5 Decorating Ideas to Steal from the One Room Challenge

You won't believe the stunning transformations completed in just six weeks.

Since October, we’ve been glued to our phones watching the #BHGORC evolution on Instagram. Twenty featured designers participated in this fall's One Room Challenge, while many more design aficionados shared their own journeys on social media. And committing to a six-week room makeover is not for the faint of heart. These talented designers are tough-as-nails for completing an impressive change in a short amount of time. While each makeover showcased countless smart design choices, five big decorating trends bubbled up throughout these incredible DIY projects.

one room challenge wallpaper
Images courtesy of Mimosa Lane, Linda Holt, Shay Geyer, Old Home Love.

1. Patterned Wallpaper

Once reserved strictly for bedding and artwork, bold patterns make a splash as wall coverings. Whether you pick a muted, tone-on-tone design or graphic print in bright colors, patterned wallpaper instantly transforms a room. Not sure you’re ready to dive into the trend? Consider temporary wallpaper for a quick fix.

Mimosa Lane’s Sophisticated Playroom

In a playroom for a friend’s 10-year-old daughter, Albertina Cisneros was challenged with creating a space both playful and sophisticated that can grow with its inhabitants. Albertina opted for a classic blue-and-white color scheme to bring timeless appeal and infused youthful elements through vibrant artwork and furnishings (a glam faux fur stool, anyone?). We adore the hydrangea-print wallpaper she chose for the room’s accent wall. Paired with the Oricos Ogee fabric on the Roman shade, it transforms a corner into a homework haven we wouldn't mind working at!

Linda Holt’s Luxurious Primary Bedroom

Inspired by her favorite boutique hotels, Linda Holt gave her bedroom a va-va-voom upgrade for the ORC. The primary suite in a new-construction condo provided a blank slate with white walls, wooden floors, and an 18-foot wall that begged for a little pizazz. To start, Linda found textural blue “Marguiles” wallpaper from Fabricut and landed on a complementary large-scale print from Jane Churchill for the custom headboard. New crown molding from Metrie painted crisp white highlights the soft blue color Linda chose for the ceiling. In addition to the bedroom, Linda also upgraded the adjoining primary bath and walk-in closet to complete the relaxing retreat.

Shay Geyer’s Chic Nursery

When Shay Geyer’s clients asked for her help turning a guest suite into a nursery for their new little girl, Geyer opted to tackle the job during this fall’s ORC and give them the room they desired in just six weeks. A beautiful Schumacher wallpaper was the jumping off point for this darling space. The blush-pink wallcovering, a custom daybed, and walls painted with Sherwin-Williams “Innocence” set the room’s sweet tone. Purple accents and pretty sconces from Crystorama complete the girly scene.

Old Home Love’s Little Girl’s Dream Bedroom

For their only daughter’s room, Andy and Candis wanted to give the royal treatment, literally. Candis’ inspiration boards were filled with beautiful canopy beds and images from palaces. Pink, daughter Kit’s favorite color, is the room’s dominating force, with trim painted Sherwin-Williams “Pink Glamour” and pretty pink drapery panels—complete with tassels!—on the bed. Bright blue wallpaper by Vern Yip for Trend Fabrics wraps the room in a pretty pattern that ties in beautifully with the shades of pink.

One Room Challenge group 2
Images courtesy of Brepurposed, Megan Bachmann Interiors, Vestige Home, SG Style.

2. Wood Tones and Warm Neutrals

Bye-bye, bright white. Thanks in part to the popularity of hygge, warm shades of white are the new neutral, and wood accents help set the stage. From hand-carved beams and live-edge tables to innovative stains and finishes, wood looks run the gamut of today's favorite decorating styles.

Brepurposed’s Cozy Mid-Century Modern Living Room

New flooring on the entire first floor of her home inspired Bre Bertolini to take on not just one but two room makeovers for the ORC. Before, the living and dining areas were a bit formal and dated, which Bre eschewed for mid-century energy. Both rooms are dressed in quiet neutrals, but a major statement comes courtesy of the fireplace. Floor-to-ceiling concrete-look tile in a dark, iron hue replaced the existing mantel and created a focal point for the rooms. Fresh white walls, beautiful wood tones, and a dreamy leather sectional complete the transformation.

Megan Bachmann Interiors’ Luxury Resort-Inspired Guest Room

Designer Megan Bachmann decided to take on her guest room for this fall’s ORC. It was already a fine space, with white walls and some beautiful staple furniture pieces, but Megan wanted to create a chic retreat to welcome family and friends. Although Megan liked the crisp, fresh look the white walls, she also wanted to incorporate some warmer tones, so she decided to apply a lime wash to two of the walls, which instantly added character. Pops of ochre and yellow on the bed and custom sconces from Etsy complete the welcoming bedroom.

