One Room Challenge: Week Six -- REVEAL!

Hi everyone! Welcome back for the final installment in the One Room Challenge series, wherein I and a host of talented bloggers aim to transform a space in six extremely short weeks. Feel free to catch up on previous posts HERE. Before we get started, I just want to give Linda of Calling it Home a big shoutout for organizing this challenge. Without the threat of public failure, I probably would have flaked a month ago. So who's tired of looking at an empty green box where my dining area should be? If you've been following along, you know that I started with a fleshy peach disaster of a charmless room that housed sad chairs, a hideous table, and wicked dirty grout. I planned to push myself into designing something bright, edgy and polished, yet still breakfast casual. I had big dreams to resurrect my cracked marble Saarinen table in hopes of creating greater seating flexibility, but that plan failed and I was left bereft. What's a tableless girl to do when the world is waiting for a dining area makeover?

arsenic austin interiors

Bust out the sandpaper and spray paint, that's what. I waited and waited for St. Craig to reward my fervent prayers with an oval top for my leftover tulip base, but Frankensaarinen table was not to be. I investigated many fabrication options but was stymied by cost and lead time. So my sad, flaking, peeling old table got a coat of semi gloss black paint on the apron and legs. Then, we sanded the top finish off and wiped on about five coats of dark walnut Danish oil.  It actually looks not too shabby, and I love the matte quality of the finish. Plus the fruitwood inlay really pops now.

That left me with the art conundrum to solve. This was a toughie. I really have too many choices and I like them all for various reasons. What I chose surprised even me...

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Say what? Maybe it's because it was PITCH BLACK and pouring on shoot day, but the acid yellow of this 70s abstract painting appealed to me. Let the sunshine in!

arsenic austin interiors

I tried lots of art in multiple situations with tons of different styling options, and somehow this dark horse ended up the winner. When I paired it with the crazy Clarence House fabric I used to upholster this vintage ebay bench, something clicked into place for me and I saw things differently. It really is so important to shift your perspective and keep an open mind. Wine helps.

arsenic austin interiors

I know I kept saying I was going to use that red Robert Allen fabric -- I do love it and I even ordered a yard. But me and Clarence House have a thing going on. Don't tell Robert... I don't want him to be jealous.

arsenic austin interiors

So far the brassy bench is popular seating -- like elbow your baby brother out of the way popular. I'm pretty happy with the way it opens the dining area to the kitchen, in that it feels less fenced off.


And then there is the vintage head vase... it's 80s deco eurovibe o'clock up in here, with a Fornasetti twist. Say that 20 times fast.

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Everything on the table is thrifted -- from the $5 flatware to the fringed napkins, cobra commando candlesticks, glassware and Bavarian china.

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I have TONS more china, flatware and glassware, but I just put way too much work into the table to completely cover all that sexy woodgrain up.

arsenic austin interiors

In case you were wondering, the other half of the room still exists.... Of course my ugly door has been properly rejuvenated with a shiny brass doorknob. And what's that on the kitchen side of things?

arsenic austin interiors

Oh, it's just a creepy haunted mirror. No biggie -- apparently I have to showcase something haunted in every room. I have no idea what this thing is, but my hunch is turn of the 20th century central European. The hammered brass vase came from Round Top and it is far cooler than pictures give it credit for.

arsenic austin interiors

This picture is supremely awful... it was the end of a (literally) dark day and the kids were (literally) three seconds from walking through the door, but I wanted you to see the whole humble setup.

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Even the china cabinet got a mini restyle. Notice all the gold glassware that didn't make it to the table...

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I bought the unicorn for a client kid room, but little Susie may have to live in a land of shattered dreams. Or maybe I will let it go... I am a giver, after all.

And that's about it for my teeny tiny dinette makeover. Let's have a proper before and after, shall we?




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I think I accomplished what I set out to do. The room is functional and finished, plus there are a few surprise moments. Nothing like a little shock and awe to go with your morning cereal, right? By relying on thrift stores, craigslist, and ebay I was able to keep the budget in check. The bulk of my funds was spent on simple window treatments and a cowhide rug that can be used in different decorating schemes. Content to play supporting roles, neutral basics allow color and quirky accessories to take center stage in the dinette drama. And of course I can always switch out the cheapie flashies when my fickle side takes hold.

As Leonardo da Vinci said: art is never finished, only abandoned.  I read that in Parent's magazine or something. Hey, I'm no snob -- inspiration comes from everywhere.

It's been a blast hanging with you fine people throughout the challenge! Thank you for your support and comments -- they have been the wind beneath my wings. I read each and every word and I love them all, good or bad. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me all about what you think of the new old dinette. Maybe you can even talk me into doing the kitchen next... Maybe.

Please don't forget to visit the other participants to see how their rooms resolved. There is some amazing work taking place!

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It's been real. Signing off and taking a nap.


I have emerged from the shadowy depths of baby hibernation a butterfly transformed by your kind comments. Thank you for reading all about my room tour last week, and double triple googleplex thank you for letting me know you'd like to see more of them. I'm working up a tour of the nursery for next week, so please do tune in for that there goodness.

