Three Weird Reasons my House Looks Better Than Yours Online


I’m not a photographer. Frankly, my photos are pretty bad. And the stuff in my house is loved on, lived in and imperfect. Sadly, part of my job is taking photos of the stuff in my home and I need all the help I can get.

I have to take a ton of photos of my home so at times it can almost feel like a set, but also, we live here and living takes precedence over photos. Plus throw in the mix that I’m an imperfectionsits who values pretty and quick and over the years I’ve found some ways to live in my house that are a little different than your average person. They aren’t better, actually, they might be ‘worse’ than someone else, but, it makes living in a home that is slightly more photogenic for this non-photographer much more doable.

Get ready for some bad photos of windows, because taking photos of windows is my personal nightmare.

DSC_0259 no blinds no screens

1. I take the screens out of the windows

I love to have the windows open in the spring and fall. So I keep a few screens in the windows in the sides of our house and in the back door and most of our upstairs windows have screens. And in early spring I can open the screen-less windows without a threat of bugs anyway–although we have had a bird or two in the house. A small price to pay for the sparkly light we get when we go screen-less.

Downstairs, in the main rooms, all the screens are removed and stored away neatly in the garage. Do you know how dark screens are? Removing a screen can make a room brighter and also make the outdoors look more vivid from the inside. Plus, if a window in in the picture, not having a screen looks better. As soon as we move in a house I usually remove the screens on the front and back of the house. Even from the street the house looks instantly more crisp and clean. Feel free to send your non-anti-screen hate mail to:

breakfast areano blinds, no screens in my windows

2. I take the blinds completely out in rooms where I don’t use them

Remember, I’m a renter, so I’m not going to dish out a bunch of money to replace a bunch of blinds that aren’t my style. So one way to deal with blinds I neither like nor use is to remove them. Our breakfast area has seven windows and a door–all with blinds on them when we moved. Yes, the door had two inches of blinds sticking out and making noise every time you opened and closed it. I removed the blinds and the hardware, labeled them and wrapped them in trash bags and stored them in the attic. If you look closely, you can still see all the holes for the hardware, no need to fill them, if the next person who moves in want’s the blinds up it will be easy to pop them back in. This room on the back of the house with a pretty view was begging for those pesky blinds to be gone.


Downstairs I only have two windows out of 12 where I left the blinds up. One is my office because I work there at dark-thirty in the morning and I don’t want to be watched by the boogeyman who could be walking down my street while I’m in a lit up office on the front of our house at 5 am in the morning. The second window is one behind our sectional that looks out to our next door neighbor’s driveway. Our homes are really close in this neighborhood so it’s nice to be able to close that one blind down and not submit them to the underbelly of craziness that is us.

blindsblinds down in our room in the evening

We kept the blinds in our room, thankyouverymuch. I’m not telling everyone that removing blinds is the best solution, I’m simply saying that it should be included in a list of possible solutions. It’s worked for me. And really, this is one of those tips that look good for photos but even better in person. Send your non-anti-blind hate mail to:

tufted bed

Because our windows in our bedroom face east, in the morning you don’t even see our blinds in photos.

fireplace with and without woodcontrasting wood makes my firebox say ‘POW, look at me!’

3. I pay attention to our fireplace

I put nice looking wood in the fireplace from last winter burn to first fall burn. It’s sad enough to have a pretend, gas fireplace with tiny pretend looking logs, there’s no reason you can’t put wood in it when you are not using it, as long as you remember to remove it before you turn on the fireplace. I wanted contrasasting branches and I couldn’t find any white looking birch around my town so, I did the embarrassing thing and ordered birch branches on ebay {insert eye roll here}.

reflectionyuck, what’s with the big reflection in our firebox?!

Also, our gas fireplace came complete with a thick sheet of reflective glass put in place to block any heat that might try to transfer from the actual fire into the room. Because who would want that? I really have no idea why that glass is there, I googled it to death a few years ago, *decided it wouldn’t kill us to remove it, and it’s been packed away in the closet for three years. The only time I put it in is if it gets SUPER cold in the winter, I’ll pop it in at night (because it does seem to have a tiny flu and cold air comes out when it’s especially cold.) Send your non-anti-glass hate mail to: *Nesting Place not responsible for deaths if you remove your glass and die, you are on your own.

Your turn, I know you are crazy smart and have fabulous tweaks like this that have worked well for you. Share them in the comments!

