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The Traps

by | Jul 17, 2016 | Decorating Inspiration

The Traps

I see the traps all the time, especially in the perfect pictures and longing-for-more statuses on Instagram. It seems like it’s no big deal, until you notice how you are putting yourself at risk by living on the edge of discontentment. Even if I see the traps around me, I can so easily fall into them (or even set them) if I’m not careful.

Like you, I love puttering around my house and moving things around. It’s like home therapy. Making a home cozy offers a small sense of security in this crazy world (or at least a distraction from it all). But what if we get distracted from along the way from our real purpose and blessings and start falling into the traps?

A home should be our haven from the harsh reality of the world, but it doesn’t need to be a showplace. You’ve heard me say that before, right? :) Nothing wrong with making a home pretty, but do we look around to see what everyone else is doing or what everyone else has and then suddenly what we ALREADY have seems to pale by comparison? We start to search for more in all the wrong places.

Maybe our humble abode doesn’t compare to the glorious white farmhouse with the big red barn at the end of the drive, the Nantucket dream house overlooking the water, the brand new shingled beauty with the big rooms furnished to perfection? Or maybe our ability to decorate what we have doesn’t seem to measure up.

Even if we are already living in someone else’s idea of a dream house, we can fall into the traps we set for ourselves. You’d think if you live in a beautiful house you’d be grateful and content all the time. And you maybe are. But perhaps your trap is perfectionism. Even though you have so much more than you actually need you still feel compelled to redecorate because what you have is never perfect enough.

Perhaps you fall into the trap of measuring your home-worth by how much attention it gets online or from your neighbors. Maybe it’s the trap of excess that trips you up. You are able to get more, have more, or buy a better house, so you do because you could.

Maybe it’s the trap of entitlement for what you feel you should have at this point in your life, but you are stuck living where you do. Or maybe you are envious of people in another part of the country who can buy twice the house for half the cost (hello, fellow West Coast friends).

We have to remember what we already have is a gift. We don’t need more. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone but myself, because I have fallen into all of these traps at one time or another. It’s so easy to do, even when you know better (and have even written books about it!)

Maybe you don’t think you have any of those tendencies to fall into or set traps at all, but if you think about it, maybe like me you can easily fall into the trap of simply not acknowledging to ourselves or to others that what we have is more than enough.

Times like these remind us to hug our people close because that’s what really matters, not the stuff.

In a world where everything seems like it is coming apart at the seams and everyone seems to be at risk, it becomes more clear that we already have so much to be grateful for. I love making my house a home and will continue to find joy in sharing that process, I hope you will, too. More than ever we need our home to be a sanctuary, right? But I know I want to take each step forward in my projects with more gratitude for what I already have.

What are you thankful for today and what traps do you need to avoid?

PS. Speaking of what you see online, this post about summer is hilarious! It made me laugh so hard. I added the link here because perhaps it will bring a smile to your face, too. :)


*The rug source is found here.


  1. Barbara Jefferis

    Inspiring! Love following you even more!!!!

  2. Janet Woodman

    Hi Melissa, your words are so true. What made you think of this today? Is everything okay with you and your family. Decorating is so much fun but why does it also feel so good to downsize? Less is truly more. As long as we are healthy and our children, family and our beloved pets are well that is all that truly matters. Thank you for all your wonderful posts. I can’t wait to see all your updates of your new home.
    Best, Janet
    PS I never heard back from you. I sent you pictures of our ugly brown stone fireplace. ?

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Hi Janet,

      Everything is great with my family, I feel so blessed and we are very happy here!

      I was prompted by seeing what is happening in the world and the reminder (once again) that what we have is a gift. I write about this often and in my books, but sometimes it just feels right to remind myself and my readers again that while we talk about improving our homes a lot here, they key for me isn’t in always buying more but appreciating what we already have.

      It feels great to downsize, have less, focus less on getting more and more on enjoying what we do have, doesn’t it?

      My email and schedule sometimes makes it hard to keep up, I apologize for missing your fireplace email!

