The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate & Live Well is a new decorating book by Deborah Needleman who was a founding editor of Domino magazine. Domino, a Condé Nast publication, folded in 2009 with the recession.
Needleman sets the tone of the book with a quote from the late, great decorator, Billy Baldwin: “Any house or room remembered with pleasure has the look of being loved by those who live in it.”
“I have come to realize,” writes Needleman, “that the soul of a house needs attention.” The point of decorating, she says, is to create the background for the best life you can have.
Her topics include Places for chatting, A Bit of Quirk, Cozifications and Spots for Books, Drinks & Feet - in other words, those things that bring comfort and personality to a home.
For those who appreciate decorating formulas, some are provided with wit, for example:
Insta-Cozy Couch = (1 blanket centered over back + 2 matching square pillows in corners + 1 rectangular pillow in center)
In place of the usual lavish photos of beautiful rooms, the book is illustrated with watercolour pictures. They add considerable charm while at the same time focusing the reader’s attention on the ideas in the text which are often an afterthought in decorating books.
Sometimes imperfection is carefully crafted, for example, introducing a drab or “ugly” colour as a foil to a roomful of pretty, girly hues. This was a practice endorsed by prominent English decorator John Fowler of Colefax & Fowler.
Does all this sound familiar? Embracing imperfection is a theme running through many books I have blogged about in the last few months. I have added a new tag to identify them.
This theme pops up in the shelter magazines too. In the December/January issue of House Beautiful (p.96): the New Modern: Embracing the Japanese Aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi: Imperfect, weathered, organic.
Happily, most of us don’t have to work to attain imperfection. It's just a gift.