Perfectly Imperfect Home Decor (Or What To Do When Your Stuff Gets Wrecked)

November 18, 2016

What to do when your home decor items get damaged

We moved into this home when my youngest daughter was about two and a half years old. She was out of the crib and in a big girl bed and thrilled with her newly earned independence. She was generally very well behaved and once up, would come in my room to tell me that she and her big sister were ready for the day.

However on one memorable morning, she did not wake me. Apparently, she had the itch to do some artwork...on my dining room wall.

When I spied the colorful crayon drawing and asked, "Who did this?"

She proudly responded, "I did."

When I asked her why it was on the wall, she flatly told me, "Because I couldn't find any paper."

I am laughing as I write this, because it's funny. And it makes sense. It was hard to argue with her.

Great parenting. I know. 

To be honest, I laughed at the time, too, again, because it was funny.

But also because the room looked like this. 

Before photos of family room renovation

We were under construction and the drawing was actually an improvement.

Of course, if the room looked the way it does today, my reaction would've been completely different.

I know this from experience.

Lots of experience.

After painstakingly choosing each and every piece of decor for my home, I have watched in horror as many of those beloved items have been destroyed.

Many.

My kitchen chair.

patchwork chair

My couch.

how to fix a sofa tear


My coffee tables.

How To Remove Water Stains From Wood

I could go on.

And I know that no one is doing it on purpose. Heck, some of the damage has been at my own hand, but it hurts to see my precious pieces in a state of imperfection. It does not sit well with my design OCD either.

If you think I'm bothered by a wrinkle on the bed, you should witness the twitch around gouged or  scratched wood.

Or chipped tile.

That one really hurts.

My kids don't get it. I mean they do.

But they don't.

Then again, at their age, neither did I. I remember my mom was so excited to get her new living room furniture from Ethan Allen. It showed up and transformed the space. It was elegant and on trend. I loved that room so much, that I decided to paint my nails in there...and spilled nail polish remover all over one of the tables.

I think my mom cried.

She tried mayonnaise and all sorts of other tricks to minimize the damage, but in the end, a magazine was the only way to hide the mess.

I felt bad about it, and apologized profusely, but I didn't truly ache about the damage I caused until a few years ago when the same kind of mess happened in my own home.

Sorry mom.

Payback.

And it keeps coming...

A few weeks ago, I was rushing around, threw the mail on the kitchen countertop and went on to my next chore. The mail sat there for about three days. It was very uncharacteristic of me, but I had a sick kid and a mom in the nursing home.

You get it.

Well, when I finally got around to moving the mail pile, I got a little surprise. The counter must have been wet and the ink from one of the fliers had leeched into my laminate countertop and completely stained it.

Horrifying.

This was not part of the original kitchen design.

how to remove ink from a laminate countertop

At first, I panicked. I wanted to grab a brillo pad or some kind of abrasive scrub, but I knew that was wrong. Soap and water was not doing anything though, so I thought for a minute and then grabbed some olive oil.

I poured a puddle of it directly on the counter and started to gently scrub. 

Using Olive Oil To Remove Ink

I used a dry paper towel in circular motions and unbelievably it worked. It took me about 15 minutes and more oil, but eventually it started to fade.

I kept working...

How To Remove Ink From Counter

...and working...

Olive Oil To Remove Stains

...and working, until it was all gone.

Clean Laminate Countertop

Phew. 

The countertop was just like new...even if it is almost fifteen years old

Disaster ~ and OCD meltdown ~ averted. 

Of course, olive oil can't fix everything that has been damaged by daily wear and tear around my house. I have learned to come to terms with the dents in my wood floor (they add charm), that chip in the aforementioned bathroom floor tile (there's nothing charming about that) and the 6th grade math homework that has been carved into my end table. 

Accidents happen when everyone is truly at home. 

That's ok, though. 

Life itself is not perfect. I don't know why I expect my decor to be. 

Besides, there are very few things a well placed area rug or magazine can't fix.

Right mom? 

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62 comments:

  1. I certainly learned something new today. Great tip with the olive oil! My kids have been rough on our home, too, but I think my daughter is worse as a graduate student because she literally doesn't have time to do chores. Her graduate school externship is 55 miles away from her classes! She has a tough commute most days.

