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I say yes and I say no

Lately I've been finding myself in the middle of some sort of weird contradiction. It's not a big, life changing thing (and often I wonder why I bother at all), but still it occupies my mind. It has to do with houses, with interiors, with blogs, with images, with the love for beautiful things and creativity on the one hand and with a dislike for too much materialism and maybe even keeping up appearances on the other hand. Let me try to make myself a little clearer.

Houses, interior decoration and design have always been something I love, and magazines, books, blogs and all kinds of beautiful interior images are a great source of inspiration. In fact I'm sort of 'eating' images: I never seem to get enough of looking at inspiring interiors, and in particular since I started following interior design blogs years ago (and Pinterest more recently) I have access to an ongoing flow of this particular kind of 'eye candy'. I guess this large and constant flow of images must be partly causing my issue (I'm probably overdosing!), though maybe some of it is also inherent to this term eye candy: it's sweet and attractive, it offers easy satisfaction and is maybe even a bit addictive, but it isn't very healthy and it might leave you feeling a little sick and not fulfilled on a deeper level.

So there's something about interior styling and photography, and all the blogs and magazines dedicated to it, that both attracts and annoys me. It must have something to do with the gap between image and reality, and with the feeling that a real life interior can never compete with the perfect image that is shown on the blog or magazine picture. All of us who love interior photography know that these images are being created, finetuned, manipulated. There's a woman sitting at the table, supposedly flipping through a magazine, supposedly nipping from a beautiful cup of tea, supposedly she's just eaten a perfect little bite from a yummy looking sandwich that has been carefully put on a lovely plate. There are like six small vases with lots of different flowers on the table, some well-curated small piles of books and magazines (with one or two casually laying open on top of the pile), some chairs 'randomly' placed around the table. It all looks random, if it's been done well, but everything is in the perfect place. It's like playing real life, but in a better, more beautiful way.

And of course that isn't wrong. This isn't an accusation, taking good pictures and trying to make things look beautiful isn't a crime or anything. We like looking at beautiful interior photos, at least I do. In fact my own home has been in some books and magazines, and I've been that woman at the table supposedly bringing that cup of tea towards her mouth, moving slowly to avoid blurry pictures, repeating the movement at least five times till the picture was right. It's awkward, it's fake, it's fun.

Then what is it that I grow more and more uneasy with? Maybe it's the fact that in my own house, with two young kids, the gap between picture perfect and 'real life' is becoming larger and larger. Maybe it's just some kind of jealousy because I can never have it the way I'd really want it here anymore, interiorwise. But maybe it's also that all these images of 'styled real life' at a certain point start interfering with your view of 'actual real life'. I regularly find myself looking at my house almost as though I'm viewing it through a lens, checking it for things that 'disturb the image'. Sometimes I see the kids playing on the sofa with a mess of blankets and pillows, and then I almost want to step in to move some of the pillows because in a different arrangement they'll look nicer together. That's weird! I know that I'm not the only one who gets crazy sometimes because of the mess the kids make, but while most people don't seem to like mess because it's disorderly and all that, I find myself worrying more about the mess ruining some sort of imaginary picture...

I know we're all supposed to say that we're not being influenced by perfect pictures. Seeing beautiful people in magazines and on tv shouldn't influence our self-esteem (because we know that we can't all be like them), seeing people on social media live great lives shouldn't make us worry about our own (because we know that they mainly show us the good parts), seeing people live in perfect houses shouldn't make us question the place we live in. We know, I know. But it's also known that, just as people in advertisement very well realize, images are often stronger and more powerful than knowledge. And beautiful images are all about seduction, about creating a desire. My home would look so much better with that quirky vintage chair, such great new tableware, those posters on the wall...

So sometimes I wonder how I can say yes and no at the same time. Say yes to beauty, to creativity, to inspiration and to being inspired. To a bit of dreaming and a bit of longing. But to say no to unrealistic views of daily life in an ever-lovely looking house. To say no to wanting new things all the time. And in particular to say no to that in interior photography omnipresent silly 'casually-thrown-on-the-sofa' blanket that never stays in the right place for longer than three minutes here ;).

This kind of thing is what usually happens to nice accessories such as throw blankets round here ;).


Lidia on 2014-02-04 14:48

Hoi Nina, Wat een herkenbaar verhaal! Op dit moment zit ik tussen de door elkaar gegooide kussens op de bank voor mijn middaguurtje rust. De twee peuters 3 en 1,5 liggen even te slapen. Soms ruim ik alle troep op en maak ik mijn huis weer even 'mooi', maar soms heb ik er ook gewoon geen puf voor;-P. Een fijne reminder deze blogpost! groetjes, Lidia

nina on 2014-02-04 15:20

@ Lidia: dat is al heel wat, ze allebei tegelijk in bed hebben liggen! ;) (hier lukt dat dus nooit, ze wisselen elkaar altijd net af met dutjes...)

