The Purpose of A Workspace

My office is in this month’s (July actually) issue of Ladies’ Home Journal. {Insert Church Lady Voice) Isn’t that special?  But I want to tell you a secret…

It IS special, it is a HUGE honor, being in a magazine has been one of my life long dreams.  Some people dream of doing selfless things with their life. Things like curing cancer and solving problems of the world, I dream of making a pretty room and then having it show up in print.  I love my office and think it’s great and it knows how to smile and look all pretty for the camera, but it would be tragic if it always looked like this, don’t you think?

I love magazines, I subscribe to magazines, I want to be in magazines, I think they have their place.  But that’s the problem, some people think that magazines are trying to show us how we should be all the time. But they are not.  Shelter magazines are there to inspire and encourage and motivate.  Their place isn’t to shame and guilt and point out flaws.

Of course, you always have the purest and their voice, “oh they shouldn’t do anything to make a photo look better, I think it’s wrong to stage or bring things in or photoshop out the hole in the wall for a magazine or a blog post…” where do you draw the line?  Do you not vacuum either because hey, normally I only vacuum once a week and sorry but today’s not my day.  We get ready when we go out to see people.  We dress even nicer for a wedding.  We pay extra special attention to every inch of ourselves when we are getting a once a year family photo done.  There’s not a thing wrong with looking nice for the camera.

The problem is NOT the magazines. It’s what we do with that photo after it’s taken and published. Do we compare, feel bad, give up, believe perfect is the daily goal?

My husband says I look great when I first wake up with my crazy hair and no makeup and old tank top on.  Messy has its place. Messy is mom making bacon and eggs on Saturday morning while the kids chase the dog.  Messy is real life and getting things done and every day simplicity and it’s beautiful.

I hope you know the purpose of an office is not to look pretty. I’m a creative, my office MUST be a workhorse.  I need storage I need surfaces I need to be able to hide stuff away until I feel like thinking about it.  I want it to be pretty and inspiring but when I’m using it to its fullest potential do you think it looks like this?  If it looks like this then it means there’s a big part of my job that I’m not currently focusing on. That’s okay but that’s not my everyday.

This is an office of a mom who got some things done. I took these photos yesterday, June 26th and as I type this it looks exactly the same. No, I don’t want it to stay like this forever, but this kind of office has a time and a place too. This is the office of a mom who came home from Africa only to be met with the mad dash of three boys finishing out school, it’s the office of a mom who read the book 7 and is now beginning to collect stuff for a major purge, who didn’t want to bother her husband with putting up a few new light fixtures “just to see” she’d rather wait and make sure it’s what she wants, who’s preparing to speak at two conferences this fall, who’s actively working on projects, who loves trying new things and moving things around and who’d rather do a puzzle than clean her office today.

This is an office of a mom who went to the beach last week for four days with her family then came home by herself, spent the night and went to a conference for a few days with her dear friend, Angela.

This is the office of a mom who went to the pool with her husband and boys yesterday. Who also woke up at 5 am and did the hard work of writing for 5 hours before the first boy even woke up.

This is the office of a mom who went today to her son’s first orthodontist appointment.  Who’s practically stopped answering email and tweeting this summer unless it’s absolutely necessary. This is the office of a mom who is getting things done in a way that works in this season of her life with this family.

Tomorrow my office will probably look different. Mostly because my friend and once a week in home assistant Karrie is coming today with her mad organizing skills but also, because I want my office to serve me.  Sometimes that means it needs to be a holding room where I can close the door. Sometimes it needs to be cleared off and quiet so I can write.  Sometimes it needs to house all sorts of inspiration so I can create.

About 5% of the time my office looks like it does in the magazine, about 20% of the time it looks like it does this morning, and the rest of the time it looks somewhere in between.

I think the office is most happy when it’s being used whether that means it’s clean and sparkly or gloriously piled with projects.  And that goes for the entire house. Even though it’s been one of my dreams to be in a magazine, that’s not my ultimate goal for creating a beautiful, meaningful home.  These rooms aren’t there to look pretty, they are there to serve us and house our lives and foster creativity and be a safe haven and induce rest and be a place to learn to risk and a place for connection.  These rooms are workhorses and most of what they do you can never capture in a magazine.

