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!

New project – entertainment room makeover

A few weeks ago VELUX contacted me about collaborating on a blog post. Like with any posts I work on with a company, I wait to see if a project will arise for me to include them in something I’m working on. A few weeks passed and our patience paid off when Camilla, a long time reader, got in contact with me about updating her entertainment room. And would you believe, she had two VELUX skylights that were a key part of the brief. Perfect!

I visited Camilla’s house two weeks ago to talk with her and her fiance Wayne about what they were looking for. They weren’t looking to undergo a huge change; a few updates to turn the current bright space into a cosy entertainment room. Both Wayne and Camilla are homebodies, so it’s a room that will get a lot of use. They’ve ordered a projector for the room, but in order to be able to use it, they need to install blackout blinds to their two existing VELUX skylights [which is a pretty vital part of the design, and segues nicely into our collaboration!]. 

In keeping with darkening the entertainment room, they were considering going dark with the design and I actually managed to convince them to go nearly-black on the walls [like in our bedroom]. I assured them that with the right accessories and accent pieces, a dark room won’t seem as overwhelming as they may think. It’s a room that gets a lot of sun during the day thanks to the skylights, but with the press of a button, the room can be transformed into a cosy Netflix snug thanks to electronic blackout blinds.

We talked about their design likes and dislikes, textures and finishes they preferred, and even about the more abstract things they like. I went away, compiled an entertainment room mock-up with lots of dark green, wood and hints of dusty pink and [to my very nervous surprise] they loved what I came back with …

Products clockwise from top [then spiraling inward] …
– Blackout blinds from VELUX
– 1830 Rue Chapal nearly-black paint from Fleetwood
– 4 seater VIMLE sofa from IKEA
– Green vintage rug – still on the hunt for one!
– Seno mid century sideboard from Article
– Bonsai tree from IKEA
– Rose gold and dusty pink candle sticks from Article

Both Camilla and Wayne like unexpected twists in design [a couple after my own heart], so after sneakily learning about their favourite movies and TV series, I found some Labyrinth and Rick and Morty themed parody prints that at first glance give a strong level of sophistication to the room. They like mid-century modern, natural and nature inspired fabrics and finishes, as well as a hint of gold. It’ll be a few weeks before we can start updating the room and ordering products, but once the work does start, I don’t see it taking long to finish. I particularly can’t wait to live vicariously through their purchasing the likes of that green couch. Anybody? No? Just me? I’m fine with that. 

DISCLOSURE – this is a sponsored blog post from VELUX. As always, all words and opinions are my own. I only work with companies I like and of course, think that you will too. Thank you for supporting the companies that support The Interior DIYer. 

How to repair a very worn rug (and why flatwoven rugs suck)

Yes. The wildly shameful image above is our IKEA Stockholm rug. This is it, 18 months after we bought it. 

When I first brought our new rug home, it was heaven. It fit perfectly under our couch and coffee table, and gave a serious punch of black and white to the room. It really anchored the look of the space and I couldn’t have been more smitten. However, as the months went on, I realized exactly how difficult it was to keep. And I realized why.


The IKEA Stockholm rug is a flatwoven rug; meaning, it is tightly woven in a loop vs. regular low pile rugs that aren’t woven in a loop. Meaning, it ages quickly. 

The area between the coffee table and our couch got the most ware. This is where we would walk from our kitchen [to the left of the picture above] and cut across the living room to get to our dining area [on the right]. We also spent a lot of time here as this is where we watch TV, entertain guests and sometimes work.

Another reason why flatwoven rugs are a bad idea is cats. For anyone who doesn’t have a cat, I will explain that cats have a natural urge to sharpen their nails. As Toshi is demonstrating so gracefully below. I trim our cats nails regularly, so that minimized the damage that could have happened to the rug. Whenever they picked at the rug, it would pull at the flatwoven closed-loops and sometimes snag. Not cool.

It’s something that didn’t even occur to me when we bought the rug. But now I know. I’m in no way mad at our cats because it’s a natural urge of theirs. They can’t help it. So maybe if you have a cat and are on the lookout for a rug, you’ll know too. Learn from my mistake. Low or high pile rug = good. Flatwoven rug = bad.

Case in point – we have a black and white IKEA Virring rug which the cats also scratch, but because it’s a low pile rug, their nails sail through it like a breeze and it has zero damage.

So if you have a flatwoven rug that is damaged like some of my incredibly embarrassing photos above, do not fret. There is a way. And it is a breeze.

I first started to trim the rug with scissors. That was laborious and tedious. I quickly had a eureka moment and realized – why not just use husbands electric hair trimmer? So I plugged it in and it was like some form of wizardry …

Trim. Vacuum. Literally good as new. I was nearly in tears. It was perfect. No word of a lie. I will accept baked goods or folding money as a thank you. You’re welcome in advance. 

I should explain that my husband doesn’t use this hair trimmer so it was okay to use it. When I was finished, the trimmer wasn’t dirty and was in perfect working order for the next flatwoven mistake that comes our way. Or you know, for hair. 

Our rug turned out so neat, tidy and nearly new that I was in fact able to sell it. I wouldn’t have been able to sell it if it wasn’t to a high standard. It’s all part of my attempt to make our apartment less obviously IKEA and I already have my eye on a couple of second hand low pile rugs to replace it. These colder months really call for rugs. Neatly trimmed rugs.