Just about everything in our home is slightly damaged. All of our furniture has something wrong with it: a knick over here, a dent over there, a paint chip missing in the corner. In most cases we purchased the items this way intentionally:
STORE CLERK: “We’re offering the floor model at a discount, but you might not want it because of this dent over here — “
US: “WE’LL TAKE IT.”
Other times, the damage happened on the way into our home. But either way it’s safe to say that there is something just a little imperfect about each and every piece.
And I like it that way.
Perfection freaks me out and gives me anxiety.
I think the first time I noticed this was when I was fourteen years old, and just met my first real “boyfriend”. (The realization probably came much sooner, but this was my first recollection of it. Because I was a freshmen in high school and well, boys.) He was coaxed over to me by a mutual friend, and he was incredibly shy. He leaned forward on his skateboard, a big, goofy smile on his face. I’d never seen him up close before and I noticed that one of his front teeth was slightly crooked, which I thought was SO cute. And the rogue poppy seed? Adorable. *Swoon.*
Years later, I worked as a manager and merchandiser for an upscale home decor boutique. Items in shipments were constantly arriving damaged, and when I’d call to make the claim, the company who shipped it would undoubtedly say: “We’ll credit your account. You can dispose of the damaged item.” Dispose of it?! But it’s in perfectly good shape! My boss usually let me keep it, and I’d always find a way to make a home for it: I’d angle it so that the damage was hidden, cover it up with paint or marker, or leave it be, because there really wasn’t much wrong with it in the first place. I think this process made me love the items even more, because it gave them character.
Like the drapes in Penelope’s room I tried to sew, and after getting 3/4 of the way through, got frustrated and broke out the stapler to finish the job.
Like the crack in the bench that sits in our foyer.
Like the chip in my favorite bowl that I just can’t seem to throw away.
Like my favorite piece of wall art, a giant painting of a tunnel of trees that has a huge dent running down the center.
My guess is I’ve always been drawn to things that are slightly off, because I’m slightly off. (And yes, I know I use the term “slightly” very liberally here.)
It wasn’t until later that I realized there is a name for this: “wabi-sabi”. It’s the Japanese world view which centers around the acceptance of transience and imperfection, and finds beauty in the “imperfect, impermanent, or incomplete”.
There was wabi-sabi everywhere on our wedding day: when it rained the entire day, how I slipped when we were announced into the room for the first time as husband and wife, how my veil got stuck in my dress and delayed my walk down the aisle for the entire song, and how that same veil was accidentally stepped on and ripped out of my hair as we were walking through our bridal party tunnel. (And many more moments from the day that we laugh about today.)
There’s a little wabi-sabi in each day now, too: a spill here, a bruise there, missed appointments, missed phone calls, cracks in walls and cracks in emotions, unfinished work and unfinished projects. And us, of course; all 3 of us (and soon to be 4). But it’s all appreciated, nonetheless, because what would perfect even look like? My guess is, pretty boring. Probably way more stressful. (And I really like not having to use coasters.)
Wabi-sabi is on my mind (at least from a design standpoint), because as we get our new baby’s room ready, I’m finding wabi-sabi all over the place. And I LOVE it.
We finally got it together and purchased a crib and dresser – a floor model of a really good brand of furniture (Basset), both pieces reduced to a RIDICULOUS amount, simply because BuyBuyBaby decided to no longer carry the line.
The crib — which converts to both a toddler bed, and all the way to a full bed — has a chip in the left side, which Miss P has taught us won’t matter at all, because she has chipped the entire edge around her crib. We decided to go with a natural, woodsy theme for baby boy’s room, and between the style and multiple color tones in the wood, this set is PERFECT. (You know, almost.)
We plan on using two bookshelves we already own in this room (dented and bruised, of course), and will pick up a few more accents to complete it. We are definitely on more of a budget this time. I’m going to share some inspiration along the way as we complete the room, in case you too are looking for ideas (and you can always follow my Pinterest board for babies, too).
We have a place here in Charlotte called At Home (it used to be Garden Ridge). It’s a giant design warehouse FILLED with some pretty unique items, and I checked it out yesterday to get some ideas. I came across this little end table which — totally random — had a map of Westchester, NY on it, where I am from.
Even this piece was a little too “off” for me, as in the base of it was cracked and it was about to fall over, which would require welding. Too much work for mama, but still, pretty cool. Some other items…
I walked out empty-handed, but definitely got some great ideas. (And I LOVE the bronze/silver letters for the wall.)
Lastly, here was Mother’s Day. (Also wabi-sabi. We tried.)
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”
Your turn: what are you appreciating that is less-than-perfect? What’s wabi-sabi in your world?