  3. Kathleen bruns

    Due to the turmoil in the world today our homes need to reflect comfort and safety. You bring up a good point. What is the source of the changes we make? I think we sometimes make changes In our surroundings when we feel out of control. Change can be good, but look at the source of our desires for this. Sometimes we are really looking for something else.

  4. Jo Jo

    You are so right…we should be grateful,and give thanks in all things……we’ve all been so richly blessed ( not talking about material blessings) We are heirs to a heavenly kingdom, this world is not our home, but while we’re here, let’s hold close & be thankful for what we have and those people we get tondo,life with! ? Thanks for the reminder. ❤️

  5. Diane | An Extraordinary Day

    Such a good post, Melissa! I’ve been incredibly guilty of that over the years. On so many levels.
    Recently, I was reading scripture and some commentary about the commandment to not covet. It was enlightening to learn that this was a big deal to God… in fact… John Piper even suggested that we might lose our salvation by being covetous. I have to tell you it hit me hard between the eyes. I have spent countless hours wanting something I didn’t have… adoring the dream or the item… and not adoring the Lord… wanting something other than Him. Since that awakening I’ve been cognizant of that whole issue and in the midst I’m learning and making steps… little steps. I wish it wasn’t so hard. Especially because all “this” is really not important at all.
    Sending hugs your way…

  6. Debby

    Thank you for the wise and oh-so-timely reminder, Melissa. More than ever, we need our homes to feel like safe sanctuaries where we can feel the comfort and love of our families, friends, and, yes, our pets. I make my home as beautiful and comfortable as I can to please myself and my husband. If others like it, that makes me very happy, but I decorate our home to make it feel like…home.

  7. Dr.Amrita Basu

    I am grateful for being alive ,my health,my family.All others things you can manage without.You are so right Melissa’s thsee uncertain times make you want to hug everyone closer and not let any loved one leave home.But that’s what terror mongers want.
    They want us to hide under the bed.Stop trusting your own family,friend.
    That’s why online ,virtual friendships/communities like these are soon important. You know you are not alone and the world is filled with good people.

  8. Jane

    Oh , Melissa have you been in my head? I love blogs, yours and many others, Pinterest too, and save pictures to lots of folders. Looking at them, though i love them for what they are, also fires a flame of discontent. My home isn’t as perfect as the pictures, my decorating style isn’t ‘right’, why can’t i get my home like a, b, c, etc. It plays repeatedly.
    But… i am grateful for the lovely (and debt free) home i have. It welcomes my friends and family with open arms and takes them into its heart, providing, love and warmth and kindness. My home isn’t perfect, but then neither am i LOL


  9. vagullap

    Great commentary. Words of wisdom. Many of us are “emotional” re-decorators and have to put on the brakes and say “whoa” to the constant flux and examine our motives. At some point we need to be content and enjoy our homes and live in them without finding fault. Many families “get it” and are content with less.

  10. Teresa

    Thank you melissa for this post…all too true…the grass is always greener ? I’m always striving to find balance…trying really hard to make a home that my family find comfort and love in. Thank you for your honest words. Happy day

  11. Ms. Maggie the Elder

    I found that looking at pics on my imac and putting them into albums today made me thankful for my hubby and me being more physically fit and our homes being closer to what we want. I am beyond thankful for my kids and their mates. So just catalog your pics and you will see blessings in an objective format.

  12. lylah ledner

    beautiful and well said my friend. xoxo

  13. Cherith

    Thank you Melissa for your very timely words – today my husband and I received the title deeds to our property in the mail after paying off our mortgage a week ago AND today is the day our kitchen, dining and laundry renovation began with the chiseling up of 40 square metres of brown tiles that we have wished we could replace for the 21 years we have lived here. Very exciting but also good to be reminded to be grateful for what we have. This house has been a wonderful home to bring up our three children (like you we have 2 older children and soon to be 13 yr old son). We are so looking forward to the new improved version but very thankful for the happy years we have spent together here waiting to get to this point. I am so enjoying your updates as I feel like we are doing the renovation journey together even though we live on the other side of the world in Perth, Western Australia!

