The Inspired Room

Refining Your Home for Authentic Living™

Style Tips: Embracing Your Authentic Style March 31, 2008

Filed under: Decorating Inspiration,Style Tips — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 2:00 am

By way of illustrating how you can find an authentic style designed by and for YOUR life, I thought I’d share these photos from a story found at Traditional Home online. I was drawn to the beautiful bright clear colors and when I read the article, the fanciful style of the home was perfect for this family. Why? The home was originally headquarters to a well-known circus! Their home address? One Circus Place. How neat is that?

To decorate, the family played off of the home’s colorful history, the fact that they adore children (they have two of their own) and that the woman of the home is a children’s photographer (her studio is on the third floor of the house). Their home is all about youthful fun. This house’s design makes sense for them, reflects the history of the home and illustrates their own life on many levels. Whether or not you like the fun colors and patterns, you have to admit this is an original and authentic home.

As you probably know by now, I am not a fan of “theme rooms.” However, with that said, I am a fan of authenticity. There is a difference between creating a home full of your memories or passion for life and getting confused by overdoing a theme. Authenticity can evoke feelings without making everything too obvious. Here, they chose lively, high quality fabrics that produce the same feelings you might have at a circus. It is a happy place.

I like how they were careful to let their furnishings pop, without painting all the walls vivid colors and going crazy with a colored carpet too. The pink chairs and and stripped ottoman are enough. Also, the serious architecture of the home is a nice contrast to the fun decor. This home can handle some whimsy without getting too sweet.

Here, they added colored walls but let this corner of the room have a break in the color by incorporating a black table, simple wood chairs, and neutral mantle. The rug is neutral and this whole corner helps balance things out so you are not overwhelmed by the room as a whole.

When I came to this photo (below) of the clown, I started to worry that the circus theme was being overdone. Seeing the big clown face was (at first) too obvious for me. In designing a home that is personal to you, you still want to keep good taste in mind. It can be easy to veer off into buying everything that screams “this is my THEME.” But, in this case, as I read more of the article, I found out that the home owner’s aunt was a photographer who a generation ago took circus photos. This was one of her photos. Ok, then! If anyone else had a circus themed home with photos of clowns on the wall, I might scratch my head and wonder (or cry), but in this case, it makes sense! It is a fun conversation piece. So, SEND IN THE CLOWNS, I say! WHY NOT??

I just noticed, that table next to the Designer Guild pink chairs has rings, like in a circus! Clever!


The Inspired Room’s Authentic Style Tips:

1) Consider things in your life (past & present and dreams for the future) that are meaningful to you or your family. Family history, places you’ve been, life experiences and your dream life are all good places to start looking for the real you. No one else will share your style if you are true to yourself.

2) Consider the architecture of your home. You don’t have to match its style, but it is helpful to be aware of its impact as you select furnishings and decor.

3) Learn the art of subtlety. Consider ways to incorporate the significant things into your decor without making everything a “Ta Da!” moment. It is more intriguing to let design elements unfold rather than have everything hit you right off the bat as you walk in.

4) Definitely avoid cheap and tacky. Fun, sure. Great deals, absolutely. Cheap & Tacky, no. Who wants their authentic style to be cheap & tacky? That is not giving off the right vibe at all! You deserve better than that!

5) Incorporate conversation pieces that allow visiting friends to get to know you.

6) Design a room to work as a whole, not as a bunch of individual pieces. Your house can be full of life, memories and color, but the idea is to pull it all together in a tasteful way so that it all works when you step back.


See more photos and the story from Traditional Home here:

designer: Betty Murdock


Style Tips: Inspired By Life March 29, 2008

Filed under: Organization,Style Tips — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 7:32 pm

Not too long ago, I was honored to be interviewed by The Home Office Organizer blog . In the interview I shared how the name “The Inspired Room” came about (Newsflash, The Inspired Room is now a registered trademark!) tips for personalizing a home office, who inspires me, along with a few other tidbits. I thought I’d share a few of the tips on finding your authentic style! For the rest of the interview, click here. Here is an excerpt from my interview:

You are the “Style Coach.” What are your top 5 tips for someone who wants to create rooms inspired by their life?

In no particular order, here are some tips for getting started on finding your own personal style:

1) Spend time living the life you want and gathering mementos along the way. Your home will come together as you experience life. It shouldn’t be an overnight process!

