Does your house attitude need a paint job?

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About Emily

Emily Walker writes about making your home a haven, and is a stay at home mom to two littles. While she and her husband have fixed up their 1960s ranch home, Emily has learned lessons along the way in do-it-yourself, making do with what you have, simplifying, and living life to the fullest. When she's not busy bossing her husband around on remodel projects, Emily blogs at Remodeling This Life.

I have had a bad attitude about my house lately. In the midst of yet another home renovation project, a little too much drywall dust flying and too many unfinished little projects have left me feeling like our house just isn’t good enough.

Mostly, this happens when I am having people over. I start to feel like it’s not good enough for company. I worry what they’ll think of my rooms with no baseboards and rooms closed off for construction. I get too caught up in my furniture looking a little too much like little messy kids live here.

My husband informed me the other day that my house attitude needs a paint job.

Ask almost anyone and they’ll tell you that the quickest, easiest, least expensive way to refresh a room is to paint it. A gallon of a color that makes you smile can make all the difference. I thought about this and how something as simple and changing my attitude with a smile and a touch of grace could change how I feel about my home completely – just like a fresh coat of paint.

I talk to so many people who feel their home is inadequate, especially when it comes to entertaining and inviting guests into the space they call home.

There is no reason we should be ashamed to invite acquaintances, friends, or extended family into a home that is good enough for us and our immediate family to live in each and every day.

Here are some ideas for changing your attitude about your home.

Your Home Is What You Make It

Every time you invite people over, what they see of your home is what you show them. It’s not about beautiful decorations, elaborate finishings or huge great rooms.

A home is about love, friendship, and comfort. Any home can provide those things – big or small, decorated or not.


Photo by Remodeling This Life

No One Is As Critical As You Are

We can be our own worst critics, can’t we? Extend yourself the grace and love and appreciation that your friends and family do to you.  They aren’t there to look around and see what you don’t have. They are there for you, and aren’t paying attention to all the little things you notice.

Make a List

Nothing will make you feel better about what your home does have to offer than to make a list of all of the things you love about your space. It doesn’t have to be about the structure of your home; what’s inside it is what matters.

Provide a place to sit (even if it’s the floor!) and a smile. Your company is more valuable than any couch you can buy in a store.

What do you do to try to get over my-house-isn’t-good-enough-itis?

Join the Conversation

Comments

  1. I loved this post! I feel like I’m always apologetic about the dust and crumbs (hello – 13 month old curious boy in this house!). Honestly, no one else notices either. Really…I should stop worrying about it ;)

  2. So true! My Grandma once told me ” never be ashamed of your home and never let your circumstances stop you from offering hospitality “. People appreciate you opening your home to them so much. And anyone who does judge isn’t worth fretting over.

  3. Nice post! When accepting guess to our home we shouldn’t be ashamed of what they will going to say with our house. Anyways, they’re not there to criticize our home but they went there to have spend some time with you and not because of your house. Sometimes the worst critics are those closest to us but that’s fine since you yourself can see if you need to improve some fixtures in your home.

  4. I agree. I stress about my house when visitors are due. But most visitors appreciate the effort shown in small things – a vase of flowers, a pretty cake, a comfortable place to chat. When things are really bad in the house, we’ve visited outside under a tree and it is wonderful!
    My children are old enough to help; so while I clean the bathroom, someone makes a flower arrangement for the entrance and someone else decorates the diningroom table.

  5. Great post! I struggle with this off and on, but over the years loosened up a lot!!! I love that line about if it is good enough for your own precious family it is FINE for others! :)

  6. When this happens to me, I move furniture around. Sometimes seeing something in a different place in a room (or a different room entirely), gives it new life.
    Great reminders about the real problem though – Discontent and ungratefulness in the heart. I guess the first priority should be moving those out! :)

  7. avatar
    Rachel J. says:

    Really needed to read this post today!!

  8. We go through this all the time. We live in a beautiful, but TINY downtown home with three kids and not only are we usually in the midst of an unfinished project, but the space constraints can really get me down sometimes (750 sq ft.). Then all of the sudden we remember WHY we chose this house and we do a little rearranging or finish a project and we’re in love again.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  9. My husband and I go through this a lot. Most of our friends seem to have bigger, fancier houses. We chose our house because we can live here comfortably on one salary, allowing me to stay home with our son. I can be proud of that! It’s nicely decorated and comfortable, and I can be proud of that, too. Who cares if it isn’t a big house in a fancy neighborhood? We own a HOUSE! We’re so blessed!

