The Non-Aesthetic Home Mindset Celebrates the Flaws in Our Spaces

TikTokers are posting their lived-in, not-always-spotless homes to show that authentic spaces don’t have to be perfect all the time.

Living room with basic white walls and wall-to-wall carpeting
Photo:

Catherine Ledner / Getty Images

Looking at #designtok, you’d think that every standard home in the United States was equipped with granite countertops, top-of-the-line appliances, and custom cabinets. The reality? That’s just not the case. While social media and professionally styled and photographed home tours can provide fantastic inspiration for how you want your home to look, they can also set some near-impossible standards.

For a long time, people have aspired to achieve these unrealistic expectations for their very real family homes, but now the pendulum is swinging the other way. More people have started sharing their authentic homes, or, in internet-speak, their non-aesthetic homes, with videos using the hashtag #nonaesthetichome attracting 7 million views and counting on TikTok. Many of the videos of non-aesthetic homes focus on the idea of normalizing homes that don’t have all the latest or most high-end design upgrades and feature homes that look like people actually cook, raise families, and, well, live in them.

These posts shine a positive light on typical homes to help remove the stigma of the so-called imperfections found in many homes and address the pressure of trying to maintain that perfect facade. But where are these posts coming from, and how can they actually help us appreciate our own non-aesthetic spaces?

Why are we seeing a backlash to overly curated spaces now?

The pandemic gave us a lot of time to ponder our own homes while scrolling through endless Instagram feeds of perfectly curated images and TikToks that made it look like everyone else had their lives together.

But then Zoom gave us an unfiltered look into the homes of our coworkers, and many of their houses looked very much like ours. On the laminate countertop was the clutter that never graced a #cleanroom post. Behind them were the family pictures hung on plain white walls with not-quite-level molding. And now and then, there was even a stack of dishes that needed to be done. If we didn’t think less of our friends and family for having a non-aesthetic home, why were we placing that judgment on ourselves? 

Many people realized that these imperfect houses were not only normal, but they were also pretty wonderful just the way they were.

How to Embrace the Non-Aesthetic Details in Your Space

There is no such thing as the perfect house. Instead of chasing that perfect space—either by house-hunting or constant redecorating—you just need to find the space with the idiosyncrasies that work for you. Every home has its quirks and imperfections; some of them you can improve on, some of them you can live with, and some you should embrace! 

We fully stand by any upgrades you want to do to your home because they make you happy. Trends can be great to try if they reflect your point of view, and experimenting with something new can be a lot of fun. You shouldn’t feel pressured to make your home look like an exact replica of what someone else tells you is the “right” way for your home to look, though. So, consider this your reminder that there’s nothing wrong with the features below. Some of them can be minimized if they bother you, and some of them are actually opportunities in disguise to flex your design muscles.

Here are common non-aesthetic details found in normal homes, as well as ways that you can work with them to add a little flair and show off your style.

Linen White + Sunny Yellow + Dove Gray bright clean bedroom
Kim Cornelison

White Walls

There are times you can’t make a lot of changes to a space, like when you’re renting. While white walls—a signature choice in many rentals—might not be to your taste, you can use them as an opportunity to let your personality shine. Consider them a blank canvas for your creativity! Design a gallery wall of art you love—it doesn’t have to be anything fancy—with framed family photos or images you’ve taken when traveling for a custom curation.

If you prefer patterns, look into temporary wallpaper that you can use to make a statement without a long-term commitment or the risk of damaging your walls.

Builder-Grade Basics

Perhaps your finances don’t allow you to renovate your kitchen. The truth is, you don’t need granite countertops, and there’s nothing wrong with builder-grade cabinets; they will store all your kitchen tools just fine!

If you want to add a little extra pizzazz, you can make some simple alterations, like swapping out the standard issue handles on your cabinets for something trendy that will pop perfectly against the simple style. Additionally, accessories such as trivets or pottery collections can break up long stretches of countertop if you don’t like the material, and a few decorative dishtowels can add much-needed color.

Mismatched Furniture

Maybe you’ve lived in your home for a while, and you still don’t have everything perfectly designed. You might have a hodgepodge of furnishings you’ve acquired from big box stores and hand-me-downs from relatives and old roommates instead of a complete living room set.

But that can be more interesting than having everything match, and pieces from family bring beautiful memories with them. To make mismatched furniture look intentional, make sure they have a common theme, which you can easily create by adding pillows or throw blankets to chairs that tie in the colors found in your couch. You can also purchase a rug with the colors of the different furniture pieces to ground the room and give it a cohesive feeling.

Older Home Oddities

Sometimes things are just slightly off. Older homes are rife with uneven floors and small wall cracks (though some of the flaws that drive you batty in your own house, like that one tile that doesn’t quite match, go completely unnoticed by your friends and family), but that’s what gives homes like this character. 

Assuming these are superficial flaws and not structural issues, most non-aesthetic things that bother you can be covered with a few decorations. You can use a large potted plant to obscure a warped wall and large paintings to cover cracks from the house settling. If you’re a perfectionist, try to avoid creating gallery walls or collections where things need to be neatly aligned, as it will only emphasize irregularities.

Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

Some people prefer wall-to-wall carpeting, especially in colder climates where it can keep a home cozier. But if you moved into a space where you have dated or drab carpeting and you’d prefer to minimize it, that’s absolutely possible. You can use area rugs to break up the space and designate different living and dining areas the same way you would if you had hardwood floors. It will not only help give purpose to your room but will add some color and personality.

While there are ways you can minimize the appearance of the non-aesthetic elements in your space, you can also just choose to accept and even celebrate them, whether they’re parts of your forever home or just details in the place you live in before you get to your dream home. Here’s to loving our houses just the way they are, because imperfect or not, there’s no place like home.

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