the problem with perfection.

I’m pretty sure we all suffer from self-doubt, right?

Well, I often feel like an impostor.  Like I’m just faking this furniture re-styling/blogging thing.  I’m not doing it for real, I’m just doing it for fun.

I frequently compare my work to others and find it lacking.  I feel like my work isn’t good enough to put me in the same league as what I call the ‘professional’ bloggers (those are the ones who make money from their blogs, but who also spend money on their blogs in the form of professional web design, expensive camera equipment, trips to blogging conferences, and they are also the ones for whom blogging is their job).

Recently I was reading a blog post by another furniture refinisher who takes the time to use spackling compound to fill any scratches or gouges in the furniture she is about to paint.  Her completed piece was beautiful, for sure.  It had a totally smooth, blemish-free finish.  And I found myself immediately thinking “oh my gosh, I should be doing that, why am I not doing that?” which really translates to “my work is inferior.”

I was just about to add “buy spackling compound” to my to-do list when I realized, hey, wait a minute, I actually prefer furniture with some flaws.

You see, the problem with perfection is that you can’t maintain it for very long. And let’s face it, that little bit of wisdom applies to pretty much everything, not just painted furniture.  It’s true about relationships, hair styles, gardening, new cars … that first ding on your new car is always such a disappointing moment.

Eventually every piece of furniture (or relationship, or car) is going to end up with some dings and scratches though.  Someone is going to set a cup of hot coffee on it, or bash the lower corner with the vacuum cleaner.  That’s life.

So here’s the thing.  If your furniture already has a distressed, chippy, not quite perfect yet still totally beautiful finish then one more scratch or ding isn’t going to make any difference what-so-ever.  In fact it’s not even going to be noticeable.

And that is precisely what I love about working with milk paint.  It’s not supposed to look perfect.  It’s supposed to look as though the finish has evolved over time.

And if it chips a little more down the road or if Mr. Q forgets to use a coaster for his hot cup of coffee, that’s perfectly fine.

As I get older, I am realizing that life is all about embracing the flaws and not wasting time trying to achieve perfection.

Who’s with me on this one?

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77 thoughts on “the problem with perfection.

  1. Yes, Linda! Don’t drink the Kolaid, you are wise to realize that perfection is indeed temporary and unattainable for any real length of time. Embracing imperfection brings freedom.

    Thanks for reminding me! Keep doing what you’re doing. I think your blogging and site is high quality and very “professional”.

    All the best,
    Kristie Moore
    Rochester

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  2. I am with you on that.
    A question the last picture on this post with the dresser. What colour is it? It is really beautiful 🙂

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  3. I’m with you! Or at least I’m working on this in my own life 😉 And this is probably my new favorite blog post of yours!

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  4. I am so with you on that. I love reading your blog! I follow A LOT of blogs and when I see yours in my blog feeder, I go right to it. Yours is a MUST READ RIGHT NOW! I get an authentic feeling from you, which I don’t get from everyone else. If you’re an imposter, you sure fooled me!

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  5. I am with you on this one too. I think that’s why I love vintage and antique pieces; they are already broken in. That and the patina, whether original or recreated, is something I’ve always have been drawn too. I love your blog and what you do. You have a talent for it and I appreciate all the inspiration. I’ve taken some grief over the years occasionally from some for the way I decorate. Once I was so proud of a blanket I bought. It was from the 40s and I proudly displayed at the foot of my bed only to be told that this person would never bring someone else’s used things in her house. Probably 95% of my home is “someone’s used things” and I love it!

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    1. There are always going to be those people who abhor anything that is ‘used’. But I’m with you, I absolutely love a good worn patina created by years of use, mine or someone else’s!

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  6. I read this quote by Anne LaMott last night and it struck a chord with me. Then I wake up to read this first thing. I know the universe puts the things you need right in front of you, so I thought I’d share. She says…”Oh my God, what if you wake up some day and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written: or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; and you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” Amen.

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  7. Yay to imperfection! I’m enough, you’re enough, we’re all enough! Here’s to an imperfect, beautiful Monday! Thanks for the words of wisdom, Quandie!

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  8. Oh my goodness! I think you were reading my mind when you wrote this post. I find many blogs to be too professional, their work too perfect. Age and time have given me the wisdom to understand that life is too short to worry about the little imperfections and dents caused by all, myself included. Keep up the great posts. They really do make my day!

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    1. Well, you probably don’t have to worry about my work becoming too perfect 😉 And I agree, I think it’s partly a wisdom that comes with age. As I get older I find it easier to just brush off the stuff that I know isn’t going to be important in the long run.

