My Lucky 7 Take-Aways from Melissa Michael’s ‘Simple Decorating’ @bohosusan


I spent a delightful Sunday afternoon this weekend reading Simple Decorating: 50 Ways to Inspire Your Home by Melissa Michaels. While not pocket-size, the book is definitely purse-size and its 108 pages are chock full of ideas that rift on fine-tuning your eyes to look at (and use) what you have in a new way.

Michaels is also the inspirational human behind The Inspired Room blog and has written three other books—one with a companion coloring book!—that feature photos from her very own inspired family homes (note homes plural). Why the emphasis on plural? Because in this book you get to see how Michaels adapted many of the same furnishings used in one home to work in another after a recent move—no mean feat, as anyone who’s moved can attest.

Here are my seven favorite ideas from this book as a teaser. You’ll want to read all 50 ideas for yourself, of course, as well as her other books. So follow the purchase links at the end of this review to get a closer look and buy.

1. ‘How to Change Your Style on a Budget’ bullets @bohosusan
Simple Decorating

Particularly the suggestion to try something unexpected, like using a stool for an end table, a hutch for a bookcase, or, as in the above photo, hang a wire basket on the wall.

2. An idea from her ‘Mix & Match’ section @bohosusan
Simple Decorating

“If you have a basic look you are going for, whether that be a particular era or style or basic color theme, throw in a twist with a piece that doesn’t fit the rule so it can stand out as fresh,” Michaels writes.

This hits close to home, given that five years ago the Lawson household began to transition from Early American to Midcentury Modern Boho Chic. A big jump, huh? I still have several occasional tables and storage pieces reflecting my earlier preferences, and I see now that they add interest to the mix. It also makes me wish I hadn’t been so quick to get rid of some of the things I did, but that is, alas, water under the bridge.

3. ‘8 Ways to a Happy Home’ OR how to be in relationship with your home @bohosusan
Simple Decorating

In particular, I loved the ideas of…

  • Creating one “happy corner” in your home to fall in love with and counter the chaos elsewhere
  • Letting home be the centerpiece of your joy by naming 20 things you look forward to doing for it (sorting books, creating displays, and placing inspiring quotes and photos were just a few of the suggestions mentioned)
  • Imagining what you’d do to your home if time and money were unlimited, then finding a way to make one item happen creatively. I think about my kitchen in this way ALL THE TIME.

4. Thinking in 3s as a starting place @bohosusan
Simple Decorating
To name a few…
  • Three pieces of furniture to a particular zone
  • Fill no more than two-thirds of a room
  • Choose a coffee table two-thirds the size of the sofa
  • Hang artwork or mirrors two-thirds the size of what’s below
  • Three colors in a room in a 60-30-10 ratio
  • Repeat a color three times within a room
  • Envisioning a grid of three rows of three as a starting point for a gallery wall
  • And so on

Some of these I knew, some I followed already by instinct, and others gave me new ideas for change within my own home.

5. Ideas for creating memory-based art @bohosusan
Simple Decorating

I’m not much of a sentimentalist, and you won’t find many family photos displayed in my home, though I have my share in storage boxes. But I do enjoy mounting keepsakes—a hand-painted Chinese fan I bought on a first “date” with my husband and three teeny bow ties he wore as a child.

I especially liked Michaels’ idea of using a placemat or wrapping paper as the backdrop when framing or otherwise displaying these special objects.

6. Tips for displaying with dimension @bohosusan
Simple Decorating

Particularly the admonition to work high to low and front to back. This is what’s been missing from my home displays! @bohosusan
Simple Decorating

Also the idea to vary the impact of the display by pairing opposites: rounded and angular, thick and thin, rough and smooth, etc.

7. Filling your home with gratitude @bohosusan
Simple Decorating


When I finished the book, I went for a walk in the crisp spring air. I mulled over all Michaels said about appreciating what you have and filling your less-than-perfect home with gratitude. I soaked in the sunshine. And when I returned and opened the door into the home I’d left only moments before, I saw it with new eyes.

If you want more…

  • Follow the link to Michaels’ blog, The Inspired Room.
  • You can also follow Michaels on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.
  • Follow the (affiliate) links below to check out and perhaps buy Simple Decorating and/or any of Michaels’ other books.
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