Spring ’23 One Room Challenge|Whimsical Parlor|Upcycled Settee


Hello, and welcome back to Week Five of the One Room Challenge! Unfortunately, I skipped posting last week, because A) life and B) nothing much happened to write about! But I’m back to give you a few updates on current projects.

In case you’re new here, I’m zhuzhing up my Parlor, or sitting room for this One Room Challenge. And, in case you haven’t heard of the One Room Challenge, it’s is 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. I’m so excited to be participating for my second time in this amazing event!

Finding the Right Piece

This sitting room, or “Parlor” as I’m calling it (because my fantasy is to live in a Victorian home with an actual parlor!), is at the front of our house, and open to the foyer. I really want to use this room in the future because I hate wasted space in a home, and I want it to have its own set of features and benefits that other rooms in our home don’t have, which will give us a reason to use it. I would ideally love to squeeze in space for a little game table where we could sit and do puzzles or play games, but it’s not a very big room, so I’m not sure we have the space. One thing it definitely needs is more seating. We currently have our very long (98′!) custom sofa,  and two black lacquer Ming style chairs, so I set my mind to finding a small loveseat or settee to add at least one -maybe two – more places to sit. It’s a parlor after all, and doesn’t every parlor need a settee for taking tea?!? It couldn’t be too long or deep, because the wall where I’ll be putting it is just under 9 feet long. After scouring Facebook Marketplace for a couple of weeks, I finally found the perfect little piece to upcycle! Perfect size at only 45″ wide, great price, and lots of vintage charm. Here it is in the listing:

Choosing the Fabric

The elderly woman selling it had owned it for years, but she had sold her house and was downsizing. The frame was in good condition – no cracks, chips, or wobbles – but the upholstery, not so much. But that’s ok, because I had a vision for the upholstery anyway! You see, I have a thing for black and white stripes – especially when they’re mixed with other patterns – and have been wanting a black and white striped vintage sofa for a long time. This photo of a sofa in the Berlin apartment of stylist Thomas Rook, has been making apperances in several of my Pinterest boards for years, and I think it’s incredible how the black and white stripes almost work as a neutral against all the colorful pillows and rug, the fabulous wallpaper, and the large scale art:


Thomas Rook’s Berlin Apartment via Honestly WTF 

In fact, I’ve been loving the idea of a black and white striped sofa for so long, that a couple of years ago, I bought 11 yards of this Covington Racing Stripe from Fabricguru.com, and was just waiting to use it in the right project. There are lots of black and white cabana-striped fabrics out there, but what makes this one so good is that the white stripes are actually ivory instead of pure white, AND that its only $10 a yard!!



Covington Racing Stripe from FabricGuru.com

Prepping and Painting the Frame

The frame of the gorgeous sofa above looks like a light wood, but since the brown wood of my little settee wasn’t nearly as richly patinaed, I decided I would ask my upholsterer to paint the frame black, using this specialty furniture paint from Paint Couture:


So now I had the perfect little settee, the perfect fabric, the perfect paint, and the perfect space for it, but there was just one problem: when I reached out to my upholsterer MelEl Designs, she told me they were up to their eyeballs in work prepping for three antique shows and wouldn’t have time to do it until the end of May!!!

“But I need it for my One room Challenge by mid-May” I pleaded!

“I’m just not sure I can squeeze it in” Melody said.

“How about I prep and paint the frame to save you time?” I offered.

“Ok, that’s a deal – but you’ll need to pull all the trim and fabric away from the frame to paint it properly”, said Melody.

“I can do it!”, I said, relieved

So last weekend, I set out to prep, sand and paint the frame. First, as instructed, I pulled off all the gimp trim that overlaid the fabric on the front of the frame:


Once I got a good grip on it with my needle nosed pliers, I was able to pull it all off in one long piece. But then I realized that the ancient glue that had been used to secure the gimp to the frame was still left behind:

I knew that would need to come off in order to get a smooth finish on the wood. I first tried rubbing alcohol to remove it, but that wasn’t strong enough, so I switched to a heavy-duty, citrus based degreaser. Using liberal amounts of that, plus elbow grease, sanding, and even a razor blade, I eventually removed all of the gunk. Although Paint Couture paints are mineral-based and specially formulated to require no sanding or priming, I wanted to rough up the frame a bit, especially since the old varnish still had some shine left. I first gave it a light scuff with a 220 grit sanding block, but since it was tricky to get into all the nooks and crannies of the carved flower detail, I also used this Kleen Strip Liquid Sandpaper which seemed to help prep the wood well.

Once the wood frame was prepped, I used a foam paint brush to apply the first coat of black paint. The Paint Couture covers really well, and I could tell after one coat I would only need one more coat for full coverage. I let the first coat dry for about 4 hours before applying the second coat, and then waited another few hours before applying this satin finish top coat:

I let the topcoat dry for about a day before Melody picked it up for upholstery. The new, black frame already made such a big improvement:


Transformed Beauty

Melody and her husband Elder leave Monday to set up shop at the Brimfield Antiques show, so I feel super lucky they were able to squeeze me in to do this little settee. They managed to deliver it Sunday evening – just in time for me to add this post to the Week Five link-up! Isn’t she beautiful???


See you next week for some VERY big progress updates!!

Cheers to Fab Interiors!



Here is my ORC progress

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