    I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

    xo,
    RJ

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    1. That commute sounds brutal! I have one doing almost the same thing and chores have taken a backseat to college work, too, I get it! Hope you Thanksgiving was wonderful! :)

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  2. Such a great attitude Kim. Good to know about olive oil. I have had luck removing marks on some of my Etsy listings with coconut oil. Have a nice weekend!

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    1. I didn’t know about olive oil either…I got so lucky!! ;)

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  3. Kim, did you know for certain that olive oil would fix it. I haven't heard that before. Believe it or not, when my kids were little I never put anything up off the tables and they were really good, the only trouble I had were with the dogs. A friend brought hers to visit and they decided to have a race and knocked over a pretty glass piece on the hearth. Another chewed a hole in the arm of a brand new sofa while I sweetly napped in the other room. Other than that I have been pretty lucky. I'm so glad you were able to fix the mess..Have a wonderful Thanksgiving..Judy

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    1. I did not know that it would work, Judy...I got SO lucky! I have had those counters for 15 years and they still look new. I needed a miracle fix and it worked! :)

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  4. Olive oil, huh? How neat! I had no idea that would work! I also spilled nail polish remover on my mom's new kitchen table when I was little. It took the color of the stain right out and I felt so bad about it. And I also have homework permanently carved into a table because "someone" pressed a little too hard with a pencil. Lol! And for some reason, that same "someone" was looking out his window one day (he was about 6) and for a reason I'll never understand, bit down on the blinds leaving permanent teeth marks. They're still there to this day and I kind of laugh every time I see them. Hee hee!

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    1. Bite marks are hysterical, Lisa!!! We have a few of those around the house. I never understand the motivation on that one...home decor must look yummy! ;)

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  5. I know that feeling well! Most of the damage, since I live alone, is from me. Or the dogs. I've learned to live with little paint globs I can't get up by arranging the furniture. Or sticking something in the bookshelves to hide it. Life, miraculously, goes on.

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    1. Oh our kitties did some big damage, Brenda. Those claws can be very dangerous...especially to my couches. Thankfully they were kind enough to only tear up the backs...I think they were hiding their behavior. Smarty pants! ;)

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  6. I'm glad the olive oil worked. I would have had 7 panic attacks and meltdown! Life happens all over our homes and we just have to work through it. I never forgave myself for ironing on the bedroom carpet after I was specifically told NOT to do so. That iron print stayed in the middle of the carpet until I bought the house from my parents and had all of the carpet ripped out. Love and hugs to you and hope you have a fabulous weekend!

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    1. Ironing on the carpet...oh yeah...did it, too. Thankfully, it ended up better than the nail polish remover incident, but it could've been bad. Very, very bad! ;)

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  7. i both laughed and cringed through this post!
    using olive oil to take out the ink stains was BRILLIANT! i never would have thought of it.
    sometimes you have to adopt the English country house way of looking at things.
    at least that's what i call it.
    it's always very worn and cozy. nothing for 'show.'
    always generally with dogs and the results of living with them that that particular love brings! and still... those houses and cottages always retain an elegance that we who purposely try to 'faux age' our pieces of furniture can never quite achieve.
    a wonderful LIVED IN with years of love ambiance. and each one a beloved memory.
    after all... when there's no paper...
    xo♥

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    1. English country is my favorite style, Tammy...well loved, lived in and nothing really matches. Trust me, my kids would do great there! ;)

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  8. Oh my, raising my children I can remember the same things. Accidents and not thinking can do all kinds of damage. Now they are going through the same thing with their children.

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    1. What goes around, comes around!! ;)

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  9. Hi Kim, well that's great info about the olive oil. I guess it takes an oil to cut an oil sort of speak.
    I suppose this is why, baby oil takes off my makeup so well. haha.
    Loved this perfect story about imperfection. Glad I'm not the only one. You are so right, when you live in a home and love it, little boo boos happen. It's just life. I just had to LOL about the art work on the wall because there was no paper. That's precious!! When my son was 3 years old he totally baby powdered the bathroom while my hubby was supposed to be watching him. I was at work and came home to the whole house smelling like baby powder. Try and get that out!!! We still laugh about it.

    Enjoy the weekend. xo

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    1. Baby powder?? Oh boy, now that is a mess I cannot even imagine having to clean up. I bet your house was silky smooth and smelled lovely for a long, long time! :)

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  10. Oh my I am constantly whining about how I just can't have anything in my house that doesn't have a crack or chip or is broken!! The funny thing is that I have a passion for things that the paint is chipped off, don't stand right, or have gouges in them. Go figure!

