31: It’s Really Not About the Stuff

purpose of a home

girl’s weekend

If I want my home to be a place of connection, I’ll ask genuine questions and get to know the people in my home.

If I want my home to be a safe place to make a mistake, I’ll lower my standards for myself first, be forgiving of my own mistakes, laugh at myself–and allow others to see that.

If I want my home to be inspiring, I’ll pay attention to what inspires me.

If I want my home to be real, I’ll learn to embrace the imperfect, find the beauty in the undone, the *half hazard, the unkempt, the everydayness and the mess.

If I want my home to be comfortable, I’ll first stop apologizing and focus on others instead of myself.

If I want my home to be a place of rest, I’ll consider my attitude and the tone I set when I am home.

how to decorate

“Those are real nice words lady, but how does that affect how our rooms look and feel?  I have an empty room, woman, HELP!

Right. So…

If I want my home to be a place of connection where I can ask lots of questions and have good conversation, I want to be sure I have adequate, comfy seating so people will stick around.

If I want my home to be a safe place to make a mistake, I’ll display the imperfect in my home.  That spelling test where they made a C?–on the fridge, the frame where the glass broke out–so? it still looks great.  The leather chair with the rips? It’s loved and sat in daily.

If I want my home to be inspiring, I’ll collect inspiring things and show them off unashamed, regardless of the trends.

If I want my home to be real, I’ll find the beauty in what is.  Accept that the messes unique to my home are a sign of a full and beautiful season of life.

“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass”;

“We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply. “We’re raising boys.”

–Harmon Killebrew (Quoted to me and Emily often by our dad)

purpose of a home

31 Days

*read the comments for more info


  1. Good blog. I needed to see that to remind myself. Thanks for posting. I would love to have you as a follower as well.

  2. Well said! I love the practical side of things.

    One more thing, and I’m only asking this because I had a bet once with my husband and I totally won. Hands down. I thought. Until I read your post. Is it ‘half’ hazard or ‘hap’ hazard?

    • I know the answer, but I’m not telling it here. This is where I go to learn to embrace imperfection. :)

      • Oh gosh, I’m totally not a perfectionist. I just thought it was funny that my husband and I had a disagreement about that word. Apparently we’re not the only ones wondering.

        Good redirect, by the way. :)

      • A wise professor once told me: “It all depends how you look at it”.

        Half hazard (50% hazard) and haphazard (lacking organization) mean two different things; but either could be correct in the above blog. Our home, for example, is currently both half hazard and haphazard. The main floor of our bilevel is nearly done renovation and safe, but not completely organized. The kitchen, bathroom and closets upstairs are reorganized. I am part way through organizing the living room and master bedroom. The basement is being renovated and barricaded to protect people and pets from unsafe areas. Technically, 50% of the area of our home is safe and 50% is hazardous.

    • Kathrynwitte says

      You’re right; it’s HAP hazard.

      Imperfection isn’t good in everything. Grammar and spelling count in the real world. Jobs demand them, potential bosses use them to judge us against other job seekers, customers are influenced by them because if we don’t pay attention to little things how will we ever take care of the big things for them? We evaluate things and others all day long, and that is how we survive. If your banker, cashier, auto mechanic or waitress thinks making little mathematical mistakes is “just being human”, find another banker, store, garage or restaurant.

      • whoops, totally meant to google that, but life got in the way. It’s so true, if my heart surgeon makes a mistake, my life is over. If I do my taxes imperfect, I could be in trouble. There are times when perfection is a must.

        But, are some times when being perfect doesn’t matter? Like requiring perfection in every single thing we do. Like picking a paint color. Or not making a nail hole because then I’ll have a hole in my wall. It’s kind of about attitude as well. This is SUCH a great example, I’m tempted to leave it in.

        If a blogger botches a word, will people not come back? Will I lose my job? The answer is maybe. It’s your choice. The audience is self selecting. But one thing I do know is that no one will come here if, if I have nothing to say, even if it is in perfect grammar.

