October 13, 2023

The One Room Challenge® is a biannual event every spring and fall. Everyone with a blog or Instagram account is welcome to join the fun as a Guest Participant (ME!) by registering for the event with the room or space you plan to transform. Every Wednesday during the event, which lasts eight weeks, we link our weekly project updates on this site, and spectators and fellow participants can easily follow along by browsing the linkup page.

Before photo of rear of house and weed pit at our Purple House Project

Hey there, I’m Melissa! I’m an Interior + Architectural Designer and founder of Indigo Ink Designs. In 2012, we bought a purple, 19th century, 2-flat home in sad shape. We’ve spent the past decade renovating this Victorian-turned-modern #purplehouseproject near Chicago into my dream home. (I say my dream home, because I dream up all the crazy ideas I want to execute, and my family is just along for the ride!)

If you are new to our project, go back and visit WEEK 1 and WEEK 2 to catch up, and then come back here to see what’s next! Moving ahead in Week 3 of the #ORC, this week I’m revealing our landscape layout and renderings, as well as my tips for finding the right contractor for the job.

Onto the good stuff…


If you remember back in Week 1, I showed you my wishlist for different zones in this space and inspiration for those. Here is how that will come together. Keep in mind this is the overall plan, and during this fall, we are tackling just Phase 1, which is mainly the deck area. The ground-level spaces will have to wait until spring.

Overhead landscape layout

The house is on the left, a detached garage on the right end, and our driveway which was repoured just two years ago runs along the lower part of the plan (the grid you see). The deck will span the full width of the rear of the house, and be surrounded by tall planters which replace the need for railings.

That rounded part is the fire pit set with crushed granite. And my #1 – shade! The pergola is the brown/gray rectangle in the top-center disappearing beneath the tree. You’ll see more in the photos below.

IN 3,2,1…

I don’t have much to say here, except 🤩😍🤩

Reverse angle on Outdoor Oasis, partial firepit.

And finally, I’ll leav you with a day vs. night shot of the same scene. This makes me so giddy! I can’t wait to fill it with friends and gather ’round with the bevvies and have a great time!

Full view of rear of house with new deck.
Night time view of Outdoor Oasis rendering dream space.

I think we’e found the right contractor for the job, who has done some pretty awesome projects and I feel confident can meet my expectations. Below I’ve shared how to find the right contractor for your job, too.




Let’s talk about how to get started finding a contractor, what questions to ask, and any red flags. And… not all contractors are created equal.

First, let’s find your perfect contractor – perfect for the job you need done. Contractors come in all shapes and sizes, each having a unique approach to building their biz and assembling their team. Some may proudly tackle any project thrown their way. Others may stick to small-scale undertakings with a close-knit squad. Then there are those who specialize in certain types of builds and renovations.

Don’t be shy! Request to peek at snaps of their past projects- they’ll be thrilled to show off their masterpiece. This way, you can decide whether they’re the perfect match for your vision.


How do you to tell which contractor is the right fit? Don’t Google yet! Ask for Referrals First.

Ask the experts related to the job you’re working on to get the inside scoop. Head into a local paint store to get rec’s on a top-notch painter recommendation. And for elegant tilework, turn to your designer buddies or trusted pals and ask for the inside scoop on their go-to tile gurus. Above all, inquire about the timeline of the task at hand. Don’t rely on recommendations from eons ago when your buddy had the same job done. Once you’ve got your hands on 3-5 recommended names, then it’s time to fire up the ol’ Google machine.

Don’t automatically throw negative reviews out the window. (You can ALWAYS find negative reviews.) Instead, give them a chance to explain themselves.


Here are a few more quick points to help think about.

  • Are they licensed and insured?
  • What hours and days will they be on site?
  • Prepare to provide one of your bathrooms for their use. Discuss it with them ahead of time.
  • Who is the point of contact on-site if I have a question or something goes wrong?


Ready to see if you vibe with this human? Let’s talk schedule, timing, payments, and more.

Ask each contractor you interview if they can provide you with a lead time and a projected project length. This way, you have something to start mentally preparing for. They should be able to give you a ballpark of how long certain projects will take them.

Ask about the payment schedule—everyone is different. There are no standards, really. So it’s best never to assume how they operate, and discuss it up front.

Finally, have them out to your house, let your partner meet them, let your kids meet them, and your pets too! It’s most important to make sure you like the contractor. Most projects will take a month or more, so you want to ensure the person who will be in your house 5-6 days a week is someone you actually like. You should also ask to meet the job supervisor because the owner or salesperson, whomever you may meet with to sell and set up the job, will likely not be the one on-site when it comes time to do the work. So you need to ensure you like the actual supervisor as well.

Is it a vibe?? (Is that what the kids are saying these days??)


Next week I’ll we’ll be taking on site prep—grading, demo, and bringing in materials… and furnishings mood board (!) 🎉

Be sure to check out the One Room Challenge® page for other great designers, and follow along with their project journeys over the next several weeks!

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