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in a perfect world…


There are times when I am going about my day…having a conversation, surfing on my computer, helping with homework, working on a project…and a theme keeps coming up.  A common thread, a little gem, is found.

Such was the case today.

It started with Instagram.  I saw a post Maria from Dreamy Whites shared about the marble she selected for her kitchen makeover.  In the post, she shared that everyone, including the salesmen at the store, tried to talk her out of marble.  Why?  Because it stains and etches and won’t look perfect forever.

She said, “I have a French pastry cupboard that has a marble top that is over 100 years old.  I love every scratch and discoloration that the century old marble counter shows.  Don’t let anyone talk you out of marble if it’s what you really want…”

Then Jeff and I had a conversation about letting the boys do things that are daring and adventurous. Not only simply allowing it, but encouraging it.  It feels scary to let your kids out of your sight and to suggest they do anything with even the slightest element of danger.

Even as every parenting instinct inside of me bristled at the thought, the movie Finding Nemo came to mind.  “If you never let anything happen to him, then nothing will ever happen to him.”

finding nemo

And then, I was answering e-mail questions about finishes and their durability.  I’ve thought this before and it hit me afresh.

Why does everyone want a bullet-proof finish?  Are we moving back towards a time when everyone is going to clad their upholstery in plastic, so it is never stained and our dining tables are always hidden under the protection of pads and a tablecloth?


As I sat at my computer, wondering what to write, all of these snippets of my day came to mind.  The commonality in all of the seemingly disconnect happenings surfaced.

I feel like we’re moving in a direction where everything must be preserved, protected and perfect at all times.

Do you feel that way sometimes, too?

I would rather move in a direction where everything must be loved and cherished and it’s okay if they display the marks of a well-lived life…


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  1. Kimberly Bruhn says:

    i couldn’t agree more….it reminds me of a time when I was in my teens. My dad’s aunt had just passed away and we were sorting through her things. We found closet’s full of beautiful linens still in the packages and or cloth bags (from France and Belgium). We opened some up to see and quite a few of them literally dissolved in our hands! All that beautiful lace and linen. When we took her beds apart for family to take them home, the sheets she had on the beds were all mended (neatly and beautifully) but were quite lumpy! When I say to myself that I should save that “something” for a rainy day I try to remind myself that EVERY day we have here on Earth is precious and meant to be celebrated with our favorites (both family, friends and just “things”). Much appreciation for you and your encouragement….and hope you and yours are enjoying the snow.

  2. Love it. It made me think immediately of the things that we (women) do to ourselves to look “New”. Botox, fillers, plastic surgery….why? If we made it a rule to never smile, cry, go out in the sun or wake up to a new day, we’d look pretty perfect but what’s the point in that? A champagne glass may leave a ring on the dining table, and smiling may give you wrinkles. I’ll take my chances.

  3. Oh, I want to stand up and yell'”BRAVO” to this post!!! I have marble countertops in my kitchen- went through the same thing at the time of choosing- until the sales lady finally said,”Get marble- I don’t think you will be happy with anything else!” And I LOVE IT! Yes, it is scratched in some places, yes, it even has a tiny chip on one edge. But it is so gorgeous and looks so French farmhouse and I smile every morning when I come into my kitchen. A lot of the finishes in my house are not perfect- we have raised eight kids here, for Pete’s sake! But I am often told how warm and inviting our home is- isn’t that the goal?

  4. Lissie Jean says:

    Marian….I loved this…and I agree with Dana’s comments as well. I have a “new” grandson…he has perfect unblemished baby skin…yummy. When I look at my skin next to his, my age spots and wrinkles are more pronounced, but I’m at a point where it’s okay. I don’t want to go backward…I hope to be on this earth quite a bit longer, til the Lord calls me home, and I’m good with showing the evidences of a life well lived. Same with my “stuff”….I find comfort in the day to day wear and tear.

  5. Janet Harding says:

    That’s why I love things that aren’t perfect and show their age. If they get one more nick, so what? But if something is pristine you feel like you can’t touch it or you may ruin it. Who wants to live like that? Not me!

