ORC Week 7: Warm Modern Cottage Bedroom

Reveal week is here!!

Yesterday, a host of professional designers and bloggers revealed their rooms. Today, it’s the guest participants’ turn to show off their labors. To be honest, I don’t even know how to write a “reveal” post, especially for something as big as the One Room Challenge. I guess the best way to kick it off is like this:


Behold! My warm modern cottage bedroom!

Over the course of the ORC, I’ve painted, done a lot of sewing, ordered and hung new artwork, chosen new linens, and added a beautiful oak blanket chest made by my husband. The room is a far cry from what it was a few weeks ago, remember?



It was dark and dreary, but new paint on our custom closets brightened it up and let the original blue milkpainted ceiling shine.


I took my first crack at making full-length lined curtains, and hung new artwork in the space.

But my favorite part of the room is the bed linens.


I made pretty new pillows and coordinated them with new sheets and some shams I found at Rejuvenation (on sale)! I love how the floral pillow pulls the blue off the ceiling and ties in the Audubon Grosbeak Cardinals print (which I downloaded from the Audubon website for free). The dark grey/olive paint job on the bed contrasts nicely with all the light colors.



This is really the first room in our home that I’ve just designed from top to bottom, and I’m so pleased with the result. It’s so nice to have such a lovely, coordinated, put-together space to just go…sit? I guess? I totally do just sit there and look around and feel fancy. I guess that’s a good barometer for success, though, right?



Sis likes to join in my sitting and looking.


She coordinates well with the cottage design.

Anyway, this was so very worth all the work. I loved picking things out and making things for this space. I’m already wondering what to do for the next ORC…




Thanks for looking, guys, and thanks to Linda of Calling It Home for hosting such a fun blogger event! This was such an inspiring project, and man, it’s so nice to share it with all of you.

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Now, go check out the designers’ projects here and the other awesome guest participants’ projects here!

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ORC Week 6: Original Ceiling

Alright, guys, it’s a good time to talk about the coolest thing in this room, the original blue ceiling in the master bedroom, and to wrap up a few of my feelings about joining this big, community-driven challenge to change a room in your home.


Before the ORC.

When we first toured our home in spring 2012, we liked it a lot. I mean, here was a 1900 home that had been mostly renovated; new roof, new windows, bathroom added. All the BIG projects were done, but there was a lot of room for making the house flow better, adding storage, making it simpler, adding another bathroom, etc.

One thing that just floored me, though, was the blue ceiling in the master bedroom. We’re not really sure what makes it blue, whether it’s milk paint or a glaze, but it’s every color of blue and a whole bunch of the green ones, too. I love to just lay there and look at it, and with one glance during our home tour, I was pretty well sold on the house.

What we couldn’t believe was when the renovator told us that he had found it under old paneling on the ceiling, and that most of the people who helped him on the house wanted him to take it down. What? I’m so glad he made the obviously way better choice to leave it up.


Move-in weekend. I should mention the floors are also original and have tons of cracks. They are cold in the wintertime, but beautiful!

I won’t deny, though, that the ceiling has puzzled me for a long time. I never knew how to decorate around it, and thus ended up with a super-blue room (first photo in the post). I’m starting to get it, though. I thought the only way to deal with it was to make the room super blue.

Turns out, the blue goes with anything and everything, as long as you find ways to pull it off the ceiling. I’m doing my darnedest to bring some other colors in this time, and I’m doing it though accessories that have both the ceiling turquoise blue and other colors or textures. Additionally, I learned from this room that a neutral background is almost required when you have a ceiling like this. (That is, unless you’re a decorator who does bright colors everywhere, and to you I say, kudos! I just can’t pull that off.)



I think that the blog world, Pinterest, and magazines make you think that people who are good at making beautiful homes are just inherently good at it and they never make mistakes. However, I’ve learned one thing about the design process: it’s full of mistakes. If you can keep them from being expensive, then great, but you will make mistakes. I’m okay with my first attempt in this room, but having owned a house for 5 years now, and spent a whole lot of time thinking about how I want our home to feel and function, I want to improve it. I joined the ORC to force myself to bring who we are now to this room, and it’s so close!

Anyway, back to bringing down the blue. I chose some particular things for this room to pull the blue off the ceiling. I’ve talked about a few and left a few out. First, there’s the artwork. I chose this print to tie the blue of the ceiling to the black of the star chart (I featured all of this a couple weeks ago here).

I also sewed some pillows that have a bright floral pattern on them, adding some red, black, green, and grey. They bring the blue off the ceiling, add pretty pattern, and even tie it all to the dark olive of the iron bed and the green/grey of the closet wall.


