The Inspired Room

Refining Your Home for Authentic Living™

Inspiring Idea: DIY Rolling Storage & End Table July 6, 2008

Filed under: Decorating Inspiration,Organization — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 1:38 am

I love these multi-purpose ideas. Adding wheels to a picnic basket! Storage and a convenient table — right where you need it!

photo: Martha Stewart


Children’s Rooms: Decorating & Organizing Tips April 7, 2008

Ugh. This photo disturbs me. I’m not a fan of the giant Spiderman.

Kids’ rooms can be a challenge to decorate and just as frustrating to organize. Especially boys’ rooms. Let’s face it, their tastes and favorites seem to change all the time. One minute they are into superheroes, the next they are dinosaur hunters. But, I am a mom on a budget (and yes, I am a little bit picky about what my house looks like, even my kids’ rooms). Realistically, I don’t have the time to devote to changing my child’s room all the time. We have three kids so I have to keep my priorities or I’d be redecorating to keep up with the popular cartoons or fads all the time.

Besides that, I think we also need to teach our children to live responsibly and any way you look at it, redecorating every year or two is really wasteful. There are children in the world who don’t have food to eat, so I just feel we need to teach our kids to be satisfied, rather than always wanting more, better and new things. Hmmm, good lesson for me too. I know from personal experience that a baby nursery is a special thing to a mom, but once the child outgrows the baby phase, it is time to start thinking about a room with more staying power.

In a previous post on Girls’ Rooms, I was asked how you COULD incorporate their current favorites tastefully and on a budget. Here are some suggestions that I’ve used in my own home for rooms that can grow with your child’s ever changing tastes and storage needs:

  • Keep the basic shell of the room tasteful, neutral (meaning, no theme), and timeless. Instill the fun personality in things you can easily update or change as the child’s tastes evolve. While many people buy their kids character bedding, I find many of the options to be crunchy, scratchy and poor quality. Pottery Barn might be an exception to this. They do have Spiderman sheets now. I’d much rather have Spiderman sheets than that giant $159. on sale Spiderman decal (top, above). If you do find acceptable character sheets, still stick with a good quality classic comforter or quilt (see list below of some good quality bedding sites). Washable is a must, of course!
  • Choose a paint color for the walls that you can live with for a long time, unless you love painting walls. I dislike painting with a passion, so once a room is painted in our house, that is it. No more.
  • Children need lots of shelving for display. They will have ever changing vignettes of special toys and memories. Why throw all those Star Wars guys in a box when you can line them up on a shelf?

  • Boys tend to outgrow cute decor a lot faster than girls do. Some of us girls still love “little girl” colors and the cute stuff we loved when we were younger! To save money in the long run on boys’ rooms, stick to classic rugs, fabrics, colors and bedding patterns.
  • Reality check: children’s rooms really don’t need a lot of decoration. Kids have colorful and interesting things they like to display. They really don’t need MORE stuff in their rooms, that is what leads to all the visual clutter. Keeping things simple, classic and clean usually makes for a more pleasing overall effect. Make the most of what they already have and use the best of it to decorate the room. Put up hooks or pegs for hats. Put attractive toys on display. Have colorful bedding or curtains. Showcase artwork.

  • Children should have lots of room to feature their drawings and art. Try backs of doors, bulletin boards, and clips on walls to hang their creations. Or use frames that you can easily insert their latest masterpiece. Encourage your child to do their own artwork and update it regularly. Keeps them busy!
  • Chalkboards are great for kids. Not only can they use them to create, you can use chalkboards as a tool to help them learn to organize their own to do lists and daily schedules. Instead of remembering everything for your child, you can encourage them to write notes on their chalkboard. Pottery Barn makes these themed ones in the shape of skateboards, but with easy to use chalkboard paint you can turn anything into a writing surface, including furniture or the backs of doors! Uses of chalkboards are endless. You could have a board for “what to bring to school the next day,” a board for a memory verse they are learning, or a place to leave love notes to each other. We have all of those types of boards at our house!

