That Extra Room You Forgot You Had



This encouraging and inspiring makeover post is sponsored by AE Outdoor, proud supporter of our gathering place at The Barn.

When we bought this property a year and a half ago, I fell in love with the potential of the barn. The main thing we were looking for as we shopped for a house/land was some type of  water, 10ish acres and at least one building on the property along with a house. Not only did we find a property with a tractor barn, it had a covered porch area all along the side. This was a HUGE bonus!


And a HUGE eyesore for the past 18 months.


As we worked on renovating the inside of the barn, the porch was a holding area for all the furniture.


We used it for live music (if only we had more wires).


And last year for the Hope*ologie event I put some plastic chairs on the porch. #lastminutescramble

My thoughts behind attacking a to do list 12 acres long: start inside and slowly work my way out. Kind of like a radar circle from the buildings we are focusing–mainly, the house and barn.

barn porch

So our barn porch sat like this all winter. I knew we had a great little spot –I’m so glad we already had a concrete floor and a roof, but I was overwhelmed with where to start to make this porch a place to comfortably hang out.

barn porch decorated

Well, it finally came together. We’ve got an outdoor room that fits right in with the rustic feel of the inside of the barn…


I had no idea where to begin, and like we’ve talked about a million times, I needed a lovely limitation. When EVERYTHING is an option, I become paralyzed–too many wonderful choices!

Once I choose a jumping off point (this lovely sectional from AE Outdoor) everything quickly fell into place.


When it comes to porches and outdoor rooms, you only need to focus on

  1. seating
  2. surfaces
  3. lighting
  4. cozifiers

–in that order.

The seating is going to be your main focus, the biggest investment, and will get the most wear and tear so that’s the ideal place to start.

As we’ve been renovating this barn for gatherings, I’m really grateful for companies who have pitched in to help us complete it–AE Outdoor supplied this perfectly adorable outdoor sectional so that when you come to visit, you’ll have a cushy outdoor space to sit.


Once I had the sectional in place, I gathered up surfaces (surfi?)–I turned a large rectangular basket upside down–instant table.

stump table

I grabbed the stump table that we used in the family room of our last house–a perfect fit on our porch.


And the of course the ottoman from the sectional can be used as a table or it can be lined up with the rest of the sectional and become more seating. Win win.

barn porch lighting

When I planned out the lighting for the barn I added a porch light between the windows, but I wanted to be able to control the ambiance even more–so I tied up these galvanized lanterns with some rope.

rope lantern


…and threw some string lights on the teepee. Lighting is a underestimated finisher when it comes to outdoor spaces.

And now for the best part: cozy-ing it up!

mossy pillows

The sectional came with more than enough super fluffy, mossy green solid and striped pillows covered in Sunbrella outdoor fabric.

mossy green

ae outdoor fabric

And of course swatches are available so you can make an informed decision–and all the fabric has a 5 year warranty–it’s fade and mildew resistant. But my advice to you is to never purchase a sectional or piece of furniture based on the color or pattern of the pillows that are sold with it. Don’t ever pass up furniture you love because you aren’t in love with the additional pillows, and never purchase a large piece simply because you are in love with the throw pillows.

Because you can easily trade pillows around.

I’ve got plans for these pillows in another outdoor space, so I traded them out with pillows that work with the barn colors from the inside.

the barn

As you can see from the inside of the barn, the outdoor porch was like a seamless addition. Here’s the barn all set up for Manntime and they so enjoyed being able to sit outside and be comfortable in what felt like an extension of the inside space.

DSC_1118We don’t sawmill logs for the genril public. Thank you. The Manger.

The focal point of our porch is this quirky sign we found on our property. There used to be a working sawmill here–and clearly, their clientele needed to mean business.

They don’t mess around.

Nor do they spell. Which of course is my favorite part of the sign.


All we needed to complete the porchy coziness was plants–and OH MY WORD we have an outdoor room!



I took these photos after this furniture had sat out on the porch for a month in the height of pollen season–I’m thrilled at how well the fabric has held up–we have cats who think this sofa belongs to them and evening sun that beats down on this fabric and I couldn’t be happier with the low maintenance.

Check out more of what AE Outdoor has to offer in their fresh 2015 line (my sectional is the Hillborough Sectional from the 2014 line which is still perfectly adorable and available). Their entire store is 20% off for a limited time.

outdoor porch

I’m training myself to stop thinking of my porches as a place to store dog food and cast off furniture, and to start thinking of them as outdoor rooms–places our family can enjoy for months out of every year. I’m so grateful that a roof and concrete floor no matter how rough it started, can become a place of rest and inspiration.

outdoor furniture

Need more outdoor room inspiration? Follow AE Outdoor on Pinterest .


  1. OMWord!!! LOVE your covered outdoor area and barn!! So inspiring. Thank you for breaking down the steps to think about… it can be overwhelming! We recently moved to a 2-acre mini farm with a barn and coop and lots of areas to “cozify.” Little by little – trying to do what we can on a budget and limited time – raising three boys like you! :) Enjoy these wonderful spaces with your family and friends!! Love what you’ve done! ~julie

    • Yippie! Funny how 3 months ago this space was so overwhelming and unapproachable, baby steps help me so much! Enjoy your minifarm Julie!! xo

  2. Gorgeous! I love that sectional! We’re going to need some outdoor furniture at our new place, and that one would be a contender…maybe. Depending on how well it fits on our deck. I’ll definitely use your 4-step plan to figure out the space when we move in.

