Thursday, May 30, 2013

a not-at-all-beautiful mess // my sarcastic house tour

I was talking with some friends at lunch today and some thoughts finally crystallized for me about part of the reason I have been away from the blog so much lately, apart from the big roadblocks like planning for the barn sale and not having a working computer. It's because of this.

the gorgeous home of Naomi Davis - click image to visit A Beautiful Mess's post all about it

This photo, for me, epitomizes how I've been feeling about a lot of what I read in blogland. Everything about this room is perfect: the furniture, the lighting, the happy family bonding together. And I get that, for the "stay-at-home moms" who actually make a living from blogging, having a blog that focuses on all that is beautiful and enviable and covetable about your life is how you get advertisers to pay you and readers to flock to your posts every day. But I'm having a really hard time with the "comparison is the thief of joy" thing.

As excited as we are about baby #2 and as many things that have happened since January, 2013 has not been a great year for our family. We've had grief and loss with the death of family members, illness and physical ailments for at least one of us at any given time, concerns about Lorelei's speech development, house trauma (including two flooded basements at the same time when we were still in the process of selling our old house), big arguments about finances and future life goals, and general growing pains as we figure out life as a soon-to-be family of four. And posting about recipes or craft projects or my baby bump progress seems trivial and fake in the midst of all that.

I have been wanting for ages to do a "house tour" to show you the new place we moved into, but what's the point? We still have limited furniture because we can't agree on a budget or style, ugly contractor-grade carpet that I want to get rid of but probably never will (see previous reason), piles of stuff sitting around and nowhere to put it (see previous reason)...I feel frustrated every time I walk into a different room and so end up watching Law and Order reruns and hoarding images on Pinterest instead of trying to do anything to fix it, which is just making the problem worse. (My virtual house would totally be full of amazing DIYs if all of my pins are any indication.)

I would love to have the time and skill to take old dressers I found at a garage sale and make them look like something Apartment Therapy-worthy, but instead I can barely find the time to clean my shower. I would love to have a to-die-for muffin recipe to share with you and pictures of my daughter devouring them at breakfast, but instead I'm busy cleaning up the cereal she threw on that awesome carpet this morning (like every morning) because she thinks breakfast is the worst meal of the day. And I'd love to have gorgeous pictures of our family to share with you, but first I would have to take a shower and find some pants that aren't covered in mud/playdoh/dinner from two days ago, and it's not looking good for that until next Tuesday at the earliest.

So, without further ado, an honest look at my house. Don't worry: I applied a bunch of cross-processing to the photos so they have a vintagey feel and you'll think you're looking at something amazing. Fooled ya!

Here's a picture of our family room, complete with fabulous MDF side table I've had since 1999, a  TV the size of a postage stamp, and some classy cardboard boxes for a little added "DIY chic."

We never invite people over anyway, so the couch in our front room seemed like a great place to stash our stereo that only successfully plays CDs about a third of the time. If you do swing by, there's totally room for you next to it once I brush off some crumbs.

One of the things that sold me on this new house was all of the counter space in the kitchen - I had big dreams of having even more flat surfaces to pile crap on than in our old place. Mission accomplished!

I was so excited to find a pair of nightstands at Target - no assembly necessary! And more MDF - can you believe it? Who needs real wood? - because I thought they'd go really well with our random stash of junk, overflowing hamper, and broken window shade.

My favorite room of the house: the nursery for our new baby! Doesn't the bunny lamp look cute there? I think our youngest daughter will love hearing stories about how she slept in a cardboard box next to some old electronic equipment we've had since we lived in Colorado and can't seem to get rid of.

Don't you just love what we've done with the place? Aren't you jealous of my life?

Sigh. Okay, off to do the dishes that have been sitting next to the sink since last night, and then maybe I'll clean the toilets. Maybe.


  1. Courtney, I love you and this post. Soooo much. THANK YOU FOR BEING REAL. AMEN. I love reading blogs. And I love seeing all the pretty things. The fancy clothes I can't afford, the rooms that look perfect, the diys that are just oh so amazing, the incredible photographs, all of it. But it really brings up the comparison is the thief of joy thing for me too. I look at those blogs and feel disgusted with MYSELF because all the clothes I own are mainly bought from walmart or cheapo places. My room is full of tons of things, many of it junk to most people, old crappy furniture. My bed is not too great, I have weird mixmatched curtains and carpet that has had nail polish and glue spilled on it over the years. I do not live in a nice highly decorated house. My family doesn't own many nice things and go to fancy places. We simply can't afford it and that is Real Dang Life. Plain and simple. Most of the actual world is not what the blog world appears to be most of the time. It just isn't. And I rejoice when I see people get real and honest and share real life with us because I am living real life too and I appreciate not feeling alone in it. Thank you for writing this, Courtney! I think it may have inspired a post of my own in the future.

  2. Man alive woman! you are TOO hard on yourself...

    As much as i love Naomi's blog... lets get serious. 99.99% of homes will never achieve that amount of "perfection". Like you said yourself, she's making a living by creating a certain lifestyle... and damn she's good at it! But she has said herself its hard work and she stresses out too... no ones home is perfect. its just photographed that way.

    I've fallen victim to the "blog/online/whatever it is envy". Its so hard no too! I live in a two bedroom house with two large dogs, two cats, one baby and one husband who cannot seem to put beer bottles away. YEAH. A mess pretty much always.

    I fight the typical "i'm a stressed stay at home mom thing" daily as well. i think people put an unjust amount of pressure on stay at home moms... its your JOB. people are mothers and WORK so your home should be perfect now. no mess. no stress. you're supposed to be betty friggin crocker. i know i've cried many a night over how un-perfect i am.

    what a load of bull.

