One Room Challenge With Interior Designer Holly Volpe

One Room Challenge – let’s go! I am so excited to be participating in this year’s challenge which pushes interior designers, DIYers and everyday design enthusiasts to complete a room in 8 weeks time. Each week, participants are asked to share their progress across social media – it’s an amazing way to bring the design community together to support and encourage one another as we go on this crazy journey!  There is no winner in the challenge which takes place biannually and this Spring it’s sponsored by Better Homes and Gardens.

Given the current quarantine restrictions, I have been finding myself re-focusing my creative vision on my own home the last few weeks. So, I thought what better room to choose than my own dining room. It’s actually a space I have been wanting to re-design for some time.

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We have been living in our home for 20 years and our dining room has been the backdrop for so many fond memories – I’ve shared lots of meals with my family in this room, had late night conversations with friends over lots of bottles of wine, and my three kids have spent endless hours cramming for exams here. It’s a room that sees a lot of activity in our home and is ready for – not to mention deserves – a refresh!

I’m tackling this project like I would for a client and here are my goals and to do’s for the room for the challenge ahead:

  • Devise design concept and find inspiration
  • Create space plans
  • Design window treatments concept
  • Decide on architectural elements
  • Make furniture selections
  • Get to work on the elements that need to be updated!

Design Concept

The design concept will be a fresh take on a Modern Farmhouse style with a little romance splashed in. The current furniture and design for the room was done in 2000 – I attempted to start to redesign it a few years back, hence why there’s no window treatments or real pizzaz in its current state as you can see in these before pics…

Room Inspiration:

But, what furniture stays and what goes?

Like any designer, (or maybe it’s just me!) I often end up getting attached to furniture and they eventually become a part of the family. Our table and hutch are just that! They are the perfect tie in for the Modern Farmhouse vibe I will be leaning towards for the redesign. There are just so many beautiful details that I can’t look past. While the hutch and table look like they are a pair, they’re actually separate pieces and were purchased separately. The entire table top was custom stained to look as if it has wood grain and detailing around the perimeter, to match the hutch. It was actually just a solid piece of wood that didn’t have any grain or character to it so it’s very special to me.

Space Plan

Now I need to devise my space plans so that I can bring the room to life. Some of the things I will be adding to the room is new wallpaper, adding in shadow boxes under the chair rail and finally putting up window treatments. The table will remain in the centre of the room, and the hutch will stay on the far wall where it’s already located, but I will be updating the two sconces on either side of it. New hostess chairs will be added, and one wall will predominately feature all mirrors! I have always wanted to add just mirrors to a dining room – it will brighten the space, add interest and not take away from the wallpaper. 

Architectural Elements

Now that I have the overall theme and space planned for the room, I can start to fill in the blanks for all the pieces that we want to look for. For this space, these are my “blanks” or key architectural elements:

  • shadow boxes
  • window treatments
  • wallpaper
  • rug
  • lighting fixtures
  • reupholstering the seats
  • accessories and artwork
  • an interesting piece of furniture

I wanted to share my thought process behind a few of these elements:

Shadow Boxes

Already in the dining room we have a chair rail. I’ll be keeping that, but adding in shadow boxes underneath which will give the room a nice, transitional feel to it. To add that bit of freshness, I decided on flat detailing that gives the room a more modern feel.

Lighting Fixtures

I’ll be updating the lighting fixture above the table, as well as a sconce on either side of the hutch. For the lighting fixture, I want something matte black that’s more timeless and minimalist. It gives the space an open and airy feel and doesn’t make things feel too stuffy – you can dress it up or down. For the sconces, I am leaning towards something with a glass shade that will help to juxtapose the central modern fixture. I want something that feels romantic and gives a bit of sparkle when the lights are on.


The rug will have a modern feel to it. Something with muted colors that plays down the honey oak of the wallpaper, but ties in the window treatments. I’m leaning towards something that has gray and soft hues of blue and maybe even just a touch of green.

Wall Decor

Admittedly, this was one element of the room that I had a hard time deciding. Should I source art? Pull a vintage piece from a thrift store? Find something farm-y? I decided that this was something that should lean more on the modern side, so – what better than a contemporary mirror? The more I sifted through inspiration pics, the more I was drawn to the idea of a “gallery wall”, but with mirrors! Still yet to decide on shape and style – but, I am loving how this will really give the room a modern feel.

Window Treatments

I mentioned that we took down the previous window treatments when I re-designed the room several years back. We always planned to put new ones in but never got around to it unfortunately. I am leaning toward a sheer fabric blind, with a soft patterned fabric flanking the window sides. I’ll use short rods with simple finials – that will help the room to feel larger. The purpose of these treatments is not to take away from other elements or be the main focal point of the room, so this will help to keep things understated.

Furniture Selection and Color Palette

Now that we’ve come up with the space plan, design concept and inspiration, I will start making the selections for the furniture, fabric and accessories that will be needed. Basically – we’re going to start filling in those “blanks”.

Here’s some of what I’ve chosen so far:

Now it’s time to get to work! There’s lots to be done over the next few weeks but I am so excited for how things are shaping up with this room! Follow along each week on my Instagram @hvinteriordesign and at my blog to see the final reveal!


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