Before starting the decluttering process, it’s important to set goals for your home. After all, you can’t know if you’re headed in the right direction if you don’t know where you’re trying to go.
In setting those goals, it’s easy to overlook the realities of life and imagine that your home can become a picture-perfect version that you’d find in a magazine.
However, I think you should embrace imperfect simplicity in your home. Here’s why.
Why You Should Embrace Imperfect Simplicity in Your Home
Often I hear people talk about how people compare themselves to what they see on social media. We can all agree that social media is not a reflection of the whole of someone’s life, right?
People tend to share the positives and neglect to mention many of the negatives, which gives an impression that their life is picture perfect.
Well, we can get this same incorrect idea of what somebody’s home looks like. I write a lot about decluttering and simplifying.
One could presume that that means my home always looks picked up. I can assure you, that is not the case.
I use stock images on my site. Why don’t I use pictures of my home? A variety of reasons. One is that I’m not great at indoor photography and I don’t think the pictures would look good. I also don’t have the desire to spend the time taking photos.
Another reason is that it feels too personal. Every content creator has to decide where their line is for what they are comfortable (and not comfortable) sharing. I don’t share pictures of my family or my home.
It never occurred to me that in using stock photos some people would assume I was trying to communicate ‘this is what your home SHOULD look like’. Clearly, some people do think that is what I’m saying because I get quite a lot of comments on Facebook with people’s opinions of the pictures I’ve selected.
“That’s too cold.” “It looks like no one lives there.” “I wouldn’t have clutter if my house was that size!”
I simply select pictures I like. In the world of stock photography, it’s not easy to find pictures of modest homes that look lived in without being messy.
You tend to find extremes of a disaster vs. a home that is staged to sell. I err on the side of the staged-to-sell look because I like spaces that don’t look visually cluttered.
However, that doesn’t mean that replicates how my home looks most days or that yours should look that way either.
My goal for my home is imperfect simplicity. If you’ve found yourself stuck in the comparison trap, I hope that the following tips will help you embrace imperfect simplicity in your home too.
How to embrace imperfect simplicity in your home
Decluttering is not about creating a picture-perfect home. It’s about getting out the excess so that you can enjoy your space more.
Simplifying makes cleaning and organizing your home easier, but it doesn’t mean your home is always clean and organized.
Here are five ways to embrace imperfect simplicity in your home.
1. Appreciate what you have
Start by appreciating what you have. It’s easy to look at pictures of perfectly staged homes in magazines or online and wish that you had something different.
But what if instead, you made a list of all the things there are to love about your home? Even if your home isn’t perfect, which honestly, no one’s is, you can still love it.
And it starts with focusing on what you can be grateful for. Is it cozy which keeps your energy bills low? Do the all-white walls serve as a blank canvas that allows you to infuse your personal touches?
No matter if you live in an apartment, townhome, or house I believe there are redeeming qualities to be found if you look for them.
Embracing imperfect simplicity in your home is about accepting and appreciating the things your home offers to you. You can still work on changing what you can control (like how much stuff you have) but it is not about expecting perfection.
2. Your house isn’t meant to look like a magazine ad or a Pinterest pin
Homes are meant to be lived in and enjoyed. While there may be some homes that in real life actually do look like a magazine ad or Pinterest pin, I would venture to guess they are few and far between and likely don’t have children living in them. Or if they did, that mom must be REALLY tired.
Just like life doesn’t look as perfect as what is portrayed on Instagram, your home is also not meant to look like the carefully edited version you see online.
Real-life is messier and more complex. So let’s get it out of our heads that we should be trying to replicate what’s manufactured online, ok?
3. Set realistic expectations
What is your current life stage? Do you have a job that keeps you busy? Young children at home? Are you or your spouse currently experiencing health challenges?
Whatever your circumstances, it’s so important to take them into consideration with what you expect your home to look like.
Moms of babies, please have grace with yourself. Know that is it totally ok, preferable even, to lower your standards and your definition of productivity for this season of life. Growing, feeding, and caring for a human is a full-time job in itself. Don’t create impossible standards for yourself.