  10. Like Rachel above, I REALLY needed this post today. We lost our “big” house in an “acceptable” neighborhood to foreclosure two years ago. We spent a year and a half in a neglected house that we hated, and couldn’t turn into a home no matter how hard we tried. Fortune smiled on us and we recently found a lovely little 100 year old rental on the quaint Main Street of our quaint little village (a place where I’ve wanted to live for a long time.) A week after we moved, we had a Star Wars House Party for my son and his friends. We just found out that one of my son’s friends has been teasing him for having a small house (I didn’t mention that we live in an upper middle class suburban area.) Well, that kind of floored me, as well as broke my heart a little for my sweet son. I reminded him that WE love our home, which is all that matters, and that it doesn’t matter where you live, it matters the kind of person that you are. And of course, then I began to think about everything that’s wrong with our house. This message was sent from above today. Thank you.

    • Aw Cathie, I’m so sorry to hear that. We live in a smaller house than the majority of my friends and I sometimes let that bother me. I wonder if they wonder why we never moved out of our “starter home” and upgraded. However, I don’t let these insecurities stop me. I have entertained several times this past year and everyone loves coming to my home. Remarkably, those with the bigger, fancier homes NEVER entertain. (Or if they are then I’m not getting invited!) As for my kids, they are 14 and 11 (boys) and even though we have a 3 bedroom house, they still share a bedroom. I’ve asked them many times if they want their own rooms and they say no. I also ask them if they like our house or wish we could move to a bigger one. They always say they love our house and look at me like I’m crazy for thinking they might want to move.

      Your son will remember and love all the good times he has in your lovely little house and that’s what really matters.

    • What makes me most sad about that happening is that I don’t think kids *know* to care about those things. It frightens me that they’ve been taught to even notice something like a small house and to mock for it.

      I’m so sorry that happened to you.

      We used to live in a bigger home and I never did anything to prepare for guests. I wasn’t very hospitable. I thought just having a nice house to invite people into was enough. Now, we have a smaller home but I have learned that what matters more than anything is the heart and what you give to your guests in terms of graciousness and hospitality.

      Hugs!!

      • Thanks for the comments, and support. I was pretty floored, because the child who has been teasing him is just the sweetest little boy, and his mom commented on how cute the house was. I guess “cute” was a euphemism on her part.
        Emily, I am subscribed to your blog, and I’ve tried to comment several times, but for some reason it didn’t take. So this is a good opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate your honesty, your earnestness and your take on your remodeled life. So many times I find myself nodding in agreement. Kudos. And thanks.

  11. Loved this! Thanks!

  12. Emily, this post was perfect timing for me! We’ve pledged not to buy anything major for the house and to focus on getting out of debt first, but in the meantime my college-era mis-matched furniture has been getting me down …

    Thanks for the reminder about what REALLY matters about our homes and that no one else is going to look at our spaces as critically as we do. I needed to read that this week :-)

  13. THANK YOU for this. We live in a tiny, 100 yr old house in desperate need of some TLC… I stay at home with my two little ones and walk up a porch that needs repair everyday and stare at these walls that have patches that need paint (among other things!) and I think I can’t have anyone over here. My daughter is just 4 and wants to have friends over, and I am embarrassed to have new people over! I have been thinking about this a lot lately…That attitude will affect HER as well. I doubt her little friends will care, and if they do – an opportunity for a lesson in self-worth and the things that DO matter will come from it. Thank you for the encouragement. I am a stickler for aesthetics and it kills me to have a home that I always want to improve. I know I will never be content as long as I let my external circumstances be my guide. This post fed my SOUL today!

  14. I really needed to read this! Thanks!

    After we adopted our daughters, we sold our big beautiful house in a really nice neighborhood and moved into a smaller house that is a MAJOR fixer upper…it’s been referred to as a crack house more than a time or two.

    I want our home to be welcoming and inviting and when I view it critically, it keeps me from being hospitable!

    I’ll be giving myself a “house attitude paint job!

  15. One day I had a realization: I never notice anyone else’s dust or crumbs or piles of paperwork on the counter…so why should I worry about them noticing mine? That gave me much more freedom and relaxed my attitude about inviting people into my imperfect house.

