One Room Challenge Spring 2018 Week Six REVEAL – Making a Grand Entrance

It’s here! Reveal day is here and I am… exhausted? Relieved? Proud! This was my first time participating in the One Room Challenge and I am beyond excited to show you how my stairwell project turned out. But first – let’s start at the beginning shall we?

Week One I introduced the stairwell and all of it’s bland nothingness, and shared some pretty inspiration for the project ahead.

Week Two I shared the mood board for the space, and put the paint color to a vote on Instagram where Le Luxe, a delicious deep green/blue, won. We started priming and preparing for paint.

Week Three was a really transformational week as the paint went on the walls and really shifted this project into high gear. I went into Week Four excited by the progress…

…. aaaaaand then Week Four promptly kicked my butt. This was the low point in the challenge – little happened in the stairwell that week and the Internet lied to me about the ease of installation of molding. But all was not lost!

Week Five we picked up the pace again and smashed out all the decorative and crown molding. I attempted to restore the handrail and newel post but was thwarted by Danish oil and had to abandon that part of the project (the other wood trim looks magnificent though!) I also foolishly added more to the project by taking the renovation outside to include the exterior of the entrance too.

Which brings us to Week Six – the Final Reveal. It has been non-stop work in the stairwell and she is finally ready for her close up! Well, don’t get too close as there are still a few final touches that need to be added, but you know what I mean!

So without further ado, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the Before and Afters!

Starting outside, the exterior entrance got a little makeover of it’s own. It’s such a lovely little everyday luxury to have a pretty garden and updated accessories out here.



Outdoor light | Mailbox | Doormat | Plants | Door paint color: Carbon Black by Behr

Stepping inside to the lowest landing you are greeted with the magnificent tile! My neighbor helped out with the tile install and we cut it very close – as in, it was all  finally laid yesterday. So this is the part where you have to imagine that the tile is grouted and the trim is all installed. But doesn’t it look so much better already?? I love this updated version of the Victorian clay entry tile and it’s going to be so much more durable in the winter months for this high traffic area.




Tile | Light Fixture | Interior door color: Parador Stone by Behr

Heading up the stairs you can admire the new molding details. Manfriend’s math skills came in handy with all those tricky angles! Adhesive caulk inititally let us down (see: Week Four disaster) but super heavy duty adhesive saved the day. And lots of wine.



Molding | Light paint color: Silky White by Behr. Dark paint color: Le Luxe by Behr

The middle landing is where you hit the pièce de résistance – the huge art project I’ve been hinting at over the past few weeks. Yes my friends, that is TWO STOREYS OF ANTIQUE DOG PORTRAITS. It is magnificent and really makes the space! This is a modern (and budget friendly!) update of one of the initial inspiration pictures. I think I might do a whole post on the Dog Wall and how we accomplished it – let me know if you’d like to know more!



Frames | Rug 

The top landing is where the practical (but still pretty) happens. I found a great storage bench that fit the space exactly and gave some contained storage for shoes, gloves/hats and dog walking accoutrement. The bench was actually quite a nice light barnwood finish, but it didn’t work with the other wood in the space so it got a paint job. On the wall we built a coatrack which is an updated take on shaker style pegs but with pretty brass and lucite hooks. The white fluffy rug is entirely impractical – it’s a placeholder for now as I tried a few different rugs here and none were quite right. The size/asymmetrical shape is right, so I am on the lookout for something similar but more durable/less white.



Hooks | Storage bench | Impractical placeholder rug | Storage bench paint color: Battleship Grey by Behr


So that’s my first One Room Challenge reveal! It was certainly a challenge to makeover the space in six weeks, but the outcome makes all the hard work worth it. What a big difference it has made now that I’m looking back at the Before images!

Thanks so much to the ORC organizers for creating such a cool, creative and constructive internet event, and a big *high five* to all the other Featured and Guest participants – we did it!


One Room Challenge Guest Participant


One Room Challenge Spring 2018 Week Three – The Power of Paint

Ohmigosh we’re halfway through this challenge! The stairwell has moved forward in leaps and bounds this week with a healthy dose of paint… and yet I feel like I have a million more weeks of work and only three actual weeks until the Big Reveal! It will all be ok in the end, right? Right?! That’s the fun of it though – and the challenge!

