This is my 6th and final post in the Rethinking Home series. You can find the rest of the series here. Its been a fun series for me and I hope you have found some inspiration.
I debated on titling this post “Pinterest: Friend or Frenemy” Have you ever felt that way? We have access to so many beautiful and perfect images of homes out there that can in some ways inspire and move us to action in our own homes. But so often (maybe more often?) they can lead us to comparison, discouragement, and flat out resentment of the homes we have.
Now don’t get me wrong I LOVE Pinterest. I use it all the time to find inspiration for myself and clients and I love when readers pin my images for their own inspiration! But I’ve found the secret to using it as a tool and a friend rather than a frenemy. In photographing my own home for this blog and for instagram I’ve learned those images are not as perfect as they seem. There’s always some lighting tricks involved, and have you noticed they never have blinds? There is sunlight pouring in. You can’t see a neighbor through those windows for miles, so there’s no need for privacy.
There are also never any baby gates in sight, usually no cords anywhere either. Everything is clean and well placed. Even if there are toys or kitchen utensils out, it is styled to be that way.
Nothing is an accident.
I fluff my pillows when my husband does photo shoots in our house. I style my kitchen and dining room. I want the pictures we take to tell a story, to draw in whoever sees them. For me it’s an art form. I want to accentuate the strengths of the room and downplay the negatives. Cropping and photoshopping takes place. There’s lighting involved.
But the rest of the house is often a wreck. We take down blinds. All of the practical stuff, like the roll of paper towels, the K-cup carousel, the baby monitor, the dirty laundry, it all gets piled up just outside of the frame of the picture.
A few weeks ago I shared some new pictures of my living room that we took. I love those pictures and I got some great feedback on them. Shortly after that we took some new dining room pictures too. I love doing those and it’s fun for me to see the rooms I’ve designed really shine in that way. But in all reality, it doesn’t look like that on a day to day basis. It has the potential to look similar to that- I’d have to rearrange the pillows, clean up a few things, open up the shades, etc, but even if I cleaned it all up and snapped a few pictures of it with my iPhone, it wouldn’t have the same effect. There’s some camera and skill behind the lens that goes in to getting those beautiful photos.
Those photos are fun to have and to look at, but they are like glamour shots.
And now when I see all those pictures on Pinterest or in magazines, I know a little bit more of the story. I know that it isn’t quite reality. It’s not that they’re trying to trick us or trying to make us feel bad. We have the choice to determine how we are going to let pictures and images affect us. Are we going to be discouraged? Depressed? Or can we see with new eyes, realizing that nothing is exactly as it seems? Can we appreciate the creativity, the details, the lighting, and accept it basically as a work of art frozen in time for that moment? A glamor shot that can inspire us with its beauty and craftsmanship?
I’ve been on Pinterest a lot lately looking at gorgeous bathroom inspiration and I’ve noticed something about all these beautiful images.
They whet our appetites and sometimes even stir in us a longing, a desire to fulfill something we think we are missing. Do we think we’ll always have a happy family if we had a home that looked like that? Do I think my bathroom would always be spotless if it was designed that way? Or that we could cook healthy and delicious meals if only we had a kitchen like that? But these are just snapshots, just images. Just like candy. Or just appetizers, not the full meal. Glamour shots aren’t the full picture. They’re fun and pretty, they make us feel glamorous, but we can’t go around holding up feathered boas and only showing people the tops of our shoulders and talk with our lips in a glossy pout all the time.
We have to live our lives. We want the full meal. We want the abundant life.
That means real living, digging deep, making messes, having relationships, getting in arguments, making up. Yeah, sometimes its a delicious home cooked meal, but then there’s the clean up afterward. We put some music on, we have a dance party, but we’re tip toeing around the legos on the floor and there’s dishes in the sink but when we have grateful hearts and new eyes we don’t care.
When we can see those photos with new eyes, we can see our own homes with new eyes. With gratitude for what exists- we can appreciate the artistry in our own homes and in the homes of others. We can know that here and now is reality- this is what it means to really live in a home and give life to that beautiful picture: legos, dishes, dust bunnies and all.