My childhood home was no showcase. The walls were covered in brown wood paneling, the carpet was frayed berber and the hand-me-down furniture was shabby. But still, it always seemed like a great place to be.
No one cared about the broken knobs, cracked linoleum flooring or the fact that we only had three chairs when we spent hours talking over coffee at my kitchen table. My friends and I happily flopped onto the plaid couch to gossip and watch TV in our cramped living room. And everyone seemed content to curl up on the floor for our numerous sleepovers, no guest room required.
Back then, images of beautiful homes were found only in magazines and books. It was generally understood that what you were seeing on the glossy pages was exclusive. And I never really noticed or longed for anything more spectacular than the nondescript home I had.
Today our existence is saturated with a virtual parade of homes on cable shows, social media and blogs. The new message is that picture perfect and cleverly organized spaces are not only desirable, they are the norm. And as a result, there seems to be a nonstop frenzy to improve our spaces.
Alarmed that our homes are outdated, too small, unorganized and shabby, we climb all over each to get to Home Depot for paint and shiplap. We scour blogs for decorating ideas and fantasize about the next room’s makeover before the one we are working on is finished. And when its all said and done, its not uncommon to sell your home, buy a new one and start the process all over again.
The rationale behind many renovations is a desire to make guests more comfortable by creating welcoming spaces conducive to entertaining. And while that is a nice sentiment, its a lie that your home needs to meet a certain standard before you let anyone in.
Besides, this never ending race to improve our homes actually seems to hinder hospitality. Because our dreams of picture perfect homes often threaten our desire to share them.
When we embark on the quest to bring our homes up to snuff (from Pinterest’s perspective anyway) we often want to wait until the projects are finished, the dust is cleared away and the house is just right before having anyone over.
I was guilty of this after our kitchen remodel. We spent gobs of time and money to update the kitchen. But once it was finished, I thought twice about inviting others in until the rest of our home looked nice, too.
The dated main floor bathroom suddenly seemed like an eyesore next to my lovely new kitchen. The old living room furniture clashed with the new paint color. And I decided I would die before anyone would go upstairs and see the stained original carpets we had no money left to replace.
Plus, it was infuriating that my children had the nerve to actually use the kitchen. I wanted it to look brand new forever and ever and ever and their insistence on accidentally smudging walls and spilling juice wasn’t helping.
Honestly, I was relieved when my son broke a cabinet door and my obnoxious dog frayed the couch cushions. Because a little shabbiness actually allowed me to chill out a bit. And I bet others feel more comfortable at my table when they don’t have to worry that their kid just smashed banana into the rug. Because mine already did. Twice.
I do like a clean house and have a long list of ways our home can use some renovation. But I had to resolve not to devote more time to decorating or improving my home than I do sharing it with others. Because if I wait for all the projects to be finished, I may as well not decorate it at all – no one will ever see it.
Most people aren’t concerned with the decor, size or condition of your home. It its beautiful because YOU live there. Don’t let Pinterest convince you otherwise.
If it brings you joy to spruce up your space, go for it. But don’t ever let the quest for a picture-perfect home hinder you from using it in the meantime.
Because you can offer refreshment in your half-finished kitchen, you can connect with friends on your tattered couch and you can be a blessing to others in your good enough space just the way it is.