One Room Challenge Spring 2018 – Week Six!

This is it. I’m full of a strange mix of relief and excitement. The final week of the One Room Challenge is here and I am SO EXCITED to finally share our dining room! It’s finished and ready and I honestly love it.

For anyone who found me here today thanks to the One Room Challenge, hi! I’m Alex. My husband and I, our daughter and our two cats emigrated to Ottawa [Canada] from Dublin [Ireland] six months ago. Six months ago we had nothing. I mean sleeping on the floor and all sharing the same bottle of water kind of nothing. I’ve been slowly making our rented apartment a home, so when the Spring 2018 One Room Challenge came around it was the perfect excuse opportunity for me to make our dining room, the room we spend the most time in, a bit more homely.

I’ll be including a full source list at the end of this post in case there’s anything you see and would like to know where it’s from! I’ll either link to where I bought it or to where I blogged about it. And if you’d like to know more, feel free to ask!


I was eager to try and source as many things as I could for our dining room secondhand. Because when you’re starting from nothing, everything is hella expensive. I turned to secondhand websites like Kijiji and real life thrift stores like Value Village and The Salvation Army to fill our dining room.

I updated furniture and fittings with paint, contact paper and lazy patches of Sharpie markers when no one was looking.

Our dining room gets a lot of light during the day and as I spend most days working with a toddler close by, we spend most of our day in the dining room [as the kitchen and Cora’s bedroom are both next to it]. I wanted this space to be somewhere bright and inviting. I do love dark design and I’ll always love dark spaces, but I don’t think going dark would have worked in such a bright space. I did add some darkness with my most favourite burgundy paint, but I added it in a dark part of the room.

It took me a long time to choose the right colour for the dining room walls. It was something that needed to work with burgundy [that was non-negotiable], but it also needed to work with and compliment the kitchen cabinetry which can be seen from the dining room as well as the hardwood floors throughout. It was a tough task, but I found the perfect nearly-greige paint ‘Kitten White’ by CIL Paints. I can’t stress how perfect it is IRL.

This little vignette has turned out to be my favourite spot in our dining room. And it was one of the last places I focused on. It was one of those uggggh what will I do with this corner? corners, but with some artistic help from Cora one afternoon, I put this little group together and I love it so much.

I can’t write this post without mentioning our Victorian style mirror. We managed to successfully hang it this weekend thanks to two 200lbs hooks [overkill by about 350lbs, but they help me sleep soundly at night so long story short, do whatever makes you sleep better]. I tightened the wires at the back a few times before getting our mirror at just the right height. At 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide, there wasn’t much wiggle room with where we could hang it, so I’m thanking the construction gods that there were two studs along the main wall perfectly centered for our mirror. Anyone who sees it in real life is blown away by how big it is. I don’t know how, but it comes across as smallish in photos. This thing is huge. Like, the size of a human person. I’m just so happy we have it looming over our every meal now.

I’m not going to lie, my first One Room Challenge was tough. It didn’t help that I picked the biggest room in our apartment and that I chose to partake even though our belongings didn’t arrive from Ireland until Y E S T E R D A Y, so yeah, it was stressful. But, it worked out. Yes, I had to compromise with a lot of things [not being able to put a swag on the chandelier and center it over the table, not having enough time (or energy) to paint the rest of the hallway and you can see that in some pictures, etc], but it worked out. And the moment it was finished I was so happy with it. It felt comfortable and it felt like us. It was tough but what project isn’t? I’m a very firm believer in creating a space you love to live in for the sake of your mental health. And I for one am tore up from the floor up about our dining room.

Thank you to Linda for letting me partake in the One Room Challenge as a guest participant. The support, encouragement and community that I’ve seen and experienced from the ORC is so encouraging. Especially knowing I wasn’t the only one crying into my glass of wine at the end of Week Four when the panic really started to set in. It’s been an amazing experience and I can’t wait for the One Room Challenges to come.

You can see the full list of the One Room Challenge Spring 2018 guest participant room reveals here!

