Outdoor Spaces

Summer is marching on, but spending time outdoors never gets old. At The Room Co. we value purposeful, beautiful, spaces, both indoors and out. But not everyone has the acreage or the resources to create the outdoor oasis of their dreams. And some of us aren’t natural botanists (hello, my name is Erin, and I have a black thumb). So when it comes to patios, porches, and gardens, most people don’t even know where to start.

We have some suggestions:

First, get inspired. You’re probably on your way to Pinterest right now (and if you are, be sure to check out the lovely inspiration we have pinned on our outdoor oasis board). But browsing online should never be your only source of inspiration. Get out and visit your local botanical garden, nurseries, and the yards of friends and neighbors.

Next, make a plan. Be realistic and work with what you have. If there’s no space in your yard for a water feature or a gazebo, don’t include those in your plan. Just let them go. The idea is to make the space you have work for you. Decide if you need a peaceful retreat in your outdoor space or if you long for a gathering spot to entertain and host summer parties instead.

Finally, choose one (or maybe two) parts of the plan that you can realistically do this summer. Perhaps it’s purchasing a ceramic planter and colorful flowers, like this one, or maybe it’s laying a flagstone patio. By completing small but purposeful tasks each summer, that outdoor oasis you’ve been dreaming about won’t seem so far away after all.

How to style bookcases


There are two repeating design offenses we notice while touring client’s homes. We’re going to talk about one of them today: Bookcases.

We get it, styling a bookcase is tricky! It’s all about the details. If you struggle with this decorating dilemma, take comfort in knowing that when we stage a home the bookcases are always time consuming and tedious for us too. But the end result is always worth the effort.

BONUS: once you learn how to style a bookcase well, you can use your newfound skills on styling floating shelves, console tables, countertops and any other horizontal surface!

Let’s get to it. The most important thing all bookcases need is BOOKS! If you’re like my dear friend Laurie, you have so many books that you don’t need to worry about adding anything else. But for many people with large bookcases, they just don’t own enough books -or at least display worthy books- to get by without added décor.

What do I mean by ‘display worthy books’? I’m referring to

1. hardcover books with

2. dust jackets removed, and

3. preferably no overly distracting text on the spine.

If you don’t own any books that fit this criterion, don’t sweat it. You can solve that problem by investing in a classic book series (they usually are designed for display as well as being intellectually enriching). Or if you’re on a budget, hit your local thrift store to find nice looking books for as little as $2.00! Try to find books with neutral colored spines and minimal text. How many books should you have? Enough to fill at least 1/3 rd of your total shelf space.

Now that you have books, display them in groups on various shelves instead of all together on one shelf. Books look good stacked horizontally or the traditional vertical lineup. Or to add some variety, try both!

Now you can begin filling in the empty spaces with the rest of your goodies. You need a VARIETY of accessories to adorn your shelves (See my go-to list of accessories at the bottom of this post). We like to give ourselves more materials to work with than we will actually use, so we have plenty of options. We put all of the pieces on the floor and ‘shop’ from the pile as we go. But don’t get ahead of yourself, there’s a science to this process.

First place your largest objects. Depending on the length of a shelf, a single statement object may be all you need. Which brings up this important tip: don’t over accessorize! A beautifully styled shelf should feel curated, not jam packed with odds and ends.

Second, fill in the largest remaining gaps with medium sized accessories. As you slowly style each shelf, make sure the objects that are placed next to each other are varied but coordinate. We aim for a variety of shapes, colors, textures, and purposes for a layered look with plenty of visual interest and depth.

Finally, add small details to the areas that need a little something extra. Remember that the term ‘small’ is relative. Displaying a marble sized figurine is not going to work. You’ll want to step back and view the overall design from a distance to get a good feel for how small your ‘small’ objects can be. For most large bookcases, anything smaller than 4” x 4” will get lost, causing the shelves to feel cluttered instead of curated.

At this point, you have one final step before you’re done. Step back and study the overall design. Chances are there are two or three items that need to be shuffled around, replaced, or removed all together. It’s like a puzzle, and when all the pieces fit together, you’ll know it.

Happy styling!


– Books (a variety of sizes preferably with neutral colored spines)

– Plants (2-3 varieties and sizes)

– Figurines (1-2 varieties of sculptural type objects)

– A Clock

– Picture frames either with art or personal photographs (3-5 varieties)

– A Votive and an Oversized candle

– A decorative box (used alone or to stack with other objects)

– A Tray (used to anchor/unify a group of objects)

– Meaningful or sentimental objects

*Note: although this is a topic that warrants it’s own post, let me briefly but firmly quote William Morris’ adage “HAVE NOTHING in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” That goes for sentimental ‘gifts’ too. If you have an heirloom displayed in your home strictly out of familial obligation, but it brings no joy to your soul or value to your design, pack it up and store it. Or if it just happens to be a gifted decoration that has no familial significance, donate it.


How to Choose a Kitchen Backsplash

                               Photo Credit: Provident Home Design

Backsplashes can be tricky to get right, even for designers. But take heart, we have a few tips to share with you today to give you the confidence you need to make a wise selection.

Did you know?

Choose your countertop before you choose your backsplash. Why? There are fewer countertop choices available than backsplashes. Backsplash options are truly endless, so you’re more likely to find something that suits you.

White cabinets with dark backsplashes make the space to appear bigger.

Photo Credit: Better Homes and Gardens

But if you have dark cabinets, you may want to take the opportunity to lighten up your space with a lighter backsplash.

Dark on dark can be overwhelming if it’s not done just so, but white on white works every time.

If you have a quartz countertop with minimal variation, you have the freedom to go bold on your backsplash.

Granite countertops are difficult to pair with a stone tile backsplash. Why? Stone on stone can get visually busy, and sometime the natural undertones of each material fight with each other. It’s much easier to pair a granite countertop with a glass or solid porcelain backsplash.

Photo Credit: Decozilla

If you go with the white on white look, add visual interest by getting playful with the shape of the tile backsplash. You can also add a contrasting grout color for even more pop.

Photo Credit: 11 Magnolia Lane

The Process

If you are building or remodeling, WAIT until you have both countertops and cabinets installed in the kitchen. Choosing a backsplash based on small samples of your countertops and cabinets, almost always leads to backsplash remorse. Remember, every kitchen is unique! From lighting to layout, and even ceiling height and wall color, there are multiple variables that can make or break your backsplash efforts. So don’t rush your decision. While waiting for all the pieces to fall into place, it’s a good idea to get inspiration and determine what kinds of styles you like or dislike. Browsing online is always a great way to see a lot of options quickly. Once you have determined that, you can visit a few local tile stores to see who carries the look you want. Be sure to get samples of your favorites!

Once you have all the main kitchen elements in place, see how each backsplash sample looks on the wall. Move the samples around to different areas in the kitchen so you can see how they appear with different lighting.