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    1. Laura, I just found your comment in my spam folder! I think the spam filter doesn’t like “Well said” because a lot of the spammers use that wording in their spammy comments. But no worries, I rescued you from the spam folder and very much appreciate your comment! Thank you!

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  9. I just want to chime in with the crowd today – first, your blog is the ‘mostest real’ of all the blogs I follow. You are more believable, cheerful, positive than all of them. It really struck a chord with me because I just started back to what I love best – creating – and I don’t have the budget to buy perfect furniture, so I buy the stuff everyone passes over. It has imperfections that I highlight sometimes, because like you, that’s what makes them dear to me. As I helped load a dresser into the truck to take to the antique mall my husband looked at the top that had a hairline crack going across it and said ‘is that a problem’ and I replied, ‘no it’s not, that’s why I distressed it right there’. But of course I did get a little anxious because not everyone shares my loved-in, lived-in point of view. But I say celebrate it! Oh, the other thing that makes me laugh are the furniture painters who strive to not have any brush strokes showing. That says factory finish to me, but I’m just a crazy old broad…

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    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts today Laura. Reading your comment made me think of Ken, my handyman, who does tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. He’ll often look at flaws on the furniture I bring home and say “don’t you think you should fix that?” and I’ll just say “nope, it will be fine”. I can tell that he’s not convinced, but he goes along with it! I definitely want to fix issues that hamper functionality, but not worry too much about the dings and scratches that show a life well lived!

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  10. I’m with you Sista! We could all go out and buy a new piece of furniture with a perfect finish and it may stay perfect for a while, but I’m more in to finding a quality piece that has survived the test of time and the imperfections are just evidence of usefulness. I love reading your blogs…they are informative and entertaining so keep up the good work. I understand why people sell ads on their blogs but it really is irritating to get pop up ads while I just want to read the post.

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    1. Thanks Regina! Yeah, those pop ups are a killer. As much as I also totally understand that many bloggers out there need to be compensated somehow for the time spent on their blogs, personally I have a tendency to quit reading the ones with too many ads myself.

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  11. Amen Amen Amen. I love your blog today. A great metaphor for life. Thank you for starting my week off with such a positive mind set.

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    1. Thanks Annie! Although I’m not sure I was always wise … LOL … I definitely have made a few mistakes along the way! I have a tendency to learn my life lessons the hard way 😉

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  12. I’m with you entirely. I have been slowly but surely killing my inner perfectionist and embracing that life is messy and full of dents. And I love love love milk paint and pieces that look well loved. I don’t go buy brand new furniture because I’d rather take a well loved piece and give it a fresh lease on life.

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  13. Amen sister! Do not have the time or the energy! You are extremely talented, so don’t give in! Love your furniture and your blogs❤️

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  14. You couldn’t be more correct.
    Those are not flaws in the finish nor flaws in ourselves. They are marks of a life well lived and enjoyed. Embrace that little nick on the table top were a toddler played with their favorite toy or those streaks of silver hair. Why can’t things and us be perfect as we are.

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  15. Oh no! Don’t ever feel like a poser! I actually think you’re more of a teacher than blogger, and your authenticity and knowledge is apparent. If you were spraying a lot of MCM pieces with high gloss finishes, then maybe you would want to get that joint compound. But you do vintage/shabby chic so well. And I don’t think I’ve ever read that you spray furniture?? That doesn’t mean your style or preferences can’t change. Just make you’re in the driver’s seat, and I’m sure there will be many along for the ride. Cynthia p.s. Even the big bloggers Jump the Shark. 😀

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    1. Well, lol … I had to look up ‘jump the shark’ Cynthia! I’m so not cool 😉 As for spraying, nope, I don’t spray. I’m not a fan of the look of a sprayed finish. Plus, I don’t want to clean a sprayer. Plus, I find painting with a brush to be very zen, it’s akin to meditation for me.

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      1. You know, I was a fan of the Fonz, but I don’t remember the episode where he jumped the shark at all 😉 I laughed out loud when I read this comment. No worries, I promise to avoid mail order wardrobe postings!

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  16. I love your blog. It is real and I don’t have to wade through a bunch of ads to get to it. Maybe you will try spackling and love it. That is what the creative mind does. Try new ideas and then make them your own. Your style 10 years ago was different then now and different then it will be in 10 years again. We love your journey and when we don’t we will jump out and a new following will come along. Enjoy the journey.

