“Your mission should you choose to accept it…” These are the words you typically expect to hear before accepting a majorly intense challenge right? When I accepted the offer to attend a LaZBoy Brand Event in Greensboro, NC I somehow must have missed these words in the email. The initial email said something about designing a room while at the event, but honestly I thought that meant a virtual room. LaZBoy’s website has a “virtual room designer” where you can enter the dimensions of your room and view what your new furniture will look like in the room beforehand. I thought we were going to be tasked with some fun virtual mood boards. I had NO idea what I was signing myself up for!
Before the event, things became a tiny bit clearer when I was asked to visit my local La-Z-Boy showroom and design my sofa. Oh, okay. A real room with a real sofa. Hmmm. I chose the Malina sofa in a fabric called Mineral. I wanted something that looked like gray linen and Mineral was closest to the look I had in my mind’s eye. Later on, I received a call from Michael, a La-Z-Boy designer in Fairfax that was assigned to help me and Emily from DecorChick. He let me know that FIVE of us originally chose the exact same fabric for our sofas! The showroom offers hundreds upon hundreds of fabric choices, so for 5 out of 10 of us to choose the same ONE is insane. Our assigned designers called us and tried to gently talk us into choosing something different, but I stood firm :). I loved my sofa and didn’t care if someone else had the same fabric.
A few days before the event, I received another email asking me to choose a paint color for my room. Yikes! What does my room look like? Are there any architectural features in the room? Does the room have windows? How big is my room? How am I to choose a paint color without knowing at ALL what other pieces of furniture or accessories I’ll be working with? Ack! This isn’t typically how I do a room design, but it was clear that I was going to have to choose a color scheme and pray that whatever items I’d be offered would fit within the scheme. I decided to go with navy blue, apple green, and white. I’ve learned over the years that when in doubt choose a simple palette with no more than three colors. A simple color palette will give you an effortless, cohesive, and pulled together look. The paint I chose was Sherwin Williams Naval in a flat sheen. I prefer flat for dark colors because they look rich and velvety–especially on camera!
So on Wednesday, only armed with my sofa choice and paint color, I headed to Greensboro, NC for the La-Z-Boy Design Dash. The first night we were treated to a delish dinner and learned a bit about the company from La-Z-Boy president, Mark Bacon. I was so impressed with how down to earth and genuine everyone is on the La-Z-Boy team. Good people indeed.
After dinner I was full, content and ready to settle back in at the hotel :). I’d been up since 5:30am and traveling always tires me out. But La-Z-Boy had other plans for us!
We were taken to the La-Z-Boy showroom at the High Point Market where we were greeted with a shopping cart with our name on it, tags, and a helper. We were given an hour and a half (I think?) to tag everything we would need for our room. But if someone tagged an item first we were out of luck. We weren’t able to see anything in the showroom beforehand, and we still didn’t know what our rooms looked like!
I was panicked. Michael was busy helping Emily, so I did my best to run through the store and tag things. My brain felt scattered and directionless and I was freaking out just a tad. Half-way through the tagging, I tried to collect my thoughts and focus. They had attached a picture of our rooms for us, and I wasn’t paying any attention to it–at all! Gah! My room was AMAZING!!! The grand architecture looked like something straight from an old Charleston mansion. Now I was really freaking out. I had tagged a lot of items that were much too modern and casual for this grand/traditional room. It was time to focus and tag some items that were more formal. Some of the last items I tagged were the wingback chairs and the large chandelier art. I found a TON of things I wanted for my room that already had tags so I had to get creative and trust that it would somehow work. Michael reminded me to tag greenery and more art and asked if I had anything shiny. Shiny! Yes! How could I forget to add some bling!!! I raced around and located some ferns for the windows, more art, and some starburst mirrors that miraculously hadn’t been tagged. This was by far the most stressful part of the entire challenge for me, and the part I liked the least. However, it really pushed me out of my comfort zone as a designer and for that I’m grateful!
The next day we arrived at Kreber Studios where we were greeted by our tagged items and our blank slates. Hello, gorgeous mansion! Where have you been all my life?
At first I did a lot of pondering and staring at my room (from my own Director’s Chair none the less—pinch me!)…
And then I did some more pondering and more staring…
And then finally I started moving things around and trying them out by trial and error. When you decorate you have to be willing to just try it and see if it works. The camera crew, photography crew, other designers, and myriads of people checking in sort of shook my confidence at first and I found myself struggling to get a groove going. We were also each assigned to a Kreber Studios designer, and she was so incredibly helpful! I told her that I wanted all the pictures of the room to capture the grand architecture and she helped me design the entire room from a single focal point. Designing a room to be functional and designing a room to look good on camera are TOTALLY different things! Once I had my vantage point, things began falling into place and I began taking some risks and playing with my design.
At the end of the day we were told over the loud speaker to rush to the front of the studio for our next challenge. What? Another challenge? There was a flower truck out front and we were told to grab what we needed for our room. Oh no. Panic time. Do I want to incorporate another pop of color in orange or fuchsia? Which flowers look best? How many arrangements do I need to make? I decided to play it safe and keep things formal and monochromatic by grabbing mainly roses in shades of white and green.
The last day was dedicated to floral arranging, fluffing, and filming. La-Z-Boy filmed us at each stage of the challenge and on this day we had to answer questions about our rooms and what inspired us. I was nervous. I don’t mind public speaking when I’m adequately prepared but impromptu camera talks are a challenge.
Here I am about to be interviewed by our “show host”, Kelly Edwards. I’m staring at the ground and trying to think of something witty to say. And if not witty, at least coherent…coherent, yes, I’ll take coherent! And please don’t let my voice do what it freakishly did during my Haven Conference presentation the first day! (If you were at Haven in my session, you know what I’m talking about. What in the world WAS that?) I successfully made it through the interview and besides using the word fresh no less than 56 times I think it went rather well. *wink*
I did it!! Truly, it was an honor to be entrusted with such a huge challenge. When you see all of the bloggers’ rooms, I think you’ll be impressed. I was so incredibly proud of everyone. This was NOT an easy task to pull off and everyone rose above and beyond the challenge. I can’t wait to show you what my room looks like with “real photography” but in the meantime here are some shots from my iPhone.
And here is a reminder of the BEFORE…
And the AFTER!
There will be an actual competition by La-Z-Boy of all the rooms beginning on November 4th. I’ll pop back in with the details then. Thank you to La-Z-Boy for inviting me to be a part of a the Design Dash Challenge! And thanks to you for cheering me on through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter while I was at the event. I needed those cheers!