Because Sharing the Imperfect is Worth the Risk

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Almost seven years ago I started this blog.

And two months into it my sister told me I should talk about my window treatments.

My first reaction was that I can’t share my little embarrassing secret.

I was sure I’d be met with comments telling me I’m not supposed to do it that way.

I hadn’t been in this online community for long and sharing something so blatantly rule breaking as hot gluing my unlined, raw fabric ‘drapes’ was getting too real too fast.

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I wrote about them. How we hammered an upholstery tack with a high heeled shoe. Poor photography in bad lighting.

And I waited for the comments to come telling me how wrong, and dumb, and mistaken I was and how ashamed I should be. I waited for the citation from the ASID. I waited to be laughed off the internet.

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And that isn’t what this community did.

This community embraced it.

This community met these imperfect, hurried, I-love-pretty-things-but-protecting-the-family-budget-is-more-important-than-impressing-my-friends–ideas and accepted them.

Instead of my ideas and true self being met with hate or laughed off. You embraced them.

You said “me too”.

You said “more”.

You said, “we can see through the imperfection to the beauty and worth”.

“We see it too.”

You met my imperfections with love not hate.

And I was astonished and forever changed.

That was the day Nesting Place truly began.

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You are the reason this book exists.

Because your acceptance of my imperfections launched me into a place that freed me to be who I truly am, faults and all, so I could share my ideas, good bad and ugly.

This community was safe.

You made this online community feel like home.

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Revealing my imperfect ways connected us.

Revealing ourselves to trustworthy people always connects.

Imperfections are important in our life and our home because they put people at ease.

You are the ones at the play group, in the community groups, welcoming friends into your imperfect homes, embracing that imperfection despite what a glimpse on the screen might tell us is acceptable.

You are the ones risking, because you know true connection is worth it and it can start in our very homes.

You are the ones looking past the imperfect to the true beauty.

You are the ones teaching us, teaching me that this imperfection isn’t to be hidden, but embraced, celebrated even.

You are the ones saying YES, let’s stop pretending that we need to impress each other. None of us is perfect and I’ll take that risk and be the first to admit it. And it can start with a pair of mistreated, hot glued drapes. That actually look pretty good.

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That disapproval letter finally came.

It came in the form of a comment on a post about how to make slipcovers, the easy way.  It was 5 years into blogging and by then I had so much confidence in the strength and truth of this message that I didn’t affect me the way I had feared. Don’t get me wrong, I had other people who didn’t get what I was doing. But this one comment addressed everything an imperfectionists faces all in a few words. It said:

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It’s a lot of work to be the gatekeeper of what is and isn’t acceptable. Deeming only perfection has worth. Who would you rather be friends with? Who’s home are you more comfortable in? The person commenting, or the owner of this chair with the threads hanging off the bottom?

Embracing imperfection does not mean that we have given up or settled for less. Maybe accepting imperfection is a sign of maturity, balance and contentment.

I’m a normal, average woman who loves to be surrounded by meaningful beauty and it has been so freeing to drop the burden of perfection.

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We put that $12 thrifted, broken footed, craizily slipcovered chair, threads and all on the cover of a decorating book. Because IT. IS. BEAUTIFUL.

Not despite it’s threads and overly cushy seat  but maybe because of it. Because we know the secret. We know what true beauty is.

Not everyone can see the beauty in the midst of the imperfect.

But you can.

I can.

Because we choose see it.

Sometimes we have to fight to see it.

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We are the imperfectionists.

You are the ones teaching me, urging me to truly believe something I always secretly hoped was true.

That it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

And I can never thank you enough.

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Win a Copy of The Nesting Place arriving in bookstores and mailboxes this week:

Because Perfection is for the Birds @ Emily A Clark

It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect @ Naptime Diaries

The Top 10 Reasons You Should Buy The Nesting Place Book @ Caroline TeSelle

Every House Has A Silver Lining @ (in)courage

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Find out more about The Nesting Place here.

Has it been worth the risk to reveal your imperfections?

Have you learned that sometimes good enough has been better than perfect?

Are you waiting on the next house to create the home you’ve always wanted?

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Comments

  1. I was there at the beginning, and I remember that post, which is probably the reason I kept reading. Apparently, I quickly forgot it was a tack you hammered in, so I always thought you knew something I didn’t about using a high-heeled shoe (or any shoe) as a hammer.

    Jose may have a nervous breakdown, but you won’t.