Vestige Home’s Elegant Primary Suite

There’s nothing like finally making a space your own, which is exactly what Nicole Cole did when she transformed the primary bedroom in her new home. The spacious room had lovely wood floors and a fireplace, but it wasn’t exuding the charm Nicole wanted. She did a lime wash on all of the bedroom walls, which instantly brought depth and patina into the space. To break up the large room, Nicole created two distinct zones, each anchored by a cozy wool area rug. In the zone nearest the fireplace, twin moss-green chairs in soft velvet offer a plush space to sit and reflect.

SG Style's Bungalow Bathroom Makeover

To transform the boring white bathroom in her family’s bungalow into a place that better suited them all, Shavonda Gardner knew she needed to warm it up. To do this, she brought in dark, moody colors, wrapping the walls in leopard wallpaper from Milton & King and painting the wainscoting black. The warm brown tones of the vanity are much more appealing than the existing plain white vanity cabinet. The cherry on top was the installation of a skylight, which both ups the style factor and tempers the dark colors with natural light.

one room challenge group 3
Images courtesy of Murphy Deesign, Michelle Gage, SMP Living, Kelly Golightly.

3. Smart Storage

Storage will never go out of style, but each year, retailers and DIYers alike surface new and exciting organization ideas. Built-ins, floating shelves, and dual-function furnishings have never looked better.

Murphy Deesign's Built-In Bunk Beds

It’s hard to believe that this glamorous getaway used to be a room collecting junk. Dee Murphy transformed a small spare room into a chic guest retreat featuring some of the coolest grown-up bunk beds we’ve ever seen! The room envelops you in a cozy cocoon of dark green, and the built-in bunks offer the option to curl up with a good book. Since the space is small, storage was key. Shelving at the foot of each bed and around the side provide guests with space to store their necessities.

Michelle Gage's Recessed Dining Room Cabinets

The square layout of Michelle Gage’s dining room presented a design challenge. To help define the space and provide storage, Michelle’s husband added three built-in cabinets along the back wall. The massive built-ins are a stylish focal point that provide a visual break from the room’s playful patterned wallpaper. Open shelving up top allows Michelle to show off some of her beautiful serving items, while cabinets along the bottom help conceal messes and awkward items.

SMP Living's Floating Credenza Shelves

Design editor Erin Lepperd chose to make over her dining room, which was still painted yellow from the previous homeowners and needed a total overhaul. Erin wanted to increase the functionality of the space and incorporate a color scheme that would reflect her California-cool roots. Because the dining room is on the smaller side, Erin decided to forgo a traditional credenza in favor of two smaller chests with Lucite hardware. Additionally, floating shelves from Ikea create vertical storage space and provide a spot to display art and serving pieces.

Kelly Golightly's Storage-Packed Preteen Bedroom

For a fun ORC, Kelly Golightly gave her 12-year-old niece’s bedroom a much-needed makeover. Although her niece likes the color pink, having all four walls painted the same shade of soft pink was a bit much. To start, Kelly painted the walls white, which made the 12x12-foot room look bigger while also providing a crisp, clean backdrop to work with. Where there were previously no closet doors, Kelly added small mirrored folding doors that would help conceal the contents inside, and give the illusion of a larger room when closed. Kelly also removed a tall desk that had been blocking light in front of the window and replaced a tall dresser with a longer, lower one to create more visual space. Colorful accents are scattered throughout—a mint green headboard and fuzzy pink vanity stool are totally fun for a tween girl, while a Tiffany-blue bedroom door provides an eye-catching pop of color.

one room challenge group 4
Images courtesy of J&J Design, Dabito, Sita Montgomery, The English Room.

4. Bold Color

While muted hues hold strong in minimalist designs, vibrant colors are making a comeback. Saturated shades of navy blue and avocado green are on our radar, but we’re still crushing on millennial pink and aqua blue.

J&J Design's Mudroom Barn Doors

Beautiful brass, wood tones, deep green, and sweet pink all come together to create a stylish entryway in Joanna Gick’s home. A sofa in blush pink greets guests as they step inside. Moody green barn doors painted Dunn Edwards “Billiard Table” demand attention, while a semigloss finish provides just the right amount of shine. The designer and her husband created the star-shaped molding on the doors, which conceal a mudroom. Above the sofa, artwork from Minted ties the color scheme together.

