Beauty Hunters Always Welcome



When we made an offer on this house back in July I worried that within a few months we’d have this little house all fixed up and I wouldn’t ever have anything to write about ever again. {I’ll pause here for you to stop laughing}. I wondered if I’d start to have a new fresh message now that we FINALLY were buying our own house. Hmmm, maybe I’d become a minimalist or a woodworker. After 7 years of blogging about decorating a rental, I didn’t know what I’d talk about once we moved into our own house. Now that we could do ANYTHING we wanted would I deal with the same kinds of feelings and struggles I felt when we were renting?

Here’s what I’ve learned:

The only difference between owning and renting is that now, I can’t pass the blame onto the landlord.

Now that WE are the ‘landlords’ everything is our fault and anything is a possibility. Oh the pressure! Before, I couldn’t refinish the floors or knock down walls or paint the cabinets because the owner wouldn’t let us. Oh well. But here, it’s all a possibility and sometimes, when there are no limits, we are overwhelmed. Lovely Limitations at their finest, right?

In a way there is a rest that comes with renting because there are some things that you just can’t do and you roll your eyes along with your friends about your dumb landlord. There are more limitations and limitations can be a good thing.

When you own your house, you are the dumb landlord. No limits! Too overwhelming!

boy's room

Luckily. Luckily? We do have a few limits. One is money. So everything really isn’t an option is it? We also have time limits (I could totally use 4 more Chads here on this land).

power lines

So I have a confession. I was completely wrong.

I have never had to stare imperfection in my home in the face more than I am right now in this mess of a fixer upper that we bought. Apparently, I’m not done learning to live with the imperfect, the undone, the slow change. I’m still learning about hope.

This could very well take a lifetime.

 one of many junk piles we inherited

And I have decided to be okay with that. And? I actually CHOSE this. I adore fixer uppers, I have a heart for potential and green roofs and wide plank floors. I’d be sad in a house that was all finished to perfection–what would I do all day?

What does being okay with our imperfect, beautiful, potential filled mess look like in real life?

For me, it looks like inviting people into the midst of the mess. Just like I talked about here. Only it seemed more acceptable to invite people into the mess months ago when we could still claim that we ‘just bought’ our fixer upper. Now it’s been 9 months and there is STILL so much to do. There’s been change but the to do list has only grown.


I said yes when Edie was in town. Decorating guru Edie with the gorgeous house that was featured in Better Homes & Gardens.


I said yes to Ellen. Ellen whose design skills always impress me. Ellen who teaches groups of women on a regular basis. Ellen, who has been one of our biggest cheerleaders in buying this house and celebrated with us that FINALLY, it happened.


I still said yes to a brand new friend, Lisa. Who has never been to any house of mine before. She’s an author. Of a bunch of books. Does she know me well enough to not be shocked by the rough, unfinishedness of this place? Will she accept me? Will she be okay using a bathroom with cardboard walls?

I struggled with wanting to impress them all with our little fixer upper and wishing we had more parts finished and wondering if they think we are insane. We bought a house in the country an entire year earlier than we expected. Which means we didn’t have a tractor and we won’t for a while and I am shocked at how many uses we have for an actual tractor. We didn’t even have a big mower until a few days ago. Our pool is green again. (hides in shame). Some old buildings at the sawmill fell down in the snow this winter and are still in pieces on the ground. We are learning how to live here.

when things aren't perfect

I am constantly having to tell myself that yes, these friends that I’ve chosen, that I’ve been gifted with can be trusted. They are to be trusted with this imperfection because they too have been there. Maybe not in the state of their home, or maybe that too, but somewhere. They know what it means to fight for beauty. To see past the worst and focus on the better. They are fellow beauty hunters. You are a fellow beauty hunter. I rarely meet someone who isn’t.

beauty hunters

I have to fight to remember the truth. Every day. And I’ve been in magazines, and I’ve written a book too and I think I have pretty great style. But it’s still a struggle for me. And I’m guessing it’s a struggle for you too. One of the ways we fight the perfection plague is by inviting people into our imperfectness. Because imperfections actually have a role to play in our lives, when we forget that, we become unapproachable.

Let’s fight for the beauty. Let’s hunt for the beauty. It’s there, we just have to choose to see it.



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  1. In a season of my life where the reality in no way matches my imagination, I”m up for some hope! I have a birthday coming up, and so that’s my gift to myself for this coming year. Your blog always makes me feel more hopeful. Thank you.

  2. Very well said. I always have to remind myself that people don’t really notice the flaws. And if it’s so glaring that they can’t miss it, most of the time, they don’t give it a second thought. Most people don’t judge. I’ve been in my almost-new duplex for five years, and I still have things that aren’t done, or that need to be done again (like repainting the main floor…the walls are full of hockey stick dents!) But no one has ever said anything about all these imperfections.

