in a perfect world…

by | Jan 25, 2016 | Miscellaneus | 92 comments

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…



  1. Hannah Rose

    Needed this post today! As the only woman in a house full of boys, I often lament how fast things are “loved on/ lived in.” This was an excellent reminder that perfection is NEVER achieved and there is goodness to be found in the dents and stains.

    • Jennifer

      As a fellow mama in a house full of boys, I completely understand and agree. I love all the dings and dents, it reflects a life well lived and letting go of my vision of the perfect home. I wouldn’t trade a moment with my boys for the home that was too pristine to touch.

  2. Theresa

    whoa! in love with the cabinet. all that chippy, dented, imperfect wonder!

  3. Teresa H. Fields

    Perfectly said .

  4. Sandy A

    Yes, Yes, Yes…my daughter’s and I talk about this alot! We think looking at all the perfection on Pinterest, Blogs, IG, has almost made us into little perfection robots, wanting everything new and shiney, and well, perfect. Don’t get me wrong…I love all of the above, but in my heart used with love, a warm patina, a piece with a story behind it, chips and dents and history…well that is what brings me joy…

  5. shell

    I inherited my grandmother’s and her mother’s sets of crystal. One set is about 100 years old and the other is 75 years old. We use them all the time – even putting them in the dishwasher. The horror! I would much rather get a chip in a well loved and used glass than store things forever unused so they are “perfect.” Perfect is in the memories, not the presentation.

  6. Katy

    Hmmmm…..this is a very interesting post. Sometimes I think my quest for perfection leaves me with complete design paralysis. I recently went to see the home of a friend who left a picture perfect isolated home to move to a real neighborhood where her husband grew up. She let the new house be what it wanted to be. She painted with leftover paint in the basement, and lived with the imperfect, and somehow the house ended up being perfectly charming and perfectly her.

    • Stephanie

      This post was perfect for me today! I have a new fireplace and haven’t decorated it because I want it to look perfect. Decorating paralysis. 🙂 how stupid is that, because even when I get the “perfect” look, I will change it again eventually. Going now to decorate!

  7. B Folk

    I wonder if, at the heart of it, the quest for perfection is part of the big hole in our hearts. We know that we’re not perfect, that the world’s not perfect, and that we weren’t meant to live in this state forever. We keep trying to perfect and preserve everything because this life is all that we know, and we are unconsciously trying to stay here forever? Or, maybe I’m thinking too much…
    I only have one “boy” (hubby), and I sigh so much about how he “grubbys up” my home. Then, I think about how I will miss him so if he dies before me (which he almost did, last year), and I repent and thank God that I have this man for however long I get to have him. Not only is there goodness to be found in the dents and the stains, it is also found in the ones who make the dents and stains:-)
    Thanks for the topic, Marian.

  8. Jenny B.

    I agree! I also have a hard time with Finding Nemo. Oh, how I want him to just turn around and swim home and stay away from that boat! But, there he goes… every time. Your post made me also think of Mater (from Cars) and his cherished dents. 🙂 My grandmother passed away at the beginning of this month, and there is a ding in my dining room table from several years ago when she sat there and held an antique lead frog my dad had just given me. It was heavy, and as she was turning it over in her hands, it slipped, and made a dent in the tabletop. Now, when I wipe down the table, and go over that imperfect little knick, I think of my grandmother. I would much rather have that little dent to remind me of her being in my home than a pristine table.

  9. Jenny B.

    Also, marble is certainly more durable than drywall, which is what my kitchen backsplash has been for the past 15 years. It’s held up pretty well, so I’m guessing her marble will do just fine. 🙂

  10. JoanMarie

    Perfect timing with this post! I am working on a harvest table for photo shoots and am leaving the surface “rustic”. My hope is that through use, the table will continue to build character. My intention is to use it as they did in the homestead and watch it wear. No varnish or poly here! Thank you for the reminder that “living” with the things we love should be just that!

  11. Denise

    I feel the opposite! I no longer want everything perfect (and I’ve lived that way all of my life and it’s very negative and exhausting)! Now that I have grandkids I don’t want to worry about scratches, stains and spills. I want everyone that comes to my home to be comfortable and not worry about messing up anything. And I want a lived in look not a showcase. I think this is why the farmstyle is coming back so strong and I’m 100% in!

  12. Kate

    This post really resonates with me. As the mom to three boys, I struggle with legos everywhere, and their complete lack of attention to detail. My oldest is only 7 – so its going to be a long haul for this mom. We live in a small Sear’s house from the 1920’s, so we don’t have room for a ton of extraneous furniture or placeholders. And I am of the mindset that I would much rather spend more for an item of quality or something special. So yes, use it all! Have your juice in my french glasses. Those newly upholstered chairs that you watched me do; by all means, sit on them in your snow pants. You want your toast on my vintage china, of course. One for your doll, too? Done. And I feel the same about jewerly, too. Just because I am wearing my “momiform” of yoga pants or jeans doesn’t mean that I am not wearing my nice watch, and pearls. I am hoping the shiny things distract from my dirty hair.

