Wednesday, November 15, 2017


One Room Challenge Makeover

One Room Challenge Makeover

Another One Room Challenge is finally in the books and today, I'm so excited to show you the result of our living room remodel.  While we have made several foundational improvements to this room in the years since we moved into our 1967 SoCal Rancher, it has never quite come together - until now. Truth be told, it has taken just 7 weeks to do what we have been seemingly working towards for 7 years. Today, I'm so proud to take you on a visual tour of the finished room and talk through some of the elements that were integral to bringing our long-intended vision to life.

You can can catch up on the "before" and weekly progress here:

Week 1  |  Week 2  |  Week 3  |  Week 4  |  Week 5  |  [Bonus!] Week 6 

One Room Challenge Makeover

With extensive renovations completed for our kitchen remodel during the last One Room Challenge [click here to see that!], this round was a nice respite from my typical DIY marathon and the ensuing project chaos that typically follows. Still, the redesign challenged me in other ways - budget and restraint quickly becoming the stressful undercurrents as I plotted and carried out our plan.

One Room Challenge Makeover

We retained many of the existing furniture pieces which helped save on cost and instead, relied heavily on new textiles, art and an edited collection of room accessories to change the entire vibe of the room.  Of course the new white oak flooring we installed throughout the house during the last One Room Challenge was the MVP element in the new design and was essential to pulling it all together.

One Room Challenge Makeover

We had two primary goals in mind as we planned and carried out this remodel. The first - we wanted to create a design more complimentary to other areas of the house and chiefly, that new kitchen we just completed. The second - we wanted this heavily used room to be a more accurate reflection of who we are and how we live. Part of that meant bringing in textural and visual elements that spoke to our love affair with our home state and marrying that up with the work I do in my online home goods shop, Bird + Belle.

Both goals ultimately influenced the art, accessories and new textile selections in the room.  

One Room Challenge Makeover
One Room Challenge Makeover

It was also important that this room not only look polished, but remain functional. We have two rambunctious dogs and while baby gates kept them at bay for the last couple of weeks while the room was completed, no doubt they will eventually reclaim this room for themselves. Because of this, it was important that the soft goods chosen were not fussy and could be cleaned as needed. We also plop ourselves down nightly on that giant sectional in front of our eyesore of a TV. It may not be the most design-worthy element, but our living room is for living and I think the final design remains true to that.

One Room Challenge Makeover 
One Room Challenge Makeover
One Room Challenge Makeover

I think the the bright neutral palette at work here challenges any prior conventions I may have had that said neutral is boring. In the early days when planning colors for our house at the paint counter, I could not have imagined a combination of tonal grays, beige, black and even brown to play together as cohesively. I was short-sighted in thinking we had to either carry grays, browns or color independently throughout the house and that was the source of a lot of early design frustration.

When I look at this reimagined room now, I see a balance of both warm and cool. While the sectional, rug and flooring read on the cooler side, the brass, natural wood accents and our original flagstone fireplace add those essential cozy overtones that keep this space comfortable and livable.

One Room Challenge Makeover

The room is a bit of a fishbowl with clear views into the side and backyard areas of our home. I've always seen this as an opportunity to bridge our outdoor areas with the interiors. Our poolside fire area visible from the north facing windows infuses some of that indoor-outdoor living California is famous for. But the side yard that can be seen from the 15ft bank of windows abutting the couch was the perfect place to showcase a shady side garden planted against the fence we share with our neighbor. I've been making small adjustments to this landscape for several years and with the current selection of native plants, it finally feels complimentary to the newly decorated room just inside.

One Room Challenge Makeover
One Room Challenge Makeover
One Room Challenge Makeover

The pillows, beads and vintage pottery were all pulled from my own stock of home goods at Bird + Belle. I must confess it occasionally happens. There are some things I find it simply too hard to part with! But most importantly, bringing in a treasure I dug through piles of oddball stuff to find from an estate sale I drove miles to attend and then pairing that up with pillows from the shop make this space much more personal to me. 

