We’ve Been Conditoned To Not Make Mistakes

  • painting our bed: risk
  • buying a rug online: risk
  • hanging sheets on our windows: risk
  • buying a chair from the thrift store without knowing where it will go: risk
  • hanging a salvaged oversized lantern: risk
  • painting the walls in a rental: risk
  • Having a room we love to be in: priceless

Risk.  It’s an art.

Every thing important to me was a risk.

And also, every thing in my home that I love was a risk. So many of us are afraid of making a mistake.  Afraid we’ll do it wrong.  Just Afraid.  It’s normal to be afraid, it’s natural to want to avoid risk.

And then there is our home.  To me, home is supposed to be the safest place on earth.  As mothers and wives we like to create that safe place for our family.  But, I’ve noticed that we don’t see our home as a safe place for us.

Yesterday at (in)courage we talked about making a gallery wall, and I noticed a little trend of comments about not having the courage to do a gallery wall.  So I asked what the issue was. Tina was kind enough to respond:

I love Tina’s honesty, don’t you just adore her? Part of me wants to scream, “It’s a ding a ling nail hole in the wall, is there anything in life LESS risky than creating a 1 millimeter hole in a wall that can be filled with your finger and some putty in 2 seconds?!”  If putting a hole in the wall equates a risk, then I cannot imagine how hard is to get in the car and drive around town, that’s much riskier.  But part of me also understands the hesitancy to take a first step into anything that we are unsure about.  I’m big stuff when it comes to making nail holes, but get me in the makeup department and I feel like a seven year old.  A seven year old boy. I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to cosmetics.  To me, cosmetics are risky so I avoid them, yet somehow I still find the courage to ride around in a car.

I was a nervous wreck the day I bought my sailfish but it was SO worth the risk:

The Secret: start with small risks and move on to larger ones

Why don’t we see decorating our home {or buying new makeup} as risk taking practice?  If we can’t take a risk in something as minuscule as choosing a fabric or paint or lipstick or a piece of art, what will happen when the opportunities for bigger risks with real rewards come along?

Riskless is hardly worth your effort.

Seth Godin

I loved what Lauren from Pure Style Home has to say about risk. I can’t say it any better so I’m going to quote her a little, but it’s worth it to read her entire article called Get Excited.

Don’t think of being nervous about a decision as a sign of making a wrong choice, instead consider it an opportunity to grow and learn.  We learn from mistakes as much as we learn from right choices.  Annie tells a great story about deciding to risk, here’s just a tiny part::

It can start with a nail hole and a tube of lipstick.

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  1. I know this isn’t what you’re getting at — but as a renter, I’m afraid to put nail holes in my walls because it’s one more thing I’ll have to fill upon moving. So I set up my gallery wall using 3M Command Strips. They peel right off the wall if you’re unhappy, but will hold art up permanently if you like the risk you took. Good luck :)

  2. Funny, the first post (Emily) says exactly what I was going to – Yes!, Yes!, Yes!
    I have been way too timid, too afraid to offend, too conforming to what (I think) others want/expect, and not true to my own creativity.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  3. Love love love this post. This was my favorite part: If we can’t take a risk in something as minuscule as choosing a fabric or paint or lipstick or a piece of art, what will happen when the opportunities for bigger risks with real rewards come along? I will think about this for a long time. Thank you.

  4. This is SO RIGHT! We are afraid to take risk, to be scruinized, to be questioned, or doubted. In all areas of life. In Marriage, motherhood, as decorators, cooks, cleaners and as children of God. We are afraid of RISK. I’m sick of being afraid of RISK. Who cares if I mess up. Your right Nester, it is just a ding a ling nail hole. (:

  5. Yesterday on my new favorite show, The Nate Show, Nate did a re-do for Dr. Ruth Westheimer (sex tharapist) who had not touched her NYC apartment in FIFTY years! Amazing transformation. However, the thing that struck me most was a comment by Dr. Ruth herself. She said, ” If a turtle wants to move it has to take a risk. It has to stick its neck out.” LOVED that! How appropriate for today’s post, Nester. Love ya, girl.
    PS If you haven’t watched yesterday’s showwith Dr. Ruth, go to http://www.thenateshow.com to check it out.

  6. Forgot to mention that Dr. Ruth had a bunch of little turtles around her house that inspired her to stretch her professional boundaries way back when a “sex therapist” wasn’t even a noted profession! She is a child of the holocaust and made her way to the US after WWII/holocaust/being separated from her family and left in an orphanage. She also mentions her love of America and a statement about “where else in the world could someone like her become a success”. A very inspiring story to say the least.