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  17. Okay I am sure you are waiting to hear from me. I think that the work that you do is perfection from what I have seen.It may not be my absolute choice for what I have in my home, but I feel that the people that do love what you do are so fortunate to have you telling them how to do the things you do. I get so much pleasure from your blog so carry on girl doing exactly what you love to do. Sincerely Betty from Ontario, Canada (another Mom)

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  18. Okay! I read several blogs daily. As one other reader stated, I read your blog first everytime! I also love that you do not have adds popping up on top of your posts! Now about your furniture make overs. YOU ARE THE BEST!!! You stage perfectly, your color choices are wonderful, and it is like visiting a friend to read you. I have even told my husband if we ever moved I need to live near you as I would be your best customer. I also have so much in common with you I think we would be instant friends. Your personality shows in your blog and that is why we love it! I don’t​ like perfect in my life, I like well worn and things with a story. Never ever doubt your capabilities, you are wonderful and we all want you to keep on as you have been! You are Kind, funny, talented, generous, artistic, and a perfect blogger without any BS!
    BLESSINGS

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    1. Oh my gosh, you say the nicest things Shelly. I especially love the ‘without any BS’ part! I promise to continue trying to keep the BS to a minimum here at q is for quandie 😉

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  19. My favorite morning read girl! Perfectly imperfect is the perfect mantra to describe what you got going on here. I completely agree you are not just a blogger but a teacher as well. And it does feel like we’re just catching up over a cup of coffee.

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    1. I am happy to share my experiences with others so that they can learn from them. Just because I learn everything the hard way doesn’t mean that you all have to as well!

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  20. Ahem. Yours is one of the few blogs that are required reading for me. To many of us your furniture projects ARE perfection! You do not erase the graceful age of things which makes them more precious. Oh, and the idea that you re-do pieces that don’t sell or no longer fit with your own decor inspired me to do the same.I often wish our annual pilgrimage to my husband’s homeland (Mound) would coincide with your sale. Maybe this year.
    I wish you could hear me applauding from Connecticut!

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    1. I’ll most likely have a fall sale again this year, when are you coming to MN? You never know! And I’m glad I’ve inspired you to re-do pieces, sometimes you just gotta have a do-over.

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  21. Perfect equals soul-less. Embracing imperfection is an acquired taste and I do believe that as we age we come to appreciate a piece despite its flaws because we know they are signs of an interesting life well lived.

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    1. That’s right Kim! I do agree that it is an acquired taste, sort of like beer (I haven’t managed to acquire that one yet) or coffee (I acquired that one early on).

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  22. Just keep doing what you are doing! I subscribe to a lot of DIY blogs, and I have to say that I’ve been deleting many posts because I’m so busy right now, but when I see one from your blog, I get all excited and open it immediately. I LOVE what you do and how you do it. Thank you!

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  23. It’s always a good day when it begins with one of your posts! Your readers get to live vicariously through your creativity and bravery. You live a life many of us only dream of because our lives got in the way…

    I am in total agreement with the other commenters that perfection is highly over rated. I began collecting antique and vintage pieces at the age of 13 to go in my “someday” dreamhouse. I love pieces that have a past and a story to tell. I don’t own one piece of furniture that is new, and most everything in my kitchen came from my mother and grandmothers. All the nicks, scratches, dents, and warts bring me comfort because I know the pieces were well loved. They survived the test of time. To hide the flaws seems unneccessary to me.

    Fast forward 47 years later and I found my dreamhouse – a 100 year-old farmhouse in the hills of NW IL. I’m in the process of fixing it up and I have found so much inspiration from you and your work. I love your creativity and how you repurpose things. Your color choices, to me, are “perfect”. 😉

    You instinctly enhance the beauty in pieces that seem hopeless. They don’t need the perfection of spackle and spray, they only need the love and care of the talented Dr. Q. Don’t change a thing!

    Thank you for teaching and inspiring us.

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    1. What a lovely comment you have left for me Linda! Thank you so much. I especially love that I have been given a doctorate … let’s call it a doctorate in furniture-ology 🙂 I bet you are really enjoying fixing up that farmhouse and filling it with all of the pieces you’ve collected over time.

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  24. Agreed. Perfection is over rated and temporary. Also, not quite as interesting as the occasional ding and scratch. Love your blog and your fabulous talent. Thanks for sharing with us.

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  25. Your words described my heart, and your photography skills are on point…girl I feel ya and am so thankful to have found you! I am a newby at this blog world and this really inspired me to keep doing what I love and share…Thank You for sharing your heart.

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