I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be participating in the One Room Challenge! It will be a weekly series that follows the design process of ~20 bloggers for six weeks as they each transform a space in their homes. Because my apartment doesn’t really need six more weeks of work and I want this before and after to be as exciting as possible, I’m going to redecorate (drumroll, please!) my boyfriend Will’s living room!

He and his roommate Mike live in a beautiful Chelsea apartment and have a lot of awesome pieces to work with. But their apartment doesn’t get a ton of natural light and most of their furnishings are brown wood or leather, making their living room a fairly dark space even in broad daylight. I can’t wait to help make their space feel brighter, bigger, and better suited for all the entertaining they do (during football season at least). But first, the before pictures so you can see what we’re working with:

one room challenge before pictures

(Hey, Rory!) It’s definitely one of the nicer bachelor pads I’ve been in. (When my mom saw it for the first time, she was so impressed that Will and Mike own art and rugs. Low bar from my brothers…?) Like I said, there are definitely pieces worth keeping and repurposing. The goal isn’t to make their space less comfortable or masculine in any way but just to bring it from “pretty good” to “OMG awesome.”

design darling one room challenge

Will loves these Albert Einstein paintings so they’re not going anywhere. But the couch? Let’s just say I’ve already found a much chicer replacement (stay tuned for that next week!).

one room challenge bloggers before pictures

I’m excited to streamline their TV set-up and hide a bunch of those cords. And we’re planning on a mega gallery wall on the same wall to add a little visual interest and keep the TV from being the focal point of the room.

one room challenge before

This bar will be getting a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. It’s been a while since I’ve had the space to transform a piece of furniture so I’m pretty excited to tackle this one!

albert einstein paintings

We haven’t decided what to do about the coffee table (any ideas?) but I can’t wait to switch out the rug and especially the lighting. I think those will both make a huge difference in terms of brightening this place up!

one room challenge nyc

I’m a little nervous about the six week time frame (it’s definitely taken me much longer to decorate my own apartment) but I think there are a lot of small changes we can make in a short period of time that will make a big impact. (I sound like I’m on Trading Spaces getting ready to glue hay on the walls or something…) I’m really excited that Will and Mike are letting me spruce up their space and I can’t wait to share the process with all of you. Tune in each Wednesday for the next five weeks for new updates!

one room challenge apartment

Where would you start with this space? I’d love to hear what you’d change about it!

Check out the other bloggers who will be participating in the One Room Challenge here:

Abby M. Interiors             

Because It’s Awesome

Bijou & Boheme

Chinoiserie Chic

The Decorista

Design Chic

The Design Daredevil

Design Darling

Design Indulgence

Design Manifest

House of Turquoise

Jana Bek Design

Jill Sorensen

Maddie G. Designs

Mimosa Lane

A Piece of Toast 

The Pink Pagoda

Stone Textile

Waiting on Martha

The Zhush

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  1. I’m excited to see what you do with this space! It has so much potential! Fun to be following along with your blog now; I am already an IG follower 🙂

  2. Super excited for this transformation. I love our traditional red brick but like Will’s it doesn’t get much light and the furniture (left over from his parents) is outdated and dark . . . Can’t wait to see how you mix it up, I imagine I’ll be trying all of your tips and tricks!

  3. Can’t wait to see what you do in this bachelor pad!! Such a fun makeover!! Will be following!
    xo. Leslie
    Segreto Finishes

  4. Hi! Do you know where he got those Einstein prints? My boyfriend would love them for his office, i’d love to surprise him or something.! Thanks!

  5. Hi Mackenzie,
    I considered doing this but I would need to have started six months ago. haha! I’m all for refurbishing but the coffee table is hopelessly dowdy. I see something very sleek. Don’t know what the budget is, but Crate and Barrel has a ton of handsome sleek coffee tables. Looking forward to following along. xo, Laurel

  6. I was surprised at how much I loved the quality of My CB2 glass and chrome coffee table. At $250, its perfect for a bachelor pad and helps break up all of the brown heaviness. Can’t wait to see what you do!

  7. lucky boyfriend! I have no doubt it will be much more bright and chic when you are done with it.
    Maybe an ottoman instead of a coffee table? It’s nice to have something to put your feet on, plus it doubles as seating for parties!

  8. OMG!!! I absolutely adore you and I am so excited you are participating! He is one lucky boy to have you and I can’t wait to see you transform this space!!! xo

  9. What a cute idea!! I love this type of stuff, I remember HGTV used to have a show called “Design Star”, where interior decorators competed to win their own HGTV show. And one of the challenges was to redecorate a white room, and make it their own, and this reminds me of that!! Can’t wait to see the after images!