Finally, I purchased a handmade, fair trade basket from this site, and it has the prettiest swirls of blue and olive green in it, all while adding the warmth of the natural weave.


I featured the baskets in my mood board a few weeks ago.

The best part about this plan is that I get to let the ceiling still be one of the focal points of the room, but I get to enhance it by pulling the color off the ceiling and through the rest of the furnishings. I’m so excited to see it all pulled together; I told myself I wasn’t allowed to put everything up and style the room until this weekend because I wanted to see it all at once.

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I’m so happy I joined this challenge; it forced me to think about some things I’ve always done but never known why. It made me think about all the angles in the room. I had to nail down my style a bit more than I have in the past, and because I wanted to either make the furnishings or buy them FROM makers, I forced myself to take a few risks (buying a ton of fabric for curtains, for instance) and then follow through on my design choices. The whole experience has made me more confident and excited than I’ve ever been when it comes to making our home what I know it can be.


I’m definitely up for this challenge again someday. Now, go check out all the awesome designers and guest participants’ projects! I’ll see you next week for the big show!

(P.S. After the big reveal next week, I’m going to keep up with the blogging. I’ve been sewing some Christmas decorations that I’m so excited about, and I can’t wait to share them!)


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ORC Week 5: Painted Antique Bed

Well, guys, the antique bed is painted! It was a decision I waffled about for weeks (and really years), but now that it’s finished, I don’t know why we didn’t do it sooner! One Room Challenge, you’re a serious motivator!

Our antique iron bed is a hand-me-down. We were so lucky to get it years ago, since we had zero money for a bed when we first bought this house, but Pete hasn’t always loved how it looked in the room. The white paint, which was chippy, plus the ornate details, had him calling it “The Princess Bed.” This week was all about changing existing furniture to match our current style…

…and ook how beautiful this thing is now!


A far cry from this…



…just a few short weeks ago.

I really know nothing about antique furniture; Pete is the guru on that stuff. I learn a bit from him, but only situationally– like when something comes up. I have a good idea of what the legs on a Federal table look like, I can identify Craftsman furniture, and I know to look for non-Phillips screws. I’m up on dovetails and mortis-and-tenon construction. But I’m definitely still learning about finishes.

I was researching painting antique iron beds, when I stumbled across a blog post about restoring them. I thought, “Hmmm, that sounds like something I would like to do.” The method involved stripping, brushing, coating with beeswax…but I was up for it. I sent it to Pete, and he put the kibosh on it. “I doubt it came in raw iron. That’s just somebody thinking that’s the right finish for a bed and not realizing it might originally have been painted. Let me check the Sears catalog.” Anybody else’s husband answer that way? Nope. Didn’t think so.

That said, I didn’t need him to check the catalog because once he brought it up, I knew where to go. I’m a librarian, duh, I just don’t always remember the fact that museums and other historical interpretation pros use old catalogs to figure out finishes, furnishings, styles, clothing, etc. The mail-order catalogs of the period are basically “how-to-oldey-timey-without-looking-like-a-doofus” guidebooks. So I checked the 1917 Sears catalog, which is period-appropriate for this bed, and a bed like that would have come in a brass finish or white enamel. Soooo, so much for “restoring” it to raw iron. Fake news.

I did not, however, like the idea of either a brass bed (not really achievable here) or a white enamel bed (kind of what I wanted to get away from), so Peter and I spent about three evenings painting it. Painting all those little wires was a pain, and I panicked about three separate times about the color. (I’m assuming Pete got real sick of hearing, “I think this color will be okay, right? It’s not too green is it? I don’t know…maybe we should have gone with something else? I need to put my head between my knees, brb.”) I wanted a super dark gray to mimic natural iron, but also something with green and brown in it to jive with the green/grey paint on the closet installation. The first coat went on rough and I hated it, but after two coats, I began to see a really, really deep shade of almost olive green, and it was pretty from there on out.

One surprising thing? I love the details now. Who knew they just needed to not be princess white?


The color I chose was Valspar’s Dark Oasis.

Image result for valspar dark oasis

I waffled on using the same old charcoal we have everywhere and love (English Tea Party by Valspar), but wanted something just a little different. I struggled at the store to find something that didn’t have blue or purple undertones; I’m super pleased with my final choice. No return trip to the store for me!


Just look how pretty the lines are on this bed now!


I’m just dying to get the linens on this thing, but the extension on the One Room Challenge deadline means I have to wait a bit to put them on and photograph them.

