The Inspired Room

Refining Your Home for Authentic Living™

Learning the art of design through observation July 28, 2008

Filed under: Creative Inspiration & Projects,Decorating Inspiration — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 1:00 am


Since starting my blog, I have come across a few people who question the value of looking at beautiful homes in photos. Not through comments on this blog, but on other blogs. It occurred to me that some people really may not understand the value of observation. And that is OK. We are all wired up differently and for some people this is not as fun as it is for me! Plus, I understand that sometimes looking at something beautiful can lead to discontent with what you have or a fixation on perfection, and that is certainly not a desirable effect. It all comes down to perspective, and what it is you are looking at.


I choose to study certain types of beautiful photos because they inspire me. I learn a lot from observation of details. While on the surface you may think, yeah, looking at beautiful photos inspires me to want something I cannot have! But I think there is value in studying something that is well done but not OVER done. You can absorb an ability to replicate beauty and ideas (on any budget) by studying the right kind of images.

Having an eye for beauty doesn’t mean you are obsessing over material things, or desiring something you cannot have. Obviously we don’t want to make beauty an obsession. Rich or poor, fancy or simple, in every different decorating style, we all have a need to find beauty in our life. Some of us find more pleasure in beauty than others, I realize that. For those of us who appreciate beauty, the ability to recreate appropriate beauty in our homes should lead to contentment, peace, gratitude, joy and a desire to share our home through hospitality.


There is beauty in the simple things of life, the way light pours through a clean window in the morning. The way a collection of white dishes look all piled behind a glass cupboard, the way a reading chair can invite you in to a moment of solitude because of the way it positioned in a room, the beauty of simplicity when you see a pleasing arrangement of beautiful objects on top of a console table, the joy of a burst of color in a mostly neutral room. The serenity of a certain color scheme. The contrast between an antique and new. The balance of texture in a room, or the way a room comes to life with a bouquet of flowers. The way a colorful table creates a festive atmosphere for company. The feeling of peace when you see a room free of clutter. The intrigue of a pile of beautiful books on a bedside table. Lovely photos can reveal creative ways to accomplish a beautiful composition or pleasing space and even a well-lived life.

All of these things can be inspired by simply looking at a photo. Whether you are setting up a table for a party, decor for a wedding, designing a blog or a room, good things come from observation.


You can duplicate beauty on a budget, using & arranging what you already have or can find at a garage sale. But first you have to understand what looks pleasing to your eye. You can learn by observation. Have you heard the saying “garbage in, garbage out?” Ok, then. If you spend a lot of time looking at things that are poorly done or poorly designed (even in your own home) in an effort to keep yourself from discontent, you will not develop your eye for beauty. And your surroundings will reflect what you look at everyday. If you get used to clutter and junk, and refuse to look at clean, pretty & orderly rooms, your home will reflect that.

We all might have a different perspective on what is beautiful, of course. But you can learn from the composition, even if you were to change a few things for your own taste.

I love to look at rooms that are imperfect but yet still lovely. Those rooms are attainable and are the most intriguing to me. If I look at perfect or sterile rooms, I get a little squirmy. I have to look at rooms that people, kids, and dogs could actually live in! Furthermore, I learn design principles from photos that don’t even show actual rooms. We can learn from all sorts of lovely photos, if we allow our minds to stretch to see beauty.


So, let’s start a new game on The Inspired Room. One I like to play myself. A learning game. I will share photos for you to observe from time to time on my blog. Sometimes I might share them for a whole week in a row, sometimes just on occasion here and there. So when you see the word “Observation” in the blog title, that means it will be a single photo for you to observe.

I will choose photos that have inspired me in some way (both new to you and maybe some from previous posts). I may or may not share some commentary on the photo, but either way, your job is simply to observe. You don’t have to love the room, the style, or the colors, but try to learn something from each one. If you enjoy this little exercise as much as I do, I’ll keep doing them.