  3. So encouraging to read! I struggle with perfection & have tried to keep people out of my home until it was “just right”. I would go into panic mode or even a rage when my husband invited over an unexpected guest! We’re newlyweds & have been in our house for about 2 years and have rarely had anyone over due to my fear of people wondering, “why isn’t this house done?!”. Hoping to let go a little bit and invite people into the mess. I’m usually very open about my messy faith and the way the Lord has used my imperfections for His glory—why won’t I let people into my actual mess and tangible imperfection?!

    Thanks for this conviction! :)

  4. Thank you for sharing this, today. I needed this, today. I too bought a home lady July. I rented for over a decade and now I have this brand new home that is twice the size of my tiny urban apartments. I have spent the past nine months buying second hand furniture, painting walls, furniture, art- all to make it home. 80% of the time I can sit back and say wow! This is good. But then the “this is still not idea/perfect/original” doubts creep in and I don’t want to share my creation yet. You are so right about the imperfections. I needed this reminder!

  5. This is so good, my friend! A sister blogger will be coming to my house next month from half way across the country. We’ve never met in person and I am so excited that we get to do some face to face time together.

    But then I started thinking about the kitchen’s unpatched, unpainted soffits, the unfinished reminder of your game-changing challenge last summer

    And the patched yet unpainted hole in the ceiling, the make-do glass patio table and cheap folding chairs. The beat up vinyl floors.

    And then I remembered, ‘It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.’


    I’m good to go. ‘Cause she’s not coming to see my house. She’s coming to see me. Bet she won’t even notice the uncompleted re-do …

  6. Thank you for this encouraging word! I’m pregnant with #3 and 1 month away from my due date. I’m completely in the “nesting” phase of this pregnancy and love it for the fact that I’m getting SO much accomplished in my house. But also constantly finding myself getting discouraged with all the “imperfections” and the limitations I face from lack of finances or my own inability to change something. I keep hearing your quote in my head “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” Such a simple yet powerful truth. I know once my baby is here I won’t care as much about those silly things. (At least for awhile) ;)

  7. Ok, that “welcome to our home” sign need to be a printable so I can tape that sucker to my front door! Lol! Thanks Nester :)

  8. What a beautiful encouragement to me you are. :). I struggle so much with my own expectations of perfection that sometimes I fear I’ll break from the weight. It’s difficult to change, isn’t it! :). I need to go see what this hope•ologie is all about! :)

  9. I need this message in my life right now. I’m a perfectionist who never sees things as done. It is quite paralyzing at times. I want to move out of my subdivision and start a new life out in the country. Because of my husband’s job and my kids being homeschooled we can live wherever we want. Unfortunately, fear has a grip on me right now that is preventing me from doing anything. There is a blog that I think you would really enjoy reading that addresses issues like these. It is called Brave Hearted Beauty. Linsey also has an old blog called LLH Designs. Her old blog tells the story of her family living in Houston and walking away from that life and starting a new one on a farm in Franklin, TN. Her new blog is about finding beauty among the mess and through brokenness. “Your heart and “her heart” are a lot alike. Here are the links. I suggest you read about her journey on her old blog first. :)

  10. Love Love Love the way you put things! I am having guest this weekend that I have never met and know that they have a beautiful home. You have inspired me to remember NOT to apologize for my home in its imperfection! Just embrace it and enjoy my guest. You always inspired and if I can talk my husband out of $10 bucks I am gonna check out your new venture!!

  11. This House Is Driving Me Crazy!! says

    I can so understand where you’re coming from! We are loving in the house my husband grew up in. It was built in 1861, has almost 5 acres and needs so much work it’s really overwhelming! My mother in law moved here when she was a teenager and although she loved this house, there are so many days I find myself wondering why the heck she did things this way or that! I shouldn’t complain that things aren’t perfect, but I sure do miss the days when we were living in a modern up to date home! At the end of the day, I know I should be grateful that we inherited this, but some days it’s hard to find the beauty!

  12. I can so relate! We started fixing up our little house in 2010 and there are still things I need to finish and things I want to change now that we have lived her full time for a couple of years – nothing like living in a house to find out what works and what doesn’t. I have blue and gray paint swatches on the back of my front door – the blue ones have been there since 2011. I need to choose a color and paint it already. I am currently in the middle of organizing all my household papers so my workroom table looks horrible. My nephew brought his girlfriend over the other night and I found myself apologizing for all my messes. Shame on me. I think when we apologize to others for our messes it just makes them feel uncomfortable, like maybe they are a burden to us. I never want my guest to feel like a burden. I want them to feel welcome and embraced. I want them to feel as if they have come home.