  • Children need easy organizational systems that they can learn to use. Under bed containers are a favorite in our house. We label them with changeable labels and categories that are practical and usable for a child. My son’s room currently has under bed bins labeled WEAPONS, COSTUMES and TOOLS. When he wants to scare the neighbors, he knows right where to go. Also, if something is not in a container, it doesn’t belong under the bed. I try to fill the space up with the storage containers as much as possible to avoid the random toys, socks and pj’s that seem to gravitate to the dark corners. Under bed bins have cut down dramatically on the messes I find there. (However, now and then I do discover candy wrappers stuffed behind the bins.)
  • Closed or semi-closed storage bins are a must for children. Cleaning up is a never ending task. Being able to toss and hide things quickly keeps everyone happy. Open shelving is fine for a few display items, but everything else should be contained by a bin or basket so it less visible.
  • Sort everything for closed or semi-closed storage into broad but specific categories and find a bin for each. Labeling everything TOYS just won’t work. We have our bins on a shelving unit with labels like ACTION HEROES, CREATURES, BUG STUFF, LEGOS, SPY STUFF, CARS. The labels are easy to change if he outgrows some of the toys
  • If you have traditionally sized large toy boxes, use them for dress up clothes or costumes. I have found them to be generally too large for effectively organizing toys.

  • If you happen to be an artist (or know one) and love to personalize your kids rooms, try decorating a desk, chest of drawers, wooden chair or lamps to show their personality. You can paint a mural if you have the time or money to spare and are willing to paint over it or change it later if it no longer is suitable. Better yet, choose something timeless like stripes or a nature-inspired theme. A mural is a big commitment for most people. Sometimes you can involve the child in this sort of project and it is especially meaningful to them. Check out some fun hand-painted murals here and here.
  • Stick bookshelves wherever you can find space, particularly in close proximity to the bed to encourage them to read (and to keep the books tidy). Many books are also decorative so having them with their covers on display takes care of decorating AND their education all in one step.
  • Make sure each child has a good reading light next to their bed.
  • We put an adult-sized chair and a lamp in each child’s room (if there is enough space) to allow for bedtime stories with mom or dad.

  • You can tuck in small shelves in corners to make every inch count in a small space.
  • Put shelving above doorways to showcase decorative items you don’t want kids to touch or play with. Unless your child might be tempted to climb on furniture to reach things in high places. Then this is not a good idea.
  • Divide children’s rooms and playrooms into zones whenever possible. A place to play with costumes in one area, building sets in another, art supplies in a craft area.
  • Once their room is set up with a place for everything, give children cleaning routines to maintain their own belongings. If you incorporate a daily 10 minute “cleaning frenzy” (our word for a fast paced cleaning session) into the before dinner routine, kids should have no trouble keeping their rooms in order.


Room Design: Where to Begin (See a quick play room makeover!)

The Superhero Exception
About a Boy and His Room
Girls’ Rooms: Fanciful Rugs and Lamps
Eye Candy: Girls Rooms
Whimsical and Tasteful Children’s Rooms

Boy’s Bedding @ Horchow
Boys’ Rooms @ Garnet Hill
Girl’s Bedding @ Horchow
Girls’ Rooms @ Garnet Hill
Children’s Rugs, Wall Art and Furniture @ Garnet Hill
Children’s bedding and accessories @ Pottery Barn Kids

Photo credits: First one is Pottery Barn
Next two are my own from the Street of Dreams
Skateboard accessory photos: Pottery Barn
Surfing/Boating room: Coastal Living online, Jeff McNamara
Team pendant room: Southern Living online Jean Allsop
Red, white & blue room; Blue & orange room; Black bunkbed bedroom: Better Homes & Gardens online
Corner bookshelf room: Domino Magazine online
Chalkboard labels on baskets: Pottery Barn Kids
Last photo: Southern Living online Laurey Glenn photorapher


Clever Home Office Solutions April 3, 2008

Filed under: Decorating Inspiration,Organization — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

These days having some sort of “home office” is a necessity. Whether you run a business from your home or have a life, a blog, or all three (eh hem, yes, many of us are juggling a lot of balls!), you need to be organized. Having a place for everything is a must. For most of us, we need to make the most of the space we have. Precious few have the luxury of a room dedicated solely to a home office. In spite of our limitations, we still want our homes to be attractive, personal and inspiring. So, if we are short on space and want to keep our expenses low, how do we manage to have a well-organized office and still have our homes look great? In doing some photo research, I came across a few photos of some clever home office & organization ideas I thought I’d pass along for inspiration.