  13. jennifer

    That’s been my motto after my third son arrived. Well lived in – well loved!

  14. Marian@CMShawStudios

    You know, this risk aversion may be a side effect of all the scary stuff happening in the world. I had to steel my guts last week and encourage my 16 year old daughter and a few friends to take the Metro unsupervised to see and art exhibit in Washington DC. I want her to feel competent dealing with things like ticket machines, schedules, and maps when I’m not there to do it for her. Plus, there is such a sense of adventure when you go it alone.

    As for the furniture, that’s why I buy old, used stuff and remake it. It already has pen marks and dents, so I don’t hate my kids for putting play dough on it. I figure if I only paid $50 for it, then I can’t get too upset if my kids make a mark on it.
    The other Marian

  15. Kipper

    I have a vintage chair that has wooden arms and a velvet seat and back. Oh how I love that chair. A few years ago a dog was adopted from a rescue. When I complained to my mother that the dog had put some gnaw marks on one arm she said “That chair was special to you before, now even more so. A few years from now you will see those gnaw marks and remember that great dog”. So true! The dog passed away four years ago and those chair marks always remind me of that special and beloved dog.

  16. Anya

    I got so upset the first time my butcher block island got a ding in it. Then I remembered how much I loved to caress the counters that I’ve seen in antique stores – all the meals and stories and who knows what else that was shared over those counters. Isn’t it funny since one of the things we all seem to love most about vintage and antique things (and the look we may be trying to achieve when we use products like yours) is, as you said, evidence of a well-lived life? I love this idea so much more than perfection – it is far more interesting!

  17. Georgianna

    Marian the philosopher. I loved it. Great post. Empowering ideas.

  18. Mandy

    I’m torn! My natural way is to be a bit OCD and like everything just so, but I recognise that this way does not bring me peace and contentment. I’m much more at ease when things aren’t so precise and instead more ‘lived-in’. It’s difficult either way but I am making an real effort since we have moved to an old cottage where nothing’s perfect and I’m finding it easier than our last house which was fairly modern.

  19. LauraC

    I grew up in a 150 year old home with antiques in use every day. My husband grew up in what I would call a museum. I believe in using objects as they were intended and not for looks. It’s a struggle to blend our two experiences. But we are making progress. I do think older pieces just were built so much better. We have 100 year old Hitchcock chairs that still are fine today. No wobbles. I am not sure where I am going with this comment but it struck a chord with me. Thanks!

  20. Michelle

    As I’ve gotten older, with my children grown, I find I cherish memories in everything. I think the need to overprotect (both people and things) takes away from that. Growing up, when we were able to roam and explore without hovering parents, we fell out of trees and broke arms. We touched things we shouldn’t have and cut ourselves. But the memories come from being high in the trees, from crawling into junk piles turned into forts. The pain of broken bones and stitches is forgotten. Our possessions should live the same way! Find those memories in the past and in the everyday!

  21. Becky

    My mom used to use the phrase “broken in”. Comfy to me is something broken in. Patina on something is beautiful. Anybody can go out and buy something new and pristine but it takes years and years sometimes to “be broken in”. And I agree with the lady about marble. My husband just bought me a beautiful antique dresser with a brown and white marble top and it’s in great condition after decades of use. I once let a plumber talk me out of a claw foot bathtub, oh how I regret that!

  22. Kim

    This is intriguing to me. I just moved into a brand new house we built. IT has white woodwork and white cupboards – my dream! On move-in day the movers scraped up the trim on the doorway going to the basement. I cringed and thought for crying out loud – not even in the house one day and it’s already scraped up! But it’s stayed like that for the last month and you know what? I barely notice it. In fact, when I do notice the scratches it makes me think of the house we moved out of. A house we dearly loved and miss every day, despite the decision to build a bigger one more suited to us right now. But that other house – it was the house I brought my babies home to, it was the house where my husband and I first started the world of DIY. So the scratches in my brand new house seem less scary now. It’s almost a relief when the first dings and dents happen! I need to remember that when I’m telling my kids to be careful. Maybe they can just drive those trains on the wood floor and if a scratch happens – well in 10 years when they are no longer on the wood floor driving trains I will think back fondly on those scratches….

  23. Audrey

    A wise man once told me that if I wanted something to be perfect, I should get plastic. Horrors – who wants a home full of plastic? I too love the organic look of wood things. Great post today!