  3. TOTALLY fabulous! Well done! :) (particularly love the stump table.)

  4. Oh that SIGN, Nester!
    What a treasure … and the unexpected highlight of your lovely nook!

  5. I absolutely LOVE this!! Breaking down the ‘needs’ for an outdoor space is immensely helpful.. I’m reading your book right now and am just at the Lovely Limitations part in chapter 9 “One Room at a Time”.. so this was just perfect timing! I also absolutely LOVE the way you made it a before & after post.. Thanks for taking us along for the ride!!

  6. Lillace Christianson says

    You’ve made a lovely outdoor room. The sign is just TOO absolutely wonderful!!

  7. My mouth fell open! It looks soooo beautiful. You are seriously amazing.

  8. OMW! Love everything but I’m crazy about the casters on the stump! (Seriously crazy to see all this amazing beautifulness and get excited about casters on a stump!!!) – Our front porch IS our living room in the summertime – drapes and all – so I totally get the extension of living space. As always, you hit a home run!

  9. I seriously love the teepee, where did you get that? My boys would adore something cool like that on our covered porch.

  10. That sign kills me — love it. Your outdoor living space looks so comfortable and inviting now. You may have trouble getting guests to leave! :)

  11. Beautiful!!! Soul soothing!!!
    I just bought one of those metal and canvas gazebos that everyone and their uncle seems to have in yards and on decks… but I’m determined to think outside the box with it and this post is so inspiring and such perfect timing for that. I’m determined to make it unique and a natural extension of the house somehow… this post is the perfect jumping off point for my slow brain, lol!

  12. Gorgeous, as usual, and so restful looking. We don’t have any outdoor living spaces or even the potential of having one (sigh). I think they are so wonderful, and I know I would enjoy having something like that. And if I could have one, I would want it to look just like yours!! Great job!

  13. IT looks so beautiful!! We invested in some great outdoor furniture for our front porch and I do not regret it one bit. It’s not quite what I wanted for the front, so we want to move the set to the back deck and invest in something different for the front and this is such wonderful inspiration!! So cozy!! Can’t wait to see it soon. :) xoxo

  14. You’re a visionary. It’s astounding the difference!!!!

  15. OOOOdelally! That looks fantastic. Also. I see many seats that I plan to sit in. Ok? Also, also. I was so hoping the whole post that you were going to say you found that sign on the property. It’s my fave.

  16. Love your new space, and the sign is priceless!

  17. Are you stinkin’ kidding me?!?!? That looks amazing. I promise I’m not jealous but I wish I had a smidge of your creative talent.

  18. so beautiful and inspiring! I absolutely agree with their quote, outdoor furniture has totally been stuck in the 80s, haha! This is fantastic!

  19. Oh yes! That looks wonderful!! We just got a great outdoor space with our new house and i can’t wait to make it into another room. Here in AZ we truly can use it as a living space for 9 months out of the year. I will def check out AE furniture!

  20. This is AMAZING! This outdoor space turned out so nice. I love the combination of rustic and modern elements. P.S. Loving that stump table.

    The Office Stylist

  21. That is absolutely gorgeous!!! I love the hanging lanterns!! I could sit on that couch and drink sweet tea all day long.

  22. Whitney M says

    I love, love, LOVE this! So cozy! I especially love the lights on the teepee. And the quote about the outdoor furniture world being stuck in 1984.. Yes! Why is that?!?!

  23. I’ve loved that sign since the first time you showed it. Isn’t it true that it just would NOT be the same if the words were not misspelled?

    That sectional is scrumptious. Thanks for the introduction to the company–I’d never heard of them. I’ll definitely check them out!

    I honestly think one of my outdoor rooms is my favorite room in this house: the front porch. I have been so glad, so glad, so glad that we didn’t skimp when we bought the seating pieces. Everything else on the porch I did on the cheap, but the seating pieces have proved to be worth every penny of their price. For some items it’s worth paying a little more for good quality.

    Now I want to come sit on the barn porch with you!

  24. jennyrosie says

    Hi Nester,
    I’m a long time reader and I enjoy your writing style (in addition to your decorating style). One topic I haven’t seen covered in blog-land (that I could really use help/inspiration with) is how do you store all that furniture/wall art/lighting/textile stuff when you “revamp” a space but don’t want to get rid of that stuff because you know you’ll use it when you revamp the next space on your list. I’ve noticed that you specialize in using pieces in different ways in different rooms and have often wondered where you keep the tree stump you used to have in your living room (and then it pops up 6 months later on your barn porch). We’re restoring an old house and are currently using our front hall for unused baskets, pictures, end tables etc. Its kind of a crappy (but best case) scenario as we have no attic or usable basement. I’ve minimized the amount I have down to the bare “necessities” and have got all of it on cheap wire shelving but am looking for a more creative/resourceful way to store it. I’m finally ready to tackle this project and the first brain I thought to pick was yours:) Thanks for reading-Jen Gray

  25. You know what is funny…I constantly have dreams where I find some secret room or space I didn’t know I had! I’ve always wondered what that meant…lol! Apparently I wish I had an extra room!

  26. I’ve just bookmarked this page, terrific blog!

  27. I have a issue about the article, where am i able to contact the author?

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