in brick and mortar stores. I’ve made a goal to build an interior design library for myself and thought I would share the book reviews here.

The inaugural book is “Made for Living” by the prominent Amber Lewis. The book was just released in October of 2020, but it’s already a classic. It’s a quick read that you can get through in an afternoon or two. The writing is conversational and casual. The photography is gorgeous and the featured interiors are inspiring. Amber gives advice throughout the whole book to help the reader achieve her style. But there are several other design gems that would appeal to anyone (not just those trying to emulate her style).

Picking the Perfect White

First, her section on white paint is the best I’ve ever seen. There is so much discussion on the internet about how to pick the RIGHT white paint, but there isn’t much info given beyond designers sharing their favorite ones and touching on undertones. I haven’t seen any articles that tell you the factors which influence a white-paint decision. Amber gets into the nitty-gritty details about this. Undertones, of course, play a role, but she talks about the importance of light, environment, and feeling. If you are feeling stuck on picking the right white, bookmark this section of her book. You won’t be disappointed.

Mixing Shapes

An interesting concept that I never really thought about before, at least consciously, is the impact of mixing shapes in a design. This is something that people may do unconsciously, but reading her explanation for why mixing different shapes matters made so much sense. It shined a light on something I never really thought about.

Shopping Vintage

If you are familiar with Amber, you already know her brand is synonymous with vintage. So it’s no surprise that the book goes into great detail about vintage shopping and the things you must keep in mind. You don’t need to have access to Round Top Texas to be able to use her tips. They’ll help you at your local thrift shop or flea market.

No Filler, Only Facts

Lastly, her room-by-room suggestions are straight to the point and pack a punch. There’s not a lot of filler here and each tip is thoughtful and right on target. Some of these tips may feel familiar (use durable flooring in a mudroom), but you’ll walk away with some new ones too.

Overall Impression

As I mentioned, this book is already a classic. I was familiar with most of the pictures in the book (there may have been a few projects that I haven’t seen), but nothing felt surprising or new. It’s nice (and educational!) to have Amber discuss the details of the project and the thought process behind the design. It gives you a sense of how the spaces came together. Overall, a beautiful book with useful information.

Round-Up: BURRYCO Dresses & Stud Earrings

I’m baaaaack. Every couple of months I need some downtime where I don’t worry about blog content and I just work my regular full-time job and live life. It’s a nice reset and I always come back excited and ready. So, please forgive my occasional disappearance. The last couple of weeks I’ve been enjoying the beautiful midwest spring (which took a 180-degree turn this week when it snowed for two days–oye!).

I wanted to come back with a fun post about things that make me happy. The first is a brand I found a couple of years ago–BURRYCO. Their dresses are so cute and, sometimes, pure craziness. I like them because they feel happy, bold and each piece has a personality. The dresses are reasonably priced (usually between $150-$200), but here is the bummer – I have no idea where these pieces are sold. I always find them on RueLaLa or Overstock. I tried to get to the bottom of it this week and went searching, but I couldn’t find anything. They don’t have a website and they may have a Facebook that is barely functioning (it looks super suspect). Since they don’t have a presence online and are not carried in any stores, tracking down their products is hard. Nevertheless, their dresses are cute and feel completely unique.

1- Midi Blue Stripped Dress| 2-Flower Mini Dress | 3- Red A-Line Dress

I pulled together a couple of my favorites ones right now. I can’t get enough of this blue and white striped dress with embroidered sleeves. I’m not sure what is on the sleeves- maybe birds. It feels summery and reminds me of this dress by Stella Jean. That flower mini dress feels so in right now (can anyone say grandmillenial?) and that red one looks perfect for a day at the office. They also make this colorful Morroco-inspired dress (#4), which seems perfect for traveling, and that pineapple dress (#5) screams vacation. Lastly, I can’t get over #6. It looks like a tweed or other thick fabric that would be perfect for working at an office during the winter.

4- A-Line Dress | 5- Maxi Pineapple Dress | 6- Pink Short Dress

We’ll start my next “happy” list with a fun fact! I’ve had to re-pierce my ears 4 or 5 times since I’ve been an adult. If I don’t have earrings in all.the.time, my holes will close within 3-4 weeks. To keep these babies open, I’ve been wearing small ball studs for a year now and I’m getting a little bored. I started searching for other options and found so many cute ones.

