The Decorating Truths You Won’t See on HGTV

family room

Time. White Space. Imperfections.

I know. Not as glamorous as Buy New Stuff, Paint New Stuff, Knock out Your Kitchen Walls With a Sledgehammer While A Camera Crew Watches and it all gets done in one week.

But we are real women, with real fries on the floor of our cars, without big furniture budgets or pretty Joanna Gains coming to our house (please Joanna, come to our house?!). Where do we start?

Time. White Space. Imperfections.

UGH!I am so spoiled by shows, magazines and blogs like mine. Because I can be a brat, sometimes I forget that those after photos took TIME. And if they didn’t it’s because they had special circumstances for the PURPOSE OF ENCOURAGING AND INSPIRING ME. The nerve!

Time. White Space. Imperfections.

Gah, I wish I’d stop repeating those three words.

launtry room


In reality, time is a very real part of creating anything.

SLOW decorating is a HUGE part of creating a space that serves you and your family. All of us have to deal with time as a factor even if you run home blog that is your job, or if you do have your own show on HGTV or if you run a big ministry like Proverbs 31. We want everything yesternow, and we feel like everyone gets it but us.

But that is a lie.

Slow decorating and enjoying the process, inviting people into the undone, holding onto hope for your home, actually CHOOSING SLOW?  This is the real making of a home. This is the making of a life. This is how important things happen. Accepting slow isn’t giving up, it’s realizing that home is never “finished” and being okay, and happy because of that.

Are we ever done raising our children or learning how to create in our work? Am I now officially done learning to cook since I am 40 years old and know how to make pizza dough? No way. It’s a process, mostly enjoyable but with hard parts and mistakes too. I don’t want to be done learning how to cook, and I don’t want to be done creating a beautiful home.

Time. I’m okay with it.

what can be done with less

White Space:

EDITING is an art form that gets almost no attention except from minimalist blogs. It takes maturity to allow for white space and margin in our home and life. Being a Stuff Manager is nobody’s dream job. Editing is the long-lost red-headed step child of the design world. When in doubt, take it out.

Be sure to hang out around here in July when we do a little practice on intentional White Space. You won’t see a show about that on TV, because it would be the most boring (yet cost efficient to produce) show ever. But in our real lives and homes? Most of us desperately NEED the gift of white space.




Non-Perfect things, circumstances, people, homes, jobs, families are part of all of our lives. It’s not our job to banish or ignore them. It’s our job to learn how to live beautifully within the imperfect.

Take joy in the little wins even if they aren’t fully finished.

Practice trust with your friends and partner with those Beauty Hunters who will take your hand and point out the beauty that is there right now. What does being okay with our imperfect, beautiful, potential filled mess look like in real life? It looks like welcoming people into the mess, the undone, the imperfect. And then, instead of getting all caught up in what we don’t have, we get all caught up in how they are doing and nobody notices or cares about the swampy green pool in the backyard.

Those imperfections don’t hinder your relationships, they actually help. Those imperfections play a starring role, and sometimes messes are downright beautiful.

Creating home starts with the opposite of what we sometimes tell ourselves.



If you are creating a home to impress and make people jealous, then yes, max out the credit cards and start in the fanciest furniture store, repeat every four years and make yourself miserable.

If you are creating a beautiful, meaningful home that serves your family with a true purpose, then you have to do the opposite.

Start with what you have, remove things and quite the house, use things in fresh new ways and shop the house, then embrace those imperfect things, because you know the true purpose of your home.



Today Lysa’s sharing the second video we made in our 12 hour room makeover. It was SO FUN to makeover a room in a matter of a day and a half. Four or Five of us went thrifting, (I warned them about the fickleness of thrift stores then prayed for weeks that we would find a few workable items in the few thrift stores available to us) and we found great stuff! The next day we spent eight hours putting this room together. Which is GREAT!

If you want to take a day to go thrifting with your friends (don’t forget to warn them and yourself of the fickleness of thrift stores and pray) and then invite them all over for eight hours the next day, you can do that too! But for most of us, decorating happens slowly, organically one weekend at a time, one sofa moved that extra six inches, one great find at a yard sale every summer.

beforeAlison’s family room: before

afterafter (I’ll have some more pics in the next post)

So even though we did this makeover (reveal here!) in a matter of hours, remember, there were lots of us, and Alison had collected meaningful beautiful pieces for years, she even created her own artwork. She invested in some furniture (I bet you have some too) took a risk and chose colors to have her entire house painted, then let me go and make a bunch of nail holes in her newly painted, no holes wall.

