This was my first One Room Challenge (ORC), and it was a great learning experience. Just having a deadline and an expectation to post once a week gave me the structure I really needed. I’ve already started thinking about what room to tackle for the Fall ORC (I’m leaning towards the master bedroom). But, importantly, I’ve also been reflecting on how I can make the ORC a better experience and apply some of the things I learned from this challenge.
The Original Plan – What Worked & What Didn’t
As a casual observer of the ORC, I didn’t really appreciate the nuisances of participating. I went into this challenge with a pretty simple plan – complete a beautiful room by the deadline. I did not think about social media, engagement, or connecting with my fellow DIYers/designers. The plan I put together was solid, and I achieved my original goal. However, I quickly learned that my plan was missing some vital parts. I’m definitely going to discuss those things a little later. For now, let’s talk about what I did this time around.
Order Large Pieces 3 Months Before Deadline
I knew the timeline would be tight since most home-related suppliers were estimating 10+ weeks for delivery. I ordered all the large or essential items in April. Overall, this worked pretty well. The slight delay in the cabinets created a marathon at the end, and the chair not arriving was a bummer but not a deal-breaker.
Next time around, I would like to have all the items on-site before the ORC even begins. The next ORC is in October, so I am guessing I should order items by August 1st.
Dedicate One Weekend Day Per Week
Jeremy and I have full-time jobs. We also have a son and want to see family and friends, so we decided we could dedicate one weekend day and a weeknight per week to the project. That means the scope of whatever project we picked needed it fit within that schedule. This didn’t include photographing or writing up the post (I usually do that early in the morning before everyone wakes up). For the most part, this worked out fine, and we could generally stick to this schedule and completed all the tasks without work seeping into the other days of the week. Of course, the last week was a complete marathon. I think that was a result of the cabinet delay versus any planning issues. But maybe this last week of the challenge is always going to be this crazy? I’ll have to remember that!
On a personal front, the schedule had challenges. Jeremy and I need time to relax and recharge. One day per week to recharge and do all the shopping, cleaning, laundry, and errands were hard. We fell behind on the laundry, and there was an embarrassingly large mountain to do once the challenge was over. I also think it was hard for my son at times. He is old enough to entertain himself, but having both your parents tied up for a whole day is kind of a drag. I’m not sure there is an answer to any of this since actually doing the work is essential to the challenge! Ha!
Next time around, I am going to be more cognizant of our personal life. October through December is a crazy time for our family (so many birthdays and events!), so I don’t think we’ll have as much time anyways. This will probably mean picking a project with a smaller scope, scheduling a few vacations days, and seeing if Grandma could spend a couple of days with our son.
Stick To the Plan & Schedule
I am a planner. That means I usually have the majority of the details worked out before jumping into a project. For me, this was essential for the ORC. Having the full design plan allowed me to create a realistic schedule and spend each week focused on what needed to be completed. As a result, I didn’t have to worry about making any big design decisions. That gave me peace of mind and decreased the stress.
There’s also something satisfying about seeing your original plan come to life. It’s affirming and confidence-building! I had a few “messy middle” moments (you know, when something doesn’t look exactly the way you hoped), but I trusted my original plan, and it worked out as I had hoped.
Next time, I am going to do exactly the same thing. I’ll have 90% of all design elements identified (the 10% was mostly accessories). Then, I’ll generate a schedule and stick to it, only slightly expanding or contracting it as needed.
New Things for Next Time
Not long after the challenge started, I realized I had not planned for key things. I was confident in the design and execution plan, but the sharing and connecting aspect was not even a thought in my mind. Over the course of the 8 weeks, I made a note of some of the things I needed to do for next time. If you are a newbie like me, I think these tips may help you too!
Plan Time to Connect
One of the best things about the ORC is connecting with all the other DIYers/designers. I budgeted zero time for engagement which was not fair or all that fun! I was delayed in responding to the lovely people who commented on my updates. I tried to like, follow and comment on other people’s posts, but it became harder as I had less time during the challenge. It was also difficult because it seems that most people are posting and engaging on Instagram during the day – the same time that I am working my regular job. It was clear from the first week that I should have made this a priority.
Next time, I am going to build into my schedule time for engagement. I will start with an hour on “progress update days,” and see how that goes.
Think Strategically About Progress Pictures & Social Media Posts
I underestimated how much I should have thought about my social media posts. I thought a quick progress picture would be sufficient, but I noticed that most accounts had a styled and thoughtful image for the weekly ORC updates. The images were beautiful and could easily draw viewers in. In addition, many people had video and Instagram stories about their updates. I’m not sure I am a “stories” kind of person. I don’t have any desire to be in front of the camera, but I may experiment with some video in the future.
Next time, I will dedicate a small portion of our project time to styling a photo. I will also be cognizant of the schedule to make sure that I can get some kind of nice-ish photo each week. I’ll also think about key moments that I can capture on video or things that would be helpful to discuss rather than write about.
Good Photography All The Time
Honestly, taking good progress pictures was not a priority for me. Most of my pictures were haphazard, captured randomly in the middle or near the end. I rarely broke out my fancy DSLR and usually opted to use my phone because it was convenient. While I don’t think it was terrible, having better photography is always a win in my book. Also, I didn’t always capture some key moments because I was too busy doing the project. Moving forward, I know I need to remember that documenting the process is just as important as doing the project.
I plan on having my DSLR charged and mounted on the tripod while working on the project every week.
Writing Detailed Posts While Being Super Busy and Tired is Really Hard
The first couple of weeks, my blog posts were pretty good. They were detailed and provided lots of relevant information. As the challenge went on and I was busier and tired (ha!), the posts became shorter and less detailed. I am not a quick writer, and it takes many revisions to create something that I am happy with. This multiple revision thing is extremely time-consuming and about 10 times harder when I am tired. I’m not exactly sure how I am going to overcome this. Any suggestions?!?
What did you learn and what are your tips and tricks!?
I would love to hear what other people learned. What are some things you wished you would have done? What are you going to do next time?