    • exactly!!! and if I *do* notice, I appreciate it knowing they were comfortable enough with me to not feel the need to falsely make their home perfect just because I was coming over. And it reminds me that we are all human, worrying about the same silly things.

  16. This is wonderful advice but I have a hard time taking it to heart. My grandmother taught me I wasn’t good enough and that appearances did matter, and instilled a lot of guilt in me for being messy. I’ve had friends (generally ones without kids!) make hurtful comments about our house being messy and stopped inviting most people over because of it.

    With four kids in a relatively small, old house and homeschooling, we tend to have chaos. We bought our house for $2,000 cash in a tiny town and it is beat up but we love it. My kids love our messy, happy house but I am really gun-shy about entertaining because of judgmental people in the past. I’m working on it!

    • Alicia, that is so hard to overcome, I know. We have had a family member come to our home recently and criticize. It took a lot of stewing over it to finally realize he was simply jealous that we don’t *need* more to be content. It takes a very unhappy person to come into someone’s life and space and knock it down. Just remember that.

      Hugs!

  17. totally true…if my small townhouse is clean and organized, I am magically content with it- when it is chaotic, it feels small and ugly

  18. avatar
    Marilyn Holeman says:

    Thanks for this post. We live in a tiny house–but it’s PAID FOR! We own it, and only have to pay property tax. So when I go into my friend’s beautiful large homes, I have to remind myself that they are slaves to debt, and we are not.” Sometimes that helps! :-)

    I’ve been seeing a new book advertised all over blog land that I think relates to this post. It’s called “The Reluctant Entertainer,” by Sandy Coughlin. Here’s what she says about it:

    “In my NEW inspirational book, The Reluctant Entertainer, I relate to many apprehensive hostesses in real ways with genuine encouragement and advice. Emphasizing the forgotten goal of entertaining – connecting deeply with others – I show how women can use who they are and what they have to create memorable experiences.”

    I haven’t read it yet, but it seems to emphasize the right things.

    I hope this is a benefit to others. Again, thanks for this thought-provoking post.

    • What a glorious feeling to own your home!!

      Funny you mention Sandy’s blog. On my blog today, along with linking to this post here that I wrote, I also linked to Sandy because she is the queen of hospitality and encouraging us to entertain through all the imperfections.

  19. I love this! The theme on my blog this month is “home” and I’ve been exploring this idea–that your home is what you make of it. It doesn’t matter if the sofa is old or the curtains are out of date–if you make your family feel at home and your guests feel welcome, they’ll never notice. Or, as is the case in our house, we hope they don’t notice that we still haven’t put the trim back up in the dining room after our paint job 8 months ago!

  20. avatar
    Herbwifemama says:

    We just moved in May (and then had a baby!), and our new house still has a lot of projects that need to be done, but I just send the invitations for our housewarming yesterday (after procrastinating because of guest anxiety), and I really needed to hear this. Thanks. :)

  21. Well said. I guess I never realize all the unfinished little jobs floating around other peoples home, I just love being invited over, but boy do I get down about all the unfinished jobs in my own home. They build up in my mind till I wanna scream or give up and I turn a bunch of little jobs into the idea that my house is awful… and it isn’t awful. Great post!

  22. “No one is as critical as you are” – this is so true. Took me years to realize that and to relax!

  23. My mom apologized to every guest as they came through the door: “I am so sorry about the mess.” – What mess, she had been cleaning for hours!!! Anyway I used to do exactly the same… I read somewhere that folk have a much better visit if you don’t spend the whole time apologizing about it!!! And it is so true… I just started to leave that out of my greeting and visitors were visibly more relaxed as they didn’t feel they were interrupting my cleaning or life!!! This is how we live its not always perfect but we can always be friendly and welcoming!!!

  24. One thing I do when I get this way about my house is think about my trips to other people’s houses. Do I look in their cupboards or drawers? No! Do I notice their baseboards or smudged windows? Nope. I’m usually so grateful that someone is hosting me in their home (since we all know how much work that is!) that I’m oblivious to all the little nit-picky things I notice about my house. I count on the fact that others are the same way I am–oblivious! :)

  25. I feel this way off and on about our house. The other day, though, I was talking with a neighbor who is a frequent guest at our home and she told me she always feels so welcome and comfortable when she comes to us. That’s the very best thing I could possibly hear. My husband and I love to entertain, and my neighbor helped me remember that the good conversation and good food we offer are what people notice and enjoy.