If you’re like me, it may be challenging at times to let the kids make messes as they use their imagination in doing various projects or games. But I also know that it’s an important part of their growth and learning so I’ve learned to accept and expect it.
And as they’ve gotten older, they’re learning to be more responsible in cleaning up after themselves.
We often put so much pressure on ourselves to be and do all the things which just sets us up for failure. Your home should feel like a place of comfort and refuge, not a place that you’re constantly stressed over or at odds with.
Embracing imperfect simplicity in your home allows you to let go of your unrealistic expectations and make peace with your life as it is now.
4. Focus on what matters most
At times I’ve found myself flipping through magazines and lost in the aesthetics of a home. I’d see the shiplap walls and the cool architectural features of a home and get fixated on wishing my house had that (never mind that we are actually living in a rental right now).
I have to snap myself out of it and remind myself what really matters most is not how a home looks. Those things are nice, but they aren’t necessary.
The purpose of our home is to be a place where we can relax, recharge, connect, and enjoy each other’s company. It is also a place of growing, teaching, and learning.
With spending a lot more time at home these past few years, it’s further highlighted that it’s the relationships that happen inside these walls that matter most.
Since I learned about hygge a few years ago, I’ve loved the idea as it combines some of the elements of creating a cozy home while keeping the focus on connecting with people. If you’re ever struggling to embrace imperfect simplicity in your home, remind yourself of the true purposes of your home.
This is a big reason why I’m an advocate for decluttering your home. It allows you to get more time back for what matters most instead of spending it on the excess stuff.
5. Stop comparing
Want to feel better about your home? Stop comparing. Take control of the thoughts and influences you allow into your life.
If you subscribe to home magazines and find them inspiring, great. But if they make you feel bad about your home, I’d suggest not continuing your subscription.
The same goes for who you follow online. If you follow interior designers or high-end stores consider how it makes you feel. For some people, these influences are positive, but for others, it creates discontent with what they have and fuels envy.
Consider how you feel when you watch HGTV or see certain things in your feed. If Get Organized makes you feel like your house is small and sad, stop watching it. If it encourages you to make a positive impact on your home, then by all means continue binge-watching.
Stopping the comparison trap begins with creating a greater awareness of how you are impacted by what you watch and read.
“Your diet is not only what you eat. It is what you watch, what you listen to, what you read, the people you hang around…Be mindful of the things you put into your body emotionally, spiritually, and physically.” -Unknown
The bottom line: don’t aim for perfection
The end goal for anything should never be perfection..it doesn’t exist. Work on being content with what you have while also working to improve what you can. It’s a delicate balance, I know.
Embracing imperfect simplicity in your home is about finding the right amount of stuff for you and your home. Everyone has a different tolerance level for stuff so what’s right for you doesn’t have to be the same as it is for anyone else.
Control what you can when you can. Are you able to prioritize some time to declutter? Great, you can start with some high-impact areas that you can declutter quickly. But just as people aren’t perfect, neither are homes.
As you keep your mind focused on your own goals, remember your house isn’t a showroom and it’s meant to be lived in and enjoyed as you embrace imperfect simplicity in your home.
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I love to visit my friend’s house. It’s lived in with pets, and crafts, and personality, and family. It used to be like walking into a giant hug. When they decided to move and put the house on the market the realtor convinced them to depersonalize, paint the walls gray and do some projects. Now her house is pretty and looks like every other house, but not her house. I can’t wait to see what kind of hugs she puts in their “new” house. Live in your house they way you like it — with love and messes and pets and family. Magazines are a nice way to get ideas but they aren’t real life.
You are so right about decluttering so you can appreciate your treasures. If you have some nice furniture pieces, no one can see them for the forest of clutter and stuff that is surrounding them. I have donated 99% of my decorative accessories and furniture which I don’t need to my local charity shop. Even a few things I bought on Etsy which I could not return went to this shop. Decluttering allows you to enjoy your home and allows others to enjoy the stuff you really don’t need.