One Room Challenge MakeoverOne Room Challenge Makeover

Our living room blends with an adjacent dining area that got a bit of work in the months between the spring and fall One Room Challenges. A new custom sized lighting fixture and the counter-height directors chairs we brought in have made this a functional addition to the sitting area in front of our TV. While we use our farmhouse table in the kitchen dining area for daily meals, the set up here provides additional seating when entertaining - something we do a lot of here at the house.

One Room Challenge Makeover

About the Slim Aarons photograph that hangs here... I realize it has gotten a bit trendy in recent years, but I have a personal affection for this piece that dates back a decade. We got married in a sprawling mid-century house in Palm Springs and on our first tour of the house, my eyes fixed on this very photograph for the first time hanging in the entry-way and I remember turning to my then fiance and I said... "When we finally have our own home someday, this is something I want to hang on our wall."  It may be a replica, but that memory is forever tied to this now popular poolside art piece and for that reason alone, I'm not sure I could ever part with it.

One Room Challenge Makeover
One Room Challenge Makeover
One Room Challenge Makeover
One Room Challenge Makeover
One Room Challenge Makeover

As someone who operates a small business, it was also important to me to support other makers and sellers putting themselves out there with their wares (see sources below). Many amongst the pared down grouping of accessories came from local, up before dawn flea market vendors. That vintage kilim rug came from an overseas Etsy shop I wholeheartedly recommend for the friendly customer service and incredibly speedy ship times (3 days from Instanbul you guys - like whoa...). Can you believe that four of the art pieces hanging on these walls came from a singular Etsy Shop? I simply purchased the download and printed and framed my own.  Even the custom light fixture over the dining table came from an Etsy shop, as did the fabricated black metal table base beneath it.

One Room Challenge Makeover
One Room Challenge Makeover

If you made it this far through the flood of photos, my humblest gratitude for allowing me to share my excitement over this project.  My sincerest thank you as well to One Room Challenge founder and organizer extraordinaire, Linda of Calling it Home. I've been pushed by these quick turn deadlines to finally finish off (5!) rooms in our home over the past couple of years and for that, plus the much needed motivation and the encouragement of the design blogger community, I am truly grateful. A thank you to ORC media sponsors House Beautiful and Home Love Network and to all of the other guest participants for their inspiring hard work over these past several weeks. Last but not least, a heartfelt thank you to all of you who have stopped in to take a peek or dropped a note to pump me up as I worked to complete this design.  The One Room Challenge is certainly one of those occasions when the blogging community really comes together to support one another and I walk away with not only a finished room to enjoy for the upcoming holiday, but appreciation to be part of that. 

***For more inspiration, check out the other Guest Participant Room Reveals at Calling it Home***

*Product Sources

Striped, Grain sack and Military Canvas Pillows: Bird + Belle
Draperies: Overstock
Roman Shades: Overstock
One of a Kind Vintage Kilim: Others at Lidya Kilim Rug
Hmong Batik Pillows: PureHomeLA
Zak + Fox Lumbar: Boho Pillow

Recessed Lighting: Trim Wholesale Lighting
Molecular Light Fixture: IntermountainLights (no longer on Etsy), but similar here
Brass Library Floor Lamp: Overstock

Art + Effects:
Vintage Pottery: Similar available at Bird + Belle
Art Prints: WildPrintCo
Bone Beads: Bird + Belle
Olive Tree: Rogers Gardens
Olive Tree Pottery: Village Nursery

Furniture + Flooring:
Flooring: San Marco Oak 
Drapery Rods: Overstock
Lounge Sectional: Crate + Barrel
Directors Chairs: Jet
Dining Table Base: Territory Designs (no longer on Etsy), but similar here


Thursday, November 9, 2017


California Casual Design, Living Room Makeover

Originally, I had today marked on my calendar as "reveal day". But for this round of the bi-annual One Room Challenge, we were given an extra week to bring our room designs to life. I took full advantage of the extra time we were given and tried to space out finishing tasks on our California Casual Living Room so I wouldn't make myself completely nuts. Nothing like going into the holiday season with a newly finished room and my sanity still in tact. 

