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Thursday, April 16, 2015

The One Room Challenge // Week 3

I even surprised myself with this one.  Reading the tea leaves in my recent postings, you may have already had a feeling I might figure out way to work a brick wall into this season's One Room Challenge. Lo and behold, here we are in Week 3 of 6 and suddenly I'm springing this one on you. What a jerk, huh? I played coy and did not include an inspiration image, nor mention it previously when discussing my strategy.  Undoubtedly, you're sitting there scratching your head wondering how my design scheme could have gone off the rails- and with faux paneling no less!  But let me assure you, that this train is on the right track.

You see, I've actually been mulling over this project for quite some time now, trying to gather up the guts to just do it. I had all the same reservations you probably would have about putting faux brick into our home. But there I was, standing in line last week at Home Depot with three panels on my cart and I finally had an epiphany that seemed to just part the clouds and make it all make sense. 

I gave myself an out. Instead of adhering the paneling to our drywall,  I figured we'd nail it directly to the studs, thereby minimizing risk, damage and investment if we got it on the wall and came to the conclusion that my husband and I hated it. Turns out, we didn't hate it. 

The faux paneling we purchased was considerably more substantial than the paneling I thought would be available. It's thick, course and crusty and honestly, very stone-like in texture and wouldn't you know it, it cut like butter with our skilsaw. Still, I had my doubts. I also had my doubts, even as we hung it up on the wall and surveyed the seams that would eventually need to be filled in order to play the part of an authentic brick surface. 

But any doubts and fears were set to rest just as soon as it was filled, sanded and painted. 
It's a beaut.

The purpose of this redesign for The One Room Challenge is to give my husband a more inspiring and cohesive room to work from each day. It occurred to me that a workspace is the perfect occasion to think out of the box design-wise. I think realizing that helped me get over myself and any prior inhibitions I had with this project. And it's good guys... as I hit publish on this post, its already light years ahead of what you see now. It's still in construction phase and I'm already catching myself standing in the doorway, staring at it.  It's not the real thing, but I dare to think we might have even bought ourselves some more mid-century design cache for our little 1967 Rancher. Who knew?

Previous Progress:

The One Room Challenge is a 6-week, semi-annual trademarked design event, created and sponsored by Linda of Calling it Home. I'm participating in the Thursday link up along with some of the finest design bloggers in the land. Be sure to stop in at Calling it Home and see all the good work that's being done out there in blogland. 

I'll also be blogging in between posts with more updates. Follow along!

Thursday, April 9, 2015


We're moving into Week 2 of The One Room Challenge, a trademarked makeover event created by Linda of Calling it Home. I'm participating in a weekly link up event each Thursday for six weeks, during which time I will share with you my plans and progress to makeover my husbands home office into a polished, masculine home office. 

Last week, I revealed the space in its native state. Today, I'm sharing my vision for the room and the design components that are currently influencing my direction for this design.

In week 2, I'm busy making some decisions around the basics including the overall color palette for the room. It's important that the direction really marry up with the other rooms in our house while being a standout space that really speaks to my husband's tastes and needs. We'll be bringing in some of the other colors used elsewhere in the house - like Benjamin Moore's White Dove and will play up some of the yummy warm wood accents that have also been woven into other rooms. However, while we've gone light and airy in most of the rooms we've finished up at Holtwood House, there will very likely be a shift toward a darker palette in the made-over office. Another way this room will be distinguished will be in the coziness we'll achieve through accent pieces and accessories. I'm notoriously spare when it comes to accessorizing elsewhere in the house, but one of the priorities of this redesign will be to curate his collection of cool artifacts. 

In concepting the room's scheme, I've been influenced by the re-purposed functionality I'm seeing in more industrial spaces as well as the charm and nostalgia found in traditional Gentlemen's Lounges and English Countryside homes. The finished design will also see some influence from modern Americana- certainly through the artwork selections that will eventually line the walls.
 Beyond the palette, I've been considering what already exists in the space and have made some decisions about what should stay and go. We'll be utilizing the existing credenza, which serves the utilitarian purpose of housing electronics and supplies. The shelving planned to sit above it will gain us some extra real estate in the room for display purposes. 

The current desk was never intended as a forever piece. In fact during assembly, we broke one of the drawers and have never repaired it. It's boxy and has become a visual obstacle in a rather small room, so we are looking to replace it with a more open design like the options up for consideration above.