  10. Is it just me or do all boys have the same boring leather couches? I do love his Einstein paintings! I think depending on the color of the new sofa, you could keep the cowhide- just layer it over sisal or something. I think his coffee table is too tall and too bulky- a box frame coffee table or two smaller tables would make the room seem bigger! But since he does have more stuff, a trunk would look really cool. I think wall sconces would be good for lamps because they can’t get knocked over and if he is anything like the boys I know, arms and drinks go flying during football games, lamps get knocked over.

  11. These boys get an A+ from me. For a coffee table you could do some sort of ottoman instead? Maybe a couple poufs and a side table (for drinks and stuff) You could also get a larger rug and layer the cowhide on top! I love that look. Check out this blog for some seriously great inspiration. They do some amazing work.

  12. What is going on with the door, window, air conditioner situation? Can’t wait to see how you address that. I guess they don’t call it a one room challenge for nothing.

  13. What a fun project – can’t wait to see how you update this space! I’d suggest a lucite waterfall coffee table, like the ones from CB2. I always think the lucite makes a space look bigger since it takes up minimal visual space.

  14. First things first, love love love the crown molding that these lucky boys have! What a gem; this is one of my favorite things about older homes/buildings.

    Here is my two-cents on the coffee table situation: I think it will look a lot better once you change the rug, because there’s just so much brown going on. The rug (though I do enjoy it – very rustic Adirondack lodge!) blends in too much with the flooring, and the coffee table just seems to meld into the whole thing, too. I noticed that they have a bowl of what appears to be some sort of potpourri on the coffee table – maybe switch this out for a nice silver platter, instead? I’m not sure what kind of hardware you are going to go with when revamping the bar.

    I found this one on Macy’s website, and I think it’s very classic, yet maintains a sense of masculinity.

    Good luck! Sorry my comment is so long 🙂

  15. I cannot wait to follow this transformation! I still don’t feel like my boyfriend and I have found the right balance of masculine/feminine in our decor even after 6 years of living together, so even this is your boyfriend’s house, I still think it will provide me with some good inspiration in tackling our space!

  16. Yay! This is going to be so fun to follow along. I would kill to get my hands on my boyfriend’s place, but with 2 other roommates and no money to spend on decorating that is not going to happen anytime soon! It will be nice to see how you put your touch on Will’s place while also keeping it masculine. Looking forward to this series!

    – Kelsey

  17. Good luck! Can’t wait to see how this space is transformed. I think a coffee table in a lighter wood would look great here and certainly help to brighten up the space.

  18. I think the coffee table needs to be glass and metal of some sort because of all the wood and leather. Love to see some wool suit fabric on pillows since its masculine in the city. A wall of floor to ceiling curtains to cover the whole wall on the door window end adds texture and softness to a square box. Keep the hide over a light sisal/seagrass.

  19. How exciting! You’re right, it’s a fine space that just needs some brightening up. I don’t hate the coffee table, but maybe if you painted it or stained it a lighter wood it would feel brighter. It looks a little tall but with the new couch maybe it will feel like the right height. I really like the bar so I’m excited to see the transformation. Curious to see what you do about the rug situation as well. And the chairs…excited to follow along on the progress!

  20. Woohoo!! I adore your style so I was beyond excited to see you are jumping in to the ORC. I love your typical navy, pink and brass but I know that’s not what’s going to happen here. 🙂 But whatever is going to happen will be amazing! Love the Einstein prints. I love maps and think they can be pretty masculine…also love the idea of layering the rug w/sisal. Can’t wait to see what you go with!

  21. Love the Einstein prints too, but can’t wait to see the gallery wall. I totally agree with Ellie on the rug…I’d layer it over a seagrass or natural fiber rug!! Can’t wait to follow along…

  22. I can’t wait to see you work your magic! For the coffee table — depending on the size, color, and scale of the couch, a vintage steamer trunk could look cool (adds in an industrial, metal feeling while also providing hidden storage for the stuff that’s currently on the coffee table shelf).

    So fun seeing you yesterday. Hang in there, doll!

  23. Oh my goodness I’m SO excited you are doing a man’s space! The room & the pieces have so much potential! I have to say I LOVE cowhide rugs – If you wanted to keep their existing one you could layer a seagrass rug under it – that would brighten up the space (and seagrass rugs are inexpensive).

    Love your ideas and can’t wait to see the space come together! XX jana

  24. I love your plan for this room! I definitely would say a less heavy coffee table is in order. I wouldn’t get rid of the rug so fast, but maybe layer it on top of a lighter sisal or jute rug! Can’t wait to see how things come along 🙂

  25. A boy space…SO fun! I love those AE pieces and can’t wait to see you work your magic on this living room- it definitely has some great bones and I know you’ll make it come to life. And PS, that’s a lucky bo-hunk you have:)

  26. “In broad daylight” XD

    I instantly thought of a steamer trunk for the coffee table. I have my dad’s childhood one alongside (one of many of) my mom’s vintage ones and they’re very masculine/handsome. I’ve used a taller one for a coffee table in the past! Also, doubles as storage. Kind of like this?

    Looking forward to seeing the end result!