One Room Challenge, Spring 2018, Week 1: The ugly, the old, the outdated, and the Inspiration to change it all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

10-Minute Styling: Mantel

On the way to a friend's house this morning, I received an urgent text from her. "I have a mantel that needs editing. HELP!"

She was right.


I understand why my friend had a challenging time styling the mantel since it's very shallow and quite long.

The fishing pole, particularly special to her angler husband, wasn't going anywhere.

It's hard to see, but the round vase is a total showstopper. It has these beautiful abstract horses all over it, perfect for my friend who spends a few evenings each week riding, so I knew that needed to stay. Front and center.


I cleared everything off and we went hunting around her house using the vase as a launching point. When we came back and assessed the options, I found that there was nice collection of pottery and wooden objects.


Using the vase as the focal point, I created groupings that followed the line of the pole. I weighted the center, and left the right side of the asymmetrical mantel empty, letting it sort of recede visually.


Not bad for 10 minutes and zero dollars.


Do you have a 10-minute, use-what-you've-got styling that you want to share? Send images to and you might be featured in an upcoming 10-Minute Styling post!

SHOP FOR A CAUSE! Macy's + March of Dimes

As a mother of two who has dedicated nearly my entire professional life to aligning large organizations with causes, I am excited to be a part of Macy's Shop for a Cause fundraiser supporting the March of Dimes!

Did you know that the March of Dimes was established in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, inspired by his own battle with polio? In fact, March of Dimes funded research for vaccines developed by Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin -- the vaccines that ended childhood polio. In 1958, having addressed its primary mission to end the polio epidemic, the March of Dimes shifted its focus toward birth defect prevention. Today, the organization is focused on preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality, as well as advancing maternal and health research. For those of you who have had babies in the last decade or so, you're probably well aware of both their folic acid and prematurity awareness campaigns, both of which have worked toward healthy, full-term pregnancies for all women.

Now's your chance to support March of Dimes and get up to 25% off your purchases at Macy's -- all for $5. 

Simply buy a $5 Macy's saving pass that will provide 25% off on regular, sale & clearance items,  including home items (please note that you will receive 10% off electronics, watches, furniture, mattresses, rugs/floor coverings), and Macy's will donate 100% of the $5 cost of the savings pass to the March of Dimes to help give more babies a healthy start in life.

So you want to know the details?

From now until August 25: buy passes in-store (good for in-store purchases only)

August 25 only: buy a $5 savings pass online at (good for online purchases only)

SHOP, SHOP, SHOP on August 25! Use your passes online or in stores (depending on where you bought them). Two stores in Massachusetts will hold Shop for a Cause on Friday, August 24 AND Saturday, August 25 -- Boston (450 Washington Street, Boston) and Berkshire (170 Old State Road, Lanesboro). So if you want to get shopping early, you can go on August 24 to either of these two stores, buy a pass, and shop.

Want to see my Shop for a Cause wish list?

Gold is having a moment throughout the house, and I'm LOVING this Marchesa by Lenox hostess set!

The shape, shade, and color of this table lamp from Pacific Coast are perfect.

My husband and I were given a single glass cake stand for our wedding 12 years ago, but I could find many uses for this one from The Cellar collection. Great for displaying baked goods or using as a tiered centerpiece filled with fruit and flowers.

Add texture to your living room with these faux bois vinyl coasters from Chilewich. (psst - they're a bargain closeout!)

These Sandpiper tidbit plates from Kate Spade would be a great hostess gift, or framed out in shadow boxes and hung on the wall.

On a trip to Atlanta last year, I fell in love with a natural fiber cocktail table, but decided against it because the shape didn't work with our sectional. This cocktail table is perfect!

With two boys and a mountain biking-husband, I use indoor/outdoor rugs throughout our home. This runner from Couristan is a beauty! (Please note that rugs are excluded from Shop for a Cause online purchasing, but are eligible for the discount in-store!)

Inspired? Purchase your pass, help babies, and get shopping! 

Image credit: all images from

Complete details about Macy's Shop for a Cause fundraiser can be found here.

This post (+ my sharing on social media) was inspired by my participation in a compensated program initiated by Women Online/The Mission List to raise awareness about the March of Dimes/Macy’s charitable fundraiser. All commentary, opinions, and fabulous finds are, of course, my own.