10 Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC: Problem Solvers, Color Lovers, and Pattern Players


The One Room Challenge (ORC) is a twice-a-year event where 20 invited designer/bloggers — (Oops! My Bad. They are now called design influencers. 🙂 ) — and a host of guest participants complete a room in 6 weeks, with a weekly blog post to update on progress.

I’m sure many of you have rooms in your homes that have petered on for years without being done, so you can imagine how difficult it is to redo a space, and do it well, in only 6 weeks!


I’ve completed 2 rooms as a guest blogger in prior rounds — Home Glow’s “Ultimate She-Shed” (recently featured as Houzz’s Room of the Day) and “Artfully Fresh Foyer.” I didn’t participate this round, but I always watch, both to gather inspiration and offer support to those harried home renovators and decorators!


First off, I’d like to say that I think this fall’s participants were really fantastic — and I’m pretty hard to impress! Many of the guest participants, in particular, majorly upped their games, and a lot of professional designers threw their hats into the mix. There were so many well-pulled together spaces, it was really hard for me to make my list of my favorites!

So, this isn’t an exhaustive list of rooms I thought were really good by any means. This is my list of ones that I thought were remarkably good, i.e. probably more complex than the average homeowner could conceive/coordinate/execute so well. These spaces took some creative decorating muscle, whether they were done by professionals or a very talented homeowners.


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)

In looking at my favorites, I notice a few trends in my choices.

  1. Thinking outside the box — A number of these rooms had major issues that the designers had to innovatively work into their plans.
  2. Color — Almost every one of these rooms bucks the white/neutrals/pop of color trend we see so much. Some use really saturated hues.
  3. Layered patterns — Lots of wallpapers and fabrics use mix of scales and color.


And now, in no particular order, here we go!


Linda Holt Creative — Boutique Inspired Master Suite

I think it’s pretty safe to say that most ORCers are designing rooms for growing families, but Linda is in the very different position of downsizing from a full-sized home to a condo, now that her kids have flown the coop. Much of her old stuff didn’t fit well in the new place, not to mention the new condo was a white box — not to Linda’s beautifully colorful style!

I love the rather unusual denim/yellow color palette that the way she can layer patterns but still have the whole feel serene.


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)



House of Brinson — Bathroom

House of Brinson never fails to blow me away. They are so (dare I say it?) anti-millenial in their aesthetic, which is totally unique to them. They are even more fanatical about old houses and using old stuff in a fresh way than I am. And they are absolutely amazing with color and antiques.

I’m so glad they kept that amazing patinated console sink. Have you ever seen a serpentine sink p-trap like this???





Susie Brown Style — Family Room

One of my most popular blog posts ever is about how to decorate around stained wood paneling without painting all of it .  Susie did just that with her family room — and so gorgeously! Notice the faux brick treatment that changed between the “after” and the “before.” Brilliant.


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)


Susie stole my heart with this quote:

“I’m sure everyone’s gonna think I’m nuts to have both white-ish carpet and a white sofa with a new little boy in the house, but my motto is that I’d rather live with a space I love and have it get ruined than live in a space I don’t love and have it get ruined.”


Amen, sister. And there’s always Bac-Out.



Christine Kohut Interiors: Project Shut the Front Door

Christine’s ORC was for a client who, in her words,

“Likes to have a lot of fun, like going to Vegas with the ladies and dancing the night away…. She’s kind of outspoken, and she seems a little bold. She strikes me as the type who rocks leather pants once in a while, know what I mean? But her home didn’t really reflect that at all…. I told her to basically just trust me.”


Well, her client did, and Christine knocked it out of the park! It’s not for everyone (neither are Vegas and leather pants), but she really took her client’s tastes and elevated them way beyond expectation.


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)



Palm & Prep — Kitchen

Jenny and her husband (and numerous other family members) DIYed the dickens out of this kitchen in their Victorian-era house, from the adding a soffit to the cabinets, to the tiling, the painting, the bench construction, etc. Luckily the original layout was good.

I love the addition of Schumacher’s Feather Fest on the walls. Not over the top, but out of the box.


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)



Jana Donohoe Designs — Dining Room

Jane’s dining room is a stunner in minky grey grasscloth, fearlessly combined with chartreuse and teal, pulled from the gorgeous drapes in Thibaut’s Mitford pattern.

Notice new trim on the ceiling and the little painted shadow strip. A little detail goes a long way.


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)



Sarah Gunn — Boy’s Room

I really love this sweet, seacoast-inspired boy’s room.  Thoughtfully creative and deftly handled. Sarah worked with some difficult windows, used a great faux-grasscloth for texture, found a way to do “shiplap for renters” for an accent wall, and used one of my favorite, cheap lighting fixtures (also comes in chrome).


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)



Joy Street Design — Exercise Room

Exercise rooms are definitely rare in the history of ORC makeovers. I’ve never designed a workout room. And considering that I do yoga and run, and the Handsome Husband lifts weights in his ski coat and gloves in our garage and barn during the winter, we’re never going to have one.


However, if I were a rockin’, music pumpin’, get-my-body jumpin’ kind of exercise-enthusiast, this exercise room would be me jam!


Come on! Look at that floor! A yellow ceiling?! And you have to see how Kelly organizes (and then hides) her workout accoutrements. I’m taking notes.


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)


My Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC (and Why)



Grit & Polish — Moody Garage Kitchen

Cathy & Garrett have been able to quit their day jobs to become full-time renovating bloggers, and for good reason. They are wonderfully talented and innovative DIYers. However, working on this kitchen full-time was the only way this thing could get done in 6 weeks, for sure!

They used the (by now) typical budget approach of using stock cabinets and creating a soffit to stretch them to the ceiling, but I LOVE the moody dark green color — perfect for the Tacoma locale.

Yes, the live edge counter is super cool, but what I find most interesting is how Cathy tackled the load-bearing post that landed right in the middle of the island (no budget for a beam) — she used it as an opportunity for an industrial articulating sconce (30% off right now with code SAVEMORE).





Erin Kestenbaum — Master Bedroom & Closet

Erin started with a long awkward, very empty and blah room. She and her husband put up a wall to create a closet and put in trim moldings to give the space architectural interest.

I like the bedroom a lot, especially that she went with blue woodwork, but I really love how dramatic and dark the closet it. Unbelievable how they Ikea hacked the storage, and the stripes on the ceiling are super fun. See her post to check out how she worked with the radiator in the closet. Makes so much sense!





A huge congratulations to all the 200+ participants! Sooooo many wonderful rooms. The ORC is 6 weeks of nail-biting decorating hell, there’s no denying it, but what a finale!


See you next Saturday,



4 thoughts on “10 Favorites from the Fall 2018 ORC: Problem Solvers, Color Lovers, and Pattern Players”

  1. Great lineup! It’s too much for me to even start to go through all the participants so I really appreciate seeing some highlights. The Washington kitchen is my favorite, I think.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top

Home Style Compatibility QUIZ!

Have you tried decorating your home with that all elusive “mix”…

yet nothing seems to work?