Melissa Michaels
About the Author

Melissa Michaels is the NY Times Bestselling author of Love The Home You Have and The Inspired Room book. Her blog, The Inspired Room, was voted Better Homes & Gardens Readers' Favorite decorating blog in 2014 and 2015. Melissa is a church planter's wife and a mom to three human kids and...

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
Recent Posts

Reader Interactions


  1. haha, I can definitely relate to the comment:

    “….we had the BRILLIANT idea to add a 10 week old Goldendoodle puppy to our family. Of course. It only makes sense. We needed more to do like we needed a kick in the head.”

    I am 8 months pregnant, we are selling our house, may go country/homesteading w/our new one, have a 2.5 yo, starting a ministry AND just adopted a 3yo lab 🙂 I couched this decision for the dog, as that he wasn’t a puppy any longer and already housetrained….so it should be easy to manage all of this! 🙂

    We definitely have the lived-in look! Sometimes, even I am personally sporting it lol.

    • 🙂 Me too, I sport the look from time to time myself! I was running around outside this morning trying to get our older dog in the house, while wearing crazy striped PJs. I’m sure the neighbors loved my lived in look.

  2. I LOVE this!!! You are hysterical, Melissa! A home as a “happy collision of chaos,” is what God is leading me (and my groom, I think) toward. We can trust God leads us and allows us to make decisions that He uses to refine our character and our inevitable surrender of *perfect* to reveal “true beauty,” as you described it.

    “Embracing our real life…” is such an important and beautiful place to be in! How wonderful to be there {even hesitantly willing}!

    Rich blessings, Melissa, as you continue to breathe deeply through the chaos…

  3. I love this post! Embracing our REAL life, each day, is what makes us unique and allows us to really focus on what matters and what God has in store for us! Sometimes the “happy collision of chaos” in life is what makes things fun too! Chaos can be a good thing… Again, love this post. All the best to you.

  4. I love this post! My children are ages 1,4, and 5 and I have an under active thyroid that can keep me from feeling a little less than energetic. When someone surprises me at the door, I just say “please excuse my house we actually LIVE here.”

  5. Wonderful post, and a great reminder that the “lived in look” is 100% okay!! As a mama of three little ones, and a hubby in the military and gone more than he’s home, I can totally relate to this post and the crazy chaos that comes with family life. Thanks 🙂

  6. Love this post!! I think we share the same disease…I just never had a name for mine 🙂
    And…let’s face it…with kids in the house, mine will never be picturesque for more than ummm…maybe 10 minutes after I’m done cleaning. To that, I say “what’s the point?” So glad your daughter is okay!!
    P.S. I heart your decor! 🙂

  7. Great post and love the phrase” a happy collision of chaos.” wonderful. but the best past is the look of joy and love on that puppy’s face. What energy too.

    Reminds me of being thankful for my hubby’s snoring when I have friends who sleep alone. So I am thankful for his piles of stuff lying around because I would miss them if they weren’t there….

    • I agree totally on viewing those small annoyances as blessings!!! I think the same way. Without those frustrating things, we’d miss the blessing behind them… xo

  8. I just hopped over to your blog … I just LOVED it and can’t wait to explore all that you’re offering your readers!

    I love that warm, welcoming, lived in look, but yet am attracted to simplicity, clutter-free living. An odd match that somehow works for me!

  9. Oh what a wonderful post…It is always so nice to hear that I may be very normal after all. I have become happy and very content in my chaos and I live alone right now…except for my daughters 18 year old cat. My chaos comes from going to school, working 2 jobs and trying to date again. I have lived in this apartment now for 3 years and still have boxes that are not unpacked, and have not really decorated and I love, love, love to decorate. Have never felt settled here, (I believe God will be sending me in a new direction soon, wonder where it will be). My shoes are kicked off at the door, just finished baking a really big cake, there is flour on the kitchen floor and I really need to do laundry. However, I am very happy and very content. Love my “happy collision of chaos!”

