The Inspired Room

Refining Your Home for Authentic Living™

Outdoor Rooms: Creating the Borders April 30, 2008

Filed under: Gardens & Outdoor Rooms — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 9:22 am
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this old house

One of the things that really contributes to the success of an outdoor room, in my opinion, is when there is a certain amount of privacy. After all, when you are in your house you have both walls and windows. I think the same should be true with the outside. My husband and I have always had a notion that outdoor rooms should be closed off enough to offer the feeling that you are in your own private world, but be open enough to let others have the tiniest peek of what is inside. I think it is part of our romantic notion of living a fairytale life. When you can steel a little glimpse of something beautiful as you pass by, but not see the entire scene, it leaves room for imagination and draws others to the space.

house to home

By leaving portions of your rooms open, you are also allowing the room to be connected to the beauty that might surround the room. There is no need to close off a room if the mountains beyond are fantastic, if your neighbor’s cherry tree can be framed to be a part of your view, or if you want to be able to have neighborly conversations with those who pass by your front porch.

house beautiful

southern living by jean allsopp

house to home

Each space will be different in its need for privacy or openness. But with the right balance, your space will feel intimate and cozy enough to entice you into the space without making you feel claustrophobic once you get there.

house to home

Borders are what give an outdoor room a sense of enclosure. And without definition, we lose the sense of the space being a room. By using things like the side of the house, shrubs, potted plants or trees, benches, trellises, small posts, ropes, lattice screens, lanterns or fences to create various borders, we can start to create definition in a space. You can really be creative here in what you use to define a room’s border.

house to home

Homes and Gardens

I like to allow spaces to unfold as one wanders from room to room, rather than revealing the entire space all at once. This can make your space seem bigger than it is, leaving it a bit of a mystery as to where the yard really ends.

House Beautiful

Inspiring Ideas: The Shape of Things April 28, 2008

Filed under: Decorating Inspiration — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 9:53 am
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A common misconception with decorating is that if you love everything in your room, your room will magically work as a whole. I get calls all the time from clients who say “I know what I like, and I buy what I love, but when I get it home I am disappointed that it doesn’t work.” Buying what you love is generally a good idea, but to really make a room feel right, there are more things to consider than love. If it were only that simple! It isn’t always about loving everything you have, it is about how things work together. Decorating a room is like putting together a puzzle, and finding the correct shape of the pieces determines your success.

One of the tips I often share with clients is that you need to consider the shape of things when you put together a room. So often rooms are made up of mostly rectangles. Rooms are rectangles, we have rectangular couches, chairs, coffee tables, end tables and rectangular rugs. We might love each and every thing in a room, but still the room feels awkward and uncomfortable. Sometimes the reason it feels this way is because traffic through the room doesn’t flow properly if there are too many sharp angles. Especially in walkways, small rooms or tight spaces. Adding things that are rounded will make a world of difference in how the room will ultimately feel. Rounded backs on chairs, round ottomans, round rugs, curved corners and round tables will create a sense of movement that can transform a room into one that is more comfortable to move around in and more pleasing to the eye.

Interestingly, some decorators put everything in a room on an angle in order to create drama and movement, as well as to get that “WOW THIS ROOM LOOKS DIFFERENT” experience. They place a rug on a diagonal and all the furnishings diagonally in a room. Let me just say here that while it does make the room look different, you want to be careful that you are not creating nausea with the new angles. A bunch of rectangles crooked in a room still can look awkward. Turning pieces of furniture in different directions can revitalize a space, and oftentimes some pieces do in fact look better at an angle, but I would proceed with caution if anyone tells you to turn your entire room on the diagonal. You might just end up seasick. If your room is awkwardly shaped and things feel uncomfortable, try adding in rounded pieces instead.

photo: Traditional Home online


Outdoor Rooms: Create Your Own Escape! April 26, 2008

Filed under: Gardens & Outdoor Rooms — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 9:04 am
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Thought you might enjoy a peek into the backyard of a fellow reader! I completely gasped when Teresa sent me her photos! This property is MAGNIFICENT! I’d feel like I lived a resort everyday!

