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 Five – Scrambling Towards the Finish Line

You know how in eighties movies there’s always that scene where the ‘ugly duckling’ becomes the pretty, popular girl by taking off her glasses, doing her hair differently and trying on cool outfits to a boppy tune? That’s what this week has been in the stairwell. We’ve been bopping along, shaking my head to some outfits that didn’t work, nodding emphatically to ones that did, and generally getting prettier. It wasn’t progress in leaps and strides this week like I’d hoped but we are slowly s l o w l y getting there.

I had a short setback last Friday when I spent my entire day off from work sanding and scraping and sanding some more to get the handrail and newel post to their pretty moment. I sanded for hours until I had what I thought it was nice, clean, raw wood and then triumphantly wiped on some Danish oil. Well, let’s just say I had NOT sanded and scraped and sanded quite enough, and the Danish oil was all “Imma gonna show you EVERY TINY THING YOU MISSED.” Not cool, Danish oil, not cool. It’s kind of a hot mess so I’m going to have to go back and redo the handrail and newel post but re-doing things is low on my priority list right now. I will admit defeat here and let you know that it might not be recitifed by the end of the challenge, and my Type A personality will just have to deal with it. Deep breaths.

After the debarkle with trying to install the molding last week, Manfriend and I refocused and worked through getting the rest of the decorative molding cut and installed this week. The acute angles of the staircase molding details nearly got the better of us, but we soon realised that most tricky cutting situations can be solved with one simple hack(saw). So we designed, measured, hacksawed, cut and glued those babies into submission and can now proudly cross ‘install decorative molding’ off the list.

I also had a moment of insanity realization this week when I decided that since we were making the stairwell entry so beautiful, and since we were already painting the front door… well, we may as well make the outside entry prettier too  BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH ON MY PLATE ALREADY. So I ordered a new outdoor light and mailbox, and the garden beds beside the front door are getting a tszujing. Brace yourself for a brutally boring before:

Dead plants. Tiny gross little light. Plastic mailbox. One flowerbed inexplicably full of a strange and prolific type of grass. Next week it will be fresh and cute I promise!

So let’s recap what’s still on the To Do list:

  • Install crown molding
  • Finish the giant art installation for the main wall (gulp – that’s a lot of work on it’s own!)
  • Paint the front door and both interior doors – still deciding if I want to paint the door to my apartment or leave it wood
  • Install coat rack
  • Build storage seating
  • Lots and lots of caulking and paint touchups
  • Install new lights
  • Tile the lowest landing (!!)

I’ve got the weekend off and I’m trying not to panic. Never fear, I will get it done… or won’t I? (No really – I might not!!) Stay tuned for the big reveal next week!


One Room Challenge Guest Participant

Make sure to follow along everyone’s progress – the featured designers are killing it in this challenge! Ashley took her renovation outdoors as well, and Joanna’s backyard makeover is beyond stunning (that black fence is phenomenal!) The guest participants are all working hard too – anyone else out there panicking like me?? Everyone seems cool as a cucumber!

One Room Challenge Spring 2018 Week Four – A Series of Unfortunate Events

Sooooo… Week 4 of the One Room Challenge is no joke. We were warned this would be a challenging week and they weren’t kidding. Last week I naively declared that come this week I would have trim/molding installed and the wood restored. Ha! Ha ha! Last Week Me was so optimistic, high on paint fumes, and forgetting she had six long hard days straight of adulting at work to do. So I had all of one day to devote to the ORC this week, and let’s just say I did not achieve what I had set out to do. Let me paint the picture for you:

Tuesday is the one day I have to work on the stairwell. No probs, my manfriend also has Tuesday off and we are determined to knock out all the molding and trim.

Tuesday is also the day I have a standing midmorning appointment with my personal trainer. No worries – we’ll go to the gym, hit up Home Depot, and still have plenty of time to do all the molding and trim.

Prepare a list of what we need at Home Depot over breakfast. Get to the gym and leave pumped (endorphins make you happy!) and ready to get down and complete the molding and trim.

We stop by Habitat for Humanity on the way to Home Depot and happen to find a box of grout for the tiles for $3. Winning at life.

Grab everything on the list at Home Depot and proclaim how brilliant and efficient we are for making the list and quickly finding everything we need.

Decide to stop by the grocery store and grab lunch and dinner so that all we have to worry about for the rest of the day is getting the trim and molding done. Treat ourselves to lobster rolls because we’re going to be so productive all afternoon.


Now: here’s where things went awry. The molding and trim I found is a super cool recycled lightweight polysterene. This stuff is quite brilliant really – much easier to work with than wood and super budget friendly (all the crown and decorative molding for the staircase ended up being about $85 and that’s including spare pieces). I watched a video online of it being installed and I thought, “Man that’s so easy! You got this!”

Here’s the thing: *spoiler alert* not everything you see on the Internet is true. So when a friendly-looking older handygentleman on the internet tells you to use adhesive caulk on your polysterene trim, stick it up, wipe away the excess and voila! you’re done – WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT BELIEVE HIM. That man is a liar my friend. You do NOT save yourself an extra step of caulking, and adhesive caulk is not great at either adhesion or caulking.