  10. I LOVE this. It makes me feel happy with my messy house, instead of frustrated. Haha… we had the same bright spark with a puppy and added Molly (an 8 week old Golden Retriever) to our home 2 1/2 months ago. You know what? It gets easier, I promise. 😉 And yes, things are chewed and kids are outside on the deck naked eating cold pancakes at 6 am (before you can even open your eyelids), and the kitchen smells like puppy food (all over the floor) but it’s our life… and it IS blessed. 🙂 If you’re curious about our life with Pupp(ies), I have a little little Puppy Diaries series on my blog. 🙂

  11. Hello! I needed to hear this. My name is Karen and I suffer from magazine cover-itis. 🙂 My mother suffered as well so I grew up in a home where once mom raked the shag carpet in the family room us kids had to stay off of it until the people came over, or your father comes home; whatever. Your words were a blessing to me today. I think we’d have more fun if I could relax and live in … a happy collision of chaos.

  12. Yes. I was raised with a mom who rarely relaxed and still doesn’t to this day. Her house remains beautiful but… And well patterns are easily repeated and very hard to break. With a full time job and 4 kids I haven’t had a choice to relax about the cleanliness but it still needles me when I walk into a mess.
    I have a sign on my door that reads ” Forgive the mess. The children are busy making happy memories.” I love it, but I honestly have it to remind myself to relax and smile every time I walk in the door from work. I want my kids to see my excitement, not my disappointment in the messy house.
    Thanks. As always, I come here and find exactly what I need.

    • Yes, I’m finding it is a real discipline to not appear stressed even when things get “out of hand” … I try hard to remember the reason for chaos is a blessed and full life. It is a season I need to embrace.

      Glad you found what you need here, I love (in)courage for the same reason!!

  13. I was going to blog in response to this but then I read everyone’s comments and realize I have a ways to go. I don’t suffer from magazine-itis, I’m a queen of loving the lived in look married to a king of spare and tidy (you should see his garage or office!). Not that I wasn’t warned; before we married 22 years ago he told me the way to organize is to throw away half. I’ve only ever gotten to a fourth and that before a cross country move! But God, in his grace, is helping us both.
    We’ve been in our first ever house for three years now and this summer instead of vacationing we bought a couch (!) for our living area. That sent all the books except cookbooks to a side room now dubbed the library. The front room that works more as a large entryway found its purpose as a “drawing room” and all books got moved to the library (including homeschool books, what a breakthrough for me) except art and music books.
    I’m not quite done. I have one more week of summer before school starts, and I think that I may be able to make my goal! I’ll post pictures then.
    It has seemed a herculean task for the Queen of Lived In, but I am loving the idea of being able to “swoop about for no reason at all…the playthings all hated it” and become Nanna rather than The Velveteen Rabbit. So I am Lived In upon a palette of Tidy and can move all the books to their room and pick up quickly. It’s a new concept for me, and I’m loving it.
    I’ll aim to post the details next Saturday, and start school on Monday.

  14. I like this. I’ve thought about putting a sign on my front door that says, “If you came here to see the house, come back in a few days and call first. But, if you came to see the Norvell Family, COME ON IN!”


  15. […] the rest of the article and share your lived in look over at (in)courage … If you're new here and enjoyed your visit, you may want to subscribe to The Inspired Room […]

  16. I have no excuse for clutter except that I live here along with my two cats and hubby. It is a monthly habit to do some purging of non-essentials but it is getting so I have thinned out my possession quite nicely. My hubby is a person who believes in simplistic and plain (though expensive) decor. So far I am finding that God is enough and no need to go out and refurbish my home with all sorts of decor. The cats would hate to have new introductions of items and may claw it up and my hubby would try to quietly put it in our monthly donations to Goodwill. So for now I am content and just enjoy what I have keeping the clutter at bay. Loved the post and I’m in no danger of “magazine cover-itis!”

  17. I was actually just thinking about this last night! I was frustrated that my home never looks the way I “want” it to look. But I had to step back and realize that I have a full life….and I’d take my full life over a magazine cover any day!! 🙂

  18. Are other peoples homes really not neat and tidy most of the time? I just keep trying so hard and never getting there. Thanks for making me feel a little less along and for encouraging me to embrace the lived in look.

