Are You Blind to Your House?

by hookedonhouses on June 15, 2011

When we move into a new house, our eyes are wide open. We notice everything. We measure the rooms, take note of the way the light affects the color on the walls, agonize over furniture placement, and make lists of things we want to change.

But have you noticed how our vision tends to blur after we’ve been living in the same place awhile? That’s why you can set a box of Christmas ornaments next to the basement door with the best intentions of carrying it down and putting it in storage, only to walk around it every day until March.

Or there’s a piece of artwork leaning against the wall, waiting to be hung, but you get so used to seeing it on the floor that you forget why you put it there in the first place.

I started thinking about this phenomenon when a reader sent me this e-mail:

One thing that fascinates me about having my own place is how quickly you just get used to seeing stuff and don’t really think about it. For instance, a friend gave me a little red and gold knotted tassel for good luck at my wedding last year. When I came home, I stuck it on a nail on the door frame that has been there since the last tenant.

It’s not centered and it’s totally stupid hanging there, but I don’t even see it now. It’s just there. Ditto the space heater, fan, and my husband’s corner of heaping receipts. It’s just part of our lives now and unless I’m in super nesting mode, I don’t notice.

I can definitely relate to that, can’t you? I set something down and forget about it. Something that was supposed to be temporary becomes a permanent fixture in my house.

All it takes to open my eyes and clear my house vision is to have visitors, though. It’s amazing how quickly everything comes into focus when I’m seeing things through their eyes.

Yikes, how long has that dead plant been sitting on the window sill? Is that a big cobweb connecting the foyer light to the upstairs banister? Why are those DVDs still piled on the coffee table when we watched them two months ago?

A camera is another great eye-opener. Try taking photos of the rooms in your house and suddenly you see all sorts of things that you had been blind to in your everyday life.

Keeping a House Project List helps, too. A couple times a year my husband and I walk through our house and analyze everything in it, room by room, and write down the things that need to be fixed, replaced, or banished altogether. It always amazes me how many things I notice during those walk-throughs that escaped my attention for weeks (or months) beforehand.

Are you blind to how your house really looks right now? Walk through your rooms like you’ve never been in them before and see what you find!

(Thanks to Anela who sent me these blurry photos from a house she bought in Seattle.)

More Thoughts on Home:

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Luciane at Homebunch.com June 15, 2011 at 7:35 am

Julia,

I open your page and start laughing! Gosh, am I needing glasses??? I’ve been wondering about this lately! LOL

This post os so interesting! I get what you’re saying and I don’t think I’m “blind” about my house. I think I open my eyes too often actually. I wish I was more relaxed about it and stopped criticize things. I think we always tent to want “perfection” in our houses, like the houses we see in magazines, but we need to be realistic. Even if you can afford a gorgeous house, we should consider that we need to live in it, and the kids and dogs will get it messy! :-)

Enjoy your day!

xo

Luciane at HomeBunch.com

Maaike Quinn June 15, 2011 at 7:35 am

I know exactly what you’re talking about! I remember how I used to examine the house when I was a child. I knew every corner + every place + every error + well, just everything there was to know. And now I’m older I just don’t see these things anymore, unless I force myself to look for them! Which I do, by the way, because I love to :D

rosie June 15, 2011 at 7:38 am

My husband and I purposely plan events so that we will finish projects-we just need a deadline or it doesn’t get done. I’ve often thought of pretending we were having company just to get everyone motivated to clean up and then saying that they cancelled at the last minute :)

Janell Beals June 15, 2011 at 7:44 am

Yes, it is amazing what we really stop seeing! Photos are a great tool, I learned this soon after being to work on interiors, taking photos of the rooms “froze” everything in place which really allowed me to see things as they were. Great post and smart visual with the blurred images! Janell

Tanya from Dans le Townhouse June 15, 2011 at 7:46 am

Nope. Not house-blind. Wish I was, thought, with out lengthy to-do list. I see every flaw and am a totally insane neat-freak. I could literally clean all-day every-day and never be satisfied. I have to convince myself to not fuss with the house so I can actually get some work done that pays the bills!