  2. This post was beautifully written. Once you let go of perfection life gets a lot easier, in every way. I’m so excited to check our your new book – and am so, so thrilled for you. :)

  3. Love this post, love the blog, love your heart! So excited for your book.

  4. Totally agree, in every way. Though I am still early enough into the journey that I have to clip threads hanging down on my chairs:) Why? It bugs me that I do. I fight and fight and fight to resist the urge, but in the end, I cave, grab the scissors and snip, snip away. That ahhhhhh, now I can relax moment after snipping is such a welcome relief. Perfectionism is like a disease, one that seems to be taking me years to recover from. But I am recovering. The pile on my stairway and the canvas drop cloth tossed over an ugly plaid chair in my living room testify to this. I didn’t even make a slipcover, just tossed the dropcloth on top and tucked into the crevices then left it because I like it better that way. Victory!

  5. I can’t wait to see that book in my mailbox this week. I’ve loved you for years and am one of those who fell for the mistreatments way back when. whenever I use a shoe as a hammer, I think of you. :)
    Bethany

  6. I can’t tell you what an inspiration you are to me and how much I love your blog. You have encouraged me beyond belief and helped me to stay on track. You are genuine, and that seems to be a rare commodity these days, and espcieally when it comes to decor. Keep doing what you are doing! PLEASE! There isn’t another blog out there like yours….Thank you so much for your time and energy and sharing with all of us! And, btw, I pre-ordered your book and just received and email that it has been shipped! I’m so excited to get it.

  7. Love you so much for sharing this! XOXO

    ~Shannon

  8. I found Nesting Place because of your mistreatments. And I remember so clearly thinking “yes…this I can do.” Because so many times I would do nothing, defeated before I even started because doing it “right” just seemed so exhausting. Your jerry-rigged, half-cocked, still beautiful windows just sang to me. Certainly there is beauty in things done well, but how crushing to demand that absolutely everything be done to the highest standard. Frankly, not everything matters that much. God’s not booting me out if heaven for having curtains mounted with upholstery tacks or holes in my walls for where my pictures were before I moved them or for failing to straighten (and wash) my slipcovers. It feels good to let that fall away in favor of things that matter more. And there are always haters. My neighbor got after me when I hung a window box without using a level, so i informed him that I already knew what level looked like and was pretty confident I could pull it off. 5 minutes later, I had a place to plant flowers and a neighbor who looked like he was having a bit of a revelation. I only wish now I could have used one of my high heels to drive the screws in…

    Inspiring, that’s what this website is. Just inspiring.

  9. Oh how this is my life. Last summer I moved in with my new husband into a home he had lived in for 3 years with 2 other men. He is in full time ministry and I was unemployed for six months. It was a battle to take our mix match bachelor pad and turn it into a family home. Without spending much, I managed to create a welcoming home. We may not have the most beautiful home but our home is always full of people and of love. I’ve learned so much this year that it’s not about what you fill a home with but how you fill it. Our door is almost always open and our floors are always dirty, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  10. You stated above: “Who’s home are you more comfortable in? The person commenting, or the owner of this chair with the threads hanging off the bottom?” I think the better question would be, “Who would you feel more comfortable letting see your home?” My answer would be you! Thank you so much for your blog.

  11. Ha! Exactly…. !

    Cindy

  12. What a beautiful, refreshing post! So much of what we see on blogs today, is completely staged and usually not even attainable. I love that you share things from a more real perspective. Can’t wait to check the book out!

  13. Funny how I’ve seen the photo of your book cover many times but only now just noticed the strings because you pointed them out!!!! :)

  14. you are a world changer. your words and photos make us believe that we can change the world too. your words are a gift wrapped in book pages and tied with thread. can’t wait to celebrate with you soon. xo…CBL

  15. This is exactly what I needed to hear this morning! Thank you! I’m a perfectionist learning to embrace imperfectionism, and it’s not easy some times (I really have to work hard to see beauty in my imperfect home and life) but it’s been lifesaving to say the least. Can’t wait to get my hands on your book!

  16. I really want to thank you. I am not creative. I am not crafty. I have trouble deciding on all things home and decoration because I am afraid of failing or people not liking it. I have no idea how I stumbled on your blog because I don’t read blogs. Only yours. You have given me permission to just go for it. Your “secret” really did unlock my hidden creativity. I made a wreath for my front door and it is huge, beautiful and amazing. My friends can’t believe I did it because they know me so well. Everyone thought I bought it and they were complementing it just as they walked by my house, but it really blew them away when I told them I made it. Thank you for all your encouragement! I live pretty close to you so maybe I’ll see you at the barn someday and thank you in person!

