Spring ’23 One Room Challenge|Whimsical Parlor| Final Reveal!!

Welcome to the Blue Leopard Interiors Blog! I’m so glad you’re here! My name is Justine Dennen, and I’m the owner of Blue Leopard Interiors, a boutique residential interior design firm in Great Falls, VA. I’m thrilled to be participating for the second time in the Spring 2023 One Room Challenge! My first ORC was last fall, where I redesigned my Dining Room and Butler’s Pantry.

In case you haven’t heard of the One Room Challenge, it’s an eight week online event which happens every spring and fall, where interior decorators, and home bloggers, undertake redesigning or designing from scratch a room of their choosing, while sharing the progress along the way. It’s not a competition, as there is no winner, just a supportive group of like-minded design enthusiasts challenging themselves to complete a room in eight weeks. Huge thanks to Linda Weinstein, the creator and director of the One Room Challenge.

For my second foray into this event, I decided to redesign my sitting room, or “parlor”. For before photos, and the story of why I chose to revamp this room check out this blog post, where I talk more about it. After eight weeks of planning, creating, and implementing, it is finally complete – and I’m both thrilled with the results and relieved its over!! Although many participants (wisely) don’t make over their room in real time, I did yet again. On the one hand, that made this challenge exciting and authentic, but on the other hand, it also made it a true challenge!! There were definitely times I thought I might not finish in time, and other times when I wondered why in the heck I was putting myself through all of this stress. But in the end, I did finished my Whimsical Parlor, and I feel very proud of myself, and all of my fantastic trades people and my amazing photographer, Mary Pat Collins. I absolutely could not have done this without them!


The Parlor – Before

I am so excited to share my parlor with you, but before I do, let me remind you how this room looked in the listing photos last July:

Parlor BEFORE looking toward picture window

And this is how the room looked when I started the project:

Parlor BEFORE starting the One Room Challenge Spring ’23

As you can see, I had added a fun Serge Mouille dupe light fixture, painted the walls white, and styled it with furniture and accessories we had brought with us, other than the Mid-century modern Ming chairs which I found on Facebook Marketplace for $25 each and had reupholstered  in a fun tiger patterned velvet. The sofa we had custom made years ago in Cape Town, and I also had it reupholstered in an aqua velvet when we moved in.  Both the chairs and sofa were done by MelEl Designs

Here are a couple more shots of the room right before I started the ORC:

Parlor BEFORE looking from foyer
Parlor BEFORE looking toward foyer

I liked the room before I started this challenge, but knew it wasn’t finished. It needed more seating, window treatments, and some design magic to set it apart from the other rooms in the house.


Whimsical Parlor Inspiration and Mood Boards

So in any new project, whether for myself or a client, I start out by gathering information and inspiration. My clients receive a comprehensive Design Questionnaire when we start working together, which asks lots of questions about how they live in the space, how they want their new space to feel, and styles, colors, and moods they like. We then start a shared Pinterest board where we can start gathering ideas and inspiration. Click here to see the Pinterest board for my Whimsical Parlor. Once we’ve got a vision for the space, I start creating a both 3-D and digital mood boards to present to my clients. When I asked myself how I wanted this room to feel, I pictured it as a cocoon-like room that felt warm and inspirational. Besides adding more seating and window treatments, I also knew I wanted to refinish the floors, paint the walls a fabulous color, hang a gallery wall, and wallpaper the ceiling! Here’s a photo of my initial 3-D mood board for this ORC:

Whimsical Parlor 3-D Mood Board including wallpaper, fabrics, trims, art, and always some greenery 😉


You may have also seen this post where I decided between two mood boards with different wallpaper and paint. Here’s the one I went with:


The winning mood board featuring this gorgeous Milton & King Flower Pool wallpaper!


Whimsical Parlor Progress

So just in case you missed all of my progress posts over the last eight weeks, I just want to give a quick rundown of how I got to completion, with links to those posts:

Week One – I shared before and current shots of the room, talked about my plans for the room, and shared my inspiration and 3-D Mood Board
Week Two – I shared the digital mood board above, as well as one other concept using the Papilio Wallpaper by Milton & King
Week Three – the hardwood floors were refinished and I talked about how hard it was to choose which stain to go with
Week Four – Oops! no post this week – life got in the way!
Week Five – My sweet stripey settee was finished, and I talked about painting the frame black and choosing the fabric
Week Six – the walls were painted and the ceiling was wallpapered with thrilling results!! But, I had another tough decision to make about whether to paint the trim, and decided to keep it white
Week Seven – the curtains and gallery wall were hung, and the trim was re-painted in the wall color – so glad I made that decision!


And now, here we are at Week Eight and the moment we’ve all been waiting for…. the Big Reveal!!

Whimsical Parlor Final Reveal

Whimsical Parlor AFTER – looking from foyer, and HRH Queen Billie perched in her favorite spot! Photo by Mary Pat Collins


Whimsical Parlor AFTER – looking towards the picture window. Just LOOK at how gorgeous that Milton & King Flower Pool wallpaper is!! Photo by Mary Pat Collins


Whimsical Parlor AFTER – Including another cameo by Billie the Shih-Poo! How cute is this custom lampshade from Etsy I had made from this fun fabric?! Photo by Mary Pat Collins


I love how my aqua velvet sofa contrasts with the walls painted in Benjamin Moore’s Ciao Bella, but is also mirrored in the hand painted Asian cabinet. I can’t really explain why I chose a dark chartreuse velvet for the window treatments, but it was a gut instinct, and I love how unexpected they are. The zebra skin and all the other black accents keep the room from feeling to pastel, and give it a sexy energy that I love. Again, that wallpaper!! Photo by Mary Pat Collins


Whimsical Parlor AFTER – looking towards foyer. So excited about the view of my checkerboard tiles from the parlor! I ran out of time to have some pretty little bolster pillows made for my vintage Ming chairs, but even without them, I love their sculptural shape and brass details. I brought the “Eco Deer Head”  back from Italy several years ago, and I love his mismatched patterns and fun silhouette. Photo by Mary Pat Collins


Whimsical Parlor AFTER. I am so happy to have found the perfect spot for my collection of vintage art glass vases. They sparkle so beautifully when the morning sun streams through the window! I’m also in love with how these inexpensive velvet curtains from Amazon turned out after One Stop Sew Shop pleated, hemmed and added trim to them! Photo by Mary Pat Collins


It’s like a rainbow in glass form! Photo by Mary Pat Collins


Whimsical Parlor AFTER – love this sweet vignette of my stripey settee and gallery wall. The fabulous silk Ikat pillow is from Etsy, and my awesome workroom One Stop Sew Shop made this custom ball pillow for me. Photo by Mary Pat Collins


And that’s it!! I hope you enjoyed reading about how this little parlor came together and my process for injecting it with whimsy, color, and character! If you’re looking for bespoke spaces that make your eyes happy, and live in the DMV, or want to work with me virtually, click here to get in touch! 

Make sure to check out all the other incredibly talented designers and DIY’ers who participated in the Spring One Room Challenge here!


Here is my ORC progress

Week 1  ||  Week 2  ||  Week 3  ||  Week 4  ||  Week 5  ||  Week 6 ||  Week 7  ||  Week 8