  14. susan maclean

    You may never have heard of my style of decorating…. it’s the “well, I like it” ! I sometimes buy new cushions to give me a lift, but I am lucky enough to be happy with the colours I choose, and the way I style my very small home. And of course, as you know yourself, if you make a mistake with wall colours, you can always paint over it! Following your new home makeover with glee – love your style.

  15. Molly McAuliffe

    Thank you so much for posting about this.i have been following your blog for a long time and really appreciate your honesty. I have been actually really struggling with this for several years. I am a stay at home mom so I’m always home and feel like my home needs to look perfect like the magazine and all the beautiful homes on pinterest and instagRam. I love making my home pretty but I know I need to find a balance.I am stuck in the many traps you were talking about and need to get refocused on what really matters and keep my eyes on Jesus. I want a beautiful home but I don’t want it to consume me either. It is a very slippery slope. Thank you again so much for the reminder! It came at the perfect time!

  16. laney

    …your words…and sharing your heart… are still the best thing you do…blessings…laney

  17. Joanne Taggart

    Oh the traps Melissa! So true. Well I am always learning, learning and learning. I tend to be impetuous and sometimes it works but I can honestly say after time goes by I can see it doesn’t always work. I am the type that likes to try new things and my style is very nicely called eclectic! In the classroom of decorating I am in the kindergarten room and sometimes move up a couple of grades. At this point I am not in the position financially to complete some projects so I am trying to be patient and learn as I go. Long story short, my trap is impetuousness. Many styles appeal to me and I tend to dive in. Wish me luck!

  18. Kari

    Best post ever. Thank you.

  19. Cathy

    Thank you for this excellent reminder, Melissa. We do need to learn to be content with what we have, don’t we! I think we need to find the balance between being content but not lazy. It’s important to keep our homes as cozy, inviting sanctuaries for our families, ourselves, and those to whom we can be a blessing, within our financial means.

    I am thankful for God’s love, the good health of my family, a comfortable home, and the opportunity to travel!

  20. Linda

    What a simply said but so powerful post. Think I needed to hear it today! Thanks so much for your thoughtful insight. Enjoy seeing how your new house is evolving into your home. Often wish I was talented enough to create spaces that are special out of something ordinary. This is what you do! Love it.

  21. Linda Stoll

    This is such an important post. Thanks, Melissa, for the reminder that Pinterest worthy spaces are not our goal.

    When all is said and done, nobody will care how our homes look. They’ll just remember that those four walls held love, grace, acceptance, and peace within … so when we walked out the door, we were prepared to share hope with others …

  22. Kathryn

    Wonderful perspective, thank you for speaking such practical words in love!

  23. Connie Mims Pinkerton

    I surely enjoy The Inspired Room. Thanks for the visuals and the commentaries that come along with the inspirations you present. My husband wrote about Simplicity in his blog last week. We already have what we need. Keep doing what you do! Blessings, Connie Mims Pinkerton/Texas

  24. Robyn johnson

    Wonderful post! Thank you!

  25. Christene Holder

    Thanks for this – I find my self constantly falling into these “traps” and this is such a great reminder. :)

    >> Christene

  26. Marilyn

    Yes, Melissa, I fall into these traps easily, since I live in a small home and can get envious of those large living rooms, extra bedrooms, etc. BUT, my home is paid for, and when I look at other’s homes I need to remind myself that they are still (probably) in debt. Living debt free is a gift! Then, when I compare our home to those across the globe, like some villages in Africa or shacks in Mexico, I again realize just how blessed I really am. Thanks for the reminder!

  27. Laura Reimer

    A timely word straight to the heart today. Thank you Melissa ❤️??

  28. Melanie

    Great post! I fall into the “I should have more at my age” and remind myself that I have more than I need. Where I’m at is good for me, and that is what matters.

  29. Ann C

    You are so right. I spent a lot of my free time reading blogs by women who had the money to shop at Pottery Narn and Pier One plus many other very pricey, for me, places. I am very blessed but it is easy to fall into the envy habit quite easily when rooms keep getting redone, changed and modified over and over. Thank you for acknowledging the traps.