  17. I don’t know what this says about me, but I never even noticed the chair was balanced on a stack of books, or the threads hanging down from it, and I certainly didn’t notice the sewing job as I’ve never sewed anything in my entire life and wouldn’t know the difference if you had it inside-out. I didn’t notice any of these things until this post pointed them out, and I’ve been following you for quite a while now and looked at that chair picture a bazillion times. I don’t know what’s wrong with me then lol. All I know is that I feel very comfortable here. I don’t know, I just think you “get” it and I could learn something from you. Thank you for your honesty, candidness, and confidence as it inspires others. :)

  18. Poor ol’ Jose. Can’t you imagine how miserable he must be. Or vain. Not sure which. ha.

    Anyway…I say, If I can’t live with my imperfections, I can’t live.

    Jake’s a Girl

  19. Just knowing the premise of the book speaks to my heart, just like this blog. Love that you have come so far. Hugs to you.

  20. I love it! I’m totally an imperfectionist, mainly because I can’t be perfect (and for some crazy reason, I do try). I do love doing things well, but I’m tired of trying to impress people. Thank you for sharing your heart and helping others to see the beauty around them. There is so much to be thankful for and to admire…even if it’s not perfect.

  21. “Home Evangelist” — now THAT is funny. Well-played, Emily. :)

  22. It IS about who you’d rather have as a friend! I’m really resonating with this post. Thank you.

  23. I was there from pretty much the beginning – I remember the first post I read was about using galvanized buckets to organize toys & such on your boys’ bookshelves. Since then, I have used that same idea, mistreated the windows in almost every room in our home, decided what words described what I wanted our home to feel like & generally accepted & loved an imperfect life & home full of boys. I have you to thank for that!

    I can’t wait to read your book, and I am SO stinkin’ proud of you! Can’t wait to see what the future holds for you & Nesting Place. xoxo

  24. Thank you for doing what you do and putting it all out there. That one comment in five years—that’s gotta mean you’re doing something right! Can’t wait to read your book : ]

  25. Congratulations on your book!! I’m ordering my copy today. I agree wholeheartedly that accepting imperfection is a sign of maturity. I recently tracked back a couple of Pinterest links to a blog post on my kitchen, and one had the caption “What NOT to do, ” while the other said “Not sure I love this. For reference.” I had a good giggle about them, which was not something I could have done a few years back. I’m imperfect, so’s my kitchen. I’m getting more ok with that every day. :) Thanks for what you do here. I’m a fan!

  26. Wow. I am embarrassed for the person who wrote that comment and disappointed in them that they would actually spend their time to write such a negative thought. All they really had to do was delete your post and not look at it if they didn’t like it….it really wasn’t worth all that negativity. Its a slipcover for Pete’s sake! ….and quite frankly homemade items are not “perfect”, and actually, nothing humans touch is “perfect”.

    So if they want a “perfect” slipcover then they can go buy one that is mass produced by a machine that is engineered to calculate cuts and perfection, and not spend their time reading DIY blogs!

  27. Natalie W says:

    This is why we all love you and your ability to let the beauty shine through! I am truly a fan.

  28. Well, now I’m sitting at my desk all teary-eyed over a decorating post. Because it’s not really about decorating; it’s about grace, acceptance, beauty, hope, and so much more. It’s also about high-heeled hammers and I have a special affinity for those. I’ve been reading this blog almost since the beginning. It was my very first one. You gave me the inspiration and permission to mistreat my naked windows and I’ve been happily hacking up my imperfectly beautiful home every since.

    Love you and your message and your blog! And I KNOW I’ll love your beautiful book. Can’t wait. Congratulations, friend.

  29. Wonderful post…and I probably wasn’t supposed to laugh at the comment, but, come on. I feel sorry (and a little worried) for anyone who takes slip covers so seriously! Can’t wait to get your book in the mail!

  30. Oh my goodness I LOVE that you put that slipcover on the cover of the book. What a fantastic story. I must be beyond imperfect because every time I’ve looked at that cover I’ve only thought, wow, what a beautiful and comfy chair. Too funny! I can’t wait for my copies to arrive. One for me and one for my mom for Mother’s Day…for starters. :)

  31. This is SO beautifully said. I have seen the cover of your book a million times and never noticed the threads on the chair or the imperfect sewing job. Now, I love the cover even more knowing how intentional it was to have your chair front and center. Thank you for the way you so consistently write and share your heart.