However! The extension has also allowed for a bit more time to consider styling, framing art, and possibly a couple other little additions. I’m trying to nudge Pete into making me a pretty frame for a print I bought; boy, am I thankful he’s so nudgeable.

I’ll be sharing one more progress update next Thursday, and then the big reveal is Thursday, November 16! In the meantime, check out all the cool progress made by the official participants here and all the guest participants here! Some people are doing amazing and creative projects. Catch you all next week!

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ORC Week 4: Textiles!

Hello, everybody! Thanks for stopping in for my week 4 update for the One Room Challenge, hosted by Calling It Home. Every week for 7 weeks (there’s been an extension due to natural disasters and the ensuing disruptions to peoples’ lives), designers and bloggers are posting their updates on a total transformation in one room of their home. Check out all the exciting changes here and here!

I’ve been working on the master bedroom in our c. 1900 vernacular cottage home in East Tennessee, lovingly named the Huffaker House after its first owner, Dr. R. O. Huffaker. Last week, I showed you the antique furniture that occupies the space, introduced a new piece by my super talented woodworker husband, Peter, and laid out the plan for artwork in the space. This week’s theme is textiles!

I knew I wanted new curtains for this space; the only ones I had in here were white printed ones from TJ Maxx, bought in a hurry because they were cheap. They were too short for my windows and no longer fit my style. So I spent a while picking out a fabric and researching sewing techniques for these babies.



Making these curtains myself was an important part of the plan for this space. I struggle with the idea of disposability in our homes, and the overarching theme of this blog is learning to make permanent things in a disposable world.

I learned the basics of sewing about a year and a half ago from a friend who is now a retired costume designer and educator. I’ve since taught myself more skills via blog posts and YouTube. These curtains are certainly the biggest project I’ve ever tackled, and I definitely learned a lot about working with large pieces of fabric.

That said, anybody can learn to make lined curtains. I used this tutorial by Kelly from View Along the Way. I can’t say the project was easy, but I understood every step and never made any huge mistakes. Hallelujah! And look at how beautiful my curtains turned out!


Now, in a perfect world, there are some design things I would change here. I realize that “hang them high and wide” is the general motto when it comes to curtains. Unfortunately, we hung these rods when I didn’t know that, and replacing the hardware is not in the ORC budget. Instead of replacing the rods, I chose to do a single panel on each window so that the curtains didn’t block all the sunlight in the room.

I love the pretty fabric I used for these curtains. It has a subtle variegated stripe pattern on it, and it keeps a big, navy blue element in the room. Since painting the closets, I’ve been missing a high contrast element to ground the room, and I feel really good about the curtains stepping in to take that place. They’re not as heavy and looming as the navy blue paint on the closets, but they still give the room and the windows some weight.

I purposely left the curtains hanging just above the floor. I know that sometimes the fashion is to let them pool, but white dog + navy curtains + folds on the floor = mess and I just can’t handle that.

I did line the curtains with blackout fabric. This room gets amazing light, but sometimes, that amazing light makes an afternoon nap for a toddler (or an adult…) less than easy. They have hidden tabs, which I like because they create a clean finish at the top of the curtain, pleat nicely, and reduce hardware costs and rubbing on the rods.

Now, on to the bedding…



I’m so excited about the way the textiles are coming together in this room! I made envelope-closure pillows out of the pretty floral and the cream toile fabrics in the top left corner. The blue in the floral almost exactly matches the original blue milk paint on our ceiling, and brings that color down to the ground just perfectly. The cream is a nice way to tie into the white walls. I love the pin dot pillow covers; because the closets are now light, I wanted some contrast to set off the pillows. And I’m still deciding on a throw blanket. (Side note: I have an unhealthy obsession with blankets. Just last night Pete asked me if I wanted more for Christmas. Truth be told, I will never have enough blankets.)


So why aren’t all these pretty things on the bed, you ask? Well, I told myself I’m not allowed to bring it all together until I paint the antique iron bed. That’s next week’s challenge, and my motivation for getting through painting something as pain-in-the-rear as a wiry old iron bed.

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So, that’s the plan. Only two more progress updates before the big reveal November 16! I’ll see you all after the weekend!

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ORC Week 3: Furniture and New Art!

Hey everybody! Welcome to Week 3 of the One Room Challenge at the Huffaker House! If you’re interested in the challenge, read about the featured designers (the pros) here and see all the projects by guest participants here.

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Last week’s big news was that the navy cabinetry in the master bedroom got a serious lightening-up in the form of a paint job. They went from dark, dark blue to a light, warm, green grey called Sandy Sage (by Valspar). I love how much lighter the room looks with the cabinetry painted in a light neutral. It really feels like a blank canvas.


