One Room Challenge: Week 1, The Werkroom Speakeasy Cellar

Oh hiiiii! The Spring 2021 One Room Challenge has officially kicked off and your boys are so excited to have been selected as one of the featured designers!! The next eight weeks are going to be a mix of emotions while we completely transform a space in our Brooklyn brownstone. So which space is it you might be asking….

If you’re just tuning in….welcome!. We’re Barry & Jordan, a loving DIY couple that are now project managers for historic renovation in Brooklyn NY, We also live in a Brooklyn brownstone that we renovated ourselves.

The One Room Challenge you ask!?

The One Room Challenge™ is now on it’s nineteenth season and is a widely anticipated bi-annual event. Each round, twenty design influencers are selected to take the challenge, as Featured Designers, and transform a space in their home. We are still pinching ourselves that we were chosen as one of the featured designers this season! We are huge fans of so many of the past designers and proud to be included among the 19 other extraordinarily talented designers. We’re secretly hoping to become friends with each and every one of them! Thank you Linda Weinstein for making this event possible and for thinking of us to take on this challenge.

The One Room challenge™ will provide participants with a supportive, enthusiastic forum to share the process of transforming a room. The ORC is not actually a competition, but rather a celebration of creativity, inspiration, and a support for the DIY community. We’re so excited to not only follow the featured designers but also see what other projects people are taking on this spring in their own homes.

Ok so what space are we actually doing you might wonder?

We would like to tell you that we had to think really hard about which room to make over, but we knew immediately! It’s a space that we rarely use and cringe a little when we have to so it was the perfect space for a makeover. It’s not our kitchen, or a bathroom, or a bedroom. It’s a bigger space than all of them combined. Drum roll please!……It’s our really scary Brooklyn basement! In fact, here in Brooklyn it’s technically called the cellar.

If you’re visiting our page for the first time, we live in a Brooklyn brownstone! The narrow and stately row houses with inviting stoops on tree lined streets throughout New York (and a few other cities in the northeast). The stoop is the main entrance that takes you up to the second floor, we call the parlor floor. Below that is what is called the garden floor, but is technically the basement, at ground level. Then below that is the cellar, the subterranean space where the home’s mechanicals are, commonly used for storage, where creepy crawlers reign. It’s an entire floor of the home that has a lot of potential, but is often underutilized. That is definitely the case for us. Don’t judge! It’s unfinished and stacked high with lots of stuff that we should have thrown out long ago. Truth be told, we attempted to makeover this space but gave up right after we started collecting more and more samples. It quickly became our hiding spot for pretty much everything and now it’s FINALLY time to get rid of it all and start over! It’s such a good feeling!

It’s time! We want to make this a useful space and we need it. We now run a very busy business designing and managing renovation projects for clients with brownstones of their own and we need a workspace. We have stacks of samples, catalogs, and design inspiration that we pull out to complete a design. We want to spread it out on a big work table in a space that inspires us.

The Before Pictures (there is nothing cute about this space currently… sorry!)

Let’s talk about the necessities:

  • This space must hide some of the ugly basement storage. Currently this room is covered in crap! You name it, it’s probably found in our current basement. We just have no idea where. We will be spending the first couple days just clearing the space out.
  • This space has to act as a laundry area. Our units were placed in the scary space right after we renovated and its a place where we go to wash & dry our laundry and so does our tenant.
  • We must have room to store samples collected to show clients. We have collected a plethora of tiles, hardwood, and other materials that we would like to display nicely in the new basement area.
  • We need an area to work, bring clients, and be inspired. It’s going to be a real challenge but we’re up for this!

So after thinking about this night and day since we were told that we were going to featured is turning our basement into a 1920’s NYC Speakeasy Werk-room! We will actually have a full speakeasy room in the basement. And that space…. folks…. Is still going to be a secret!

We also have some other problems to solve:

  • Our first problem to solve is how do we make a dark space like our cellar into a space that will provide inspiration. Well, we’re not going to fight the fact that it’s a space with no windows or natural light! We’re going to go with it! Our space will be New York speakeasy style. An unexpected space intentionally hidden out of view, but cozy, warm, and inviting.
  • The space has low ceilings, so we want to incorporate this into the design.
  • There are ugly mechanicals that we can’t get rid of (i.e. structural columns, boiler, electrical meters) but need to hide.
  • The foundation walls are exposed and the floor is painted concrete.
  • It’s dark, and needs attractive lighting solutions.


Gotta Get to WERK!

We’re calling it Studio 2B or The Werkroom! We can’t wait to give you more details next week but we’re so excited to build the space and share the process with you. Whether or not you have a cellar (or basement) space that you want to makeover, we hope you enjoy the ride and find some inspiration to transform a space in your home as well.

Next week we’ll dive into more details, talk about all things design, and even update the progress. Obviously we can’t share the detailed plans yet… we gotta leave some suspense! This week we’re focusing on clearing all the crap out! Anyone interested in a stoop sale!?

Follow Along!

One small thing we might have forgotten to mention- we are doing the ENTIRE transformation ourselves! Drywall, electrical, and many other DIY projects. If you’re not already following along on Instagram – ,come check it out,,! We’re even posting weekly VLOG videos on our YouTube channel that you won’t want to miss starting this Saturday! We’ll be providing design details, places to shop for inexpensive (and nice!) materials, and other tricks & tips to tackle a DIY project. We’ll write a blog post a week so subscribe below for updates!

See you on the other side and wish us luck!


Jordan & Barry

Make sure to give each of the other featured designers some love and checking out their spaces- we’re so excited to see what magic they create:

Ariene C. Bethea | At Home With Ashley | Banyan Bridges | Bari J. Ackerman | Brit Arnesen 
Brownstone Boys| Cass Makes Home | Dominique Gebru | Gray Space Interiors| Haneen's Haven 
Home Ec. | Nile Johnson Design | Pennies for a fortune | Prepford Wife | Rachel Moriarty Interiors 
Sachi Lord | Susan Hill Interior Design | This Is Simplicite | Tiffany DeLangie | Victoria Lee Jones  
Media BH&G | TM ORC