  19. I love it! Thanks for taking the edge off me today. My laundry pile is folded, house somewhat tidy, but dust is everywhere, and not enough hours in the day.
    Off to enjoy some time with our boy before off to work.

    Thanks for the reality check!


  20. My house is more the “lived in by other people” look because it’s entirely decorated with hand me downs from my mom or my five older siblings as they upgrade their magazine cover houses. i’m just lucky they all have the same sort of style so it all kind of matches. 😉

  21. Amen. The more I work at keeping the house tidy and the dirt at bay, the more satisfied I become in the lived in look. That might sound contradictory, but what happens is, I realize I can’t keep up with everyone’s productivity. Puzzles, dolls, action figures, blocks. I have five children with different interests. Life happens.

    So I find myself satisfied in allowing them to be productive while I just work at keeping clean dishes in the cupboards, clean clothes in the drawer, and clean floors for my baby to crawl on. It may not be free of “productive mess”, but I’m satisfied it’s free of dirt and old food. lol 🙂

    {I have a few of my own productive messes going on. 😉 }

    Good article, Melissa! 🙂

  22. Your comment: chaos means we are living a full and meaningful life – completely filled me with an A-ha feeling of exactly what I have been needing to hear! I am a very positive person…I’m creative…I have 2 toddlers…therefore, the house is a mess and I’m a self-proclaimed clutter bug! Those combinations don’t normally bring out a positive comment – it is normally negative and not real! With all that said, we ARE living a FULL and MEANINGFUL life amongst the CHAOS!! Thank you for being real!! Thank you for giving me permission to be positive, chaotic, and real all at the same time! LOL Peace & Joy! Tammy

  23. A dear friend of mine claims that her rather messy home is a gift to her friends, who never feel intimidated by her home or ashamed to invite her over. Isn’t that a wonderful perspective? 😉

  24. Well…I love this…I think I may use your quote on a piece of art if you don’t mind…having 6 who has an illness..I can totally relate to this…on every occassion aN ambulance has been to our house for our little guy..go lighten the mood I always say…one of these days you’ll come here and my house will be neat!…I may just use your quote with confidence if there is a next time…thanyou…xxx

  25. Loved this! Our homes are for living our lifes and not for showcasing.
    I have this cute sign hanging in my kitchen, it reads: ” my home was clean last week, sorry you mist it” And so it is, one minute the table looks great, the next there is homework, groceries, an empy cup etc. on it. Welcome life.

    keep blogging, you crack me up sometimes.

    (sorry for any spelling mistakes, i am Dutch)

  26. Loved the post! No kids, but busy work schedules – hubby up at 5 off to work by 5:30AM, (me up at 5:15-5:30AM off to work by 7:30am), hubby gym, home by 6PM–me home by 5 PM.

    I have always said “Martha Stewart doesn’t live here” and I sure as heck not gonna even try to immulate her. I would rather live and enjoy life than worry about how the house looks!! 🙂

  27. thanks for this! I struggle with this every day. I photograph real estate, and when I come home the temptation to tidy everything in site can be overwhelming. I tell myself every day that i need to remember, this house isn’t on the market, and we LIVE our lives here. We are a real family, with activities, and personalities all moshed up in the middle of living. 🙂 By the grace of God we go.

  28. Reading this gives me a sense of peace, and it makes me smile. I always look at the magazine covers, and even some other decor bloggers homes and think “How in the heck do they do it?” Things are always so beautiful, perfectly places, and spotless. But I have come to realize that I am not going to be able to keep it perfectly clean, or perfectly decorated because we live there, and have two dogs, and I’m I don’t live in a magazine! I still admire those that are able to do this…admire them greatly…they’re sort of magical in a way! 😀

  29. thank you. i was just chatting with some friends at church today about how “comparison is the thief of joy” and i think this can be especially true with our homes and how they appear. i am a newlywed and a very recent homeowner so i feel this pressure to get our home in order as quickly as possible and have it look as much like a magazine cover as possible. but i know that i appreciate going to a friend’s home that isn’t “perfect,” but loved on, lived in, and comfortable. that’s the HOME i aspire to have. thank you so much for your honesty and this lovely reminder.

