What Progress Really Looks Like


I’m putting this picture of two of our kittens in this post, in case you need to quickly scroll up and look at something cute after seeing all this mess…


Once again, my office is the hardest working room. Can you imagine trying to store this mess inside our house? I’m so happy to have an office space that can hold all of our beautiful mess while we renovate that barn. We are storing barn stuff that we don’t want to sit outside, right along with other stuff I’ve thrown in here and not dealt with because it’s turned into a temporary holding room. It won’t be like this forever. But for now, realistically, this office is serving us so well in this season and fulfilling it’s officey purpose.

I have to remind myself of that last sentence daily. This is why I have to document and celebrate my One Microscopic Step Forward.

So for your enjoyment, here’s my current office situation.










And because you’ve seen my mess. We are all officially best friends. That’s what sharing imperfections does to us, it bonds.


I’ve been easing people since 1973.


  1. Thank you for keeping it real! You have blessed me so much by simply being real!! I have a holding spot right now, too. I don’t love it, but it has to wait its turn. Some things are more important right now. It used to really bother me, but you have encouraged me to lose the perfectionism, and I am working on that … slowly but surely. I have lots of “works in progress,” and I am just trying to focus on the fact that progress (of any kind) is in there somewhere! Hang in there! Some day that barn and office space will be so beautiful and enjoyable! God bless you in this endeavor … and all you do with your God-given gifts and talents!

  2. Agreed. Thank you for keeping it real. I had to laugh at the last picture with the quote on imperfections. I like that. Nice job. Keep inspiring and we’ll keep reading.

  3. LOVE this so much…it is so helpful to see others’ messes and realize my own isn’t as crazy as I thought. :)

  4. I am now so at ease! It even made me good about our garage!

  5. Ha! I love it! I commented the other day because I’m a new follower and wanted to believe you were real. You are! Now we’re officially besties and I’m your new biggest fan! I just assembled some furniture in my new office/junk room and sighed at the mess. I have such a long ways to go to arrive at acceptance. Looking forward to following your example.

  6. I love you – you never cease to make me smile. Wish I could bring you a bouquet of hydrangea blooms today to grace your table. Sending smiles your way!

  7. Thank you so much.. for being a challenger, to tackle those projects (messes). My Adult Kids moved out 3 plus year ago & both their rooms are a “storeroom” of stuff. And, for the encouragement, that I don’t need to be “perfect” before I have people over to my home.. I’m always making excuses when ppl drop by.. or people ask, why isn’t there carpet in our living room, (2 cats), then I have to explain the mess they made, and so on..

  8. Yep, I love you for sharing your imperfections. Keepin it real is a goal of this recovering perfectionist/Pharisee. Thanks so much for your blog and book – I’ve shared them with many!

  9. Hey. That looks just like my family room ever since hubby retired and decided to “fix” all the other rooms in the house while he was too busy working!!!!

  10. LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Thanks for sharing and keepin it real for us all. I thought we were besties already – I refer to you by your first name when I talk about you with friends and family. Feel free to call me by mine! :-) Thanks for keeping us inspired!

  11. Melanie Miller says

    You have been putting me at ease all the while inspiring me for several years now, thank you. But, I wonder, does it feel one sided to you, these friendships? I mean, can I show you my mess, too? I need someone to tell me that my mess puts them at ease. And something else, why doesn’t the mess in my kids’ rooms’ put me at ease? Is it simply because I don’t see the purpose in their messes, only the laziness? Anyways…
    Yes! We can be besties now, and imperfect progress is the name of our game. Hugs to you today!

  12. You’re the best. Long distance high five!

  13. Ha! I love that you’re keeping it real. On an unrelated note, will you be hosting the 31 Day Blog challenge thing? I didn’t participate last year, but am really psyched for this year…

  14. I think we could be besties – except I don’t have the design sense of what to do with all like you do.

  15. I sometimes feel like such a loser because I have two rooms like this; it’s amazingly reassuring to know that even the Domestic Goddesses like you have the same issues!

    Thank you so much for sharing this!

  16. Needed this. Thank you!

  17. Love. I think I know I like to “ease the people” too. Great line!

  18. I have only recently discovered your site ( and bought your book!) and my heart does a little happy dance with each new post I uncover! As a lifelong perfectionist who is learning to accept life and living on its terms instead of mine I want to thank you for being here!! Though I am a bit older ( ahem) we are currently without a home and in search of the perfect place-at least I have been looking for that perfect place and wouldn’t you know- the perfect place does’t exist. Your site and book are helping me reevaluate my motives and decisions and is opening space for hopefulness for what is coming next . I can’t thank you enough for that!! Your honesty, transparency, grace and sense if beauty are such a gift!!

