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STORIES FROM PATINA MEADOW
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STORIES FROM PATINA MEADOW

WHAT THE DESIGN PROCESS HAS TAUGHT ME

I've always been a perfectionist.


When I was younger, this trait was applauded, as my constant striving for the optimal result forced me to exceed expectations in any aspect of my life I could control. But, as time went on, it left me paralyzed. I would stand at the starting line and never let my foot fall on the other side because I couldn’t predict a perfect finish. This pattern went on for years, and slowly my world grew smaller and smaller.


It wasn’t until I started designing over 30 years ago that I was forced to confront this fear head-on as I became acquainted with the design process.



The design process is not for the faint of heart, and it is most definitely not a comfortable journey to embark on if constant perfection is your goal. It’s a messy process, a winding road that forces you to lean into the discomfort of maneuvering around a bend without knowing what is on the other side. It runs you through the whole gamut of emotions, from excitement to dread, from feeling secure to lost in a matter of moments.


The desk where I first became acquainted with the design journey :)

When I first began, I spent many days sitting behind my desk with my head in my hands, trying to keep my eyes from watering as I stared, completely overwhelmed, at a blank slate. I would spend hours trying to identify the “perfect” first step that would minimize failure and make the entire process more comfortable. I started project after project this way until I slowly realized that I had been approaching it all wrong. The only way to get comfortable was to make a decision, with no idea if it was the “right” one, and just work from there.



I start by thinking about the feelings I want the room to convey, and then begin to pick fabrics and other elements from there. After swapping one material for another a dozen times, I land on the palette I desire.

It feels akin to what I imagine skydiving feels like — the first idea, the leap into the free fall, and every idea after that a parachute that eventually leads you to a safe landing. 


Throughout this time, I also discovered a love for antiques. Rather than being drawn towards the refurbished cabinets with a fresh coat of untainted paint and sparkly new hardware, I found myself enthralled by pieces that looked their age — cracked leather couches, scratched tables, and quirky clocks. As time went on, I started to apply this love of imperfections to myself, seeking out my perceived flaws and attempting to admire them in the same way I admired a storied scratch. 


Image by Lisa Romerein

Throughout my career, I’ve learned a lot. I know how to arrange a living room to feel cozy, the ideal height for a dining room table, and how to pair patterns. I’ve also learned that perfection should never be the end goal because it doesn’t exist in the terms we apply to the idea. The process is perfect because it is a journey, it’s perfect for all the reasons we believe it is not. It’s a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, one that is full of unexpected beauty that allows for much more joy in the end.


What is a lesson you’ve learned from an unexpected teacher? I would love to hear about them in the comments. 


xx

Brooke




17 commentaires


Susie Daniels
Susie Daniels
05 févr.

Hi Brooke, what a relief to know this paralyzing feeling/tendancy isnt just me Thank you readers too for your stories and antidotes- super helpful Love this forum! Thank you B for your raw honesty! Yup this can be quite sneaky and debilitating- when im overwhelmed i put on my boots with snacks in tow and plop a chair right in the middle of the chickens -the joy they bring pops me right out of a funk- hearing my laughter snaps me right out of it- my head is clearer- my frustration disolves and i can begin again. A hot bath works nicely too with Bach gently playing in the distance. Happy day to everyone!

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En réponse à

Hi Susie! You are not alone; I am glad this post helped you realize that :)

Your chicken chair solution to overwhelm sounds so joyful, I will have to try that out the next time I feel a wave wash over me.

Thank you for sharing.

xx

Brooke

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Brooke I was so inspired by your books that I had to find your shop in Franklin when we traveled to TN. I too am an antique lover and a designer. I related to everything you said. We create a lifestyle and homes for our clients. It is a huge responsibility to get it right. And yes it is the imperfections and the uniqueness of the antiques that I bring to my own home that bring me joy. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. Nothing worse than a blank canvas. Or is there!

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En réponse à

💚

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Hi Brooke,

I think the teacher for me at least has been time, relaxing into one self and realizing that there isn’t perfection.. It is something that comes from our individual perspective. You bring such a peace and warmth to what you do and share with us all and I thank you for it all.

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En réponse à

Ah yes, there is no substitute teacher for Mr. Time!

Thank you for reading and your thoughtful & kind words.

xx

Brooke


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Brooke, I love your honesty. And showing how your journey has unfolded.

Perfectionism can be negative. In my family growing up everything was beautiful, porcelain and silver from England , fabrics from Europe but still tasteful. My mother and grandmother had exquisite taste and my mother had an instinctive talent for color.

When I moved to Sag Harbor, now considered the Hamptons, I ended up selling most of those treasures. Interestingly, most of the people interested in my antique dessert plates were men from the South who loved to entertain. I covered all of my furniture in white linen and I haven’t looked back! I love your style. And I feel that living with your animals and Nature have deepene…

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Wow! This resonated with me on so many levels Brooke! I have felt this many times throughout my life and still do. I have to “get out of my way” a lot of the time.otherwise I procrastinate and give up! Perfectionism is such a double edged sword isn’t it?

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