School was out for the summer and we had a hundred years of warm ahead of us to play and be and pretend. As the little sister, I typically followed her lead in things. But on those bright, Indiana summer mornings, she and I had completely different ideas of what it meant to play Barbies.

The set up was always the same: Barbie furniture on one side, dolls on the other, and piles of pink and white sparkly clothes and shoes in the middle. With sun-kissed shoulders and skinned up knees, we would sit cross-legged and eager with all of our loot spread out before us. It was time to pick.

For me, picking the dolls was the most important part. Deciding which dolls would be related, dating, or married was half the fun. Then, you got to choose their ages and names and determine which ones were gonna be nice and which ones weren’t based on really objective things like hair color and eyebrow shape. That was the serious business of Barbie playing.

But not for my sister. To her, picking was all about the furniture. She would always choose the best stuff. The pink couch, the plastic china cabinet and the bed with the lacy canopy. She wasn’t limited to the ‘real’ Barbie furniture. She would shop the house for unlikely things to use to make the Barbie houses better, like the artificial flowers from mom’s dresser that would become a gigantic potted plant in the corner. That kind of thing.

While I was busy making up pretend scenarios for our Barbies to live out, she was busy creating a beautiful, pretend house for them to live in. And she is still doing it. Only now, her furniture isn’t pink or made of plastic.


She writes about imperfect, inexpensive ways to make your home beautiful on her blog, Nesting Place. Most of you already know that. What you may not know is that she has compiled her philosophy of nesting in an e-book entitled It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect To Be Beautiful. It’s free and full of pretty photos and practical tips to help you create an environment in your home that is beautiful to you.

So while I may have been disappointed as a kid that my sister wouldn’t play Barbies for real, I now reap the benefits of her nesting ways and simple, creative ideas. And you can, too!