Friday, July 04, 2014

One of my greatest achievements is not being perfect

I spent the day painting walls today. It is such a tedious, boring job. But it requires so little of your brain, that it does give you time to let your mind wander. I thought about the color I was painting a lot. Wondering if it was actually the "perfect" color. It isn't, but it's close enough. For me, choosing that color was exasperating in ways I didn't expect.  I used to choose paint colors for a living. You would think it would be second nature. I knew I wanted a yellow shade and decided early in the process that I would choose a fabric for our new bedroom window's curtains first and work from there. Here's the fabric.


Looks easy, doesn't it? I carried a little swatch of it to the paint store and started pulling swatches. Only then could I see that this yellow has the tiniest hint of green in it. None of the paint swatches had that same subtle hint of green. I finally chose what seemed the closest. I brought the paint home and in my house the swatch looked drab—brownish yuck. I swiped a bit onto the wall. Mustard, baby poop, harvest gold. I took a deep breath, reminded myself that context is everything and I was painting this over hated baby blue that was casting its icy spell over what I hoped was going to be a change to mellow yellow sunshine, and I worked on. 


Once the blue was gone the yellow showed its true character. It is good! And once I could see that, I remembered what I learned from my brief career in interior design. Perfection is a myth and its pursuit is a tyranny. I remembered customers and clients, unhappy people, who suffered over matching unmatchable colors and fretted over microscopic flaws in a wood finish or a small wrinkle in upholstery or the height of a lamp, all of which made me know that was not a world I could ever live in. Perfect rooms and flawless surfaces were not for me and, really, what a superficial and pointless way to spend one's life and gifts.  Not that I have anything against a pretty room—it just isn't worth obsessing over. 

So, as I painted I did not worry about the little sheet rock imperfections, or the slightly wobbly line where the wall color meets the white ceiling. It will soon be filled with our much-loved, but far from pristine accumulations of furniture and art and god-knows-what and our messy habits of shoes under the bed, and piles of books and magazines, and Kleenex boxes and phone chargers and too many pillows. Martha doesn't live here. It's a place to relax, rest and enjoy and It's all coming together in a perfectly imperfect, and warm mellow yellow way. 

11 comments:

  1. Terry, this made me smile and nod in agreement. Perfection is highly overrated and drags us into places angels fear to tread. Your final sentences describing a home - that's the stuff and the place that quilts come from. Thanks for sharing!

    Teri

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  2. I have 4 gallons of paint sitting on my kitchen floor now! Painting is such a quick and easy fix and makes such a big change. It takes me forever to decide on a color but I'm always so happy when it's done. And my yellow this time is a bright yellow--I want a happy kitchen! And those little imperfections--not even noticed!

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  3. Amen to that! I love looking at model homes and perfect rooms on Pinterest but I could never live in one .... not unless it came with a trap door where I could shove all my "stuff" out of sight everytime company came. :-)

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  4. What a wonderful post!

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  5. I love the color you chose, but I am partial to yellow. I always find quirks as touches of character, but my Mom is one of those whose sheets are never wrinkled, everything is matchy-matchy, and wood surfaces are like mirrors. Would drive me crazy!!! Have a wonderful weekend!

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  6. teehee. I too hate baby blue and moved into a bathroom that was slathered in it. I covered it with sunflower yellow nd the other rooms in other, slightly more mellow shades of yellow. All hail sunny rooms with imperfections! Your room looks great!

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  7. 'Mustard, baby poop, harvest gold.' Yup, that's what I got in my living room after picking it long distance. Already painted, I am living with it, simply took down the curtains it was supposed to go with, the easy way out. Your's looks nice- maybe mine is More Poopy or something.

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  8. This post came at just the right moment for me as I paint my kitchen, laundry and entry obsessing over every detail. Just breathe is what I keep telling myself, a man on horseback can't tell the difference! Family and laughter in what I expect to happen here not a photo shoot. Thanks Terry.

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  9. Good for you, Terry! Plus, colors change with light bulbs, time of day..... It looks like it will be elegant.

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  10. I have a wall color in my kitchen that is green, blue or grey depending on the season, time of day and whether it is cloudy or not. It's quite interesting. Iwas never in interior design, but I learned not to go down the perfectionist path back when I was planning our wedding. Watching all the other brides obsess over whether the insert paper in the invitations was an exact match to the pew bows was... interesting. A certain path to madness.

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