Dabito’s Modern In-Law Suite Kitchenette

Behind his Los Angeles home, a bonus space—labeled an artist’s studio—was just waiting for Dabito to give it new life. Dabito decided to knock down the walls in the room and turn it into an open concept in-law suite. Known for his use of color, it’s no surprise that Dabito went all-in on this space, layering bold hues and patterns to create a playful, maximalist guest house. In the kitchenette alone, the artful mix includes a pink upper wall, a graphic black-and-white tile backsplash, deep green cabinetry, and a vibrant vintage rug.

Sita Montgomery's Casual Family Room

For Sita Montgomery's busy family with five children, a formal dining room was mostly wasted space. So Sita turned that wasted space into a stylish lounge that would function best for her clients. Inspired by the colors from a patterned throw pillow, Sita chose a rich navy blue paint color for the room's accent wall. Artwork, brass sconces, and trim details highlight the moody statement wall. Underfoot, an area rug echoes the bold blue shade. A neutral sectional and light gray walls temper the dark hues.

The English Room's Colorful Kitchen and Dining Room Accents

Holly Hollingsworth Phillips bought and moved into her childhood home less than a year ago. Since then, she has been updating it to reflect her tastes while preserving the integrity of the home her parents built. For the ORC, Holly didn’t focus on just one room but the entire first floor. This design dynamo took on a kitchen, scullery, laundry room, bar area, and office, and pulled them it off with style. While all of the rooms reflect Holly’s love of bold color, we can't get enough of the fabulous (and colorful!) kitchen overhaul. Chartreuse dining chairs pop against nearby lilac barstools, and patterned drapery panels frame the sitting area. A purple rug anchors the dining area, and a striped settee pulls all the colors together.

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Image courtesy of Harlow & Thistle, At Home with Ashley, House of Brinson, Erin Kestenbaum.

5. High-End Looks for Less

You don’t need to have a huge budget to accomplish a look you love. Today’s home designs masterfully mix high and low for cost-saving style.

Harlow & Thistle's Super Affordable Kitchen Makeover

For the 2018 ORC, Andrea of Harlow & Thistle remodeled the dated kitchen in her family's fixer-upper while being conscious of her budget. To start, she chose kitchen cabinets from IKEA. Andrea’s pro tip for cutting down cost when it comes to IKEA kitchens: build the cabinets yourself, then hire a professional to do the installation. To give the cabinets a luxe look, Andrea dressed them up with high-end hardware. As a final cost-saving maneuver, Andrea made the kitchen’s range hood cover herself. Andrea found a hood she loved but after discovering it would cost half of her kitchen budget, she took the DIY route and made an almost identical range hood cover for a fraction of the cost (less than $250!).

At Home with Ashley's Serene Primary Bedroom

Ashley Wilson’s primary bedroom was a fairly blank slate before, but she wanted to turn it into a room that was serene and whimsical. To start, she ripped up the existing flooring and replaced it with a sandy-gray white oak from Overstock to help set a soothing tone. Then, she relocated the closet, freeing up a wall to build bookshelves, which she and her husband made for $250. Ashley found a new closet door at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and did the painting and wallpapering herself. The Birds of Paradise wallpaper from Milton & King informed the bedroom’s color choices, including the pink bedding, a mint-green headboard, and color-coordinated books on the new built-ins.

House of Brinson's Painted Powder Room

Renovating an old home is sure to come with challenges, and when William and Susan Brinson decided to take on the first-floor powder room of their 1800s home, they ran into their share of dilemmas. Plumbing and electrical fixes, while not super glamorous, were necessary evils (and expenses) to this renovation process. By keeping the gorgeous original sink and doing much of the work themselves—taking out the old flooring and shower, and installing new molding and tile—the Brinsons were able to cut down on costs. To increase the function and style of the space, Susan found a beautiful wooden storage cabinet for $380, which she polished and dressed up with wallpaper backing. The result? A stunning new powder room completed on a budget.

Erin Kestenbaum's Colonial Primary Bedroom Upgrade

Since moving into their 1940s colonial home two years ago, Erin Kestenbaum and her husband have slowly been updating each room. For the One Room Challenge, Erin finished their primary bedroom and walk-in closet. Despite completely reconfiguring the layout of their primary suite this year, there was still a lot of work to do, including replacing windows—which they did themselves!—and shifting electrical outlets. Rather than go custom, Erin and her husband used cost-effective IKEA pieces in the renovated closet. They also installed new baseboards, a chair rail, and panel molding themselves, which they painted Benjamin Moore’s “Smoke.” Pretty blue and white wallpaper by Vern Yip for Trend pulls the sophisticated space together.

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