While not everyone can live on a property this expansive with such a glorious view and beautiful features, we can use whatever space we have to create a magical escape for ourselves. It doesn’t have to be big and glorious, it can be small and intimate. This is part of evaluating the space you have and deciding how to use it. If you make use of what you already have and use it effectively, you can conjure up a perfectly wonderful experience wherever you are! “Teresa” has definitely made the most of her space. I hope we are all invited over for a pool party!

This photos are the property of Teresa Andersen, click here to visit her blog! Thank you so much for sharing your lovely space with us, Teresa!


{Bitter} Sweet Escape: Brides & Butterfly Kisses April 25, 2008

Filed under: Authentic Living,Domesticity,Sweet Escape — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 1:05 am


Sometimes life is bittersweet. I don’t know how many of you cry your eyes out when you hear the song Butterfly Kisses, but I do. Maybe I’m overly sentimental, but I cry about this song as much as I cry over Father of the Bride movies. I’m a daughter, of course, but I am also the mom of two daughters. I would put the video here but it is restricted, so if you want to cry along with me (come on, I know some of you want to…), you can click here. Go ahead, I’ll wait…I’m listening to it myself right now, and tears are already falling in my keyboard.

When I hear “Butterfly Kisses” I shut my eyes and memories of my beautiful little girls run through my mind…

As I drop to my knees by her bed at night
She talks to Jesus and I close my eyes
And I thank God for all of the joy in my life
Oh, but most of all for…

Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer
Stickin’ little white flowers all up in her hair
“Walk beside the pony Daddy, it’s my first ride
I know the cake looks funny Daddy but I sure tried”

It doesn’t matter if I am in an elevator, the grocery store or in the car, this song gets me every time. Big tears well up in my eyes, my lip starts quivering and my life as a mom flashes before my eyes… I see my little girls, their long eyelashes fluttering on mine as they kissed me goodnight, I see them giggling, riding ponies, dancing around in princess dresses, I can feel their chubby five year old arms wrapped tenderly around my neck, their soft cheek on my cheek, and suddenly in the blink of an eye they are 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, sweet sixteen…

Sweet sixteen today
And she’s lookin’ like her mamma a little more every day
One part woman, the other part girl
To perfume and make-up, from ribbons and curls
Trying her wings out in a great big world
But I remember…

Then comes the part of the song where I actually start wailing out loud…

She’ll change her name today
and she’ll make a promise and I’ll give her away
Standing in the bride room just staring at her
She asked me what I’m thinking and I said “I’m not sure,
I just feel like I’m losing my baby girl”
And she leaned over…and gave me…

Butterfly kisses with her mamma there
Stickin’ little white flowers all up in her hair
“Walk me down the aisle Daddy, it’s just about time
Does my wedding gown look pretty Daddy? Daddy don’t cry”

Right now, as I am listening to this part of the song, the words sink into my heart like never before because this August I will be seeing my little girl, my oldest daughter, walk down the aisle as (ok, choking back the big tears now) a beautiful bride.

There. I said it. My daughter is engaged. After four years of dating this young man, with our permission and blessing, he asked her to be his wife. Along with a beautiful ring, he presented her with the only flowers he has ever given her. He had told her when they started dating that he would only give flowers to the girl he was going to marry, and true to his commitment, the night he proposed he showered his bride-to-be with five dozen roses. He is a keeper.

She tried on wedding dresses last weekend (yes, I cried when they put a veil on her head) and as she stood up on the platform, some ladies gathered around her in awe, saying she looked just like a porcelain doll. She is a china doll. That was my baby up on the platform, wearing that veil, my first born, and I have to give her away. Life will change forever when she walks down that aisle. It will be bittersweet.

Truly, we are so happy for her, so proud of her, so pleased about her fiance and their plans. They are an amazing young couple. But I have to admit this is tough on her dad and me. Because we remember those butterfly kisses like they were only yesterday.