July issue on newsstands for another week or so

Thank you so much, Ladies’ Home Journal for the feature and for seeing the beauty in my imperfect office.

Do you ever think about the real purpose of the spaces in your home, they tend to change with the seasons of life as your family grows, I’d love to hear how your rooms serve you.

Related Posts:

*My Paint Colors

*My $15 Office Desk

*Board and Batten

*Lamps and Mirror

*The Office 3 Ways

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  1. So glad for this refreshing and honest post! I think it’s great to see things at their full potential, and at their worst. And to be reminded that it’s how we RECEIVE and what we do with our hearts that matters after we see a photo like that, or of some gorgeous, skinny, “perfect” girl in a magazine. Thanks!

  2. Thank you so much for your consistent honesty and posting pictures of your house when it’s REAL and LIVED IN. You have no idea how much I appreciate that, especially as I’m a working mother and often feel like I don’t have enough time to do everything. Please keep on posting and giving us beauty, ideas and honesty!!!

  3. I love your workspace and am glad to see that I’m not the only one with a messy area! Thanks for sharing! ~Tammy

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your REAL office! :-)
    I now feel so much better that today my office is doubling as a place to dry the laundry!

  5. Judy Hall says:

    Thanks for the great laugh at myself! I can keep my work space organized and looking pretty while I sleep at night. By 8:00 a.m. the next day, it all over.

  6. I subscribe to Ladies Home Journal and when I saw the book page wreath I said, “Hey they copied The Nester!” Then I realized it was a picture of YOUR office and thought “How cool!” I love this post, my office is much smaller than yours and it has it’s messy moments also, I like the idea of giving myself permission for it to be that way.

  7. Thank you for being you, honest, open and true. It shows in your words and the photos of your action. We all need to hear it. What fun is it to believe in a make believe world where you can never measure up?

  8. Congratulations! Thanks for posting pictures of “the office of a mom who thinks about her priorities.” I can’t decide which are more beautiful — those or the magazine ones.

  9. Ah, bless you. My desk looks just like that, and it’s been causing me guilt and embarrassment for weeks. But, like you, I’m a mom in the midst of a million things. It really does help to see other people’s messes sometimes.

  10. Oh, do I love the beauty, but even more the realism of your blog. Snaps to you for having your office showcased in LHJ – such an honor!

  11. ashleigh says:

    I was just reading mine today and came across a picture that looked SO familiar. I thought – wait a minute, I KNOW that office! Congrats to you!

  12. Crystelle Grant says:

    Love it. This relieved a lot of stress for me, thank you.

    • yep, that kind of stress is worthless (as if other kinds are so worthwhile) but seriously if we are gonna stress it shouldn’t be about a messy unorganized space, stress about your teeth falling out or a comet hitting the earth, not about papers everywhere. But I agree, writing this post made me take my messes a little less seriously too!

  13. Am I the only one that noticed that The Nester revealed her (I assume) real name?! Maybe she has before, but this is the first time I’ve noticed it in her blog. Very cool!

  14. Amazing post…. you never fail to draw me in with your genuine, down to earth, perfectly imperfect way of seeing and writing about life. Your posts come directly to my email, and sometimes, i’m like… she’s so famous now, if i comment, she won’t even take notice… But, i have to say, there is something i pick up about you that tells me you are shy and sensitive, and that’s so cool to me, it makes me really like the person you are…
    and for goodness sake, it’s about time you were in a magazine, geeeshh… what took them so long!


    • Oh Cindy, for some reason I am laughing here, but yes, last week at the Haven conference? Angela and I were in our rooms by 9 one night and by 7:30 the second night. We are both introverts who need our quiet, our one on one talks and our early bedtimes so we can be ready for people the next day!