2) Create rooms and spaces to inspire and accommodate your life. Evaluate what kind of life you really want to live and set things up to make that life possible and enjoyable. Do you love to read? Have friends over for movies? Cook? Write? Have the neighborhood kids over to play with your children? Do you have hobbies? Do you host large parties? Make sure your house is set up to accommodate you—homes should never keep us from fully experiencing what we love to do. Nor should they be staged for someone else’s idea of a good life. Your home should make sense for you.

3) Eliminate things that are unattractive or don’t stir your senses in some way. Avoid random decorations. Most everything should have a story that makes you happy or reminds you of a special time or person. Or at least things should be attractive and facilitate your life in some way. If it is useless or ugly, get rid of it.

4) Make ordinary things beautiful. Most of our life is spent doing ordinary things. Those ordinary activities should inspire our homes even more than the few highlights of our life. Everyday we spend time eating, cleaning, bathing, sleeping, working. Take the time to make these every day experiences more organized and pleasing to your eye.

5) Don’t be afraid to ask for help in creating a beautiful home, but be careful who you ask. Friends mean well but can confuse their personal taste with what is appropriate for you. Friends don’t have to love your home. Designers can be a wealth of information and ideas but can also lead you to spend money you don’t need to spend and end up creating a home that reflects their style rather than yours. Find someone who understands what you are trying to achieve and can use what you already have and love to create something authentic to you.

Not everyone is naturally inclined to be able to arrange things in attractive ways — we all have our strengths. Don’t feel badly if you need some help in organizing or pulling your belongings together so that you can truly love your home.

For more of my interview on The Home Office Organizer blog, click here!

photo: House Beautiful online


Sweet Escape {Mis Adventures}: The Airport Drama March 27, 2008

Filed under: Sweet Escape — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 5:05 pm

For those of you who have been asking to hear about my airport {mis} adventure, behold The Airport Drama. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had traveled to NYC to see my daughter’s school choir sing in Carnegie Hall. It was a wonderful honor for her and a great experience for us. We enjoyed our time in NYC but to be honest, I was ready to go home!

My mom and I were flying home separately from the choir so we could use our United miles. We arrived at JFK two and a half hours early like good airport rule-obeying model passengers, and sat and drank coffee until it was time to board.

Mom and I — innocently waiting for our flight.

This is where things started to go downhill. Unfortunately, without warning, our flight was bumped three hours and we were going to have to spend the night in the San Francisco airport as we would’ve missed our connecting flight. After begging three separate agents for another flight to Portland, we were able to be booked on the same Delta flight my daughter was on. Yippee!

The only catch was that the Delta flight was leaving in 35 minutes. From a different building in the airport. HOLY COW! And we had to stop to pick up our own luggage from the United baggage claim AND get new tickets before we could board. We had to ride the tram to get to Delta, and go through security again. Oh boy. We were warned we would not make it. But, you don’t tell me I can’t do something! LOL!

So, with my mom following behind me, I started to run like a mad woman through the terminals. Mind you, I had no idea where I was going. We flew down escalators. And boarded a tram. And yelled out for directions. We took wrong turns. Waited for luggage that never arrived (because it ended up in San Francisco). And ran some more until we reached the Delta counter. We arrived with our hair sticking up and sweat pouring off our brows.

Winston simulating what our hair looked like after running through the airport

Of course, we got Miss Mumble Grumble Crankster at the ticket counter. No surprise to us, her ticket printer didn’t work and she assured us (shaking her head with a loud sigh) we would indeed miss the plane and we should just give up right now. Fat chance (I didn’t say that, but I was thinking it).

She motioned for us to go through security. We barged in front of about a dozen people (Sorry!) and threw our bags on the scanner. Of course, as always happens when one is in a particular hurry, my laptop signaled the “officials” as it went through the x-ray machine and I was told to go through the process again. My flight was supposed to LEAVE in nine minutes. C’mon people! NINE MINUTES! Everyone seemed to be moving in super slow-mo. I tried to appear calm and collected, but I might’ve ACCIDENTALLY rolled my eyes. MAYBE I mumbled something in appropriate about Delta’s service. I don’t know.

Next thing I know, I am escorted to the “Secure Area” by Mr. T. I was frisked and glared at. My identification was studied with a fine tooth comb. I tried to patch things up by smiling at the security guy with my most innocent grin (cheese!), but by that point it was too late. I was now a suspect and I think the whole airport went on Red Alert.

My best, innocent grin. Nothing guilty about this face.

