House Renovation and Perfectionism

I’m lucky enough to be moving to a lovely house, and lucky enough to be given money to renovate it in one go. We’re redoing the kitchen and putting in two new bathrooms. We’re even lucky enough to be able to continue renting so that my M.E. isn’t exacerbated by the noise and dust of builders.

But I’ve still been struggling these past few months because there are so many decisions, trivial but urgent and expensive, which makes them important. Trivial and important.
I intend never to redecorate or renovate again once we move in. Once I’m in the house, I just want to live in it. “This is my one shot at getting my house right!” I have been telling myself.
Everything is so expensive, and I want to make the right decision. THE right decision. Because obviously, when you’re choosing the tiles for the kitchen splash-back, there is a right way and a wrong way and I have to research the whole of Pinterest and crowdsource on Facebook to find out what those are.
Welcome to the craziness of the insides of my brain:
What if I get it wrong?
What if I choose the wrong paint colour and then I hate it?
What if I think I like grey because the world is telling me to like grey, but I still like magnolia?
What if we’re spending too much? What if we’re investing too little? What if the whole world knows HOW TO PINTEREST and I don’t?
What if the curtains don’t go?
What if the shower breaks?
What if the stairlift is too slow?
What if the carpet’s too light?
What if we have to repaint the hall after we’ve put the stairlift in?
What if we can’t fit the tumble drier in?
What if I forget something?
What if I get it wrong?
What if I get it wrong?
I catch the last thought and realise, once again, that I have to confront my perfectionism monster. It’s sneaky because it’s so nearly right. It’s right that I am concerned with using our resources wisely. It’s also permissible to want to make my home a pleasant environment because I’m housebound. But shocking green vs. dark grey is not an important ethical dilemma, though I’ve been agonising over it. (Still agonising over it…)
I’m learning much. Spending time desiring material things is a seductive activity. I’m watching the anxiety and dissatisfaction that accompany it. I’m learning I’m weak, and repeated decision-making when I’m already emotionally spent robs me of my creativity and peace.
These are fully first-world problems and I feel ashamed of struggling with them.
I read the sermon on the mount and I try not to worry. (It doesn’t work.)
I read it again. ‘Do not worry about tomorrow…each day has enough trouble of its own.’
Today, I ask, ‘Okay, God, I promise not to worry about tomorrow. But what do I need to worry about today?’
I write a list of things that have to be done, decisions that have to be made. I feel overwhelmed and cry a little.
I change my questions from the ‘what if…?’ to the ‘what now…?’ I circle the decisions that need to be made today. I breathe. The perfectionism monster loosens its grip, just a little.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?…
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:26-27, 34

Over to you:

  • How easy do you find it not to worry?
  • When you have struggled with ‘first world problems’, what helps you keep your priorities and faith focused?


'These are fully first-world problems and I feel ashamed of struggling with them.' - House Renovation and Perfectionism Click To Tweet
'Spending time desiring material things is a seductive activity.' - House Renovation and Perfectionism Click To Tweet
Joining with #fiveminutefriday. This was my best (ten) minutes on ‘If’.Those Who Wait – Finding God in Disappointment, Doubt and Delay. For anyone who feels like they’re living life stuck on hold, tired of waiting.

“Readers of Those Who Wait will renew their strength, they will refresh their soul, and they will reconnect to their God.” – Prof David T Lamb, author of God Behaving Badly

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6 Responses to House Renovation and Perfectionism

  1. Rebecka 2nd July, 2018 at 2:12 pm #

    I find that the importance of getting things right (on the first try) becomes greater the less energy I have, because my subconscious knows I won’t have the energy to do it over. And vice versa, the better and stronger I feel, the less important it is to not get things wrong. I haven’t found a way to turn my thoughts around though, and that Bible quote you mentioned is a great source of anxiety to me because reading it has always made me feel guilty for worrying and then I have one more thing to worry about. Ha!
    Good luck with the house, I hope it will turn out lovely, beautiful and full of joy and be a place where you can rest comfortably.

  2. Sue 30th June, 2018 at 1:57 pm #

    Thank you for this Tanya. I too have ME. We moved into a house 6 years ago that I have such plans for – but most of it hasn’t happened because I can’t make up my mind because I have to get it “right”. If I leave it to some one else they get it ” wrong”. And I can’t do the decorating myself because of ME. So the materials for lots of projects are all over the house in the way – another big idea of mine I had to abandon – because of exhaustion. Its very, very frustrating for me and my family. And it’s all down to wanting to live in a lovely environment (like you I spend most of my time at home) – but being too afraid to make the final decision as to what that looks like, for fear of getting it wrong – and I just get too anxious and exhausted working my way through the decision to ever get to the end.

  3. Penelope Wallace 30th June, 2018 at 1:11 pm #

    I know how to pin but not how to pinterest, so you are ahead of me there. I think we can all identify, Tanya, but don’t feel too guilty about the “first world problem” issue. Whether the washing machine fits the space does matter. Enjoy the new house once you’re in anyhow!

  4. Ros 30th June, 2018 at 12:56 pm #

    Focus on getting the structural things right because you really won’t want to do those again. But paint colours and curtains can be changed over time much more easily, so don’t feel you have to get them ‘right’. As if there’s only one ‘right’ colour anyway. All the colours! Except grey. Don’t have grey.

  5. Miriam 30th June, 2018 at 10:52 am #

    This is like reading an article about myself! lol! I studied architecture in college, I’m a total perfectionist & the environment I’m living in really affects my mood. But now I’m housebound & I live with my parents who don’t care about such trivial matters. It bothers me much more than it should & I’ve had to learn to accept it over the years. When frustrations start to build up I try to list the things I’m thankful for about this house – a loving family, parents who care for me, a roof over my head, my own bedroom, etc etc. It helps me have some perspective on my frustrations with the colour of the walls & the uncomfortable couch my Mum loves!

    Philippians 4:6-7 is my favourite anxiety verse & it has taught me how important thankfulness is when dealing with worry. Of course we should bring our worry to God but we should also thank Him for what we already have. I overlook a lot of good things when I’m all wrapped up in stress & worry & anxiety. Listing the things I’m thankful for helps to remind me of what God has done for me already and gives me perspective on the situation.

    When my parents talk about this house they often saying half joking, half serious – ‘I’m looking forward to my mansion in heaven.’ They drive me crazy but I guess they’re right. Not even the best designed house on earth is going to be perfect, nor will it last!

    My parents are actually about to renovate our kitchen & bathroom for practical reasons & I’m just praying they’ll make good interior design choices too while they’re at it! Its a lot of work & a lot of decisions and I know it must be made so much harder with M.E…. & perfectionism! Keep going one small task at a time & you’ll get there!

  6. Sarah Pamment 29th June, 2018 at 6:17 pm #

    Pride is an issue for us all no matter how much or how little we have. Even those who have very little take pride in what they have how it’s placed and looks.
    But what needs to be changed is how we accept the mistakes we make in what we have and not hide behind beauty, fashion, design and brand name. Be prepared to put that to one side like the disciples did so that we have more space to love and learn.
    It has taken me as long as not being able to live in a very tidy home with all washing and ironing tidily put away one day every week to realise this.
    Stay calm answers are just round the corner ?xx

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