This year at High Point Market I was thrilled to finally meet Deborah Needleman, one of my all-time design heroines. The lovely Ms. Needleman led a design luncheon at High Point where she talked about her new book, The Perfectly Imperfect Home. It has risen to the rank of my favorite home decor book of the past year, and it sits atop my slant-top desk next to a small box filled with antique German coins, one of the "smalls" that Deborah talks about that make my home personal, happy, and perfectly imperfect.
The former editor of Domino magazine and the current editor of WSJ. Magazine, Deborah recently answered some of my questions about her book, decorating philosophy, and personal favorite decorating ideas and quirky pieces. Keep reading for the first half of my interview with Deborah Needleman!
CasaSugar: What inspired The Perfectly Imperfect Home?
Deborah Needleman: It was inspired by how uncomfortable I feel in overly decorated, everything-just-so houses, and how inspired and comfortable and happy I feel in houses that are stylish and real. I love houses that are portraits of their owners.
CS: How do you think the concept of designing imperfectly can spark creativity and growth in decorating?
DN: You can’t be creative if you are constantly just trying to keep everything neat and perfect. If the evolution of your life is reflected in your decorating, that means your decoration will not remain static. It changes as you change; it grows and morphs with you. I’ve never liked or believed in the idea of decorating as something that can be finished. Like life, it is a work in progress.
CS: Can you describe one of the stylish, welcoming, and imperfect homes you’ve visited and found particularly inspiring?
DN: The decorator and design writer Rita Konig is my patron saint(ess) of stylish imperfection. She was raised by a fancy decorator (Nina Campbell), has lived in and visited beautiful houses her whole life, and knows all the rules of decorating, but she is never hampered by rules or fussiness. She is inspired by the kind of life she wants to go on inside her house. It is always inspiring, exciting, and completely comforting to be in her home. Her home always smells fantastic. It has a lot of personality, quirk, and color. There are soft pillows on the sofas and chairs, lots of books you want to read, and interesting things on the walls. Plus, she’s a doting host, always ready to make you something nice to drink and eat.
All the top editors at Domino had homes like you describe — stylish, welcoming, and imperfect — and they inspired me enormously. I hired them so they could inspire others like they did me. The brilliant Sara Ruffin Costello (who now writes the best and cheekiest decorating column out there for the Off Duty section of the Wall Street Journal), Tom Delavan (who is now editorial director of the recently launched GiltHome), Dara Caponigro (editor in chief of Veranda magazine), and the aforementioned Rita Konig (who is European editor of WSJ. Magazine magazine)
Keep reading for more of our conversation with Deborah Needleman!