The Allure of Imperfection
"To be perfect is to develop expanding imperfection." ~ Ethylios
Perfection is nearly impossible to reach. The ideal is wonderful to strive for and be inspired by, but feeling like we've never "achieved" that ideal can deflate us and make us feel unworthy. What's even more depressing is that we've missed the beauty in the imperfection along the way.
I love Pinterest-perfect spaces and beautiful blog before-and-afters as much as the next homebody, but I'm drawn most to those that are imperfect and interesting. After all, people aren't perfect, so why would we try to make the homes we live in perfect? They should be a reflection of us, with all of our beautiful and alluring imperfections.
Take, for example, this mirror that my brother made for me years ago. It's one of my most treasured things, because it's perfectly imperfect, and it was made with love. The barn boards are weathered, and there are flaws and cracks which make it even better. Don't you think it's much more interesting than a store-bought perfect mirror?
Another example: I love cutting boards, tin cans and bowls. I displayed them in my kitchen so that they can be functional and make me smile every time I see them. The old tin holds tea, and the funny little salt and pepper shakers were a gift from my brother and sister-in-law after their family visited me and we went to Marine Land. These things sit on an old piece of driftwood. Maybe not a new and perfect kitchen, but one that brings so much joy and functions well at the same time.
Real life can be messy, hurried and stressful. And so I'm of the opinion that aiming for a home that's simple, relaxing, and calm is the primary goal - not expensively designed and decorated to perfection.
The room I use for my office-studio didn't have doors on the closets. And closets are where I store real life clutter. They needed doors. But I didn't want the cheap closet doors from the big-box store, nor did I have the money for expensive beautiful doors. So I asked my dad and brother to make these ones from scrap lumber and painted them white. Their imperfection is stunning, functional and meaningful to me.
The bedroom below was painted blue already - probably not a colour I would have chosen myself, but I embraced it and made it work with the furniture I already had. The vintage nightstand was a '60's lacquered mess that I painted and wallpapered (as seen here). There was no overhead light in the room, and I didn't have funds to purchase an expensive 'perfect' lamp, so I used a hanging socket and cord and hung it on a piece of old barnboard. The result is a beautifully imperfect room.
My Mom's guest room is certainly not perfect, with wonky walls, an old tile ceiling and no budget for a refresh. So we made do with what we had: salvaged barn boards from my grandparents' old farmhouse and an old dresser and iron bed of my Mom's that were left out in the garage for years. We brought them in, cleaned them up and added soft touches like pillows, a natural jute rug and a throw. Aged beauty indeed.
My previous small condo had just a tiny space in the living room to set up a little home office. Not the perfect scenario, but I made it work and found it beautifully inspiring. An old barn board provides a sunny spot for plants and collections. I kept the space simple with a white monocrhomatic look and bits of colour through plants, flowers and home-made art.
Barnboard came into play again in my living room to cover a cheater bathroom door that I didn't want to use. In a picture perfect case I would have removed the door and put up a new wall. Instead, I just covered it with barnboards that are imperfectly beautiful with all their knots and cracks and flaws.
Here are six easy ways you can create your own imperfectly beautiful home:
1. Use interesting salvage or natural pieces found in nature or at flea markets or antique markets as art. It's interesting and beautifully imperfect.
2. DIY your own art, or have your kids do it. You don't need to have expensive artwork in your home if you can't afford it or aren't drawn to it. Frame some DIY art (find inexpensive frames at yard sales and paint them out the same colour) for a personal and meaningful display.
3. Find old pieces of furniture online or at yard sales or markets and leave them unfinished. Sometimes the old chipped paint or patina is uniquely beautiful.
4. Keep old flooring instead of purchasing new. If you can, sand and re-stain wood flooring. Or paint the boards in white paint for a Nordic or country feel.
5. Find old mirrors at yard sales and paint the old frames or frame it yourself with barn boards or wood strips. It's so much more interesting than a typical big-box modern mirror.
6. Don't sweat your paint colour. Choose an off-white for your walls (cool for areas with lots of natural light and warm for those with low light) and don't stare at it for hours trying to decide if it's right. Once you get some things on the walls and your furniture and accessories in place, 9 times out of 10 it will work. (Download my Simple White Colour Guide).
Life takes balance, and so does building a home that lets you thrive. Trying to create the picture-perfect home is not sustainable - to our wallets, the planet or our mental health. Let's give up this idea of having perfectly styled homes and embrace beautiful imperfection and the unique and interesting life that comes with them. A home that's unique and meaningful will be one you're happy in for the long haul.
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