I have to start off this post by saying, “Thank you!” There were so many kind and encouraging comments on the living room reveal post, and even over the course of the six week challenge. I truly didn’t think we would make it to reveal day, but it has been amazing having a space to use daily again. I really appreciate everyone that took the time to check in on the progress, share ideas and help me through much of my indecision.
Room reveal days are always full of fluff and happiness and are really just a pure celebration of all of the hard work that has lead up to that day. They show the best sides of the space and highlight favorite moments and accomplishments. Hopefully, we all know by now that no lived in room always has a throw blanket perfectly folded on the back of the sofa which is also filled with beautiful pillows. That the room is not always sporting multiple vases of fresh flowers and neatly stacked books near a reading chair. I believe that there are design choices that can be made that will keep a room/home looking lovely even with kicked up feet and popcorn bowls, but I also believe that room “reveals” can be equated to stepping out on a Saturday night. You spend a few hours working on your hair and makeup and even put on your favorite cocktail dress, and although you don’t wear that dress everyday, you sure enjoy it when you do. You are putting your best dressed self forward.
Knowing that, I thought I would take a moment and recap my thoughts on the entire living room makeover process, being that this was the very first time we have ever tackled a room of this size in such a short amount of time. As much as I love focusing on the positives and happy moments (cough, reveal post, cough), I also think it is important to be real about all the rest. Sharing both the highs and the lows, our successes and mistakes and even lessons learned. That is why we blog about our home story and DIY adventures right?
Linda, from Calling It Home, has been hosting the One Room Challenge for a few years now, and I have always enjoyed following along as folks work hard to completely transform rooms in short periods of time. There is definitely a shock factor seeing what can be done over the course of 5-6 weeks. Taking the challenge is an amazing way to check off goals from your home to-do list, for lighting a much needed fire under your tush to get things done, and for learning about yourself and your design style.
So when Linda initially contacted me to join in this round, I felt like I had just won the Final Showcase on The Price is Right! And I hadn’t even started playing yet! It was such an honor and before I knew it, I was placed on a list with really amazing blog talent. #pinchme
When it came to picking a room, it didn’t make sense to start an entirely new project when we already had something big happening (the kitchen/living room renovation). And I am really, really good at being overly optimistic about projects and time frames. “It will be easy!” Those are always my famous last words paired with a knowing better eye roll from my husband. “Our kitchen will be done in time for the Super Bowl”, I said! Enter eye roll here.
But we somehow managed to pull off a living room from start to finish in a total of five full weeks. Just after I photographed and posted our starting off photos for Week 1, we began installing flooring and trim. We ordered furniture, window treatments and accessories. We painted and shopped and built. We stayed up late with photography lighting kits while we cut tile in the front yard at 11:30 p.m. (I am sure our neighbors were thrilled). For five weeks, the majority of our spare time was spent on turning a completely blank slate into a livable and functional family space.
At the end of those five weeks, we high-fived and celebrated all we were able to check off the list. I even cracked open a bottle of wine and let out the biggest sigh of relief. There were times when it was easy to get caught up with what we didn’t get done or make happen, but I had to get over that real fast. And although we called it a Room Reveal at the end of the challenge, we were not really done. In fact, our home is never done. As we live in our spaces, they evolve and are tweaked and modified to fit our needs. That is my favorite part… those smaller room layering changes.
To be completely honest, six weeks was not enough time to build a living room from scratch. Maybe to revamp or refresh a living room, or for a designer with resources and experience, but for us? Nope.
I found that due to the tight deadline, I was left making impulsive and compromised decisions. Things that I generally would wait on, had to be purchased now. For me, this is costly and goes against my goal to shop with intention. I even selected a few pieces I wouldn’t have necessarily picked if I would have had more time. We didn’t have time to revamp our credenza or build our coffee table or wallpaper down the stairs or even add in a few various elements we planned on initially. Generally speaking, when working on our home there are no deadlines… we just make changes as we live here.
When one is designing a space over time and not for a challenge, and the fabric they love is on back-order, they wait for it to come in. When I found out at the beginning of the challenge my initial fabric choice couldn’t be purchased, I was left ordering piles of swatches and ultimately spending more on alternative pillow covers than I would have liked. I still picked colors and patterns that will be versatile down the road, but it was just one example of how I fought with the six week deadline.