Here are some things to consider:

What is inspiring about the image? What could you duplicate in your own home? What feelings does the room conjure up in your mind? How was a mood created? What makes the photo or room unique or special? What draws you in? Notice the colors, the textures, the placement of objects. Notice the layers. The accessories. The mix of patterns. The lighting. How they hung the curtains. The small details. The overall effect of the room or composition.


During our “Observation” posts, after you have studied the photo for a few moments, share your observations in the comments. There is no right or wrong here, just simply observing to hone our eye for beauty. We can learn from each other if you will all share a thought or two about what you noticed or what inspired you. Sound good? Aw, come on. Give it a try. It’ll be fun.


Country Homes & Interiors via House to Home
Scott Sanders via Desire to Inspire
Decorative Country Living


A New Old & Inspiring Bathroom July 21, 2008

Filed under: Creative Before & After,Creative Inspiration & Projects,Decorating Inspiration — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 1:00 am

One of my most favorite houses ever is my blogging buddy Meg’s home. I know she is becoming quite popular, but I discovered her long ago so we go way back and I am pretty sure I am her BBFF (grin). In fact, her craft room was featured on my blog late last year, that is how far back we go.

Her house is one of those rambling big old family houses (I think it is in the Midwest) that just feels like home to me. Not only is the home gorgeous, but you can see through her fantastic blog that her focus is on the life she creates for her family, not on trying to impress us with her decorating skill. That makes her a kindred spirit because she really emulates what I feel is an authentic life.

You can’t help but love her when you see her family kitchen. Glamorous with a chandelier yet homey with seven chairs lined up around the counter ready for their family pancakes. Love her.

Her whole house is beautiful, but today we are here to focus on her new old bathroom. I say new old because while it is a new bathroom, she combined antique elements and style to make it feel like it has been in her home all along. It complements her home perfectly. It is a retreat she deserves as the gorgeous mom of five! Let’s take a peek:

Could you just die to soak in that tub? Meg says she’s never been so clean. I’d be a prune.

Now, check out this old buffet. You know I don’t like to paint so this makeover is truly inspiring to me…this is the before picture. Look below for the stunning after photo…WOW! A white coat of paint can really make an amazing difference.

Do you see that adorable little mirrored table with the birdcage on it? Here, let’s look a little closer:

She bought that fabulous mirrored table for $12 at an antique store and scraped the paint off the mirrored legs herself. She is amazing! And what is even more amazing, she knows how to conceal! Yes, I caught her trying to get away with a unidentified concealment and I am capturing it here for you all to see. Look at this:

Modern stereo equipment, CONCEALED! Let this be a lesson to all of you. Don’t you try to sneak a concealment onto your blog without me noticing. I can spot these a mile away and I will expose them for all to see. I love this concealment.

This is the perfect new old bathroom, old and charming, yet blissfully new. Thanks, Meg, for letting me feature your private getaway! I love to share inspiring rooms from readers, so feel free to share YOURS with me!

photos: copyright Meg Duerksen, used by permission


Fanciful Fun: A Tea & Costume Party! June 28, 2008

Filed under: Creative Inspiration & Projects — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 1:00 am

martha stewart sock and glove craft

Guess which one is me? I am all dressed up in my sock animal costume, ready for a party (and about to dive in to my little pastry)!
I must admit, I am rather embarrassed by the simplicity of my costume,
but it has been a rather busy week…besides, I rather like sock animal costumes.

After a few days of talking about myself and my life, I am sick of myself. Really, I’ve had it with ME. I am ready to escape the real world into the world of imagination for some fanciful fun. Will you join me? Come on, the real world gets oh-so-serious. Houses-sch-mouses, how much work they are, let’s leave them behind for awhile! I am sending you off this weekend to enjoy the creativity of some of the most talented and creative folks as they celebrate:

“A Mad Tea Party (of the costume variety)!”

Here, please try one! In honor of the festivities I have brought cupcakes (from Saint Cupcake in Portland, Oregon).