  24. AnneHH

    As a mother of three-including two boys-it took me a while to figure this out. Now that my kids are all in their 20’s, you cannot imagine how much I love the things that show the marks/wear/tear of my children’s growing up years. I cried when our youngest broke my favorite Christmas ornament from my childhood, but now cry with tears of joy when I hang the remains of that ornament every year on the tree. Takes me right back to such happy, crazy times with our wonderful kids. As a recent empty nester, I love where we are now with such a neat house but also love the chaos of having the kids back home. And my three are so brave in facing the world and expect that there will be challenges in our big crazy world but also that they are equipped to handle them. All three of them have chosen to live overseas at times during their 20’s and I am so proud of them all. Marian, you are SO right in your instincts!!

  25. AnneHH

    PS forgot to say that I have had marble counters in my bath and kitchen for 10 years and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them and would not want anything else!!

  26. Cindy

    I love the way you noticed … … and followed the train of thought through to the end… and then expressed it to us. Really cool thing to think about while we’re all seeking to make everything so perfect and tidy and pretty. … aren’t some of our favorite and best things the ones that get all the love and wear…

  27. Kari Beckett

    Whoa…..that cabinet is everything! Perfectly, imperfect.

  28. Julianne

    Yes, I fall prey to freak outs when something new gets a mark, scratch, etc. It may explain why I love vintage pieces…pressure is off!!

  29. Colleen

    In the county next to mine marble will not pass inspection in a kitchen remodel. It is porous and deemed “unsafe”. REALLY??!!

  30. Marion

    God bless my mother, she saved everything so that it was preserved. 30 some years later when i had kids out came all the wonderful items i never got to use. The upside was a wonderful time capsule, the downside was that she didnt enjoy it. Now that well loved baby blanket in tatters is a draft dodger and makes way for the quilts my mother now sews. To everything there is a season.

  31. Christi

    I wholeheartedly agree. Who wants to be so wrapped up in our possessions that we suffer any heartache over a ding or stain? I used to, but there are so many more serious concerns in my adult life, I had to let this go.

  32. Ellenann

    I love the perfectly imperfect! I also am partial to that beautiful marble and lovely antiques, which I think should be used with love. Appreciate the things that make you happy!

  33. Ellen

    That was such a good post. I normally don’t comment on posts but I was just talking to my college freshman boy last night and found myself a bit out of sorts regarding his choices (i.e.: not my choices) and somehow your post about “marble” and Nemo made everything feel so much better.

    I choose the marble and letting something happen to “them”

  34. Shaunna

    Love this sweet friend. My thoughts exactly.

  35. Bridget

    Amen! Imperfections from everyday wear creates patina and patina is priceless.

  36. Rick S

    I have learned that making memories living with and using things is better than having a perfect unused thing. Give me the well loved chipped piece any day.
    My favorite imperfect thing is the oak curio cabinet/secretary mom got from grandma. It was damaged in a house fire and sat like that for 20 years. I inherited it and got it restored. The man who did it was able to restore the broken drop front desk, the curved door that was coming apart and re-silvered the mirror. He called me about the scratches on the beveled mirror edge to see if I wanted them buffed out. When he told me they were from who-ever refinished it I told him to leave them there. Grandma refinished it 40 years ago and I didn’t want to erase her from the history of the piece. The piece is beautiful but you can see the life it has lived. I was able to make it useable but not perfect.

  37. Tracy


  38. obin McGirr

    I am with you! We have Virginia soapstone counters in our kitchen. It is both durable in that it does not stain or crack from heat, yet soft in that it scratches and nicks easily. I look at it as a surface to be used and loved. It has a warmth to it and after only one year it looks old. I believe beauty comes with age and memories. I could never part with the dinning room table I bought when I first married because of all the nicks and marks from all the meals enjoyed on it

  39. Lourdes Garcia Ambrosio

    I love the patina of things that have been loved and cherished! We have a piece of marble in our kitchen from the original owner of the house (sweet sweet older woman) and I already know that when we remodel, I am going to save that small slab of marble and incorporate it into the remodel because all the stains and discoloration will remind me of the love she put into it whenever she prepared her family meals on it and he memory will still be in “her” kitchen 🙂

  40. Betsy

    I love this post, Marian! When my husband and I moved into our current home 16 years ago, we were able to purchase the previous homeowner’s brand new kitchen table, chairs, hutch and counter stools. This furniture was in perfect condition – he had ordered it about a month before he decided to put the house up for sale. My son was born 7 years later; fast forward to today, and our table it no longer in the pristine and untouched condition it was when purchased. But I look at the scrapes and marks on it now (my favorite is the words “Stick Dog”, which he accidentally etched into the wood while writing a book report), and it preserves some of the smaller, everyday events over the years for our family – it’s a table with character and history. At one point I considered refinishing the top, but the more I think about it, I’d rather just strip the varnish off and apply a hemp oil finish, so that I keep the Stick Dog and other accidental doodles. (Any thoughts on how best to do this are appreciated!)