1- Pink Flower Stud 2- Gold Flower Stud 3- Tulip Stud 4-Flamingo Stud 5- Rainbow Stud 6- Ice Cream Stud

I particularly love the Kate Spade flower earrings (#1) and Kendra Scott floral geometric studs (#2). The Flamingos (#4) are small and discreet but add color and personality. The Tulips (#3), rainbows (#5), and ice cream cones (#6) are perfect for summer. I’ve already purchased several pairs and I have to say they make me smile.

That’s it for today! See you next week!

April Links

Make Life Beautiful with Paula Sutton: Reading this interview with Paula Sutton was a delight. She is so conversational, warm and friendly. I absolutely loved her advice to let your personality shine in your designs. Isn’t that what makes design so fun? Read about Paula’s adventures at her blog, Hill House Vintage.

Glitterbomb Trap Catches Phone Scammers: Ever wonder who’s behind all those scam calls? Check out this video. You’ll see how modern-day scammers are convincing people to send thousands of dollars to them and how their operations work. It’s fascinating AND disgusting at the same time. If anything, this video should be a public service announcement and is a good resource to share with vulnerable populations (and it’s very entertaining). Also, you get a little bit of satisfaction when some of those individuals are caught.

Tina (HBO Documentary): I’m embarrassed to admit I knew very little of Tina Turner’s history before this documentary. Her story has some highs and lows, but what caught my attention is Tina’s ability to keep going and preserving. The pinnacle of Tina’s career was in her mid 40’s, after a messy divorce where her husband retained basically all the rights (and money) to her original content. This documentary serves as her swan song and it’s a beautiful goodbye.

Updates & Crawling Towards the Finish Line

Living Room & Dining Room

Can you believe that we started updating our floors almost 6 months ago!? While we finished the floors in early January, sadly, the living room sat empty without any baseboards until last weekend. Here is what the room looked like right after we finished installing the floors.

The floors looked greeaat (imagine Tony the Tiger saying that) and, in my mind, the rooms were basically done. I knew we had a couple of weeks of work left. But the seriously cold winters of the Midwest really slowed things down. We planned on installing new trim, so my husband needed to cut each piece in the garage. As you can imagine, that didn’t sound like a very appealing job in the middle of winter. As any responsible couple would do, we ignored the project until the weather improved. (To be fair, we had a few warm weekends between when we finished and last weekend, but it didn’t seem like a priority.)

After just a couple of hours of work, the living room baseboards were installed on Sunday. Installing baseboards is pretty easy, but it takes time and patience to get it right. I learned a ton about different types of joints – butt joints, scarf joints and coping corner joints. I’m not an expert, but I found this, this and this helpful when learning about installing trim. Now that they are installed, its tempting to move everything back into the room, but the finishing work (filling holes multiple times, sanding, caulking and painting) needs patience. My plan is to work on this a little bit every day for the next week and finally re-install the living room furniture next weekend (hopefully!!!!)

That also means that I need to finalize the updates I was planning for this room, which are minor. I plan on replacing the pillow covers (already ordered!), updating the blinds to a natural fiber and possibly changing up the console table.

The dining room is, uh, going a little slower. I am hoping that next weekend we’ll start installing the board and batten (again weather really delayed us). Fingers crossed this happens soon, because I am already…..

Planning for the Next Project

You know when there is a lull in another project, so to keep yourself busy you start planning the next one? Well, beyond the living room, dining room and bedroom, I have started planning ANOTHER room. I don’t want to go into too many details, but we’ve started getting wallpaper samples and I am VERY excited. Want to guess what room I planning?

We’re going to complete this secret room during the One Room Challenge (starts May 6th). The project is going to include NEW FLOORS! WALLPAPER! CABINETS! I am slightly worried about getting all the supplies in time, so I am trying to finalize the design decisions within the next couple of weeks and order the big stuff by April 1st.

Better get back to work. 🙂

When Things Change: Modifying the Design Plan

My bedroom re-do has stalled. While talking to my husband about purchasing a new bed, he requested, you know like a normal human, to see the new bed. The minute he saw it, he scrunched up his nose and said no.

I really thought he was joking, but after a couple of minutes I realized how series he was. I had a few alternative beds in mind and showed him those. He liked a couple of them better. Yet, there was a problem. I didn’t measure any of the other beds to make sure they would fit or ensure the mattress would be the appropriate height. Alright…let’s break out the measuring tape.

1 – Woven Bed 2 – Cane Bed 3- Iron Bed 4- Gray Wash 5- Upholstered 6- Four Poster

Not long after the bed discussion, I received the rug sample. The rug is beautiful. The colors and pattern are perfect, but the texture is not right for the bedroom. It feels too rough for the space. Both my husband and son said they would not want to get out of bed and step on it. Point taken.