That's not to say that these past few weeks have been completely smooth sailing. I've had my share of delays, costly screw ups and frustrating projects. This is my 6th One Room Challenge Room and despite weeks of planning and prep, those disruptive bumps in the road still managed to sneak in. There were times when I wondered if this was finally the one that would do me under.

For today's update, I thought I'd share a few of the challenges I encountered as I redesigned our living room. 


Windows |  Dressing our large wall of windows was one of the greatest challenges I encountered during this redesign - and I knew it would be. Those windows were one of the features that drew me in when touring the house before purchase, but they have given me a lot of grief over these 7 years. From afternoon sun that fades furniture and raises the temperature in the room to scale to the odd triangle shaped windows that sit at the top - how and just what to hang became my focus for many weeks. In the end, I settled on a solution of layered shades (solar underneath, woven roman on top) and drapes.

Scale |  The ratio of couch to available floor space in the room presented some challenges around what size rug to buy for this space. We have deep a sectional that takes up quite a bit of real estate in the room and choosing an appropriate (and available!) rug size gave me lots of headaches early on. Same with artwork - we went quite large with our final selections and even taped off sections of the vast white wall for visual planning and placement long before we placed our order. Still - there was still quite a bit of head scratching (and holes in the wall) when it came time to hang them.

One Costly Screw Up

I had to buy our woven window shades twice.

It was a big deal when I finally purchased these shades. I did a lot of research on whether to buy a custom or standard size, fretted over color and material selection and when I finally found the right ones and got them hung, I celebrated - for about 30 minutes until I ruined them ALL with a pair of scissors. 

In my defense, what I SAW were plastic tags (you know the kind that allow price tags to hang from clothes in the store) holding the pleating together for shipping on the face of each shade. What I failed to realize until it was too late was that they actually held mechanical ribbing together on the back of each shade. So when that plastic tag was cut from the front, it consequently rendered that ribbing useless and my shades fell flat to the floor and would no longer draw up. 

Bummer. I thought about trying to sew them back in place, but in the end - I went ahead and bit the bullet for a second purchase of the same blinds. 

So yeah, that sucked.

Alls Well That Ends Well

But now here we are and suddenly its install day - err... weekend. Over the next couple of days, I'll be fluffing, fussing, arranging, rearranging and photographing the room for the big reveal next Thursday. I'm impatient so its possible you may see some sneak peeks in my Insta Stories (@holtwoodhipster) over the coming days. Wish me luck as this challenge finally draws to a close!

In the meantime, there are a couple of hundred other designers with rooms in progress who can use some extra support over at Calling in Home. So hop on over for lots of inspiration! Lots of talent in this group.


Thursday, November 2, 2017


In today's post, I'm sharing another update on the road to our California Casual Living Room, designed for the One Room Challenge. In Week 5, I'm turning focus away from art and windows to the adjacent narrow dining area that is essentially an extension of this space. 

Just prior to the start of the fall edition of the One Room Challenge, there was already quite a bit of progress made here through paint, moldings and new wood flooring. The former owners had utilized this area as their formal dining room. But in designing some of the more functional aspects for our own use, my husband and I felt it important to keep it casual and skip any fuss. We designed and built our own counter-height dining table from simple steel legs, powder coated in black and a wood table top from African Mahogany. For the past couple of years, that is all that existed in this pocket of our extended living room - that is until this past summer when we added four director style chairs to the mix. 

New molecular-style statement lighting helped to create some visual interest here and casts a pretty glow from both inside and outside the expansive windows that look out onto our backyard fire pit. One of the challenges we've faced in this redesign was that the space is quite narrow and tunnel like. Adding a large scale mirror near the window allowed for a lot of natural light reflection within the space and helped us solve that design dilemma. 

You can also see in the before and in-progress after photos above that we worked a bit to update the original aluminum window with paint and molding - that is after we painstakingly scraped off the dated mirror-like film from said windows (THAT was fun, but sooo worth it).
This past week we also turned focus to the credenza area. We wanted to elevate our IKEA cabinets with a new top - to both warm up the ultra modern feel (hard to tell here, but the cabinet fronts are glossy white) and hide the cabinet seams visible from the top. The cabinet itself is working well and the fact that it floats helps to balance out the heaviness of the furniture in the center of the room.

