ORC Week 6: Private Den Reveal!

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Just a little backstory:

My intention for this room was to bring the desert, especially the New Mexico desert, into our home. I’ve been feeling very nostalgic for Santa Fe and its rocks and agaves and such, and have talked for years about moving there some day.

But given our youngest son’s learning disabilities and the special programming he’s getting here in New England, it doesn’t look like we’ll be relocating any time soon. Or ever.

Thus my need to fill a bit of our home with the colors, textures and personal reminders of this particular place we love.

The gorgeous cow skull came from my friend, Heather French, designer and co-owner of French & French Interiors in Santa Fe. She has some magic mojo goin’ on down there with the private homes she gets her hands on. You really have to see her work.

And, while you’re at it, take a listen to our conversation about beauty, creativity and memory on the Style Matters podcast.


There are so many great reveals happening this week! I am full of inspiration from my fellow design lovers! You can see what everyone has been up to for the past six weeks on the One Room Challenge blog.


Now let’s get a little before & after action going on here…

You might notice in the picture on the left, there’s a door. Way back in week 2 of the One Room Challenge, we turned this door into a wall. And now, our vintage rug can happily grace our den. I picked up this bad boy during our Little Yellow Couch Style Retreat in Catskill, NY. I’ll be thinking fondly of that weekend for a long time.

Pete did some crazy, creative maneuvering to hang both the rug and the skull. He built a T-shaped frame out of wood and then ran a strong, wide strip of velcro along the horizontal piece. I then started to sew the other side of the velcro along the top edge of the rug. This was not an easy enterprise. The needles kept breaking and pushing them through the gummy backing of the velcro wasn’t great. But we didn’t want to actually adhere the adhesive to the rug. Didn’t seem like a respectful thing to do. So we kept the plastic backing on the velcro strip for protection. The second half of the project involved carefully sliding a couple of large eye hooks through the yarns so that the skull could hang from the wood T, rather than the wall. I’m not sure how he ended up accomplishing this. I prefer to stay in the dark.


The Cantrel sofa is from Jonathan Louis. I can’t believe how comfortable it is! (Which is a relief since I chose the color, the style, the fabric, the dimension and configuration, all online).

Now, the sofa does come with two sweet little side pillows, but for now, I’ve switched them out for these other ones because I can’t stop myself from mixing things together. Honestly, other than pots and lids, I can’t be trusted with matching anything.

I got these beauties a little while ago from Revival Rugs. Along with cleaning and restoring vintage rugs, they also take remnants from Kilims and turn them into pillows.

Cool, right?


Moving to the right is the first of two built-in bookcases that flank the window.

Bookcases are like crack for designers.






A huge thank you to my ex, Karen. Some of you may remember that Karen and I used to be joined at the hip. And then she dumped me.


She and I started Little Yellow Couch together and built the Style Matters podcast into what it is today. (Which is BIG, by the way. HUGE. Oprah is probably trying to get through all the time but I don’t answer when an unknown number pops up. I should probably tell her people to text me instead. Tomorrow. After I have my the-One-Room-Challenge-is-over collapse).

Anyway, Karen is no longer with Little Yellow Couch but I still have her on speed dial and was texting her a gazillion photos all day to help me style these things.

I’m guessing that if I took a design personality quiz, there’s a chance I’d score high on the maximalist end of the Collecting Stuff Spectrum.

HA. No kidding.

So, you can see from the photos above and below some of my treasures. That’s a personal post office mailbox door that I bought on one of many thousands of antiquing trips with Karen.

The lama planter and the footed glass dome are both from Anthro. I point this out because I got them in the sale room. And I NEVER find anything in the sale room. So that day holds a special place in my heart.

Then there’s a beaver vertebrae down there that’s just something I picked up. I have a weakness for owls so he sits there, too.

And that Sunshine Fruit Cake tin is from my dad. I got my collecting gene from him. He filled it with little odds and ends (golf tees, marbles, green plastic army men) for my kids when they were little. He can’t resist a good surprise inside an old tin.

Oh, and that wishbone is actually a rubber stamp. I’ve never used it. But it’s cool.


I think it’s time for another Before & After:

This is probably a good time to talk wallpaper. I mean, behold its kick-ass-ed-ness! Don’t you love it? You must. You’re probably dying with jealousy right now. But don’t let that green monster get you down! You, too, can head over to my favorite wallpaper shop and get your own. (I’m talking about Hygge & West, in case you didn’t read my ORC week 5 post). I had such a lovely time with the founders, Christiana Coop and Aimee Lagos, when we chatted on the podcast, that I just had to see if they’d be as happy to gift me some wallpaper rolls as I would be to receive them! And guess what? They were. And I was.

I still am. I’m in love.


Before we move on, here are some shots of the second bookcase which is on the right side of the window.


My oldest friend, Sarah, made that awesome dog planter for me.

She herself isn’t old. She’s the same age as me. So obviously she’s not old. I mean, 47 is not old, people! Come on!

I bought the curly goat horns on a trip to Paris with my mom.

The little beaver skull I found at Brimfield.

The green bottle once held a very delicious beer at a local brewery and I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw the bottle. I ordered it because of the bottle. Obviously.

And those little white houses remind me of the shape of adobe buildings in the center of Santa Fe. I think got them from West Elm.

Oh, and I got those little brass cowboy boots on that same trip during the Little Yellow Couch Style Retreat. Good thing we’re having another one of those soon!


Ok, so now you can see a few more shots of the wall opposite the sofa:


I loved all of our candid black & white photos of our family.

But the whole space was starting to feel crowded to me.

Or maybe I just got bored. That’s a strong possibility.

So for now, only 2 remain. They’re sitting on top of a sculpture/shelf/coat rack made by our friend, Michelle Frost.

Michelle is a big-time tinkerer. (If you heard my interview with Donna Garlough on the podcast, you’ll know what I mean). She walks the beach outside her home in Boston and looks for driftwood and other pieces of who-knows-what and turns them into really interesting things for her home. I love the shape of this piece and I’d really like to know what those holes were for.


And then moving around past the doorway, here’s the final wall. As you can see it looks… different. As you can also probably see, I can’t make up my mind about where to put things. All the little things. Aaaaaah, life in America.

Should the leather thing that holds the glasses go to the left? Or maybe to the right? What about the bird? Standing on his little box or not? Which side? Should I add a candle? I have so many decisions to make. Does anyone understand the amount of time required to move each object, one at a time, to a different side, take a picture, download each picture to computer because iPhone screen is too small to see anything, realize that your grouping is two objects instead of a group of three, hunt for third object, move it slightly to the left, then to the right, and then take another photo, only to throw the whole thing into the toilet because now your natural light is gone???


And now, it’s time to settle in for the night. We turn on the bookcase lights and the little lamp beside the sofa. And then we sleep.


Happy decorating to you all!

xoxo Zandra

P.S. This whole One Room Challenge wouldn’t be possible if not for the hard work of Linda Weinstein. Thank you so much for hosting this great event and sharing all of this design goodness with the world! And this time, we’ve also had the support of Better Homes & Gardens and the Home Love Network, produced by Andy and Candis Meredith. Woot!

A big thank you to Jonathan Louis and Hygge & West for providing the beautiful, comfy sofa and the gorgeous wallpaper, respectively.

Zandra Zuraw7 Comments