A snapshot from the doorway highlights many of the updates we are looking to achieve by Week 6. The current door situation is a bit curious with its old hardware, including a key-only deadbolt installed by the previous owner who also used this room as his office (just one of the leftover oddities and obstacles that we'll have to overcome in this room). Because of the deadbolt situation, we'll likely have to change out the door as well, so I've added that to the punch list.

Week 3 will be all about demo and side projects. Just as I did with the my first and second ORC rooms, I have several DIYs planned for this space as well. So be sure to check in next week on our progress! Of course, I'll also be Instagramming out takes in between blog updates. Are you following along yet?

Past Updates:

* My blog-mates are up to all kinds of clever design mischief as well! Be sure to check in and cheer them on over at Calling it Home.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Over the weekend, my siblings and I teamed up to create an intimate celebration dinner for our parent's 25th wedding anniversary. We held the event at their home and sent them away for part of the afternoon while we staged the set up. While a lot of thought and planning went into how we would set this apart from other family dinners held more regularly, we worked together to make this affair come together surprisingly easy. 


One way we did this was to divide and conquer. Each of us managed an aspect of party. My husband and I took charge of creating our dinner setting for the evening on my parent's patio. Early on, I decided that we should leverage the built in greenery in the surrounding yard and adjacent golf course. I riffed on this naturally beautiful setting by pulling together a table using natural materials - woods, linens, branches and lots of greenery on the table.

A long dinner table kept the vibe casual and communal, as did the table effects. Rustic dishtowels served as napkins. We pulled together the flatware from extra sets my sisters and I have collected. I had the idea to fashion some inexpensive chargers out of birch plywood sourced from my local Home Depot. The staff were kind enough to cut a 4x8' sheet down into 13x13" squares which helped pull each place setting together. Yard clippings, boston fern, lilacs, wax flower and cream colored roses were intermixed to compose mini arrangements set into my collection of bottles and silver goblets that were placed down the center of the table. Once the day's heat settled into evening, we backfilled in between with candles to establish a festive glow. The regular shaded overhead lighting was also swapped for filament bulbs to create a clean and modern lighting scheme. 

We loaded up our respective cars bright and early on Saturday morning and met over at my parent's home to dispense with set up and meal prep. I had to laugh driving down the freeway in our own car.  The dog and I barely squeezed into the front seat we are so loaded up with lanterns, flowers, linens, plates and pillows!  The day felt burgeoning and full with activity as well. Meal prep took on the hustle and bustle of an industrial kitchen line at one point, each dish out timed with precision out of the oven so the next could be put in. Our fellas all helped out as well. As he always does, my husband worked his magic with our soundtrack for the evening while tending bar. One of my brother in laws manned the grill, while another dished up one of my favorite appetizers - stuffed dates. 

I also created a colorful board of goodies to nosh on while we sipped cocktails and took turns with the photographer my sister hired to take some formal family portraits.

To keep our table intact prior to the meal, I carved out a section of the yard and created a little side lounge at which to sit and visit during cocktail hour. 

I think one of the best aspects of the evening was the collective effort that went into this celebration. We honored our mom and dad who sat in the middle of the long dinner table by working together to make this happen for them. My sisters and brother and I went around with each dish, serving guests at the table and then filed into the kitchen to wash up once the cake had been served. We have a very large family, full of volume and chaos, but I'll always look back fondly at that evening and how we all worked as a team and made some more memories to mark the day our parents married and we all became a family.

*photos by erin neally for holtwood hipster

Thursday, April 2, 2015


At long last, The One Room Challenge Spring 2015 link up is here! I must admit I'm becoming a bit addicted to this semi-annual trademarked event, that brings together some of the best (and fastest!) home decor makeovers in the blogosphere. Yesterday, twenty design bloggers selected by host Linda of Calling it Home unveiled their one-room schemes. Today, I'm linking up with many others to share plans for a long awaited makeover of yet another room in my own home - my husband's home office.  

This is a room that has been somewhat of an afterthought, taking on bits and pieces that might not quite work in other rooms, but happily take their place here because, well neither of us want to give up on them or they count as an upgrade to what already existed. Consequently, there is already a lot of stuff hanging out in this space, but until now there has been very little in the way of cohesiveness. One of my objectives will be to unify (and better highlight) some of the cool little artifacts that have become lost on too large a wall, amidst piles on the shelf and behind closet doors. 

