coming home: real life vs. decorating

The original title of this post was something ridiculous like, “Focusing on the Details of Design: our home goals for 2014.”  Lord, have mercy.  I sound like I just lost my job working at the Daily Planet and I can’t find my brain or an ounce of creativity to save my life.

Step away from the computer, Shaunna.

It occurred to me, though, that the title wasn’t the problem.  The problem is I was writing from a dissatisfied place.  You see, last week I started evaluating parts of my house from afar.  I was flipping through my blog’s “our spaces” page and realized how many of the photos were dated.  For instance, I hadn’t taken a new photo of the living room in a couple of years.  As I was making notes of what photos to update, I started thinking about our spaces vs. my favorite decorated rooms across the web/design world.

Ours just weren’t stacking up.

I began dissecting each space, looking for the parts that were “off” or didn’t fully suit me.  I want more original art.  I want less clutter.  I want to fully decorate the living room and leave it that way for a good 3 months.  There’s plenty I want to change, and that’s fine.  Changing for passion’s sake is fine.  Changing for preference’s sake is fine.

Changing because it doesn’t feel good enough?  That isn’t fine at all.

You don’t have to have a blog to feel that way.  I think it’s pretty simple for all of us to look around in magazines or on Pinterest or even our friends’ homes, and see the good stuff.  We see that their floors are clean, or that they have original art hanging all over the place, or that the space just looks perfect, for lack of a better/less intimidating word.

We want to create spaces that scream “us,” and even while we’re working on that, we’ll surely compare our home to someone else’s and identify how it doesn’t stack up.  We’ll note their vignettes and beautifully styled coffee table, and we’ll note the pop tarts crumbled on ours.  Forget about the fact that we just took the coffee table from basic brown to our favorite new color with a little time and paint.

We forget that we are creating our home when we see the snapshot of theirs.

coming home via perfectly imperfect

The truth is it’s hard to live with what you’ve got now.  Not all the time, but sometimes, it’s hard.  Looking at the world of beautifully layered color and pattern is intimidating, both financially and practically.  Even when you have the knack for decorating, finishing a space completely isn’t always an option.

I began to feel like I had let our home down, and I needed. to. finish. these. rooms.  Holy neurotic idiot, batman.

But then I came home.

And I sat on our couch and remembered that I don’t have ridiculous objects on our coffee table because Matt likes to prop his feet up and I like having a million design books at my fingertips.  I’ve kept the art rotating on the wall because I change my mind, and spending hundreds of dollars on one piece of art just isn’t my style.  Our entertainment center, that I sometimes loathe for its gargantuan size, has stayed because my husband built it for me the first year we were married.

My dining room table stays empty most days because by the week’s end, it’s covered in homeschooling books, crayons, and construction paper confetti.

Our home is ours.  And I love to decorate.  To inspire, to encourage you to go for it in your homes.  But just like for me, that is going to take time.  I’m giving us permission to take it slowly.  Take your time.  When I look back on the timeline of my home revamping journey, it began with more creativity than money, and honestly, it all began with paint.

Now, a few years later, I’m excited about putting the finishing touches on certain spaces, and having that goal is perfectly normal.  But I’m doing it for me, for our home, and in a way that works for our life and budget.  So should you.

Don’t look at other homes and feel intimidated or lost.  Paint a wall, a chair, a piano.  Hang some DIY art, and prop your feet up on your perfectly cleared coffee table.  Don’t apologize or feel guilty for the time it takes to create a home.

Start somewhere.  And enjoy it.

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18 Responses to coming home: real life vs. decorating

  1. Tania February 20, 2014 at 7:16 am #

    Thank you for this! I love to peruse home decorating blogs, magazines, etc. and I always feel like my home never matches up. But, my home is lived in, and I realize that much of what we see in photos isn’t a true representation of what it looks like. Can we say “photo shoot”! Anyhow, thank you for this post. I really needed it!

  2. BrocanteuseRose February 20, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    I really need to keep this in the front of my head, as I have the bad habit of trying to rush design or want my design picture perfect instead of perfect for our life style! You phrase it so down to earth.

  3. Marian @Gathering Branches February 20, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    I have totally been thinking about this. In fact, I have been wondering if spending as much time looking at high end shelter mags has contributed to my sense of discontent with what I have. In fact, I am not renewing any subscriptions for a while. They all were due last month, and I just let them expire. Heaven knows I have enough stacked in my studio that need to be sorted and recycled to keep me busy for quite some time if I need to look at pretty rooms. I am going to take a few of my stashed mags upstairs every week, tear out the pics I like and then move on. Gets rid of the clutter and I still get my eye candy. We’ll see if that works. Here’s to loving what you CAN do!
    The Other Marian

  4. Kim February 20, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    We all have 24 hours to prioritize. When choosing to take time to pour into *others,* we have less time to pour into *things.* Are the ones who have picture perfect homes making relational sacrifices? Possibly. Probably.

    Are you married to your husband or your house or your blog?

    Choose wisely. Be encouraged and be not weary in well-doing!

