Every homeowner I know has a list. Ours is perhaps a bit longer than some because our house was built before I was born, but even my friends who live in newer homes have “the list.” The paint color to change because it sure looked better on a one inch chip. The bathroom lighting that turns morning teeth brushing into an unwelcome contemplation on our own mortality. The loose porch step, the tile that needs regrouting, the tulip bed that was so lovely before its bulbs became a vole family’s winter pantry.
And the list is not a bad thing. Because I had a mental kitchen list, when we were able to redo that very lived-in space, I already had figured out what would work and was ready for the pry bar and those flat packed IKEA boxes. But that ever-present list can be an obstacle to contentment, to recognizing our home as beloved space.
Life is not perfect. I’m not, my family and friends, though delightful, are not perfect. And no place or space, no room or house, is perfect. Imagine for a moment if we went around, our eyes trained only on imperfections. It seems to me we’d soon be pretty lonely and discontented. And if we ever felt our home was “perfect?” That does not sound like the kind of space we’d ever want kids to paint masterpieces in, or slurp spaghetti sauce. Would we happily fling flour and spaces around a perfect kitchen, or cuddle up on a perfect couch to eat (and doubtless scatter) popcorn to watch a movie?
Our homes are for living and living isn’t a magazine picture of perfection.
The path to contentment for me has been learning what I choose to see. Once I accept that imperfections are a part of life in any home, I can either see them as charming, or acknowledge they are something to change when possible. For the latter, add them to the list. Then put the list away. Make home beautiful anyway. Live rich and full and deep and creatively in the meantime.
In the picture above, I can tell you about my list. We’ve not painted the woodwork in the five and a half years we’ve lived here, but that is ok, because I’m not crazy about the woodwork itself. I’d like to replace it with something a titch more modern, maybe with built-ins on either side, which would work when we someday replace our old TV with a flat screen. . .
Or I could let my mantel tell you it is autumn. My favorite season. Steeped in amber and gold. My sons and husband love river rocks. I love candles and photography. Soon the nights will be cold enough for hot chocolate by the fire, for one more chapter and a chenille throw over my knees. . .
Which story would you rather hear? Which story do you want your home and your attitude about your home to tell?
For more thoughts on home, please visit the Nester’s 31 Days series, Lovely Limitations.