I took the paint color to a vote on Instagram last week and Le Luxe won by a landslide (also Bradley Cooper was the crowd favourite hot guy – no surprise there!) So Le Luxe it was and let me just say – great choice everyone *applause* *high fives* It’s my favourite kind of color: a chameleon that’s bright and interesting in the day time and dark and dramatic at night. Depending on the light it’s green or grey or blue or an almost inky black. Beautiful!

Below the Le Luxe is what I think is by far the best warmish white out there, my darling Behr Silky White. Trust me on this one – I have tried every white and this is The One. Silky White is a true white but slightly warm, without a hint of an undertone (so many whites tend blue or pink or green or purple!) It’s white but not too white and really looks lovely and crisp against dark colors. It’s really thrilling to see the space changing through the color and contrast of the paint.

While I did paint some of the wood trim, I deliberately left some of it too, to provide the warmth that only wood can. The floors are beautiful and the wood trim that I kept wood (the newel posts, handrails and window trim) complement the floors while giving them space to shine. I’ve been slowly removing all the old finishes/varnish on it with denatured alcohol and steel wool – a tedious, messy, but ultimately very satisfying endeavour. I’ve been inspired by Restoring Ross’ recent efforts in his niche. My woodwork doesn’t have anywhere near the detail and beauty that his has, but his slow-but-steady progress has been pushing me to bring my own battered wood back to life.


In other news: the trim and molding is ordered and should arrive this week. It will add so much dimension to the space, I’m very excited about it! I’m also excited and nervous to be trying something new with the trim – I found a budget alternative which I’m going to experiment with, fingers crossed it all works out. And because I saved some cash on the trim I bit the bullet, used my Christmas gift cards (what, your family doesn’t give you Home Depot cards for Christmas?), and ordered the tiles for the lowest landing. They will be beautiful – I’m just hoping I get them down in time for the Big Reveal date!

My biggest struggle this week has been locking down all the little details. I know what I want but actually finding it is proving a little tricky. I had a cute little pillow top bench on my mood board last week…but it doesn’t really offer much storage for the whole shoe situtation that happens at the top of the stairs. Having said that there is a serious lack of attractive, affordable storage furniture out there. I’m on the hunt though and determined to find something just right.

Next update I hope to have the trim started and the wood parts of the trim mostly restored! Plus I have a big project for the main wall which will be amazing when it’s done…I’ve just got to get going on it! Time’s a tickin’!

Time to explore what else is happening in ORC land – the featured designers are working on some quite brilliant spaces (loving this one, and this one!), and the guest participants are forging ahead with their lovely projects too! Also have you seen the One Room Challenge series on Home Love Network? I dig Andy and Candis (and their Modern Victorian vibe!) so much, and this series is such an interesting insight into everyone’s design process. Go check it out!


One Room Challenge Guest Participant


One Room Challenge Spring 2018 Week One – The Stairwell

Ok, so I’m WAY outside of my comfort zone right now. I’ve signed myself up to the most gruelling of online interior makeover challenges: the One Room Challenge. This is the equivalent of starting out as an amateur powerwalker and then immediately signing myself up for the Iron Man Ultramarathon. I’m not even exaggerating. I’ll likely end up wheezing on the sidelines for even daring to compete with the best of the best in the interior blog world, but dang it, I’m gonna try!

So hi! Hello! Are you new here? Me too! I’m Danielle, and I’m a jack of all design trades. I’ve worked in graphic design, web design, branding, marketing, packaging, video games, merchandising, staging, interior design – all the things! I’m a visual person and I enjoy surrounding myself and others with beautiful design of all kinds. You’ve probably found me via the One Room Challenge, but if not go and check it out. It’s brilliant and inspiring every time it happens.


So let’s dive into this: The basic premise of the One Room Challenge is to pick a space and make it over in 6 weeks. Well, five really, because the sixth week is the Big Reveal. It’s my first time participating and I’ve chosen an interesting space to tackle: my stairwell.