  6. yes! I keep thinking about how we are constantly telling our kids to stop doing things because they might break something or make a mess. I’m so over it! I want them to be able to LIVE in our house. I don’t want them to feel like the items in our house are more important than them.

  7. Cheryl says:

    One thing I love about finding a piece to refurbish are the dings and scratches it has accumulated, and hope to let them shine despite any changes I am making to the piece.I’m working on a piece now to use in my sewing/craft room that is fabulously imperfect though perfect in my eyes. And clearly used and loved by past owes. Personally at 60 yo I have an appreciation for the lines on my face that are telltale signs of my journey. Something to embrace?☺️

  8. Katherine says:

    So many people (umm, like me) love the look of old world charm. We travel throughout Europe and admire the aged and patina finishes. We arrive home still dreaming of ‘the look’ – but when it comes to putting that in our own home we go for sparkling and new.
    Hisness and I had a disagreement on our new marble counters that were installed last year. I wanted honed marble, he wanted polished. I gave in ……….. ha, ha – all knowing…… and went with polished. The counters are now gaining an aged, patina look because the man in my life is sloppy. Things are slowing beginning to look like the kitchens I visited in Europe, which is what I fashioned our look after.

  9. Holly says:

    Marian….I think this might just be your best post yet :) Bravo! We are bombarded with all these beautiful (and perfect looking) pictures in magazines, on the internet, and via Pinterest. I so love looking at them, like so many others, and pinning them to my boards for inspiration, but they truly are not “real.” I am currently “doing” my 4th old home. Before I focused on perfection, but not now. Thank you for this post! It validates me and so many others!

  10. Melanie Milburn says:

    Such great insight! We seem to be bombarded with perfection from all directions. Nice to embrace the imperfect that makes our lives warmer, richer, and gives us permission to relax and be ourselves.

  11. Kathy says:

    Love this post. There is nothing perfect in my home. We raised 5kids this house was lived in and enjoyed by all, and when new people come in they tell me they just love our home.

  12. Ashley says:

    This is easily one of my favorite entries from you. I needed this today. I agree completely, character isn’t perfection.

  13. Helen Loretta says:

    There is nothing so beautiful as a heart, home and family that are well loved.
    When I was growing up grandparents lived in the same home with their children and grandchildren. You could see the result of that love and wisdom extending to the youngest generation.
    Furmiture pieces, dishes and jewelry were handed down from generation to generation. All well loved.
    Love comes with cracks and dings and age and its those very things that connect us to one another.

  14. “…it’s okay if they display the marks of a well-lived life.”
    My husband and I have lived in our 130 yr old house for 10 years. We’re at the point of choosing to do a major remodel that includes some structural work or building a complete new house. The decision has been rather emotional, especially since this is the only home our son has ever known. And since our world today lives on comparison and having the ” best of the best”, a new house seems ideal. But I choose the house that “displays the marks of a well-lived life”.

  15. Your post made me think of a conversation that I recently had with a close girlfriend. She insists that anyone entering her home must take off their shoes. I personally hate going barefoot, even in my own home I wear flip flops or slippers. Aren’t floors meant to get dirty, scuffed, and worn? I purposely chose a durable tile for my entire down stairs that can hold up to wear and tear. I wouldn’t want people to feel uncomfortable in my home.

    • Here in Minnesota, almost everyone takes their shoes off in their own home and another’s. This has a lot to do with the Scandinavian heritage here, and of course, the dirty winters. People often bring their own slipper socks with them. You would be surprised how much of the world does this. Very considerate!

  16. Jeannetta says:

    As with our hearts, the marks leave a reminder that we’ve lived.

  17. I am glad that I have nothing too precious in my home and that when kids and dogs come to visit I do not have to be on guard. My house and the items in it have a history that I treasure, dings and all.

