The One Room Challenge fall event started yesterday! Anyone else following the
I am itching to join. But unfortunately, the project I thought I’d be working on is not yet finalized. But you can bet I’ll be following along with the others’ progress; there’s always so much talent and inspiration!
Side note: Sorry for having to keep hush-hush on our next venture. I promise it’s an exciting one, so hang with me just a little longer!
Chances are high that if you’re reading this post, you’re already familiar with the ORC. In case you’re not, though, the One Room Challenge is a six-week design event where hundreds of bloggers and designers make over a room and blog about the fun (and sometimes not-so-fun) adventures in real time. Besides being a great opportunity to work with sponsors (it’s followed by millions, so lots of brands want that extra exposure), the ORC is a great motivator to tackle those home projects on the back burner.
Yesterday marked the start of what I believe is the 20th season. That’s a lot of room transformations!
I first joined the challenge back in 2016. If you’re curious to see the spaces I designed as part of the ORC, here’s a list:
- Living Room (Fall 2016 ORC)
- Mila’s Nursery (Spring 2017 ORC)
- Master Bedroom, Guest Bedroom, Entryway, Dining Room (ORC Fall 2017)
In honor of the new season, I’m going down memory lane and sharing some practical life lessons I’ve learned from the ORC over the years.
1. Nothing boosts productivity quite like a hard deadline.
The time constraint of the One Room Challenge is simultaneously one of its most and least appealing factors. When you consider just how much work goes into designing a room, six weeks is borderline insanity.
But that’s also why it works! Deadlines are a simple but powerful time-management technique to help us overcome procrastination.
The life lesson here is that if you find yourself unmotivated to cross items off your to-do list, give yourself a hard deadline. There’s a high chance it’ll help!
2. Always have a plan B.
In design – much like in life – things rarely go according to plan. If you struggle with being flexible (like yours truly), it’s vital to have a plan B to avoid a full-blown panic attack when things go awry.
In all the ORCs I participated, my biggest concern was always whether all products would arrive on time. During the Fall 2016 ORC, right in the midst of already challenging times, I received notification that the Chesterfield sofa I ordered back before the ORC even began was on back order. No sooner had I dealt with that drama, that I received yet another email; my recently ordered coffee table wouldn’t be arriving until after the final reveal.
I was seriously starting to lose hope and desperately considered alternatives, like “borrowing” my parents’ furniture just for the final reveal photos. Thankfully, all worked out in the end – but I wish I had a plan B in advance to avoid the anxiety.
Needless to say, the lesson here applies to all facets of life. If you’re not flexible, then plan ahead.
3. Trust your first instincts.
Were you here for the Fall 2017 ORC? Being the overachiever that I am, I set out to finish nearly 10 different rooms in the course of six weeks.
One teeny-tiny detail: I had a newborn baby.
My first instinct was to ask myself, “Am I insane?” Of course, I rationalized that I technically wasn’t tackling 10 full room renovations… We just had so many not-fully-finished spaces in the house, and my goal was to cross off as many of those projects as possible.
I should’ve listened to the rational side of my brain – and not the sleep-deprived, postpartum side. I am 99.9 percent sure that the Fall 2017 ORC is the true reason I’ve stopped participating in the ORC for the last six seasons.
Trusting your instincts is the ultimate act of trusting yourself. Listening to your instincts helps you avoid unhealthy situations.
4. Decide for yourself, and own your decision.
For the Fall 2017 ORC, I painted the dining room credenza and the mudroom chest of drawers a bold, blue color. The minute I applied the first coat of paint, I knew I’d be listing both items on Facebook Marketplace soon after.
The transformation was beautiful; the color, per se, wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I dislike color in general. But for a reason unbeknownst to me, I convinced myself that I needed to add color to my project.
The moral of the story is to not be swayed by others’ expectations of you – whether in design or in real life.
5. If you dread it, do it first.
Every design project – especially DIY – involves tasks that you simply dread. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies, you know?
Those dreaded tasks hang over our head the entire duration of the project and drain our energy just by remaining unfinished. The ORC has taught me that if I tackle the dreadful tasks in the beginning, I will enjoy the process much, much more than if I keep putting the task off til the end.
Immediately the “Fireplace Fiasco” of 2016 comes to mind. We started a fireplace remodel way before beginning the ORC in the fall of 2016. Unfortunately, the mason we hired for said remodel quit mid-project. For a while, we steadily worked on finishing the fireplace ourselves. But the work was proving extremely time consuming; it came to a complete halt once we moved into the house. Of course, when we started the Fall 2016 ORC (our living room transformation), that unfinished fireplace was at the top of the list of tasks giving me anxiety.
Long story short, the fireplace remodel was one of the last projects we finished. In fact, we were still priming it at 2 o’clock in the morning the night before the room had to be photographed. Fun times – NOT.
Moral of the story: Do the dreadful task first, and thank me later.
6. Slow and steady wins the race.
While the ORC is not necessarily a competition, the point I am making here is that consistent effort leads to success. This rule applies to practically anything in life.
Whatever your goal is – in design or life in general – take small steps towards your goal every day, and before you know it, you’ll have come a long way.
In the words of Mark Twain, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
7. Budgets are freeing.
The topic of budgeting deserves its own post – no, an entire book! But I’ll keep it short: Budgets are not constraints but rather ultimate freedom.
To most people, the word has negative connotations – but it really shouldn’t! A budget is simply planned spending. A budget tells your money where you want it to go rather than wondering where in the world it went.
This lesson, of course, applies to many other things in life.
8. Learn the art of waiting.
The ORC involves a lot of waiting… waiting for a deal on those $1000 barrel chairs you fell in love with… waiting for the product to arrive… waiting for the subcontractors to show up… waiting for the baby to fall asleep so you can actually work… you get the point. Some weeks, all you can do is wait.
I can’t help but notice how this parallels with the real world.
Our society bombards us with pressure to “hustle;” the glorification of busyness is nothing new. But sometimes productivity may not look like an 18-hour workday. Sometimes it looks like a whole lot of waiting and being OK with the lack of progress.
Truly, this “downtime” – if you can call it that – is essential for creativity and success. In the case of the ORC, you can use this downtime to hone in on your design direction so that when product does finally arrive, you’ll be able to whip the room into shape in no time. In the case of life in general, you can use the waiting period to work on yourself.
9. Don’t overlook what’s right in front of you.
Every single ORC project I’ve ever done included me shopping my own home. This isn’t a new concept by any means. But sometimes we get so caught up in the idea of needing all-new things that we overlook what’s right in front of us.
Design is a gradual, evolutionary process that often lasts a lifetime. When you try to rush the process, you typically end up with a room full of pretty but uninspiring objects that say nothing of the people that live there. Using what you already own is a great way to avoid that, to add personality to your space, while also staying within budget.
This principle of not overlooking what’s right in front of you also applies to real life.
10. Planning is as important as doing.
There’s a reason why the first couple weeks of the ORC involve little to no physical progress. The first couple weeks are spent planning out every single detail of the project to ensure you have a roadmap to success.
In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
I hope you enjoyed this round-up of life lessons and came away with something you can apply to your own life. If you like this article, please share it with your friends! For a full list of sources that you see here, check out the “Shop Our House” page.
To see how the other designers and bloggers are progressing on their room transformations, check out the ORC linkup.