I took a trip to our local lumberyard and had them cut some white oak boards to size. In the coming days, those boards will be glued up and refinished into a solid top which will then be screwed into our credenza for a more finished look. I'm already loving the way it ties in with the new floors.

So a quick update again this week, but things are progressing nicely. Our frames and artwork arrived just yesterday so my homework this evening will be to begin the framing process. Lots of anticipation for the outcome here. The artwork is one of the elements I'm relying on to help tie everything together for my design. Cross your fingers for me... 

In the meantime, be sure to check out the work in progress designs from nearly 200 other design bloggers over at Calling it Home, as they too burn the midnight oil to finish their spaces by November 16.


Thursday, October 26, 2017


Slow, but notable progress was made against my One Room Challenge living room design in Week 4. With art selections and other purchases that might otherwise delay an on-time finish finally completed, attention has been almost exclusively paid to the large wall of windows over the last few days. But before I talk about this aspect of my design plan, I want to share a bit about the work we did several months back to upgrade the windows. 

I should preface this part of my post by saying that the windows in this house were one of the things that attracted me to it in the first place. Plentiful and expansive, they allow a lot of light into the house - something my husband and I both prioritized while house hunting. Living in the house, we've been challenged with that same bright light that also brings with it a lot of afternoon heat which slowly worked to fade furniture and raise our electric bill. Furthermore, all the windows in the house were gray metal which did not provide a polished look within the interior.  We also painstakingly removed a reflective tint on the windows that had helped to filter the light, but looked ugly and dated. 

While we haven't yet made an investment in steel case windows, both paint and trim have gone a long way to lift the finish around our original, single pane 1960s windows.  That gray metal was painted out black using an oil based Rustoleum, which has held up very well to everyday use by the way. That allowed us to get the look of a steel case window while we save for the real thing.

As part of the One Room Challenge, my goal is to complete the design with woven roman shades to replace our current vinyl pull down shades and drapery. This past week, shades were delivered and mounted just outside each frame. A black metal wrap around curtain rod was hung high in preparation for ivory linen curtains which will be draped on each side of the frame.

I'm also giving you a sneak peek at the rug, which was unrolled so I could measure out and cut the padding I purchased to give our flat kilim a plusher appearance. 

Man, I love this rug. Tino, don't get any ideas. 

So while this week's update may not be especially exciting, progress made will undoubtedly make a big impact in my final finished design.

One thing to note - the reveal date for the guest edition of the One Room Challenge has been extended by one week. It's been a rough couple of months for some participants with fire, floods and other natural disasters. The additional week allows for a bit of catch up for those affected. So the new reveal date has now been set for Thursday, November 16. So mark your calendars - for over 200 inspiring before and after room reveals to be unleashed onto the interwebs. You can check out progress reports from all over at Calling it Home.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Beach Photography Prints

 I can hardly believe that we're smack dab in the middle of the 6-Week One Room Challenge and here I am still revealing snippets of my design plan. Perhaps I want to suspend the element of surprise just a wee bit longer or maybe I am still in the midst of decisions and purchases. Could be a bit of both. But I feel the room really starting to take shape and I'm not yet feeling too anxious or nervous about that hard deadline on November 8 (ask me in again Week 4...). 

If I had to pick a theme for this past week's work, it was all about art. I stripped the old DIY framed art off the walls this past weekend, expecting to commence with a lot of wall repair. Somewhere down the line I had adhered those hex mirrors from Ikea all over that wall and I guess I forgot that the ensuing repairs had already been completed. So happy surprise there. 

I've been researching art options for quite sometime now, archiving those that I really liked and what I found as it came time to make some purchase decisions - the tone of the art in a singular shop was really drawing me in. I was concerned that purchasing from one artist would appear that I did not put a lot of thought into art decisions, but the bottom line is that when you know, you just know.  I got buy off from the hubs (which was a miracle because we're rarely on the same page with artwork) and set to taping the room off to get a better idea for scale.

