ONE ROOM CHALLENGE- The City Condo- Week 1

“The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” 

― Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga


I may have taken on a little bit too much this time.


Starting today I have 6 weeks / 42 Days / 1,008 hours to transform my city condo from a dated and empty apartment to a chic modern finished home.  This is not a challenge I take lightly.  I’m not sure if it’s the perfectionist in me, or the added adrenaline from the audience, but something about the ORC pushes me right over the edge of ambitious design into full on insanity.  It should be a fun ride… for you, at least.  I really do hope you enjoy this makeover

If you are new to this blog, Welcome!  I’m Naomi, a Philadelphia interior designer and ORC addict.  This is my fifth time doing the One Room Challenge.  Huge thanks to creator, Linda of Calling it Home, who keeps inviting me back.  You can check out my previous ORC makeovers below.

previous one room challenges design manifest

Petite Kitchen          /     3rd Floor Loft     /         Gentleman’s Bachelor Pad     /       Master Bedroom


For this challenge I will be taking on my center city condo.  It has sat empty since June (!) when my last renter moved out.  What was supposed to be a quickie renovation to sell or rent has been seriously stalled due to lack of budget and more pressing work projects.  It has become a constant source of stress looming over me.  Then like an angel shining down from heaven, Linda, offered me a coveted slot in this Challenge. A-HA!  This is just what I need to finally finish this space and stop paying two mortgages.

What am I doing with this apartment? Will I sell it?  Will I rent it?  Will I move back to the city and use it myself?  I’m REALLY unsure what will happen next.  What I DO know is I plan to make it new again and style it up perfect.  From there, I’m hoping the universe will work its own magic.

Something like, If I decorate it, they will come… only I don’t know who “they” are.  Oh, Gawd, does this sound crazy?

condo floorplan


A quick history of my condo is that I lived there from 2007-2010 and have rented it out ever since.  It had a cheap, quick, partial renovation before I bought it and has slowly been deteriorating ever since.  Here is a little tour of how it looked when I lived there.

before living room (2)

before dining room


before bedroom

(ick, that bedroom- why younger Naomi, whyyy??)

Below is how it looked after my tenants moved out.  These pictures do not convey the true grossness!!

(This is a slideshow- If it is not visible to you, I suggest checking it out on the blog.)


  • Flooring.  New floors needed throughout.  Laminate is really damaged, carpet is beyond gross and I’ve always hated the green tile in entry and beige tile in the kitchen.  We need cohesion, so I am investing in new engineered wood floors in the entire unit.  (Except the Bathroom.)
  • Walls.  The walls are in terrible condition.  Need new paint / spackle / wallpaper.  Unfortunately, the foyer paper (which I love) is too damaged to keep.  That will need to come down 🙁
  • Bathroom.  New tub, new tile on floors and walls.  New shower/tub valves.  The rest can stay.
  • Kitchen.  The perimeter cabinets really need a new paint job.  New kitchen hardware.  New perimeter countertop.  New backsplash tile.  I’ve been working with Lowes on this challenge and thanks to them I will also be getting a new refrigerator.  (Thanks Lowes!)  Now all of the appliances will be stainless instead of an assortment of finishes.
  • Electrical.  Thanks to previous lighting partnership earlier this summer I’ve already upgraded lighting in the kitchen and dining room.  (See kitchen light here and dining light here.)  With the ceilings being concrete, I won’t be able to add additional ceiling lights, but I plan to get creative where I can and utilize a lot of lamps.
  • Limitations.  I’m trying to do this job on a budget.  The condo is only worth a certain amount, and since I’m not sure if I’m doing this for myself or not, it doesn’t make sense to over-invest in the place.  For that reason, I am stuck with my  curved green granite island countertop.  I put in the custom stained wood cabinets and countertop when I moved in 8 years ago.  Loved it then, HATE it now.  But I really can’t stomach spending another four digits $$$$ because my countertop tastes are more linear and neutral now.  This decision is literally keeping me up at night.  Sensible Naomi hopes I hold strong on this one.

kitchen island

UGGG.  This.   Can I work around it?