  32. I generally do not leave comments on any blog that I follow…I assume that they are not read since you get so many! ;) I could not resist this time. I have seen pictures of that white chair so many times in your posts and not once have I noticed any imperfection! I actually laughed out loud when I read the criticism and really looked at the chair! I must not be very observant… Although, I truly think it would be better to say that I looked at the whole room…and I find it to be beautiful. The chair is perfect…just perfect. You have challenged me to see my home in a new and different way and to not be afraid to try the ideas that are bouncing around in my head. Thank you for sharing your real world with us. Blessings to you and your family and congratulations on the book!

  33. my copy will arrive tomorrow! can hardly wait!
    marcy

  34. Victoria says:

    I just had to comment and say thank you. My husband and I separated last year shortly after buying a new house that needs a lot of work. I’m unable to tell my colleagues that my life isn’t perfect. They ask how the house is coming on and I feel so guilty that I don’t have a husband by my side helping with the hard work. That the reno isn’t finished because I can’t do everything on my own. But do you know what? I hung the metal barn star on the raw plaster hall wall that has electrician made holes in it. I baked scones last weekend even though half the kitchen ceiling is missing and the kitchen was last renovated in 1950 at best guess. And that star looks beautiful. And those scones tasted great. It doesn’t have to be perfect…

  35. Oh how “perfect” to have your imperfect white slipcovered chair on the cover of your book!! I would rather be friends and visit the home of the person doing the slipcovering. ;) :D

  36. Oh my gosh, I have to laugh out loud over that slipcover criticism!! I feel so bad for the person who felt the need to write it. I can’t imagine how it would feel to step away from the computer after putting such a message out in the world. Very sad indeed!!

  37. Reminds me of the conversation between the Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horse in one of my favorite children’s books – “‘What is REAL?’ asked the Rabbit one day. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?’ ‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real. It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to those who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’”

    Obviously something doesn’t have to be old to be beautiful but often the things we love most aren’t the most “beautiful” to the world.

  38. Margaret says:

    I also never saw the imperfections in your slipcover, even though I see them in my own imperfectly made love seat slipcover. Also, my house is so imperfect, that I am sure the family with five kids ages 2 months to 61/2 years old felt perfectly comfortable sitting at our dining room table eating saucy enchiladas and spilling milk last evening, because none of us were worried about possible messes.

  39. Amen and period! so glad we all realize it’s ok…… we are all imperfect, so why should our homes be any different????

  40. Love you so. Love your message, your cozy home, and the heart of all of it that you so willingly put on display for all of us. I always squealed and jumped up and down a few hours ago when I got the email notification that my copy of Nesting Place has shipped!!! Can’t wait to dive in!! xoxo

  41. Jose can suck it. He is clearly in the minority here. I love your stuff. Perfectly imperfect is the way to go. I love your creations and I think you do a wonderful job. Congratulations on the book!! Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie

  42. Meredith Uber says:

    Yay! I just ordered my copy! Been following you since the beginning!

  43. I love your quote of “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” My mother has a Ph.D. (not kidding) in home economics and my dad was a CPA. So of course I have this Type A personality that is constantly in tension with my need to make/create. I am adopting your quote as my mantra! Can’t wait to read your book; congratulations!!

  44. Gosh, what a post of comfort to my imperfect self & home. I like it that way – I like being comfortable & being real.
    So thrilling to see you in print!!! So deserved.

  45. Do you know that I’ve been looking at the picture of the cover of your book for weeks now and I never noticed that the chair was missing a leg and was propped up on a couple books? So there you go…….talk about arrows! That’s the kind of thing I’ve done. I daresay that the person who wrote in, complaining about the slipcover (which I love) missed the whole point. So grateful for your ministry….it really is a ministry, you know…..to helping people create living spaces to be real homes.

  46. Peggy Zortman says:

    This is why I read you. You are so down to earth and full do love. You have given so many of us a voice. I am sad that I wasted so many years worrying that “it wasn’t good enough and what would everyone think?”. You have given me permission to make it comfortable and beautiful — not perfect. And what could be more gracious and hospitable than that? And in the end isn’t grace what it’s about? Thank you.

  47. What brought me to your blog the very first time? That chair. I love pleats like that and I was itching to know how it was made. I don’t even know where I saw it but I’m thankful.

  48. I love your blog. Can’t wait for your book to arrive any day now. My husband ordered it for me before it was released, a birthday present. Love the chair, keep creating great spaces. Blessings, Peggy

  49. Cheers and tears… you are a blessing to me and many others. Following you for many years–I have four handsome sons and a life very similar to yours–it is a journey for sure. May God bless you richly as you bless so many with your wisdom and humility. ~ Tina

  50. You are precious. And ballsy. And I like that. :)

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