I hope y’all already saw Molly’s ORC reveal from Wednesday- and clicked through to see what all of the other impressive participants pulled together in 6 short weeks! Molly recently moved into her own apartment, and when she was asked to participate in the ORC she came to me to see if I could help her pull it off. We decided to do an e-client set up since I couldn’t come up to Dallas to execute the project during the timeline, which meant that we worked together over pictures and email to come up with a plan for her space, and she then ordered and pulled everything together all by herself. (!!!)
Let’s hear it for the girl! Let’s give the girl a hand.
You can read more about my approach to the budget and our inspiration here- Molly is one of my dearest friends and someone I go to regularly for her opinion on both my personal style and my design work. While I gravitate towards abundant color and feminine patterns, Molly favors a subtle palette and edgier/more modern design. I love Molly’s influence on my taste, and was flattered she trusted me to bring her vision for a fresh but sophisticated, cozy yet bright, pretty, edgy bedroom to life.
While Molly loves her apartment complex, she has said she will probably only be there for another year before finding something more long term.
The implications for the design were that we couldn’t do much about the less-than-glamorous shell of the space (read: pile carpeting, tea-toned trim, ceiling fan, window blinds) and it was important to focus on design elements that made a big impact to distract from these elements- but still versatile enough to transition easily when she moves.
Molly would also be upgrading from a full to a Queen-sized bed for the first time, so that became the focus of our design. Elsewhere we went for a mix of high/low, old/new- a desk from West Elm got knew hardware, an existing chair handed down from her grandparents was reupholstered in a funky floral, and a vintage dresser Molly found at the 11th hour got a fresh coat of blue lacquer to become -IMHO- one of the greatest finds ever.
I could not be happier with how it came together- or more proud of Molly! She found the art above the bed (totally brings the color palette together and is scaled perfectly), the dresser (come on now…), the inspiration for the monogram (the coolest ever), managed all of the custom work that can be one of the biggest challenges of my job (custom curtains, upholstery, painting), and styled everything beautifully (though I already knew Molly has a knack for styling).
I loved working with Molly, sometimes it can be hard to work with friends but we have always had a connection that easily moves between our personal and professional relationship and we are already brainstorming for the design in the rest of her new apartment. When she asked me to help, I never thought twice about saying “yes”, nor did I worry much about the long-distance aspect of the job. When I first started working with clients 5 years ago, I almost exclusively did e-design projects, but the past few years I have shifted to mostly local full-service projects- and I was reminded doing the ORC just how hard it is to work with clients from a distance. I have always tried to pull back the curtain on the realities of my experience working in design- and I wanted to share a little about what’s on my mind.
First, as a decorator, you are only as good as the tradespeople you work with (curtain fabricators, wallpaper installers, upholsterers etc) and it is challenging to work in a new city without your go-to people to execute the vision. I use the same workrooms here in Houston time after time, and have developed close relationships with them which produces consistent quality work I can count on. Molly found some fantastic artists who were very reasonably priced and did the work quickly and with quality (I mean…look at that dresser. I could not be more obsessed). If you are in Dallas email her for their contacts- we couldn’t have done it without them. I was lucky here that Molly had those contacts to share, and that the work was done so well, but I am just not sure I am comfortable relying on luck with my clients money & trust.
Also, I am a very hands on person, and I felt frustrated that when the inevitable hiccups happened (rugs with undisclosed lead-times, lamps on back-order) I couldn’t just go find a bunch of new options to take out on approval and try in the space until we found the perfect piece like I would if I were there. That burden fell on Molly, and I didn’t feel right about that. Molly was so patient and positive and really deserves the credit for making the goodness happen- as do all of my past e-design clients.
There are a lot of people out there offering e-design who do a great job pulling off the service, but I will be the first to admit it is a tough thing for me to get right. I have seen some inspiring work done by others through e-design, and I’m not speaking to those experiences or their process- there are obviously ways to minimize the issues I am bringing up; I just personally don’t have a good system for doing so and I’m only reflecting on where I stand with my ability to offer e-design. Which is that, in my experience, you end up relying on the client to do things that are really your job, and while the lower fees offered for e-design reflect that reality, I’m still not sure it is the best service I can offer people.
In the end, I had so much fun working on Molly’s ORC, and am obsessed with how it came out. I just think it is easy to get caught up in the fantasy and the pretty- and there is a lot of that here, and it is important to also talk about the difficulties and share what was learned. Six weeks is a crazy short time to pull off a design that lasts under any circumstances, and I think we definitely achieved our goals!
For more gorgeous pictures, links to posts from all six weeks, and a full list of resources check out Molly’s post here- and while you’re there make sure to click through some of the links to see what other participants did with their One Room Challenge. It’s pretty amazing!