  7. I am glad I’m not the only one who gets REALLY nervous when doing something risky with decor! We are redoing our bathroom right now and I painted it a VERY dark blue – and it is a very small room. I loved the first stroke of paint and after that I was nervous and second guessing it the whole time. Now that the room is almost completely done, it looks amazing. I would not be loving it nearly as much if I had just done tan.

  8. Colleen says:

    I have been thinking a lot about the “risk” of color and stuff in my house and the other night I decided well of I don’t like it I can re-do it. I have been so excited about doing a gallery wall or walls in my house for awhile now and the only thing stopping me is my Hubby moved my boxes of pictures and now we can’t find them. But as soon as they are located I am all ready for put holes in my walls and create some beauty.

  9. Cynthia says:

    This is so inspirational. When you take a moment to step back and put it all in perspective that tiny nail hole or paint really isn’t a big deal! Thanks for sharing.

  10. What an amazing post. It rings soooo true. I come from the advertising world where creative risk and ‘the unexpected’ is embraced; yet, ironically, I’ve been reluctant to take the same risks in my home . How weird is that, lol? But over the past few months, I’ve stomped out some of those fears, and the reward has been amazing. I credit my new found confidence to finding your blog and some others here in blogland. The homes that I love the most around here are the ones that are chock full of unexpected details. Thanks for inspiring us!

  11. Part of my hesitancy to take a risk comes from pure laziness. I STILL haven’t picked out a gray paint for the kitchen and dining room b/c 1. I HATE painting and don’t want to do it and 2. I still worry about what if it looks bad and then I have to redo it. See? Pure laziness.

    Funny you should post this today b/c I took a look at my progress on my home goals today on the blog. Not doing a great job so far, but I am pleased that it’s only March that I am realizing it’s time to kick things up a notch….

  12. I have purchased expensive furniture that was a MISTAKE ; that is hard to deal with. I lived with it longer that I wanted to and sold it for less than I should have. Now I take risks with estate sale stuff and am finding my confidence again. The things that don’t work out get sold at the consignment store and I get most of my money back. Nothing lost. Let’s face it, some of us are not born knowing how to decorate and have to practice.

    • yep, the entire point of this post is that NO ONE is born knowing how to do things~ EVERYONE has to practice, even Lauren was nervous about her sofa purchase.

  13. Jennifer M says:

    Thank you so much for this post today! I am smack dab in the middle of a risk right now in my dining room. I’ve painted the bottom a GORGEOUS colonial blue and plan for the top (tall ceilings) to be a light tan. Right now it looks like an empty swimming pool in there…(*breathe in and out*) but once the tan balances and I install the chair rail, it’s gonna rock! I hope!

    It’s taken me forever to jump in and take risks with my home. Mostly because it’s all on me, as my dh isn’t handy and doesn’t care to be. But he’ll help when I tell him what to paint and where to put the ladder! Your blog is such a confidence booster for me. Thank you for sharing your home with us and being so honest. That risk is paying off!

  14. Colleen P. says:

    LOL-as a serious and serial Risk Taker, this has really opened my eyes up about how scary taking a risk can be for some people. I can say this-sometimes, in fact I’d say most times, taking a risk ends up being the right thing to do. I can also say with complete sincerity that sometimes it isn’t. This is where the risky part comes in-you just can’t know until you do it. However, even if it’s the wrong thing, you would never have known it if you hadn’t risked something. Very nearly everything can be fixed if it does turn out to have been a mistake.

    In ten years, will it really matter that you have five nail holes to fill in a rental? Having been a land lord myself, I can assure you that picture nail holes are a NON ISSUE. In one rental house we owned, we had people remove parts of WALLS, kick out door frames, rip off decorative wood rails and staple up wallpaper with a nail gun. Picture nail holes are NOT, I repeat, an issue worthy of consideration.

    • you heard it hear people!

      we have rented at least 5 houses and have been landlords as well, nail holes were always the least of our worries.

      • I third that. Nail holes ain’t nothing.

        But, before you decide to paint a gaint lime green X with dark brown background on the living room wall – please, I beg you, if you are renting…resist.

        Just head out to your local Thrift-o-Rama and buy a $25 junky old canvas. Paint that! And, then you can take your “Lime Green X of Wonderfullness” with you wherever you go!

        Yes, a renter did that. (Now we own stock in Kilz.)

