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  • Writer's pictureJacqueline Loiacono

ORC Finale: Barbie Boho Living Room

As a renter, many often think that they are unable to make their house or apartment a home for them and their families, just because their name is not on a deed. I have always felt that wherever I lay my head, is my home. The love that lives there makes a house a home and that love should be reflected inside of it with the colors I use, the decor on the walls and the furniture that I give new life to.

So what can I say about this One Room Challenge journey? Each time I complete a season, I feel an accomplishment that's hard to describe. It's not just a journey lasting 8 weeks, it's a marathon that has helped me learn more about who I am becoming each time I participate. It's an opportunity for DIYers and Designers to inspire others and share their ideas and dreams for a space in their home while challenging themselves to complete it in only 8 weeks. But it's so much more than that for me.

The past 8 weeks went by in a flash. I remember the last time 8 weeks went by that fast was when Vienna was born. If I could compare similarities between two totally different events I would say that they were both difficult in their own respective ways. They left me tired, achy and anxious but when I look at how far I have come, I know it was all worth it. Of course with both experiences there were crying fits here and there along with tears of joy and laughter but when isn't that true of something you have to work hard for?

We will have been living in this house a year on December 1. Vienna was only three months old when we moved which was difficult to say the least. It was hard to make a house a home while taking care of an infant. We left our old apartment in Greenwich, CT when we knew we needed something bigger, but still couldn't afford a house yet as a young family. Not to mention living with our neighbors insect friends that started visiting us when I was still pregnant but that's a story for another day. Let's just say the visitors started with a c and ended with roaches. We knew CT was a temporary stay, we wanted to be back in NY near both of our families.

When we saw the listing on Zillow for a two bedroom cottage style home with a fenced in backyard and basement in Carmel, NY we knew the stars had aligned. Our dog Arya finally had a yard again and Vienna would have her own little nursery.

When We moved in, the first thing I did to make it feel like home was put up our Christmas tree and decorations. After it all came down, I was left with blank walls that made me feel cold and empty. Moving with a three month old was more than hard. It was lonely in the winter months when I had no car and the home didn't feel like us yet. Not to mention the post partum depression and the everyday struggle of getting myself healthier both physically and mentally. I had suffered heart failure after coming home from the hospital that led me back to the emergency room without my daughter and husband. The wounds that the experience left me played in my head day after day while I used DIY to try and heal and keep the anxiety at bay.

I wracked my brain each day, thinking of small ways to update the function of each space and decorate the incredibly small rooms to make it our own. When you have a home in a lake town, many of the old houses have extensions to the original layout and dug out basements. The living room is one of the extensions and is only an 8x15 ft rectangle with a sliding closet. I knew I needed to use my Imagination, but at first, I had a hard time figuring out how. I've updated small things in each room as well as transforming our kitchen for this past Spring's ORC, but the living room had needed my attention for quite some time. Spending a lot of time with a one year old in a living room that doubles as a playroom with anxiety, pmdd, post partum depression and adhd (yea I know it was alot), I needed to keep my hands and mind busy with this project to say the least.

Design and DIY does that for me, as well as therapy through my writing. The living room needed a warm touch and in doing so, I felt like I could breathe again. The living room faces the back of the house with a side door to the yard and has the only closet in our home. Vienna has a small closet that is in her room but it's solely hers since babies of course have the most stuff. So our jackets, shoes, linens, sweatshirts, vacuum, computer stuff and paper goods reside in the sliding closet in the living room. The closet was squeaky and broken and gave me anxiety just looking at it. I had tried to update it over the summer with pretty wallpaper I had on hand, but it didn't fit the aesthetic I was going for.

With Vienna's toys beginning to overflow by her first birthday, I knew the living room needed a playful design and the happiest color I could think of was pink. Brian was on board and loved the color for Vienna so I dove right in painting one wall at a time; when I had the time that is. Immediately, it made the room feel brighter. I used Sunwashed Brick by Behr Paint on the walls and also their color Pebbled Courtyard for the closet (I actually found two quarts of the color in separate occasions in the oops paint section at home

Depot- disclaimer...Home Depot will mix the oops paint that people return to a different shade of the color so people do not return it and come back to buy it cheaper. So if you want the same shade, you have to color match it.. Luckily, I found two quarts that were very similar in shade and it worked out extremely well in the space. I also repeated the color for the sideboard from Ikea under our TV and the house block design behind Vienna's kitchen.

