Please, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? {Announcement!}

Blessed Are They Who See Beautiful Things in Humble Places - Camille Pissarro Quote - The Inspired Room

Hey friends! I’ve been SO excited for this day to come! I have such a fun announcement and yet I’ve had to keep it to myself forEVER. Don’t you hate those secrets? But the time has finally come where I can let you in on a little project. Soon I’m going to be introducing something very near and dear to my heart. But because you are all my good friends here, I wanted you to get a little sneak peek before I officially launch it to the world!

As a blogger at The Inspired Room for the past eight years and an author of my first book, Love the Home You Have, I love to share my home and life with anyone who wants to read it. I adore blogging and that community I’ve found.

But the truth is, as much as I love telling MY stories, I really just want YOU ALL to move in next door to me, on the same block, in the same neighborhood so I can get to know YOUR stories (but by now you probably would know better than to move near me, I might just see another house I love and decide to move! I’m still a little crazy like that). Having you all as neighbors has been my dream since I first started blogging.Home Love Stories - Community - The Inspired Room

But since actually becoming next door neighbors is probably not going to happen, I decided I should just create my own virtual online neighborhood and invite y’all to move in! For free. It’s my gift to you and in turn, I know your friendship will become a gift to me and everyone else in the community! Welcome to Home Love Stories, a community site I dreamed up for sharing, connection and encouragement!

This site was a labor of love for my readers and new friends who would like to be a part of it. Best of all, you don’t have to have a blog to join (although if you do, that’s great, too). HOORAY! You don’t have to be a pro at social media. You don’t have to have a big following to be noticed. You can belong and be a part of this because you are among friends, kindred spirits. Fellow house-shaped heart friends who want to see beautiful things in even humble places.

Home Love Stories - For House Shaped Heart People - The Inspired RoomFor those of you who remember old school blogging, that is what I want this community to feel like. No pressure. No perfect houses or professional photo editing necessary.  Y’all. Blogging has become HARD WORK. I’m telling ya. I love it and The Inspired Room is not going to change, but at Home Love Stories we are going to bring old school blogging back!

Home Love Stories. It’s FREE. It’s fun. It’s authentic.

And it is for people who want to be in community with others striving to show love to the home we have.

So, what will we share on Home Love Stories? 

  • Show us the little things that make your home special to you!
  • Show us the dailys (whatever you are doing that day at home)
  • Tell about your decorating or remodeling adventures
  • Give us a peek at your favorite room or corner
  • Show off your home organization projects
  • ASK DESIGN QUESTIONS and get opinions or advice (let’s all help a sister out!)
  • Enjoy friendship among house-shaped heart people!

And even more fun, soon we’ll be doing community events together like block parties, drive bys, Fall nesting parties, house tours and more!  Stay tuned!

So, here’s the deal. Prior to the bigger launch when I will spread the news far and wide, I need your help with this testing period. I need you adventurous types to start trying out the site for me! Next week I will be explaining more details on how it will work and how we will use it as a community rallying point. It is going to be AMAZING, I can’t wait to kick things off with some fun block parties and soon I’ll announce a 31 day Love Your Home challenge in April!

But if any of you want to help me out and get things rolling now, here’s what to do to be a part of the free HLS community:

1. Go to

2. Join to create your profile.

3. Create your first post as a “get to know you and your home” post. Choose the “Get to know you/Housewarming” category when you post. Instructions are in the How To tab.

4. Publish your post and VOILA, you’ll be a part of the neighborhood! How fun is that going to be?

5. Follow Home Love Stories on Instagram if you are there, @homelovestories

Then check out the stories of others on the site!

You can have fun scrolling through people’s stories (don’t forget to click to click to open them if you want to read them!) and adding your own on your phone, too!

Troubles? Email me at

Come on over and sign up for Home Love Stories, it’s free!Home Love Stories - The Inspired Room

A Small Backyard Renovation and Deck Addition

Small Backyard Renovation - Cassie from The Inspired Room

Cassie - TIR

Hello friends! It’s Cassie here again! Thank you all so much for your sweet words and welcoming comments on my first post last month. It was a delight to introduce myself and my home to you. I will also have to do a post in the future on all of the paint colors in our home, as so many of you had questions about them!