  19. What a timely confirmation! We just moved into a new home and our things will be delivered tomorrow. I had planned to use one room upstairs for unloading boxes and staging prior to decorating the rest of that floor. Part of me had felt guilty for planning to have an unruly room for awhile!

  20. I’m wondering what you will do when this house is all finished? It will be so weird.

  21. Wouldn’t the home magazines love to do a spread like this!!


  22. YUP! My house looks about like that right now too, but more piles (and disaster) than boxes. So overwhelming! Thanks for sharing your chaos.

  23. Yup. Looks about how my house looks right now at the tail end of renovations..

  24. I love you for this whole post… But my favorite part? “imperfections put people at ease & I like to ease the people.”

    Most of the time I feel I am not even capable of decently hiding my mess… Any of it… The mess of me, or my house, or anything. But if my mess eases someone else? Somehow that makes it all okay.

  25. Sometimes you just have to embrace the mess! Please could you tell me where you get all your beautiful prints that so often make sneaky appearances in your blog? I love so many of them, but I especially love the ‘love so amazing so divine demands my soul my life my all’ print that’s tucked away in your office here! Any directions (from you or my fellow readers!) for where to find these things would be so appreciated!! x

  26. I snickered when I saw this because it brings me pure joy knowing that my craft room is working hard as I type and change will come. I love your tagline even more now and can really embrace it.

  27. I can just see how much those kittens love you by the way they are looking into your camera. :)

  28. My house is a work in progress too… It takes time to get it all put together. I am one of those people who takes their time to decide what to do with a room. ( like, say, 3 years)

  29. I’m at ease. Love the realness of this post. Now you should see my extra bedroom. It is smaller than your office and has more stuff in it for now. Redoing my sewing/school room and I have to make time to go through everything that didn’ tmake it back into the room. I’ll do it eventually, little by little. I hope you get yours just the way you want it soon!

  30. So funny. So beautiful. So simple. Putting people at ease.

  31. I love this! So many times I see these bloggers post their “mess” and I’m like, what mess? A few dishes in the sink? A rumpled rug? Someone left their jacket on the couch? Please. It makes me feel bad because honestly, their mess is my everyday, it just is. This however, is a truly legit mess and totally looks like the same kind of mess I would make. Thank you! :)

  32. well, bless …
    I am now completely at ease & feeling so much better about my office mess!

  33. I can see it!! I love that office and can’t wait to see it slowly transform. Beauty takes time – remember that. I think I read that somewhere *wink*.

  34. That last bit — too funny!

  35. I saw your twitter feed and had to come take a “looksie.” So glad to be in good company. ;) I posted about my mess, including a few pics, this week, as well. I had a hunch I wasn’t alone. :P Thanks for being real. It’s the best way to be. ;)

  36. You’ve been easing my mind ever since I started reading. I”ll take pics of my mess and DM you on IG. That way we can really be friends :-)

  37. Reading this and looking at your pics of “the mess”, I am getting the vibe that you are somehow angry with “someone” for causing this mess to be there and I just want to say, “Take three deep breaths and relax. It won’t be like this forever; every good thing takes time…”.

  38. PRAISE TO THE ONE FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!!!….Okay, maybe I am being a tad dramatic, charismatic… dramismatic??? I just recently discovered your blog from a friend. We are in the midst of settling down into our new home and it is NOT going well. God’s gifted us with a special little place that is more than just a home, more of a place for people to gather and encounter God. Similar to what you’ve got!! Anyways, I have always known exactly what style I was, what color of paint I loved and where everything should go. I have felt like I have lost my mojo…turns out moving is one of THE MOST stressful things a person can do. Would would have known that little tidbit actually applies to me too!! Oh, and we homeschool….well we will be homeschooling whenever I get around to ordering the books. “Don’t worry kids, just watch some more Netflix while Mommy tries to decide which gray to paint the walls! We can learn next week!!”

    Anyways…I’m totally babbling. Can I just say that it brings like the biggest hurricane force “breath of fresh air” to my life to see you embrace it and put it out there. Here is my mess!!! YAY! I love the imperfections put people at ease quote. It’s true! Thank you and I can’t wait to scroll through the archives and watch your journey as it unfolds.