This post has two parts, don’t forget to read  the next post: 3 Reasons my house looks worse in real life

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  1. Love this post! And here here for loved on & lived in spaces :)

  2. I primarily take crafting and homeschooling photos to share online, but lo and behold, the favorite places I use to snap those pics are indeed in front of screen-less, blind-less windows. :)
    Love your birch logs so much

  3. Smart, simple ideas. I love how you really think about how your home can work best for you.

  4. I grew up without ANY screens & its still weird to me how much airflow they bloc / light they block. BUT living in the swamp that is DC, I’ve learned to love them (and A/C) but I’m definitely going to consider removing screens in future homes on windows that rarely get opened!

  5. Yep- I get what you did- I don’t have blinds on many windows either-just the ones where we need privacy. Our windows cannot have the screens removed but there is new screening available that is almost invisible available through window specialty companies. Great post- xo D’iana

  6. Wow. I am off to remove my livingroom screens right now. My house is way too dark, especially livingroom with its one window and with a porch blocking it. Any extra light I can get will be great. Thank you for “baring all”

  7. you are hilarious. I love the idea of removing screens. I also agree with you about the blinds!! So true. And thanks for admitting to ordering birch branches. This is good info for us to know about you :)

  8. People are always telling me that my house looks so clean and photogenic. I hate cleaning and do it as infrequently as possible, so I think the reason I keep getting such comments is that I have white, unlined curtains (ok, they’re actually just sheets) on most of my windows, white trim in every room, and (thanks to having little ones) there is very little clutter or knick-knacks in our home. I feel like all the white gives your eye a place to “rest” and keeps our very little house from feeling claustrophobic. We also have a lot of windows in our main living area, so all that natural light helps too when I’m taking photos for my blog.

  9. Someone who decorates model homes once told me that one of their tricks is to never have screens on the windows. It really does make a difference!

  10. Our home inspector explained to us that fireplaces don’t give off heat because they need to use oxygen from the room and so they basically suck all the air out and up the chimney because of…physics? Or something like that? All I heard was “blah blah blah science blah blah”

    So anyways I don’t think you’ll die. Thanks for the good advice! I might remove the screens in my living room.

    • “blah blah blah science blah blah blah” by boys quote that ALL. THE. TIME. And I LAUGH EVERY time!!!

      Also, if someone decides to sue me because they removed their glass and died, I’m calling you as my first witness!

  11. Wow, interesting and way to think outside of the box! Love how you share with us. Sorry you get any dislike mail. You are Holy loved.

  12. You. crack. me. up.

  13. I’m going to check out the ugly blinds and torn screens all over the house today and see if it doesn’t look better without! We need to block the heat so it may not be an option. When I was renting I also removed the glass fireplace doors, what a difference. And tension rods were (still are) my best friends for curtains without making new holes everywhere.

  14. Yes! Tension rods are the easiest thing ever! I hate blinds too, and I’m glad to see I’m not the only one! I’m just longing to live in the country where there’s really no one to ever go by and look in. Great post and great comments, everybody!

  15. We had someone in to stage a house we were putting on the market some years ago (the last house we staged on our own with our agent) and she removed all the screens and many of the curtains and blinds. I was dumbfounded initially and then took a good look at how much brighter things are without them. I keep them on most windows in our current house (no room to store them) and it’s pretty funny because we keep the back door wide open for the dogs anyway, so it’s not like they keep bugs out!

  16. Natural light is so important, it makes everything look better (except maybe the fine lines around my eyes). So, my blinds are down, my screens are removed, and still I struggle to get a decent indoor picture. I have scraped the light sucking popcorn off the ceiling. Finally, I have decided that all the trees around my house and their troublesome light-blocking leaves have to go… oh boy, my hubby is going to be soooo mad! Comments can be sent to

  17. Love, love that you rent your home and put such care and love into it! We have been proud renters for the past 7 years, and have loved making our rental house a home. We are moving again and renting again – too many Americans make it seem shameful to rent, but we love it and there are so many perks – this blog is such an inspiration. Thank you!

  18. Whitney Hairston says

    We started removing blinds last year!! So happy with it and especially not having to hear the clanking of the one on the back door!!! That is what started it all. I told Reggie it had to go and he was thrilled, bc he hates blinds. Then we started taking more down and only have a few left to remove. I hate the boogyman you refer to (I call him that too), which is why I wanted them in the first place. Though curtains hide to boogyman well, when drawn at night! So bye bye blinds it was. : ) We took the glass off our fireplace back in February and we love it (so much better). Never quite understood why (in these houses in our neighborhood), they added that. We never had that piece on our gas log fireplace growing up and the room gets waaayyy warmer now! Though, I have not removed screens and love that idea. Thanks

  19. I never noticed the window screen and blinds trick until you pointed it out. Brilliant!
    So far we’re only screenless on our french doors. We love to keep them open in the spring and summer, and we decided a sliding screen cramped their style. We do get a fly or two in the house every time we leave them open, but thankfully our former street dog hunts them down like her next meal depends on it so they don’t stick around very long ;)

  20. Leslie R. says

    I really resisted putting window coverings on all my pretty windows along the backside of my house. What the trees didn’t cover, I figured I just wouldn’t stand in nekkid. I much prefer the sun streaming in them!