I can’t imagine what all the fuss was about, but I was really getting irritated. After what seemed like a few national security conferences and phone calls to The White House, they decided I was allowed to go on my merry way. I’m grateful for the stepped up security in airports. I really am. Don’t get me wrong. But I had a plane to catch.

Me, caught on hidden security cameras just before entering the airport.

I noticed the boarding area was (good grief!) 30 gates away, so we started running again. Running and running and running. Had I only been wearing my favorite “sensible shoes” I could’ve gone faster. WHY, OH WHY! had I chosen fashion over function? My feet looked super chic but the rest of me was looking mighty frazzled by that point.

Note to self: wear running shoes to airports from now on.


We shoved past people and pets and probably scared a lot of small children. Excuse me! Pardon me! Move it BUDDY! Finally arriving at the gate, hearts pounding, only to find it DESERTED! Nooooo, tell us it isn’t so!!!!! No one was in sight. I sadly turned towards the window to leave when I saw it! The plane! It was no longer connected to the gate, but it was still there! The plane, the plane! I could see it!

We ran to the window and I started jumping up and down waving at the little men working below. No one paid attention. We found an employee with a broom and asked her to PAHLEEEZE get us on the plane. We told her my daughter was on board. I didn’t mention that she was with chaperones or that she is sixteen. Pretty soon the lady with the broom was jumping up and down with us in front of the gate window, using a made up sign language to indicate we had a “wee one” on board and needed to be let on the plane.

We went back to jumping up and down and gesturing at the cockpit window of the plane. I can’t imagine the horror or laughter that must’ve been going on in the cockpit as the pilots watched us through the window. The sight of us could’ve alarmed them enough to re-alert security. I wouldn’t have blamed them, our antics bordered on the ridiculous. I’ll admit it. But suddenly we saw the giant gate start to move towards the plane. Fortunately for us, the captain had mercy on us. He had seen our cries and our groveling and took pity on those poor pathetic women in the window. In an exceptional move of kindness, the gate was reconnected to the plane on our behalf and the doors swung open. THANK YOU CAPTAIN!

We were allowed to board. After hugging the crew and shaking hands with Captain Tom (we would’ve used it as a blog photo op, but my camera was in San Francisco with my bags), we made our way to our seats. Most passengers looked at us with squinted eyes (the “evil eye” as I like to call it), but as we neared our seats the choir students broke out into cheers and clapping for our valiant and successful effort. We did it!

It was a proud moment for my daughter (just kidding, I’m sure she was mortified — MOM!! Please. So embarrassing.)

And that was my airport mis-adventure. Have a great weekend, everyone!


Style Tips: In Defense of Wallpaper March 26, 2008

Filed under: Creative Inspiration & Projects,Decorating Inspiration,Style Tips — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 1:39 am


I like wallpaper. I’ll admit, it has been a love/hate sort of thing. I’ve hated wallpapers that I have had to remove, but loved wallpaper that I chose myself. In the right place, with the right paper, and the right wallpaper hanger person, I love it. I know that wallpaper has had a bad reputation for the last number of years in some circles. We can blame that on whoever decided we all needed the country blue geese borders of 1980 or the hideous vinyls and foils that were all the rage back in the day. Yep, I’ve seen some really ugly wallpapers! And I’ve dreaded pulling it off for the damage it might do to the walls thanks to the industrial strength paste that was used.

Blue Wallpapered Room: Traditional Home

No matter what your particular feeling is about wallpaper these days, I think it has its place. I have never fallen out of love with it, so to me it is not a matter of whether it is “in” or “out” or “trendy” or not, it is whether it serves a purpose and achieves the look I want. Keep in mind that wallpaper has been around forever, even if it has had some ugly periods in history. Wallpaper can be a great style tool, if you choose carefully. It can define your home as something unique and personal to you. So, since we discussed the use of paper for decorative purposes a previous Style Tips post, let’s continue this topic by diving in to some photos that show where wallpaper can be quite effective for defining individual style.

Wallpaper can give walls a great texture and depth that you just can’t achieve as well from paint. There are lots of great natural textured papers out there now. I love this grasscloth look in Barclay Butera’s entryway. I also love the soft pattern in Barclay’s bedroom, below.
Love the paper in the back of the shelves. It is a great added touch. It doesn’t call too much attention to itself but gives a nice textured background for the accessories.