        • Colleen P. says:

          Oh gosh! I’m giggling here, I’m so sorry! I’m sure once you get all the Kilz out of your life (and you keep finding those flecks of it FOR-E-VER) it will probably seem funny. Sort of.

          We should have a contest for how long it takes one woman with a can of spackle to cover every nail hole in a room-first prize, a brand new sanding block and a can of primer! LOL!

  15. “Everything important to me was a risk.” I just added your statement to my favorite quote list. I feel so ALIVE when I’m taking risks. Here’s to living my life more ALIVE! Thank you, Nester. Really.

  16. I love, love, love that first bedroom picture. everthing about it, i want. i want it all! :) loved this post. i too have wanted to do a gallery wall too but just don’t know where to begin. I change my mind and pictures out so often (I’m a photographer), so I’ve put it off for years. :)

  17. Wow! Preach it Nester! This resonated with me on so many levels. I want to take more risks! I want to feel free to do what I want without worrying about someone else’s opinion! As I get older, I am caring less about what other people think. With God’s help I can create the home that He wants our family to live in! Your blog is so inspirational. Thank you!

  18. I am generally not a bit afraid of risk. I am known (or some might say laughed at) for constantly moving furniture, pictures, revamping old stuff, replacing light fixtures – risk taking at home. But we lived for 4 1/2 years in our former home without painting the walls or hanging drapes. We had huge cathedral ceilings and big windows. It was going to take a LOT of time and paint to do it, and I was quite certain my hubby – who is absolutely, positively NOT a risk taker – would never tackle a project again if I got it finished and then hated it.

    We painted and put up curtains, and my hubby saw the incredible reward from the risk. We sold the house 6mo later, and after moving into this place you know what my hubs first priority is? (Ok, after buying a big snow blower and mower.) Paint. Stuff on the windows. Something on the walls.

    You really can learn to enjoy the risk!!

  19. GREAT post, Nester!
    love what you said here: “Don’t think of being nervous about a decision as a sign of making a wrong choice, instead consider it an opportunity to grow and learn.”
    Perfect encouragement for having the guts to go with what first strikes you, and talking yourself down from nerves or looking back!

  20. This is so true! When my dad suddenly passed away and I had two little boys at home so I had no time to mourn. I needed an outlet. It was at that point I just didn’t care I really needed to do something so I painted everything that I could and nail some wood on the walls and I love it! It actually made my blog grow a bit from the projects I was doing….no where at your caliber though. ;) Maybe one day.

  21. What a terrific post, you are soooo right! We have been conditioned to not make mistakes, and I guess that’s good when you’re talking about a math test, but not so much when you’re talking about art, or a silly hole in the wall! Thanks so much for the reminder to take risks, as my husband always says, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

  22. So, did you intend to stir up all my issues in this post? This simple post about home and risk?
    I sadly live my life full aware that I avoid risk for fear of loss and hurt. The main place it has shown up is in relationships. If it isn’t a sure thing, I sabotage. Blech. The worst part is I know what’s going on!
    I’ll paint a whole piece of furniture and put holes all over walls but write a guy back? No way.

    Really trying to grow. Baby steps.

    I needed this today. Thank you.

  23. Jenny Mathis says:

    Love your bed! I have a couple of decorating questions for you.

    1. We have the exact same bed in its natural color. I want to paint it white. Is it okay to have a white bed frame and leave the dresser and side tables in their natural brown wood color?

    2. What paint color and brand did you use on your bed? It looks fabulous!!

    Thanks so much! :)

    Best wishes & happy blogging. You rock!

  24. Excellent post, Nester.

  25. I totally see your point, Nester, and this is great advice. Sometimes when I’m paralyzed by fear regarding decor it is more about expense or time. If one or the other is a big investment, I’m less likely to take the risks. I’m much bolder with a nail in the wall or even a paint color. But a sofa? Kitchen cabinets? Not so much!

  26. What a timely post! After 6 years in our home, we finally had the 70s paneling painted in our living room (Sherwin Williams Comfort Gray with Dover White trim!). It looks amazing, exactly as I had always imagined it. But now that its all done, I’m afraid to hang anything on the walls. They are so perfect, I don’t want to mess them up!