Using the same colors made the room feel more cohesive. My thought process behind the design was making sure it was a room fit for a Boho Barbie doll. I wanted to Improve the function of the room for us as a family while staying on a budget and DIY-ing as much as possible. The design choice stemmed from a Mental Health perspective for me since I felt extremely overstimulated with Vienna's growing collection. The new color scheme and vibe of the room just made it feel like it went together. Like I lived in a living, breathing dollhouse.

Here is a brief overview of each project completed for the challenge:

* (A more detailed description of each project can be found in blog articles weeks 1-7).

-Painted the room Sunwashed Brick by @Behr Paint while partnering with Handy Products using their fantastic paint pails and snap cup, angle brush, and tray liners as well as caulk sealers.

-Updated sliding closet doors with new paint, hardware and starburst design (DIY-ed with @Krylon gold metallic spray paint, bbq skewers and hot glue)

(Door Color is Pebbled Courtyard by Behr in oops paint), Satin Brass surface cup pulls, and satin brass sliding door floor guides by @StoneHarborHardware (in which I partnered with. Their attention to detail, care and craftsmanship always shows in their products, packaging and customer service).

-Refurbished our sideboard shoe organizer from IKEA (Color also Pebbled Courtyard Oops Paint by Behr), new knobs from Home Goods and Floral Wallpaper from Amazon

-DIY-ed Frame TV made with wood moulding from @HomeDepot and Antique Gold Rub n Buff

-Purchased Italian Brass sconces from Elephant Trunk Flea Market @ETFLea in New Milford, CT (electrical was broken so I DIY-ed it to become Candle Sconces), as well as new brass seashell bookends

-DIY-ed a basket lamp shade from Vienna's old laundry basket

-Refurbished bar, sanded and stripped down to bare wood and then bleached

-Refurbished wood antique mirror, stripped, sanded and bleached

-Updated the side door also with Sunwashed Brick by Behr and replaced old door

hardware with Stone Harbor Hardware's dummy entry knob and deadbolt lockset in satin brass as well as a matching door stop with rub n buffed hinges in antique gold.

-Updated Vienna's play kitchen from Ikea with Leather Strap Handles and knobs from @Amazon for the cabinet door, microwave and stove, painted the oven for more realism and added a house blocking design behind the kitchen using pebbled courtyard by Behr oops paint. I also added our picture frames to mimic a window.

-Baby proofed wires with an outlet box cover and wire covers that were painted to blend into the wall since Vienna's toy baskets sit on the side of the TV.

-Spray painted a bookshelf from @Michaelsstores using @Rustoleum metallic gold spray paint

-Spray painted the apple pie plates from our old engagement party favors to use as a drain dishes for our plant pots (Behr's terracotta spray paint matches almost perfect with the real thing ( a little DIY Secret...when your plants, in my case; succulents, die, cover faux plants with soil in the pots for a realistic look- no one will know).

Completing each project required time and energy spent away from my family usually during naptime or after Vienna went to bed. I'm lucky that Brian was able to spend alone time with her out of the house during the bigger parts of the project, so I could work without distraction. I realized what I thought was important, was in fact not. The time I spend with my family is the most important thing to me. I used to have anxiety when a project was half done, but as time goes on, I am learning the process is just as rewarding as the final result. That the time I would spend stressing over a mess is wasted instead of enjoying my home with whom I love. Love is what makes a house a home, not the decor in it. But when it feels like you, its that much sweeter.

Behind each pretty picture is a messy house, a camera tripod, a crying toddler, a barking dog, an anxious mom and a life that's put on hold to create inspiration and beauty that can be admired and shared. I'm ready to enjoy our new living room this upcoming holiday season with the ones that I love. Being a renter just means that my name is on a lease, but the love that lives there furnishes the home.

As always, I thank you for your continued support and interest in Aurora By Jacqueline Design. If I can inspire you in any way through my words or my ideas, then I am doing something right. Don't forget to check out the other talented DIYers and Designers in the One Room Challenge Community that definitely inspired me.

Love, Jacqueline

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1 Comment

Jane Mandelson
Jane Mandelson
Jan 17

We’ll done, you’ve done a beautiful job ♥️

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