This month I am so excited to share with you our backyard renovation that we finished up these past few weeks. This is the time of year when we are all thinking about spring, especially here in Seattle where we have had an odd abundance of sunny days! Thinking about spring leads us to thinking about our yards, flower beds, gardens, and getting those all prepped and ready for summer. This year, my husband and I finally took the leap and redid our yard into something we love, that functions well for our family and lifestyle, and that fixes many of our past issues.

In the past, our yard has been a headache of sorts. As I mentioned in my last post, we moved into our home almost exactly two years ago. It was a new construction home, which has some amazing positives, but also some big negatives. One of those negatives was our yard. Our yard itself wasn’t terrible, but the soil was about the worst I have ever seen. The grass was a constant battle to keep alive between the soil and our doggy friend, and it was near impossible to plant anything due to all the left over construction concrete “rocks” we found. I grew up on a farm and actually enjoy working outside, but this was more of an uphill battle than I had bargained for.

backyard before-patio

Backyard- before

Our very sad yard and not-so-nice aggregate patio

So we sat down and mapped out what we might want to see in our yard. How could we fix the problems we were running into? What would be something we would enjoy maintaining? Would we use the space for for entertaining and/or for our children to play in? Here is a list of what we decided we wanted:

  • low maintenance, but with the possibility of some small container gardens
  • would resist flooding (with the bad soil and drainage, this happened a lot)
  • dog friendly
  • family friendly
  • a space to entertain
  • some way to help hide the house next door
  • more trees and shrubs
  • cost effective long term

We ended up deciding to reduce the size of our actual yard, add more plants, add a pea gravel area for the pup and possible container gardens, and build a deck. The deck was the big item we decided we wanted. We knew it would cost more upfront, but we found that decks (especially composite like we went with) keep their value and can add to your resale value much more than a simple yard renovation.  We also decided to reduce the yard size because we have a huge park with sports fields, two playgrounds, and walking trails directly across the street and knew that we would mostly be playing with our children there in the future.

After getting a few bids for the project, we found a great father-son landscaping company (Helmke’s Landscaping Co. for those in the Seattle/Eastside area!) to do the job. Here is the plan they came up with for us:

Microsoft Word - KulpDwg2015.doc

 Plans designed by Helmke’s Landscaping Co.

They finished the whole project in under three weeks and did a fantastic job. As I mentioned above, we did composite decking. We won’t have to worry about staining it or tiny feet getting slivers. We went with Trex decking in the “Beach Dune” color. This is one of their least expensive options and it looks amazing, especially with the hidden fasteners we used.

Close up of Trex Beach Dune

Trex “Beach Dune”

Small backyard with pea gravel and Trex deck

They selected all of the plants from local nurseries. I gave them a few ideas of plants I liked, but left it up to them to select and place everything. The pea gravel you see above is where we can take our pup out and it super easy to clean. We also are planning to add some container gardens along the side of our house on the pea gravel using these galvanized metal tanks or something similar.

Backyard Trex deck with propane firepit

Sources: Adirondack Chairs (cushions are from World Market, but no longer available), Fire Pit

The pergola they built helps distract from the house next door. Hopefully in the future we will add planters along that side as well. My husband ran out and grabbed this propane fire pit the day the deck was finished. Although we entertain pretty often, it will also be a nice place for the two of us to sit and relax in the evening. 

Small backyard inspiration

Our teeny view of the Cascade mountains in the background. Sources: Table and Chairs, Umbrella

Our landscapers re-soded our lawn and also added soil to the areas where the grass and plants are now. I am hopeful that we can keep things alive!

Before and After - Small Backyard Renovation with a New Deck

We are so pleased with how this project turned out. I know we will use it daily throughout the upcoming spring and summer, and for many many years to come. I hope this inspires you all as you plan and dream up any outdoor plans of your own!

Cassie TIR

Related post by The Inspired Room:

How to Add Personality to a Small Outdoor Space

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