Thursday, October 30, 2014


It's Week 5 of the One Room Challenge, a 6-week room makeover event that makes waves through blog land twice each year. This challenge, created by Linda of Calling it Home is not for the faint of heart. It's a rigorous obstacle course of design, innovation, problem solving, budget limitations and stamina. I'm linking in again to give you a play by play of progress as I go into the final week before the big reveal. 

Catch up on previous weeks here:

At this point, I'm working feverishly on tying up all loose ends on our master bedroom makeover.  Since I last checked in, I've made some final purchases that have actually started arriving at our doorstep, visited my local Home Depot more times than I can count and completed a couple of "build your own" projects that finally have me feeling pretty good about making the 6 week deadline. 
With all these details starting to come together, it feels very much like I'm falling asleep in a brand new room each night. Pretty exciting stuff.

One of the projects I finished in the last week was our new upholstered "leather" headboard and frame. I was able to score some beautiful buttery faux leather from Dorell Fabrics. If you are in Orange County, I highly recommend checking them out by the way. They have a killer selection of almost-like-the-real-thing faux leather. Feeling pretty satisfied with how this turned out. 
Last weekend saw lots of activity on the project front, including some more progress on a burl side table project (that stop the presses ! - I'm just revealing now for the first time). I found a great specialty hardwoods retailer that has become my current favorite haunt by the way. I've been teaching myself through a little expensive trial and error about how to properly apply veneer. This project is about 75% complete at this point, but I'm optimistic about pulling it out just before the final photo shoot. I also visited Mood Fabrics in LA over the weekend and picked out some suiting fabrics that I'm incorporating into our pillow scheme. 

Finally, I'm revealing some details on some of the prettier effects that will go into our room (pictured above)

I ordered a limited edition print by Georgia Tankard titled "Pool Illumination" from Minted. It's an underwater, nighttime pool shot that I just kept going back to time and again when searching for art to deck out our newly paneled walls. Its pretty apropos for our poolside Master Bedroom.

Also ordered was the Bradley floor lamp from Eurostyle Lighting. It arrived in a flash and exceeded my expectations. It's looking mighty fine paired up with that vintage leather chair I picked up from the flea last month.

I couldn't resist picking up a few Nate Berkus goodies from Target like this gold and black faceted lamp, geometric woven storage bin and these navy and velvet pillows

I've addressed the upgraded furnishings with the bed and tables and am closing in on some of the textural details in the room. I'll be focused on finalizing artwork and pulling all the textiles and accessories together in this final week. Meet you back here in exactly 7 days for the final reveal!
Be sure to check out progress by all my crazy talented web mates over at Calling it Home.


Thursday, October 23, 2014


Week 4 of the One Room Challenge never fails to sneak up on you. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that just yesterday, I was feeling pretty darn confident about where I am in the course of this 6-week makeover event, brought to us all by the lovely Linda of Calling it Home. But then I woke up this morning in a sheer panic, knowing I'd have to give an update and share some of the details on my progress. Funny how that happened. Never underestimate the emotional challenge of the One Room Challenge. 

So let's chat about where things are here in our master bedroom makeover during Week 4.
 First off, what would I do without my Pops. I mean... look at the grand entrance he made for us by tricking out our double doors with a little trim. It's such a pretty little surprise to behold and flows nicely from the adjacent hallway into our newly paneled master.

I've been putting in a lot of sweat equity myself, creating and building some of the furniture that I've envisioned for this space. Custom built pieces from the trade are sadly not in my budget. I may end up saving for something down the road. But the ORC is the perfect opportunity to hone some of my DIY skills. I can tell you that as of right now, I have a project hanging in the balance that may not be coming to fruition as smoothly as I imagined. But I am pressing on with a second attempt and if not, will put Plan B into action. 

I'm a bit of an overachiever. But one of the things on my wish list is "better functionality" and well, I just couldn't live in this newly updated master without addressing the chaos that lay just beyond the broken closet doors. So I took on that area and gussied it up with my charcoal paint and some brass brackets. I'm pretty giddy about how it all turned out and guess what... I've discovered that I actually do have some nicer clothes to wear other than my ORC uniform after all.

