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How to Decorate {Starting with What You Have}

by | Oct 8, 2015 | Decorating Inspiration, my house, My Kitchen

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How to Decorate {Starting with What You Have}

One of the things I miss about my old house was how “put together” and finished it felt to us when we lived here. Not in a perfect way at all, just a homey way. We could relax because the house had just the right stuff to make us feel comfortable. We created an ambience we loved to come home to. We felt peaceful when we were there because the elements worked together to make us feel like we really belonged there!

I love creating a home, but I’m not a design snob. My goal is to create a home that reflects and inspires our family, so we always start with what we have and build from there.

How to Decorate {Starting with What You Have}

You know how you feel when you are playing those board games where you get pounced on by your opponent and they send you packing back to the starting line? Now that we are here moved into this house, we could kind of feel like we are back at the start again. Square One. And we are back at the start in a way, but yet, not really.

How to Decorate {Starting with What You Have}

The greatest thing about putting our last house together making it feel like home is we aren’t starting from scratch here. No, I don’t know everything this house needs yet. I don’t have the budget to do everything I want. I’ll have to get creative. It will take time to get things rolling in the right direction. The process of creating this home will involve trial and error just like every house does, but there is also a process that is familiar each time. I’ve lived in so many houses and made each one a home, but it wasn’t until my last house that I finally figured some things out.

I’m very excited about how this house will come together, following that same process (I pulled together exactly what the process looks like and what steps to take in my new decorating book! See a one day only 50% off deal, below!).

I know it isn’t always easy to pull together a house. Yes, if you are able to spend the big bucks you can toss everything you have out, furnish it all in one day and even hire a designer to style it all if you wanted to! But where’s the fun in that? Don’t answer that :). But seriously, most of us have to deal with limitations and some challenges because we are starting from what we have.

How to Decorate {Starting with What You Have}Mirror: Lulu & Georgia

There are so many elements to weave together and we have to figure out what will make the most impact. We might have too much or too little to work with, and we have to figure out how to work with it. We have to figure out what stays and what goes, and then decide what we should bring in to transform the whole room on our budget.

So what is the first thing I’m working on in this house? Among other things, I will be figuring out what I want it to feel like. I’m fleshing that out so I can not only see it in my head, but I can describe what it feels like so I’ll know what elements I will need to make it happen. I’ll have a post on what I’m picturing, soon.

To me, being able to capture a feeling is the most important step of all! If you don’t have a vision for how it will feel, you’ll focus too much on how it looks and that can get you into all sorts of troubles :).

How to Decorate {Starting with What You Have}

I also have a wonderful project you’ll all love that involves a sewer, wouldn’t you know it? Me and old houses have a love affair but they always seem to have chapters that involve rats and sewers that I just can’t escape. So, that part of getting settled … well, it is not so fun. But if I can make anything about that unfortunate situation turn into a prettier project, I will. I’m trying. We are gathering details on what will be involved in taking care of that issue so I can share it shortly. The project list is growing, as all good house makeover stories tend to do. You can’t ever just do one thing, right? One thing always threatens to lead to another…

More details and visions of loveliness for this new house coming right up :).


What house projects are you working on or planning right now? Let’s discuss!


How to Decorate {Starting with What You Have}If you want a house that is comfortable but not cluttered, one that is authentic but affordable, pretty but practical, streamlined and yet stylish, I put together the details and tips you can use immediately right where you are, with what you have! No waiting for the next house, the big budget or the perfect house!

It’s all in a pretty coffee table book that will be hitting the stores in just a couple of weeks! It’s already nicely discounted for pre-order at the online stores. BUT GUESS WHAT? Next week, on Thursday October 15, it will be 50% off the retail price on a one-day sale, online only at Barnes & Noble! That is crazy and won’t happen again so you’ll want to take advantage of that for Christmas gifts, too!


  1. Ms. Maggie the Elder

    Love the old hickory flooring in the decorated pics- I have it in both houses and it goes with everything. Now going to put in family room using laminate this time since it is a daylight basement install.

