Kate Pearce Vintage | Spring 2020 One Room Challenge | WEEK 1

So, here we are! It is now three months to the DAY since I saw a message in my inbox from the inimitable Linda Weinstein (the creator and owner of the interior world’s most exciting blogging event – the One Room Challenge). If you have ever talked to me longer than five seconds, you probably know that I have dreamed about receiving such a message for years. Despite the fact that I had been planning on participating as a Guest Participant with a very low-key project for this Spring 2020 ORC, when Linda asked if I would join as a Featured Designer my heart and my head both began racing faster than Usain Bolt on a 100-meter dash. And a brain racing that quickly could not possibly take on a low-key project.

My verbal response to Linda was something like “YES LINDA OF COURSE YOU BASICALLY JUST MADE MY LIFE COMPLETE” while my head was thinking, “YES LINDA I CAN’T EVEN CHOOSE WHICH MONSTROUSLY OVER-THE-TOP PROJECT I WANT TO TACKLE BECAUSE I WON’T BE ABLE TO SLEEP FOR THE NEXT FOUR MONTHS ANYWAY BECAUSE I AM BEYOND EXCITED.” And then I had to keep that secret for a couple of months. And that was HARD. But, now here we are. There are no more secrets. I am typing a real blog, as a REAL Featured Designer for the ORC, and I am about to divulge my entire plan to you. All thanks to Linda Weinstein, whom I will never be able to adequately thank, but regardless I will try. Linda, thank you for believing in me, and thank you for offering me this truly incredible opportunity.

I would also like to thank Better Homes & Gardens, the official media partner of the Spring 2020 One Room Challenge, and one of my all-time favorite magazines. I can remember how excited I would get as a VERY young child each month when it would come in the mail for my mother, and it is one of the few things from my childhood that I cherish just as much to this very day. As most seven year-olds would reach for a Highlights magazine, I could be found paging through BH&G and imagining how I could revamp the playhouse that I always dreamed of, but never ended up having. I may be casting a vision of my childhood that sounds quite tragic, but I promise you it was quite the opposite.

And last, but certainly not least, an enormous thank you to all of my official ORC sponsors. Without you, this space TRULY would not have been possible and, because of you, this space is becoming the stuff I thought only dreams could be made of. I can’t wait to tell you all about each of the products I will be working with, but for now I would just like to acknowledge each of the brands that have helped turn the visions in my brain into a reality:

Build.com | The Tile Shop | Emtek | APT2B | Hudson Valley Lighting Group | Spoonflower | Overstock | Jill Rosenwald | Blueprint Lighting NYC | Loloi | NOVO / L.J. Smith Stair Parts | LIFECORE Flooring | Milton & King | SWD Pillows | Legrand | Fabricut | Joybird

This window will be replaced with a larger picture window. A clawfoot tub will be directly in front.

Before I get started I would like to acknowledge two things. The first of which concerns the idea that we were still able to proceed with this project at all in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, and a pandemic that we are sitting right in the epicenter of here in the New York City Metro area. I have been waking up every morning feeling the gratitude in my bones; gratitude for the opportunity, gratitude for the access to building supplies through delivery services, gratitude that my builder happens to be my husband (to whom I also owe an ENORMOUS THANK YOU), and probably more than anything else, gratitude that we have our health. For those of you who have been following me for a while, you may know I have some serious health issues. You may also know we live on the same street as a hospital that has admitted more than 700 COVID-19 patients. The very idea that I am healthy and just a few doors down from unimaginable tragedy has me sitting with indescribable feelings that range from profound sadness to a weighty gratitude…and every emotion that lays in between.

The second thing I would like to acknowledge is that, because of COVID-19 and the ORC dates getting pushed back, this challenge will not be done in real time. We are currently in the final stages of our space, and so these blogs will be written in past tense. If you’d like some verbal updates (no visuals!) of where we are in the process live, be sure to check out my Instagram stories, where I will provide daily updates.

Ok, let’s get back to business! After a week or two of floating space ideas around, we settled on the idea of tackling our unfinished attic space. We live on Long Island, New York – in a busy town somewhere between Manhattan and the Hamptons – in a farmhouse-style home that was built in 1910. While we are grateful for our humble abode, we purchased the home in a state that I would generously classify as “total fixer-upper” – yet, the home had great bones and loads of charm. We have been here for three years now, and we have been working on our home nearly every day for three years now, too. My husband Bill, who works full-time commuting to Manhattan, does all of our plumbing, electric and building. We are also parents to two lovely little redheaded girls, Josie and Eva. And despite the fact that my full-time gig is blogging and creating content in the home decor spaces of the internet, we are always juggling our home projects with many other demands of life. It can’t always be all about drywall and vintage rugs, now can it?

This side will be dormered out and will host the sink and a console for bathroom amenities.

We settled on the attic space for three main reasons:

  1. We needed to find somewhere to squeeze in a second bathroom.
  2. We have no guest room. Between Billy being from Illinois and many of our friends and family living far away, we wanted to have a space for guests to stay.
  3. It is the only completely unfinished area of our home that could be used as a site for a proper DRAB TO FAB makeover.

We do have plans to build an extension on our home, but we did not have adequate time to tackle a project of that magnitude, so the attic it was!

A little walk-through closet that will be entirely demolished.