    But I did take a small risk today…I bought a tube of RED lipstick!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  27. Stephanie says:

    I have a completely different question. How many gallery walls in one home is too many? I have one in a den-type room and a smaller one in my breakfast area. I’m thinking of doing another up my staircase as well, but I’m wondering if together, they are too much. The one in my “den” is family pictures, mostly in color. The one in the breakfast area is plates and a chalkboard and some framed fabrics in cool colors. The one I want to do in my stairwell would be black and white pictures with a nice blue accent in certain areas, with other interesting objects also dispersed throughout. Does making them three different types of galleries soften the blow or is three just too many for one house no matter how you slice it? I’m not a blogger myself, but I’m happy to send pictures in exchange for advice! :)

    • oh how I love you!

      how about a gallery home?

      I have four different areas of gallery — my plate wall, my gallery wall in the family room, empty frame groupings up the stairs and black and white photos grouped in the playroom.

      the plates and frames are near eachother and sometimes bother me. seeing too many galleries at one time could be hazardous or confusing but, I think you could get away with different rooms

  28. i love this… and i need to get some friends to open some non-smell paint and go to town on my condo. it’s so easy to get comfortable, but i’m finding the comfort to feel confining after awhile. risk is just a necessary part of growth, i think… sometimes the scarier the better :)

  29. Amen!! I have been toying with the idea of a goldenrod colored sofa, and I finally said to myself just go for it!

  30. I love the quote about taking a risk and guaranteeing some loss and yet gaining more then you ever knew possible. This reminds me of the risks I took to have my three sweet girls after eight miscarriages. I just knew I could lose another baby and experience the pain, I am so thankful to God that I took the risk and now rejoice as I hold these precious girls in my arms each night. Now I am off to take some risks in my house that seem so doable in light of bigger risks.

  31. I needed this, in the worst way. Tonight sounds like a good night to take a few risks, and FINALLY, hang some things up around my house. Thanks for the encouragement!

  32. This is yet another awesome post! Your blog gave me the courage to paint the brick around my fireplace – the red brick I had been looking at at not loving for 25 years. Now it is white. I don’t love it but I like it a lot more now and it is different! You have given me more courage and I am sure you are giving courage to others too. Thanks Nester.

  33. I know exactly what you mean. I took a risk when we built our home and painted our family room red—no RED!!! (you can see a pic on the blog) The day that the room was painted I walked in and kept saying “it’s so red, it’s so red, ohhhh, I just don’t know if I like this, it’s so red” But once I got stuff on the walls and furniture in the room, I loved it and it gets soooo many positive comments when people come over—and they all say they would be too scared to paint a room red!

  34. I used pick colors that are too light.
    Then I picked some that are too dark.

    Now, I only buy paint if I grab a handful of paint chips and tape them in a large square on the wall so I can see the chips in all light conditions. (When tiny jars of samples are available – that’s even better!)

    Hugs and Kisses,

  35. Love that you posted on rush cuz I am about to embark on a big one! I know everyone is into whites and cool tones for decor but I did this a few years ago and I am ready for something different. I should leave my house the way it is since it “fits in” so well with what others are doing nowadays BUT that is the safe thing to do. I fell in love with a coral and gold fabric the other day and I am going to take the risk and run with it. This means I will NOT changing out my gold and brass fixtures but embracing them instead. It is risky and may end up looking totally putrid BUT it could be amazing too. The possibility of amazing is worth the cost of
    the risk!

  36. I’m with Tina on the fear of nail holes! We have plaster walls and it is not so easy to hang something on plaster! Do you have any suggestions as to safely put a picture up? I have tried putting tape across the spot before nailing but I still get a HOLE with cracks in all directions!

  37. your bedroom has evolved into the most beautiful room……

  38. We are HUGE risk takers! We took on a huge risk when we bought our 100 yr old house and while we have had some major work to do it has been so worth the risk. I am so blesses that I am married to a risk taker who goes along with my crazy ideas!

  39. Thanks so much for weaving practical philosophy into your posts. The risk- taking theme as well as a former theme of simplifying have made a great impact on me, recently, and have helped me over a few hurdles in my mind! Keep up the great work.

  40. I love this post! I was so inspired to do a gallery wall and I did it!! I don’t consider myself afraid to take a risk but I know several people who are afraid of doing something wrong that they never do anything at all. That makes me sad..life is about risks..we may miss out on a blessing and a really good idea!! Thanks for inspiring and for taking risks!

  41. So true.
    And look at the similarities between Lauren’s living room and your bedroom. Did you have her room as one of your inspiration photos??

  42. The song “unwritten” made me cry…
    You are so right about our fears …I think today is the first day to open up “my dirty windows”.