        Thanks for your words Kathryn, I think you are right, it’s good to think about when to insist on perfection. xo

        • Some people will leave your blog because of your grammar choice. Some will actually STAY because of this discussion. You are LIVING into the very thing you post here. I, for one, was a tiny bit skeptical of who was writing your blog. Um, … my life doesn’t look that perfect. This accident helps me to believe you. It actually BRINGS credibility.

          I told you yesterday that I was learning from you, not just about your home, but about blogging. This is a TRUE challenge project for me because I didn’t consider this material until the day I began it. So everything I write is “on the fly”. I’m learning by making mistakes and moving quickly.

          My plate is full and there are only a precious few moments each day to blog, yet the subject is dear to me. So, giving myself TRUE permission to mess up and be imperfect is a liberating path. It’s movement.

          If people choose the “banker” or “restaurant” down the street it’s all good. I need to feel like my authentic self showing up each day is enough.

  3. I want a sign in my yard with that quote.

    Lovely 31, Nester.

  4. “If I want my home to be a place of rest, I’ll consider my attitude and the tone I set when I am home.”
    eek! This is something I needed to read. Thanks Nester!

  5. wow this one’s good! i am going to read it again and again. simple but profound.

  6. Nester you made me cry two days in a row–while reading a blog about decorating your house. Really can’t tell you how much your words are convicting me right now and I really appreciate it. I wrote down the words safe and relaxing. It is pretty obvious to me that if I am running around telling everyone to quit treating my house like a playground (notice I even use the word my) or worrying about every imperfection or possible imperfection, I will never get to safe and relaxing. Thanks so much for doing this Nester.

  7. Love this post. We look at the blogs and think that everyone else but us has perfect homes. I love a pretty home, but I also love a welcoming and comfortable one. BTW, just because you said you want to get it right, “haphazard” is one word! Maybe you knew that already :)

  8. You be awesome

  9. Amen…and AMEN!!! ~Kim

  10. So true! I want my house to be comfortable, real, AND a place of connection, but with that comes imperfection. I call all those imperfections LOVE. My husband points out the nick in the hardwood and I tell him “the kids were having fun!” Our house isn’t perfect but there is a whole lot of love in here.

  11. What exactly is an imperfection in a house?

    A nail hole? A spot that needs to be re-painted? DO IT for crying out loud! Get it fixed. If you wanted sage green walls and you somehow end up with metallic mint green, it is a mistake that needs to be fixed, not something you just live with. As long as you are making an attempt at something, accept the mistakes as part of the learning curve, but don’t settle for something just because you made a mistake. Imperfection is not about being lazy. You may have an older home with somewhat crooked walls due to settling, that is an imperfection to me. It is not what it should be, but you might not be able to fix it. Having a filthy, cluttered house is a lack of caring, and, although minor, ahem, so is using, or not using, spell check. In our home things are done with care. Because I care about our home, our health, our need for a sanctuary, I try to do everything in the house with lots of care. Our house is well-cared for, it is not heavily decorated, it is not trendy, but I have found that when I care about my house, as an extension of caring for my family, it does reflect a lot of what you outlined above.

    • Melissa, I was getting ready to try to comment something similar, but you said it well! :) It’s ok for there to be a mess when the kids are playing, learning, you’re baking yummy treats, or you’re doing construction. That’s not the same as lazily browsing goofing off when you could be washing up dishes, doing laundry, or patching that nail hole. (Speaking to myself here…I’m totally guilty!)

      I was thinking this morning on my way to the grocery store that the days when I’m lazy and the housework doesn’t get done are the ones where I beat myself up the most. If I’m genuinely busy all day and something doesn’t get done, I know not to sweat it. So sometimes what needs to change is myself, not my attitude! I know Nester is not trying to get people to be ok with laziness-induced clutter and mess! :)

      And, ya know, [mischievous grin] spell check wouldn’t have caught “half hazard” since both words are spelled correctly…and I am LOVING the hilarious comments about that phrase! :)

      Nester, thank you so much for the series of sentences “If I want my home to be ___, I’ll ___.” I love those concrete actions that will help me fulfill my desires for my home. I want our home to be the place where all my kids’ friends want to be, and right now I don’t think it is. Thank you for helping me think through some of the reasons why, and how to fix it! I’ll be back tomorrow :)

  12. My husband and I have had the same exchange over the yard when he and ALL the neighborhood boys are playing football in the front yard…same exact words :) I know he’s right and I need to relax. Thanks for this series. Love your blog!

