Life by Design Inside and Out – First Edition

This is the first in a series of creative perspectives about life and the design process from interior designer Kim Macumber and myself.  You can read Kim’s blog at:

A View With A Room by Heather McLean

I recently heard a friend discussing a meeting he had with the contractor who had built his home several years ago. He was astonished to learn that an additional room was intrinsic to the original construction plan but that room was never built out. My friend now realized he had the capability to expand is home in a direction he had never thought about. An entire new room to enjoy had always been right over his head.

Perhaps a new room could be just outside your door.


We often overlook our outdoor space as potential area to create the extra room we could use.

A big part of my job as a garden designer is to visit with people who would like to improve their view, but my clients don’t always see the potential garden room we could create. They point out everything they do not like about their backyard or patio. They turn to me expecting I will be able to tell them how to make it better. But first, I must discover what it is they truly want.

I often play a game with my clients to access their imagination. I will say, “Let’s pretend that it is next year on the 4th of July and you are having a large party. Who is coming to visit your new garden? How many guests will attend? What will you be doing to have fun?” As they respond to my questions, they start to imagine their garden in the future. This is the garden they would like to live in. This is the garden room we will co-create together.

I then begin to paint the elements of a new environment in my mind. I try out different components in various positions. I overlay my new reality upon what I see before me and begin to describe what could possibly develop. I suggest that a blank fence could become covered in vines with flowers and provide more privacy. I describe outdoor kitchens and dining rooms where friends and family will gather to celebrate a meal together. I evoke quiet places to sit and look at the stars.


Understanding my client is the most important tool I can use to design a garden room that will be both functional and beautiful. Finding what makes their heart sing on the inside may be the secret ingredient to creating what they will love on the outside.

remember goodness grows,


This entry was posted in Garden Design, Gardeneing, Home, Interior Design, Life by Design, Inside and Out and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Life by Design Inside and Out – First Edition

  1. Lisa says:

    Heather how lucky your clients are to have you working with them. Thinking about how the space is truly going to be used is great advice for a jumping off point. I are going to install a peastone patio with a fire pit built into it this spring because we have older kids and we’d love for them to hang out at our house with friends during the high school and college years. My husband is dreaming about how he wants to landscape this area. I love your term “garden room”. That is just what we want – an outdoor space we can spend time in and that will add to the quality of our life. Love this series and look forward to more!


    • The Seventh Season says:

      Thank you Lisa! With frequent burn bans in Austin, I often recommend fire tables that are convertible and multifunctional in the garden. You might look into one of those as an option in your new patio area. I’m so happy you enjoyed the post!


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