Designing an Outdoor Space

Guest Contributor: Tammy Wartell

My husband and I moved into our house in November. We had a lovely screen porch that just sat there with no furniture or any decorations. Our porch was neglected and boring. It was now April, and we needed help. We definitely needed Matt Keane Design to help with our porch space planning! I had met Matt Keane, a Norfolk interior designer over the summer. He helped our family stage our old house before we put it up for sale. I liked his no nonsense style and the ease of how he could just look at something and transition it into a space that was more beautiful than I pictured.

Matt Keane can just look at a room and have a great vision. I went on his website emailed him at and said here is the budget, would you be willing to help us design this space? We let Matt know our budget right away, and he was able to work within our budget. He was quick to reply and say let me look at your space. We made the appointment for a consultation and he sat down with me and asked what we pictured as he got a feel for the space. He took some measurements and we talked about what our family absolutely wanted and what we really didn’t want. As a family of five , we needed a table for my daughter to do her homework, a place for my youngest to take a nap, but most of all an inviting family space. We talked about colors and what could work in the screened in porch.

Within the next few weeks I communicated back and fourth with Matt and he scheduled a day to meet with me to show the three options which were printed out and he had some hand drawn renderings of where to place everything. He had priced everything out within our budget and we got to pick one of the three options. This was definitely a fun event! All three plans were quite lovely, but there was a definite winner! Matt and I even did some shopping together for some of the accessories and larger pieces. We worked out how to purchase and when we could set the porch up and payment.

The screened in porch furniture and accessories has exceeded all expectations. It’s a warm inviting but comfortable living space. It’s perfect for working quietly or taking a nap, or for just enjoying outside space. Matt Keane went above and beyond and made our boring before space into a space where we all gather together as a family at the end of the day.

Taking the plunge

Choices, choices and even more choices! Is gray the new beige? Will it be out of style next year? What style is transitional? What is my style? How can I organize my kitchen to function better? These are questions you may be asking yourself as you start to think about designing a space in your home. Navigating the maze of products, styles and matching them to your personal taste and budget can be a huge undertaking and not to mention the amount of time it takes.  Furthermore, making a space work the way it should is even more important.  This is where a designer fits in. Surprisingly, using a designer is affordable and given the amount of money you are going to spend on a project it is money well spent and a better life lived when your project starts with a good plan and sense of direction.

First, more than anything, what is your budget? Now add a 20%. EVERY project has something. It’s not always costly and devastating, but when you open walls, floors or ceilings anything can be behind them. It’s an insurance policy for yourself and if you don’t have to use your contingency fund great, but if you do at least you have planned for it.

Secondly, know what works and what doesn’t work. Discussing your wants, needs and wish list requests helps a designer put together the best plan. Knowing what is most important, such as, solid surface counter tops versus laminate, custom cabinetry versus stock, new space configurations versus keeping the same footprint are very important details. All of these elements can sway the timeline and cost of your project. A good designer will help guide and educate you on what are the best options and what makes the most sense for your project.

Lastly, know that remodeling is a process. As much as we all wish it only took 30 minutes to remodel a space like it does on TV, real life works differently. Accommodations will need to be made and truthfully it will have equal exciting and challenging moments. However, in the end it is always worth it, especially when you are living the the home you spent so long dreaming about!