These next two weeks will fly by and I'll be posting regular updates on Instagram. Are you following along? You can also catch up on previous weeks here:

Be sure to check out all my insanely talented web-mates linking in over at Calling it Home.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Taking Notes // Bedroom Table Styling

I've been busy on making over our master bedroom for the One Room Challenge and one of the areas I've been particularly focused on is the eventual styling of our dresser and bedside tables. While so much focus on designing a polished bedroom goes into layering linens, my eye always gravitates to the layered personal effects that to me, really breathe life into this private space. 

While my goal is a completely polished and finished room, I'm wary about over styling. It's a slippery slope to design a photographable room without oversimplifying or cluttering up with needless artifacts. So often, I look at a room in a magazine and say to myself: yeah, but it looks like nobody lives there or none of that even belongs in a bedroom. In the end, I want the final ORC outcome to convey the space we will be living in everyday. While I may not leave my socks on the floor or the aspirin on my bedside table when I photograph our master makeover, it's important to me to style our bedroom in a realistic manner.  Most of all - I want it to feel finished. So I'm taking notes from the pros by browsing through some of my favorite bedroom table vignettes.

So much of the furnishings, art and textiles will read masculine. I'm a bit intrigued about the idea of displaying some traditionally feminine artifacts like perfume on the dresser. I've always tucked them away in the bathroom or in a cabinet (one less thing to dust!). But I may just pull out some of my pretty bottles and display them. Maybe doing so will even encourage me to wear my favorite fragrances more often.

I'm also a bit leery about clutter. But meaningful displays - personal collections, photographs and artifacts that will serve as a reminder of good memories my husband and I shared together are something I'm considering in our final design. 

Most of all, I plan to use table top displays as an opportunity to bring color and life into our room. We're in week 4 now and still very much in the 'laying the groundwork' stage. But by next week, I should be well into adding in some of the layers that will add color, texture and dimension to our master makeover.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014


It's Week 3 of the One Room Challenge, a trademarked online room makeover event created by Linda of Calling it Home. Today, I'm linking in with all of my design crazy web-mates to reveal progress on the architectural paneling and trim work that now faces what was formerly a 22-foot blank state of a wall.  For months we kicked around ideas to transform this hard-to-work around wall and finally landed on a simple, classic paneled design that added the visual interest we were lacking. Being more of a minimalist, I was concerned about tricking it out too much. But I'm so very happy with the design we landed on.  

By the way - that's my pops up there, making my dreams a reality - again.
 So here's a look at 'er all gussied up in her first coat of white. In the end, three coats of Benjamin Moore 'White' Semi-Gloss brought us to a beautifully smooth finish. The counter to all this white is the now dark accent wall that will sit behind our bed's headboard. After a lot of samples and teasing by the paint guys at our local Ace Hardware (thanks a lot guys...), we went with 'Nightfall', also by Benjamin Moore. I gotta tell you... I am in love with this color. It photographed a little bluer here, but in reality, it's a charcoal gray with a just hint of brownish green. I especially love the way it darkens up at night and the way our recessed lighting plays off of it. Tres sexy... 
 The house has been a torn up mess for 3 weeks because, when I do a project, it typically turns into at least 3-4 other small projects. I'm taking a little heat from the dude on this, but so far he's been pretty patient with the state of things and has been pitching in to move things along. 

In other news... nobody blogs about the One Room Challenge uniform. Please tell me you have one? Mine typically involves the same pair of jean shorts I've worn for the last two weeks, a ball cap and layers of paint splattered t-shirts and sweatshirts. I aspire to be one of those bloggers hammering and drilling away with a perfect manicure, but alas... with this 6-week deadline, who really has time for that? Let's be honest. The day is a success when I wash my face.

So, in summary, the house is a mess, I'm a mess, but we've made quite a bit of progress on the modern, sophisticated master we've always wanted. 

Minus 3 weeks until much needed manicure. 

