The One Room Challenge: Week Two

I keep telling myself that things will look worse until they look better… and worse they currently look. Over the weekend, we demoed the built-in bookshelves that took up one full wall of the guest bedroom. I’m usually a big proponent of built-ins, but these were killing the layout and made the room feel unusually cramped. Also, it’s just plain awkward to reach behind you into a bookshelf to flip a switch. A switch that doesn’t actually control the light… because there isn’t an overhead light. As with most the rooms in this house, we’re discovering that overhead lighting was not a priority.

So, let’s get to the photos of the damage. If you can remember, these are the built-ins bookshelves in question:


And our current state:


We’ve since started to prep the walls to be patched, though we’re contemplating just replacing the damaged drywall panels for a smoother finish. While the wall looks pretty terrifying right now (not to mention that strip of wood floor that needs to be refinished), the room already feels so much bigger and the view from the hallway feels less claustrophobic.

We also picked up paint samples for the room and are debating between a medium grey and a dark pewter, both from Sherwin Williams. Some days we’ve been gravitating towards the safer Summit Gray and other days it’s been the bolder Roycroft Pewter (very similar to Farrow and Ball’s Down Pipe). Fortunately, our local Sherwin Williams tipped us off to a big sale happening this weekend, so we have a few days to contemplate the right colour.


Also, we started painting a faux bamboo Henry Link dresser I found off Craigslist in a rich glossy black. It’s already looking pretty stunning, so photos are upcoming once we complete the drawers. This transformation is very good (total ugly duckling status).

This week, I’m sourcing a light fixture for the room, where we need to wire the room through the attic for an overhead light. I’m digging this one from Sazerac Stitches with an ornate ceiling medallion. The ceilings aren’t particularly tall, so an interesting flush-mount is the ideal solution.

Some variations that are currently in the mix:


Alternatively, I’m also considering this one from CB2:


And the modern meets traditional of a Serge Mouille light fixture with an ornate cieling medallion, as in the case of this image from The Decorista.


I know I haven’t talked too much about the plan for furniture, but this is the first time I’m decorating a room without a strict plan. My strategy for staying on budget has been to comb Craigslist for unique vintage finds that we can make our own in the space, with the goal of it feeling sophisticated, cozy and like a retreat. We’re debating whether we should build a headboard from scratch and cover it in a tribal neutral fabric, or if we can find a cool burled headboard or something else with character that we can lacquer. Hopefully by next week the plan will be in place. What I do know is that we’re keeping colour to a minimum with a gray, white and black palette with brass accents and a small pop of washed lilac linen, which we picked up for a long rectangular lumbar over the weekend at our favourite remnant designer fabric store in CT.

Check out the other One Room Challenge participants over here.

The One Room Challenge: Week One

For years, I’ve been following the One Room Challenge with admiration and finally, have decided to join the challenge. Twice a year, interior designers and bloggers come together to makeover a room over the course of six weeks (you can learn more here). Since we just moved into our first house in Connecticut, I had my pick of rooms for this challenge, and naturally gravitated towards the one room we have zero furniture for, because you know, why make it easy…

For the challenge, I’m tackling our guest bedroom, which is completely barren currently. We have never had the luxury of a second bedroom (not that it stopped us from hosting lots of guests over the years), so we’re eager to create a retreat that lures our friends from the city to visit us this winter and allows a comfortable space for family.

We’re starting from scratch with furniture, which is slightly terrifying but also completely exciting. Now, let me introduce you to the room:


The room is sizable, but is at present feeling very closed in with the built in bookshelves. I’m normally a huge fan of built-ins, but these are super basic and make the room feel much smaller than it is. One other challenge is that there isn’t a single overhead light in this room (we discovered that you learn a lot about the house you just purchased your first night). I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll be able to run electrical through the attic for a light fixture, otherwise lamps will very much be necessary.

And now for some inspiration photos. I have been dreaming about having a dark and cozy bedroom in here, but I’m slightly concerned about how this room will carry dark walls, given the single set of windows. I’m going to try out some samples on the walls, but am also preparing for a contingency plan in case we need to keep the walls white.

