An Imperfect Room Reveal (and my thoughts on imperfection in general)

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Confession: I have entire rooms in my house that you’ve never even had a peek at.

Why? Well, because I don’t like revealing “imperfect” rooms.

Don’t get me wrong: there are no perfect rooms in my house. There are way too many little sticky fingers and tired mamas (well, just one; no sister-wives here) around for that. And I never want you to believe otherwise. Which is why I shared a rather unconventional house tour with you and why I show you pictures of my laundry room overflowing.

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But I do have a mental block about revealing an entire room if I haven’t gotten it just how I like it. Of course, the truth is that there is only maybe one room in my house that is “just how I like it.” (And that includes the ones that I got just so for 2 seconds, only to have them get messy again 2 seconds later).

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All the other ones are in a pretty constant state of half-decorated, half-cleaned, and very lived in. And with a blogosphere bursting with prettiness, with creativity, with downright brilliance in the home decor department, it feels more than a bit intimidating to offer up anything less than my best, closest-thing-my-meager-photography-and-styling-skills-can-get-to-magazine-perfect effort.

Which is why my room reveal rate has slowed down to a tiny trickle of about one per year.  There’s just always something else that ends up being more important than getting that last little thing painted or hung or styled just so.

Which is where Project Elephant came in. The idea was to break down these big projects (home-related or otherwise) into small, bite-sized, weekly tasks until—TADA!—the whole thing got done. And it’s worked beautifully in many ways. Flowerbeds got overhauled. Plate walls got hung. Fabric art got finished. Pictures got hung. Closets got cleaned. Ottomans got recovered.

Huzzah! Progress!

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But if I’m honest, even one project a week on top of the usual daily madness of diaper-changing and cooking and cleaning and blogging and nose-wiping and homeschooling and story-reading and baby-bathing and photographing and photo-editing and exercise-class teaching and grocery shopping and Bible studying and husband-interacting and…well, you get the idea…

Sometimes, even that one little extra project each week is too much. It just doesn’t get done. And that frustrates me. Sometimes, it’s my fault because I’m just too “lazy” to force myself to paint something during naptime instead of just sitting still for 30 minutes. Sometimes, it’s my husband’s “fault” because he gives me a day off when that was the one day I had time to ______________ (you name it, it probably needs doing around here). Sometimes, it’s sickness (Evy and Simon have gotten sick this week after I thought/hoped/prayed that we were finally out of the flu woods). Sometimes, it’s a massive traffic jam of tiny little LIFE details like needing  to drive out of my way to sign the boys up for soccer (because, of course, they won’t let me do it online or over the phone) or do store returns or go to a play date.

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I’m sure most of you know just how I feel, but sometimes when I see perfect rooms on blogs or Instagram, I have to remind myself that almost none of those bloggers have 3-5 small children at home with them almost constantly.  It’s not an excuse or a complaint or a criticism. It’s a reality check.

I have lots of imperfect little people who have a very imperfect mother, and we all live together in this not-at-all-surprisingly imperfect house.

So, just like I got over myself to post some pictures of me that I didn’t love, I’m getting over my blogworld-perfect inhibitions and showing you our unfinished, unstyled, un-perfect upstairs sitting room.

Yes, I have big plans for it. And no, it’s not because I feel like everything in my house needs to be magazine-worthy all the time (or ever) but because I genuinely enjoy sprucing my nest—especially when I don’t let the specter of perfection perch in the back of my mind like some vulture just waiting to swoop in and pick at the carcass of my best efforts until nothing is left but words like Failure and Not Good Enough.

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Honestly, I had no intention of saying all of this today. I was just going to share a half-finished room, with the caveat that I had plans to make it better.

But, honestly, I want even more truth—in my blog, in my life—this year. No, I’m not going to show you pictures of my sink full of dirty dishes on a regular basis. But yes, they’re there, and I’m constantly working on them. And yes, I did put the toys away, straighten the pillows, and sweep before I took these pictures (it all needed to be done anyway). But I get too many comments when I post a picture of my bed-head on Instagram, for example (and by too many, I mean ANY) that go something like, “I’m so glad you shared this; it’s nice to know you’re actually human.”

We can’t have that, y’all. I am so very human. I am fallen. I am in desperate need of a Savior. And I am so glad I serve a God who doesn’t require perfection (quite the opposite) before I limp before His throne and lay down my exhaustion and my frustrations and my laziness and my whininess and my all-encompassing inadequacy.

I’m not going to stop plugging along. I will keep taking chomps out of my elephants, even when it feels like I’ve been chewing on the same bite for months.  But please don’t ever confuse my dogged refusal to give up (no matter how tempted I am some days) with perfection or even its 3rd cousin’s second wife’s aunt.

I’d really much rather just be imperfect and overcoming anyway by the grace of God with the rest of you guys.

Deal?

Deal.

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14 thoughts on “An Imperfect Room Reveal (and my thoughts on imperfection in general)

  1. Living transparently is a gift – it strengthens & encourages. We all do this together though it can feel isolating at times. Motherhood is exhilarating & exhausting! Thanks for your honesty. It’s inspiring. Love from a Mama of 4 in Michigan :)

  2. Hi Abbie! Just stopping by to say hi! I’m always inspired by your ability to put this and that together and make it look beautiful!!! You have a God given talent for sure!!! You may have to look around the legos and clothes draped across the floor (I do too and my three are in school), but your little nest is definitely spruced CUTE and yet still liveable for all the sticky little fingers! That’s what I call perfect!!! :)

    We have to catch up again one of these days!!! XO, Aimee

    1. Aimee, you’re too sweet and encouraging. Thank you, friend! I loved that last thing you said. It really is pretty perfect for our family, and it’s a really great compliment coming from someone with such gorgeous photos (and house)!

