One Room Challenge | Week One

The 2018 spring One Room Challenge is here!  I am so delighted to be invited back to the Internet’s most funnest design event.  If you are new to the ORC, it is an addictive affair of 20 designers each taking a space and transforming it over the course of 6 weeks, documenting progress each week on their blogs, and culminating in a big final reveal.  There are generous sponsors to help finish the space, there is House Beautiful as the media sponsor, and there is Linda Weinstein of Calling it Home as the founder and grand cheerleader of the whole thing.  Let’s GO!

It seemed meant to be when while I started planning a new room project, that Linda invited me to participate in the Spring ORC.  The timetable lined up, and I was IN!  We are spending the next five weeks not just transforming, but actually completing a brand-new-construction space…this is the first time I’ve done an ORC that starts with just studs.

A little scared.

Here it is:

This is the upper floor of the new detached garage at our North Carolina house…it will be the NEW GUEST SUITE, with bed and bath, at our special mountain retreat.  All angles and long, we are dividing up the space as best as possible, inviting light in with double french doors and three skylights.  Before I tell you more, here is a little history about the house, The Cottage.

Way back in 2005 we big city Texas kids moved to a tiny Appalachian Mountains town in Western North Carolina.  While there were many adjustments, we fell in love immediately with the lush beauty of the blue-green Smoky Mountains.

We were only there two years before another job pulled us to Georgia, but it was like we had found our spirit place in those mountains.  So while we settled in our new Georgia home, we kept our eye on real estate in Western North Carolina.  Then, in 2008, a dilapidated home caught our eye.

It was, yes, scary, but also filled with so much potential.  Wood ceilings and beams, meticulous stonework, and unreal long-range mountain views…we jumped on it!  We partnered with my parents-in-law and bought the house as not just a weekend home but also as an income-generating source, and we named it “the cottage.”  We embarked on extensive remodeling with the idea that we would also rent the house as a vacation home.  The remodel was finished in spring of 2009, and we had our first reservation within hours of listing it on VRBO.

I then acted as property manager for the following 8 years, handling all the operations of the vacation rental.  So many families, couples, and friend groups made sweet memories in the cottage over those years.  And, oh my goodness!  The cottage for us personally has been such an incredibly special place.  Our dreamy getaway.  Our heaven on earth.  It is just so beloved by us.  And, well, it is also kinda famous…it has been published in Cottages & Bungalows and Better Homes & Gardens DIY Magazine.  She is even in Myquillyn Smith’s Nesting Place book as her muse!

So last year, my Texas-based inlaws transitioned into retirement and desired to live closer to their grandchildren.  The cottage seemed to be a likely candidate for their retirement home except that, while it was a perfect vacation spot, it needed some additions to make it full-time living friendly.  Enter building contractor Mike!

Mike has been working on a new detached garage and workshop for the cottage, as well as a new master closet/laundry addition with storage.  He has been such a joy to work with, professional and thorough.   On a recent site visit with him, I grew intrigued as he described the possibilities of a functional room above the new garage.  I had thought it would only be suitable for small storage, but he said that he had revised the roofing system to accommodate a room, should we desire one in the future.

Well, the future is now.

We had a family meeting and decided to move forward with the build out, as the room would offer overflow space for visiting friends and family, not to mention the luxuries of privacy and space in a detached garage.  Then Linda rang, and here we are participating in the Spring ORC!  What a fun turn of events!

So while the cottage does have three bedrooms and three baths, this extra space will be great when the whole family or groups are visiting.  It also has great AirBnb potential.

It is basically a bowling alley type space.  We are putting the bathroom at the far end of the room, that overlooks the front of the cottage.  It will have a freestanding shower, closet, and wet bar/fridge area all tucked in.

The main room faces the long-range view, although with a few tree obstructions.  We are taking advantage of the view with two french doors (credit to my husband on this one!), and additional light will enter through three skylights on the end of the room.  We will have room enough for a king-size bed and a small sitting area.

Again, we’re at just studs.  Guess who is not forgetting to say her prayers!

Next week I’ll share the design board for the space.  Since I am partnering with my more traditional inlaws, I am going to behave and not get all crazy with the space, but keep it light and bright like the main house.  Well, maybe just a little crazy.  Whatever, after 22 years of being married to their son, maybe they’re used to it??  No, okay, I promise, I’ll be good, but still me, a good compromise.  I’m calling the space Modern Mountain Granny…more next week on what that means!

I’m just one of 20 spaces getting transformed during April.  Take a look at what else is going on across the land:

Apartment 34 | Beginning in the Middle | Coco & Jack | The English Room | The Gold Hive 

Gray Malin | Jenna Sue Design | Jojotastic | Kelly Rogers Int. | Linda Holt | Marcus Design 

Michelle Gage | Natasha Habermann | The Painted House | Rambling Renovators 

Sacramento Street | Shannon Claire | Sketch 42 | Stephanie Kraus | Style Me Pretty Living 

Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by ORC 

Also, ORC guest participants post their rooms on Thursdays at the One Room Challenge, when you need more remodeling juice!


  1. Linda | CIH says:

    Oh wow, I had no idea how amazing your space would be. Love the setting, the view, and the potential. Beautiful family story. Hang in there.

  2. This is going to be quite the undertaking! Can’t wait to see how it unfolds. 🙂

  3. I’m very excited to follow along! So much potential!

  4. Wow! Such a beautiful space with an amazing view! I am so excited to watch this transformation!

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