Why were all the good books written after my children had grown up? So that I could tell you about them, of course!
If I’m counting correctly (and on a Friday afternoon, who can tell?) my husband and I have lived in fifteen different houses in our 33 years of marriage. Twelve of those fifteen were rentals. What do they all have in common? Ever-changing décor. Why? Because either the mistress of the house could never be satisfied or she was reading too many decorating magazines and changing her decorating style. (That’s me, of course.)
What I didn’t know until recently is that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. Which brings me to the book I want to recommend to you – The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith. I pre-ordered the book because I love Myquillyn’s blog, Nesting Place. I had no idea that the book was going to be therapy of a sorts or that it was going to change the way I think about decorating my house – our nest.
Let’s start with a quote from the book:
You don’t have to get perfect to have a pretty house. Most of us simply need to learn to see the beauty in the imperfect. Because life is gloriously messy. We can find rest in our less than perfect circumstances when we figure out that no amount of striving can create the perfect life we think we are looking for. True rest comes when we realize that we can’t get it from trying extra hard. We find rest when we give up.
Do you see what I mean about therapy? “We find rest when we give up.” Those are words to remember in all kinds of situations – not just decorating your house. We are so uptight about everything, wanting our homes to be just right; our children to be approved by family and friends; our job performance to be the best; our service to church and community to be exemplary. I get tired just writing about it. What if I give up trying to have the perfect life and just relax and enjoy the one I have?
But back to the book and decorating…
I have to tell you that every time I thought I was just reading a decorating book, I found out again that it was much more. In the chapter entitled “Signs of Life”, Myquillyn quoted author, Sandy Coughlin, and commented on her words.
In her book, The Reluctant Entertainer, Sandy Coughlin writes, ‘Excellence is working toward an attainable goal that benefits everyone, while perfection comes from a place of great need – usually the need to avoid criticism and gain praise and approval from others.’ We like to tell ourselves that we are insisting on perfection for the betterment of those around us. But really, insisting on perfection is a self-centered act.
I had never considered that my desire for perfection was a symptom of my disease of self-centeredness. Ouch! But wait, this is not an ouchy book. On the same page, Myquillyn assures us that “imperfections bear witness to the fact that we are normal, approachable, real people.”
It’s okay if I leave the house in the morning with my bed unmade and dishes in the sink. Yes, I’m going to step out on a limb and admit that it happens all the time. Just proves I’m a real, approachable, normal person. That feels good – try it with one of your imperfections.
But back to the book…
There are so many things I could tell you about The Nesting Place, but let me boil it down to a couple of my decorating takeaways.
1. Quieting a Room – This is just taking everything except furniture, rugs and wall art out of a room and giving yourself a chance to look at a blank canvas. Now you can see what you really like and dislike about a room and its furnishings and make good changes.
2. Shop the House – I love this one. I don’t know about you, but I tend to keep the same things in the same rooms no matter what. But who says that mirror has to stay over the fireplace? Why can’t the picture from the guest room (where nobody ever sees it) work over the fireplace just as well and maybe better?
3. Become an Imperfectionist – Myquillyn’s example for this was a cowhide rug she found at a flea market. It was a great price but it was missing one of its limbs. She bought it anyway, knowing that she could tuck that area of the rug under a piece of furniture. Why miss out on something beautiful because of a little imperfection?
4. Risk: Take Some and Pass It On – This was a big one for me. I fight it all the time. Even now I have a couple of pictures and frames that remain separate from each other and unhung because I am not quite sure how they will work together. So what if I try them and they don’t work – what difference does it make? But if I don’t try, I’ll never know what I may have missed. (Note to self – get those pictures and frames out this weekend!)
A quote from Myquillyn about risk-taking…
The key to creating a beautiful home isn’t knowing what you are doing; it’s taking a risk even if you don’t know what you are doing. There is no wrong way to create beauty.
Obviously, the risk-taking chapter in The Nesting Place was important to me. After I read the book, my husband and I redecorated and repurposed a room in our house. It went from being an office to a small TV room. I wanted to try a collage wall in the room, but not a typical collage wall. I had an idea in my head, but I had never seen anything like it and wasn’t sure that it would work at all.
Remembering Myquillyn’s words, I quit worrying about it and got to work. The wall is still evolving and I am loving it more and more.
When I decided to use thumbtacks to hang the maps, I hesitated. When I needed to put a nail through one of the maps, I hesitated. When I had the idea to hang a basket on the wall, I hesitated. But I kept remembering what I had read and kept pushing through the fear and took the risk. And now I like it. The room is a little cluttered and not very conventional, but it’s comfortable and homey – just what we like.
All because I read a lovely book that gave me the freedom to relax and feather my nest in the way that makes my family feel at home.
One more word of encouragement from Myquillyn:
You don’t have to wait for perfect conditions. Create your home now, wherever you are. You have everything you need.