We have some really big walls in this space and I've been challenged with sizing the art correctly against them. The one over the couch is 15' long and in this room's previous iteration, we had hung a 72" photograph under plexiglass above the couch. But here, I'm looking to break up the space a bit with three separate works and feel like the smaller scale above the couch will work out well. By taping it off, I got a better sense of how it will play out, knowing the frames may buy me a little more visual real estate. Do you do this too? 

California Casual Living Room
While new artwork is in the cards for this makeover, a full furniture overhaul is not. The final design will work in a few new pieces, but will put to use pieces we've sort of been collecting with the idea that one day it would all come together. The couch and coffee table will remain (that's our couch, but similar table to ours shown here). I scored a crazy deal on a pair of contemporary metal side tables earlier this year, but the jury is still out on whether both will reside in this room (I have just the place for the extra table if needed). The counter-height director's chairs were also scored during a Memorial Day sale, so they are already in place within the adjacent dining area, as is the molecular lighting fixture. So what about recent purchases? That rug. Oh lawdy - that rug... I ordered it from Istanbul from an international seller on Etsy a week ahead of the ORC kick off date, thinking it would take forever to arrive. Little did I know I'd be unwrapping it a mere 3 nights after I placed the order. It's everything and fingers crossed when it all comes together that it will be the tie that binds in my design.

Next week's update - we'll talk windows and possibly a little DIY action I have planned if I can make that happen over the coming weekend. My husband thinks I'm a little nuts with this idea that I've floated, but then I reminded him how many of my nutty little experiments are still living with us in our home.

You know, my family always asks what I get out of this - what is the prize if I "win" and always give me a funny little look when I tell them that there really is not competition per se except that I am giving myself this challenge to complete a design in 6 weeks.  I feel like the tight timeline, personal budget and to be frank -internet audience - push me to do things I might not otherwise try if I didn't feel that little added pressure. Some things I'm really proud of have come out of past seasons and I'm hoping to pull the same off this Fall.

Want to be inspired? You should really check out the other guest participants challenging themselves this season. There are 200 of them all linking up alongside me at Calling it Home

Catch up on Week 1 and Week 2 Here


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Week 2 // Fall One Room Challenge: California Casual Living Room

Vanessa Alexander

Today we round the corner into Week 2 of the One Room Challenge, a biannual room makeover event hosted by Linda of Calling it Home.  Last week, I shared a look at the evolution of my living room - my focus for this challenge - and how it has slowly morphed through renovation and decor trends over the last 7 years.   This week, I am checking in with you to share more about my direction and the design influences for the California Casual design I will reveal on November 9. 

We've lived in our home while we've renovated and over time, focused sporadically on each room as budget has allowed. Two recent changes - a new floor and our recent kitchen remodel - have both helped solidify our design plan and created an easier, open feeling flow from room to room.  As I work to complete a more finished look with our adjacent living room and adjoined dining area, its important to me to not only create something complimentary to other rooms in the house, but continue with something that is aesthetically aligned with aspects that are important to my husband and I in our private living space.  In the end, what will our living room reflect about us and how will we live in it?

Design Influences

California Casual is a style that has recently come into better focus through the widely published work of local California designers. But I feel like its been evolving for quite some time. I can think back to places I frequented as a kid in the 80's and remember hints of what it has now become embedded into those early furnishings.  Nostalgia aside, what has drawn me most to this style are the airy rooms, earthy, muted tones, clean lines and soft textiles - all things that are comfortable and soothing for two people who spend most of their time saddled in front of a computer or navigating their way through LA traffic all day.

Amber Lewis

Laura Singleton

Surf Shack - Photo by Brittany Ambridge

Design Goals

Our design goals for this space are well defined and will continue to unify the rooms throughout the house. We will transition away from trendy accessories (many still packed away from when we put the floor in this past Spring) and work toward something modern, but a little more timeless.  

In next Thursday's update, I will share work in progress and a first look at some of the materials that will be brought into the room ahead of the final reveal. In the meantime, catch sneak peeks on Instagram (@HoltwoodHipster) and be sure to check out progress by the other guest participants on Calling it Home.

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