    Love your blog,
    Ellie (Netherlands) (sorry for any misspellings, this is not my native language)

  43. This post was written for me, and I was meant to read it today! I woke up this morning thinking about painting my family room, which terrifies me. It is all a super rough barn board, and I think it is going to be hard to paint, and I don’t know how it will look when I’m done. Oh, and also I’ve never really painted before, and certainly not by myself. AGGHH!! BUT, after reading this…I’m going for it.

    A fear I did conquer recently was the fear of blogging. I kept feeling that there was no way I had anything interesting to say, and how egotistical to assume that anyone would want to read what I wrote? Then I realized….I wanted to do it for me, and to heck with that voice in my head! I just started it last week, and I am loving it so much! Thank you for being such an inspiration!

  44. Wonderful post, Nester!

  45. Yer inspiring

  46. I absolutely NEEDED this post! Honestly, my perfectionistic tendencies seem to hold me back. I have this vision in my head of what I want each room in our home to look like, but I get scared, hold back, and don’t take the risk of making my vision come “alive”. So often I am afraid to make a mistake and then simply sit with my vision versus acting on it. But I think you’ve touched on something I always seem to forget… start off small. I also tend to follow this “all or nothing” perspective, which hold me back on so many different levels. You’ve inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and try to make my vision come alive. I truly thank you for that!
    Simply Jen xo

  47. I have never refinished a piece of furniture in my life, what resources do you recommend for getting started? Websites? Product lines that work well? There are tons of older furniture pieces for sale in my area and since we are in a very small town, this is probably going to work much better for me than trying to order expensive furniture on-line, paying shipping costs, sight unseen, etc. Thanks!!

    • I’ve never refinished either, I’m way too lazy. But, I do make slipcovers and paint furniture, super easy–both links are in the NP sidebar: how to paint furniture and the lazy girls guide to slipcovers, they are $10 e-books that my friends wrote

  48. Off to go knock some holes in the walls!!!

    This was great, and it FORCED the question…

    “What am I afraid of?” Ouch. Is that TOO honest??? lol
    God bless!

  49. Hi Nester: So after seeing my name in “PRINT” and re-reading what I wrote, I realized my nail holes go much deeper. I see them as open wounds, I guess not yet healed. You see, I would never, ever have thought of putty to fill in my mistakes. EVER! Oh my goodness, that would never have crossed my mind. Yet so simple. But it did bring a healing to me and I thank you. I JUST read an excerpt from Sharon Jaynes’ book yesterday “Your Scars Are Beautiful to God”, — after Jesus was resurrected and transformed, He had to show His disciples His nail hole scars to show them it was Him … God could have taken those scars away, but He didn’t, for doubting Thomas’ like me! … I need to let my wounds heal, scar over and let Jesus be my “putty.” I guess nail holes can be Huge in some ways … especially the ones Jesus endured. But HE endured them and now I can go and make my own, because through Him I am set free! I know this may be way deeper than you (or your readers) wanted to hear. But, I am so thankful to you for writing from your heart … there was healing in that post for me. And now that I know I am free I can go pound “me” some nails!

  50. It all comes back to the fear of failure and we all have that routed deep down inside. I am a risk taker. I just painted the first room you see when you walk in our house BLUE and I mean BLUE. It has been described as “painters tape blue.” And I did it with no fear. But yesterday I was putting up a shelf and missed the stud leaving an extra hole in my wall and let me tell you, I was devistated all day. (And all over again as I write this.) I wanted to do the job right and I failed and I was bummed. It sounds so stupid and over dramatic but I totally get that this feeling is enough to paralyze some people from doing anything at all.

    • FAILED?

      Honey you didn’t fail, you painted an entire room brave blue and then went ahead and put up shelves?!

      One extra hole does not a failure make, extra holes are the sign that you actually did something.

      I’d trade you an unpainted wished for room ANY day for a painted room with an extra hole!

      • Colleen P. says:

        Jill, if you lived in my town I’d be there in ten minutes with my scraper and spackle, and possibly donuts and coffee. Sometimes things like that just HIT you, don’t they? Big hugs babe-now, fill in your hole, let it dry, sand it a bit and dab some of that pretty blue paint over the spackle. NO ONE WILL EVER SEE IT! So-No failure there! (and while we’re on the subject, I really need to fill in the wrong place hole for my bathroom shelf…from six months ago…)

        I’ve seen home improvement shows where they make MAJOR mistakes. Like, having to replace drywall, mud and tape, prime and repaint, mistakes. The designer always says, “no problem, I can fix that”. Good mantra for all of us!

        Sorry to barge in Nester-Jill sounded like she needed some major huggage!

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