  26. To get over the my-house-doesn’t-feel-so-great blues I throw open the windows/blinds, declutter, and clean it! Often after admiring images of beautiful homes online, I realize that it’s not really the furnishings or decorations I love, but the clean, open, and bright spaces. I can totally achieve that without spending a cent!

  27. I like this blog, because all my life this has been the case. My mothers house was a mess and only the truely closest people ever came in! and whilst my house is not nearly as messy it is not perefect and I react the same…so yes you are right people come to see me not my infinate number of things everywhere :) Thanks!

    I am not a mum but I love your blog, maybe you might want to go for a wider audience at some stage :)

  28. Millions of people in this world don’t have a house. That’s reality! Having your own house is something to cherish and be proud of. Every house has its atmosphere and I love that. It would be a shame if all houses looked the same, trying to live up to that same (boring) standard.

  29. I like houses that aren’t perfect. Growing up, everyone has that friend who’s house was too perfect. The kind that you were scared to be in for fear of ruining it. I want me home to ooze, “we have fun here, because we play, learn and love here”. Some extra dog fur and some dusty shelves way in the back aren’t going to ruin time with friends for me!

  30. I feel the same way. I am so much more critical of my house, my children, my kids, my health, (I could go on and on) than anyone else could possibly be, but somehow knowing that doesn’t even make me less critical of myself. When I am feeling too critical I feel I need to make a conscious shift in priorities and refocus on the things that matter, basically tricking myself into “forgetting” to be critical. Great post!

  31. In this economy if you’re lucky enough to still have your house I think that is a pretty huge blessing in itself! It really puts things in perspective when we realize how much we really have compared to so many others who are out of work and many displaced from their homes. We can be thankful then and focus more on our guests than on our stuff. It’s kind of freeing, actually!

  32. My mom has made all of our homes over the years…well, home. She taught me well. She’s also never been the type to buy entire rooms of furniture at a time or go all-out on decor. BUT, she never hesitated to open her home to people or to host events and make the best of what we had.
    So, I’ve learned to be ok with things being imperfect and I have always entertained over the years in my very-less-than-perfect home. Unattractive hand-me-down dining room table? Slap a pretty tablecloth on it! Mismatched china?? Mix ‘em up and use napkins that pull the colors together. No money for fancy centerpieces? Buy fresh flowers!
    My point? To get over the fear of having company in a less-than-perfect house, you have to just go for it! Get a couple successful events under your belt, and relish all the compliments, and you’ll wonder what kind of shin-dig you can host next!! You have to try it to believe it….people are there for YOU or for the event, not to nit-pick your home. People love being invited over and love whatever hospitality you offer, they’re not going to notice everything you see as flaws. You’ll probably be surprised at all the compliments, too, because they’re seeing the BEST of your place, not all the details that you don’t like!
    When I entertain, I always tell people, “I hope I’ve inspired you, that YOU can do this, too! And probably better than I did!” Several ladies have told me that I encouraged them to open up their homes, too!

  33. Tab, I grew up that way too, making the most of what we had. I never even realized we were pretty poor until I was a teenager. My mom knew how to decorate with simple things and always made fresh centerpieces and door wreaths just from the plants in our yard and they were beautiful. I learned a lot from her about simple design and re-using things that weren’t worn out. Thanks for helping me to remember that!

  34. Those are some great points. In our culture it is so easy to think the things we have or do not have make us what we are. But how we feel should be based on who we are.

    When I was in Africa and would visit a family in their little mud hut they were very excited to have me visit. They weren’t concerned about their house and didn’t make apologies for my having to visit such a humble home.

    We can all have those days though, when we feel down and things like the state of our home, can get to us. This is where I love the list idea. Just sit down and make that list, make it 10 items long and if you have to do it first thing everyday until you get a new attitude; then do it!

    Great post, thanks for sharing.

    • Trevor,
      I grew up in africa too and you have a great point there…i never blinked an eye going into the huts and houses there.
      Thanks for the new perspective

  35. This really resonated with me. I never feel that my house lives up to what I want or expect from it. I don’t have people over often because I am ashamed of my home. I am trying to improve things, but I guess I need to improve my own thoughts. Friend’s tell me that they are not here to see my house that they want to see me. I think I should start to believe them.

