One Room Challenge, Spring 2018, Week 1: The ugly, the old, the outdated, and the Inspiration to change it all

Have you guys heard of the One Room Challenge (ORC)? About seven years ago, Linda Weinstein of Calling It Home started this sort of blitz-decorating challenge, calling upon readers and fellow bloggers to make over a space of their choosing in a mere six weeks. Fast forward, and it's now a design movement, sweeping across the internet every April and October with 20 featured design bloggers reimagining rooms with some sweet support from awesome sponsors, and an amazing media partner (and my favorite shelter pub of all time) -- House Beautiful! The community element is still intact, with a whole host of readers and fellow bloggers chiming in as guest participants with their updates on the ORC website and in every corner of Instagram.

I've always been intrigued by the ORC, but every time it rolls around, I've never been able to make it work. Well, NO LONGER! This year, I decided to add a tab to my to-do list and throw my hat in the ring as a guest participant. From now through mid-May, I'll be posting updates every Thursday on my project; I hope you'll follow along.

For anyone who has made over a room to completion, you know six weeks is TIGHT. Regardless of whether you're buying everything new and working with contractors, or using what you own and doing all the labor yourself, that timeline leaves no room for error. 

The best way to get it done is with a locked-and-loaded design plan, but as is typical of interior design pros when designing for themselves, that whole plan thing? Not always in the cards. Many of us have houses akin to the Shoemaker's children...the ones that had no shoes. Our houses? Well, they never seem to be done.

I hope the ORC is going to help me focus on something I've wanted to do for a long time: finish my own house. But first, let's start with the dining room.

Yes! The dining room! My house seems to be a prime gathering place for our family -- six parents (including steps), ten sibs (including partners), five nieces/nephews, and our own two kids require a decent amount of seating any time some combination of us get together. I also love a good party, and try to host a few -- small and big -- each year. All that to say that what was considered the  "dining room" when we moved in was NOT going to be big enough for our purposes. Oh, it was also ugly as sin. Ready?


This was the real estate listing shot from when we bought the house eight years ago. No, no...not the 1980s...2010! And yes, that's CARPET. Anyway, we knew pretty early on that the dining room wasn't going to work for us, size-wise, so we decided to settle into what would've been the formal living room (which we had no use for). This was it...again, 2010, people. 


Within the first couple of years of moving in, we made some drastic cosmetic improvements, including painting, pulling out the plastic window muntins, working with my amazing carpenter to craft a built-in for the space, adding lighting, and pulling together a mish-mash of furniture to make it a functional and stylish dining room.  Which brought us to this (don't mind the furniture and empty shelves, it was piled up to begin prep for the ORC)...


So this is where we are. A drastic improvement from the state of affairs in 2010, but ready for an update. After eight years, the Ben Moore Powell Buff walls are getting to me, the rug feels garish, the light fixture feels cheap (which it was, by the way), and the mish-mash of furniture feels really mish-mashy. And also, notice that gorgeous bowl to the left? This one?


This bowl is pure inspiration. This bowl needed to have a home that was worthy of housing it. This bowl RUINED me. Flat. Done. Finis.

You see, I would've been content living with my dining room as it was for a bit longer, but then I got this amazing Jill Rosenwald bowl for my birthday in January and now I'm redoing my dining room because of it.* So if you're looking for fancy inspiration pics -- how I want my dining room to look when this challenge is all over -- look no further, because it's all about this beauty.

Next week, I'll share a bit more about for how this is going to all roll out, but suffice it to say, it's not all determined, and it's not going to be smooth sailing. I will be making decisions on the fly; working with some pros, but doing a lot myself; reusing things I already own; and investing cold hard cash only in key areas, because the reality is, I don't have a big pot of money sitting around to redo this (or any) room. 

Check back every Thursday, and be sure to check in on the progress of the featured bloggers (including my friend and fellow Boston Show House designer, Kelly Rogers!) and the rest of the guest participants at the main One Room Challenge site! Also, if you want to see my progress on Instagram, follow #ProjectOnTheFlyDining. See you in a week! 

*While Jill Rosenwald is a sponsor of the ORC, it is merely a happy accident that her High Five Coper Bowl happens to be my inspiration. This is not an ad for her wares (though they're awesome), and she is not sponsoring me (this year).  (A girl's gotta have dreams, right?)


All photos, other than the real estate listing shots, taken by Paige Lewin, Tess & Ted

DIY Dipped Vases

Vases Over on Boston Mamas, my Use-What-You-Own Hanukkah Table Setting is featured. Fun! Central to the design are these pretty dipped vases. They're super easy to make, customizable for any holiday or event, and usable long after the celebration is over.

Ready to go? Here's what you need:

  • Protective table covering
  • Plain glass vases (the kind that end up in closets from florist arrangements or in the 50-cent-bin at your local thrift shop)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Baking sheet or tray
  • Tinfoil
  • Gallon of white latex paint (Please note that you will have nearly all the white paint left, so choose a shade that will work in your house or for some other project later! I used a gallon left over from a bookshelf we painted.)
  • Gallon freezer bag
  • Pint or more of additional colored latex paint (Check the OOPS! rack at your local hardware store for discounted colors that were returned by customers.)


  1. Clean your vases thoroughly with soap and water. Dry, then wipe down with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Place a protective covering on your work surface.
  3. Cover a baking sheet or tray with tinfoil.
  4. Dip the vases, bottom-first, into the white paint. Hold each vase in the paint for about 10 seconds, then pull out and let the paint drip off. Set down on tinfoil-covered baking sheet or tray; bottom-down for a clean top edge (as I have done in this example) or top-down for a dripped edge.
  5. Let dry for one hour.
  6. Create a "bucket" with your gallon freezer bag by folding the bottom corners of the bag onto themselves. Secure with tape.
  7. Fill your "bucket" with your second paint.
  8. Dip the vases into the second paint. Swoosh the paint around so you get edges that have some movement, then pull out and let the paint drip off. Set down on a newly-tinfoil-covered baking sheet or tray; again, bottom-down for a clean top edge or top-down for a dripped edge.
  9. Let dry for one hour. Wipe down bottoms if there is a thick layer of wet paint.
  10. Fill with flowers and enjoy!

Please note that the paint WILL COME OFF if these vases are put in a dishwasher or washed by hand with too much vigor. Rinse and dry carefully to make them last!

Six Minutes to I.AM.AWESOME.

THIS? SalmonSupper


And my kids -- okay, one of my two kids -- devoured it before I even sat down.

For all you real chefs out there, THIS, in SIX MINUTES, won't surprise you.

But for me, who can barely get dinner on the table each night, it is HUGE.

Find the recipe at Make More, Buy Less -- another place where you can find me (talking less about design-y things and more about, well, pretty much everything else).