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Design Concepts | Karastan | Room Ideas | Trends

Behind the Blue Ceiling: One on One with One Room Challenge Participant Thou Swell

For six weeks in the Spring of 2016, twenty design bloggers participated in the the One Room Challenge™, a biannual event where the bloggers transformed one room and documented the complete redesign. For the second challenge in a row, Karastan has been the official carpet sponsor, and we had the privilege of working with these talented design bloggers.

Kevin O’Gara, design blogger behind acclaimed home and lifestyle blog  Thou Swell, is the youngest participant of the Spring 2016 One Room Challenge. In less that three years, Thou Swell has become a must-visit destination for interior lovers and entertaining enthusiasts. Sharing home and garden, decor, food and entertaining, and a little of his hometown Atlanta, Kevin shares his fresh eye for design and passion for beauty.

Recently, Karastan sat down with the recent High School graduate to discuss the design inspiration behind his One Room Challenge transformation. Read on!

Kevin O'Gara

Karastan: Tell us about your blog, Thou Swell. What type of blog is it, what do you primarily write about, is this also your (future) profession or a hobby?

Kevin: On Thou Swell, I share home, garden, and entertaining inspiration. I post projects and photoshoots from other sources, and also create original projects ranging from full interior design projects to tablescapes and DIY projects. It’s a mix of curation and creation, but the international projects I share definitely translate to my personal style in the projects I produce myself. As a student, I use my blog primarily as a business hobby and a creative outlet, but I’m also learning a lot about photography, marketing, and branding. It will continue to be a hobby for me, though I can’t predict how it will evolve as I go off to college and beyond.

Karastan: Is this your first time participating in the One Room Challenge? If not, please tell us about your previous room makeover.

Kevin: This was my third One Room Challenge makeover, although my first time participating in the designer group. My previous makeovers included a sunroom in my father’s house and the living room in my mother’s house. My first makeover was a small space which had no existing furniture, so I created a tropical-inspired oasis with a blue velvet sofa, zebra hide rug, and a diptych painting I created for the room. It was super fun, but I definitely had a lot to learn about timing a One Room Challenge as I shot the room the day it was supposed to be posted! My living room makeover was better planned, and I used existing furniture in the design so I initially had furniture to work with. It was more a fusion of me and my mom’s styles, and it was fun to work with her on a room that we use so often.

Karastan: Why did you choose to makeover this particular room in the home?

Kevin: I chose my father’s bedroom for this makeover because it was basically the last room that I hadn’t decorated in his house. He moved at the beginning of 2015, and let me decorate all of the main living areas in the house. I later decorated the back (sun) room for my first One Room Challenge and my sisters’ bedroom for a separate blog post, so his own bedroom desperately needed some attention!

Karastan: What was your inspiration/approach to this project?

Kevin: When I approached this project, I wanted to create a masculine retreat that was moody like the rest of his home, but light enough that the one window in the room wouldn’t feel lacking. I started with the high-gloss blue ceiling, then moved to the curtain fabric that covered 120 inches of the wall behind the bed. I knew that these elements had the most impact, so the rest of the room was designed to balance and complement these pieces.


Karastan: Did you think you would be able to complete your vision in only 6 weeks?

Kevin: I’m pretty proud of how smoothly the room came together. I was initially worried about creating a solid game plan for the space in time for product ordering, but it worked out perfectly and all the major pieces were in place long before the photoshoot date. I would possibly change some of the details, like the accent pillow on the bed or the flowers I used in the shoot, but these are minor regrets for sure!

Karastan: What were some of your project concerns?

Kevin: My main concern for the project was dealing with the one window in the room. Although there was just this one source of natural light, the room layout only worked with the bed against the window, which I worried would block too much light. Fortunately, the headboard had a low-profile and kept most of the window clear, and the new chandelier easily lights up the room as well.


Karastan: Why did you select a Karastan product for this room?

Kevin: I selected a Karastan product for the room, because the selection of subtle, neutral patterns in the Karastan collection was exactly what I needed for the room. I was looking for a rug that would complement the bold curtains, so I knew a soft pattern would be just the ticket on the floor. I found exactly what I was looking for in the Violetta Wall Street rug, which I was able to custom order (another plus) for the perfect size rug for the room.

Karastan: What’s your favorite thing about the Karastan product you selected?

Kevin: Besides being incredibly soft and comfortable to walk on (just what a bedroom needs), I love the hand drawn quality to the pattern on the rug. It’s a subtle design that alludes to plaid with a contemporary feel, and the warm grey is just the right shade to keep the room light, airy, yet grounded.

Karastan: What were the features important to you when selecting a Karastan carpet/rug for this room makeover?

Kevin: When I searched for a rug, I was looking for a pattern that would complement the other textiles in the room, and provide a neutral backdrop for the space. Although I wanted it to be the backdrop, I didn’t want a solid rug – I wanted the rug to have enough pattern to have a noticeable effect on the look of the room. The small-scale pattern of the Violetta rug fit the room perfectly.


Karastan: How do you feel about the final result? We loved your reveal, were you happy with it too? How would you describe your room makeover stylistically?

Kevin: I’m so thrilled with my room’s transformation, and I think my dad loves it too! The blue ceiling turned out better than I could have ever hoped, my risky curtain fabric choice turned out beautifully, and the room is light and inviting thanks to the beautiful rug underfoot. If I were to describe the room’s style, I would say that it’s bold, masculine, and traditional with a twist.thou-swell-one-room-challenge-bedroom-5


Karastan: We loved this bedroom makeover too! To see Kevin’s room transformation, click here! To read his step-by-step process, visit Intro, Design, Paint, Artwork, and Styling.

What do you think of Kevin’s bedroom transformation? Let us know in the comments!