  39. After being wonderfully inspired by The Nesting Place and your blog, I’ve been slowly repainting and decorating several rooms in my house. It is a work in progress and I keep telling my husband, “It looks worse before it looks better.” (Actually sometimes it looks like two rooms threw up in another as we shift things around, paint, and clean out…but that doesn’t sound nearly as optimistic.) I had to laugh in looking at your progress pics. Yep, that’s where we are some days too…. but the end results are worth the trip. Afterall, one wise person said, “It’s a journey, not a destination.” ;-) Thanks, Nester, for being deco-real and giving us permission to be imperfect in our decorating.

  40. baileywife@Irishmanacres says

    Girl, I totally talk about you all the time like we’re besties, it’s become a family joke! And this what you call a mess, is fun for me to look at….I feel like I’m snooping :)

    So here are my questions for my bestie….. 1. I can’t believe that amazing clock that I covet did not make it into your home decor. (That’s not really a question is it?)
    2. Where in the world are all your books you read if not in your office? See, I’m a snooper!

    Love it all friend! ~Kim

  41. I LOVE that you are showing us the good, the bad and the messy of your progress. I love to see your pretty rooms, and your sense of style and color, but I think I love this post even more. It’s comforting…in a OH MY GOODNESS AT ALL THE STUFF kind of way. Because this is my life, too.

  42. Johnna Raymond says

    I love the way you rock both ends of the order spectrum! And the way you show yourself rocking both extremes. I thoroughly enjoy all of it! And do agree that you are good at the business of setting people at ease . . . since 1973 (cracked me up). Thank you for being real and known here.

  43. Wow thanks for this, I have your book and I love your stuff. We moved into a 1960’s fixer upper and I had dreams, big ones, but I’m now in my third trimester of pregnancy, my husband’s a pastor who had his salary slashed and is waiting table so I watch a lot of netflix, dress kids for school and I have rooms with half the wallpaper up, half down, half painted hallways and way more idealistic energy than actual energy which is a rough zone to live in.

    So anyway thanks, just thanks for this. It might inspire me to blog about how our home-redo is ACTUALLY going rather than hide and hope no one asks.

    Long story short. I like you. (we both have Caedmon’s so obviously… kindred.)

  44. Well glad to know what purpose I serve to my friends who know how I live. I sincerely try but there is always something under renovation. And your kittens are adorable!

  45. Bless you for keeping it real in the land of blogger perfection!

  46. I have a friend who always referred to this as the “explosion stage” – it looks like your room threw up and then had a melt down, and then threw up again. but it HAS to get this way before it can get better! And it will be amazing when it is done. Progress is messy – progress is crazy. But the end, the end is always awesome.

  47. Nester, those kittens are just about as cute as they come. In fact, I was so charmed I really didn’t notice the other pictures. I would say what you have going on there is a true case of normalcy. Nobody, would have undertaken the project you have since you have moved and been a bit further ahead, unless they just didn’t give a fig what their surroundings were like. My husband and I moved quite a bit in the first 15 years of our marriage and honestly, we never fully moved in to any one of those houses. We used to joke that we moved into our houses on the 6 month plan. I saw a chair and a table in there, you’ve got it made in the shade. BTW, do you know how MANY people you put at ease today? That’s progress!

  48. Thank you SO much for being real & honest and posting these pictures!!!! I’ve got a room (or two) that look like this and am always ashamed thinking what am I doing wrong that I can’t keep this house free of “stuff”. I am in process of painting and it had to go somewhere. I have been following you on here and have read your book and you have been such a blessing in my life! Thank you!

  49. aussiebeachgirl says

    If it’s any consolation, we moved three weeks ago – and we’re still living out of boxes! That’s the thing about moving from a modern, contemporary home into a very old house with zero storage – there’s absolutely nowhere for my stuff to go. Big boo. I’m planning on three piles: one for the stuff that stays; one for the Op Shops; and one for eBay! So you my friend, get a big sympathy vote from me! Hx ;-)

  50. Amigas we are. Your post brought me some much needed laughter. We went through an entire remodel 4years ago and it has been an unending project. Today I turned to your post for some much needed eye relief from my own hot messes and unending DIY half made projects, only to to be reminded that I am not alone in this messy world of mi Casa. Thank you Nester and fellow bloggers.

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