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One Room Challenge Spring 2021 Week 1: Let’s Finish this Living Room

Hi friends, I’m glad you’re back with me to finish up what we started during the Fall 2020 One Room Challenge! Just in case you don’t know, Better Homes & Gardens hosts the One Room Challenge, held every April and October, where featured designers and guests post to their blogs and/or Instagram updates as they renovate or refresh one room in their house over 8 weeks. If you’re looking for inspiration for your own home, to see what’s trending across a wide variety of styles, or to enjoy watching talented people transform a room step by step, this challenge is for you.

Let me tell you about our plan and efforts last Fall. I made posts for 3 weeks–I know, I know, this is an 8-week challenge. We ran into more than a couple challenges, including one that completely took the wind out of my ORC sails. I’m going to start at the beginning though. This is my mood board from my first Fall post:

mood board with design plans for living room makeover
Fall 2020 ORC Mood Board

In addition to this color palate and furniture plan, I had some pretty big DIYs planned: a new DIY mantel, an IKEA hack for the TV cabinet console, an updated fireplace surround, and a DIY coffee table. However, I started with the biggest, toughest one first– a two-story recessed panel wainscoting. As I explained in my second and third posts, I did a whole bunch of research on how to build such a feature wall as I have never done something like this before.

Sure, for the Spring 2020 One Room Challenge we made a uniquely patterned board and batten on our master bedroom wall; this wainscoting project is an entirely different beast in terms of scale, difficulty, length of the project, materials required, and impact to the design.

One Room Challenge Master Bedroom Reveal with Board and Batten

In my research, I found that one of my favorite bloggers had tackled a recessed panel wainscoting on two 1 story walls. Jenna at Jenna Sue Design Co. has a terrific tutorial that I studied for my project. I could almost recite that tutorial last Fall. Along the way, however, we figured out there are some significant differences when building a two-story wainscoting wall that made the project an even bigger, longer endeavor. More on that to come. We started on the wainscoting wall during the 4th week of the ORC last Fall and finished installing it between the 6th and 7th week. It was hard. It required scaffolding and overcoming my fear of heights.

scaffolding in our living room for installing a two-story recessed panel wainscoting
Wainscoting required scaffolding & overcoming my fear of heights
I eventually got used to the swaying of the scaffolding.

Then, we made what ended up being the worst decision we made the entire project: we hired painters to caulk and paint the wall. We hired a painter who has painted almost the entire interior and the exterior of our home. We obviously trusted them. We told them to get as far as they could that day and they did the entire wall, caulking and painting. From across the room it looked great. Once they left, though, I got a closer look. Guys, it looked like my four-year-old finger painted the caulk AND parts of the paint. It was horrible, just HORRIBLE! I spent about 8 hours the next day trying to fix it myself, digging out caulk that had bubbled or lumped up, filling in gaps where there should have been caulk, etc. I tried to sand the many paint drips across the wall too. I figured out that they 1.) did not use water or enough water to smooth the caulk but rather smeared it dry; 2.) they painted before the caulk had dried, and 3.) painted the second coat before everything else had dried the first time. As a result, the caulk had been smeared inside but also out of the cracks between the main board and inside the box trim. It dried bumpy, it dried all over the main MDF boards (which is a real problem when using an orbital sander thereafter) as well as inside the boxes, it dried with gaps, bubbles, and bumps where the caulk was supposed to be. When I say it was horrible, I am NOT just being picky. Absolutely no one would have thought it was acceptable.

Bad Caulking on a wainscoting wall
Caulking after installing wainscoting should NEVER look like this.

Whew, deep breath. I still get upset when I think about it.

The problem for me was not only was the project to fix it going to take a very long time, if I even could fix it, it was time to decorate for the holidays due to my blogging and collaboration schedule. That meant we were going to have to live with it for a while and that put a real damper on my spirit and commitment to finishing the Fall ORC. I’m still disappointed I didn’t finish posting, but I have finally decided to give myself grace because we were also in the middle of COVID in the middle of a 9-month stretch of working full time at home while caring for the kids full time at home and trying to teach my oldest preschool . . . at home. I had just had enough of it all folks.

SO on to happier times NOW! It is the spring, my hubby and I are vaccinated, the kids are now thriving in the same preschool program, and we are just about finished with fixing this wainscoting! I know without a doubt that I’ve spent longer fixing this wall after the painters messed it up than I did installing it. A few more touch ups are needed and then we are moving on with the next DIY on our list–the hack of our TV console cabinets from IKEA!

I’m so excited to finally finish this project and enjoy our new living room! I’ll have another update for you next week and will give you some photos of our wainscoting wall as it is now! Also, make sure you visit the ORC website to check out the incredibly talented designers posting their 8 weeks of updates as well!

XOXO Alicia

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