(Barclay Butera)
Barclay Butera (above five photos)
Love this entry and its mood.
(above Domino Magazine Lucas Allen photographer)
Domino Magazine (Simon Watson photographer)
Wallpaper can make a cold typical room suddenly cozy and oozing with style and personality. Your personality, you can choose traditional papers, modern styles or whatever suits your fancy. Don’t worry about the next owner of the house unless you are moving any time soon. This is YOUR house. You might as well love it.
Little alcoves like this are well suited to wallpaper’s added touch.
Domino Magazine (Anna Wolf photographer)
Domino Magazine (Paul Costello photographer)
Domino Magazine ( Paul Costello photographer)
I have always adored wallpapered closets, powder rooms and tiny nooks or crannies. And, since wallpaper can be expensive in a large room, this is a great way to add a little pizazz without a huge expense.
Wallpaper can even be glamorous! And murals can add a lot of interest, depth, personality and drama to a room.
(above: Traditional Home)
Domino Magazine (Paul Costello photographer)
If you are an artist, you can create your own wallpaper look with paint and stencils, like in the leaf pattern above.
Domino Magazine (Melanie Acevedo photographer)
Or, use paper to cover unsightly things like file cabinets.
Domino Magazine (James Merrill photographer)
Use strips of wallpaper to create unique wall borders or designs. Just please, no geese. Please. Stick to something more classic or artistic.
Domino Magazine (Laura Resin photographer)
I wouldn’t want the job of papering a ceiling, but I’ve always liked the look.
We used to paper light switch plates to disguise them on a wallpapered wall, but if you want to make a statement, go ahead and paper them to stand out.
I love the idea of wallpaper (or craft paper for that matter) to cover mats in frames to give them some flair.
If you don’t want to deal with paint and stencils, you can cut patterns out of wallpaper to add a custom design to plain painted stairs. Or, put paper on doors for a punch of color or pattern.

Give wallpaper a chance.


Girls’ Rooms: Fanciful Rugs & Lamps March 24, 2008

Filed under: Decorating Inspiration — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 1:07 am
Tags: , ,

It’s all in the details. My philosophy for decorating kids’ rooms is they should begin with a few elements of whimsy to bring the room to life. The key is to select whimsical items that are fun and encourage children’s fanciful imaginations, but that don’t appear tacky, cheap and dated. This is where many kids rooms go tragically wrong.

I feel strongly that children learn style and taste from their environment and as parents we should expose them to tasteful design. By ‘tasteful’, do I mean expensive or boring? No, definitely not. While parents’ rationale for tacky accessories range from “tacky accessories are good because they are cheap and disposable” to “children grow and change so fast, I don’t want to invest too much” to “my child INSISTS on a Dora The Explorer room and I want her to be happy,” I still feel there are alternatives worth considering. Selecting a subtle theme that can be interpreted through good taste and style can please both picky children and budget conscious parents.

Rugs and lamps can be great building blocks for tasteful girls’ rooms. Depending on your budget, you can find fun choices at a wide variety of price points. These photos here can serve as inspiration. Lamps can be made or embellished with items you already have. By selecting items that can grow with your daughter, your investment will last longer than her current fascination with Dora the Explorer.

By creating a beautiful room for your daughter, you will be instilling in her a lifelong appreciation and understanding of how to achieve beauty. It isn’t how much you spend but what you choose that makes the difference! And don’t just choose things YOU love, let your daughter be a part of the process by carefully offering her choices you can both can live with.

Tasteful girls’ rooms do not have to rely solely on flowers or big girl patterns. Even whimsical or humorous items like animals can bring fanciful fun to a room. Just be careful to not overdo this sort of theme. One item like this frog rug is usually enough for a whole room. Too much of a fun theme can quickly become tacky.

Classic braided and patterned rugs can grow with girls from babyhood to teen years.


Lamps and chandeliers are a great opportunity to pour on the whimsy and fun!




A child’s bedroom will remain in her memory for a lifetime, so I encourage you to make it special. It’s all in the details.




These products and more can be found at Posh Tots.
Other inspiring resources:
Kid’s Room Ideas – Better Homes & Gardens
HGTV Children’s Rooms
Koo Koo Bear Kids
Pottery Barn Kids
The Land of Nod

Related articles by The Inspired Room:

Whimsical Children’s Rooms

The Superhero Exception

About A Boy and His Room

Eye Candy: Girls Rooms


Easter March 21, 2008

Filed under: Authentic Living — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 2:13 pm
He has risen, just as he said.
Matthew 28:6

Wishing you all the blessings of Easter!