Unstyled: A beautiful mess

Everyone loves a beautifully styled photo. I’m the queen of taking 15 minutes and 12 shots with my iPhone just to get that perfect “selfie” of my coffee cup, complete with the morning sunlight streaming in to highlight the steam coming off the top… #coffeesesh #cupojoe #goodmorning #mycoffeewokeuplikethis … you know the drill. We like pretty pictures of pretty things.

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Plus, styling is fun! Maddening as it can be, I love focusing on details, so I love the tweaking, fluffing, centering, taking away, adding more – whatever the equation is to get the desired composition in frame. It’s an art form. Toss the throw (throw the throw?) over the sofa this way – no, it looks better that way – okay now just two inches to the left – nope now it’s covering the pillow. Let’s just scratch the throw all together…

That’s art though. When it comes to reality, who actually lives in a perfectly styled or even clean house all the time? Somebody? Anybody? If that’s you, I’d really like to know your secret because 99% of the time my house is a complete disaster zone! My friends and family will be the first to tell you that. Because life is crazy. When I’m short on time (which is always…) and something has to give – the people in my life will always take priority over the places, spaces and things. Laundry will stack up to ridiculous heights. My desk becomes buried under piles. Name a surface – it probably hasn’t been dusted. The cute coaster and candle vignette you saw in a picture has been replaced with the PS3 and TV remote and a coffee ring… where did the coasters go?

I wanted to stop comparing my imperfect home to all of the perfect ones I see in photos – even the photos of spaces I’ve created for others! Just like I shouldn’t compare myself to the seemly flawless, stick-figure thin fashion models. That’s art. Those are photos. This is reality. It’s important to be happy in your own skin and in your own home.

With that in mind, I snapped a few photos around my office and living room recently as an exercise. Could I candidly snap a single photo, with no rearranging, no fluffing or polishing, no straightening the drapes or moving the clutter – could I do that and not be embarrassed by the flaws and imperfections I see?

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With all the things I’m still critical of  on my own “to-do” list still to be done – could I just appreciate what’s there now, as is? I began to focus on the beautiful things about this photo. The tall windows, the natural light, some of my favorite colors, the sweet puppy curled up on the couch… hey… that’s actually a pretty beautiful sight! Remotes and all!

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I was surprised how much I loved these spaces when I actually stopped and looked at them in a candid state. I love the stories behind the things in the room, regardless of the “camera ready” status. I know my rug is crumpled. I know there’s a crack in my ceiling that needs to be covered with crown. Yet somehow when I look at these images, it just makes my heart really happy because there’s a story behind each and everything that i love in here. The garland left over from my best friend’s baby shower. The rainbow art I created on my front porch on a sunny day with a glass of wine when I just needed some art therapy. The sketch of Paris my sister brought back for me from her travels abroad. The bell jar light fixture my mom and dad helped me install. Even unstyled and in slight disarray – it’s a reflection of me and those I love, and that is what really amplifies the beauty!

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The blue velvet chairs that were my grandmother-in-law’s. The pillow I made that made me realize I’m not a seamstress. The side table I picked up on an estate sale adventure. The lovely antique desk I get to use while storing for some of my best friends. There’s so much to love in this photo – no styling needed!

Love the space you’re in – appreciate what you have. To-do lists, wish-lists, dreams and aspirations for your home are great – that’s why I have a job – I get to come in to help people achieve those dreams. But don’t let those things stop you from realizing and appreciating how beautiful your home is right now, when it’s put together or when it’s falling apart – because it’s a reflection of you and your real life.

Embrace the beautiful mess.

Rufus and Nellie sure have.

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(Yes, that’s a tear in the sofa cushion. That was the dogs contribution to making the room really look lived in. Thanks y’all, for helping me keep it real.)


  1. Monique says:

    Just found your blog after visiting Centsational Girl. Love your home and the pics of your dogs are priceless, which brought a smile to my face. Beautiful home!

    • Kathryn LeMaster says:

      Aww thank you so much, Monique! I appreciate you hopping on over from CG and your kind note! 🙂 So glad you enjoyed the post. The dogs are ridiculous… haha, and priceless! Thank you again. I’d love to keep in touch! You can find me daily on Instagram or Twitter at @kjlemaster – lots more dog and design pics where these came from, haha! 😉

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