First of all let me hit you with some inspiration:

Bam. Brilliant, engaging, interesting staircase.
Credit: Brooke Astor’s Holly Hill Estate


Boom. Simple, modern yet period sensitive, interesting. Bring it on.
Credit: The McQuades via Design*Sponge


Now that I’ve dazzled you with the inspo (so pretty!) let me totally underwhelm you with the Before pictures. Just imagine a sad trombone sound here:






Womp womp. It’s woeful. Let me count the ways:

  • The Lowest Landing. Aptly named. Basically you enter at the Lowest Landing, go up a flight, turn on the Middle Landing and go up another flight to arrive at the Top Landing and my apartment. The Lowest Landing also leads straight into my tenant’s downstairs apartment. It is frequented by people and doggos and snow and mud and it needs some serious help. I always planned to tile it, and after a full winter of torment it is READY for said tiles.
  • Stair treads and the middle/top landings were refinished when I first bought the house and had the floors redone in my upstairs apartment. However: the Lowest Landing and the stair risers have basically been ignored since that time. They are in a very sad state indeed.
  • Speaking of the stairs: in the past someone took to those antique spindles with let’s just say, an aggressive sanding technique. They are bruised and battered but (I hope!) not beyond repair. On my Instagram @macrokilla described them as being “sanded with a rasp…anything can be fixed #100hourslater“. Looks like I’ve got about 100 hours of gentle sanding ahead of me in these next 6 weeks…
  • The vast Nothingness of the Main Wall. You enter, you walk up a flight of stairs, you encounter a window and then… the Nothingness… until the ceiling waaaaaaaaay up there. You know how in The Neverending Story Fantasia was being devoured by the Nothing? Yeah, that’s happening – in my stairwell. Also it’s yellow. Noone likes a yellow Nothingness.
  • The shoe situation on the Top Landing (outside my apartment door). Carrie Bradshaw ain’t got nothing on me. This is actually a small collection of just the most recently worn shoes, piled high and generally causing mischief.
  • The coats. Oh my god the coats. To be fair, I live in the north east: it’s still snowing in April. I need the coats but also I hate the coats. Soooo many coats and scarves and cold weather accoutrement weighing down that poor coat rack. Gotta sort that shiz out.


Here is my plan of attack for the next 6 weeks (in no particular order):

  • Tile the Lower Landing
  • Paint the entrance door, downstairs apartment door and upstairs apartment door
  • Add decorative molding to the main staircase area and carry it around the stairwell space
  • Gently sand and restore the staircase… for #100hours
  • Paint all the trim, spindles and stair risers
  • Stain the handrails and newel posts
  • Change out the lighting and lightswitches
  • Paint all the walls above the trim and molding
  • Finally overcome the Nothing and make a Something out of the main wall
  • Switch out the sad roller blind on the Top Landing for something better (or nothing at all!)
  • Add (built in?) seating and shoe storage to the Top Landing
  • Add better coat organization of some sort
  • Decorate and generally prettify the whole space

It sounds relatively easy but also I’m quaking in my boots at the thought of getting this all done in 6 weeks whilst also maintaining my demanding full time job and general adulting. I’m either going to succeed spectacularly or fail miserably – but either way it should be entertaining! Stay tuned!

I’ll be pinning the ORC over here and ‘gramming over here. Go check out the other guest participants, featured designers or just click the logo below for all the ORC goodness!


One Room Challenge Guest Participant

Modern Victorian – what is it?

This whole blog stemmed from a couple of articles that introduced the idea of Modern Victorian style…but what exactly is it? Emily Henderson did an overview of key components of the look, Apartment Therapy caught the essence of it last year, and it’s been popping up in shelter mags more and more frequently. To me there’s a couple of aspects to this style:

Modern Victorian: An Aesthetic Approach

This is the idea of borrowing antique styles (or actual antiques!) and using them in new ways in contemporary spaces. This style seems to be a bit of a reaction to the Scandanavian Minimalism and Mid Century Modern styles that have been en vogue of late, and a more refined style than the popular ‘Fixer Upper’ farmhouse trend. It’s a rich, embellished, elegant look. Think statement lighting, luxe detailing, and showstopper antiques on a background of a simpler contemporary interior. There are some traditional aspects, but it’s not quite as maximalist as a New Trad interior.

