One Room Challenge — The Final Reveal

At long last, it’s reveal day!  My first time participating in the ORC was a great experience.  Not only is the community so inspiring and encouraging, it really motivated me to give this long-neglected room the makeover it needed.  Now, instead of being a leftover room, our family room is one that the kids can proudly enjoy with their friends and we can gather together as a family.

So, without further ado, the final reveal!  Click here for a quick reminder of how this room looked before.

As you can tell, I love baskets (can you spot them all?).  Baskets are practical and great for adding texture to a space.  I made a few tweaks from the original plan, like making my own pillows using a variety of my favorites like Japanese indigo, African mudcloth, and ikat patterns.

In place of the single coffee table I had originally selected, I went with two smaller tables.  This allows more floor space and flexibility, since the tables can be easily moved around.  The tripod legs on the tables mimic those of the floor lamp (also changed).  Flexibility is a must in design!

After repainting this chest glossy black, I paired it with a brass mirror to catch some of the light from the opposite (and only) window.  With the chest placed next to our classic leather club chair, this area is now a purposeful resting spot, complete with a basket full of design magazines.


Thank you for following along with me on this six week journey.  It was such a great experience, I’m going to have to find a new room for the next ORC!

Don’t forget to check out all the amazing transformations from the guest participants here!

Photos original to Act 2 Decor, LLC.

One Room Challenge — Week 5

It’s  Week 5 of the One Room Challenge — only one more week until the final reveal!

If you’ve been following my progress, you know that clearing out, painting and adding a new rug made a huge difference in brightening up the family room.  While it wasn’t exactly a clean slate, since I kept most of the large pieces of furniture, the room did provide a neutral palate that was easy to style.  After grounding the “hardware” in black and brass accents, I added in some pattern and color with these DIY pillows.  The room is now almost there, but those white walls needed a little something.

You might have noticed the white wall shelves from Week 2 photos, but if you didn’t, it’s not you — they are meant to blend in a bit.  I love a good gallery wall (see here and here), but I wanted the option of being able to more easily switch out photos or artwork.  These floating shelves are narrow and unobtrusive, which is important since they are overhead, and have a small ledge to prevent things from falling — on said heads.

Over the years, my husband has collected vintage cameras.  It started with a couple from his father, and received contributions from my grandfather and uncle’s collections.  I’ve long wanted to collectively display them, but they didn’t really work in other rooms in our home.  The family room was the perfect opportunity to put a few on display, interspersed with photos I’ve taken of various trips and children’s artwork.

The family room is really coming together and I can’t wait for the full reveal next week!  In the meantime, be sure to check out all the guest participants here.


One Room Challenge — Week 4


It’s Week 4 of the One Room Challenge!

Although I’m usually one to stick to the plan, rather than buy pillows, I decided to make them.  There are a few advantages to this, I can see all the fabrics together to see if they’re complementary, I can make them easily removable since I’m often changing my pillows, and I love a good DIY and pillows are within my (limited) sewing abilities.

Luckily, I was able to source fabrics that still fit within the design scheme from a local fabric store.

I also woke up bright and early one Sunday morning to hit the Alameda Flea Market for this vibrant mudcloth, which is my favorite.  I’ve seen these pieces in high-end stores retail for as much as $135, but was able to take this beauty home (along with a lovely woven basket tote) for $30.  The hard part was picking just one (looks much lighter in the sun!), so I may have to head back next month…  The mudcloth is big enough to make a pair of 20″ square pillows (with mudcloth on both sides), so I did just that.

I made some of these easily removable following these instructions (on my other blog).  And also played with tassel-making, which was super easy and quick!  Click here for instructions (I skipped the wrapping step by simply folding the individual embroidery floss package).

Aside from the satisfaction of making them myself, the DIY was also more cost-effective.  A win-win!

This little lumbar was made from two napkins (another trick I like to use):

Check back next week to see what else I have up my sleeve!  And see how all the guest participants are doing in Week 4!

All photos original to Act 2 Decor, LLC.


One Room Challenge — Week 3

It’s Week 3 of the One Room Challenge!  After clearing out what was going, a fresh coat of paint, and the arrival of the new rug, this family room is finally a clean-ish slate.   Our tagline — interior design for real life — means that I’m often integrating existing client pieces into the design plan.  The same is true in my own home.  So, after deciding to keep the major pieces of furniture (recap here), I made some tweaks to align with the design scheme.

The biggest transformation involved some patience and spray paint.  I purchased this little red chest of drawers at a sample furniture sale nearly twenty years ago, and it’s been moved around and repurposed over the years.  It doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the home, but I still have a soft spot for it so I decided to give it a makeover.  After carefully taping around the antiqued brass handles, I lightly sanded and primed the main chest and the 15 individual drawers (this is where the patience kicked in).  A couple of coats of glossy black paint later . . .