    No one is perfect so why do I expect that from myself?

  36. I think the proliferation of design and decor blogs has contributed to this stress.

    A few years ago, I loved looking at the pretty photos and pretty things. But I realized that I spent more time oohing and ahhing over those pretty things and photos than I did taking real photos of and spending real time with my family.

    It was a real eye-opener for me.

  37. I read this just before sending an e-mail inviting ladies from the neighborhood over for an evening of appetizers and good company. I’ve been putting it off because we aren’t finished decorating our house (Just moved in June). I finally decided to move forward with the night but planned to add in the invitation that we weren’t finished with the house, yada, yada. After reading this, I felt very convicted to NOT include the disclaimer but I have to say I still feel anxious about not mentioning it!

    Crazy how much we all worry about these things.

  38. I am so glad we got rid of cable. Not just because of the shows that constantly made me feel inadequate (HGTV anyone?) but because of the commercials. “Get this! Do this! Use this product!” All the moms are 5’7″ and thin and well dressed and all the houses are spotless…and if they’re not those scrubbing bubbles clean it up lickity split.

    So much in media is fakery and lies. Tricks of the light and airbrushing and retakes and the like. None of it applies to me, because I live in the real world. In TV world you wash and dry your laundry in a beautifully appointed laundry room that looks out into a beautifully landscaped yard and this room is always clean and lint free to boot. In my world I do my laundry in our garage and sometimes pull dead, dehydrated spiders out of my dryer that crawled into the dirties while they waited to be washed.

    So avoiding certain magazines, tv shows, etc. is good medicine for my heart, as is having friends who tell me things like “I’m not here to see your house, I’m here to see YOU!” and “You know, your house is always so comfy and not perfect. I really like that.”

  39. We own a 1200 sq ft home with a dining nook – absolutely no dining room whatsoever. But we have a humongous backyard with a large patio dining set. There are times that I gripe about why on earth we chose to buy a home without a proper dining room, so we only used to invite guests over during the times of nicer weather, so we could enjoy the space outdoors. But you know what you get when you eat outdors? FLIES. I learned during the first year in this house that flies are probably more bothersome to guests than a tight squeeze in the dining nook. Now, I invite others over all the time – even though most of our furniture is still from our college years (yikes), the carpet has plenty of stains that show we have children & pets, our bathroom barely fits 1 adult, and our dining room chairs that match are down to THREE. I agree with you – people are more interested in your company than whether or not your house looks like a Pottery Barn magazine.

    Also, when I get in the grumps about what still needs to be done to the house, I try to just reorganize something; a drawer, a closet, rearrange the living room furniture, etc. – it helps tremendously & best of all, it’s FREE :)

    And remember, home always feels good when you get back from a trip – always, even though it still needs painting, or you don’t like the bed linens, or the carpet needs to be cleaned. It’s comfortable!

  40. I am so there.. I’ve been going through this ” Our house isn;t good enough to entertain people”, etc. and the strange part is it is really depressing me. Time for me to get an attitude makeover.. Thanks, Emily. This really resonated with me.

  41. It is easy to go through these phases. I get down on my house to but then I remember that I am actually so luck to have a house and it really is nice even if I can imagine it better!

  42. Oh I so needed to read this today! I have been feeling the brunt of living in a “construction zone home” for a year now. My husband and decided that we could better afford to remove the top, one room floor of our home and replace it with an entire second floor than to try to find and finance another home. Right now we (a family of four) are living in a small, completely open space. Most days I just want to be able to sit in a room by myself and be able to close the door… and I want this room to NOT be bathroom. Of course, then I start to wonder… what kind of separateness will walls create? Emily, thank you for this post. I only started reading your blog recently and have really enjoyed it.

  43. Thank you! I needed this today! Not that I live in a construction zone, but that I rent a small place and I can’t change anything really… this was a good read to knock some sense into me that this too shall pass…. :)

  44. If I am divorced does my credit and her credit still show up on each report?

  45. avatar
    DaveWilliams says:

    You are right. I agree with this statement, “There is no reason we should be ashamed to invite acquaintances, friends, or extended family into a home that is good enough for us and our immediate family to live in each and every day.” , but we shouldn’t forget that the colors our house are wearing helps us get into the mood and relax. :)

    dave williams of House Painters in Indianapolis

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