The primary inspiration is Christine Dovey‘s gorgeous, luxe One Room Challenge master bedroom from 2014. Every since I spotted this room, I’ve been head over heels in love with the clever mix of black, white and texture.


Next up is Michelle Adams’s Ann Arbor guest bedroom featured in House Beautiful. The eclectic mix of styles, eras and textures is so sophisticated. I’m also loving the base of black and white, with color layered in to add dimension.


I’m currently sourcing the perfect deep grey paint, attempting to source vintage furniture we can upcycle (hello lacquer and reupholstery), and blocking off time to dismantle the built-in bookshelves. Stay tuned!

You can follow the rest of the participants of the challenge over here.




The magic of vintage rugs

If you feel like your room isn’t working quite right, I’d recommend trying a vintage rug. From deep saturated tones to soft hues, there is always one that fits the space perfectly. The amazing thing is, that there are few design pieces that actually look better with age and hold their value remarkably well.

When we first moved into our apartment, I was obsessed with the idea of an overdyed Turkish rug. The saturated jewel tones spoke to me. But, when I went looking in rug stores, I was amazed by the retail price (some clocking in at over $10K), so I took to the internet. I found my first rug on Etsy for a fraction of the price and haven’t looked back.


Now, that we’ve moved into our house and have a lot of floors to fill, I’ve been on the hunt for vintage rugs of all shapes and sizes. Especially with a mostly open-concept main floor, rugs are essential tools in defining the functional spaces.

This time around, I’m relying less on Etsy and more on Craigslist and eBay for killer finds. My first find, was this runner for our entry way that adds a much-needed pop of colour to the space and creates a moment in a relatively small space. I found this hand-hooked oriental rug on Craigslist and made the trek after work to Brooklyn to retrieve it… and it was absolutely worth it. Don’t mind the off-center and atrocious light fixture (we’ve already got a new-to-us vintage light ready to go in its place) or the basic hardware on the front door (also on its way). I can’t get over the amazing pop of colour as you’re walking by any of the entrances to this little space.

Some of my go-to keywords for searching for great vintage rugs are: persian, oriental, overdyed, kilim, morrocan. Sizes are all over the place and not consistent the way retail rugs are sold, so double-check the measurements of your space before purchase.



We bought a house

I’m going to be documenting our journey of bringing a semi-fixer upper back to life in a Connecticut beach town. Built in the early 1940s, this is definitely a vintage home, and while it certainly has great bones, it’s going to need a good deal of TLC to become what we envision it can become.

So, some of the details: it’s a three bedroom, three bath colonial with some cape-style design elements. There was an addition done in the 1980s that added a good deal of square footage, but also stripped the house of some of its charm (think: polished brass 1980s doorknobs, hollow core doors and builder-grade light fixtures). We’re planning on doing as much of the work ourselves as possible and have some big plans for updating the layout to be more functional and bringing back the architectural details from the period. On the plus side, we don’t have neighbors super close to the structure on any side so the natural light is insane and completely sold us on the house. We also have some future plans to let in even more light, but those are structural and are off on the horizon. And, this house is spoiling us with some pretty epic patio space – one stone patio and another sizable deck.

And on to the before photos, that are already looking better now that we’ve moved in.

The main floor has an open living room / dining room / seating area. We’re also planning on taking the wall down between the kitchen and the dining room to open up the floor plan even further.


Also on the main floor is a sunroom. The carpeting gives me nightmares and as soon as we properly insulate the walls, those floors are getting the boot.um5a7542

The kitchen is certainly nice and was updated not too long ago, but it’s definitely not to our taste aesthetically. We do have some short term, budget-friendly plans upgrade some finishes, before an eventual remodel.


The stairs have amazing millwork details and a brilliant lacquered black handrail.um5a7543

Upstairs, there are three bedrooms and two bathrooms. We’re going to be using the smallest bedroom as an office.um5a7549

The master bedroom is huge with amazing natural light. The ceiling fan needs to go asap.um5a7552um5a7554

The guest bedroom is sizable and will feel even larger once we take out the built in shelving on the same side as the door. I love built-ins, but these are pretty lackluster and are getting in the way of the ideal floorplan.um5a7567um5a7563um5a7564

The upstairs guest bathroom is in need of some serious love.um5a7571