Entire source list for our dining room as it currently is …

Wall colours – ‘Classic Burgundy’ and ‘Kitten White’ by CIL
Victorian mirror – secondhand via Kijiji
Dining hutch – secondhand via Kijiji, updated with Fusion Mineral Paint in ‘Coal Black’
Malm 6-drawer dresser – via IKEA
Tobias dining chairs – originally from IKEA, but bought secondhand via Kijiji
Gold circular side table – secondhand via Kijiji
Bird portrait trays – via iBride
Dining table – secondhand, updated with marble contact paper [tutorial coming soon] French provincial style armchair – secondhand via Kijiji
All floral artwork – secondhand via Value Village
Candle sconces – both secondhand via Value Village
Burgundy curtains – discontinued IKEA
Skogsklover roller blinds – via IKEA
Black high chair – secondhand via Kijiji
90’s chandelier – secondhand via Kijiji
Black and white abstract artwork – painted by Cora!
Baby Schylling piano – from Target, but bought secondhand via Kijiji
Cloches – given to me by my excellent blogger friend Pat
Wall clocks, x2 – via EQ3
Glasses in dining hutch – either thrifted or discontinued IKEA
Gold lucky wishbone objet – via Chapters !ndigo
Tassles – via Home Focus
White posey vase – via EQ3
Brass candle holder – via Article

Shop this look!

CIL Kitten White
CIL Kitten White
Lowe’s Marble Contact Paper
Lowe’s Marble Contact Paper
CIL Classic Burgundy
CIL Classic Burgundy
EQ3 Posey Vase
EQ3 Posey Vase
$12.99
IKEA Tobias Chair
IKEA Tobias Chair
$99
iBride Isild Tray
iBride Isild Tray
€52
Indigo Lucky Charms Wishbone
Indigo Lucky Charms Wishbone
$12
EQ3 Watch Wall Clock
EQ3 Watch Wall Clock
$29.99
iBride Rosita Tray
iBride Rosita Tray
€52
IKEA Malm Black Dresser
IKEA Malm Black Dresser
$199
CIL Kitten White
CIL Kitten White
Lowe’s Marble Contact Paper
Lowe’s Marble Contact Paper
CIL Classic Burgundy
CIL Classic Burgundy
EQ3 Posey Vase
EQ3 Posey Vase
$12.99
IKEA Tobias Chair
IKEA Tobias Chair
$99
iBride Isild Tray
iBride Isild Tray
€52
Indigo Lucky Charms Wishbone
Indigo Lucky Charms Wishbone
$12
EQ3 Watch Wall Clock
EQ3 Watch Wall Clock
$29.99
iBride Rosita Tray
iBride Rosita Tray
€52
IKEA Malm Black Dresser
IKEA Malm Black Dresser
$199

Week OneWeek TwoWeek ThreeWeek FourWeek FiveWeek Six!

One Room Challenge Spring 2018 – Week Five!

Week Five of my One Room Challenge has been a busy week, but I feel I don’t have much to show for it. Mostly because a lot of what I’ve been doing was organising, ordering and coordinating things ahead of next weeks final deadline. Not much you can see, but of the changes I have made that I can show you, here they are!

The first being that we finally got our hands on the 5’x4′ gigantic secondhand Victorian style mirror which I cannot wait to hang up [and which may not be as scary to hang up as I originally thought]. It is a beautiful beast and it might actually encourage me to brush my SAHM hair more often if I catch a glimpse of myself in it often enough. One who owns such a majestic mirror cannot possibly be seen with a 3 day old man bun perched on one’s head.

I also updated our dining room hutch with some Fusion Mineral Paint in their beautifully goth shade of Coal Black. Trust me when I say that photos of both the Victorian style mirror and the hutch don’t do enough justice to how nice they are IRL.

I really am in love with our dining room hutch now and I cannot wait to style it with all things pretty and shiny and secondhand and unusual.

Another thing I worked on this week was updating tiny and seemingly unimportant details. One of which being the messy cable system running down one side of the dining room [and hallway into the living room].


There are a lot of these cable tracks around our apartment. They’re along just one wall of the dining room, but in our living room they’re everywhere; even along the picture rail. As you can see above, there were a few layers of cables along the dining room wall. I knew I’d be painting them white along with the skirting boards, but there were hundreds of gaps and random little junctions, all of which were generally driving me insane. So I bought some filler and filled in all the gaps. I let it dry for a day and then painted them along with the skirting boards white.

