I had this in my head to write about for days and then I saw an article written up in Whole Living magazine, which used to be called body+soul. I suppose in these times, the aesthetic is a timely one...
Even before I knew there was a name for it, I've preferred my things a little wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi is the Japanese term for things a little off-kilter. It's a way of seeing beauty in the simple, the transient, the imperfect and the modest. Not in shabby or dirty things, but perhaps seeing it in a beautiful burnished bowl that is a bit misshapen or has a subtle crack in it. We mix our contemporary pieces with family antiques that show their age and wear. Our silver curios are apt to be dulled. I don't mind a beautiful piece that's slightly dinged. Perfection in life isn't real or possible. To me, things are more interesting when you aren't striving to achieve perfection but allow for life's imperfections. I think Leonard Cohen had a line in a song about not minding a crack, that was how light shone through, but I'm paraphrasing.
One reason I quit writing for design magazines was because I hated writing up McMansions. It was difficult to write with glowing enthusiasm about big obnoxious houses with cheap building materials you knew wouldn't wear well, with rooms obviously staged and seldom used by the inhabitants. You could almost see the velvet rope strung across the threshold to keep the kids off-limits. One white elephant gave pride-of-place to a vast collection of Franklin Mint items -- those pricy reproductions. Why not invest in real artwork, not a reproduction of Merlin's wand?
Once I complimented an interviewee on her vast and charming display of framed ancestors scattered among her library shelves. She shrugged and said she didn't know any of them; her interior designer had gone to a flea market and then framed interesting photos. The leather-bound books were chosen to compliment the colors in the room. Brrrrrrr.
I guess we all have stories about people who chose their artwork like the rock star in Hannah and Her Sisters, who wanted "a picture to go with the couch in his living room." It's hard not to see them as philistines.
It's so much more interesting to write up a house that has been thoughtfully and personally decorated -- rather, a home, not a house -- where every piece is selected personally, and the artwork is chosen for a reason, definitely not just for its color or how it enhances a room.