Thursday, January 12, 2012

Deborah Needleman: The Perfectly Imperfect Home

Amen, Billy Baldwin.  An image from Deborah Needleman's book, The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well. Image from  

Today I found out about about a talk that will be given by Deborah Needleman (former editor-in-chief of Domino magazine) on February 2nd at ABC Carpet and Home.  Naturally I decided to attend, and then I started reading up on her and saw that she put out a book last October called The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well.  The title really struck a chord with me - I always judge interiors by my initial gut reaction, and the thing that affects that reaction most is whether the room or home is inviting or not.  Do I want to go plop down on that deep, cushy sofa that actually looks like people have sat on it before, or is the room barren and stark white with little soft material to provide comfort?  Does the room tell me anything about the people who live there, or were things just chosen and put into place because they "look good"?

As I was looking around, I found an article that Needleman wrote in WSJ in conjunction with the release of her book (it's actually excerpted from the book) in which she lists "10 Odd, Yet Essential, Elements of Style."  I agree with her on all ten of these essentials - as I was reading along I found myself mentally checking off all of the ones that are in place in our apartment.

See her list and snapshots of my home's embodiment of these elements after the jump.  How does your place stack up?  Do you agree with Deborah's elements?

Read on after the jump...
1.  A Little Animal: "Don't question me here, just pick up a nice, inanimate pet along your journeys, bring it home and see how you feel."
We've got animal in spades (what does that saying mean, anyway?).  This little guy also falls under category #2.  I got him in one of those little toy surprise boxes that are intended for little kids but I can never resist.  This was a special toy surprise box because I got it while we were living in France, because it came with this guy inside, and because he will forever remind me of the donkeys that were our neighbors while we lived there.

2.  Jollifiers: "sentimental things that spread a little joy every time you cast your eye upon them."
One of the things I love about our place is that everything decorative has meaning to us.  Either someone we love made it for us or gave it as a gift, we made it ourselves, we got it on a trip, or it reminds us of a special time in our lives.  For example, meet Imadegawa and Shirakawa.  We got these in Kyoto and named them after some cross streets near where we were staying. 

3.  Mollifiers: "This is the stuff that you allow into your home because as awful as it may be, it makes someone else happy."
The Steelers Terrible Towel.  Not something I would have chosen to display, but I love it because it makes the matrimony man happy.

4.  An Odd Chair:  "The odd chair is the most individual of all. It is frequently diminutive, unusual looking and solitary."
This is a very tiny rocking chair that my mother and I reupholstered over Christmas. She found it at a friend's yard sale in desperate need of some loving, and I daresay we did a good job bringing it back to life.

5.  Shiny Objects: "Especially if your style veers toward the earthy, a bit of sparkle brings a focused sharpness to the look of natural materials and organic shapes."

6.  Ethnic Textiles: "Handcrafted fabrics bring coziness to a room and worldliness to a home."
Ok, I admit it.  This is from Ikea.  But it has sort of a Mayan vibe to it, and I've never been one to have room in my luggage to be lugging home exotic textiles.  I guess I'll have to work on this.

7.  Not Too Much Brown Furniture: "Too many brown pieces in a room is the surest way to suck the life out of it. Ever seen a room and wondered why it looked like a bland hotel lobby? Brown! Bossy decorator Sister Parish would allow no more than three brown pieces in any one room."

8.  Decorative Mirrors: "Convex mirrors have been used since classical times to reflect light, not to check your eye-liner, and that is still the point of the decorative mirror, convex or otherwise."

9.  Log Baskets: "A good basket cozies without cloying. It gives you something a little rough and adds a sense of depth to both sleek-modern and refined, antique-filled interiors."
While we don't have an actual log basket, we do have some smaller baskets for rounding up books and small objects, and a couple of these storage cubes that are great for holding things like spare bedding for visitors.

10.  Some Patina: "Life is messy and gloriously imperfect, and a few signs of wear and tear indicate a well-loved, well-used home. And a home that looks well-loved and well-lived in usually is."
This was another of my mom's finds.  She found it at an antique shop* and sanded off some bright blue paint that was showing through the white layer.  She intended to remove all of the paint, but I really like the way it looked partially sanded, so I left it.  I've been thinking lately of giving it a makeover, after seeing so many cool furniture DIYs over at designsponge.

*just kidding, the side of the road.

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