  18. Ginni says:

    Marian, this is such a wonderful post. It is January, and it is quite an appropriate that you speak of things one contemplates for a new year. I hear you saying to me, “Live, girl, live!” The underlying part is that I might be a little afraid. Sending the children outside and letting them climb the high trees, choosing lace curtains because they remind us of my great-grandmother – instead of what big box decor shops dictate would be “better” – these are about taking risks. And I might feel the trepidation in taking such little keeps of faith, even as I go ahead and make them. In our time, it seems like the bell clangs, “Don’t mess up! You could choose wrong.” And so what if I choose poorly? My great-grandmother was born on a boat bound from Italy to the U.S. I never heard her fuss over her curtain choices. She used what she could afford and she built a life around that. When we came to visit it was about the food, the love, the stern Italian warnings to eat more. The living and loving part was what is most important. And now I have up these little lace panels at the front door to remind me of her lace privacy screens from her own front door. (It might not be “in style,” but it has her heart. I love that.) Even as my daughters build a tree fort in the backyard, and I pray for them every time they gallop out the door, I know that I have to let them live. Darn it. That scares me. What if they get hurt? (And the epic use of Band-Aids here proves that they do, every time.) It is also why I come here every day to see what you are up to at MMS. You are taking something no one looked at twice, and giving it a new purpose. You are willing things back into life. To that chair you say, “Live, girl, live!” And so must we.
    Thanks again!

  19. connie choiniere says:

    I too find comfort surrounded by surfaces and finishes that have been well loved; to me, they are full of life. My kitchen table is made of pallets and my dining room floor is laid with beaten up pine boards. My dining and family room upholstery are simple slipcovers. I love that the kids don’t have to be too careful.

  20. BJ Massa says:

    Thank you! It seems every single painted furniture forum I am on lately, the topic of discussion is “durability”. Lots of backlash against a hand waxed finish because it isn’t durable. Phooey! No finish is impenetrable. No finish will last forever! Every piece of furniture that is painted will eventually chip and scratch and get beaten up. No matter what the finish is. I find a great dichotomy in thought in our disposable society. Everyone wants a finish that will last forever on a piece of furniture they will throw away.

  21. Robin Leach says:

    Wabi Sabi. There is beauty in the imperfections!

  22. Funny, I was thinking the same thing as I looked at my chipped old chest that holds my guest bathroom sink. I realized not everyone would understand and appreciate it as I do. Also, my copper faucet is turning that green patina. It makes for a very distressed look and I love it. Don’t think my guests will understand though, however, that’s alright… Jane Flora Doora

  23. Becca says:

    Loved this post as much as I love patina! BRAVO!

  24. One of my 15 year old son’s favorite hobbies is climbing trees. He climbs higher than our two story house in our white pines. Now he’s started taking his GoPro with him & I can see how far it is looking down…yikes. But he loves it & it’s so much better than video games. I just pray & tell him to not climb when I’m not home. Let your boys be boys! (& it is harder when they’ve had medical issues. My tree climber is my heart patient baby:)

  25. HippiesChick says:

    I can’t do perfect. But I can do homey and comfy. I used to want perfection but now I just want my things to be pretty and functional. Its a process but I’m looking forward to the trip.

  26. Alicia says:

    Marian, I so totally agree with your well-written comments today.

    I was blessed to receive “hand me downs” in excellent condition from my parents after they died. Their vintage 1950’s furniture is in my 1952 refurbished beach-style bungalow home – my first home ever. Though their furniture is not my style I’ve made slipcovers for the well-made, sturdy sofa, love seat, and arm chairs, courtesy of MMS videos on slipcovers. MMS paints will bring new life to the wood furniture. The functional original wood cabinets throughout the house show signs of wear as well but some sanding and paint will restore them. I’m into restoration vs tossing things into the junk pile. I even kept a wood pallet from a delivery last week because it’s wood. I’ve put it to good use already in my patio. “Character” and “coziness” is what I’m about – and my home reflects this. My home may never be on a magazine cover/article but it’s the “cutest” house on the block! And I love it when visitors exclaim “it’s so cozy”. Another lesson I’ve learned that guides me in making purchases in general these days “live below your means so that you can bless others.” I think MMS is a good example of this. God bless!