I started playing around with the design board and I came up with some alternatives. But none of the rugs really spoke to me or felt “right.” The bedroom has carpet and we eventually plan to replace it with…more carpet, so I don’t think a rug is necessary. I’ve decided to eliminate the rug for the time being. After the room is put together, it may become clear that a rug is needed…but I’m not going to force it. I’ll know when I find the right one. I removed the rug from the new design boards and everything still feels cohesive.

Jer and I then narrowed down the design to three beds and, surprise, the original bed is still a contender. I really struggled to make a decision and Jer felt bad for me and said I should just get it if that’s really what I want. I haven’t ordered the bed though because I want Jeremy to be happy and I started second guessing myself.

Option 1

Option 1 is the original design and I still like it very much. My only concern is that the wood on the bed will read too gray and feel out of place in the room.

Option 2

Option 2 is Jer’s favorite. This bed is a warm wood, so the room will be pretty well balanced. I like this bed, but the headboard’s height is shorter than Option 1. For most mattress it may not matter, but since ours is super tall I’m afraid the headboard will look dinky.

Ah, option number 3. The one my husband never asked for and surely doesn’t want. I really like the bed and like that it’s metal and upholstered versus wood. It will compliment the oil rubbed bronze light fixtures and hardware that’s in the room. I like it, clearly, but my husband worries that the bed isn’t very sturdy.

I’m still waiting on a few of the other things to be restocked (nightstands, wicker table, chair). It seems that everyday I wait to make a decision, the more likely it is to be sold out and not available. I better make up my mind soon.

March 2021

It’s officially spring and I am feeling renewed and hopeful.

Magnolia Network: I couldn’t help myself and I signed up for the Discovery + app, so I would get access to all things Magnolia Network. My review is simple – it’s good. The programming is heart warming and sweet. Programs that did not initially appeal to me totally pulled me in. Want to cry? Watch Courage to Run. Want to hear how interior designers design spaces? Watch Point of View. Want a cute cooking show that feels so relatable? Check out Magnolia Table. I have enjoyed everything that I’ve watched. The Gaines have my number (and I’m sure a large portion of America) and they know how to tell a story. Bravo. I can’t wait for the full launch.

The Best Towels: I am in love with these Quick Dri Towels from JCPenney. They are so good and dry lightening fast. But I am crying because JCP discontinued them. WHY????

English Cottages Meets California Cool: Wow! This home tour is beautiful. It feels put together, intention, lived-in, comfortable and effortless. #Goals.

The Principal Bedroom Design

Remember when I told you I purchased a new mattress? Well, it came and it is wonderful. I’m sleeping great and look forward to lounging in bed every night. However, there is one big problem. The mattress with the foundation is way too tall for our current bed frame. Whomp,Whomp. I didn’t take a picture of how ridiculous it looked, but here is my cartoon illustration of it.

So, right now the bed is basically sitting on the floor, you know, like, a college student’s bedroom. Jer and I brainstormed ways to modify our current bed frame to make it work. We thought about cuttings down the legs or lowering the level of the bed supports from the top to the bottom. We may still do one of those things, but I am seriously leaning towards purchasing a new bed. Then it turned into, as it usually does, a complete redesign with all new furniture. We planned on replacing most of the furniture anyway and I have looked on/off for a couple of years for a dresser and new nightstands. I hadn’t pulled the trigger because the bedroom functioned great. It looks okay and I thought I would purchase it when I found the thing that I love. Turns out, I have found things that I love. Here is the design board for the room.

I’ve already purchased the dresser and the night stands are sold out. I’m on the notification list though and will order them as soon as they are back in stock. I’m still investigating the bed. I’m feeling pretty confident that it will work. I’m going to do a quick mock up in our bedroom and make sure the height is right before pulling the trigger.

I am also obsessed with this green jute rug by Dash & Albert. When I saw it on their website, I was intrigued but when I pasted into my mood board I had an immediate reaction. I knew that it was what the room needed- some warmth and interest. I ordered a swatch to make sure the on-screen colors are true to life and will excitedly wait for it to arrive.

I’ve also ordered the lights. I already have the mirror, tray and curtains. I need to nail down exactly what I’m going to use the fabric for (mostly pillows) and order the supplies. I am going to attempt to sew them myself. The fabric is pretty expensive, so I’m going to do a trial run with some cheaper stuff that I already have.

That just leaves the chair, side table and bamboo blinds. I have to double check the measurements of each item and then I’ll be ready to order them.

Maybe in a two months I’ll have the bedroom fully pulled together? Fingers crossed!