It was difficult to capture this space because it was just loaded with tons of nooks and crannies. It had no flow to it, definitely no feng shui, and was, for lack of a more proper descriptor, one of those spaces you put your big girl panties on to enter. You could never be quite sure if you would encounter a nest of stink bugs, a mouse, or a bat (maybe all three, but surely at least one of them). Still, there was something this space had in SPADES, and that thing was “potential.” The first step towards reaching that potential would be to demolish; to demolish just about everything.

This is the one area of our attic that will remain largely the same, and will be saved as a storage area.

We would also need to affix dormers to give the space adequate headroom. It was just logistically impossible to renovate the space without them and it was also very important to me, from a design perspective, to highlight all of those gorgeous attic angles of the ceiling. The ceilings in this attic became one of our biggest challenges. Since we have already worked through the installation of the ceiling, I will tell you that the ceilings did not end up looking how I had initially designed them to look. Stay tuned, because I will be visiting that bumpy process in the coming weeks.

This section of our attic was “finished” but we will be demolishing all of the dry wall, and building a dormer on the left side. This will serve as the “guest space.”

The next major design challenge we faced was what we would find in those walls as we knocked them down. That’s always a special moment. You know, when you knock down the wall of a 110 year-old home and find just really “unexpected” stuff. But, in this case, we had a good idea of what to expect. Because of a chimney coming out of our roof at this spot, and because of the continuation of that chimney in our kitchen downstairs (a surprise we found during our Spring 2019 One Room Challenge), we knew to expect to find a chimney in this wall. What we would do with the chimney was another issue all together (to be discussed soon).

These walls will also be demolished and we will decide what to do with the chimney inside the wall.

So we had our chimney to deal with, but aside from that we planned to start with a wide open space, add three big dormers, and then what? Well, there were three major tasks we wanted this space to accomplish:

  1. have a full bathroom
  2. have sleeping quarters for guests
  3. serve as an office space (something that became an even-greater demand when my husband learned he would be working from home for quite a long time due to COVID-19).

We decided to split the space into two almost-equal halves. One would serve as a full bathroom complete with a with walk-in shower and clawfoot tub. The other space would have a pull-out sofa for guests, but would serve our family well as a sofa for TV-watching and lounging during the 95% of the time we DON’T have a guest in the house. And a small desk would house a computer and printer, and would serve us well as a third-floor office retreat. As I type this it sounds strange to describe an office as a “retreat” but homeschooling and COVID-19 has had a way of making that sentence sound very sensical.

The skylight will remain here, but this tragic railing situation will be demolished and replaced with something swanky.

So, the last bit I would like to leave you with this week is my moodboard for both spaces. This moodboard has changed quite a few times, largely due to pandemic-induced supply shortages, and because I would come to find that the scale of certain pieces would not work for the space. This last issue has been an enormous challenge for me as a designer. Because of sponsorship deadlines, I knew I would have to choose most of my product for the space before the space was actually built out. In any ordinary room, this might not be too much of an issue. But because this is an attic space that was getting dormered out, it was difficult to know what angles walls and ceiling would be coming in, and even how tall certain walls and ceilings would be, etc.

I chose to tackle this challenge by not partnering with brands for certain pieces. For example, I had no idea how high the wall would be where the bathroom sink would go, and so I could not commit to any particular mirror. Instead, I waited for the wall to be built and then sourced a vintage mirror through Facebook Marketplace (which is different from the mirror shown here on the moodboard). That all worked out quite well for me, though, because a Kate Pearce Vintage room would never be complete without an abundance of vintage sourced by, well, me! So, you’ll be sure to see my signature vintage pieces throughout both spaces, as well as loads of gorgeous product sponsored by some of my very favorite brands. A big thanks to all of my official ORC sponsors, all of whom will be discussed in much more detail in the coming weeks:

Build.com | The Tile Shop | Emtek | APT2B | Hudson Valley Lighting Group | Spoonflower | Overstock | Jill Rosenwald | Blueprint Lighting NYC | Loloi | NOVO / L.J. Smith Stair Parts | LIFECORE Flooring | Milton & King | SWD Pillows | Legrand | Fabricut | Joybird

The moodboard for the bathroom portion. Most of these are actual products that will be used in the space.

One last note on the design scheme before I leave you. This attic space has lots of natural light coming into it through five windows, but it also has lower ceilings than a typical room, all of which come down at sloping angles. I really wanted to play up that light, and also create as airy a space as possible. While I do have splashes of black appearing in both spaces, you will see MUCH more white in this attic than you would see in a typical Kate Pearce Vintage room. Working with lots of white, while still creating a space that is Kate Pearce Vintage at heart, would prove to be another challenge but it is my greatest hope that when this room is revealed, you will be able to look at it and instantly recognize it as a room that was created by me.

The moodboard for the sitting room/guest area. Nearly all are exact products that will be used in the space.

If you’ve made it all the way to the end of my long-winded introduction to my One Room Challenge, I’d like to congratulate you on your stamina, and I’d also like to invite you to check out the other incredible spaces being transformed by the 19 other uber-talented Featured Designers for this Spring 2020 One Room Challenge:

A Glass of Bovino
 | Beginning in the Middle | Beth Diana Smith | Clark + Aldine | Coco & JackDeeply Southern HomeDesign Maze | Dwell by Cheryl | Erika Ward | Home Made by Carmona |House of Hipsters | Hunted Interior | Kandrac & Kole | Kate Pearce | Katrina Blair | Liz Kamarul | Veneer DesignsRambling Renovators | Renovation Husbands | Studio Plumb | Media BH&G

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Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay inspired.


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