In her book The Perfectly Imperfect Home, Deborah Needleman declares, “The era of the perfect home has passed.” Seems natural that she would write a book about it, since she was the editor of the now-defunct shelter mag Domino, which really celebrated that concept.
There has definitely been a change in the way we see our homes over the past ten years. This is not news to those of us who read decorating blogs that pronounced perfection dead a long time ago.
The popular blog Nesting Place, for example, has the memorable tagline “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful,” and versions of that sentiment have been reverberating through the blogosphere for years.
“This is fortunate for two reasons,” Needleman writes. “One, because perfection is of course unattainable, and the other, because it is boring. A room decorated to within an inch of its life—where everything has provenance or is absolutely just so—feels self-important and static.”
What strikes me is how this is part of an ongoing conversation between different decorating-personality types.
For a long time the “perfection seekers” were the leading voices in the discussion about design. If that’s your personality, then you want and appreciate guidelines. You’re more comfortable and less anxious if you know what is expected of you and your house. You don’t want to be told to “just make up what you want and go with it, even if it’s not perfect!” You want The Answers, and you want to do things right.
But now the more creative-leaning types are speaking up. They have fun breaking the rules. Their environments are constantly changing and evolving as they do. They like to put something ugly, weird, or unexpected into a space just to mix things up. They’re not afraid of bold color in unusual combinations. And they’re leading the decorating revolution.
A black nursery featured in Domino.
Needleman speaks for them when she says, “Style ought to be loose and easygoing, capacious and expansive, uplifting and amusing. If a room fails to put you at ease and welcome you, well, then, what is the point?”
A stuffed squirrel featured in Domino that makes me think of Funny Farm.
There’s no right or wrong personality type, and no right or wrong way to approach decorating your house. Maybe you need the rules so you can relax and feel like you did it “right” (I hear from readers like this every day, so I know you’re out there!).
But if you’re sick of trying to make your rooms look like someone else’s idea of how things should be and are ready to spread your creative wings, then your era has officially arrived.
Which “decorating personality” can you relate to more? Does all this talk about being creative and imperfect at home thrill you and get your creative juices flowing? Or are you scrambling to figure out the rules behind this new “imperfect look” so you can get it right?
Needleman’s book The Perfectly Imperfect Home is on shelves now. The Wall Street Journal has an excerpt from it: 10 Odd, Yet Essential, Elements of Style. (Photo at the top via Country Living. The rest via Domino.)