Catch up on previous weeks here:


Thursday, October 9, 2014


Today's the day I get to share my big plan for the One Room Challenge. This is my second run in this trademarked, online makeover event created by the fabulous Linda of Calling it Home (you can see the ORC project I completed last Spring here). I'm once again linking in to participate for 6 straight weeks of makeover madness with all my design minded blog buddies. The objective this time - bring modern sophistication to our still unfinished master bedroom. Last week I shared a before look at the room as it has sat for most of the 4 years we've lived at Holtwood House.  Today, I'm laying out my game plan to take the room full circle and create the master retreat of our dreams.

 I've long been captivated by all of the elements I'm sharing with you today.  So it feels extra good to show you how I'm going to make them all work together. Paint colors have already been selected, some of the textiles and furniture have already been purchased and I'm well on my way to bringing my vision to life. The final outcome will see a mix of dark and light walls, interest and dimension on the walls where some is sorely needed and texture - lots and lots of texture.

There will be a statement or two in the room - one up high and one down below. Do you recognize that chair? I couldn't help myself... I was haunted by it after leaving it behind at Sunday's flea. It was in the stars and let's just say... we found our way back to each other. I've already gussied it up with leather polish and some Danish Oil and it currently sits in our living room, waiting to take its place in our finished bedroom. Pinch me!
As I'm working my way through this overhaul, I'm taking inspiration from spaces like these, infused with a mix of light and dark, clean lines and texture. These are some of my favorite bedroom designs (ever) and they are guiding me in creating a similar design vibe in my own bedroom.

Revisiting the original wish list I shared with you last week, my plan is to create some visual interest with architectural trim work, update the room's color palette from blue/gray to my signature black + white and upgrade some of the hand-me down furniture with new finds (like the flea market chair!). You'll also see me layer in texture through leather, burl and faux fur details as my plan comes to fruition in the coming weeks. 

I'm promising to reveal at least one major change in next Thursday's update. So be sure to check back! Until then, be sure to follow along on Instagram for a sneak peak behind the scenes.

...and make sure you check out all the amazing makeovers in progress over at Calling it Home. 


*inspiration images 1 | 2 | 3


Wednesday, October 8, 2014


I've long admired the way designers pair up classic inner trimmings of a pre-war building with modern fixtures and furnishings. It's one of the things I gravitate to when I'm traveling through Europe - something about the longevity of well built, beautiful buildings of yesteryear living on in the modern age.  But when I'm home, I prefer unfussy architectural details - clean lines, uncluttered walls amidst a mix of both vintage and modern furnishings. Luckily, there are quite a few design options for newer builds these days that give a nod to the trim work of old, but play still play it clean, contemporary and cool.

With my thoughts turned to incorporating some architectural interest onto the blank state walls of Holtwood House, I've chosen a few modern takes on trim work that are helping to guide my design plan.

Collecting samples can be such an arduous task. Between style and dimensions, there are many decisions there.  I find I'm leaning towards more minimalist options with a single, edgy raised profile.

Then there are additional decisions to make around pattern. A picture frame layout is a favored classic look. But designers are taking a more modern approach with bold graphic patterns that become a focal point in the room.

I've been playing with scale and repetition in my own design scheme and have already faced inevitable obstacles when working around vent and socket placement. My well measured layouts have already been derailed several times.

In the end, several walls at Holtwood House will be tricked out in various styles and degree of detail. Clean, classic trim will be juxtaposed against modern fixtures and finishings - a step towards building a more eclectic feel within the walls of our home.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Flea Market Adventures // Indecision

I knew the second I walked away from it that I would regret doing so - and I did, I regretted it on the long walk back to the car, throughout the 45 minute drive home and straight on through dinner. I nearly  drove back, but I continued to waiver in my indecision as I'm prone to do almost anytime I shop, but especially so when I'm considering a major purchase .  Most of time, I can talk my way out of spending money pretty easily, coming up with dozens of ways I could spend those dollars instead. But the truth is, I woke up thinking about the beautiful midcentury chair of my dreams as soon as I opened my eyes this morning. I know exactly where I would put it and in full disclosure, I had been searching for this very chair for quite some time now, sure that when seen it would probably be far out of my reach in some pricey online auction or in the window of some high end antique store I'd never buy from. But there it was, right on a corner stall at yesterday's flea. The vendor knew I wanted it and worked so hard to rationalize the purchase for me. But in the end, I let indecision get the best of me and I left without my chair. 

