Understanding the Beauty of the Imperfect

By Joseph Pubillones

November 10, 2018 4 min read

There are occasions when everything indicates that something should get worse but it gets better. Just like an aged bomber jacket or a worn pair of blue jeans with strategic holes, in interior decoration, you have a worn leather sofa, an oft-scrubbed table or a seemingly gray teak bench that could have been left outside to weather. This is strategic design at play. Like the Tuscan look of years past, today's fascination with all things vintage is amazing and deceiving.

Certain furniture and accessories gain more and more beauty after use and years. As you may have noticed, this only happens with well-built pieces that can withstand the test of time. These pieces were never intended to go through intense use; they call our attention for their simplicity and authenticity and have gained vintage status. Otherwise, they're just old pieces.

I say this because I am seeing in stores and many housewares catalogs that a lot of furniture and objects don a worn and crackled look. Generally, I like that faded beauty is valued. Rust and patina are just some of the finishes. These furnishings don't shine, but they speak of experience. Many of these decorative items play on nostalgia, seeking to pull our heartstrings and look to bring an emotional ingredient into our home by design, not accumulated by time.

After some thought, I have also realized it is not easy for everyone to understand the distinction between the authentic and the reproduction — or how to decorate with them. Sometimes, a vintage furnishing can be an easy piece to use as an accessory, as it has soul. But a reproduction is very difficult to integrate into a decoration without it looking very cosmetic or even a bit kitsch.

An entrance hall with an old lamp or lantern that has a peeling enamel finish can evoke either a sensation of comfort and delight, or an internal howl that makes you wonder how quickly the piece should be restored. These reactions are just a few degrees of neuroticism apart, whether you just bought furnishings that are reproductions or you grew up with them at home. Now, you know you can fall in love with the scratches and chunks that certain furniture has. Your good judgment lets you understand the difference between an item that's vintage and one that is not. If you are decorating with aged pieces, don't feel obliged to decorate with all old items; it usually doesn't work.

Mix the new with the old freely. More importantly, search for ways to integrate vintage pieces discreetly and let the years of use continue to contribute to their beauty. Your house will win soul and feel welcoming, like the embrace of an old friend.

Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida. His website is www.josephpubillones.com. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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