If you want your home to be pretty you might have to get paint on your walls, if you want to display art, you have to allow for imperfection–and make that nail hole. I love that creating a home we love forces us to first mess it up a little.

Decorating is not an Olympic sport. There’s no big hurry and no prize for “finishing” first.

ENJOY the process. Now come watch a video we made of making over a room quickly, so that you can be encouraged and inspired.

Me, and Lysa TerKeurst and Joanna Gains and Alison and you? We are all in this together. Living it out, creating a home, letting it change and grow and serve our family. Amen.


  1. What a perfect and inspiring post! I needed that! Can I tell you how much your words encourage and in my opinion, a wonderful attitude to live my. It is so refreshing and realistic, and helps keep me on the right path. THANK YOU so much!

  2. Thanks so much for this post! Just yesterday we had an out of town visitor, who exclaimed, after getting a tour of our recent completely DIY’d kitchen/main level renovations (which still aren’t done,) “It seems like it took you guys forever!” It actually took about 5 months (excluding holidays) to get what was done, done. We have 3 kiddos, so we of course were working around our jobs, their school schedule, sports, etc. It was a little deflating to hear that comment, but your post is exactly what I needed to hear! It is a process, real life is still going on, and budget and time constraints are also very real, but at the same time, I love (almost) every minute of it. Thanks for sharing today – it is exactly where I’m at and it means a lot!

    • What?! 5 months is FAST!!! Send them to my house we are 10 months and counting, we can teach them what forever might look like…

      • Catherine says

        I often enjoy watching “Property Brothers,” but I think it gives people the wrong idea of how much time it takes to do projects that big if you don’t have the pressure of a TV show.

        Work that takes them five weeks? If you’re doing that on your own, you’ll be a year into the project and still begging a plumber to call you back. :)

    • 5 months is totally fast! I have to remind myself of that all the time.
      I’ve lived without drawers and cupboard doors for a year now. Lol the rest of the kitchen is finished but who knows when I’ll get to those??

  3. I really need a “Chicken Post” wherein you describe in great detail: housing, feeding and care of chickens :)

  4. Thanks for this post. Last weekend I got to visit a friend’s brand new house and have to admit a little bit of jealousy at the new paint, kitchen cabinets, and all the other wonderful things that come with a new house. I love my house with all it’s unique quirks and even dated cabinetry, so it is nice to be reminded that loving a house is a process, not just the end result. Love reading your blog!

  5. I heart Joanna! That show is just so much fun.

  6. I am always so encouraged and inspired and walk away with an “I can do this!” attitude every time I read your posts. You have helped me to see that I can use what I have to make our home space not perfect but beautiful.

    I am LOVING this little mini-makeover series that you & Lysa are doing together! I can’t wait to see the big reveal!

  7. Your words so resonate with me!!!! Today I am slow. Purposely slow. I will enjoy what others have and not want it, nor will I compare what I have to what others have.
    Thank you for sharing your words!!!

  8. i love fixer upper! i think they are made for tv and are so fun to watch! enjoying this series with you guys! so fun!

  9. Why is it everything you say speaks to me so deeply?! You have such a gift. I’m leaving here so encouraged. :)

  10. Thank you SO much! I’m so happy someone finally said it! As someone who is painstakingly decorating our home one paycheck at a time, sometimes it can be frustrating reader about how easy it seems for others. But I’m glad I’m not the only one taking their time and making a house into a family home. Love this post x

  11. Thank you for the encouraging and inspiring post! Can’t wait to try out some new chalk paint tomorrow : ) and to see Alison’s room reveal… I know it will be beautiful!! I just _love_ the Gaines and their Fixer Upper show and sweet family — the whole show has such an uplifting, encouraging tone. Thanks for linking to their beautiful Magnolia blog — I had never seen it. When I saw the front of their pretty farm house, it reminded me of yours and made me wonder if y’all have ever thought of painting your roof a light color like theirs…actually I’m not even sure if theirs is just a light metal or painted a light color? I just love white farm houses! Thanks for the inspiration!! …and for being a decorating voice of contentment and creativity for all those not on the HGTV renovation fast track.