  41. Pamela Barnabo

    I love Kohls sales! We buy a lot there from kitchen to bath to clothing.

  42. Lauren

    I definitely agree with this one! In all aspects of decorating, I feel it all has to be perfect and pristine. Great topic to bring up! I agree with you whole heartedly and now realize even more that loved is better then not (if that makes sense), and I love the look.

    Great points brought up 🙂

    Lauren | Lovely Decor

  43. Kay

    Thank you for your post….I have a goldendoodle puppy who would agree whole heartedly. Our home is looking very well lived lately!

  44. Alicia

    I had to laugh at the plastic wrapped furniture because one set of my grandparents had just that-even the carpet had that prickly hard plastic covering it too! We knew not to even look at their things let alone touch them. Then my other grandparents were right the opposite. Mamaw always said belongings could be bought but memories couldn’t. I’m sure you can guess where we chose to go! I am drawn to those well loved things-I could spend hours daydreaming about their story. So while I do teach my boys to respect others property, I do remind myself they are just kids! Things are going to get dinged & scratched from time to time & that’s okay. I ask myself 3 questions before I buy anything for my home. 1. Do I love it? 2. Do I have somewhere for it to go? 3. Am I ok with the possibility that it could get “lived on”?meaning used by my boys or others. If I can’t say yes to all 3 then I pass on it because I would rather have a home that is warm & inviting then that picture perfect “plastic wrapped” home that no one feels comfortable in because they’re scared to sit on or touch anything.

  45. CR


  46. Denise


  47. Patty

    What a great post, Marian and I loved reading all of the comments! One of the best compliments I have ever received came from my brother-in-law who totally shocked and surprised me with it – he said “I love coming to your house, Patty. I always feel welcome and warm and loved, like all of the things you have built it with.” My home is filled with treasures from family, things from flea markets and the side of the road, the mahogany farm table my dad built with it’s big crack and warm finish, frames filled with post cards sent from my grandfather to my grandmother in the early 1920s and lots of fabrics, old rusty stuff and color. I love color and these fabulous paints let me make everything beautiful! My daughters love it too and we paint together. They say I’m a hoarder (lol) but they’ve come to appreciate a chippy footstool or side table they now drag home to reinvent. Don’t get me wrong, Home Good, etc are wonderful but it does make me sad to see all of the clever, hand-made, beautifully crafted pieces get mass-produced and sold for $12.99. I’m thankful for those that appreciate the history and warmth of a well-loved item. Bullet-proof…ppssshhh! ☺️

  48. Linda Loiseleur

    I couldn’t agree more. The “imperfections” of a well loved item are what makes it perfect to me. The majority of the furniture in my home has been pre-loved and that’s just fine with me. Besides that, many things today aren’t made to last like they were in the past. Some are – (hopefully) like my Restoration Hardware dining room table – which is already showing signs of my family’s love. Some day it will have a story of its own to share with future generations.

  49. Kimberly Bruhn

    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.

  50. Dana Wall

    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.

  51. Christy Keyton

    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?

  52. Lissie Jean

    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.

    • Alicia


  53. Janet Harding

    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!

  54. Jessica @ Petal + Ply

    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.

  55. Cheryl

    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?☺️

  56. Katherine

    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.

  57. Holly

    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!

  58. Melanie Milburn

    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.

  59. Kathy

    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.

  60. Ashley

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

  61. Helen Loretta

    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.

  62. Kaci

    “…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”.

  63. Nancy

    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.

    • Kiki

      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!

  64. Jeannetta

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

  65. PJ

    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.

  66. Ginni

    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!

  67. connie choiniere

    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.

  68. BJ Massa

    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.

  69. Robin Leach

    Wabi Sabi. There is beauty in the imperfections!

  70. Jane

    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

  71. Becca

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

  72. Lora Bloomquist

    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:)

  73. HippiesChick

    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.

  74. Alicia

    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!

  75. Susan Prillman, glorygiver

    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!

  76. Robin

    The Velveteen Rabbit

  77. Alicia

    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!

  78. Sarah Nauman

    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.

  79. marylisa noyes

    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.

  80. Tammie Greenwell

    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

      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.

  81. Renee

    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.

  82. Ginger

    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.

  83. Stacey Warner

    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.

  84. Susan Harding

    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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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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