Imperfect Salvage – In Lieu of Therapy


I recently read and really enjoyed this Apartment Therapy post about finding the joy in the imperfect. It points out that imperfections make your home feel more lived-in and more livable. This is very true! Who hasn’t seen an immaculate house in a mag and wondered where the kids would sit and eat goldfish crackers, or if people really live there?  

The article got me thinking about another benefit of imperfection: the fact that embracing imperfection can be relaxing. By acknowledging that imperfection is a fact, the search for perfect can end…if you let it. 

Let me explain! And, of course, my explanations and examples will revolve around salvage, because that’s where my mind lives. Feel free to extrapolate with the following examples by substituting crafts, folk art, one of kind artisan pieces, whatever – for salvage.   

I’m talking today to the people who find their home to be a source of stress due to the need to always have it spotless and staged for impromptu guests. You know who you are! If you find yourself to be tightly wound about house issues and want to change, here’s something to try – though it may be a drastic effort! Compare it to quitting smoking cold turkey with no patch. While still hanging out with your smoking friends. Ready for it? If you need to stop sweating the small stuff around the house, and you need to forget the idea of perfection….start a house project with salvage. A salvage project is imperfect, unlikely to match anything, and will require abandoning preconceived notions about how a house should look. It’s a course in forced relaxation of design rules. No joke. Want some ideas? Here you go!

knob 1 compressed

1. Salvaged doors often do not hang straight. It’s just the way it goes – and it goes without saying that the crookedest door will be the one everyone notices, or the one that you bought to display front and center upon walking into your house. Old doors will also have strange dents and texture (Pic 1). If you’re a person who freaks at drink circle ghosts on your marble, and constantly needs to wipe them up – or buff them out (I know this person!) – try hanging an old door. Commit to it, fall in love, buy it and put in the effort. Enjoy its crooked nature. Pretty soon you won’t even notice coaster marks, much less buff them out.  


2. Salvaged wood floors will have variegated colors and maybe even – gasp! – streaks! If you have been obsessed with finding the perfect blond or cherry for your floor, get over it with this simple trick: buy reclaimed wood. You will not have a solid color – and here’s the upside. Your dog and cat hair might not show up so much! If you are currently vacuuming twice a day because your pet is ruining your monochromatic design choice, this might add years of life to your life – time you would have spent vacuuming. You’ll be able to chill instead.  

3. Vintage tin ceiling tiles will have dings and the tiles might not match. Have you ever stared up at a stain on your ceiling, or cracks, and obsessed about needing to fix them? If you cover the ceiling with mismatched vintage tin tiles, you’ll never see the cracks again! Plus, living with the madness of variety will make the problem of ceiling cracks seem like child’s play.    

4. Metal rusts! And it drips rusty water everywhere! If you are the person in your neighborhood who needs to have perfectly trimmed hedges, and your flowers are only one color, maybe it’s time to throw some chaos into the mix. Try some metal trim or decorations on the side of your house. Maybe buy from an artist who works in old metal. Let the rust drip everywhere. Don’t clean it up. Go crazy.   

5. Vintage lights are usually not available in sets of 20. If your house looks like you bought everything from the same catalog (Restoration Hardware? Pottery Barn?), consider mixing things up a bit. Use vintage lights and sconces. See how many different styles you can fit into one house! Your house! Shock your friends and family by not matching – and not caring.  

Seriously folks. Imperfection is fun. Salvage is fun. Have you heard that Quakers sew an error into every quilt because only God is supposed to be perfect? I have no idea if that’s a true story, but I do know this. Pursuit of perfection is a good way to ruin a lazy Sunday or a cocktail party, and it will give you an ulcer. Embrace that which is not perfect. Life is too short for the unattainable. Sit back and relax instead, while enjoying your imperfect home.