frances June 15, 2011 at 7:48 am

Hi Julia I know exactly what you mean. But I have a secret weapon against this sort of thing. I have a certain friend who likes to just drop by with only about 10 15 min warning. When I know his arrival is imminent I suddenly see my house from his eyes as he is always picking up on the little things and commenting.. So I make a mad dash around the house and put everything away haha. He drops by once a week so the place never gets out of hand…I don’t know what I would do if he stopped dropping in.. Have a good day Frances

Deb June 15, 2011 at 7:55 am

Julia,
AMEN, SISTER.
Now that 3 of my 7 children have left the nest in the last 2 years, I have doing some redecorating.
I stumbled across this recommendation about then (2years ago) and try to take pics of each room every 6-12months.
WOW, there are ususally so many things that I have gotten use to that I DON”T notice them on a daily basis, that is why I need the pic. I can then down load it and circle/note things on the pic (this also seems to help). When I am organized and have time I have even printed out the pics like that and put them on the inside of my kitchen cupboard doors/closet doors so I am reminded of things I need to put away/get rid of.

I am reminded of a story, I hope you don’t mind me telling it to you…..
A young boy and girl caught a frog, and put it in a pan of water (no heat or anything). After a few mins the frog became comfortable, accustom to this water. That is when they decided to turn the heat on low, and leave it there. Again, the frog adjusted to the change w/ out any problems, and became comfortable.
After noticing the frog becoming comfortable, they decided to turn up the heat. gradually, each time letting the frog become comfortable. Until the frog didn’t realized that he had become so comfortable w/ the heat, that it was too high and the frog died. That is how we are in our life, God has called us to live a life for Him, and we become so comfortable w/ the worldly things that we don’t remember where we are suppose to be. Our lives and homes are sometimes like this frogs. Let’s try not to get use to things that God hasn’t called for us.
Deb
debraclaytor@yahoo.com

Amanda @ Serenity Now June 15, 2011 at 8:01 am

YES! It is amazing what I can *see* when I take a photo of one of my rooms. Sometimes I kick myself when we get home from the pool and I realize I left the wet towels on the floor next to the front door for three hour. Geesh. Right now gazing at the small pile of circulars from Sunday’s newspaper on my sideboard. :s

angfreda June 15, 2011 at 8:04 am

Get out of my head!
My mom is coming to visit this weekend, always a motivator to get the house ship shape [old desires to please die hard apparently], and while I am cleaning and prepping, I am finding Xmas ornaments and other things dropped here and there way too long ago to mention. Thanks for giving me an excuse though!!! I’m Blind [to my house]!! I’m Blind [to my house]!!!

Ida June 15, 2011 at 8:17 am

For about 3 years now I’ve been living in my BF’s house. It’s such a big mess! It was a mess when I moved in, and it looked just the same when I moved out of there about 2 months ago.
During the first year I tried to have that “Oh, let’s get this mess sorted out” thing going on but my BF never had the same interest in making that house a house to actually live and love in. I realise now, when I’m out of there, that he will never change.
Since I was the only one trying to change the mess into something lovley, I was drained out of my energy and after a while my eyes kind of “slid off” all the things that had to be taken care off.

Now that I’m about to move into a new place I’m so focused on how I’ve wanted my home to look and feel like for the last 3 years that I think I won’t be ABLE TO miss anything in my home. Never again such a mess, never again a home that feels like a junkyard.

But yes, I agree. You tend to settle with all the things that you should take care of, and after some time you forget about them.
I just think that the more you love your home, the less risk of that happening.

Thanks for a lovley blogg btw :) It’s always a pleasure to visit!

Karena June 15, 2011 at 8:18 am

This was so good and perfect timing Julia! I am currently de-cluttering or “editing” my condominium!

Another good way to think of how your your home looks, is as if a Realtor will be showing it to prospective buyers!

xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

I have an amazing Giveaway from the Artisans at Novica. You will love it!

Danielle June 15, 2011 at 8:18 am

We moved into our house 3 years ago and I still have mirrors leaning against walls, waiting to be hung and pictures I placed on exsisting hooks from the last owner that I’ve been meaning to move.

I keep a list, but things are still slow to get done.