Today is not so much goodness. Both kids have/had crazy high fevers and I've gotten 4-5 hours of broken sleep every night for a week. Right about now I'd like to punch winter in the face. Since winter is an intangible being with no face to punch, let's talk kitchens for a minute or two.

You knew it would come to this, right?

So, Ben and I tried to strip a door in the hopes we might turn our dated glossy honey oak cabinets into something with this vibe:

And the door laughed in our faces. I'm guessing the finish applied to our cabinets is some kind of super space age polymerized diamond hard coating designed to resist grease and terrorists, because it is NOT COMING OFF. At least not like it does on tv, when you apply the stripping compound and 72 layers of paint slough off in one fell swoop, revealing clean and sparkly wooden goodness beneath.

First we tried denatured alcohol, then we tried lacquer thinner. Then we glopped on the citristrip and left it on for 30 minutes. Then we glopped on more citristrip and left it on overnight. Then in desperation we tried acetone. Basically, we dumped every chemical we could find on that door and only a fraction of the finish was removed.

And so, paint it is.

I'm pretty sad and keep mooning over this kind of stuff:

But maybe for the next house.

I did consider trying to copy this look by refacing our cabinets, but I think it's just not financially feasible. We may as well gut the kitchen and rebuild at that point.

Sadly, we are not rich. We're real people on a stupid real budget that makes me real mad. But at least we have a house and food and cars, so it's time to get over it and move on. Maybe to this?

But with light uppers, yes?

I'm still pricing out replacing our doors with paint grade shaker style doors. What we spend on new doors miiiigggght save us a few bucks in paint labor. Maybe. I'm not sure if it's going to be worth it or not.

While my kitchen plans continue to incubate, go check out the power of paint over at Styled Thing:

Not too shabby, Miss Julie.

See you dudes next week for the next tour.



Kitchen Plan Progress

Hi friends, thanks for all the fab tv suggestions to get me through the plague that has decimated our house... Luther? Yes. Sherlock? Up next. Also, have you watched the first episode of The Americans yet? It's all perestroika and high waist jeans with an awesome 80s soundtrack. Can't miss.

So notice my title suggests that the kitchen PLANS have progressed... alas, the actual kitchen is as barfy as ever. We've yet to take a sledgehammer to anything, but we're getting closer. I've all but convinced Ben to knock the soffit completely out and see what happens, largely thanks to your comments. It helps to show that I'm not completely nuts when I embark on these grand projects. Also, I have started speaking about the soffit demo as if it were fait accompli, e.g., "after we knock the soffit out..." I think the power of suggestion is working.

So the next step is to figure out what to do with the cabinets once the ceiling is (hopefully) raised. The lovely Naomi at Design Manifest sent over this picture a few weeks ago:

Raise existing cabinets and add shelf below to fill in the space. Brazilliant. But then, Miss Naomi is a professional kitchen designer so she is smart like that.

You know who else is smart like that? Lisa, who commented on my white kitchen post. Behold her horrifying before picture:

And her glorious after:

Let's discuss how much shuffling those uppers around opened up this kitchen. A whole big lot, that's how much.

Here's another reader redo from Justine, who transformed the most hideous ranch oak cabinets into this oasis of soffitless delight, replete with new Ikea cabinet fronts. Oh how I wish! One thing I'm eyeing is the space over the pantry where the soffit used to be. I had planned on building the cases up to the ceiling and ordering new doors, but maybe I don't have to?

Let's review the situation:

Oy. My eyes!

Ok, now for the plans:

1. Remove soffit and drywall in beam. Maybe add simple molding.

2. Raise upper cabinets and add shelves below. New glass doors for the uppers. Like this:

two tone kitchen

What the hell, just give me the entire kitchen.

3. Decide what to do with the floor to ceiling cabinets... build cases up and add new doors? Or maybe something like this?


But I think this is way more than the 12" soffit removal will give me. This part is confusing ... not sure what to do yet.

4. Paint.

And this is where things get really nutty. I'm pretty set on white/cream uppers, but the lowers... well. First of all, I believe the floor to ceiling cabinets should be the same colors as the lowers, right?

two tone kitchen

Except what about the free standing pantry/fridge cabinet? White, or lower color?

As for the paint scheme, I know I could pull off something like this -- even with my bung counters:

two tone kitchen

This is kinda what our floors look like now.

Here's the two tone white/gray look again...

painted kitchen

The Inspired Room did a real super good reno that pretty much matches exactly what I had originally planned.

Now, I know this is going to make me sound like an asshole, but the fact that this look has been done (and done beautifully), makes me not want to do it anymore.

Don't get me wrong, this is still my awesome backup plan.

But now I am hatching a new crazy plan...

wood brass kitchen

Namely, I am considering replacing the wood lowers with... wood lowers. Wait -- not even replacing, because we're keeping the old cabinets. The old SOLID WOOD cabinets.

But what if we stripped them, and stained them darker to tame the grain, and then we waxed or oil finished so they wouldn't be 80s lacquer perestroika shiny, and then we added some awesome brass hardware?

What if?

I know you probably think I'm crazy, and maybe I am. But just wait until I unleash a torrent of super dope wood kitchens on you. A tiny taste:

wood kitchen

Now, how hard will this be to execute???

Remember that I'm sick. Please be gentle.