  5. Emily Clark February 20, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    I just love this. It’s so easy to forget function sometimes when we’re up to our eyeballs in pretty images. Although, I’m proud to say my coffee table is currently covered in socks that need matching up. No pretty objects here! :)

  6. Leelee February 20, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    Shauna, thanks so much for this post. I think it was last week when I was feeling exactly like this. I was looking at all the wonderful blogs and all the amazing house tours and thinking “oh my gosh” my house is not up to par whatsoever. It was really making me feel insecure with my new blog…thinking I’m not good enough or I can’t compete. Then I read a book and it had a quote in it….saying simply….

    “Do not compare your “chapter 1″ with someone else’s “chapter 20″.”

    I realized I’m definitely in “my chapter 1″.

    Again, thanks for sharing your post…I’m glad to know that even someone as “blogger experienced” as yourself has those feelings as well.

    Leelee @

    • Patti February 22, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

      I think you’re right on with this and there are lots of us out there that really enjoy and relate to seeing someone else’s “chapter one” and the start of their journey! Good Luck with your blog

  7. Donna February 20, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this real life post. I was starting to feel bad about leaving dishes in the sink and on the table…..but realized drinking a glass of Chardonnay and relaxing from a delicious meal of tacos (hahaha) watching my husband and 9 year old daughter construct a Georgia mountain region diorama was waaaay more important! The dishes can wait. This project is worth watching now!!!

  8. Marian L February 20, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    We live and love in our homes, that is first and foremost. My family calls our house “the house of perpetual construction,” yet my HOME is known as “the comfy place.” Far from perfect (perfectly imperfect in fact!), far from a magazine spread, but a place we feel comfortable and happy.

    I see pictures of your home and think it looks just as it should, loved.

    You are always a delight Shaunna, thank you for reminding us all of what really matters.

    The Other, Other Marian :)

  9. Sylvia Marie February 21, 2014 at 1:51 am #

    Such a wonderful post,for years I kept my “house” company ready when our boys were growing up, sad to say,they often times mention how clean it was,now its a home,but a bit late for them. Enjoy each day,you my dear are making a home and I love it!

  10. Renee February 21, 2014 at 8:09 am #

    Thank you for sharing this post. I will have to be honest, blogs can be a blessing and a curse. They can inspire you to be more creative and offer you fabulous ideas on how to update your home. Yet, on the other hand, they can sometimes make you or your space feel inadequate and discontent with with what you have. I have been there. Honestly, I have not posted any pictures of our home on our blog because I don’t fell that the rooms are finished enough. I have a laundry list of what I need to paint and purchase to get the rooms ready to photograph. Sad but true. I have seen more and more posts where bloggers are sharing their “REAL” homes compared to some of the photographs that we see on their home tours. I love that because a photograph only shows you a portion of the home and not the dust bunnies around it. I think this is a wonderful post and thanks for sharing. You have a beautiful home, beautiful family and beautiful heart. Have a blessed day.

  11. Melanie Beilner February 21, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    I really like your ideas and honesty. It’s fresh and real! This attitude is one I want to have and I need to spend less time on pinterest. I, too, am guilty of making lists for each room in my house and then feeling dissatisfied while I wait to fulfill all the changes on my lists!!!

  12. Christie February 22, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    Very helpful read. Thanks so much for the encouragement.

  13. Kim (TheKimSixFix) February 23, 2014 at 12:59 am #

    This is a beautiful post. Somedays I feel like I’m losing my mind when I have wiped the grimy fingerprints off the fridge or picked up toys and put them in their little basket more times than I can count. I feel like I am spinning my wheels trying to just keep the house looking remotely clean and styled, let alone update it to how I dream it should be.

    But then I have to step back and remember that one day the grimy fingerprints will be gone.. and I will be able to have that perfectly styled vignette.. and will I really be happier?

    Probably not.

    I can slowly update my spaces, and make them ‘beautiful’ the way a design magazine says they should be.. but really, they already are beautiful because the people I love live there.. and it shows.

  14. Camilla @ Something Is Done February 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    Thank you for this post! It really resonated with me as I’ve been feeling the exact same way lately. Budget limits the amount of “decorating” I can do with my home and thus progress is slow… but I just tell myself that the joy is in the process, not the end result!

  15. liz February 24, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

    This post really hit home with me. Just the other day I decided to “style” our coffee table after looking at such lovely ones on Pinterest. On went the book stack, the tray with some candles and a couple of favorite architectural pieces. I was so proud of my staging until my family complained there wasn’t any room to play games or to put their snacks. Off it all came – back to empty it went – and on came the monopoly board, Wii controls and my magazines, oh, and the relieved looks on the family’s faces. My family room may not be magazine ready, but it will definitely always be family ready!!

  16. Jen February 25, 2014 at 1:21 am #

    Yay and thanks! I needed a little reminder it takes time, so the shutters propped in my bedroom can stay a bit longer (as I make up my mind) as i work on other projects!

  17. linda February 25, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

    I recognized myself in your post. Right along the lines I have been thinking and coming to grips with who we are and where we live plus how we live once again. Teens and dogs and toddler grandkids who love Grandma’s. How can I be discontent? Still it is time to paint the beat up walls and get some new candles.

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