Many of my flea market finds have made their way here. I seem to see my husband in so many of the spoils from these weekend trips and he graciously accepts whatever I bring home to hang on his wall. Over the next 6 weeks (eek!) I'll look to better balance some of what I see fitting this space with more of the things he says he wants and needs out of it. 

That will surely bring about compromises. No offense to any of those Goodfellas, but it's always made me shake my head a little that we have a picture of these guys on a wall in our home. To each his own- my husband loves it (and he's already made sacrifices by storing away portraits of Bob Marley and Tupac). Seriously. The bongos can stay. But I'm betting that the margarita glass will probably go- I don't care if he says it's for change.

I have 6 weeks to tie it all together and make this a more inspiring space for him to work from while working some magic to make it compliment our home. I'll be posting each Thursday on my progress and will share all the triumphs and obstacles of making over a space that actually must be functional enough to be used each day in the interim. Hey, I'll count it as my first success if I can get that poor plant in a pot before I report back next week. Be sure to check out and cheer on my design-mates in blogland over at Calling it Home as well.

My previous ORC rooms:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


My favorite dinner preparation method just might be roasting. I've figured out that I can chop up just about any vegetable and protein, toss it in some olive oil, a little garlic and salt and pepper and stick it in the oven for a quick and healthy dinner. Add to that a cup of brown rice and I'm happy to call that dinner any night of the week. There are very few dishes to wash and my meal is usually ready in under 30 minutes from start to finish. I've taken to this "new" way of eating - abandoning many of the multi-ingredient, calorie laden recipes I was trying to balance making on a work night for the sake of variety. The truth is, I can alter the type of vegetable and protein from night to night and still not feel as though I'm eating the same meal over and over and my body is feeling better for it. But I also have a couple of tricks that have served me well to keep things light and inventive- particularly when leaving out the protein. Cue in some homemade dressing and a grater. 

I stumbled across the amazingly simple way to take ordinary cauliflower and reduce it to a rice-like texture somewhere within the Pinterest rabbit hole and once I did, my life may have changed forever. I was so happily surprised at how much the grated cauliflower easily subbed in for my go to brown rice - without all the extra carbs. Both the cauliflower and vegetables really pair so well with the tangy tahini dressing, which when prepared, will actually be enough for several bowls should you possibly have any leftover for lunch the next day. Make this on a Tuesday night or when hosting lunch for your friends on a Sunday afternoon. It's a tasty and versatile enough dish to work on either occasion.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Make This // An Upholstered Faux-Leather Bed

The looming launch date for the next The One Room Challenge (beginning this week!), lit a little fire under my feet to get this long-promised tutorial up on the blog. Today, I'm sharing a step by step to make the faux leather bed I made for the ORC back in the Fall when I made over our master bedroom.

I owe the success of this project to two items on my materials list - the french cleat hanging system that enables a fully supported bed frame without the need to build out a larger wood skeleton and also the buttery look and feel of some very 'looks like the real' thing vinyl, that I was able to score for a song here locally.  This project comes together quickly, relatively inexpensively and best of all - easy. You can do this with just the very few materials listed below.

In addition to those listed, you will also need to start with a standard metal mattress frame. You will be connecting the side boards to this using the french cleat. Note that while the bottom of the frame will typically not have this "bar" to hang the end board from, you will be connecting all three sides together using the corner braces so it will be fully supported. 

You do not need to invest in pretty boards for this project. Source the most inexpensive common pine boards and plywood you can from your local Home Improvement store. Do invest in your faux leather yardage. Though I found mine at a discount home fabric outlet, I have provided a good online source in  links (I actually have swatches in hand to validate the quality). 

The basic concept and the construction of the bed is simple - you'll be upholstering the face and sides of the headboard (I did not account for material to upholster the back as it sits up against a wall), then the sides as well. The upholstered headboard will sit up against your wall, on the floor. The remainder of the upholstered bed frame will hang securely around the bed base and eventually slide up to meet the headboard. 