  15. Donna Purdy says:

    I think I stumbled across your blog via Pinterest while I was pinning ideas for a home office. As I started reading I was thinking ‘oh, I LIKE her-she’s REAL’ and THEN I saw that you just got back from Africa!!! Just wondering where in Africa. Our youngest daughter is from Addis Ababa and we kinda sorta LOVE it there!!
    Thanks for the office inspiration and reminder that being ‘real’ is where life is really at!

    • welcome donna!

      I was in Tanzania with Compassion International, if you click the word “Africa” in the post you can read more about it, so glad you stopped by!

  16. Congratulations! I am so happy for you.

  17. I think this is the post of yours that I love the most. I thought I loved other posts, but this is the best post. I love how naturally it was written and it speaks volumes that family comes first. Who cares about the state of the office when you;ve had four days at the beach with your kids? Love, love, love it! Thank you.

  18. First, congratulations on being published in the magazine! It looks like the shoot turned out beautifully. Second, thanks for your honesty {super-bloggers: they’re just like us! ;-)} I’m just as intrigued with the behind-the-scenes creative process as I am with beautiful rooms, so it’s really cool to see.

  19. Tracey H. says:

    Oh goodness was that refreshing to read this morning!! I loved it all tidy, that would be the OCD person who resides in me, but the mess made my heart leap with joy!! Stay busy with life and then enjoy a little cleaning up every now and again!!:0) Off to buy a copy of LHJ, how awesome for you!!

  20. Nester, this post is inspired! I love how you have laid all the cards out on the table this way. Oh, doesn’t the perfectionist in me need to be reassured that it’s okay to love a beautiful home but need to have that home work for us! Thank you (again…and again…and again) for being real.

    (And congrats on the LHJ feature! **happy squeals**)

  21. I love the raw honesty of this post. I also love that you landed a magazine feature – so exciting! I can only dream of that. Your office is beautiful, but the fact that it actually gets used, makes it all the more. xoxo

  22. I just sat down to comment and read Morgan’s (style oyster)post… It is exactly what I was about to say too. Thank you so very much for your total transparency and gut truth… We all love that!!!!
    Congratulations and blessings to you always.:)

  23. how2home says:

    Your office space looks phenomenal, it very feminine and clean which i adore…and it’s so “YOU” love it!

  24. I think this is my favorite post in the 3+ yrs I’ve been following you. ;-)

  25. Pam Zambenini says:

    LOVE! I have a cousin who lives in a HUGE home and it ALWAYS looks like a magazine house. Years ago, when her teenage boys stopped by my house for an impromptu visit during a quilt making marathon, I made them swear not to tell her what a wreck my modest home looked like. If they caught me in that state now, I wouldn’t give a fig. Messes mean we’re doing things we love.

  26. Congratulations on the Ladies Home Journal spread.

  27. I love home decor magazines for inspiration but I also don’t take it too seriously. I want our apartment to have a home feel and many people say that it does. But the most important thing is that my family feels it home.

  28. Thank you! THIS is why I continue to read your blog. The reality checks. I need them from time to time!
    Have a great summer!

  29. Loved meeting you at Haven….congratulations on your office in print! Woohoo! Love it that your family is your priority. Enjoy your summer…..

  30. A friend of mine posted on her blog the other day that a perfectly clean house is not a lived-in house. That a clean kitchen isn’t cooked in, no toys on the floor mean no kids in the house. A perfectly styled bookcase is full of books that aren’t read. The same goes for a perfectly clean office – it’s not worked in! Thanks for sharing those photos – I think deep down people enjoy them more than the shelter magazine fakeness. It makes other people seem more human when we know we aren’t the only ones actually living in our homes :)

  31. I am SOOO glad you took those “real life” photos! My art room has looked just like that for a couple of weeks… orders to fill, working at our family store, lots of company, a trip across the country, and college classes to finish. And it is what it is! :-D

    Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing… it made my day!

    Kim :-)

  32. Thans for sharing and being so transparent. It’s nice to see someone with an office that is beautiful and also works for her. Your post made me smile!

  33. kathy h says:

    Love these types of posts!!! I love to see how people “really” live… which is why I love going on walks at dusk, as people have lights on and curtains still open.. :-) BTW, your office is gorgeous, even when it’s lived in. I love your color choices. I’m going to go search your site, but I am curious as to what paint color you used on the buffet and armoire. So pretty!

