Why your house will never look like Pinterest


When decorating a home, good sources for ideas are social media sites, such as Pinterest. Whether you’re doing a small project like making a front door wreath or tackling a major bathroom renovation, you’ll find countless photographs to give you inspiration, along with tutorials to show you how to do everything yourself. 

It’s easy to go down a virtual rabbit hole, getting lost in Pinterest board after Pinterest board as you fantasize about what your home should, and could, be. No wonder people call it “house porn.”

And while Pinterest can give you a jolt of creative adrenaline, the perfectly lit, exquisitely styled photographs being “pinned” set the bar much higher than most people can possibly achieve. The fact is, your house is never going to look like a photo from Pinterest. It’s just not happening. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing — here’s why.

It’s not real life

No human beings live in the perfect homes you see on Pinterest. Only androids. How else can you explain how no bathroom on Pinterest ever shows rolls of toilet paper? Or how no nightstand in any bedroom has an alarm clock or a box of tissues? Or how these dream kitchens don’t have any actual food in them, which is, I don’t know, kind of the point of having a kitchen?

No one’s that clean

Unless your housekeeper is Joan Crawford, your house cannot look that spotless. We all have crap just lying around — remote controls, phone chargers, ATM receipts, mail. Once, when my home was photographed for a Los Angeles Times spread, I spent three days cleaning and hiding things in the garage to get ready. And on the night before the shoot, I ironed the duvet and pillow shams, pulled them taut on the bed, and slept on the floor so I wouldn’t disturb the pristine illusion. Being immaculate is hard work. Being messy is much more fun.

You don’t have monochromatic tchotchkes

Perfect Pinterest homes feature tasteful displays of books and accessories that are all in the same color family. While I wish all my Jackie Collins books were the same color, unfortunately they are not. And choosing tchotchkes solely because they fit your home’s color story strips them of any sentiment. They become props rather than reflections of your life or personality.

Your electrical devices have wires

One of my pet peeves in looking at Pinterest boards, as well as photographs in magazines and catalogs, is that lamps, televisions, computers and any other things requiring electricity never have any cords or wires. What is this miraculous home that’s run entirely wireless? I jest, but the truth is the removal of practical, messy, real-life elements creates an impossible beauty standard. It’s the equivalent of Photoshopping imperfections — and a few pounds — off of fashion models.

And while Pinterest can give you a jolt of creative adrenaline, the perfectly lit, exquisitely styled photographs being “pinned” set the bar much higher than most people can possibly achieve.

The DIY tutorials don’t always work out

They make it look easy on Pinterest. But after you spend a bunch of money buying materials and realize that you’re not as creative as you’d hoped, you’re stuck with an expensive art project that you hide in the closet. It’s not that you should avoid DIY projects. I myself have featured numerous decorating and crafts tutorials in this weekly column. Just know that the beauty shots of many tutorials you’ll see are taken with Pinterest in mind. They are styled professionally, with many attempts at creating the project before a “hero” is chosen. (Don’t worry, my tutorials aren’t that fancy. I don’t have that kind of budget — or patience.)

Not all Pinterest ideas are good

I blame Pinterest for some of the worst decorating trends of the past few years. Like burlap. There is way too much burlap going on these days. It’s itchy and it smells. And all those Pinterest boards about the joys of repurposed wood pallet furniture are downright irresponsible. Most used wood pallets are unsafe to use because they are contaminated with toxic chemicals, dangerous bacteria or bugs. And don’t even get me started on Mason jars.

Your home is more than a photograph

Home is where your dog barks at the mail carrier. It’s where you and your family watch the Lakers on TV. Where you found out you were pregnant, or where your son found out he got into Harvard. It’s where you have had countless Netflix marathons and Shabbat dinners. It’s where you’ve lived and loved. And that, simply, is more beautiful than any photograph on Pinterest.


Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself projects at jonathanfongstyle.com.