  • Furnishings.  And then there is the whole small matter of furnishing the place.  No biggie…Eeek!  It helps that I’m a hoarder and that my boyfriend makes furniture.  That being said, I’ll be scrambling to fill in the blanks.


I will be taking on this design & renovation with my boyfriend, George.  This is a side project for us both, so that means long nights and weekends.  We have tackled a bit of the work prior to the challenge, so I will catch you up to speed next week.  That being said, their is a sh*t-ton still to do and I’m just trying my best to stay focused, organized and not get too stressed out.  That should last about 5 days.


Modern.  Vintage.  Neutral with just enough saturation to keep it vibrant.  Warm.  Gender Neutral.  Really trying not to get all girly or overly colorful in here.  Every time I find myself wandering that way, I refer to my images below and edit, edit, edit.  I’m envisioning this being a special retreat for a stylish couple.  A Pied-à-terre, if you will.

The top three especially are my design guidebook.

one room challenge naomi condo inspiration

image credits House & Home Meg Biram photo by Abby Jiu

Lauren Gold for Lonny Mag

Design Sponge / Nate Berkus for House Beautiful / Nam Dang-Mitchell

Lauren Gold for Lonny Mag / Harpers Bazaar

Yep, that’s right, my condo design is inspired by Meg Biram.  The dress, the colors, the vibe is perfect for what I want for the space.  Whenever I find myself straying too far from my theme, I say WWMD (what would Meg do?) and I edit again.  That’s not creepy at all, right?  Love ya, Meg!


So obviously a 2 bedroom, 1 bath flat with kitchen, dining, living room and mini entry is a little more than ONE room.  You can do math too?  Cool.  So we both know I’m taking on too much.  This is supposed to be the ONE Room Challenge.  But the fact is, it NEEDS to get done.  So I may as well share it here, right?  The focus will mainly be on the living area, but I plan to share the bedrooms and bath too because I’m doing them and the design all ties together.






ORC PARTICIPANTS- 20 top designers/bloggers have been invited to this Challenge and will report their progress every Wednesday for the next 6 weeks.  Prepare yourself for some amazing makeovers.

See you next Week!  
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  7. Leslie

    Wow! What an exciting challenge! I can’t wait to see it all come together. You can do it and do it well!

  8. I’ve been following you long enough to know that you will not only pull this off, but it will be amazing!So good that I’m sure Meg herself will want to move right in!:)

  9. OMG! I am stressed taking on a kitchen and breakfast room and you are taking on a whole condo. I clearly need to relax!! So excited to watch and to be on this journey with you! xo, Paige

  10. You will rock it. You always do!!!

  11. Bettsi

    I love your ideas. Your ORC rooms are always my favorites so I can’t wait to see what you do with a whole condo (gulp)! I say professionally painted black gloss on the no-longer-loved counter. Go a little moody English in the kitchen?

  12. You are one courageous gal! I can’t wait to see this (these) space(s). Good luck!!

  13. oh my God. This is definitely the biggest ORC I’ve seen so far. Love that wallpaper in your entry. Shame it needs to go down. Tenants can be a nightmare when it comes to looking after your property. Love your inspo. Can’t wait to see the progress. Karolina x

  14. OMG- I didn’t calculate the hours and now I’m scared! You took on such a big challenge! I’m envious that you and your BF can work on this together. My hubby and I would kill each other! 😉

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  16. You are crazy, but in a completely amazing “I want to be you” kind of way. I cannot wait to follow along and see this unfold! You can do it!

  17. When I’m crying next week because I’ve reliazed that we demo’d our entire closet and in fact don’t have the skills to rebuild all the dreamy storage I invision, I’m going to think to msyelf, it could be worse, I could be tackling an entire condo 🙂

    BUT, as we’ve learned from prior ORCs, it’s ALL magically doable and tears turn to wine turns to making unbelievable things happen!