So, to answer the question: yes, I am blind to my house.

Susan Matthews June 15, 2011 at 8:19 am

Sometimes I plan a party just to give myself a house project deadline. I also do the walk thru list, too. We did ours last week. My hubby always say, “everything looks fine.” Negotiations to rival those of United Nations ensue. If you really want to see rooms with a fresh eye, take every single thing out. Look at the bones of the space. Need any changes? Then only bring back in what you love and need.

Amy Rybacki June 15, 2011 at 8:21 am

So true! This is why I advise people to do renovations/restorations before they live in a home for too long because they get complacent!

Ban Clothing June 15, 2011 at 8:24 am

I am guilty. I am trying to get my house ready to be put for sale and is it ever an eye opener. Things I have learned to live with are no longer acceptable. I am disappointed I didn’t make all these changes years ago so I could enjoy them.. .now I have a fantastic clutter free home but I will likely just move into another and start the process again. I can’t say I will ‘learn my lesson’ because sometimes you have to live life because how a person stages their house can be impossible to life in.

Patience June 15, 2011 at 8:33 am

I am house blind, definitely. The principal of my son’s school had been at my house one day, and later, at a school function, he said to me, “Wow, your dogs have REALLY scratched the paint on your stairs.” Up till that moment, I had barely noticed that the paint on my stair risers is all scratched to hell.

Helloheather June 15, 2011 at 8:43 am

Ha! Oh, the shame! I look around my kitchen, and, why yes, that IS a stack of papers one foot high, nestled in a cardboard coffee creamer box, lifted from the grocery store! THAT was an UPGRADE, from the stack of papers slithering around on the counter. It was supposed to be a temporary, like 24-hour, solution. Except that was quite a few weeks ago. Possibly before Mother’s Day. Hmmm…

I have so many pretty things, pieces of furniture and lamps that I REALLY like! But it’s hard to see them under all the kids’ stuff and papers and camera equipment and dirty dishes and things.

Thanks for the funny wakeup call this morning! I’m going to take a stab at opening up my eyes. :)

Connie in Hartwood June 15, 2011 at 9:09 am

I live in an old house … we’ve been restoring and renovating it for 9 years, and there’s not one room in the place that’s totally FINISHED yet. Why? Because life happens and there’s more to it than work and cleaning and organization. This kind of blindness is pretty necessary, really. Without it, we would go insane constantly being reminded of things that are out of place or need to be taken care of. There’s no way we can keep up with stuff 100% consistently, so our brains filter out the stuff we can do later.

Becky @ Farmgirl Paints June 15, 2011 at 9:16 am

this post is SO true!! we had the realtor come through and take pics for the listing and she took some before and after clutter shots and it was amazing how removing just a few things made it look so much better. i’m going to remember that with the next house. more is not always better.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy... June 15, 2011 at 9:41 am

EXCELLENT point

'Aunt Amelia' June 15, 2011 at 10:18 am

Oh so true! So many things we train ourselves, to not *see.*

And not only, in our houses………

~?~

Darla June 15, 2011 at 10:24 am

I do that!!!

Have you ever put something on the counter so you wouldn’t forget it and by the time you leave, it’s already become a part of the landscape and you don’t even see it anymore?

Erin June 15, 2011 at 10:45 am

Nothing brings my house into “focus” like planning a major party. I need one every year or so just to motivate me to get those little quirky projects done. And yes, there are 3 empty frames hanging in the entry hall to our bedroom. Sadly, they have been there for 2 years and I haven’t given them a second thought until reading this post this morning! The good news: they nicely coordinate with the three large paint sample swatches I painted in that same hall when I hung the frames! Funny, it will take me only one morning to “fix” that little area of my home- but since it’s one our guests never see, it hasn’t been a priority!

Megan June 15, 2011 at 11:09 am

I agree with the concept of being “house blind.” It’s really important to take a step back – or even to ask a good friend – to really “see” your house. Great post, Julia!

polly dove June 15, 2011 at 11:20 am

Oh this is sooooo true of me!!! I just had a toilet run (over) all night long and flood the bathroom, vanity area and leak through the ceiling into my living room! What a mess! The only upside is that while I was moving all the furniture out of the way to rip up the pad and dry out the carpet, I thought, “Man there is a lot of crap in this room.” And when I put that room back together, the crap is finding someplace else to rest! (Like maybe GoodWill!!!)