And tada, quite the difference, don’t you think?

A satisfying and successful transformation.  Before there were no common elements to tie the room together, so I decided to go with one of my favorite combinations — black and brass.  Repainting the chest in black added to the consistency.  A few other changes also helped.

One of the simplest changes was to switch out the hardware.  While a minor one, it can also be quite impactful.   I swapped the stainless handles and pulls on the entertainment unit for these beauties:

I also purchased a couple pieces to bring in more black and brass accents, including this simple brass-framed mirror and black and brass lamp.  I don’t want to give away too much so I’m just sharing the pieces on their own.  The lamp was not in the original plan, and you’ll see why soon!

Now that the groundwork for this renovation is down, next week we’ll focus on patterns and colors — my favorite part!  Be sure to visit Week 3 of the ORC to see the amazing work of my fellow guest participants.



One Room Challenge — Week 2


It’s Week 2 of the One Room Challenge and I’m ready to give this room a much needed update.

First, the not-so-fun part — clearing things out by selling, donating or storing any items we no longer want.  What’s staying?  The sectional is a good neutral color and has a nice texture, and is also super comfortable.  The classic leather club chair and ottoman are also keepers.  The armoire provides necessary storage since we turned the only closet into a semi-built-in entertainment unit, which is also staying.  It wasn’t fun, but it was definitely satisfying to prep the room for the challenge:

Next up, the walls got a fresh coat of paint in Simply White by Benjamin Moore.  Hard to believe, but I have never painted any room in my house white and am excited to start with a clean slate.  White walls instantly refresh and update the room and provide some much needed brightness.  Here’s a sneak peek of the white walls:

The new rug is already on order, so now it’s time to source pillows — my favorite part.  While I enjoy playing with color and pattern, I’m constantly drawn to shades of blue, which run throughout our house.  I had toyed with the idea of a neutral room, but can’t resist another opportunity to bring in some color and pattern.  So I’ll incorporate some of the greys, blues and pinks that are in other areas of our home.  Check out the plan:

There are still some other details that will fall into place as larger changes are made.  Be sure to check in next week to see some progress!  For more inspiration, see all how all the guest participants are progressing here.






One Room Challenge — Week 1

I’m so excited to be participating, as a guest, in the One Room Challenge for the first time!  Over the next six weeks, follow along on the blog as I transform our basement family room.  When we first remodeled this room, over ten years ago, we thought the kids would be spending lots of time here.  Because they were young, they didn’t want to be on a different floor than us, so over the years, this room hasn’t gotten a lot of attention.  Aside from a then-new sectional from Room & Board, it also houses a lot of “leftover” furniture from our first house.

Take a look at the BEFORE photos.  That yellow paint was meant to create a sunnier space, but still looks dark and definitely dated.

These boxes are the last remnants from a day of spring cleaning.  Just got too tired to finish!

Since the room doesn’t get a lot of visitors, we moved the TV upstairs, but will definitely replace it to lure the kids downstairs . . .

The design of our home is what I would call New Traditional, but for the family room, we’re going for a more casual look and feel.  I’ve long admired the California Casual look, which is appropriate since we live in California.  For the One Room Challenge, I’m drawing inspiration from these rooms designed by Amber Interiors and Studio McGee:

Check back in next week to see how I plan to transform this basement family room!




Work what you got

While working on the NV2 Family Room, previously referred to by the clients as the “storage” room, we discovered a new-in-box bar cart from West Elm.  Although I love a bar cart, the midcentury design did not complement  the newly designed Living Room, nor was a liquor display appropriate in the kid-friendly family room.  Hating to see this great cart go to waste, I pitched the idea of repurposing it for the small entryway since this first entry point (from the mudroom to inside the home) was completely empty.

Our clients were beyond happy to get this cute bar cart out of the box.  We paired it with this cheerful artwork (also found in the “storage” room) and added a few new items to create a welcoming nook.  This side project took less than an hour to pull together and cost under $100 (for new items) — a great example of working with what you have.


Don’t forget me wrong, I love a well-styled shelf and covet built-in bookcases.  I greatly admire and would love to have a home with shelves that look like this:

Source: Domino


Or this (well, this one is do-able , provided you don’t need to find a particular book):


Source: Luxe

Most of us, however, need that space to actually store stuff.  And our stuff was likely not perfectly curated over the years to complement each other.  While that may be our aspiration, for most of us, it is not our reality.  That doesn’t mean our stuff isn’t just as display-worthy.  We still want to enjoy those kitschy souvenirs from favorite trips, sappy mementos of our youth, or just the day-to-day items our families seem to accumulate.

So, when we transformed client J’s “storage” room into a family room that could also house all that stuff (click here for the before and after), the focus was on the practical.  Our client wanted a lot of storage and she wanted it to be covered.  However, we decided to include limited open shelving on either side of the entertainment unit to keep it from looking too heavy, and for display.

