One Room Challenge Week 1: Plans For A Dreamy Midcentury Modern Living and Dining Room


As I mentioned last week, I’ve decided to join in the fun over at the One Room Challenge this spring, with the goal of transforming a space in 6 short weeks. I've chosen our living/dining room, as that's the largest space in the house and the place where we hang out and entertain guests. I'd like to have at least one room that's up to snuff for the summer. For my own house (i.e. without the external deadline of a client or work project), I’m TERRIBLE at finishing spaces. I’m great at getting started--with colors, the overall look and feel, and statement pieces like a new sofa, but when it comes to finishing it up with artwork, styling, and that final polish, I agonize about finding the “perfect” pieces and before I know it, it’s been a year and my walls are still mostly bare. I think the ORC will be a great way to get inspired, as well as hold me accountable and help get ‘er done so we’ll have a nice living and entertaining space heading into the warm months.

Here’s My Plan:

  1. Remove the carpet and painted-over grasscloth wallpaper

  2. Repair the plaster cracks in the ceiling and remove extra down lights

  3. Replace existing down lights with efficient LED fixtures

  4. Re-wire the light fixtures, switches, and outlets and add new (safe) covers

  5. Paint ceiling, walls and trim

  6. Add new seating, an area rug, light fixtures, and storage

  7. Style the space with artwork, accessories, and decorative pieces

Easy, right?! I’m sure I’ll be working right down the wire, but what’s the old saying? If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done. I’ll be posting my progress each Thursday, so be sure to check back here to see how it's coming along! 

So here is the room as it looked just after we moved in. It's a sunken living room on one side, and on the other side is the dining area, which is two steps up. It's a pretty great space for dance parties with a toddler, family dinners, and cat naps in the sun (whether you are human or feline).



We threw that area rug over the green one so I could have a level of comfort allowing Ronnie to play without getting 50 years of carpet cooties. And our furniture looks like it came from a doll house! The scale is way off due to this room being about 2.5 times the size of our old living room.


It’s got lots of potential, but the green carpet? The grasscloth wallpaper they painted over (with haste, I might add)? The cigar-stained ceiling? The multiple incandescent down lights that easily added fifty dollars to the electric bill each month? Just--no.


The former owner had a giant hutch in the dining room, and apparently they just painted AROUND it! Haha. I hope he didn't pay full price. 

I think the layout will be the biggest challenge for this space. The previous inhabitants had a lot of furniture (a sectional, a sofa, multiple accent chairs, tables….) and the space still felt big. It’s about 22 feet long by 14 feet wide, so I’m going to be playing around with a few different furniture plans, with the goal of keeping the room feeling airy and spacious, but not empty. I’ll also need to go with larger pieces that feel appropriate for the scale of the room. I'll be working to make the room feel cozier and not too big or cavernous. In my past homes and apartments, I've had the opposite problem--constantly trying to pare down and make the space feel bigger and not claustrophobic. 

So here’s what I’m thinking: a serene, ethereal space with lots of blue, pink, and gold. I'd like it to feel like a happy afternoon daydream! I'm still working out some sources and details, but here's what I've got so far in terms of inspiration:

My homework for the weekend is to nail down a furniture layout and finalize a budget. Frank is going to be finishing up the lights, patching/repairs, and paint. Whoo, let's do this!