  12. baileywife says

    1. Love the shot of your chickens in your yard.
    2. I want that wicker chair you are sitting on. Please and thank you.
    3. HGTV needs you.
    4. Can’t wait till tomorrow.
    5. You need to help do makeovers more often.
    6. And you need to start at my house, promise it’ll be fun!!?

  13. My husband and I bought an outdated home last fall, and I am ITCHING to make changes, but our bank account is reminding me that we are young and we do not yet live our parents’ lives. I’ve even been thinking about putting off the growth of our family so that we have a bit more time and money to make changes… I’m glad you reminded us that it takes time. I have to remember that owning and making a home is a long-term endeavor.

  14. Love the little series on Lysa’s blog! Can’t wait to see the reveal. And I have some serious art coveting going on with her collection!

  15. I NEED and CRAVE white space! I will be watching for sure. thank you :-)

  16. Talk about great timing! I was just think about this very subject only a day or two ago. Thanks so much for making me feel normal.

  17. Tami Brodsky says

    Love your blog and loved all the comments I reviewed today! After many years of trying to get it right I think I will stop! Lol! I once read a quote that said Fill your home with things you love and in that time it will be the place if perfection that’s yours! As a 50 something gal I totally believe this! Evolution is just that, evolution! the word itself has an inference of time and many times it takes years of searching, recognizing what makes you happy and fills your needs for a certain time and space since in life we are constantly evolving. I probably won’t stop watching the shows, checking my favorite sites here onFB or thumbing through a favorite magazine but each time I do I will take a little something new with me as I continue my evolution! Again great words, posts and reminders. Well said by all! Enjoy your own evolutions!

  18. I’m so glad you give us permission first, to make a mess. I’m in the middle of a mess, as I refresh our basement with mold-resistant paint. It will feel so nice to have that clean paint do-over!

  19. Can’t wait for more before & after photos. Love your style.

  20. Loving the series on Lysa’s site!

  21. Nester! Are those new cowhides?!

  22. Not sure if this is where to leave this but I subscribed 2 days ago and never received anything? I checked my spam too and nothing was there. Love your blog and hoping to get subscribed soon! Many blessings!

  23. YES! I want every mom to read this, embrace it and be encouraged. You continue to inspire, and challenge me to focus on what really matters. Thank you for being real & fabulous :)

    xo, Tanya

  24. I need recommendation of a good white paint color for my walls! I love the color of the walls on the room make over on Lysa’s website…Thanks!! Would love for Nester to have an HGTV show!!!!

  25. I love your encouragement. The quotes you’ve pulled are especially thought-provoking. I think I get totally bogged down by comparing what little has been done in my home to what seems to be done on other blogs. I’m so brought low by it that I have a hard time accepting the compliments from my guests that DO appreciate what I’ve done.

  26. Amen! Sometimes I get caught up in my blog/TV show/magazine world and forget that there are people just like me with toys and laundry strewn about their living rooms too. And that just because I have a vision for a room, doesn’t meant that we will ever have the budget or time to actually make it look that way. Maybe one day :)


  27. Reading your post came at the perfect time. We have just purchased a new-to-us house and will be moving in Aug 1. During the waiting time, I’ve been dreaming (and Pinning) up a storm. Eager to get started on all the projects. Wanting to complete as many projects before we actually move in. But I’ve been feeling overwhelmed (duh). I love where you said “Accepting slow isn’t giving up, it’s realizing that home is never “finished” and being okay, and happy because of that.” It’s okay to take it one project at a time. Even if it means showering in a blindingly blue and orange-oak bathroom for awhile.
    So thank you for your wisdom. God bless you as you continue to encourage and support the crazy DIY people in this world.

  28. This post is just what I needed. I’m almost 12 months into an owner build and need to stop worrying about the “not quite finished” look and start embracing the journey of building our own home from scratch ourselves.

  29. Love this! We just remodeled our home and let’s say I dont want to touch a paint brush for as long as I live. :) Love your decor ideas – they are real, creative and appreciated. Thank u!