Jenny June 15, 2011 at 11:27 am

That is so true. At Christmas we have a little keychain with the remotes on it to turn off and on the outside lights. Well I hang it on the back of the door so I can reach it. That keychain ended up staying there for over 2 years until I decided I should find a better place for it until Christmas comes. LOL!

Janelle June 15, 2011 at 11:36 am

I know exactly what you mean! To keep my “focus” I often go through each room and pretend that I am selling the house so it has to be “staged ready”…or at least” having strangers wander through my home” ready:) This puts me in the spirit as I am always extra fussy when I have friends over for the first time…have to make that ‘first impression’…after that, I feel I can relax more…I’m a tad weird I know! Anyways! Thanks for yet another great post! Hope you have a great day:)

Bre June 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm

This post is fantastic Julia and so true! I am forever setting things down or propping art against the walls and never returning to them again! Procrastination is in my Gemini nature, but quite honestly, I sometimes forget altogether or I get too busy and life just gets in the way. I love that you and your husband walk through your home with fresh eyes and take note of the things you want to change or improve. Love that! Your awesome post, and those Home Depot commercials make me want to get things done!

P.S. I loved the blurry photos!
P.P.S. I posted about skincare advice and tips today and I would LOVE it if you shared your favorite skincare tip. Thank you in advance!

Nita June 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I can’t believe someone can be so organized as to go through your house and make a list like that! I have this thing about people wanting their house to look perfect all the time, as if it’s unlived in, and yet I don’t like too much mess. My coffee table and my husband’s side table are always stacked with books, magazines and things we use everyday like hand lotion. There are those that have to have everything put away all the time. I can’t stand that because my mom was like that and I always think we do the opposite of what mom did.

There’s been a BIG fight on the HGTV message boards-professional decorator against professional decorator and professional decorator against people who just want advice on their own house. It came out that some of the pros and some of the lay people have been making fun of some of the rooms people have been posting to get help for their homes. It’s been horrible. So, people have their own way, but it’s not nice to be so harsh on those that don’t meet your own expectations.

Heather Collins June 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Yes!! I’m totally there! My husband and I were in school for so long, we just stopped noticing giant stacks of books and papers everywhere, dirty dishes, and piles of laundry on the floor. But now that we’re expecting a baby, I notice everything!

Lesley @ TheDesignFile June 15, 2011 at 1:11 pm

I am amazed that some of the things I disliked about my house when I bought it 14 years ago haven’t changed. That is just crazy! But it’s exactly what you said – you just get blind to your own stuff.

Sometimes, the photo trick works too well, though. I always end up worrying about the cords you can see and the shelf that doesn’t hang perfectly! Still, it’s definitely a way to see things objectively.

Sarah June 15, 2011 at 1:25 pm

OMG, the other day we were having friends over, and s0 we were doing some massive cleaning, and I noticed the box in the kitchen that was to go out to the shed.

HALLOWEEN DECOR, ANYONE?!?!?!?!??!

I decided to leave it there, since it will go up in just 3 months now!

Laurie @ Little Blue Chairs June 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I so know what you are saying- I try really hard to not let the things pile up and get a fresh look on my house. It is hard to do though.

Carla June 15, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Interesting :) I actually had a moment of that when we had our contractor at our house doing an estimate for our tornado damage. There had been… get this of all things… a push up bra pad sitting on top of my dresser- and it had been there for a while and I just became ‘house blind’ to it I guess (really weird I know). I was SUPER embarrassed when he was taking measurements of the ceiling above it and I realized holy crap there is a push up pad sitting right next to him! HA!

Myra June 15, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I’m having the opposite problem. All I see is the projects that need to be done. The deads lawn, stains in the carpet and the room that need to be painted. My problem is I don’t have the money for these projects right now but have the time….irony?

