Designing a Beautiful Life: Does it Require a Perfect Home?

I admit it. I’m about as Type A as they come. Throw in a side order of perfectionism and … well, it’s a good thing I have other likeable qualities! But, I digress.

I recall my younger, tightly-wound self sitting on our staircase with my then design mentor Denny Daikeler. We perched on the stairs, so we could admire the beautiful design work that had just been completed in my foyer. The design star was a marvelous custom stair runner with a carved inset bordered that continued into the upper hallway. It was striking and made the foyer rich. (Sigh.)

As we sat on the staircase soaking it all in, my children Anna and Brett (then aged 6 and 3), danced and leapt like little spinning tops on the main floor below us. Their giggling and play made us laugh. And I remember that, as I laughed and shook my head at their clowning, something caught the corner of my eye: I spied a smudge mark on the wall near where I sat.

My perfectionist toe has just been stepped on. “Oh my gosh,” I groaned. “I just noticed these marks on the wall! Now, THIS has to be repainted.”

My wise, older friend held my gaze for a moment with intent, her marvelous old-soul eyes twinkling.  After her deliberate pause she said with equal purpose: “That’s a good thing, Donna. It’s a sign of the life and the love that lives in your home.”

She stopped me in my tracks. I still get goosebumps when I retell that story. And I still repeat those sage words to myself even now when, perfectionist me, notices something less than perfect in my home.

The imperfection in your home is a sign of the life and the love that lives there.

Living with a roof over your head is an oft-unnoticed privilege. If it’s also a beautiful home, there’s another daily gift in your life. But, is it ever prefect? No. And I say, it doesn’t need to be.

Designing a beautiful life, if you’re wise enough to do so, involves everything about your inner life and the relationships you create around you because of that inner spirit that drives you. If, out of that marvelous centered space you can also create beauty around you, either by yourself or by hiring a gifted designer (ahem!), then you are luckier still.

But, will your home ever be perfect? Will you ever find that absolutely PERFECT lamp? The PERFECT fabric? The PERFECT rug? Sometimes you will; sometimes you won’t.

But, the better news is that this has never been the key to a beautiful home. Instead, it’s the grace by which you string all those lovely and “pretty-imperfect” elements together that makes your home beautiful. And most important, it’s the grace with which you live your one wonderful life that makes your life beautiful.

So, that’s my wish for you during this holiday season and always. May you live a life that, by your own design, is brimming with all manner of beauty:

the beauty of love,

the beauty of family,

the beauty of connection,

the beauty of friendship,

the beauty of work,

the beauty of balance,

the beauty of laughter,

the beauty of tears,

the beauty of imperfection,

the beauty of acceptance,

the beauty of home, of sanctuary, and nest.

Take care to wisely design these things, and everything else, well … it will all take care of itself.

Happy holidays my wonderful design lovers. A blessed Christmas, a bright Hanukkah, and a New Year that is brimming with all things good. This is what I wish for during this holiday season and always.

Xo! Donna