    • I laughed out loud at your 2011 paint swatches… Join the club!!! I’ve been talking about painting our front door since shortly after we moved in… in 2002!!! Let’s just paint our doors already!

  13. It’s going to be so fun to watch! You’ve got great taste!

  14. People relate to our imperfections. I don’t want to be friends with people who appear “perfect” or who have “perfect” homes-I find them intimidating and a little fake. I appreciate a cute outfit and a beautifully decorated home. But where do I want to be comfy and hang out: with the people who are real. And real to me means imperfect.

    • My sister and I were just talking about this. We were raised to clean everything within an inch of its life/have everything “perfect” before people could come over. So now, as adults, we kill ourselves when people come over and then they comment about how clean & perfect everything is and then say they don’t want to have us over because their own houses are “too messy.” Such a bad catch 22……..

      • This was my mom when I was growing up-every time we’d entertain she’d be a total cranky wreck. The house had to be perfect, the menu had to be some kind of gourmet experience. It was not enjoyable for any of us!! Once I had my own family, I vowed NOT to do that. We entertain all the time-and when my kids were really little we used to take out pizza or sandwiches when we’d have friends over. I make sure my kitchen counter is cleaned off and the guest bathroom is in good shape-other than that, the house is however it is. I want people to be comfortable here-I want their kids to feel welcome. My role is to be loving and fun-not to provide some kind of perfect “experience.”

  15. You are such a wonderful inspiration. I just needed to say that :)

  16. Oh, yes! We don’t live in our farm fixer upper full time yet. Endless possibilities can be crippling. Hitting it a bit at a time doesn’t seem to show much in the results department. This week I’ve done nothing but tackle overgrown parts of the yard. The previous owners were definitely in the more is more camp and not big on pruning. I’m incredibly sore, but it’s been great and we’ve had people over nearly everyday this week. It’s a glorious mess. :)

  17. Yes, the possibilities are great. Lucky for us we didn’t know what we were in for when we bought our place. However, I can understand a landlord’s perspective and wouldn’t label them as dumb sorry but seems a bit harsh.

    • Hey, I called myself dumb too! We’ve been landlords as well, I’m sure we deserved to be called dumb at times, I think everyone probably has!

      • Haha! I actually liked that part and came back to this post a second time today just because of it! Thanks for the laugh.

  18. Thank you. Just thank you. You know my heart. And it helps that you talk about it.

  19. What a breath of fresh air this morning!!! I’ve been feeling the same way – we are coming up on two years and our house (which was in great shape when we moved in) still is done enough for me. Drives me crazy but there are so many things we could do, and as you pointed out only so much time, talent and treasury to make it happen in a snap. I think watching you go through your process in as close to real time is what has brought me back to your blog. I’m much more inspired by progress than completion, if that makes sense…. Thanks!

  20. Any home that people actually live in, whether it started out as a “fixer upper” or not, will be a “fixer upper” if you live in it long enough! Our home was only 3 years old when we moved in almost 20 years ago (hard to believe that much time has past…) and four kids later, it’s been beaten to death, painted, repainted, repainted (again!) roof leaks, window leaks, oh my heck! the new dishwasher wasn’t hooked up correctly and leaked all over the new hardwoods…high heels, messy boots, play ground rocks and muddy paws. Time passes, colors fade, styles change and what do you know? Kids grew up happy here and messy here and now…it’s time to fix it up again and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! The hope isn’t in the finishing, it’s in the living and (as you have so eloquently pointed out) the hunt for beauty in the middle of it all!

  21. Love everything about this post! Keep preaching your gospel of imperfection. I too am a mess without limitations…even though I used to disdain them. Too many choices put me in the fetal position. {It’s why I like to shop at Aldi. There’s only one brand of everything.} : )

  22. Oh my goodness! You have a gift with words (and design)! Thank you for writing those words. I needed to know it wasn’t just me. I am right there with you… We bought a little farmstead 4 months ago. (Just published our first blog post today! The possibilities can be overwhelming… and let’s face it – we have a limited budget and time (especially as Moms!). I think when we like to decorate and some people know this about us, we put the pressure on ourselves to show our best creativity in every room, outdoor area, tablescape, etc. It’s almost like I’m saying inside, “Wait! Don’t come over yet. I can do better!” (And how many people that come over really care?! : ) I love how you’re embracing having people over before everything is perfect – let’s keep trying to keep it real. And little by little, the labor of love and creativity we put into our homes will start coming together.