So we (and when I say we I mean entirely me as manfriend is eternally patient) struggled and swore and made a mess trying to stick a bendy piece of trim to a wobbly old wall with adhesive caulk that neither adheres nor caulks well. It was sliding down the wall, sticking at one end and not the other, oozing out all over the place – I’m talking full on DIY disaster. By 4.30pm I had to walk away, eat some chocolate and rethink my life how to go about this.

I went back to Home Depot and got some heavy duty adhesive with zero second dry time. I also went to the wine store and bought 3 bottles of wine because WINE ALWAYS HELPS. I swear Home Depot should just add a D.I.Wine aisle over by the paint department to save everyone the trip to the bottle shop.

So by that point it’s 6pm. We managed to sucessfully stick up 5 pieces of the approx. 60 that needed to go up and cannot for the life of us get our heads around the angles for the staircase run of molding. Forget about carefully restoring the wood in the stairwell – my patience was gone at that point.

“But,” I thought to myself, “You need some cool progress pics to show off on the ORC link up! The trim and molding may have been a bust but surely there’s something quick and satisfying you can do to move this project along?” Lightbulb moment: remove all the blue painter’s tape. Painting had been successful the week before and removing the tape would be quick and painless and big impact, right? You would think that but NO. It peeled off in tiny strips. It took off the carefully painted edges. In some areas it took off two layers (!!) of the paint underneath. Deep breath. Keep calm Danielle, and carry on. Take one carefully cropped photo showing the single corner of trim that is finished and carry on.

So, in summary: let’s forget Week 4 ever happened. By next week I’ll have all the molding and trim up and the woodwork restored! And if that fails – SEND WINE.


One Room Challenge Guest Participant


FOOTNOTE: on the plus side I did order some great lighting, found a good storage bench option, received some cool budget-friendly coat hooks, and started on the big art project for the main wall. Plus the tiles for the lowest landing are stunning and will be the absolute bomb when I get them installed. So all is not lost in ORC Week 4 but man am I looking forward to making lots of visible progress in Week 5!

Have you been following along the One Room Challange featured designers and guest participants? Seems Deuce Cities Henhouse was also struggling with a tough/boring week this week, and I’m super excited to see how the Blake Hill House porch vestibule turns out after a slow start – her attention to detail is amazing!


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 Two – The Great Paint Debate

I painted some of my wood trim.
There, I said it. My name is Danielle, I’m an old house enthusiast, and I *gasp* painted some of my wood trim.

Painting wood trim is one of those hugely polarising design decisions. And I totally get it – my househunt once yielded a stunning Queen Anne Victorian which had every inch of it’s magnificent wood trimmed foyer painted a horrifying metallic gold. I almost cried at the thought of what that space once was and how much effort it would take to restore it back to it’s former wood trim glory.

So why did I tempt controversy and paint my trim? Well, though my house is supes cute from the outside, the inside (especially the staircase) is another story. Sure there’s a little detail here and there, a sprinkling of charm, but it is not one of those exquisite Queen Annes and it’s woodwork is sadly lacking. What is there is mostly non-original and covered in years of drips and specks from messy wall paint jobs. In short: my trim was a total Monet.

So I took a deep breath, put my painting pants on* and got down to painting my trim (well, I got as far as priming it this week). And let me tell you: it was terrifying. I could almost hear the old house purists scolding me for not restoring what was there. I braced myself for the internet haters telling me they “liked the before better”. There were many, many moments where I doubted myself. But I’m glad to say that once that first coat went on I knew I’d made the right decision. Giant sigh of relief.


Now the next big decision is what color to paint the walls. The plan is to add some decorative molding and paint the bottom part white, to lighten the space and add some interest to the Nothingness. Above the molding will be where the DRAMA comes in – I’m talking a deep, sexy wall color rising up to the ceiling. Now which deep, sexy wall color exactly I’m not sure. I’ve narrowed it down to a custom concoction I’m calling Salt and Peppery (a brighter, lighter version of my favorite Behr color Peppery) and a delightful blue/green/grey called Le Luxe. Aaaaaand of course they both look awesome. It’s like being presented with Bradley Cooper and Joe Manganiello – they’re both so dang handsome which do you choose?? How can you possibly decide?!? I’m going to put it to a vote in my Stories on the Gram and see what the crowd thinks, so feel free to head on over there and add your two cents.


Left: Salt and Peppery aka Bradley Cooper. Right: Le Luxe aka Joe Manganiello

I will leave you this week with a work-in-progress mood board of the direction I’m heading in. There’s still some things up in the air but I’m starting to really narrow in on the final look. I love the tiles but they are not inexpensive and I’m having trouble pulling the trigger on them – it’s sure going to be tough to balance the budget whilst still making a big impact!


*actual pants, which I wear exclusively for painting

It’s getting exciting in ORC land – the featured designers and other guest participants have some great projects going on!


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