They’re really small details, but it’s updates like this that I actually love doing. They’re unnoticeable when it comes to the entire room, and no one would ever notice them otherwise, but you can be sure if I hadn’t filled all those wirey gaps, I’d be sitting every morning having my breakfast, one eye twitching at all the uneven and inconsistent gaps. Why are there so many wires to begin with? What were the people who lived here doing that they needed so many wires? Is this something I should be worried of? It’s now one of life’s many mysteries.

I also painted the hall walls to match the dining room. Again, something that is not noticeable at all, in any way. It took me an hour, but you’d never notice it. But if I hadn’t painted them, it would have been so very obvious with its big brown walls peeking around the corner trying to get invited into the dining room.

There are so many small details [and huge major ones] so put into place before next weeks One Room Challenge reveal. I feel like a lot of them are the same as I mentioned last week, but this week has been a lot of “X can only get done once X and X is done first” so there are a lot of things getting done, which I hope [OH PLEASE KNOCK ON WOOD] that everything will fall into place quickly once one thing after the other starts moving and getting done.

I really can’t wait for next weeks reveal. In a way I just want to see if the design I’ve had in my head all this time is any good. It could also be a giant, weeping mess of a disaster. Much like me. Another part of me is looking forward to the ORC to being over so I can watch a few Gilmore Girl episodes during Cora’s naps instead of being up a ladder. I think I will miss the ORC though because it’s pushing me to make big decisions quickly. To get things done every week and to stick to my plan. I’m excited and nervous about the next week. I just hope there’s more of the former and less of the latter.

If you’re curious, you can check out all the Week Five guest updates here!

Week OneWeek TwoWeek ThreeWeek FourWeek Five – Week Six

Dining room hutch makeover in Coal Black

I really need to update some more pieces of furniture in our home because I am SOOOOOOO happy with how our dining room hutch turned out.

I wanted a display hutch for our dining room ahead of the One Room Challenge so I started looking online months ago because I knew that, especially when you’re looking for something specific secondhand, you need a huge head start as it most likely will not be something you will find in a week or two. Once again, Kijiji did not disappoint. I found this hutch advertised online and I loved the shape of it. The fancy little details are what really got me and I knew that while it didn’t look great as it was, it was a very sturdy piece and with a bit of paint and care, I could have it looking beautiful. A few phone calls later, the dresser was ours for just $30 [it was listed at $40, but I practiced my substandard bargaining and managed to get $10 off 💃].

I once again enlisted in GoFor‘s help to collect and deliver the dresser [and help carry it up the stairs] and that afternoon it was in our dining room just waiting for the One Room Challenge to happen.

Giant lopsided SAHM hair making a special appearance. Haiii!

I knew from the condition and finish of the hutch that it was a perfect piece to be updated with paint. There’s nothing I hate more than seeing a beautiful piece of furniture with beautiful wood being mauled by paint. The worst ever; mahogany. Or really beautiful antiques. This hutch was neither of those so I knew I was perfect for paint.

One of the first options that came to mind was to paint it black. But I didn’t want it to be overwhelmingly black, so I thought about lightly distressing it along its many edges.

I had heard of the Canadian brand of Fusion Mineral Paint a few times since moving here, so I checked out lots of their customer projects and reviews. I loved the finish it gave and was convinced by all the reviews of their paint so I looked up our local stockist. I headed to Blue Bird Upcycle here in Ottawa and picked up a pot of Fusion Mineral Paint’s Coal Black.

I followed Erin’s advice for preparing the hutch, then painted two coats of Coal Black over the entire piece. I let it dry overnight then the next day I started distressing it with a piece of wet coarse sandpaper. It was looking so good that I distressed the entire thing in one sitting. It did take me about 3 hours [those curves around the glass were tough], but it immediately looking lovelier and lovelier is what kept me going.

I had thought about replacing the hardware, but to be honest I likes the idea of the hardware taking a back seat. I really liked the shape of the existing hardware but it had seen better days and didn’t have a great finish, so I decided to paint over it all. I also never came to a decision about what to do with the inside of the hutch, so I left it untouched. I painted the edge of the shelves to make them stand out a bit more, but other than that, I did nothing. I kind of like leaving the original wood [or ‘wood’] finish inside the hutch. I think it warms it up a bit and makes it seem less harsh against all the black.

I really can’t wait to style our hutch properly and share it with the rest of the room for my One Room Challenge because our hutch looks so much better when you see it as part of the room. Not long now!