One Room Challenge: Week 1 | Living Room Plans

Here we go! Now that we’re homeowners and not renting someone else’s space, I’m finally able to participate in the Better Homes and Gardens One Room Challenge as a guest participant, and I’m SO excited! Never heard of this challenge? Check out the homepage for information and major inspo!

If you’re new around here, I’m Julie, and I’m a big fan of interior design on a budget, and love a good DIY project! I took a bit of a hiatus from DIYs for a while when my husband Brian and I were saving for our first home. We just moved into our new-build townhouse in January, and are so ready for a fun project! We can’t wait to get started on our Living-Room Refresh!

I already feel like I’m not prepared, since I don’t have all of the supplies that I need, and social distancing is a priority right now. But part of the fun is having to be creative and problem solve, right? Lucky for me, the gems at BHG extended the ORC, so hopefully our back-ordered couch will come in time now, and we’ll have more than enough time to give our little living room a face lift.

Let’s get the first question out of the way – isn’t your house brand new? Why do you need to change things?

Yes! It’s a new construction home and we love it. BUT, we fully bought this little builder-grade townhouse knowing that we wanted to make some changes. We don’t have a basement, and this is really the only large-ish space in our house that would work as a tv room/living space combo, so we really want it to be something that works for us, and is a space that we really enjoy hanging out in! We weren’t able to customize the layout or add anything fancy through the builder, so essentially we’re doing that ourselves! And the first step is to make our awkwardly shaped living room a little more functional!

Truthfully we already started the living-room makeover before we even moved our stuff in, because the builder-grade paint was less than ideal. What they told us was the most-white colour they had, looked yellow beside our white kitchen cabinets, and the quality was pretty terrible. So the first thing we did was paint our entire main floor ultra white by Valspar.

Since then, we moved in all the furniture and decor items we had from our rental unit, and figured out a layout that works best for the space – just not the furniture we have in it! And now that we’ve lived here for a few months, we’re really ready to spice it up a bit and make it feel more like us.

Layout Logistics

Our living-room is part of an open-concept main floor living space that connects to the kitchen, and dining area. While it’s all technically one room, there’s a natural divide between the kitchen/dining room, and the living room, because the flooring transitions from tile to laminate.

The reason why the layout feels a little awkward is because the longest wall in the living room space has double french doors to our balcony at one end, and then three large windows with a couple feet on each side, leaving no room to have a tv or console area. Plus the room feels a little too long to have the couch on one end and TV area on the other, and we don’t want to block the pathway to the balcony doors, so we have our couch floating in the middle of the room facing the wall that connects to the dining room. We’re planning on keeping this layout, but we feel that our sectional couch is too big for the space, and closes off the room, making things feel a little crowded. We also want to add more character to the room, and think that the fireplace bump out where our current media unit is, will make a great focal point. Lastly, as much as I love this house, it’s majorly lacking on storage options, so we need to replace the sideboard on the back wall and add some shelving, so that we have more storage, and so that the back wall feels way less empty!

Ideally, by the end of these eight weeks, we’ll have a space that feels less cluttered, and more functional!

Before Photos (Before we moved in):


Current decor situation:

What we’re hoping to achieve with this space:

  • Make the living room style and layout feel more cohesive with the rest of the open concept main floor
  • Create a focal point for the room with a built-in electric fireplace wall, to mount our frame tv.
  • Build additional shelving/storage. Currently we have zero storage in the living room, aside from an old sideboard that has very small drawers.
  • No visible tv/video game cords! It drives me crazy, so we’ll figure out a way to hide all the stuff in the fireplace!
  • Keep the same layout and couch location, but get a non-sectional couch that fits the space better.
  • Update/reorganize the furniture and decor, so that there’s a more cohesive style. We purchased a lot of our furniture 6-7 years ago when we first moved in together, and our vibe was a combo of rustic/industrial, which is definitely no longer the case! I also have another mid-century modern chair to refinish to match the one we’re currently using. I bought them both together, but only one would fit in our old apartment, so the other one needs a makeover!

Fireplace Design Inspiration:

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Happy Friday! Pictures of our Prospect Heights Townhouse are finally up on our website! Link in bio #elizabethrobertsarchitecture

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🎶 I Like Big Art and I cannot lie 😆🎶 After showing you all the DIY giant gallery prints in the mudroom hall… it’s probably no surprise that I went with supersized art for the newly finished #concretefireplace as well! There’s so many ways to style up a mantle (and I’m sure I’ll change this one at some point). Any fun ideas?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This fireplace has been a total labor of love (more details in stories), and took about 6 months from initial concept to final install. Thanks to a VERY patient contractor I can finally say “bring on all the cool temps MN … I’m ready for ya!”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #fireplace #plasterfireplace #modernfireplace #whitefireplace #stuccofireplace #BHGhome #sodomino #apartmenttherapy #inmydomaine #smmakelifebeautiful #mn #minneapolis #theeverygirlathome #getorganized #organizing #tidyingup #homeorganization #organizingtips #organizedlife #organizedhome #organization #organized #gettingorganized #thingsorganizedneatly #beorganized #organize #organizers #fireplacedecor

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While we still need to make some decisions and finalize design plans, it should be doable in the time-frame for sure, since we’re definitely not ripping out any walls (just adding some!) And at this point, we only plan to do some very simple electrical work to move some outlets. BUT we are on a pretty tight budget, so we’re hoping to DIY as much as possible. 

Next week I’ll be sharing the mood board for this project, along with some of the design plans (once we decide on them!), and hopefully some progress photos! Follow me on instagram for updates in my stories, and see you back here next Thursday!

Make sure you check out The One Room Challenge site and follow along to see all of the projects shared by the featured designers and guest participants!



  • Lindsey from Hilltown House
    May 12, 2020 at 10:28 am

    I’m right there with you on making builder grade your own! We did the same thing when we built our new construction and I’ve been tearing it apart ever since LOL….that fireplace is gonna be amazing!

    • Julie
      May 12, 2020 at 1:49 pm

      Yesss! People think I’m crazy for making changes already, but we’re just making it so much better!

  • Sonya
    May 8, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    I am excited to see what you do with your space. This is my first time participated and am so excited.

  • sanda
    May 7, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    Love the neutrals and a fireplace will look great! When we moved into our house the fireplace was horrific. It looked like burned brick almost making me not want a fireplace but after we tiled it, it’s my favorite item in the family room.

    • Julie
      May 8, 2020 at 12:27 pm

      Hi Sanda! I’ll definitely have to check out your fireplace! I can’t even wait to have one (even though it will just be electric), I just think it’ll bring some cozy vibes to the space.

  • Tim
    May 7, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    lOVE how it looks already and yes that fireplace will be amazing in the living room. I wish I could put one in my condo too!

    • Julie
      May 7, 2020 at 4:37 pm

      Thanks Tim! I’ve been dreaming about a fireplace for ages, so I can’t wait to start building it!


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