one room challenge!


(NB: I just got done watching the first new episode of Black Mirror so I am feeling all kinds of gross and uncomfortable while I write this. That show is a creepy masterpiece but boy do I hate watching it.)

So I have to confess that I do not totally understand what the One Room Challenge is. I think essentially you’re supposed to re-do one room in your house, and use hashtags and stuff? There’s a website which I assume explains everything, but it’s down right now. I think that Fancy, Professional Bloggers get “invited” to do it, but I’m not sure what that means since I also think it’s a thing the entire internet is invited to do. What I do know is that it lasts 6 weeks and is already halfway done, but I am a expert at hopping into trends when they’re mostly over, so whatever. I think you’re supposed to post updates on Wednesdays, but Wednesdays are terrible for me, so I will be doing these on Mondays or Tuesdays. Honestly this is mostly just an excuse to finally do something about my living room.

I posted a few pictures of my living room a while ago, but if you need a reminder, here’s what I started with:


OMG ATTACK OF THE RECTANGLES. Everything is a rectangle. I hate it. And what in the world was I thinking with that tiny rug? Overstuffed bookcase, that same Pinterest Ikea table everyone has, and why are those chairs so giant?? You can’t see it, but there’s a wall right out of frame to the left of the photo, so those chairs make navigating pretty tricky. It’s not the most terrible room in the world but it does not make me happy at all.

So on to better things and more neutral rugs!


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Neutral rugs, fancy plants, wood, vaguely culturally-appropriated throw pillows. REVOLUTIONARY, I KNOW. In my heart, my style is somewhere between Mindy Kaling’s office (both on the show and in real life) and the bonkers deco Miami sets on Jane the Virgin. Tragically, however, my wallet and my general lifestyle cannot support that much velvet and Lucite. And, as I keep forcing myself to learn, doing that kind of thing halfass just looks like a 90’s college dorm.

ENTER NEUTRALS. Neutrals are easy and affordable and fit in better with my attempt to Be an Adult™, as well as my demonstrated inability to execute “pops of color.”. Plants are awesome because they’re pretty and cheap and big, and actually a lot easier to care for than I thought. Then there’s the “tribal thing. I’m not sure how I feel about it–even the name is weird. Like, what tribe are you even talking about? Googling “tribal home decor” turns up results that are equally Native American, African, Indian, and Moroccan (yes, I’m aware that’s in Africa). Because those are obviously all the same, and by “the same” I mean “nonwhite.” I’m glad we all hate the New Jersey Housewives and are grossed out by the extravagance of early 2000’s tacky faux-Italian decor, but are Chinese-made mud cloth and “Navaho” ponchos from Forever 21 really the answer?

Well, yeah, kind of, I guess. I hate how much I love it. That black and white pillow up there is so great. If some obnoxious cultural appropriation is what it takes to get over granite and cherry wood and terrazzo everything, we have nobody to blame but Teresa Giudice and her absurdly low hairline. Practically, I’m reluctant to buy anything “tribal” (ethics but also, what if it’s the new chevron??? never buying a brightly colored chevron rug is probably my biggest design accomplishment), but DIYing some stuff seems like fair game. Traditional mud cloth techniques are probably super easy, right?

The Plan

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I recently repainted the entire apartment in Sherwin Williams untinted white, and it’s beautiful and perfect and amazing, so that won’t change. I’m also not going to change anything structurally (like crown molding) because I’m pretty close to my limit for non-removable apartment improvements. (My landlord won’t turn the heat on and my hands are so cold I can barely type, so I’m a little tempted to rip out the kitchen floors and then just set the building on fire. I AM SO COLD.)

So really all that leaves is the fun part of any project, which is getting new stuff!