    I agree snobbery is out and function is important. I like to make sure over time that you include updates to your rugs, etc. so that they do not look worn or are dirty, even you do not move. Walk around your house and say: what needs attention as if you were going to sell it right away. So important in wet areas such as kitchen and baths due to mold in the PNW~
    Do it now so you can enjoy it and not when it is being sold and someone else gets to enjoy it!!!

  2. Deanna

    I think so many women get caught up in thinking they must do what everyone else is doing in their homes, or they are afraid to make ‘mistakes.’ I love your approach – use what you have, and over time change out what you don’t love.

    Excited for your new book! You are inspiring a whole generation of women!

  3. Shauna

    Hi Melissa!
    I’m so excited to read your new book! Every time I read about your approach to making your home “yours” I feel so much more at peace with mine. You’ve always been able to do that with me. I really hope that through my blogging journey I can inspire others to love their homes as much as you have done! Now about that sewer! Oh boy! Hang in there!! ?

  4. Carol

    It comes up on the link as $19.55 (27% off, not 50% off). Do I need to put in a special code?

  5. Carol

    Oh sorry, just saw it is on 10/15.

  6. Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    I LOVE all the pretty pictures of your old home, Melissa. And I’m guessing that it’s bittersweet having the book and the weight of starting over in your “new” house… especially with a sewer project. We lived through one of those nightmares… so I’ll look forward to hearing how you gracefully and beautifully overcame yours. Big Hugs!! Can’t wait to turn the pages on your NEW book and enjoy all the gorgeous inspiration.

  7. Sanni

    You are so right about the feel versus look!

  8. Seana Turner

    I am a big believer in using what you have, for organizing as well. You can often get great results just digging around… you don’ have to spend a lot of money, especially to get started!

  9. Janiece

    Love your two tier fruit basket! Any chance it’s a recent find?

  10. Rebecca Turner

    I am really looking forward to your new book! Your first book helped me to be more content in my home of thirty four years, and enjoy it, and stop living for the future in a new house that may never materialize. Now I’m working on making it the home it should be. This week we (my husband and I) are making a bag/coat/hat rack from the footboard of an old bed. Someone else had already cannabinolized it, so I don’t feel bad cutting into it. I also have plans to repaint the front door while the weather is nice. I can relate to your rodent troubles because we once experienced that in a rental. We also experienced a flood once and had to move out while the house was being restored. I learned that you can start all over AND enjoy the process. Blessings to you!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thank you so much Rebecca! So excited to hear that you are making your house the home it should be! :)

  11. Christie

    I like this post and look forward to seeing your plans. It’s true; the house has it’s own feel and that can take time to figure out. What fun to watch you do that!

  12. Bethany

    I’ve been working on stripping paint from a door in our upstairs hallway. I have 2 little ones at home so its been 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there and of course I’m using non-toxic stuff (Citristrip) and I’m having to reapply multiple times to get all the paint/stain off. God bless the beautiful door with all its recessed panel glory, but oh to strip a flat door would be a mercy!

  13. Gayla

    I like your approach. We have done a lot of renovating and remodeling and it takes time.
    How did you do that shiplap wall and what color was it painted? I really like that. I have been wanting to do something similar. Thanks

    • Leah

      I did a quick search and it looks like Melissa’s post on November 12, 2012 will answer your question!
      ~Leah: )

  14. Elizabeth

    I’m spending the weekend working on multiple projects in our home :) Painting entry doors, building flower boxes, recovering a chair and hopefully making a wreath out of flowers from our yard. I can’t wait to see your new home come together :) Oh and I can’t wait for your book to arrive!!! Liz

  15. vintagist

    I really like this post and just had a look for your book. Didn’t know that you already published one earlier this year (blame me)..But great to see! :-)

  16. Cindy Brown

    Just Be contentment and En joy really have joy in that place where you are. ENJOY!!

  17. Linda

    As a frequent mover myself (military then oversee 2nd career) I know what you speak off! Making each place a home, not a showcase was the number one priority. Loved the challenge and fun of doing that. Seeing where our furniture would actually end up was often a surprise. Not always where you would think! Question, how did you hang the Polish pattery shallow dishes…pie pans? Thanks.


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