  30. Oh Melissa, I can SO relate! Years ago, I had magazine cover-itis too. It’s that Type A+ personality “disorder” I have. Then I had to have emergency surgery for a brain hemorrhage, which changed my personality! Changed me from an A+ to a B-! Now, I PREFER the lived-in look. Life is WAY too short to worry about how my house looks. I’m just happy to be alive! I wake up joyful each morning that God has given me another day to enjoy His creation. The housework can wait!

  31. I want to snuggle that little Jack! What an adorable puppy! I prefer the “lived in” look. When I look at the magazines I wonder how I could ever feel comfortable and at home with such perfection. I like tidy and consider myself a perfectionist. But when I comes to home, that’s where I need to feel like I can take my shoes off and put my feet up.

  32. I love this post!! I can totally relate. I feel like twitching when the house starts to transform from perfectly placed to lived in, but really…we need to live in it!
    New reader to your blog–loving it 🙂

  33. just me and hubby at home so things should be neater but no one cleans but me. Right now I am looking at dogs sleeping on the floor and furniture, cardboard box pieces from where the dogs played with the box and a glass sitting by my husband’s chair. You know what? We are comfortable with it and I can’t imagine my coffee table looking that arranged. I guess I didn’t catch the magazine cover-itis.The wash is done the dishes are washed and the beds are made. Life is good. You girls with children, keep the floor clean enough to sit on and play on and remember that they will be grown before you know it.

  34. I have the lived in look too. But my friend Tina’s house always looks amazing. It is cozy, comfortable and classy. When I get a chance to go up to her house to stay over, it’s like being at a bed and breakfast. Her home is beautiful, but not a museum. She said she prayed for her have a home where people would feel comfortable. and they do. She’s an excellent cook too!

  35. “I love your phrase “collision of chaos”! That is exactly how real life tends to be. I’ve always believed that a comfortable, welcoming decor is more important than magazine perfection!”

  36. Our home was looking very ‘lived in’ earlier too. I took some pictures and posted about it too. It is very reassuring that it’s not just our house that is ‘real’.

  37. My husband have occasional debates about this very topic. He would love for us to have a formal set- up on our dining table at all times- china, cloth napkins, goblets, centerpiece, the whole bit- just like you see in the magazines. I try to remind him how impractical, and unrealistic of a goal that is for us- being the full-time working parents of a 1 year old and 2 cats. I always tell him that I feel at home when I walk in the front door and our dining table is covered with projects, books, magazines, and toys that need to be put away. Our dining room is not only where we eat, but where we live. We’d miss so many special moments if our dining room table looked like a spread right out of a magazine. Thank you for helping me realize that I am not alone!

  38. I love your post.

    Do you know what colour wall paint you used the room in your photo? It is soft and serene looking.

  39. I had to go back and read this post, as I often reread things that you write for encouragement. As I posted a few weeks back, we too have a new goldendoodle puppy. She was the addition to a very full and “perfect” family, joining my husband and me in our “empty nest.” As a 48 year old interior design student, I also have magazine-itis, coveting everything I see and often getting frustrated as my budget doesn’t allow me to have “exactly” what I see. A few weeks ago, my 24 year old daughter with 2 young boys under 3 years old, was abandoned by her husband. Fortunately they were already living in an adjoining garage apt at our home. Talk about changing your decorating priority! My wine rack now holds an Elmo, a Woody (Toy Story) a dinosaur, and a musical catepillar. There is a permanent double stroller in my kitchen, a huge dog crate in my living room next to a basket of dog and kid toys, a drafting board on my dining room table, and furniture selections that are too big for the room and have smudges of chocolate pudding on them! Talk about God re-prioritizing! As we walk through this dark, sad time with our daughter, I am reminded of the fact that only God can bring “order to our chaos.” This was not the way He intended life to be, but He is present, and reminding me that a clean, decorated home is not His top priority! Your blog helps me keep things in perspective. Though God puts the desire for lovliness in our hearts, as it is part of His character, I think He may be trying to nip my decor-lust in the bud! In the meantime, I will try to accept the lived-in look!