  13. I love the Harmon Killebrew quote you included at the end. I think of it often when I consider our priorities in our home.
    And thanks for the fun 31-day invitation!

  14. I’m raising boys too, not grass. Love that quote!

  15. Another goodie. I saw this quote in Real Simple & needed to share.
    “Make your home as comfortable and attractive as possible and then get on with living. There’s more to life than decorating.”
    Albert Hadley, as quoted in Elle Decor (1994)

  16. THIS is hands down my favorite post of yours! Thank you for sharing such great and practical wisdom!

  17. I am absolutely LOVING this series. This rocks- you are really on to (onto?) something here!!

  18. Wow, that was a really powerful and inspiring post. I just looked at the piles of papers that need to be dealt with or filed, and decided to invite my sister-in-law over for dinner DESPITE the clutter. I’d rather have her company than clean table tops! Thanks for this.

  19. Great words. Speaking deep to my soul. I smiled when I read the Harmon Killebrew quote–after moving into our neighborhood we apologetically told our gardener neighbor that we hadn’t done a great job keeping the yard up like the previous owners. Without missing a beat she said, “you aren’t raising flowers you’re raising boys.” I had never heard that before and had no idea that it was an actual quote. I don’t think she will ever know the grace that she was pouring over us! thanks for the reminder:)

  20. “We’re not raising grass, we’re raising boys.” This is the best.

  21. I’m raising 3 boys (and one girl too) … sweet quote.

  22. So inspiring…thank you!

  23. Wish we were there now eating together. Either that or all at my house packing and staging the house.

  24. oh man, I just “heard” me in your mom…my poor grass.

  25. Thank you for being more than a design blog and for offering up really amazing advice and quotes (and a great tag line!). Your posts always make me stop and think about the balance between having a beautifully designed home and a home that my boys feel comfortable living in and coming home to every afternoon.

  26. Ah. Displaying the imperfect and finding beauty in what is. This makes me think about my home, but also myself, too. There might be beauty in what is? and it’s okay to display the imperfect inside of me?

    Thanks, Nester. Love your blog. xo

  27. Wow! I needed that. On my way out the door this morning after finishing my 31 day challenge baking and was in a tizzy because I didn’t get to finish loading the dishwasher and the counter was a mess……and no one is even there all day to see it except the dogs!!

  28. Courtney L. says

    Thanks Nester. Very inspiring 31 Days series.

  29. I LOVE this series, Nester! Thank you! I really need to figure out a way to get my daughter-in-law (mother of my two sweet granddaughters) to read this! So much wisdom!!!! And what does it say about me that when I read “half hazard”, I thought, “Wow–that Nester is so brilliant-I have had it wrong all this time!” I’m thinking that it makes more sense your way!!! Love you and your 31 days posts…also loving your Dad’s and sister’s!

  30. Nester, I’m so glad I found your blog recently and that I will get to enjoy this series of yours. It’s really making me stop and think about a lot of things in our home that I want to change, because I truly want them to change for us, for the way we live each day in our home. I want more comfort, I want more fun, but most of all I want to enjoy it all with others. Thank you for such a great series. Bravo!!!

  31. I love this whole post! You are forcing me to give myself a ton of grace for the current state of my home… but I especially love that quote. If you saw my yard… ha! :) (one boy toddler and another boy due any minute now…)

  32. So powerful. Its made me look at my home and all its imperfections in a new light.
    thanks for such inspiration…enjoying the series!

  33. I love that you mention accepting and showing that we make mistakes. My daughter’s school asked all the parents to read a book about that topic. Allowing ourselves to make mistakes and learn from them. It’s called Mindset and it’s a game changer.

  34. Oh my. There aren’t words to adequately explain just how inspired & convicted I feel after reading this post. I am going to print it & put it where I can see these reminders. I have a lot of soul searching & mental rearranging to do as I ponder what I really want my home to look like & be like for my family… Thank you so, so much for this!