Desks can be expensive, but you can make your own to suit your needs. My own personal desk is actually two file cabinets with a desktop for a surface. I find that works well for me, and is definitely something you could make on a budget. Even old ugly file cabinets can be spray painted to give them a fresh look. Another suggestion is to buy or find table legs to attach to an old door. Or, use an old table fixed up with a new paint color. Instantly personalized desks!

Similarly, you can take several old file cabinets and give them new life with paint and new knobs. Instant credenza! Or, find an old dresser and give it a fun new paint job. Dressers are perfect for extra storage just about anywhere, including your home office! Frame a white board with wood to create your own custom message area. I insist on having several bulletin boards and message centers in my own home out where I can see them. For me, out of sight means out of mind.

With a little color coordination and creative storage containers, you can store office supplies right out in the open in just about any room of the house. You can cover storage boxes or even shoe boxes with paper to coordinate to your decor. Baskets also work well to corral papers and supplies.

Or, use tables with skirts or curtains that coordinate with your decor to help hide some of the clutter. Find wasted places under counters, shelves, or tables to claim some space for storage. Perfect “creative concealments!”

In small quarters, you can utilize any corner to hide some supplies! A skirted table in a dining room can hide file cabinets or shelving, and a coffee table can be topped with cushions to create both a charming seat and a place to stash supplies. You can also organize a closet to contain your home office needs.

Finally, I wanted to share an adorable space from a very creative lady. My blogging friend Rhoda of Southern Hospitality created this personal and functional office in a little nook next to her laundry room. I love the use of shelving above the desk to offer even more storage in a limited space. She infused the space with her own personality, including a pretty accent wall in spring green and storage boxes and baskets that complete her look. She packed a lot of punch and usefulness in what could’ve ended up as wasted corner.

Find more of my thoughts on Home Offices and organization:

  • Read tips (including mine!) featured on Productivity 101 here
  • Read my interview on The Home Office Organizer Blog here
  • Click on Organization in my categories to find more related articles
  • For more ideas on how to creatively conceal things around your house, click here!

photos: top Pottery Barn
bottom: Southern Hospitality-Rhoda
rest of photos: Better Homes & Gardens


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


Washington Post Blog Watch March 14, 2008

Filed under: Decorating Inspiration,Organization,Randomness — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 12:49 pm


Thanks to the Washington Post for featuring The Inspired Room on Blog Watch March 13, 2008!

Special thanks to Brandie, The Home Office Organizer, for the informative article (5 Tips to Start Organizing Your Home Office) mentioned in the feature!

Also, congratulations to the worthy Things That Inspire for being mentioned on the Washington Post Blog Watch as well!

Home Office Photo: Cottage Living

5 Steps To Start Organizing Your Home Office March 11, 2008

Filed under: Organization — Brandie Kajino @ 1:00 am

Please welcome The Inspired Room’s guest blogger here today to give us some quick tips on Home Office Organization:

WELCOME Brandie Kajino, “The Home Office Organizer”!

March 11 is “Organize Your Home Office Day”, and tax season is in full swing in America. Did you know that paper consumption has tripled since the widespread use of the computer? (I think we are a long way off from a “paperless society”!) Did you also know that 48 million Americans work from home (and those in the know expect this number to increase drastically in the next 20 years)? If you add in those who handle family business or have a creative space in our homes, there are a lot of us out there with a PC, filing cabinet and tools we use in a home office.

Would you like a home office that enables you to find what you need in five minutes or less? Is your paper driving you crazy? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, know that there is hope for you to get control of the paper flooding your home office. So, how would you go about doing that? I’ve compiled some tips and resources to get you headed in the right direction.