  21. You know, if the skeeters weren’t so bad at night, I’d totally take off my screens! Unfortunately, the blinds are actually serving a pupose right now. Since it’s 105 during the day here right now, having the blinds on, down and closed up tight keeps the cool air inside where it belongs. This makes The Man insanely happy, because he’d be happiest living in a dark, dank cave with a little flashlight for company. I personally detest all that is dark and dank, so, we have a bit of a design dilemma. Though I’m hoping to switch out those nasty faux-wood blinds this fall for some prettified drop-cloth curtains that got all the way up ;)

    I think your house looks great!

  22. Thanks for the good laughs this morning! My husband is shaking his head at me. :-D

  23. I’m taking some home staging classes right now, and all your tricks seem like great ideas for staging a house, as mentioned by other posters. In our house, we don’t have any curtains on our back 8 windows and 2 French doors, even though I’ve had some interior decorators tell me I’m supposed to add them. I never will add curtains to these windows (they do have half plantation blinds on a few but they tend to look charming to me) and I love the light that comes in. On our front four windows I have sheer curtains and no blinds, and I keep the curtains open most of the time. The sheer curtains let in light but can block people from seeing in at night if needed.

  24. I love you Miss Nester :)
    That’s all.


  25. Hahaha you made me literally LOL. These are all fantastic gmail account ideas. And yes, as a renter, considering taking out blinds is a fantastic solution especially since most of them are ooglay. I may just do that myself in my apartment, and hang sheers and blackout curtains instead! Thanks for the tips :)

  26. this is awesome. i love it and you are hilarious. that is all.

  27. Love it! :) The window screens on the front of our house are SO nasty (holes, spider webs, etc.). I have never thought to just remove them!! Brilliant! I also love the no blinds. I had a curtain on our back door (held up by those magnetic curtain rods). It was constantly wonky and my kids were always pulling it down trying to see out the window. So, I removed it. Haven’t missed it one bit! :)

    • P.S. I highly recommend the photography 101 and 102 classes at The 102 class has some great tips for photographing windows! :)

  28. I feel exactly the same about screens! Mine have been put away in the garage for 10 years! I still have them up on the windows in the bedrooms, since those are open here often on a cool So Cal night.
    I too, took away the glass “doors” on my fireplace. I found a pretty screen that is simple and does not detract or distract.

    Great ideas as always! Thanks for sharing! I LOVE the idea of wood stacked vertically in the fireplace too!


  29. I needed that laugh! Thanks! Plus, I learned a couple things too. The Nester’s Blog, where one goes for chuckles AND great useable home info!

  30. first thing i did when we moved into our 1920’s colonial revival house was take out (to the horror of everyone i know) the inside shutters downstairs. boom. instant light. plus i sold all those shutters in a garage sale and made $400. win-win. :)

  31. Great tips, I love it! Thanks for sharing so we can all get our homes “blog-ready”.

  32. Nester,
    I love the fall when the bug problem…dies and we store the screens on the casement windows. I put them away and put them up late spring early summer. We have windows on three sides of the sunroom each on has 2 fixed and 2 crank-out pains. When the screens are off they all match.
    We have too many squirrels to risk an open window. We also worry about the possums we see and the skunk we smell once in a while.
    They can all stay out, it is hard enough to clean up after family (4 Shih Tzus included).
    The blinds in the master bedroom upstairs are angled so the neighbors don’t get the coming out of the shower view. Someone would complain.


  33. Screens out is a great tip! Going to remove the least opened windows in my house screens. Would take them all down but the mosquitoes are thick around here. Great tips!

    Confession #1: I have this crazy paranoia that the boogeyman will be looking in every one of my windows as soon as the sun goes down. I know it isn’t likely but I can’t help it. However, my windows are wide open during the day, I just can’t take them down permanently because of my weird nighttime paranoia.

    Confession #2: I bought my decorative birch branches at TJ Maxx last Christmas. Seriously.

  34. thank you for sharing your tips. i am buying a home and the home inspector explained why the glass is in the front of the fireplace. the vent to the outside should always be open for a gas fireplace even when fireplace not in use. so the glass is there to avoid ambient heat (that you pay good utility money for) doesn’t escape up the chimney. since u have logs blocking most of the fireplace, the amount of heat escaping is probably less, but your home maybe slightly less energy efficient than it otherwise could be. aah, the price of beauty!