  35. I love the way you linked what you want in your home … to practical ideas. Nice work.

    And the grass quote … brilliant. We should all frame it.


  36. Love this post . . . and I’m so so loving finding so many fabulous blogs from your link-up :-)

  37. So I am thinking about Topiwo. I want to build him a house. Not that I can. Then I think, would his neighbors be jealous and it not be a good thing. Isn’t there SOMEthing we can do for him and his family? Maybe just a bit more money a month. I just want to do something. Is there a way I can send him a bit of money? I wonder what he needs. Some practical stuff from REI? Would his Aunt use a tote? Soft socks? Hand lotion? Face cream? Lip balm? Do they need blankets? I’d just like them to have even cinder block walls and a tin roof. Maybe a broom and new washcloths. Let me know your thoughts and if there’s any way I can get anything to him. I know there are other boys in need, but I know about Topiwo. Now I know, how can I not do anything?

  38. Mel McIntyre says

    Wow! Good stuff here. I’m very new and green to this blogging thing, but recently started reading Ann Voskamp at aholyexperience. That’s how I ended up here. I love my home and the husband and six children living in it! It is homey (sp?)teehee!, down to earth, comfortable, and CLEAN. Others people’s words of course :) It’s the last one that trips me up often. Too clean comes to mind and it is very difficult to let this relax a bit, for everyone’s sake! I suppose it is my attitude that needs to be checked more often than my cleaning schedule (yes, I said SCHEDULE :) RELAX, mom! Very inspiring things here, thank you!
    And the spelling thing…..seriously people?? It’s not like she is in schooll and being graded here, an occasional spelling error is no big deal.Would you have the nerve to criticize to her face? Doubtful, but online is “safe” to fuss at others. And yes, I have had a waitress miscount before, but the mistake was caught and was honest, no big deal. It’s not like I’d stop eating there or request someone else! MISTAKES HAPPEN people! This is a BLOG, she is doing this to inspire, incourage, uplift….I am all of these things. Yes, I know sentences don’t start with “and”.
    The grass….how funny! My husband is a landscaper, but our grass doesn’t reflect that! The children know to stay out of my garden and out of the flowers, but the trees and grass are free reign! Our grass is a mix of several varieties (plus weeds!) and my husband was just talking about killing off some and seeding and such. I asked him why? The kids won’t be able to play while it’s being established and then we would be freaking out about “the new grass”. I said as long as it’s green, I don’t care what it is!
    Okay, I’m done now.
    Again ,A+, great stuff, spelling errors and all!

  39. This made me cry! Our house looks like it exploded on itself. The mudroom is under construction and its contents are in our dining room/living room. Boxes and stuff everywhere as we unpack and find homes for things. This week TWO people made ugly comments about how “lived in” my home is… I laughed it off in the moment, but it poked a sore spot.

    I printed this and it’s hanging on my wall to remind me that my home isn’t a showplace…it’s OUR place. Thanks. :) <3

  40. Love this 31 ‘day’ especially

  41. Your post today spoke to me so powerfully. Thank you for reminding me of the important stuff. Like joy i am going to print this and hang it up so i can look back on it and always remember what life is supposed to be like. Lets all remember to live our lives to the fullest. Thank you again.

  42. Thanks for this very real and inspiring post. I connected with so much.

  43. I have a feeling I’m going to love this series… I’m reading it while my pretty home is covered in old bed sheets as I have a sick kitty and I don’t have the heart to tell him not to sleep on the couch just because he might bleed on it… I guess that’s when decoration stops and life begins! Welcome to my home!

  44. Love this post. It’s real and it makes me want to pay attention to my home. I’ve followed you for a while – now I just might “do” something with what i’ve learned.

  45. I really am enjoying this series! No it’s not about the stuff! the environment of our home is a testament of who we as a family are!

  46. You always speak to me, Nester! This series is rocking my socks off! And since the first time of reading about the nail holes from you, I now have many many little divots in my walls that I LOVE. Do you know why? Because I TRIED and I wasn’t afraid. Thank you so much for your words.

  47. Love the quote and the reminders!

  48. Inspirational!

  49. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it
    seems as though you relied on the video to make your
    point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw
    away your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog
    when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

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