1. Sort the mail, everyday: Ugh, I know…. But, it might be easier than you think. By “Sort”, I mean just that. You’re just determining how long it will take you to deal with each piece of mail and what category it goes into. It should only take you a minute to do this. All you need is two baskets, file folders or large envelopes.

2. “To Do”: This category is anything that takes more than two minutes of your time. Bills, calls to be made, responses to write, etc. If you need the information to “do” something, it goes in this category.

3. “To Read”: This category is for things you need to read over, like a magazine, conference or event brochure, etc. Again, if it takes more than two minutes to read over, put it in here.

4. Recycle, reduce, reuse: Do you really need coupons for a dog wash, extra large pizza or a cheaply made necklace? Determine what your needs are, and recycle the rest. A lot of what we get in the mail is marketing materials we don’t need. Watch the paper that comes into your home, lest it congregate in corners and multiply! 🙂

Bonus Reuse Tip: If you have a newspaper delivered, consider using it as a weed barrier in your garden. Newspapers now use soy ink, so it won’t harm your garden. I have found 4-5 layers of newspaper work better than the expensive weed paper at the garden store!

5. Resources: This is a short list of things you might like to get started on your home office. Pick the medium that you like best.

Brain Type Quiz: Want to learn more about organizing and what will work for you? Try this fun quiz: “What’s Your Brain Type” Quiz:

Books: (You can find these on my website on the Products or Good Books pages)

“Organizing For Your Brain Type” by Lanna Nakone
“Zen To Done” by Leo Babauta
“Guide To Organizing Your Office” by Ariane Benefit
“101 Tips For Your Home Office E-Booklet” by Brandie Kajino 🙂

Website articles: LifeHacker as an entire section about Home Offices:

Teleclass: You can also take one of my teleclasses:

Some other articles on The Inspired Room:

Order Before Beauty

Style Tips: Quick Ideas For Refining Your Style

The Home Office Saga

Exciting Plans

This post, Steps to Start Organizing Your Home Office, was mentioned here:

THE WASHINGTON POST Blog Watch: The Inspired Room

Phew! Do you have resources you like? Please share them here! Also, if you have a question, feel free to post and I’ll keep up with the comments. I wish you all the best organizing your home office! 🙂

About the author
Brandie Kajino, The Home Office Organizer, is a dynamic speaker, author and professional organizer. Brandie organizes home offices for home-based professionals. Her website offers resources, articles, services and a blog to help home office professionals get organized, be more productive and simplify life. Visit her web site at

(Photo from


Style Tips: Everyday On Display March 5, 2008

Filed under: Decorating Inspiration,Domesticity,Organization,Style Tips — Melissa @ The Inspired Room @ 6:13 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Coastal Living online

You really do not have to have a ton of decorations, craft items or expensive collections to make a house personal, pretty or feel “finished.” Really, you don’t! I noticed upon arrival last summer in blogland that many bloggers have tons of accessories and collections! Decorating a home by buying collections, art and/or hand making creative home accessories is a big hobby for some folks. That is great, but not everyone wants to spend money to buy decorative collectibles or has the time and creativity to fill up their home with hand made crafts.

So what are we to do if we fall into the “I don’t want to spend a lot OR create everything by hand” category? It can seem like a lonely desperate situation to be in if you look at blogs for inspiration! But don’t despair! There are other solutions. Trust me, somehow I manage just fine in that lonely category!

Living Etc. via This is Glamorous, scarves and clothing add color and style

Here is my style tip for the day:

It is not necessary to spend lots of money OR be crafty in order to have a beautiful or personalized home. You just need everyday items.

Simply by utilizing things you DO have and actually use everyday your authentic style can shine through. Being somewhat practical, I love the idea of diplaying useful items as decorations. By having pretty things to use, you have the joy of finding beauty in every day activities (and you know I like that idea) AND your house magically becomes attractive, without trying too hard to “decorate.” That idea always appeals to me. I love the look of beauty that is more natural, evolving and less contrived.