  18. Wow! I know you can do this and the end result will be worth all of the stress and worry. Cannot wait to see this unfold!

  19. I thought I was certifiable since my room isn’t really built yet but friend, I think you take the crazytown cake…and I mean that in the best, nicest possible way. A WHOLE CONDO!!!!! Jesus Murphy…only you could pull this off. I can’t wait to follow along and though this is a big ask, I know you are going to knock it out of the park…I have every possible faith!

    • Naomi

      I have been pinning and planning for a long long time. At least I have walls!! 😉

  20. You’re going to work your design magic and blow us away just like always : )

  21. You will need that vacation in December. This is going to be crazy…and of course, really good! Hang in there, I hope this doesn’t send you over the edge.

  22. Carrie

    OMG, this is going to be so GOOD!!! I love the vibe you are going for. Love the Hunter S. Thompson quote. Love the idea of a pied-a-terre for a stylish couple.

  23. Holy wow…and entire condo!!! Girl, sending you and your UPS driver positive vibes!!! It’s going to be so good, and so fun following along!!!

    • Naomi

      Hahaha my UPS driver and I are besties fo sure.

  24. Emily K

    Hi Naomi,

    I’ve been a fan of yours since before the 1st One Room Challenge. So glad to see you join in again! I always love your work and am constantly impressed by how you and your dad redesign a space. Excited to see what you do with the condo. Even if you don’t finish it entirely, I know what you accomplish will be wonderful!

    All the best,


    • Naomi

      Thanks so much, Emily!! Dad is staying out of this one, sadly. He is SUPER busy with real work.

  25. Vel

    Super excited to see you work your magic on this one Naomi!!!!

  26. Wow, you have your work cut out for you! Can’t wait to see the reveal!

  27. Lydia

    So exciting to find a fellow Philadelphian through this linked ORC! This is, indeed, crazy! to do an entire apartment! but I cannot wait to see what you’ll do! Love your inspiration!! It’s going to be amazing!

    • Naomi

      Hi Lydia! I always love finding Philadelphians as well! thanks for following along.

  28. You crazy kids. Thank you for sharing your very entertaining crazy with us. I’m rooting for you.

    I also had a crazy thought about your green island: what if you painted the cabinets to match the stone? Then treated it like a monochromatic muted blackish-olive block of color? See? You can spread crazy through the interwebs.

    • Nicole

      I agree- sometimes you just have to lean into it. Look how much good press Bailey mcCarthy got for her glossy dark green kitchen. I would say paint the white cabinets dark green, knock out the panels on the uppers to put in glass and go brass with the hardware. Plain white subway tile like she did to not compete with the crazy green stone. Keep the living room white, black, and neutral and just repeat the green with plants. It shouldn’t ruin your vision, just shift it a little.

      • Naomi

        Love your ideas, Nicole. Green is not in the works for this place because I’m not sure how I’m going to use it. I’m trying to a little bit more mass appeal, in case I want to sell right away. Trying to find that right balance of “safe” but also not boring or expected either. IT’s tough!

    • Naomi

      Not crazy about the green, but what if I pulled out the black? I’m dreading painting cabinets in general. These hands of mine lack finesse. I’m worried I’ll ruin good custom cabinet. Uggg!

  29. Are you crazy? The “One Condo Challenge”????? I have new respect for you and good luck on sleeping for the next 6 weeks:) Get going girl!

    • Naomi

      Sleep is for lazy people for are not possessed by the OCC… err I mean ORC 😉

  30. It’ll be fantastic, I am sure. The Hunter S. Thompson quote is spot on too!

  31. Laura J

    Naomi, you brave, BRAVE girl. If you pull this off, Linda should create a special trophy for you. Can’t wait to see the results . . . .

    • Naomi

      Yes, Linda, could I get an ORC button or badge I could wear? lol

  32. Arielle

    Love love love the inspiration photos. I know the next few weeks will be stressful but I’m psyched to follow along!

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