Feb 17, 2007
The other day I had an appointment with a client who is having trouble deciding what type of flooring to put into her kitchen. Currently, it has dated tile and she wants to replace it with wood. However, her kitchen opens to a media room, which has wood floors and the other side of the kitchen opens to a large, wide hallway, which also has a different wood floor. This is an older home and the two woods are different in color, type, and placement direction.
She really had her heart set on getting a wood floor that would “match the wood” in the media room. Therein lies the problem. This home, which is over a 100 years old, and been through many reconstructions, has mismatched wood just about everywhere. Her kitchen cabinets are a honey-colored wood and she has stained wood trim around her windows in yet another color. And none of these woods even really resembled each other – yet, she loved the media room’s wood so much, she wanted to copy it and get new wood to match it. Exactly.
That just isn’t going to happen. She then said she wouldn’t mind if she could at least get close to matching the woods. Again, I told her not a good idea. Why? Because she will never, ever completely match the two woods. It will always look slightly “off” or even worse, it will look like a mistake. Also, having three different wooden floors come together in a kitchen with yet a different wood for the cabinets and another wood for the wood trim – just is not going to work well.
So what to do? Go completely opposite. Don’t even attempt a wood in this case. I suggested a slate, stone, or even brick floor because of the style and age of the home. She was thrilled with the idea and I explained that unless you can produce exactly as well as the existing element, the result will always come up short and it will look like a mistake.
It is the same with paint colors. If a hallway or wall was painted a color years ago, and you don’t know the type of paint or brand, yes, you may come very close to the color, but it will always be "off.” I always suggest a contrast color to enhance the existing color.
The same with furniture, fabrics, and even accessories. Whenever you are trying to find a “perfect match” and unless you do, don’t accept coming close to what you are trying to match. It will always look inferior. A mistake. Not intended. Make a statement and do something to contrast or compliment the existing dilemma. That looks purposeful and superior in its own right.
And it is the same with life. Have you ever met someone who has an ability, talent, gift, or personality that you wish you could emulate? They say “imitating is the highest form of flattery.” Is it? Really? Well, not always. Sometimes, having someone do just the opposite of what you do, think, or how you conduct yourself is a very high form of flattery to you as well.
For example, when my friend, Sharon, who is a paper artist (visit her site, www.secretleaves.com ) gives me a gift, (or to anyone for that matter) her packaging is just spectacular. Usually handmade paper, vintage string or ribbon, carefully folded, unique stamps, words, or trinkets adorn the package – it is something to behold! Well, when I first started to give her gifts, I too, would want to really “frou-frou” it all up and give her something spectacularly wrapped as well. In short, I wanted to be like her. I was imitating her. Or was I? I don’t need to tell you that my carefully wrapped package always fell short (and sometimes way short ) of her talents. She couldn’t care less – she appreciates everything I give her no matter how it is wrapped. But I wanted my package to be as pretty and special as hers. No-can-do. So what do I do instead now? I don’t even try. I do the opposite. I go buy a gift bag, shove some tissue paper in it, tie a tag on it and hand it to her. I always tell her: “I am not even going to try…” and she laughs with me.
This is probably the highest form of flattery for her. It is my way of saying: you are so damn good at what you do, I am doing my own thing, which is nothing like yours. So, now, when I buy a gift bag, I do hunt for a special one. And my tag? I look for one that is unique (well, as unique as one may find in Target). And now, gift bags are my “special” wrapping. She has her wrapping style. And I have mine. My gift bag wrapping looks purposeful. It was intended. It doesn’t look like a “mistake” nor does it come up short. Much like the flooring in my client’s kitchen. She needs to find something opposite of the other wooden floors. So her kitchen floor will look purposeful and superior in its own right.
And just like my “superior” gift bag. It may not be handmade paper, vintage ribbon, or handmade tags on a vintage box – but it is one damn good gift bag – as far as bags go that is.
So, next time you find yourself always coming up a little short on something you are trying to imitate – maybe that is a cue to just go your own route, pave your own path, and whatever or whomever you are trying to emulate – don’t. Just go and do it your way – and do it with purpose.
Because without purpose in your life, everything would just be an accident.
And your life should never be an accident.
From my house to your house,