When you have things in your home that are pretty colors, shapes, textures or patterns, find creative ways to have them out in the open! Just group them together on shelves (even inexpensive shelves with brackets can look amazing), or in glass fronted cabinets, open armoires, or even just out on hooks. Everyday items can function as art. The subtlety of it can be very striking. Almost appearing like a “happy accident” rather than a “Hey, look how hard I tried to decorate this shelf” kind of look.

I am a big fan of the bulletin boards. They keep paper clutter confined and can make an artistic statement all at the same time! Love that.

Creative Bulletin Board, Domino Magazine online
Re-purposing Shutters for display, Martha Stewart Online

Save closed storage for less than attractive items and clutter. If you have too many things in sight, you will suffer with a lack of visual serenity and the whole look will be chaotic. Be selective in what is out for public view. Strike a balance between accessories on display and breathing room.

Having things on display that you actually use rather than just look at is efficient, and cost-saving (because it is a dual-purpose item rather than just a decorative piece), not to mention completely authentic! Group things by color, shape or purpose just like you would display a priceless but basically useless collection.

Add shelves in any room to add personality and opportunity for your style to be showcased. Pretty dishes can look so homey on an open shelf or in a glass fronted cabinet.

Re-purpose furniture to display every day items. By mixing everyday accessories with furniture intended for other display purposes you create art! Try a bookcase stacked with towels in a bathroom or a library cabinet with glass doors to showcase purses and pretty shoes in the bedroom.

Living Etc. via This is Glamorous, using library shelves for clothing

Baskets or clear glass jars can be filled with everyday necessities to make a decorative statement. Even cotton balls can look amazing in a glass jar from a discount retailer like Home Goods!

Don’t have pretty everyday things? Well, you need them! You really do! Why drink out of an ugly cup when you can sip out of a pretty one? If you are on a budget (let’s face it, most of us are or should be on a budget!) start shopping at resale, thrift and discount stores for your basic necessities like cups and bowls in pretty shapes and colors. The key here is that attractive doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. That is a big fat lie so don’t fall for it.

Over time, I implore you to start replacing ugly everyday necessities with attractive things. Then you’ll be happy every time you pull a pretty cereal bowl off the shelf for breakfast. I’d much rather have a pretty cereal bowl than a useless object d’art sitting on a shelf. Even simple white dishes can be very attractive. Truth is, I don’t own a bunch of fancy schmancy dishes. I have a set of simple French Countryside Mikasa creamy dishes I use for every day and special occasions. I love them for their simple beauty.

Pretty everyday dishes, Coastal Living Online
Every day items hung on wall, Martha Stewart Online

When faced with a blank wall or empty shelf, ask yourself what every day items you could bring out to create art! What you choose to display will showcase your personality. Chic or antique, colorful or neutral, plain or fancy everyday items will set the stage for your authentic style.

This is another tip worth considering: You don’t need to find a trendy or popular accessory to have style. Just because everyone else has something in their house doesn’t mean you need it in yours. In fact, if you see something in everyone else’s house or on everyone else’s blog, you might want to reconsider having it in yours. Just sayin’, it’s something to consider. Trendy is not a personal style, trendy is often just imitating someone else’s style. And trendy becomes expensive and time-consuming when you try to keep up with what everyone else is in love with at the moment. Just sayin’. Trendy is fine, if that is what you love, but I prefer something more personal and longer lasting. That’s just me.

Consider creative ways to display every day items like:

Art supplies
Pantry Items
Oils & Vinegars
Fruits & Veggies
Pots, Pans, Baking Dishes
Dress Shoes
Coffee mugs
Decorative Books
Serving Pieces


Pantry items on spice racks, Domino Magazine Online


Practical items like placemats, everyday dishes, cookbooks and trays fill shelves
Coastal Living Online
Fruit, oils, spoons and bowls all on display. Southern Living Online
Southern Living Online, great use of shelves in nook in front of window! Tuck display shelves into unused corners and nooks to display vases, bowls and serving dishes.

Having a personalized and beautiful home is as often simple
as putting everyday items on display.