    1. Hmm…that’s a good question. : ) It’s been a while, but I THINK I got it from Garnet Hill about 5 years ago. It’s an indoor/outdoor rug. MAAAAYBE they still have it? Sorry I can’t be more help!

  3. Love the pictures of the room and love the picture of the honest life. :-) Forgive me if you posted about these before and I missed it, but what is in the bookshelves? Are those really books covered with something or are they something different? I love the colors and light reflecting off them.

    1. They’re actually just books with colorful leather binding. I got them at Barnes and Noble. I really should have posted about them before because they’re an awesome deal, but I haven’t yet. Love you, friend!

  4. I just want to say as a sister in Christ: well done and I just love you!

    THIS is the reason I follow your blog… Because of the third to last paragraph that reminds us that there is no perfection in this world….we are all in desperate need of Jesus…everyday!

    It’s ok to want to share your most beautiful pictures, of course; but that you would want to clarify to us all that those aren’t day to day reality is like a warm hug!!

    It was also just what I needed… As a home schooler, of just 4 kiddos, I often get the “you’re amazing…how do you do it????” and sometimes I want to say “HORRIBLY!!! With tears from me and my precious kids at times!!!!” And then I remember “but by the grace of God…” and I try to speak humbly like you just did… Humble and honest!

    Last thing: we recently updated (almost gutted) the first floor and all my friends have been so encouraging, enjoying all the pics as each project gets finished; one day, my gorgeous new kitchen was a disaster….every dish was out…. And that’s the picture I posted… One good friend said ” all this wait and that’s the picture we get???” They meant it as the joke they intended and I laughed “yep! This is reality people! I’ll post a clean one the only time it’s all clean: when kids are in bed!!”

    Thanks for your beautiful post!!! Loved the room too!!!!

  5. It’s been very interesting to read a very similar thread in several of the home/diy/lifestyle blogs I read. Feeling a though you have to do more and be pretty darn near perfect at the same time. As an avid blog reader I I’ve seen quite a few blogs pump out more and more content every week and even for myself,who doesn’t have any kids (dog-kids and a husband) I wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace. Maybe it’s pressure from advertisers/sponsors to do more stuff? I don’t know. And while all the projects are great I follow many of you because I like to peek into your lives and know you live like “real people” (who happen to be insanely creative) and not like a magazine spread. Not that I really want to see all your dirty dishes :>) but to know you have them is, well, real life. Keep on keepin’ it real–I love all your stuff!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Susan! I don’t choose to have sponsors/advertisers for the very reason taht right now that would just be another major stresser that I don’t have time to deal with. Mine is all about the pressure I place on myself.

  6. I gotta say, you’ve got it way more together than I do. LOL If you think this imperfect, I should reveal my living room – or bathroom or any room – and make you feel oh, so much better. :) My entire home, despite my best efforts, remains in a constant state of chaos. You can walk through your room without experiencing the debilitating pain of a lego in the foot or coasting along on an errant matchbox car. I applaud your imperfect room!

    1. ha! I may or may not have it more together than you do, but please don’t do the same thing with what I showed you today that I do with other people’s “pretty” pictures. I could definitely have shown you a less “done” room in my house, and the only reason there weren’t legos to be stepped on is because I picked them up before I took the pictures. But thanks anyway for the applause! : )

  7. I gotta tell ya…. We’ve been in a very slow, one working day per week renovation that went from pulling down plaster and new wood floors to completely overhauling our electric and new plumbing…. We finally (we’ve been at this since May 2013) got to the point we can order out flooring and paint. :-/ the flooring will be here by February 5. I have to settle on a paint color now. And work on slipcovers for the sofas in earnest. (They’re red. They will be white when I’m done. Well… My plan is to have one set of white and one set of grey… So I can switch them by season… Pale grey walls, crisp white trim, floors are bourbon hickory… Red won’t work… And plus I don’t like them….)

    My husband brought our furniture from storage this week. So we’re in the home stretch.

    But I would just be thrilled to have the room you’re working with over my construction mess for the last 9 months…. In fact, if I had that room you’ve got to start with instead of my crumbling-plaster-hidden-behind-tacky-1970s-dark-brown-or-whitewashed lime green (in one room… So not kidding…) paneling-and-for-the-love-of-all-that’s-holy-why-did-they-glue-plywood-down-over-100+-yr-old-plank-flooring-when-they-put-in-this-carpet???-and-what-do-you-mean-there’s-a-whole-the-size-of-the-cats-head-in-the-ancient-cast-iron-plumbing? Farmhouse… I would have just left it.

    Just sayin’

    When my perfectionist husband is done, my house will be perfect. All the things fixed (plumbing, electric lines from either this century or the last, all the load bearing walls have Bern jacked back into place, new studs out in, and we’re no longer in danger of our king bed falling thru the living room because the previous owners CUT INTO the primary load bearing wall in the center of our house!) And it will be my dream home.

    A living room. A dining room. Open concept. Updated guest bath. An office larger than the dimensions of a twin mattress. And an actual studio for me to sew and create beautiful things in…. All my favorite colors and light walls instead of dark paneling brown so that it doesn’t feel like we live in a dungeon anymore….

    Dream. House.

    In a few weeks it will all have been worth the wait. I’ll begin the massive purge and replacementif ONLY what I love into the living and dining room….

    Dream. House.

    Right now… Lol. Right now it’s like a really scary not-fun house though…

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