Perfectly imperfect bookshelves

It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. - The Nester

Today we’re continuing our Other People’s Bookshelves series. View the previous posts here


Today we’re snooping the shelves of Myquillyn Smith, also known as The Nester. Myquillyn has been blogging for almost seven (!!) years now about decorating, design, and embracing imperfection at Nesting Place. Her motto is “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful,” which makes me love her and her site.

It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. - The Nester

I’m going to be gushing about Myquillyn’s new book for months to come, so brace yourselves. It’s called The Nesting Place, and it’s about embracing imperfection and making your home wherever you are. Not sure what that looks like? Start here with the story of how Myquillyn’s $12, crazily-slipcovered, broken-footed chair ended up on the cover of a decorating book.

This is the book I wish I’d had years ago: it would have saved me a lot of angst.

I couldn’t have it years ago but I am so, so grateful it came out just before our move to a new home. It’s been exactly the right book at the right time for me.

The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful

1. Tell us a little bit about your shelves. 

I’m so glad you asked about my books because up until two weeks ago, all but about 25 books were still packed away. We moved to a fixer-upper in August and we still have boxes of all sorts of things stored in our barn. Books were one of those things. Currently our family bookshelves are in the basement holding tools and unidentifiable wires and random paint cans. It’s kind of depressing.

Other People's Bookshelves, featuring Myquillyn Smith (the Nester) of Nesting Place

One of the great parts about our new house is that I have an office that is detached from the house. It’s a little crazy room behind the barn on our property and my husband just got it to a point where I could move in some furniture. AND BOOKS! It finally feels like a space were I can make a mess, create and write.


2. How are your books organized?

The books in my office are either favorite books that I read every year or so, business-type books that help me think smart about running Nesting Place, and books that my friends wrote. I do read fiction but I’m one of those read-and-pass-on girls. I am not sentimental about fiction. Usually the only books I keep around are non-fiction books that I’ll read again and again.


currently reading

I also have some books for me in our house, by my bed—the books I’m currently reading and on the shelf the books I’ve just finished or recently read. Most of these will make their way out to my office, eventually. And notice any doubles? I ALWAYS have doubles of my favorite books—one to take around to the pool and on vacation, and one to “keep pretty.” I expect eye rolls.


recently read

We have a ton of books on education, families, grace, and history as a family and sadly those are all still in boxes from our move. My husband and boys all like to read and here’s what’s on the table next to my husband’s favorite chair:


3. Do you have a favorite shelf?


My current favorite books are shown above. I have two copies of each (remember my crazy), one in the house, one in my office:

• Bread and Wine was the first book I read after I turned in my manuscript last year and it was exactly what I needed at the time: I love the focus on hospitality and the recipes!

• One Thousand Gifts: I am still shocked at how much I adore this book. Sometimes I think I’m a man with all of my non-fiction, nothing-poetic ways but this book might prove that I’m a woman!? I pick it up almost every month.

• A Million Little Ways: THIS BOOK –>YES. I feel like Emily is talking only to me, encouraging me to be who I was created to be. And I’m not just saying that because she’s my sister.

• And Bossypants? This was my gift to myself when I got my own book deal. I had the paperback, but once I had a deal I allowed myself to buy the HARDBACK!!! Also, I hate book jackets.

So they are all having a party together in a paper bag somewhere buried in our barn. Book Jackets are the worst.


4. Any special titles you’d like to point out?

My favorite design books are all here right together. I prefer design books where the photos are as good as the words. There are plenty of wonderful DIY books. But many of THESE books speak to the philosophy of a home. They encourage me to think about my home in different ways–and it doesn’t hurt that they have pretty photos!

Actually, The Perfectly Imperfect Home is a FANTASTIC book (with beautiful illustrations, no photos!)—a great book to give to a newly married couple setting up a home. Oh, and mine is great for that too, you should totally give my book to everyone you know.

(Editor’s note: you should totally give her book to everyone you know.)

*****     *****     *****

Thanks so much to Myquillyn for sharing her shelves with us! Head here to find out more about her book, which would be a great gift for yourself or for someone you love for Mother’s Day. It’s pretty, practical, and not the tiniest bit guilt-inducing.

Although I’ll warn you: it makes me want to buy a disco ball, and exponentially amp up the Quirky Factor at our next place.

Let’s discuss Myquillyn’s favorite books, YOUR favorite decorating books, and her new book The Nesting Place in comments.  

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Leave A Comment
  1. Not eye rolls, but smiles on the double copies. 🙂

    I’m taking notes on the business-y and decor ones and seeing some of my own favs there too (Bread & Wine, Domino, Quitter…). And why have I not picked up A Million Little Ways yet??

    I’ve already given away one copy of The Nesting Place, but I want to give away ten more! Love it, love The Nester 🙂

  2. Shannon says:

    I can’t tell you how much I love this. I received her book this week and was literally going through pictures (while reading it a second time) and taking notes of the books she had used. Now I can just pin that last picture! 😀

  3. Hi Myquillyn – I bought your book based on Anne’s recommendation. Very curious what you thought of the 4 Hour Work Week from your recently read pile. And I am jealous of the detached office. After moving to a house I finally got my own real office — like with a door and no bed in it — but such is the human condition. We always want more!

    • Anne says:

      Sigh. I’m getting an office when we move …. but it will have a bed in it. But a DAYBED, to double as the guest room. I’m okay with that. In fact, I can envision that being a lovely spot to read in. I’m not much of a napper so no danger there. 🙂

  4. Jenn says:

    I love seeing what’s on others’ shelves! I hate book jackets too. BTW I noticed The Nesting Place has a very lovely cover sans book jacket! Thanks!

  5. Amy says:

    I hate book jackets, too! Sometimes I keep them, because I feel bad about getting rid of the beautiful cover art in favor of a weird-solid-color spine. But if the cover art isn’t that great, or if the actual cover of the book is the same as the book jacket, it goes or is imprinted on the book itself also, I immediately trash them. And if I read the book a ton, and the jacket gets in my way, sometimes I throw it away anyway, no matter how lovely it is.

      • Amy says:

        That’s kind of adorable, although I can’t imagine any occasion where I would end up needing a book jacket. “Oh NO! I desperately need that 150-word description of a book I’ve already read?? WHY DID I GET RID OF THE BOOK JACKET????”

  6. Breanne says:

    I’m eagerly waiting for my copy of Nesting Place to come, so excited to read it.
    And I’m such a fan of the stacks of books everywhere, I’m a stacker myself. Brilliant idea on the double copies, I feel badly reading my good books at the beach/bath/out and about because I want them to stay pretty. =)

  7. Lacy says:

    The Perfectly Imperfect Home is so beautiful and one of my favorites! When I first discovered Myquillyn’s site and motto, it came instantly to mind. Glad to see she has it, because if she didn’t I would have recommended it to her!

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