Stay tuned, I’m sure there will be more tears to come. But happy tears. Happy tears.

Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle


Room Design: Where to Begin April 22, 2008

The most common words I hear from potential clients is: “I’m stuck.” Sound familiar? You know you want to surround yourself with beauty and feel that things are put together, but it is oftentimes overwhelming to know where to begin to create what we want. Let’s talk about how to get started, whether your room is indoors or outdoors, we can tackle them the same way.



When I first begin work with a new client, I always sit down with them and ask a series of questions. One of the first topics we discuss is what the client intends to use the space for and what sorts of activities will take place in that room. Defining a specific purpose for your room, and even spaces within the room, really helps to zero in on some basic information that will be useful as you begin to design. You can apply this to indoor or outdoor room design. For outdoor rooms, even if you have no yard and only a front step to work with, a space can have a purpose! With a front door, it is a place to welcome guests as they knock on your door! It is “the welcoming space.” Just knowing that small piece of information can help you decide what to do with the space you have. From there you can design a “room” that will function and be aesthetically pleasing.

You can assign purposes several times over within a room. You might have a room that has to accommodate both eating and relaxing, for instance. So now that you have defined two purposes of the room, you can begin to create rooms within rooms. In both big or small spaces, every nook can be assigned a purpose. Dividing a room up by several purposes makes it much easier to design than if you just call a room a “living room,” for instance.

Below is a playroom of a client who called me with those common words, “I’m stuck.” She didn’t need any new furniture and her room was already cute, but she knew something was wrong because her kids didn’t want to play there. This is a big clue that something is wrong with your space. If you don’t want to go there, that signals a problem.


The problem was it simply wasn’t arranged with specific purposes in mind. Calling it “a playroom” was not specific enough. We needed to create zones, or rooms within the room. By simply creating two distinct spaces, I was able to create play zones that made sense for the kids. One area became the reading/TV nook, and the other was the “arts & crafts” zone. Each space you are designing needs to have a specific purpose so that you can know where to focus and how to solve the problems. In this case, it only required switching two pieces of furniture.



By simply defining the room and spaces within a room, whether your room is inside or outside, you can start to envision spaces that serve a purpose, rather than just a big design dilemma.

Next posts in this series (which will at times address both indoor and outdoor rooms) we’ll talk about problem solving in room design and then start to discuss the specific components we need to create inviting rooms. TTFN!

Photos: Top “25 Beautiful Homes: September 2005” via House to Home website
Playroom photos: my personal design projects


Outdoor Rooms April 21, 2008

Filed under: Gardens & Outdoor Rooms — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 1:55 am
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I’ve always been intrigued by outdoor rooms. The outside is always so full of creative possibilities! My husband and I spent many hours in our last two houses designing and creating living areas that stretched the borders of our home. I love the idea of taking some of the same design principles we use on the inside to create special spaces outside.

We bought our current house As Is, which as I’ve explained before, meant it was sorely neglected. Because we’ve had to spend so much time and money bringing things up to speed, decorating both inside and outside has taken a backseat to more fundamental issues. Nevertheless, our backyard is begging for some attention.

As I was thinking through what could be done with limited money, time or manpower (story of my life, darn those limitations!), I started to consider basic design principles that would help me get going on the project. I’m not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination, but a lot of the same principles I use for creating style and function inside a home apply to the outside too. More often than not, we can accomplish a lot just with creativity. That is good news for those of us who have access to more creativity than funds.

To explore some outdoor room ideas, I will do a series of posts coming up periodically over the next few months sharing creative inspiration for designing outdoor spaces. I’ll even do a few Drive Bys in my own neighborhood to illustrate some points!

READER PARTICIPATION: I could use your help on this! If you have some creative ways to define, create or decorate outdoor rooms, email me! I’d love to share your photos and ideas over the course of our series (which will go on periodically over the next few months) so start gathering your outdoor room inspiration!

Photos: House to Home