I also shared a mood board for the room. I’m going for a “warm modern cottage with antique vibes” look.


Part of that antique vibe is going to come from the furniture in the room, which won’t be changing much.

I have to keep the current layout. The bed can’t move, and it makes too much sense to match our dressers to the side of the room occupied by each of our closets. Almost all the furniture in here is antique.


This dresser came from Pete’s grandfather’s house. (Reminder to self: push in drawers before taking photos, Shoemaker.) It has original hardware and a mirror that bounces great light.

On the other side of the room is my great grandfather’s dresser.



I love the warm color of the wood, all the little nicks and coffee stains, and the original knobs. This dresser has become home to all the “things” that will go on the shelves once I’m satisfied that the paint has cured completely.


The bed is also an antique, but it’s been painted and is chipping. I’m considering painting it black for this challenge, and Peter plans to build us a Shaker-style bed in the near future.

The only non-antique piece? Behold my paneled blanket chest, last year’s Christmas present built by Peter!


Honestly, I didn’t get my Christmas present until May, but still…isn’t it beautiful?  There are 7 floating panels in this thing. It’s made of solid oak and weighs a ton (like, I need help moving it). And what’s more? He only used hand tools to make it.


That’s right. Peter generally doesn’t use power tools. He does everything with tools that have been used for hundreds of years…a lot of times with tools that are actually hundreds of years old. I just can’t believe sometimes how talented and brilliant he is.

So the furniture is staying, with a possible paint job on the bed.

What will be new, however, is the artwork. We’ve never really had any artwork in here while using the room as a bedroom. Take a look at what I’ve picked out!

The top left is a print by Etsy artist Clare Elsaesser, titled “The Sound.” Elsaesser has become a darling of the blog world, and for good reason: her paintings make people feel things. (This one has always reminded me of my Grandmother.)

I’ve had this print pinned for about 3 years, and I think it speaks to me because…well, it could be me. I’m not in the habit of topless seagoing, but the woman in the photo has my body style and hair color. I struggle with anxiety and somehow, whether it’s the stormy atmosphere or the woman’s messy hair, I find this print comforting.


I also purchased this print, now out of stock from Scoutmob seller The Wandering. I wanted something that would add high contrast to the walls, and I love maps of any kind (though my heart truly belongs to star charts like this one). Peter made me a neat poster holder from a piece of exotic wood we picked up at the specialty lumberyard a few weeks ago.


Finally, I plan to print and frame the Cardinals plate by John Audubon, published in his Birds of America book between 1827 and 1839. I wrote a whole post on using Audubon prints in your home, complete with citations, here. I wanted a bit of red, and I’ve used other bird prints throughout our home. I can’t wait to see these two hanging in the bedroom!

Next week I’ll check in with all the textiles I’ve been making for this room. I’ve just about finished them: pillows, new lined curtains (how I didn’t die during that project, I will never know), and perhaps something else.

Also, off-topic, but while sewing the curtains, I also whipped up The Boy’s trick-or-treat bag. He’s going as a black bat, and requested a bag to coordinate. Much fashion, very trend.


See everybody next week!

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ORC Week 2: Painting and the Plan

Hello, followers of the One Room Challenge!

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If you missed last week’s post, just a quick rewind: I joined a semi-annual event where professional and amateur designers redesign a room in just six weeks! If you’re interested in the challenge, read about the featured designers (the pros) here and see all the projects by guest participants here. So many cool projects happening in so many beautiful homes!

Last week, I discussed my room o’choice: the master bedroom.

This room was originally our living room, and had two doors, one to the hallway, and one to the dining room. We redesigned this room to add closets a couple of years ago, covering the dining room door. When we finished and turned it into a bedroom, I was stuck in a blue rut; I didn’t know what else to do with this gorgeous, original, 117-year-old milk painted ceiling.


So the room ended up with blue closets, which were admittedly not awful, but I’ve been feeling like the room could be so much happier.


For a year or two, I’ve been designing a new room in my head. Here’s a little peak of the vibe I’m going for:

Let’s call it “warm modern cottage with antique vibes.”

What will it take to get there, you ask?

Well, one of the biggest jobs in this room is painting the cabinets. I did that last week! Additionally, I want to add some more color; I’ve been stuck in that blue rut for so long that I’m ready to take some risks. I’m going to use some beautiful fabrics (3 and counting) to make pillows and new curtains. I want to add some artwork, too; can you believe we’ve never had any in here? And finally, a complete revamp of bedding and some baskets (for holding my parents’ dog’s toys and probably for Agnes the Devil Cat to sleep in) should add some pattern and texture. Finally, the addition of a brand new piece of furniture built by my ridiculously talented and smart husband should cap it all off.