Modern Victorian: A Real Life Approach

I think there’s also a second component to the Modern Victorian style, something a little less trendy and a little more interesting. Actually owning an antique home, having existing Victorian detailing and architectural embellishments in your home demands a different approach to decorating a space. How do you create a modern home when you have a grand antique stair, or detailed stained glass, or miles of wood moulding and panelling? How do you restore an antique house and create an actual modern home, not a museum? To me this is the really fascinating aspect of this style. How do actual Victorian decorating styles influence or translate into a contemporary interior?

It’s something that I’ve been researching and pondering quite a lot lately as I recently purchased a lovely Victorian home in Connecticut. But my cool NYC midcentury influenced pieces didn’t quite translate from the city into this new space…and I didn’t feel like all of them really should. This grand old dame demands a more thoughtful approach to decorating and I’m slowly learning and sharing as I go.


Let’s do this together shall we? I’d love to share as I delve more into the history of Victorian decorating, actually living within a Victorian space, and discuss how to navigate that in your own decorating. Ask me anything in the comments below!


Main image: Paul Massey via House and Garden UK

Let’s do this

The time I thought I was an internet troll… so I finally started a blog.

Earlier today I thought I had been blocked. I had posted a comment responding to an article by Emily Henderson on the topic of ‘Modern Victorian’ style, and while I wasn’t mean spirited at all, my contribution was more of a ‘constructive criticism’ comment than a high five moment.

And my comment appeared briefly, then was gone.

I thought to myself, “Huh. That’s weird. Maybe they just filter their comments before posting.” (spoiler alert: they do)

Then I thought, “Oh. Maybe my post was too negative and they removed it.” My heart sunk. For you see, Emily has a happy comment policy for her blog. It’s aimed at making her part of the internet a constructive, respectful, positive community and to keep the internet trolls at bay by simply removing their negative bullshit. When I read her original post about it I was all, “You go girl, haters gonna hate and you don’t have to listen to them!”

Today my comment was gone.

It dawned on me, the heart sinking thought… if my comment was removed, then… was I one of those people? Those ones that throw shade at the sunniest of personalities just for kicks?

Oh my god. I’m an inadvertent internet troll.

I pondered on this for a moment. I thought I had been constructive, I certainly didn’t say anything hateful or rude. In fact I’m one of Emily’s biggest fangirls – I follow the blog and Instagram diligently, comb through (and often buy from) every one of her round ups and recommendations, delight in new room reveals. Secretly I feel like if we ever met we’d be best buds – two quirky blondes who both once worked for Jonathan Adler and just want to make everyone’s home a beautiful place to be.

Then something else bubbled up: I felt feisty. I felt fired up. I had something to say – enough to take the time to comment – and it was gone. And I thought I was making an interesting contribution and that others might be interested in it as well. My comment was about *actual* Victorian decorating and how that informs this ‘Modern Victorian’ style the article was about. The history and context behind this ‘new’ look. I find it fascinating.

At that moment I realized, “Even if I am a troll and my imaginary best friend Emily Henderson now hates me, this is interesting and others will be interested too. Time to start that blog.” Lightbulb moment.

Later that day I went back to the article and saw that not only was my comment there in all its constructively critical glory, but that someone had responded to it thanking me for my insight. You’re welcome ‘Katie at 8.56am’, and thank YOU for confirming that this might be an interesting topic to share more about.


I had a blog back in the olden days of 2009, but it fizzled out as I didn’t have a clear direction. No compass directing the vision, no ‘niche’ if you will. And today I finally found it, and I hope it’s something you will enjoy.

I own a delightful Victorian house. I have a lot to share about how I came to find it, what work it needs, it’s history, and more broadly the fascinating history of Victorian architecture and decorating. ‘Modern Victorian’ or ‘New Victorian’ is exactly what I’m immersed in right now.

In fact my baby sister pointed it out to me months ago via text after I had tried to explain the look I was going for in this new/old house:

“New Victorian,” she said. “NOW I GET IT.”

Me too. Let’s do this.