  30. Oh lord, I felt like a bobble head reading this. I couldn’t stop nodding at everything. I agree with you whole-heartedly but didn’t even know that or realize it was okay to agree until now. Some people feel shame in cheating on taxes, hitting a mailbox and driving away, lying to the cashier that you already donated (but didn’t). I felt shame in not having my entire house redone in 6 months. And when I say redone, I don’t mean renovated because now That word means torn out kitchens, knocked out walls, outdoor fireplaces, 50k kitchens, blah, blah, blah. All I mean is painting each room a fresh color, new hardware, new fixtures, new backsplash, new window drapes, some fresh decorating, decluttering, cleaning, and organizing, and even new DIY floors (which I will never ever EVER do again if my life depended on it). And doing it by myself. Well, I was supposed to be done by now, but at the looks of it I will probably realistically take another 8 months. My first step towards being okay with it was when the gas meter guy had to go in our attic and I had white patches of joint compound all over my hallway walls and I DIDNT apologize and explain to this perfect stranger why my walls looked that way. That was the first time I was proud of myself for not beating me up over not being done by now. Ugh. My eyes cross and get watery when I think too hard about what still needs to be done and how if I start right this second, ignore my kids, the chores, the errands, the holidays, my husband, my parents, friends, cooking, praying, eating, sleeping, and working I could have this house finished in 3 weeks. Which brings up a good point. What happens when your house is done and is percent, like on the HGTV shows? What then? Sounds kinda boring to be ‘done’ with your house. I suspect that’s what my mother-in-law said about her house…30 years ago. Cuz she hasn’t changed a thing. In thirty years. So, yeah, I agree, you gotta keep on keepin’ on. Aaahhh, now I can enjoy Christmas without worrying that my guests will see a big hole in the ceiling where the fan used to be.

  31. I am new to this blog and uber excited to have found it! I suffer from perfectionism and these writings help me put things in to proper perspective. Thanks you so much!

  32. I suffer rom the fantasy that some day my home will be the picture of perfection. Slowly, however, I m coming to the realization that I have many extraordinary treasures and it is simply matter of creating the correct backdrop. Clutter will always be a part of a family home but I am striving to establish little areas of respite that represent my own brand of sanctuary. Thanks for underscoring why realism should be part of my real-world design scheme.

    • I am brand new to this website!Ever since i was married at 18 with my husband making 5 bucks an hour at the phone co in the 60’s i have loved figuring out unique ways i could make my home interesting and cozy.Since i was on such atight vudget with 2 small kids i had alot of praying and imagining to do! As a young christian bride we had continual bible studies and pot lucks at our house.I was then a big time perfectionistic people pleaser and would have quite a bit of anxiety having people over and not rwally having an “anointing” to cleani would get syressed but God was present and Hisnwoed alive and thats whatnpeople wanted plus real fellowship! Now 50 years later and still with my high school sweet heart we still gather at least once a week for bible study and fellowship.My tastes have vhanged over the years and have found wonderful treaures at garage sales to keep my home fun and interesting and colorful,but the best is our home is filled with Him!!!!!! Blessings,Linda Felis

  33. Pretty much my entire adult life has been spent living in rentals, mostly apartments, and I agree wholeheartedly with what you’ve said. When it comes to so many other things, it’s easy for me to jump on the “work with what ya got and make IT great” mentality, but when it came to home decorating…I just kept waiting till we moved, but then we didn’t. That “misadventure” of a home not reflecting who lived there actually inspired my #write31days series of all things! Now we’re *possibly* ACTUALLY on the verge of moving somewhere, and even if it’s temporary (just like ALL of life!!!), I don’t want to make that mistake again! Thanks for your encouragement! <3

  34. I just started folloIwing you and after reading this blog post, it is confirmed–we are kindred spirits! I so completely agree with your ethic and although I am not currently a blogger, I hope to soon, and will write and share the same ideals. TV makes things look so easy, yet they have no soul! Thank you for writing and I so look forward to hearing and reading more! Blessings :)

  35. I liken finishing a home to finishing the laundry……you’re only finished for that brief, fleeting moment. And then someone comes along and dumps some dirty something or another in the hamper. Right back to not finished. Lol!

    Actually, I have known a few people who declared their home finished and didn’t change a thing for the next decade or three. Well, they may have changed a photo in a frame…….but the frame stayed in exactly the same spot. Those homes always made me very uncomfortable. They felt like a preserved corpse on display instead of a living, evolving, growing, changing entity. Those homes felt so stagnant and lifeless.

    My home has never and will never be perfect. And I’m perfectly okay with that. Our home has changed and will continue to change over the years to reflect changes in lifestyle, tastes, needs and interests. Also, I’m genetically incapable of leaving things alone, lol!

