I read Myquillyn Smith’s home design book The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful last year and I hated it. I’ve never read Myquillyn’s blog, but I do follow a lot of similar DIY décor blogs. I reread it for CBR8, and…I guess I came around a little. My original complaints still stand, so I’ll address them first.
- What is the deal with the nail holes? People apparently being terrified to put nail holes in their walls was mentioned at least four times, and one of the times was an entire section coaching you through overcoming this fear. What? I guess I’m more wild and crazy than I knew, because I have rarely thought twice about this. Is this really a thing?
- As a practicing Catholic, I’m not opposed to religion in my reading. But Myquillyn just tries way, way too hard to connect religion and home decorating. Just stop.
- I don’t personally enjoy her design aesthetic. I don’t say this to be mean and I won’t nitpick about why I don’t enjoy it, but in a home design book you’ll get a lot more out of it if you have some kind of common vision. YMMV.
- It’s hard to ignore the weird family dynamics that show through in this book. The author’s three boys are at a really awkward age for posing in perfectly staged, light ‘n’ bright, feminine rooms (the youngest looks around 10) and wow, her husband cannot stay at a job and wow, she has had to work really hard not to hate her life because of it. No judgement here, it’s just kind of like sitting at a dinner table with a couple who have a surface-perfect life but so obviously fight constantly it’s just awkward. It’d be better if they’d just fight openly, really.
- There are some strangely antiquated gender things here and there in the book. I’m not really one to be bothered by that, but it was jarring even to me, so I assume someone else might be really bothered. Like in the section on how to convince your husband to “let” you decorate, “And if you hate it and it all falls apart, do not, under any circumstances, go crying to your husband in this part of the process.” If you’re too bossy or complain too much, “don’t be surprised if your husband puts a moratorium on future decorating projects.” Really?
- This book often seems to be written for other home décor bloggers who are heavily influenced by what people will think of every single detail of their home. The worrying about what people who don’t matter will think is universal to a point, but I definitely do not think that most people are so influenced by it.
- She seems very unaware of how tone deaf she is often throughout this book. She gets inspired on her mission trip. She gets inspired by the boy in Tanzania that she sponsors who has a house made of animal dung. Anna Nicole Smith’s death inspires her to…rethink her home décor philosophy? I get where she’s going with it, but it comes across with kind of an Eat, Pray, Love vibe. And that’s not a good thing.
There’s a lot less to say in the “good” column, but what’s there counts for something. Parts of this book did inspire me. I’m going to try an oversized gallery wall in my bedroom, and it’s a design risk. I might be more willing to take the plunge and paint a cheap piece of furniture next time. There are some solid design tips like choosing the most important wall in a room and prioritizing it when deciding where to put your favorite items, and really evaluating the purpose your family needs a room to serve during each stage of life. I think that Myquillyn is sincere, but clueless. I don’t regret reading this, but there are far better books on the same subject.