It’s One Room Challenge time! If you’re new to the One Room Challenge (or, ORC for short), check out my post from yesterday to get all of the details, and see the challenges I’ve participated in in the past! This go-round, however, is different because I am one of the 20 featured designers chosen by Linda of Calling it Home, who is the brains behind this event! I (along with the other 19 designers and bloggers) will be linking up my progress every Wednesday here on the blog for the next six weeks, and I will be documenting the creation, design, and installation every step of the way. So, mark your calendars and stop back by for the next five Wednesdays to see what I’m up to!
If you’re new to my blog: welcome! I’m Shannon, a full-time interior designer and blogger based out of Washington, DC. My challenge is unique because I live in a one bedroom apartment in the heart of the district. My husband and I recently purchased this apartment, and I haven’t really done anything in it since we moved in (other than unpack and watch a lot of Netflix). Our building was built in the early 1920s, and it definitely has its quirks and character; it’s only 750 square feet, so I have to maximize the space in so many different ways- visually, functionally, and aesthetically. We chose this apartment because of its location and incredible views, but I knew I was up for a challenge on the inside. My goal is to share that small space living doesn’t have to come at the cost of big design, and that you can decorate to make a home you love no matter the size of your residence. For this round of the One Room Challenge, I will be tackling our living room, dining room, and entry area, which is one big space!
Today, I want to show you the before photos of our space. The previous owner was an architect, and got really creative with his finishings- some of which are my taste, some of which are not. It skews much more modern than I tend to lean, so I plan to honor the age and the style of the building by bringing back that traditional factor. Here are a few listing photos of the space, so you can see how it was staged:
It’s so interesting to look back at these photos and see how it was staged, because it’s so different than how we arranged the furniture when we moved in. Here are a few images of what it looked like empty, so you can get a better feel for the space.
The entry area:
There is no traditional “entry” area in this apartment, but I think it’s so important (especially in small spaces!) to have that “drop zone” spot where you can drop your keys, mail, etc.
One of the best tricks for small spaces is mirrors- I use them all the time in DC client projects to reflect light and act as additional windows in a space that likely has few, or little natural light. As you can see, the previous owner applied that rule liberally, and created an entire mirrored wall.
But since my name isn’t Gordon Gecko, and this isn’t a barre studio, I will be making over this wall with the help of a big idea, a little elbow grease, and likely a lot of red wine. 😉
The living + dining area:
As you could probably tell in the listing photos, the living room and dining room areas are really one big room. This presents a particular challenge because I want to separate the two areas into zones without closing them off and making the space feel smaller.
One of the best and also the most frustrating things about this space is the wall of six built-in bookcases. I love them for several reasons- storage, character, height, decor, more storage- but the previous owner stepped them gradually from the front door to the outside wall. I understand why he did it (to maximize space without covering up the window), but it creates an interesting challenge at the baseboards because it looks like stairs and traps every ounce of dust that accumulates on the floor. We decided not to rip them out, so I’m coming up with simple solutions to disguise the stepped nature of these shelves, while at the same time updating certain aspects and adding character.
You know that 1920s charm that I spoke about before? It also includes working radiators, which have been updated over the years and now resemble a part of an airplane engine. Since this is the only source of heating in the living area, this has to stay. But the covering doesn’t!
You can see from this shot below that the living area (sofa, coffee table, etc.), dining area (table and at least four chairs), and entry area have to fit in this long and narrow space.
What we’ve done since moving in:
We weren’t sure exactly what we were going to do to the space when we moved in, but I was sure of two things: the wall color had to change, and the floors had to be refinished. I’m pretty sure they are the original floors, so I didn’t want to rip them out. Instead, we decided to go with a neutral paint color on the walls, and to refinish the floors with a dark stain.
We tested a few different white paints (left to right: White Dove, Chantilly Lace, and Simply White, all Benjamin Moore) before landing on Simply White. It looks so great in the space, so it’s staying (cheers to not painting the walls)!
You couldn’t tell in the listing photo, but right inside the front door, the previous owner decided to install a built-in floor mat. The floor was cut out in a square shape, and a synthetic indoor/outdoor plastic mat was placed inside- here’s what it looked like:
We didn’t want to keep it, so my husband Nick purchased some solid oak flooring, ripped up the carpet, and cut new pieces to fit. We decided to go dark on the floors, and we landed on Monwax “Ebony”, so you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference in the new vs. the old wood. Here’s what it looked like after:
And here’s a better look at the Simply White on the walls, and the Ebony stain on the floors:
Whew! So, that’s where we are now- we haven’t changed anything else. Did you make it all the way through the before photos? I wanted to show you as much as possible because it makes the final reveal that much better. Stay tuned for Week Two, when I will share all of my plans for this space!
Be sure to check out the other Wednesday participants- Linda pulled together an amazing group! And follow the #oneroomchallenge hashtag on Instagram to keep up with all of the updates. See you next week!
Jana Bek | Chris Loves Julia | Shannon Claire | Coco.Kelley | The Curated House
Driven by Decor | The English Room | From the Right Bank | Sherry Hart
Hi Sugarplum | House of Jade | Hunted Interior | The Makerista | Making it Lovely
Marcus Design | Pencil & Paper Co. | Megan Pflug | Place of My Taste | Suburban B’s
Waiting on Martha Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by CIH