    Roseanne wasn't perfect and look at how awesome and iconic her house was? :)
    I've decided she's my new role model.

    Keep your chin up... and i know you were being sarcastic. but i also know you were being way too hard on yourself.


    and P.S. i have plenty of MDF. even IN MY BABY'S ROOM!
    i know. i'm terrible.


  3. I love this, and welcome to my home 99.9% of the time. I feel you on the budget and style woes, and let's be frank, I hate cooking and cleaning and doing dishes. I love that cobalt blue side table, MDF or not. It's much nicer than our bedside table that just so happens to be a hotel castoff.

  4. Thank you times a million for this post and for generating such great comments from your readers. I have been feeling this very same way lately minus being the mom part but I am sure as soon as I am a Mom I will be feeling it even more. Remember the Dove commercial... ( ; I would describe you and your blog as more of a George Clooney. Keep being yourself because that's pretty darn inspiring.

  5. Ha! Love you. Our baby room looks similar and he is due in 3 weeks. Actually, I am not sure there is any room for the baby - 2 bikes still on the wall, 2 sets of wheels on top of the chest of drawers where we are going to change his nappies, a giant suitcases with duffel bags and pillows shoved in them, 2 prams, a few ikea boxes that I keep thinking about recycling, and our winter duvet in the crib that I need to put in a flat storage bag (which would mean going to the store). We have some prints for the wall that Laura sent - need frames. Also, J's bathroom shower is our "closet" - I will take a picture and send it to you. I would also like to point out you pulled off an amazing long distance shower that was well executed and cute! Plus - all these blog people live in tiny spaces, it is "easier" to make things look a bit cuter when you have less space to fill (although it has other problems, like SPACE and where to put the shit you don't need). That said - don't come to my flat. ;)

  6. I am crying because I'm laughing so hard, this is the best post ever! It's sooooooo true. We are still homeless - should I share the piles of clothes we live out of in our 10x10 room in a friend's house? That would be a great blog series - the secret lives of bloggers and our plain homes that we disguise so well by taking pictures of only one 3x5 corner of the house....

  7. Thanks for the post. I've sort of been feeling like that about my ENTIRE LIFE lately, so it's good to know someone is there too.

    You should also know that I didn't get the last box unpacked until like THREE years after we moved in... and I was not pregnant and didn't have a toddler. Not that that's something you should aspire to, but just so you know so you can cut yourself some slack.

    Is there something I could do to help? You know where to find me.


  8. It took us three years to get our house decent. And the first year we didn't even have a kid to distract us... I am worried about how disheveled our lives will become as a result of our upcoming move but I'm glad I'm not alone!

  9. I absolutely loved this post!!!! And I loved your realistic house tour. I too fall victim to comparing myself and my home to those that I see on other blogs and Pinterest and I get down because I am a creative, crafty person but I don't have the time or energy for endless DIY projects and home renovations. I barely have time to blog these days! I think you paint a much more realistic photo for stay at home mothers who don't appear to just sit around and make crafts all day. I mean, really. Just try and remember that everything that people are putting online is the absolute 'best' of their lives- they don't want you to see the messy counters and the cereal on the floor! I also remember reading somewhere that when Apartment Therapy does their features, they come into the homes and completely rearrange everything to look more 'photo perfect'. So while it's pretty to look at, it's simply not real.

  10. Also--for some reason I wasn't following your blog anymore! I have no idea what happened but I'm now a follower again!

  11. Just getting caught up on your blog... gosh I love this post! I'm glad I'm not the only one who wonders how people manage to have the time (and resources) to have such beautiful homes. Piles of laundry and random crap that we can't seem to find a place for rule our apartment! We are moving to a house (in a new city & state) in two weeks... I want to be ruthless with what we get rid of. I'm so tired of all the mess! Even though we don't have the budget to buy new stuff, I'd rather live in an empty-ish house than a cluttered-with-all-our-crap one.

  12. I know just what you're talking about. It's difficult to enjoy our own lives when the comparison of pinterest wonders and professional (super high traffic) bloggers bring something totally enviable to the table that for some bloggers, just isn't reality, or rather...our reality. I empathize with you 100%, but I also wanted you to know that sometimes I read your blog and envy things you have that I don't... like a husband to partner with you in raising your child, your own home, and a business that is growing. I know things always look neat and tidy from an outsiders perspective and everything isn't always rosey, but I wanted you to know that sometimes things you have are enviable too.
    I only post anonymously because I'm not brave enough to share who I am.
    And again I say, life is rough sometimes, this isn't to say oh don't feel bad. It's okay to feel yucky about things because sometimes, obviously, they're just that...

  13. I'm just catching up, so pardon the way after the fact comment. I had to check and make sure I hadn't written this in my sleep, too. I totally relate to the inability to agree on a budget and a way of setting up the house in a so that it really feels like home. I griped at my husband for months about how much we needed curtains in this house, and how annoyed I was by the blankets he had shoved in between the blinds and window frames in our room. I looked at various blogs for ideas on a DIY solution, and even those seemed too expensive. Maybe two months ago, I managed to find some curtains at a garage sale and they're super plain, but they're curtains for goodness sake. Also, my bedside table? A $10, metal bar stool that was the only piece of furniture in my apartment for ages, after I sold everything in Colorado and moved to Austin. I'm not sure why I've moved that stool around the world, but I suppose it's a good thing I did. Also, Elliot still doesn't have a room of his own. He sleeps with us anyway, so I figure we'll put lots of love into a space for him when he's ready to move out of our room. Even then, I doubt it will be pin-worthy.

    Anyway, I'm hugging you with my brain and hoping that the second half of 2013 is way better than the first in your world.