  27. It’s so much easier as a grandparent. I never worry about my “things” anymore, especially when my grandsons are here because I love them so much more than anything I have. Not that I didn’t love my daughter….I did, and do!….but I worried a lot more when I was younger. And at 60, I just value time and experiences so much more. It is really liberating!

  28. Robin says:

    The Velveteen Rabbit

  29. Alicia says:

    PS: I was so blessed this weekend when using a promo card I received from Living Spaces when I returned after the holidays to purchase a cart that was still available. It had been on sale because of imperfections which I knew I could overlook. I was tempted for a “moment” when I saw the same cart in PERFECT condition, but with the original price tag, which with tax would have brought it to over $200. My card was only good for $190. I didn’t want to spend…just use the amount fixed on the promo card. Well, at the checkout I discovered the “imperfect” cart was no longer at the $104 sale price. It was now on sale at $50!!!!! What a blessing! I managed to purchase a gift for a friend’s birthday with some of the promo card!

  30. Sarah Nauman says:

    Wow, what a great article. Thank You! Such a wonderful, gentle reminder that life is perfectly imperfect and every person, being, item is designed to evolve into a more mature version of itself. Each scar, freckle, stretch mark, wrinkle, scratch, ding and chip is a sign we have lived. Our “flaws” make us unique and real.

  31. marylisa noyes says:

    I am one of those people who chose quartz instead of marble for my kitchen countertop. I went through all my ideas and looking at slabs in the stone yard and in the end I picked a slab of quartz that looks exactly like marble. I cook a lot with tomatoes and lemons and when I thought about upkeep I just didn’t want all the sealing and worrying that marble in my kitchen would require. I have it in my bathroom but I don’t use products in there that I know would give me shivers if they were spilt on it and allowed to remain unnoticed. I have an old armoire as my pantry and a farm cupboard I painted with your milk paint in the eating area. I just wanted my work surface to be worry free.

  32. Tammie Greenwell says:

    I love used things for a personal reason. I didn’t have a close loving family growing up. So I don’t have the things that some people have from their families past. I’ve created that home with my kids and I like the idea that the old cupboard I found at goodwill or the antique store had many years of love and use even if it was with a different family. It has a past and now I have painted it and added it to our family. So I have a new couch and grandma’s old china cupboard that I painted green. Just not my grandma, but someone else’s!

    • Rick S says:

      My wife and went to an estate sale at a coworkers Aunt Carlene’s house, We still refer to the Christmas ornaments and dishes as from Aunt Carlene when asked about them. She belongs to us now too. She is family.

  33. Patina….isn’t that what it’s all about? Making memories….I bought an unfinished oak table when my children were preschoolers and before I could finish it they had dribbled catsup and mustard over it….stains I can still see under the finish, 35 years later….Love this post and yes…sometimes we have to get what we love…not what is practical.

  34. Ginger says:

    We have a trampoline, and the first summer we had it, my son broke his thumb while playing on it. I still say it is my favorite investment ever. It gets my five children outaide, playing together and having fun. I agree with you! Life should be lived— and sometimes it’s going to show. We should embrace it.

  35. Stacey Warner says:

    This is why I love you and your blog. Can’t things just be how they are meant to be…not perfect and pristine, but loved and lived in? Things like this always make me think of the Leonard Cohen song “anthem” that has the lyrics

    Ring the bells that still can ring, Forget your perfect offering, There is a crack in everything, That’s
    how the light gets in.

    Thank you for all of your tips and tricks, trials and tribulations.

  36. Susan Harding says:

    I read, but never post a comment…felt I needed to tonight as I catch up on the hundreds of emails in my inbox. LOVED this post and it was a great reminder to me that things are meant to be ‘loved’. I have a counter from the late 1800’s, 24 drawers and I love it. It is old, worn, dinged and stained…then my 5 year old decided she needed to carve stars on the fronts of some of the drawers. GASP! At first I was upset, but the next day I realized all she did was add to the history of the piece and now I smile every time I see those stars!

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