After noticing a few trophies and other awards her children had earned scattered around the house, we gathered them and placed them on the top shelf.  Whereas before they had no real home, collectively they proudly display their family achievements.  Since the room is intended mostly for the kids, the bookcase became a central location for their colorful books.  While I admire a color-coded bookcase or turned-around spines on display as much as any other designer, this display reflects their real life use.  We added a few photos, low-maintenance succulent, and ceramic pieces, including a handmade piece by her son.  The bottom shelves hold a grey flannel basket as a catch-all for those stray game pieces and legos.

See the portfolio for more photos.


So many of us procrastinate projects and once they’re done, wonder why we waited so long?  The truth is that it takes work.  And while I love to decorate and redecorate, not everyone feels that way (lucky for me).  After we finalized selections for client J’s great room, they were so happy to reclaim their space and wished aloud for a separate space for their three kids to lounge.  Luckily for them, they had the space — but it was being used as, the kids called it, a “storage room”:

Inspired by the transformations occurring in their great room, my clients asked me to help them with the family room.  This was the little nudge they needed to move on this project.  The space itself is large and well-lit.  The biggest hurdle was to clear out the items they no longer wanted, particularly the furniture.  After identifying what could be used, sold or donated, the room was mostly emptied out and painted.

It didn’t take a lot to redo this space.  Their main requirement was to provide lots of storage in a room with no existing closets and multiple entry points.  We also kept within a modest budget by utilizing mostly existing furniture.  We moved down the sectional sofa that was being replaced in the living room, kept an existing glass dining table and chairs and revived an old coffee table that was being stored.  With a different layout, we were able to incorporate tons of storage without sacrificing space.

To maintain the flow of the room, we decided to place as much closet storage as would fit on this side wall:


We used the budget-friendly Ikea Pax storage system to customize the closets for their specific needs.  The options are pretty limitless and can be customized online (you can also have the items delivered and installed through Ikea).  The client chose sleek high-gloss doors, which we accented with hexagonal brass hardware from Rejuvenation.

This area of the room had been problematic because of the different lighting, doorway and hidden beam.  We solved these issues by placing the narrow and long entertainment unit against the wall instead of the sofa, where the TV could escape the glare of the abundant light and continue an ease of flow in and out of the room.

Once the functional needs were met, a little decorating was all that was needed to complete the space.  The dramatic dark teal highlights this half-wall, where the family photos are now collected, while the remaining walls were refreshed in a pale but bright grey to provide slight contrast with the glossy white storage units.

New accessories, including a graphic hide and viscose rug and pillows, gave new life to their existing furniture.

For more photos, see the portfolio.


One of the first things I consider in designing a room is the layout.  Often times when I enter, a preferred layout will immediately come to mind.  And many times the room configuration and available wall space dictate placement.  What I’ve found is that, even when presented with a variety of computer-aided layouts, a client cannot always visualize the design.  Do you know what does work?  Moving the furniture around.  Of course, this old-school demonstration works best if a client’s existing furniture can be used — either because they are similar in size or especially if we are keeping and designing around those pieces.

The NV1 Master Bedroom is spacious and light-filled, with a private balcony and a wood-burning fireplace.  Sounds lovely, right?  Unfortunately, our clients were not finding their en suite to be an inspiring space.  The wall colors (chosen by prior owners) were drab and the configuration was not so inviting.


Since our clients wanted to keep the existing bed, dresser, and nightstands, we were easily able to recreate our intended layout by moving the bed to the adjacent wall, and the dresser away from the windows.  Doing so instantly changed the outlook by creating a wonderful focal point in the bed, which after all, is the most important part of the room.  Moving the dresser opposite the windows, rather than blocking them, immediately provided more light.  To allow more light and highlight the views, we replaced the heavy curtains on the windows with custom roman shades in a dupioni silk, and added a coordinating band to ivory silk curtains to cover the doors to the deck.

The beautiful printed coverlet inspired the design scheme.  We pulled in the varying blues and silver tones for the custom pillow accents and rug.  Since the budget did not allow for new flooring and our clients are not fans of the existing wall-to-wall carpet, we selected two rugs to ground the differently used spaces.  The custom sapphire and silver rug beautifully offsets the crisp, white bedding, while the hide rug centers the stylish working space.


In addition to serving as a relaxing retreat, the master bedroom also needed to provide a casual workspace and a designated place where our client could make her early morning espresso without waking up the rest of the house. Not wanting to make the bedroom look like an office, we chose a round glass table for a workspace and paired it with a deep blue velvet chair.  We selected a console/file cabinet that complemented their existing bedroom set, which serves both as an espresso station and office storage.  Floating shelves provide a display, and a gallery of family photos hang over the fireplace.



More photos in the gallery.

All photos original to and Act 2 Decor, LLC.