  23. I LOVE this line “They know what it means to fight for beauty. To see past the worst and focus on the better.” So True and so nicely put.
    Wanted to say i’ve visited your blog off and on for several years – I bought my first house in the past year. It’s tiny and charming and full of imperfections and reading your blog has helped me so much in my own process to decorate and learn how to live in the space. I been okay with trying and re-trying when I realize I picked a better paint color the second time around and I have also been okay with having people over when only half of the room is painted. It’s actually been pretty freeing. Anyway, thanks for the lovely post!

  24. This is a beautiful post! I hear you! We moved into our house in May and well, like you, I thought we’d be further on our ” to do” list but time AND money are a factor. We’re loving the rooms we’ve finished and embracing the possibilities in the rooms we haven’t done yet. ;)

  25. i think it’s so easy to blame others – it’s like “oh well! this isn’t our fault!” but when we own our homes there are “no excuses” or no easy excuses – because lets face it – telling friends “we don’t have the money” is waaaaaaaay more honest than “our landlord is dumb and we can’t change that…” lol.
    So I love this post…living in a 1930’s farmhouse that has one…ONE! closet has it’s limitations (such as : no where to PUT stuff” but the beauty is I haven’t hung on to anything I don’t need…and it helps me CLEAR OUT the crap and make room for the ….good stuff…Thanks for this reminder Nester.

  26. so good. thanks. I feel like this when I invite people over for a meal and SUDDENLY – I HAVE NO GOOD RECIPES TO MAKE. It’s like I assume everyone I cook for always eat filet mignon for every meal. Or something with all fresh, organic ingredients. And I’m all like, “here’s a nasty casserole from last week.”
    And that’s when I have to remember to be ‘present, not perfect.’ But sometimes a little perfection helps too. ;) just sayin’…

  27. Robin Grey says

    I could have written this post. word. for. word. (except for the names of your friends, mine have different names :)). We also bought a fixer upper, on land, with a pool, no tractor, and no completion date on the horizon. Missing molding! green pool! Every surface I look at needs attention. But the potential! The potential! I can see it. (I also need four more husbands!) You’re speaking to my soul. Keep it up!

  28. Thanks for this today! We didn’t by a “fixer upper” rather a new builder beige track home. I have had every intention of getting it personalized over the past year and a half that we have been here. Some rooms have gotten a bit of paint, but most just have swatches painted on the walls with nothing else done. I have four kids, the youngest is two, so I get nothing accomplished besides keeping him alive. My brother is coming with his family in a couple of weeks and I find myself overwhelmed by what I think should get done, and how the house should look, before he gets here. I have had to stop and tell myself that he is coming to see ME and my family, not how well I’ve decorated and personalized my house. Thanks for the uplifting words!

  29. I love beauty hunting with you. The end.

  30. You have been so generous with your yes!
    Love you.
    Cherished our visit.

  31. When you live in the country it is never DONE!!

  32. I’m so happy to read this. My husband has invited some of his co-workers to our home for dinner for next week. I’ve been so worried about what they might think about our half done bathroom..or our ugly patio roof that needs to be replaced. Thank you for writing this. It has helped my attitude tremendously.

  33. living in rentals for 17 years now i so got every single word you wrote – i chuckled about blaming the “dumb landlord” and sighed about your hesitation to invite people in. and that same lesson.. that our imperfections are actually what keep us approachable! real! and make others feel the most at home around us, despite what our home actually looks like… seems i just keep learning that again and again and again!

    thanks, nester!! xo i’m joining team beauty hunters and looking at this place with different eyes today!!! ~

  34. There are so many who feel EXACTLY THE SAME WAY-same fear-same struggle SAME! Thank you for verbalizing what we think :) Enjoy that house! I cant wait to buy a fixer upper and take time doing it and creating memories…Lysa Terkeurst said…””If nothing in this life ever disappointed me, I would be tempted to become satisfied without Jesus. But instead of letting my disappointments discourage me, I can let my heart be drawn toward Jesus and ask Him to fill me.” We get to learn so much doing it ourselves and taking time! I love the hunt and saving $! enjoy enjoy that house! Keep inviting women! Love it

  35. Nester,
    I know i will never completly conquer my do list but i make enough of a dent to not give up.
    We all think “our” imperfections are the worst. Most people hardly bat an eye.
    one memory of mine is removing a closet from upstairs hall, drywall work and waiting till we could get new carpet. My family was coming for Christmas and we put up a pencil tree with my $10 jumbo box of vintage ornaments. The only comment I got when someone used the upstairs bathrooom was Hey guys you have to see the tree upstairs. I was fretting and it made no difference to my family :)


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