The same story for our coffee table/ottoman situation. We tried to use what we had and when those weren’t working, we were left with limited time to find a new solution. 20+ stores later, and I was unable to track down a wooden coffee table or tufted ottoman that fit our space. Everything either needed to be ordered in / delivered outside of our time frame or was just completely out of our budget altogether. 2:00 a.m. the night before photos were being taken, Bryan and I were pulling button tufts and stapling ottoman fabric. And painting and re-painting chairs at all hours of the night.
On the flip side, not being able to track down my dream mirror ended up being a fairy tale happy ending. The time crunch really forced me to be resourceful and creative and we wouldn’t trade our new DIY mirror for any other. Sometimes, a little push is a good thing!
However, it was during those moments; forcing paint choices and driving around for hours sourcing objects, that I actually began resenting the room and the process. Allowing myself to feel stressed and frustrated about furniture and accessories seemed so silly to me when ultimately it was just just material objects. I had a lot of internal struggles with this…
The six week deadline also caused us to make a few backwards decisions. We knew we would need a sofa and that they don’t tend to show up at your doorstep overnight. We ended up measuring for it so early on in the process, that we only had sub-floors and exterior cabinets installed. We taped out our center island and started planning based off of a “three foot walk-around rule” that we had in our heads. We came up with a size and began shopping around locally for options. On the last day of a big sale, I ordered one that fit our wish list (rolled arms, pretty furniture legs, neutral color, no pillow back). When the sofa arrived, I loved the shape, style and color and was relieved to have found something that fit all of our criteria. We also had three adults give it a whirl and we were all able to fit and sit comfortably. I felt content with our choice.
After we began bringing pieces into our living room and kitchen, I then realized that we had more space than we initially planned for. We really didn’t need three feet on both sides of the sofa. Honestly, so much space on either side seems to make the sofa look small in comparison to the rest of the space. Especially once the rug and built-ins were added combined with the vaulted ceilings. So although this Goldilocks and her three bears can fit on it just right, in the world of sofas, is bigger always better?
Trying to measure for a sofa when we had absolutely nothing to base off of and no other furniture or built-ins in place, was not the best strategy. In fact, we probably should have done it last.
Finally, I have learned over my years of blogging, that projects should not be rushed for the sake of content. In 90% of the cases that I have forced content, I ended up tweaking or changing things all together after I posted. I guess this challenge goes against that thought process, and I should have realized that right from the start. As weeks went by, I found myself uncomfortable sharing posts and room shots before I was ready because things were not panning out, making sense or coming together the way I had envisioned. Those insecurities paired with the brilliant and creative community I was sharing with and receiving feedback from, complicated my thought process even more. If anything, I learned that I really appreciate taking the time to think things through, work at a slow pace, and post when we are ready to share. I go through creative slumps and hit walls all of the time, but there was no time for that during the challenge.
Those creative roadblocks paired with some timing issues with the fireplace installation ultimately meant that the room was “thrown” together at the last minute. The paint on the built-in was final coated on the Saturday before pictures were shot on Monday. Once they were dry enough, I had a matter of a few hours to style shelves and the entire room before fighting light for photos. It felt like one of those down to the wire TV design challenges! We literally came down to the final hours to get this space done in time, and as you can imagine, not everything stayed where it landed that day. The flowers have withered, pillows and blankets are tossed in a nearby basket and books I read with the boys each night are piled right where they belong. Basically, I took my Saturday night makeup off and now we are living with a much more toned down version of the room. My goal is to let those continuous tweaks and changes happen as we use the space day after day.
Although we pushed ourselves and stumbled and lived and learned, I have zero regrets for joining in on the challenge and taking on our living room. After living without any space for over four months, the fact we can actually use it on a daily basis again is such a gift. I learned so much about myself and our home during this process, and have endless respect for designers who can flawlessly transform a space from scratch in such a short amount of time. I am always up for a good challenge, and may even play along again someday, just on a much smaller scale. We have never lived in an open concept home before, so to take on a project in a space that I am not familiar with utilizing, probably wasn’t the best fit. But it was an eye opening experience and I am happy to share things we learned from it along the way.
Although this post feels a bit opposite of the sunshine I spread around here, we are so in love with the new space we created and are extremely grateful for how far it has come. We only have minor adjustments to make, and for rushing a project, I say that is a giant win!
Oh! And last thought. Always steam and iron fabric before your project. We hung the curtains first and after steaming them, they started to slightly puddle on the floor. So now they need to be re-hung. Ditto for the ottoman. We pulled it so tight day one when upholstering it, and now it has become loose from being sat on and played on… totally should have ironed it first. Oops! Nothing lost, just rookie mistakes.
Now, enough living room chat for awhile… Next week we are back to kitchen updates!