One Room Challenge Week 1: Operation Lighten & Brighten our Family Room

My family room smells like wet paper. This is a good thing.

What?

Yes! It’s because we’re back for more One Room Challenge excitement, and the work started this week. We are updating our family room. Even on the sunniest summer day, it’s a really dark room. Look at this photo I shot while writing this post:

Dark Room Before One Room Challenge Makeover

This is how dark this room is, even on a sunny day. Now, I know many bloggers including me will overexpose photos and boost brightness in Photoshop to make a photographed room look much brighter than it is in real life. In reality, many rooms you see on Pinterest are darker than you think. Believe me, this room is so dark, no amount of Photoshop will make it feel light and happy! We’ve lived with this for 14 years. It’s time to lighten this space up!

The timing of our plans coincided with the Spring 2018 One Room Challenge (ORC), which is hosted twice a year by Calling It Home. The ORC is a challenge when bloggers makeover a room in six weeks. I hope over the coming weeks to give you ideas to brighten a room, if you have the same problem in your home.

Here’s the vision:

One Room Challenge Spring 2018 Moodboard

And here’s a video to show you the room and our plans:

I had insomnia, I was tired during this video — will have more energy in future videos. When I’m showing you the shelves, you can’t even see, it’s so dark!

Twenty bloggers are Featured Designers in the One Room Challenge, and 200+ bloggers like me join in as Guest Participants. Visit these links over the next six weeks until May 10 when Pinterest-worthy pictures are revealed!

Meanwhile I’ll post my progress here at Nomadic Decorator blog, and you’ll surely get some DIY tutorials to lighten up your own home.

See what we decide to do

There are a few issues with this project:

  • I’m very uncertain about whitewashing the brick fireplace. Will I chicken out?
  • Little picky details like dark metal parts on wood shelves. These dark metal strips will show up when the shelves are painted light! I don’t think painting the metal will be durable enough. Ugh, how to solve this problem?
  • Budget constraints. Accepting that you can’t always have what you want. Things like hardwood vs. carpet. Stone on fireplace vs. whitewashing. What will we do?

Follow along to see what happens during this round of the ORC! Get email notices so you don’t miss a post!

Why does this room smell like wet paper?

Oh, I almost forgot! I’ve already started removing wallpaper. This is a 13′ x 25′ room. But with big windows, big fireplace, big shelf unit, a few doors and a big opening to the kitchen, there isn’t too much wall to deal with. Still, removing wallpaper is a pain in the butt. I’m using the Wagner 715 steamer (affiliate link). I’ll write more about this steamer and maybe film a video. It makes removing wallpaper SO EASY! So the wet paper smell is good — it means the steamer is working well!

 

One Room Challenge Spring 2008

Moodboard

Soft Color Palette Found in India

We’ll be heading to the India pied-à-terre soon — our apartment in Chennai, India — so I’m planning projects for the place and looking at photos from past trips for inspiration. I spotted this “funny face” and love its soft color palette:

Funny Face Found in India

See, the “face” is on this wall:

Soft India Color Palette

I spotted this wall while our driver sped past it, on the way to see a temple in a tiny village called Osur southwest of Chennai, India.

Maybe this soft quiet wall stood out because it was a rarity among all the screaming bright colors. The drive was about 2 hours long (or more? I forget now) so I saw an unusual billboard nearby and made a mental note to watch for the billboard during the drive back. Because I needed a photo of this wall! We told the driver to STOPPPPP, stop-stop-stop — because saying stop one time doesn’t work so well — and I jumped out and greedily got this cute wall into my iPhone.

India Color Palette

Old Wall in India

I share a few pictures of it here as inspiration for color combos, for old wall texture, for adding whimsy and fun in unexpected places!

I am not sure if the pink pipes are for plumbing or perhaps they hold electrical wires. But if they are functional, someone took the care to ensure they were worked into the design, not just slapped on the wall wherever. And I appreciate that, and details like that certainly caught my eye as we flew by.

Trend? Layers of White Global Patterns

There’s a question mark in the title because I think this will become a trend in the U.S., but I don’t think it’s a trend yet. It’s a trend when it rampages across the country into living rooms, bedrooms and dining rooms everywhere. I think right now it is stepping onto the shores, testing the waters, seeing if it will be accepted.

What is it?

layers of global patterns in whites

  • Whites in different shades, lighter, darker, clean, dusty, all mixed together
  • Patterns inspired by India, Bali, Morocco, Spain and beyond, all mixed together

It looks like this from Restoration Hardware:

Restoration Hardware Layers of White Patterns

The origins of this look are shown in this image that I shared back in 2013, from Maisons du Monde:

Layers of White Patterns

I shared this image in a post called Scandinavian White Interiors with an Indian Twist. And this white layered patterns “potential trend” is exactly that — a mix of  global style with Indian, Moroccan, Indonesian, Lamu style and more all in the same room.

The look is created with:

  • Carved white-washed wood
  • Round turned wood shapes
  • Embroidered and printed patterned textiles
  • Pierced metal lanterns
  • Woven patterns in lampshades, baskets, sisal rugs

For the tension that makes things interesting, mix elegant swirls and florals with thick rustic chunky shapes. White colors tie it all together.

Someone said to me that if you want to know what’s coming soon to the U.S., look at what’s popular in Australia. My Instagram has been full of white layered patterns from many Australian companies, especially in the Byron Bay area which is on the west coast of Australia, between Brisbane and Syndey.

Here’s a few Instagrammers to watch if you want to get schooled on this style …

Bisque Traders imports to Australia from around the world and while they’re introducing more color lately, the roots of their aesthetic is in rustic whites:

Bisque Traders

Bisque Traders White Aesthetic

Bisque Traders has a website where you can find a full range of products that fit their light, white “with a touch of tribal” aesthetic.

Alabaster Trader has the look, especially with their carved and mirrored white-washed wood consoles and damchiyas from India which you can order online at their shop:

Alabaster Trader

Alabaster Trader White Patterns

The Ha’veli of Byron Bay is where you can see the look in action, warmed up with some darker browns:

Ha'veli of Byron Bay

They also have an online shop where you can get the look.

While the Grove at Byron Bay Instagram account is no longer active, it has an archive of photos that show this layered white pattern look, blended with boho macrame and woven reeds:

The Grove at Byron Bay

As shown here at The Grove in Byron Bay, you don’t have to have everything in every room be patterned. Here the background is white, the pots are white, even the rocks in the pots are white, and the glorious enormous mirror brings the patterns:

The Grove at Byron Bay

Seeing these images over the last few years definitely influenced my thinking for our apartment in Chennai, India. As I’ve written about here previously, I’m keeping the apartment mostly white-walled so it’s bright, calm and soothing. But what is India without the searing bright pinks, oranges and blues? I bought pillows and fabrics with those iconic Indian colors. But they didn’t feel like they delivered the soothing feeling that I want. I think those colors will wind up piled on a four-poster canopied daybed in the guest room. The rest of the place will look like this mock-up:

I already have all these pillows, rug and similar table. And here’s the patterned wall and lanterns in the entry area:

India pied-a-terre

We’re on our way to this look in our place in India. There’s a long way to go, though! Here’s my moodboard that guides this entry area as I add new things to it:

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