  35. I love windows without window coverings, but am totally crazy when it comes to being in a room at night with the light on and the window uncovered. I even removed a window from the plans in the house we are building because it couldn’t be covered. So needless to say, I’m struggling with window covering options for our new house. I’m thinking cellulars because they can be opened completely and still let in some light when closed. I love sheer curtains but am worried they won’t provide enough privacy at night.

    Be sure to know your fireplace before removing the glass. Direct vent fireplaces are sealed combustion systems and need the glass to function properly. Ours is direct vent, unfortunately.

    • totally get that, we got lucky and our family room is on the back of the house where I don’t mind having the windows uncovered at night. The front, in a neighborhood would be a different story!

  36. We rent too and those are awesome , easy, solutions! Never would have thought to take down the screens! And the bonus? It will discourage those pesky vines from climbing up the screens on my living room windows! I for sure have blinds to take down, I’ve just been waiting to get curtains to hide me from the boogeyman.

  37. I stand balanced on one tippy toe on vintage furniture that is about to break while leaning on a glass window to get the right angle–especially necessary when you are only 5’2″. Thank goodness for yoga. I have considered to take the glass out of frames to get rid of glare but haven’t talked myself into it yet. So this is the once exception where I will wait for the brightest light of the month!!! and then close the curtains to keep away the sunlight. I have also taken my cutting board of food out to our backyard on the concrete because it started getting too dark in our kitchen for a recipe post. All in all, yes it is sometimes staged, but blogging has giving me an opportunity to be a better photographer!

  38. Amanda S. says

    I don’t understand the people who have their blinds closed all day, every day. Weird. I don’t have central a/c, so I keep my screens in during the warm months. I like to have as many windows open as possible. Screens come down as soon as the cool weather comes. When I replace my windows I will pay extra for the “invisible” screens that let more light in and are less obvious from the outside.

  39. Thanks for the tips and for helping me feel better about my own lackluster photography skills! In fact, I have a “new-ish” blog and I’m often hesitant to post pics of my house and projects because my pictures don’t look all that great. Maybe I should just get over it and put them out there anyways :)
    One tip I have to make my house look better is to skirt things (tables, shelves, etc.). That way I can hide papers and schoolbooks and other things that aren’t so pretty.

    P.S. I’m a fairly new subscriber and really love your quirky sense of style and writing!

  40. Honestly?
    I only read the comments that you respond to.
    I think you’re fabulous, Nester.
    Carry on. :)

  41. you crack me up! These are some great tips and they make me wonder, why haven’t I ever thought of them lol.

  42. galind45@ says

    I am so glad to find out it is all right to not have blinds in every window. I have either blinds or heavy curtains in the bedrooms, but the living room and dining room have only curtains that are pulled back most of the time and the family room and kitchen in the back of the house have bare windows. I also don’t understand people who have heavy blinds covering every window and keep them closed all the time.

  43. I live in the country and never have had much for window treatments. No blinds. I do have screens ….I love fresh air. I HAVE to have screens in summer cuz we live in cow country (that means flies), but not on every window. I thought it was “just me” but I like the extra light and clear view of the outdoors like you do. Good thoughts and funny too.

  44. Great stuff! I’m a “no screen” myself!

  45. Ha ha…great post. I thought I was the only one who moved into a house a took the screens out. We rented a townhouse last year and got a notice from the “association” because we removed the sliding glass door screen, I couldn’t see out of the window with it in. They threatened us with a fine…we put the screen back in.

  46. Oh boy projects! I have removed screens before how did I forget it about it? Thanks for the reminder goodbye downstairs screens. I have looked at that big piece of glass in our fireplace and contemplated why it’s there you think I’d be smart enough just to do research, nope. It’s so weird and it does look like a cave. I would totally ordered logs on the Internet! I’m off to log shop ;)

  47. interesting post. we like to have our windows open to freshen up the house so taking screens out is a no go due to mosquitos and flies.

  48. It’s funny how little things like taking out the blinds can make a huge impact on how the room looks! It really makes the room look a lot brighter. Totally doing that to my dining area. It’s so dark, but never thought about taking the blinds out. Great post!

  49. Anonymous says

    Your posts are so entertaining and fun! I love the getting rid of the screen tip and living where there is a lot of rain coming through those holes it would make it a lot easier to clean the windows too! I hope we don’t get any birds inside…I did dream we had two kittens (we don’t own any) and three bunnies (the wild ones visit the garden) night before last : )

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