  30. Natasha Kalita Design

    I needed this today! How did you know? ! So good to hear other people find themselves falling into the trap of “everyone’s house is nicer than mine” or suddenly your home doesn’t seem so charming when compared to the country estate on Instagram. It’s so hard when you are addicted and passionate about design and decorating, it’s what I do to support my family! Always seeing the latest and greatest and wanting more…so every once in a while I have to take a step back, and be greatful for all I do have.
    Natasha Kalita Design

  31. Lisa Mothersead

    True true true. Love this.

  32. Mary

    Thank you for this reminder, Melissa. I tend to fall into a few of those traps you mentioned, but when I focus on what I’m thankful for, the traps aren’t as alluring. I have so much to be thankful for! I’m currently reading your book, Love The Home You Have, and it’s been so inspiring to me. I’m trying to focus on the good ~ in my home and just in general ~ and both your book and this post are reminding me to do that. It’s a daily battle, but one worth fighting! Thank you for your encouraging words!

  33. Fonda Rush

    Comparison iis the thief of joy.

  34. Lisa E

    Great post and true, that post on summer was too funny!

  35. Arvis

    Thank you for this – it is perfect timing for me. I recently noticed my own trap of “virtual reality”; perusing the real estate listings of where we plan to move – in 2 years. I am impatient, longing to be closer to the beach and being dissatisfied with our dear, comfy home and community where we are now. In reality I am grateful for the lovely home and friends we have cultivated in the last 13 years. :)
    And thank you for the link to the hilarious summer post. Omg – I had tears streaming! The laughter was just what I needed!

  36. Jan

    Thank you for this…it was just what I needed…I have been longing to move but it would have put a strain on the finances….I need to stay where I am and be grateful for what I have :)

  37. Jill

    This post is great. I think as women we have so many roles and we think we have to be the best at all of them. To me, my home is a reflection of me and how I handle life. I always want it to be great and with 2 small children it is less than perfect. Your comment “But perhaps your trap is perfectionism. Even though you have so much more than you actually need you still feel compelled to redecorate because what you have is never perfect enough.” could not be more of what is in my head.

  38. Rachel

    The traps indeed! I fall into the traps all the time. I have to guard my heart from “home discouragement” on Instagram especially. I love the inspiration, but sometimes, I feel sad my home isn’t as put together as I’d like to be– the nesting instinct I’m getting now being six months pregnant doesn’t help! Haha! Thanks for sharing!

  39. Ellyn

    Melissa, I just stumbled on you and your post. It is so true and I loved it. I thank God every day for His blessings, yet I feel like a hypocrite when I often slip into that state of discontent with my perfectly lovely home and feel compelled to change things and waste more money. Thank you for your encouragement and gentle reminder to avoid the traps you so wisely describe. Looking forward to following you!

  40. Kerry

    Melissa – thank you for these words. I so often forget to be thankful for what I have. Having just returned from a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, it is very easy to look around my home and appreciate all the conveniences that I have. I am saving your post as my reminder for 3 or 6 months down the road when my trip isn’t so fresh in my mind, when I become less than thankful for what I have. May God bless you today and every day!


  41. Sab

    Hi Melissa, I’m writing from Sydney, Australia. Just stumbled upon your blog while looking for ways to lengthen curtains and came across this. How timely and a perfect reminder that I should be spending more time being grateful for our new house and with my children rather than stressing and pottering over how I can make my house look like a showhouse. Thank you again for this reminder that sometimes our hearts and minds should be the number one fixer upper on our list. read plenty of blogs but none have reminded me of perspective. Thank you.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Hi Sab, I’m so glad to hear that you were inspired by the post. I’m so glad you found me here (all the way from Australia!!) and hope you’ll visit often! xo

  42. Kristi Covey

    Yes, everyone seems to be having “the perfect summer” in posts and pics. Again, another trap to believe that everyone else has a better life than I do. But I know better. God has given me a family to love care for, friends to be there for, a home, an able body and breath in my lungs! Life is a gift!

  43. Kris

    Hilarious link. I needed that laugh! Thank you

  44. Denine

    God used you to speak to me on this very subject. I have often felt my love for decorating is a disease, because I struggle to control the passion. Yet my Bible Study girls enjoy the changes with the seasons, and comment favorably. It’s difficult to balance. Thank you for that reminder.

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