Chitra on 2014-02-04 15:25

Nina: How well said. I am one such design enthusiast who loves everything beautiful but life & reality hits as soon as i try to re-capture something that i have just seen on pintrest or beautiful home magazine. I have been following you for a longgg time & have a been a lurker. Hello to you from Hilversum. 

Nina on 2014-02-04 15:45

@ Chitra: Hi, nice to hear from you! ;)

Annelien's Goods & Glory on 2014-02-04 20:59

Dag Nina,

ik kan niet beschrijven hoe hard ik mij kan vinden in je bericht. Ik heb namelijk ook enorme last van het 'perfectionistische, alles-moet-kloppen-en-in-harmonie-zijn plaatje.' Dit brengt wel eens vaker teleurstellingen met zich mee. ;-)
Jouw blog, met alles erop en eraan, ziet er trouwens beeldig uit! :-)
Groetjes Annelien!
Nina on 2014-02-04 22:03

@ Annelien: Dankje! En tja, ik doe natuurlijk zelf ook ijverig mee aan hetgeen waar ik me soms tegen verzet ;).

afke on 2014-02-04 22:22

Herkenbaar, dat is wel een reden dat ik niet zo actief ben op pinterest! interieur foto's maken doe ik niet heel vaak want dan moet ik eerst alle speelgoed opruimen:)

Mette on 2014-02-04 22:35

Such a great post! The "funny" thing is, that whenever you post pictures from your lovely home, this is eye candy to me. Your home is very personal, you seem to really have the gift to make a home, that is not just an interior decoration, but a home where you live and use the things there, and at the same time it is so interesting, with a lot of details, colours, and not to forget: A couple of charming girls :-) Its/you is a huge inspiration! Best regards Mette

jan on 2014-02-05 23:27

Hi Nina. Long time reader, first time commenter. Another blogger I like, SF Girl by Bay, posted about similar feelings awhile back. I thought you might find it interesting.



antoinette on 2014-02-05 23:41

hallo nina, ik herken je gevoel heel erg. heen en weer geslingerd tussen ergens heel blij van worden (mooie plaatjes, kleuren, spulletjes) en tegelijkertijd weten dat het daar niet om gaat in het leven. ofzo........ (maar ik word er toch heel blij van)(is dat erg oppervlakkig?) dilemma!

blijf schrijven!  antoinette

Nina on 2014-02-07 09:49
@ Afke: Ja, zoals die prachtige, enorme collectie diertjes die jij laatst verzameld had: heerlijk om mee te spelen, maar als ze eenmaal door je hele woonkamer liggen... ;)
Nina on 2014-02-07 10:00
@ Mette: thank you, that's very nice to hear! ;)
Nina on 2014-02-07 10:20
@ Jan: Always happy to hear from long time reader, first time commenters! ;) I read the article and it seemed familiar, so maybe I already read it when she posted it a while ago (but forgot about it). That was an interesting and honest read. I realize that this 'social media stress' or something is a topic that has already been discussed more often. In the end it may not be that different to earlier (non-internet) versions of 'comparing your own life to other people's lives too much'. In this specific case that I wanted to address, I guess it's in particular about the power of images, about how the blueprint of a certain kind of beautiful image slowly but surely can creep into your head and starts functioning as some sort of standard, while the actual look of things may start looking as some sort of aberration. Hard to explain, hope it makes sense! Thanks for the link and the interesting thoughts it adds!
Nina on 2014-02-07 10:28
@ Antoinette: ja, dat is het een beetje, het kan zo onbenullig en oppervlakkig voelen om je met dit soort dingen bezig te houden, en tegelijkertijd is het dat ook weer niet of hoeft het dat niet te zijn. Ik weiger aan te nemen dat bezig zijn met creatief/mooi/kleur/vormgeving per definitie oppervlakkig, materialistisch of onnodig is, tegelijkertijd kunnen die dingen wel op de loer liggen en plaats ik soms echt mijn vraagtekens bij bepaalde aspecten ervan. Het blijft stof tot denken geven... dus wie weet wat ik er verder nog over ga schrijven ;).
Elianne on 2014-02-07 22:22

het raakt de zogenaamde maakbaarheid van het leven. En die is soms( nee te vaak) te zien. dat lijkt soms ( of ook te vaak ) een norm Uit te dragen. 

ik moest gelijk denken aan de kamer van mijn zoons daar hangt onder meer een  mega poster van Katy Perry... En bij de ander ligt er een Ajax dekbed om maar iets te noemen. 

Dat past niet in mijn plaatje van mooi maar wel in mijn norm dat ik met hen leef. Met hun gekke wensen en eigenheid.  

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About Ninainvorm

My name is Nina, I'm a ceramics and paperwares designer and mom of Rosa and Julie. This blog is about making, living, liking, loving and so much more!

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