Elvira June 15, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I just finished cleaning my house and again saw how much stuff I have. I’m teaching myself to de-clutter regularly and I’ve always liked cleaning out cupboards and drawers – which doesn’t mean that they’re permanently tidy! A little hoarder lives inside me, too.
I recently started working at an auction house and I see daily dozens of pieces that are interesting and that I’d like to buy and bring home, but I’ve decided that however fantastic the item is, if I don’t desperately need it, it won’t end up in my house.
The trick about taking photos of your living spaces really works, thanks for reminding me, Julia!

Ashley @ DesignBuildLove.co June 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm

It’s so funny to think about this! My husband says that I notice “everything!” BUT, the one thing blogging and taking pictures for my blog has taught me… is that I don’t notice everything. Sometimes I fail to take in the big picture and focus too much on the details. Totally nuts how that happens! :)

Kim June 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm

What you said is so true, especially about visitors. Whenever a visitor comes to visit, my family all scrambles to make sure everything is put away or cleaned up in each room.

Something interesting about me is that if I walk into a room, and something is missed placed, (like a photo is taken off the wall) it throws me off and will make the room or space look different to me.

Mary June 15, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Great post – and SO true – I find this very inspirational and Im about to take a tour of my home with my camera!
Mary

Lauren June 15, 2011 at 3:31 pm

What a smart topic! Thank you for sharing your insight on this…I’m going through this right now…feeling that I’ve lost the ‘vision’ of my home…i’m taking your advice and taking photos tonight to help us turn things around!

Thanks! Love your blog!

StephanieJ June 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm

It’s so very true. I recently took photos of our kitchen to share on my blog since we’re planning to remodel soon. I saw things I’d never noticed … an uninstalled smoke detector, a lint roller, a step ladder. I had to make it an eye spy game to hide my embarrassment!!

anna see June 15, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Great post! I am blind to a lot of things in my house. And my husband is “blinder!” It’s amazing how the tile in my foyer, which was public enemy #1 when we moved in 8 yrs ago, is still there!

Kathy :) June 15, 2011 at 5:26 pm

What a great post…………YES I can so relate. I have a thing with my little piles, but man when someone is coming over or we are having a party those little piles disappear like that….. they may be put under a bed, in a closet etc….LOL and sometimes they even make it to the shredder…………

A little dose of OCD does help, I know I would be a lot worse without it :)

Have a wonderful week Julia, we are finally having some nice weather, hope you are too !!!

Kathy :)

Kathy :) June 15, 2011 at 5:27 pm

ps love that chest in your diningroom !!!!

Nichole@40daysof June 15, 2011 at 6:21 pm

I’m not blind. I’m in denial. :)

Ann June 15, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Loved.this.post. Every word is so true!! I had a (real) visitor for the first time in long time last week, and I’m like sputtering, “We’re in the process of remodeling”. LOL.

Jessica June 15, 2011 at 10:04 pm

We moved into the former home on our property with grand ideas of an immediate and complete remodel, so right as we were moving in, we had my sis-in-law go around and take off every light switch cover (to keep her busy mainly) thinking we they would be replaced in the very near future. We also found the original door to the kitchen behind a wall and *halfway” demolished said wall to prove our point (it would be fixed soon anyway, right?)…well, we ended up living with NO switch plate covers and the halfway demolished wall (among other things) for TEN YEARS! It was crazy…the remodel was always just around the corner. We eventually just tore the house down completely, naked switches and all…and built 24C. We got used to it all…we became very blind…and only got shocked ‘a few times’ when turning on the bathroom light!
xo J~

Jessica June 15, 2011 at 11:36 pm

My problem is that I see my house all too clearly. It gets very overwhelming for me because I can look at a room that looks pretty decent in reality, but all I see are the projects that are undone and instead of being happy with the progress I’ve made or where the room is in the moment I get upset thinking about all the things I haven’t done yet. I wish I could see a little less.

Cindy June 16, 2011 at 12:25 am

So True! There are 4-inch wires sticking out of the hallway wall where we were supposed to put a doorbell chimer thingy when we completely renovated our house a few years ago when my youngest son was a baby. He just turned 26!
I love reading everyone’s comments on topics like this and realizing I am not the only one with weirdnesses. Now I am wondering if anyone else out there who is very interested in houses and decorating and constantly looking at the latest ideas, do you also just get very comfortable with some decor choices in your own home that you keep living with but if you saw it in any other house you would definitely have to change it. So very, very blind.

