Ditch the magazine: Improving house-esteem

Guestpost by Stephanie Diederich on Feb 7th

You Are Beautiful.

Photo by jma.work. Used by Creative Commons license.

What makes "house porn" so alluring? It's simple: the interior we're drooling over is not our house. It doesn't have the shortcomings our house has; it doesn't have clutter or damage. House porn is a refreshing vacation from reality. I find, more than any other porn for women, pictures of perfectly dolled up homes tempt us the most and offer the least real inspiration.

I'm here to help you learn to dispel the idea of the perfect home and work to love where you live, in about a month. As someone who has trouble with self-esteem and weight, I find it helpful to look at your house in the same way you look at your body. With that in mind, I've outlined steps you can take, and statements you can make to your house during its makeover. If your home-esteem is already high, skip to the assignment at Step 5.

Step 1: You are beautiful just as you are.

If the general health of your house is good — you are able to perform household tasks without difficulty — your house is up to par. I'm going to let you in on a secret: nobody looks like the models in magazines, and the same is true for houses. That doesn't mean average is bad; many men have made the case that their average woman is far more beautiful to them than a movie star. In the same way, your house is special. It has its own style — your style. It is filled with the things and people you love.

Step 2: Feel free to lose weight.


Photo by Brad.K. Used by Creative Commons license.

You know what feels really good? Donating a large pile of stuff to charity. If you have any doubts on what you should donate, use your best judgment. However, if you haven't used it in a year, it's probably not worth the space it's taking up or the headaches it's caused.

Step 3: Take a thorough shower.

You'd be surprised what a month's worth of weekends spent on procrastinated household cleaning can do for your house. This is the time to dust the tops of cabinets, sweep up those cobwebs near the ceiling, and vacuum under the furniture. All the things "normal" people do (I assume) all the time, but which you may be putting off, are good to do now.

Step 4: Powder your face.

Okay, so you've made your house clean. Now to make it presentable. This may be intimidating, but you can go at it in small chunks. If laundry clutters your house, do all of it in one day – try going to the laundromat to save time.

Organizing can be difficult. I think the key is to look good in the short term and be good in the long term. If organizing everything formally is too intimidating, just put everything that's built up haphazardly into a neat, organized pile and call it done. Going further, put everything of the same type in the same place (shoes in door shoe storage, clothes in the closet, underwear on the left side of the dresser, socks on the right, books on the bookshelf, magazines in a pile next to your favorite chair, canned food in the pantry, cereal on top of the refrigerator, etc). If you have miscellaneous items, put them away or put them on display. I happen to have a couple taxidermied piranhas, I keep them in a small plastic display case on my dresser along with a few other trinkets. I keep the rest of the sentimental things I can't let go of in boxes under my bed and vintage suitcases around my house.

Step 5: Smile for the camera.

Do your own house tour. Take photos and write wonderful things next to them in a word processing program. Cherish those ugly things you can't fix – the hole in the wall, the unkempt cellar, the exposed air conditioning unit. Take pride in the things you did fix. Publish this work as you would like – online, or in physical form. TV leads me to believe that the first thing a dieter does when they lose 20 pounds is to show off a hot new outfit in a commercial next to a before photo, so show off! It feels really good.

This isn't the end-all, be-all of house-esteem advice — what ways have you found to love the space you're in?

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About Stephanie Diederich

Stephanie's life is a struggle to find the mean between being true to herself, living up to her own standards, making the world a better place, living out life in a socially acceptable way, and giving in to the temptation to ignore any of the above in order to stay sane.