    • Kddomingue says

      Your comment stumped me for a moment as I read it because I didn’t remember writing it, lol!
      I too have likened finishing a home to finishing the laundry. And, I too, am genetically incapable of leaving things alone. Therefore my house will never feel like a corpse on display,

  36. Today, I went to the beach front with my kids.
    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off
    topic but I had to tell someone!

  37. Jane HILLIS says

    At age 64, I recall the years my husband and I taught youth Sunday School back in the late 80’s thru the 90’s. We taught every grade at some point and our last class was a large group of Seniors. Many of those Seniors grew up coming to our home, almost weekly, for various activities from progressive dinners to outdoor cook-outs. My house has always been decorated in what I used to call “Early Attic”. It didn’t bother me as long as the floors, bathrooms, and kitchen were clean. I liked being the house of choice to host events. We have set up tables, chairs, lights, and hosted horseshoe tournaments, fall cotton rides (southern method of hayrides back when the cotton was hauled to the Gin in large bins), Shrimp Boils, etc…
    Our house sits on 17 acres of woods and lots of pasture/soybeans/cotton/corn fields. The summer droughts often made our place a dust bowl and certainly not Pinterest worthy of “outdoor spaces”. But those teenagers could have cared less. They would grab flashlights at night and play Capture the Flag with dust and grit flying! Sometimes I would catch myself apologizing until one evening, a Young Lady, who had practically grown up in my house from 6th grade thru college, once said in a group ‘girl talk’ time in my living room, ” Ya know Mrs Jane, you’re the only house, besides my own, I feel comfortable enough that I can put my feet up on the couch and it won’t matter,”
    To this day, I think that’s the Best Compliment I ever received!. Especially when everyone in the room vigorously agreed! Some even told me later our house was their favorite house to have youth get togethers!
    They told me (even though my yard was currently a dust bowl, the leak in the kitchen ceiling that caused major damage for the FOURTH TIME, still had the open hole cut out by the plumber 10 MONTHS LATER) We love coming to your house because you make us feel welcome! …..So, guess what? ….25+ yrs later, the hole left by the most recent leak has no immediate plans of being repaired! Hey, our current philosophy is “take a number” Ha! I do admit, however, I have to fight my urge to explain that hole with every guest that comes thru. I’m still a work in progress, but I realize, I’ve had 25-30 yrs of great memories that would have been missed if I had waited till we had Everything perfect. It STILL ISNT PERFECT nor will it ever be Perfect, as I have come to accept, which has freed me up to pursue my love of quilting without apology.
    So, Come on in, ignore the hole in the ceiling, scratch marks on the front door from our beegle pawing to get inside, the “junk” oops, I mean funky yard art sitting outside behind the back yard shed, and let’s sit and have a glass of SWEET Iced Tea…uh, just brush the yard debris out of the patio chair before you sit down!
    GMama Jane

    • Kddomingue says

      Your comment truly made me smile! We’ve been working on our home for over twenty five years now as health, time and finances permitted. It’s furnished in Grandma’s attic hand-me-downs and Second hand Rose’s cast offs. It will probably never be “finished”. But noone has ever seen to care because there’s always coffee in the pot and cookies in the jar and a meal if your hungry and plenty of conversation to be had. Your dogs and children are always welcome and there’s a big fenced in yard for them to play in and toys to amuse them in the house. We’ve always been the house were things get made. You need costumes? Come on, let’s raid the sewing room and get started. You want a fireplace mantle? Let’s go out to the shop and start sketching up plans. A quilt? An apron? A flower arrangement? A piece of art? A dog bed? Recover a chair, a motorcycle seat, a sofa? Let’s do it! Build a bookcase? How big? Lol! I’d rather people think of my home as an interesting place where stuff is always being done than the home that’s “done”.

  38. Connie Baum says

    Omygoodness! Why did it take me so long to find you? This is WONDERFUL! Hanging out here is going to be great fun!

  39. I’m like you I like to decorate I loved reading your story because you inspired me and brought what I like to do to my attention thank you

  40. Victoria Arnold says

    Embracing the imperfect and welcoming people into the mess is important…I get it… but I also think that grime needs to be addressed. Some homes that i have been in are coated in grime…. It’s uncomfortable for the guest and not healthy for the people who live there…

  41. Judith Davidian-Taylor says

    This looks like this might just be what I need. Enjoyed all the emails…I don’t feel so alone now,
    I want to have the perfect home…but I can see a mess…I have to learn that it doesn’t need to
    be perfect! Thanks

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