This event is hosted by one of my great blogging buddies Vanessa, who not only has inspired me to new heights of imagination and creativity, but she is a generous and sweet friend. I am so honored to know her. I enjoy chatting with her sometimes long after we should have shut down our computers — we get sillier and sillier as the night wears on. She cracks me up.

Vanessa contributed to my last Creative Inspiration Week and amazed us all with her creative genius, as she does each week on her amazing blog A Fanciful Twist. I definitely mean this, she is a creative genius. I adore this girl. Her festivities are not to be missed. So please, I send you off to her magical tea party to see what wondrous things she has planned! So, leave your cares behind and enjoy yourself!

Thanks for stopping by (please tell me, do you think I look silly in my costume?)! Don’t forget a cupcake on your way over! Please tell Vanessa I sent you! Now, hurry on, have fun! Be sure to click on the party links in her sidebar to see all the people participating!

P.S. Congratulations, Miss V on 200 posts!

Instructions for Martha Stewart’s sock and glove critters can be found here.

Outdoor Rooms: DIY Hanging Daybed on Sunporch June 19, 2008

Filed under: Creative Inspiration & Projects,Decorating Inspiration,Gardens & Outdoor Rooms — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 3:55 pm

How fun is this? A kind blogging reader Dandelions and Daydreams pointed this lovely idea out to me (thank you!) and I loved it so much I wanted to share it all with you!
Such a cozy spot for a Sunday afternoon nap!

Click here to find directions from Lowe’s to make your own hanging daybed! Enjoy!

Photo and directions: Lowe‘s


Fun Idea: Chalkboard Cloths & Placemats May 14, 2008

I saw this very cute product and idea from Dianne of Desperate Diva and I loved it! I love easy ideas like this that are not only unique but are also a conversation starter or memory maker. They serve a purpose beyond CUTE. Love that.

This would be such a nifty idea to celebrate someone’s birthday (have it on the table with birthday messages) or to honor any special person or day. Leave a love note for your sweetie. You could use it to share family activities or plans at the breakfast table, a memory verse for the week, an inspirational quote, a menu, or keep kids busy when they say they are bored (as my son says at least five times a day). Or, use them as a fun party activity! It would definitely create memories!

You could also do similar things with regular sheets and fabric pens, or even rolls of paper spread out on tables. Or, get out your chalkboard paint and use it directly on a table.

For the chalkboard cloth or placements, I believe Desperate Diva also has clear protectors you can put over the cloth in order to preserve what you wrote while you use the table.

Thanks for the great product and idea, Dianne! Everyone, pay Dianne a visit! She has a great blog and is a neat person, too!

Happy Creativity!


Sweet Escape: McMaster & Storm Online Shop May 9, 2008

Filed under: Creative Inspiration & Projects,Sweet Escape — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 11:38 am

from the McMaster & Storm website

Remember our lovely Creative Inspiration Week gift wrap tutorial by none other than the now famous (they were featured entrepreneurs in Country Living Magazine!) Kara and Darcy from the “petite department store” McMaster & Storm? Well, I am pleased to announce the opening of Kara & Darcy’s new online shop, McMaster & Storm! These girls have been working tirelessly to bring all the sweet goodness of their shop in Ohio to all of us near and far. Please pay them a visit, and let them know I sent you. They are delightful ladies and their shop is oozing with charm, you’ll love it all! Go ahead, buy yourself a present. You deserve it. Or at least window shop. It is your Sweet Escape for the weekend.

Country Living Magazine, Ryan Benyi

Country Living Magazine, Ryan Benyi

Country Living Magazine, Ryan Benyi

Country Living Magazine, Ryan Benyi

Congratulations, Kara & Darcy! You are a great inspiration to us all!

PS. Kara informs me that she is going be doing some updating on the gift wrapping tutorial this summer and we will featuring it here on The Inspired Room! Yipee! Stay tuned, first she needs to recover from all the technical challenges of launching an online shop! We’ll try to wait patiently, for her sake.