Make Peace with Imperfection: Finishes, Fabrics and Unfussy Living

By on May 15, 2015, in Soft Surroundings

“Perfection is the willingness to be imperfect.”

Those are the words of 6th century BC Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who some call the father of Taoism. He, like all of us, wrestled with that chasm between perfection and imperfection.

For instance, have you ever caught yourself dreaming about the perfect day, the ideal home, the quintessential experience, or the flawless image? But all the while, deep in your heart you know perfection is unattainable. The toast burns, the heel breaks, there are crumbs on the couch, and that mysterious check engine light has come on again.

That’s why we love Lao Tzu’s attitude (paraphrased): Life is perfect when we enjoy its imperfections. The flaws and patina of life are what make it beautiful and memorable.

There’s a little bit of that philosophy in all that Soft Surroundings sells. We think relaxed, uncomplicated design is comforting. It’s a simple, honest way to treat yourself well…to care for yourself. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. It never will be. And that’s what makes what we sell so interesting.

Before we go on, though, let’s debunk one myth about imperfection: it doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the details or lower your standard of quality. Just the opposite, really. When you choose clothes and home furnishings that are craftsman-made of fine woods and soft natural fabrics it just feels right. And that’s indulgent in its own way.

We gathered a few of our most popular products to demonstrate the perfection in imperfection.

Hand-Crafted Details, Hand-Rubbed Finishes

We take special care handcrafting and finishing all of our furniture, from cabinets and chests, to tables and footstools. Even the details on the smaller, utilitarian pieces speak volumes about our standards.


That’s the case with these simple, but beautiful bar stools. Our Oval Back Bergere Bar Stool is constructed of solid oak. Like centuries of artisan-made oak furniture before them, they have years of use ahead. Each fluted leg has a carved rosette at the top, and the wood is hand rubbed with a limed-oak finish and then distressed, again by hand. The upholstery is a linen blend, for durability.

Many of our chairs have a distressed, perfectly imperfect finish, as if they are already antiques. Our Louis Cane Back and Rhone Tufted Side Chairs are great examples.

But furniture isn’t the only way to embrace imperfection and incorporate it into your life. Incidentals are just as inspiring…like the bubble in the glass of a vintage blue-green canning jar, or the concave slope and rough wood at the center of an old wooden bread board.

We are big fans of the well-worn look a white washed finish brings to any wooden piece, big or small. The chalky brushwork is comforting in a warm, French country way.


Our Montaingne Trays are carved of solid mango wood and hand finished with a white washed stain that accentuates their curvy scalloped edges. In four sizes they’re endlessly useful for serving and holding collections. But they are also very decorative. One of our customers mounted them on the wall behind her shiny, red kitchen banquette and the final tableau has such character.


Even underfoot, our pieces have the impression of a generations-old antique. Our Chin Garden Rug is a lovely case in point. The subtle fading and dimensional high-and-low sculpting of the pile gives pattern to this lush rug without adding color or print. It is a stylish, sensual and soothing foundation to a room.

Fibers and Fabrics From Nature

Natural fabrics like cotton, linen, wool, and silk used to cover or trim beds, pillows, windows, sofas, and other home furnishings are a great way to incorporate comfort, texture, and a lived-in (but not untidy) look to a home.

Much of our Soft Surroundings bedding is made with cotton or linen, or a combination of the two, and that gives it so much softness to the touch and genuine richness to the quality.


Our French Market Quilt and Bed Shams are modeled after antique linens we’ve found in our travels through the markets of St. Remy. The trapunto needlework that creates the raised trailing vine motif is stitched by hand. The shams have long linen ribbons to tie in bows on the sides.

Pair the French Market ensemble with the Heritage Bedskirt and relax in pure comfort. It is 100% linen, has pintuck pleating, and a soft ruffled hem with delicate frayed edges.


And before you call your new bedding complete, toss on our Starfish Burlap Pillow. The mix of knobby roughish burlap appliqued with a soft, ivory-colored, frayed-edge starfish and dotted with fine embroidery is just the right vibe.

Creativity: The Mother of Imperfection

Uncomplicated design, and an honest, unaffected air radiates through what you wear, as well. Give in to your creativity. Let the fabrics and the spirit of the clothes be your guide.


Our floaty Tie Dye Ruana is one of those kinds of pieces. The word ruana comes from Columbia and literally means “land of blankets.” Ruanas typically wrap around the wearer, like a combination pashmina and poncho. Our Tie Dye Ruana is whisper light. It’s made of chiffon, dyed with grey-blue ombre stripes, and decorated with a border of silvery beads. Its free-form shape, design, color and embellishments give it effortless style and flair.

The same is true of our So Charming Necklace with its bohemian vibe and creative cache. It’s as if an exotic gypsy opened her trove of charms and beads and strung them on colorful strands to create this necklace. It’s such a unique, artistic piece it’s sure to captivate attention.

So…if perfection really is the willingness to be imperfect, we’re all for it! We like when our closet, our home, our life is a little more laid-back, unfussy and cozy. We hope you do too. Feel free to let us know in the comments section below. Thanks!