  1. Remove those terrible purple curtains and replace them with some affordable linen beauties from Ikea
  2. These candleholders are from google images and are a representation of some sweet accessories I intend to find at my favorite antique store store. Or Target. (btw that Facebook page is horrifyingly bad and not at all representative of how amazing that store is.) (I actually feel irrrationally uncomfortable giving out the name of my fave store so if you live in Chicago please do not go there and buy all the cool stuff before I do.)
  3. These totally reasonable $200 planters from West Elm. Jk, obviously not, who in the world would spend that much money on planters?? I am going to make some.
  4. A side table like this, but better-proportioned for the space, which I am also going to make. Drawers are hard but I’m getting pretty close to nailing the “box with legs” thing. (But not actually nailing, because there are no nails in woodworking.)
  5. Art! I already own the “Print Is Dead” poster by the incomparable Dud Lawson, whose Instagram is usually hilarious and I’m sure will return to being once all this Cubs nonsense is over. I need something big and colorful to counteract all the beige and wood, so I was thinking of trying to make a giant pink watercolor. I suck at painting so we’ll see how that goes.
  6. Brass pineapple tumblers! They cost $100 each and I haven’t started on my brass-melting crucible yet so I will probably never own these, but ahhhh so pretty!
  7. All glass coffee table. The living room is so small that  I want a coffee table with as little visual weight as possible, and it turns out that glass is way cheaper than acrylic for some reason. Seriously, this coffee table is shockingly cheap.
  8. “Tribal” “mud cloth” pillow. Obvious DIY.
  9. CB2 Sayulita chair. Copper and white cotton cord. This chair is my everything. I saw it during a day of browsing last month and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It’s $350 which is insane but it’s actually the cheapest chair in this style I can find. Basically I need to locate a friend with a welding machine or find an amazing sale, but this chair will be mine. (If I somehow can’t make this work for under $200, I’m probably going to get an Eames LCW knockoff for $99. My thought on Eames knockoffs will probably get their own post.)
  10. This is a placeholder for my indomitable spirit and commitment to loving things I can’t afford. I definitely did not forget to put a #10 in my diagram.
  11. Teak Egon Ostergaard roll top desk. I actually bought this desk a few weeks ago for an absolute steal (after 10 entire years of lusting after it!) and it makes me SO HAPPY.
  12. Brass lamps, which I bought a bunch of a long time ago for $15-20 each, so apparently this is just me bragging.
  13. Cotton and leather woven rug. Holy shit that’s an amazing price for an 8×10. I actually got this 9×12 rug in beige (amazing price too, btw) a few weeks ago because I was SO TIRED of having too-small rugs, and it turns out it was too big. Being disappointed because a rug is too big is an emotion I had legit never experienced before. It was very weird. The rug was super super pretty and squishy and wonderful, so I re-located it to the bedroom where it just barely fits. Rugs are something I’ve never managed to get quite right, but I think these two are pretty solid choices.

Oh my god this was so long. If you’re at the end, congratulations! You know way too much about how I feel about my living room! I was supposed to do all sorts of chores today but instead I spent the whole day writing this post and messing around in Photoshop, so YOU ARE WELCOME and I love you.

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  1. I’m sure you’ve been holding your breath, trembling in anticipation, waiting for this unsolicited advice from a virtual interior design insultant The room is bottom heavy. The only item with legs is the coffee table. Think about adding some to your existing pieces. It will give both some light and height to your media cabinet and bookcase. Or the sofa, if you are keeping those looking comfy chairs I love.

    The curved sides and lack of frame on the coffee table selection will make a huge difference to your space. Have you considered a room size jute or sisal rug in a warm neutral? With window framing off white sheer curtains the rug will look great layered. Then add a little black with your accessories for grounding.

    1. Thank you so much for your advice! That bookcase is not even really a bookcase and I finally just moved it out of the room because of how goofy it is. The cream 8×10 rug I picked up is basically already room-sized (it goes from just in front of the tv stand to almost all the way under the sofa) but I’m thinking of maybe layering a cow hide for some more texture?

      The chairs are 100% going–they’re ultra comfy but just take up too much room. Hopefully the leggy CB2 chair will lighten things up a bit! And now you’ve got me thinking about making some cute little tapered legs for the tv stand!

  2. Do not, I repeat, do not get an animal skin for texture! So yesterday. Yawn. Big snooze. Just put the red one aside until you clear the room and have your new curtains. Maybe the red rug will work, maybe the fun hunt for another that ties in the colors In your accessories? I have high hopes for you and you are better than a dead piece of cow sprawled over your floor.

    My gut tells me you may want to look at heavier fabrics for your drapes or add blackout liner, and or double the width of those IKEA babies. (a local dry cleaner seamstress sewed two panels from some economy line back to back to give me the weight and drape I wanted. Just sayin’ if you’re cold now, you’re gonna freeze your little butt off once the velvet drapes come down.

    This concludes today’s epsisode of Wasting Time With Wendy. Peace out. Xoxo