In my head, all of this works together, doesn’t look too busy, adds cheer and warmth to the room, and updates it to look like a nice mix of modern, antique, and cottage. In my head, the blacks, browns, blues, reds, grays, and greens all compliment each other in a nice, organic, happy way, and in my head it doesn’t look like a Hobby Lobby threw up all over it. We shall see!

Task number 1 was painting the cabinetry. I took last Thursday off to complete that task. Here I am, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and make-up free early Thursday. Mama had cabinets to paint before school let out, so it was a “get at it early” kinda morning.


These cabinets are a pain to paint, and to top it off, I was painting over dark navy blue (Volcanic Ash by Valspar). My new color choice is Sandy Sage by Valspar. Halfway through the project, I was really questioning my life choices.

The dark blue showed through the first coat so badly and really made the gray look like a dingy white. Not the vibe I’m going for.

However, after a second coat, I’m seeing the warm green-toned gray I was going for and feeling much better.



I’m wondering if the new color is going to convince me that I have to paint the bed black to give it some contrast. For the record, the bed has already been painted and is chipping badly, so it wouldn’t be ruining an original finish. I think I’ll put that decision off a few weeks while figuring everything else out!

Time to get back to work! Next up on the list: a rundown of the furniture and artwork I’ve chosen for the room! See you next week!

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ORC Week 1: Master Bedroom

Hello, all! I’ve finally gotten up the gumption to join the The One Room Challenge™. Hosted by Calling It Home, the One Room Challenge™ is a 6-week event held twice a year in which designers and bloggers transform one room in their home. Twenty professional designers participate, and then hundreds of amateur bloggers link up their own rooms as well.

I’ve hesitated about joining this challenge before for a couple of reasons, but I need some motivation to do some things in the master bedroom in our 117-year-old home, so it seems like the perfect way to get moving on it. If you’re new to the blog and came here from the guest participant list, welcome! Click on “Tour the R.O. Huffaker House” to find out about our vernacular cottage home in East Tennessee!

Here are some BEFORE before shots of the bedroom, from when we moved to the house in May, 2012.




We originally used this room as a living room. It had two doors, one off the main hallway and one off the dining room. A couple years later, we decided to make the room into a master bedroom. We weren’t happy with the room we were using at the time, and we also figured out a way to add closets to this room (read about it here, here, here,and here), turning the house from a 2 bedroom home (because only two rooms had both methods of egress and closets) into a 3 bedroom home. We did those renovations in the winter of 2015-6.

Since then, we’ve used the room off and on as we transition our son to his own bedroom (that’s been a lengthy process in itself), and I’ve struggled with the overall design of the space. The finished room looked like this in 2016.


The room has some cool details.

Let me start with the ceiling: it is AMAZING. I’ve considered doing an entire post on it before, and maybe I still will, but it’ll take some research first. It is original to the home, and was covered up before the previous owner found it under nasty wood paneling. Why someone would cover that ceiling up is beyond me. I fell in love with it at first sight and I’m not going to lie, it influenced my decision about buying the home.


As far as we can tell, the ceiling is either glazed or milk painted. It’s an absolutely stunning ocean blue and it has every color on the blue/green spectrum in it. I struggle to even photograph it, it’s so beautiful and varied.


I also LOVE the copper color of this fixture. It’s not original, but it was a good choice by the previous owner. The only one I really like in the whole house, but a good one nonetheless.

The problem with the ceiling is that I’ve never known quite what to do with the rest of the room in relation to it. The blue has challenged me in the past because I didn’t know what OTHER colors to incorporate. I went with my gut, which was to stick to varying shades of blue, but I’m bored with that, and the navy on the cabinets robs the room of its light. It actually gets a lot of it; our house has extra tall windows and the bedroom faces south and west.


I don’t plan to do any real construction in this room (which would be done by Peter anyway, because I’m pretty useless). The closets need a little touch-up work; the doors have to be planed down a bit, the insides have never been painted, I kind of want contrasting hardware, and Pete has issues with the top piece for some reason or another.


The rest of my goals in here? I want to do some painting to lighten things up, hang some new art on a poster hanger we are going to fabricate, add new fabrics that pull the blue down from the ceiling, and make new curtains. The budget is small (paint and fabric, at this point), but I’ve already bought some of the essentials. I’ll also be showing off something amazing that Pete built for the space.


So here we go: joining big blogger thing, have a lot of work to do, excited to see the result! Check out the ORC homepage to see the all the rooms people are planning to work on during the 6-week challenge!

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