  34. Thanks for keeping it real. :)

  35. I love your wall color! It looks like the color on my bedroom walls. I also needed this today to get my “office” in shape! It’s jus tthe corner of my bedroom, but I really need to create a place for everything so I can put it away and not think about it when it’s time to move on to other things. I love to be organized, but my home office is anything but. Thanks for inspiring me to create a space for myself where I can create and enjoy the create process.

  36. So excited that you are real! My bedroom currently looks like your office (after the orthodontist appoitnment). I guess you have motivated me to get up and start organizing!

  37. You are a real life inspiration. Not only do I love your decorating style and taste but I love your philosophy on life and doing what we can. I so wish I could make it to one of those conferences. When will there be a blog conference on the West Coast, or did I already miss that!? Congrats on the Journal feature…that office is AWESOME!!!!!

  38. Liz VanKirk says:

    Thank you for opening up to us and showing us that not everyone lives with a magazine styled home everyday. Not that I wouldn’t love that but with 5 kids it’s an ongoing battle. I love the shots you put in there of you holding the camera in the mirror. Got a chuckle out of that!

    I did get that magazine before I even knew you were in it and I recognized the room – lol

    Keep being who you are – we enjoy it!


  39. gosh you inspire me. gosh.

  40. Ha ha it’s so nice to see that ‘perfect bloggers’ are actually just normal people! I’ve been reading blogs recently and wondering where they put the everyday ‘stuff’ and why my ‘stuff’ can’t be tidied away like that all of the time.

  41. I am in LOVE with the color of of that desk and wardrobe! Such a beautiful shade! I love your office perfect or messy! Sadly, mine mostly looks like that latter! Congratulations on the magazine feature!

  42. OMG….I think this is my favorite blog post EVER!

  43. Help! I love the color of your armoire, but I believe I read the paint color posting and it says halcyon grey, but your armoire seems so much lighter than that, could you confirm the color you chose for that piece?!? Looks like the other piece in your office is the halcyon grey ( credenza /buffet/ dresser) – Thanks, I am a big fan!!!

    • yep, it’s right, like I say at the top of the paint colors post, never trust a color you see on the internet, lighting, cameras, computers, even what side of the room a piece is on can make colors look entirely different!

  44. Your office is amazing, even messed up. :)


  45. I read that magazine and saw your office. I was oh so jealous for a little bit until I saw your mess. I’m totally not jealous of having to clean that up and reorganize. But I definitely love your style. Glad you are “real”.

  46. Sharon Day says:

    Loved your article and can’t tell you how important I think having a workspace is. I’ve always had a place for all of my “paper,” crafts, memories, photos, projects , etc. . . . a place to organize & make sense out of my life. That is, until I moved into my current 600 sq ft apartment two years ago. There is literally no place to turn into a work space, so I default to the table in the dining room, a tiny ‘L’ off the tiny living room. My life has never been so chaotic and unorganized. I’m used to having a specific place for everything and now I am spread out into every available nook & cranny in the apartment. Order no longer prevails and chaos rules the roost. How I long for the days when I had a dedicated space, albeit relatively compact, where I could organize my life. My kingdom (ha-ha) for an office!

  47. Really love the design you used for this space.

  48. i love this post!!! its refreshing to see the real side of ‘perfect’. Your workspace is gorgeous anyway! happy creating!

  49. I think this post has changed my outlook tremendously. I keep beating myself up over parts of my house getting in such a state, lately. I love that I can think of it in such a positive way by realizing that the disorder is caused by doing fantastic things for my family and traveling to see extending family. Are there things I can give up (computer/tv time) to make it better? Of course, but staying positive about it builds me up instead of being negative and sucking my energy and enthusiasm for getting a reign on things again. Still keeping this one in my Reader to marinate over awhile. Thanks for these reality checks!

  50. I love your taste. I was wondering where did you get the white faux gazzel head and the white owl in the sitting room?

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