I need a flea market wingman to keep me from doing this again. 

I spent the whole of this blistering hot weekend scouring flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales. I love rummaging through dusty boxes and cluttered shelves and finding that thing that nobody wanted anymore that I absolutely can not live without. A couple of things I did end up pulling the trigger on: this liberty mirror and this sort of brutalist gladiator painting - both of which will eventually hang in my husband's soon to be made over study. 

I also scored myself a vintage Evan Picone tailored, check blouse (something I plan to wear straight on through spring), some pretty crystalline geodes and a scalloped teak bowl that I plan to use as a bedside catch all. 

All these great little treasures that will get a new life here at Holtwood House ... but that chair tho... 

Thursday, October 2, 2014


It's finally here - the Fall '14 edition of the One Room Challenge and I, Erin Neally am once again jumping into the fray to participate in this bi-annual room makeover event created by Linda of Calling it Home. Am I crazy? Maybe. But in all honesty, I had so much fun (and got a lot done!) in my first round, that I've been counting the days ever since. 

Each Thursday for the next 6 weeks, I will join many other design loving bloggers in a linking event, as we battle through the successes and trials in making over one room.  The payout of all this hard work will be a completed room checked off my to-do list, a lot of learnings and I'm guessing I'll make some new friends in blog land along the way. I tell you, there is no way to fail!

For this round, I'll be focusing on a redesign of our master bedroom. Let me just say upfront that this room as is, works fine. It's clean, it's comfortable and there are actually many things about this room that both my husband and I like.  But the truth is, it's never really felt "finished". We moved most of the furniture in on the first day, much of it relics of rooms in our previous house and there it has sat for the better part of 4 years. I've always imagined a little more edge, sophistication and function for this space, because it is a room we (and that lil' photo bomber Valentino above) actually spend a lot of time living in. So, while a makeover might appear frivolous, this room never really got the attention we wanted to give it in the first place and until now, we have purchased very few new items for this space.

Because we spend so much time here, it's prone to real-life clutter (I've photographed it on a good day) and non-functional aspects (I can't even open one of those closet doors).  That said, its always easy to pick apart a space and become critical of individual elements. So, how about some of the things we actually like:  

The spaciousness. It's a good sized room and the current bed/dresser configuration emphasizes this.  The natural light. We have an 8ft. window overlooking our pool. Day or night, it's a great view.  The TV. It might put the nail in the coffin on a made-for-magazine design, but this is a real-life space and it gets used every single night.  The mirrored closet doors. They reflect light from the windows and keep what would be an otherwise dark corner nice and bright. 

Where we're split:
My husband prefers our ceiling fan. I am longing for a pretty fixture. I wrote all about it in this post. This is one dilemma where we will have to seek a compromise over the next 6 weeks.

To help vet out the plan, we started by compiling a high-level wish list. From there, I began crafting a design strategy that will hopefully address all of these areas. We also came up with our out of pocket budget that must cover any new purchases, tools and supplies.  You must know that I've been squirreling away a savings for this space - cobbled together with side jobs and eBay/Craigslist sales. The final design will repurpose as much as possible (be it here or in other rooms) to eliminate waste and I'm quite sure the final outcome will include some second-hand items. Based on our budget, I've also accepted that all the pieces may not come together in 6 weeks. Additional time and savings may need to happen. But that's all part of this challenge - to see what can be accomplished in a limited timeframe.

Next Thursday, I'll share a bit on the direction and work in progress (yes! It's already set to happen this week). Until then, please be sure and visit Calling it Home to see what my fellow participants are scheming up for their spaces. 

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