You may also choose to bolt your headboard to the top of the metal mattress frame (there are usually pre-drilled holes in the metal for such a purpose). I did not find that step necessary.  Additionally, I have provided steps and measurements for our queen sized bed set up. Use these as a guide, but double check all measurements both before you buy the materials and then again before you begin cutting your yardage and upholstering. I actually came up a half a yard short lengthwise when making my own, which forced me to sew together shorter pieces for the sides. It was a happy accident for me as I ended up preferring this stitched seam detail on the face of my sideboards. The instructions here do not call for this step and the additional half yard of fabric has been added.

When putting the frame together, just remember that the end-board will fit between the two sides and then be braced with the corner brackets.

The frame is easily removed for cleaning and linen changing if needed (I covered our box spring in a pin-stripe that I occasionally remove and launder). 

We've been so pleased to finally have a fully upholstered bed at a fraction of the cost for a similar style. To see the final room design from the Fall '14 round of The One Room Challenge, created and hosted by Linda of Calling It Home, click here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Let's get it out of the way early.  I realize that there are many purists out there who will flat out tell you that you never, ever paint brick in the same vein that wood enthusiasts will implore you to restore wood, but never paint it. If I'm being completely honest, I myself have a hard time seeing the original state of any crafted surface irreparably changed. Even still, I want to explore another way of looking at things and maybe even convert the traditionalist in you by praising the virtues of painted brick.

It's true. I may just be the girl most likely to wield a paint brush, but there are plenty of good reasons to consider painting out that brick wall you've been giving dirty looks to for the past 5 years. First and foremost- I am always a supporter of changing anything in your home that you are having a hard time living with. If you're unhappy with your brick wall or fireplace and think you'd be happier painting it out a bright white or gray or blue or yellow- by all means, go for it. Just know that once you do, you can't go back (well, you might be able to, but trust me when I say you really don't want to go through that hassle). 

Your gut is probably right in telling you that you can brighten up an otherwise dark and dated room by painting out the multi-colored brick walls in a bright white. One of my favorite aspects of a painted brick wall is the architectural interest you'll achieve or keep simply through texture variation. It may not have to be a different color than the rest of the room.  You can still break up what might otherwise be a white box of a room simply through a tone on tone accent wall of brick.

Achieve a more striking, yet neutral backdrop by painting out the brick in a dark charcoal tone. Be prepared to fall in love with all of your warm hued and brightly colored furnishings all over again. The wall plays a pivotal role, but will probably take a back seat to anything you put in front of it. 

We chose to paint out some accent brickwork around our back patio with a dark gray, much like the photo above. It was a bit of a game changer for us. We saved money by not having to replace brick that was not aesthetically pleasing and once painted, found that it neutralized an area that would have otherwise been an unwanted focal point. 

The virtues of paint stand well enough on their own. But I think by retaining the brick, we are still using the texture variation to our advantage. Take the room below for example. There is clear evidence that this was likely once a more rustic space. But what understated grandeur came from painting out the herringbone floors and that beautiful accent archway just a shade darker than the adjacent walls. It's clean, updated and elegant and arguably more striking because the renovators retained the pattern in the floors and ruggedness of the brick.

I would argue that painting brick is in a way preserving the original craftsmanship - not disposing of it. Making use of the existing material is an eco-concious compromise. Why tear down a well built structure simply because a more modern look is desired? A freshly painted brick exterior can be just as synonymous with classic tradition as unaltered brick. But I also think there's something to be said for bringing a fresh perspective to an older building or outdated space through unified color. 

Not all brickwork is created equal. You may love everything about that new house you just bought, except for the 1980's all-red brick everything kitchen that nearly broke the deal. Likewise, brick that has been repaired and patched over may have lost its once more polished look. If you find yourself considering an impulsive 10pm paint job, know that there is some prep-work and a few bigger considerations to vet out before you go at it. 

I focused primarily on paint here, but a wash or stain might actually be a better alternative for your particular situation. Here are some helpful links to help you do your own research. 

image sources: 
1/ via Rue Magazine  2/ via int2architecture  3/ Creative Flats via Airbnb  4/ Mercer Street Loft by Martin Raffone via Houzz  5/ House to Home via Happy Interiors Blog  6/ Studio Eginstill via  7/ Hays Town Makeover by Ty Larkins  8/Sara Blee  9/Designer Nancy Duffey via Romabio