E. George June 16, 2011 at 1:17 am

Hi Julia this blog hits home – I tend to go around and throw things out without a blink but my husband tends to have the attitude we might need it some day. I think us girls tend to like change the guys don’t. I was just watching No Reservation and loved the way she was living everything in its place and not over furnished – I keep telling myself one day…. Til next time Esther from Sydney…. PS the new TV is great and I need glasses.

Khiori June 17, 2011 at 11:55 am

Absolutely blind! And it’s necessary too. You need to relax from the decor bug now and then. Go out and smell the flowers.

That being said, my mother used to redecorate every 10 years or so. At first we moved too much for that. But after we were in our current home for 11 years we finally decided to redo the kitchen. That led to the powder room…then the laundry room…then the dining room…you get the picture. Three years on we are almost finished the entire downstairs (totally different from what we did the first time around), and looking at the upstairs.

I know all you first time buyers are thinking “this is it forever” but just wait. One day you’ll be painting (or wallpapering!) over everything you just did. ;)

Tee June 18, 2011 at 8:46 am

I know what you mean… I have an eye opener at least once a week though and get rid of things and clutter that I hate. People laugh of me for obsessing about my house, but this cottage is my pride, my biggest work of art, and I want it well presented… but yes… piles of mess build up and I go blind. So every sunday I TRY (unless life gets in the way) to nest myself tidy again :D :D :D
Good to know it ain’t just me!

Anela June 18, 2011 at 10:05 am

We close Thursday on this lovely blurry house! I actually woke up in the middle of the night and started to dream up my list of things to do. I think we’ll actually post our list out in the open so it’s in our faces to keep us motivated. Plus I’ll blog about it…so my mom can see pictures and to keep me accountable.

Susan S June 20, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Oh, dear heavens! You’ve been spying on me, haven’t you?

Jan Freeman June 22, 2011 at 8:07 am

Fantastic website and fantastic post. I, too, suffer from “House Blindness.” I had no idea there was a name for it and others suffered from it, as well. We are building a new house (slab to be poured Friday.) My son and his wife are purchasing our home and we are downsizing. Some rooms are a mess with what stays here, donations, things for the September garage sale and things to pack. I am hoping that I will be much better in the new house since I am getting rid of so much!! I am keeping my fingers crossed :)

Kathy June 29, 2011 at 1:11 pm

This is SO TRUE! When I read the headline of the article I instantly thought about solutions you gave at the end. I noticed that I have the same problem – I often get used to lot of unnecessary stuff that looks bad and I don’t even realize it until somebody comes to my house or I take picture of my place. Certainly every house deserves to be treated better – it’s so sad to see a beautiful one which is neglected or badly furnished! Oh my, I need to go NOW and clean up my mess. :-)

Christina September 8, 2011 at 2:28 pm

It’s called ‘habituation.’ Like the clipped coupons on the fridge you see everyday, you never use them because they’ve blended into the refrigerator. Your brain gets used to seeing them, almost like a habit.
(Too bad I know all this and STILL leave clipped coupons on the fridge!)
: )

Jen Adams January 13, 2012 at 7:48 am

I love this article…had to feature on my site today. jadamsinteriors.net
Thanks,
Jen

san bernardino personal injury attorney May 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Nice pics!!! That last one looks like something right out of better homes and gardens magazine. I’ve been officially inspired. Thanks for the inspiration :D

Sara August 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I was just talking to my husband about this the other day and saying how some of the things (that haven’t been put away or can’t find a spot for yet) in our home have become actual fixtures of our house as if we intended to decorate the foyer with a bottle of laundry detergent that was intended to go down to the basement a week ago. With 2 little ones, I’ve definitely noticed it with their toys! You’re right though, when people are stopping by we definitely lose that blurriness and get a clear sense as to what they will see. Feels good to know I’m not alone, especially since my preference in life is to have no clutter and a place for everything. Ha Ha. When will that happen?

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