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    1. Chips on purpose are a totally different thing, AnnMarie! I get it! ;)

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  11. Never heard of the olive oil trick. Usually I grab a spray cleaner with bleach for my counter tops in the kitchen, but they are original from 1959 so anything that gets on them stains quickly. I have seen lots of furniture get ruined too Kim. It becomes less of a problem as they get older, at least it has in my case ☺

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    1. SO true, Karen...unfortunately, the older and more responsible they get, the older and clumsier I seem to get! ;)

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  12. There's certain things I'm OCD about in my house, too. Glad I'm not the only one! Believe it or not, my boys weren't too bad with destroying stuff when they were little. I think I'm actually the one that has accidentally ruined things more than anyone else in the household! I remember when we first started transitioning to hardwood floors from carpet...the floors were so beautiful and perfect. The first time something hard fell on the floor and left a little dent, I was devastated. Now, of course, there's little dents and scratches all over. I try to overlook it and think of it as "charm". ;-)

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    1. Definitely share your OCD, Melanie and yes, charm…that’s what I call it too!! ;)

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  13. Oh, yes! I can't tell you the number of times that I have spotted rips or tears, or stains, or dents, or divots in things! Sometimes it is just an "Oh, well" and sometimes it is an "Oh my" and sometimes it is an OH NO! I think the worst is when something gets broken that you know is irreplaceable. Those are the things that really get me. (I may have been knowsn to say a bad word or two in those instances---shhhhh)....xo Diana

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    1. The OH NOs are the worst, Diana!! We have had a lot of those...and a few bad words, too! Shhh is right! ;)

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  14. Oh my . . . the truth,
    Having it "perfect" is a fault of mine . . .
    "Doctoring" things up has become part of me.
    (Candle wax of green and red has "tripped me up" more than once.)
    (I like that wax dripping over the sides of a candle . . . creative like . . . on to wood furniture, not a good idea!)
    I haven't tried olive oil . . . hmmmmm . . . maybe!!
    Great post Kim . . .

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    1. I have the same "perfect" and "doctoring" affliction, Lynne!! ;)

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  15. Kim, I had to giggle at this post, thinking of my husband's reaction when things like this happened in our house. He'd roll his eyes, throw up his hands, and sigh, "We just can't have nice things"! Needless to say, like you, I've found many ways to patch, clean, and mend. Just fix it and move on, right?

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    1. Oh Nancy, my husband reacts the same way...unless of course, he's the culprit! ;) Mend, fix and patch. Exactly!

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  16. It could be a new trend to have "watercolor" ornaments in your countertops! Oh well, I didn't know about olive oil either. That's a helpful tip I'm going to try on a stain I have.

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    1. Haha...could you imagine, Florence? I could've been a trendsetter!!

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  17. Good to know about the olive oil. Sometimes life happens and I love that you just roll with it. These kind of things just shows life well lived in your home. Happy Weekend.
    Hugs,
    Kris

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    1. We roll a lot around here, Kris! ;) Happy Weekend!!

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  18. You gotta love how straight forward and logical kids can be!

    Olive oil? Who knew? And here I thought it was just a lubricant...or is that astroglide??

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    1. That one is super straightforward, that's for sure!! ;)

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    1. Thanks Carol! I am relieved it worked!! :)

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  20. Great post, Kim! Sam just broke a piece off my kitchen island that I hang towels on Thursday night. I have no idea,what he was doing ... but it broke in 1/2 and that is that. ;-) I like what Kris has to say ... these kinds of things just shows life well lived in your home.
    xx oo
    Carla

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    1. Oh no...life with kids is always messy...but always filled with love! xo

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  21. A great idea with the olive oil! Happy Thanksgiving Kim!

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    1. Thanks so much, Angela! You too!!

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  22. I think we all did the nail polish spill on our mom's furniture. I was blessed with sons and dogs. The dogs have been known to stand and skid across furniture...not a good thing! I didn't know the olive oil trick but will definitely remember that one. :)

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    1. I can only imagine that you had plenty of…well…whatever the boy version of spilling nail polish remover is! Ha! ;)

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  23. Ouch that nail polish!

    Glad the olive oil worked / great idea! :)

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  24. Hi Kim,
    What a great idea to use olive oil...I would have never thought of that!
    We have had a few mishaps too over the years...and I have learnt to roll with them!
    I loved the story about writing on the wall...no paper, best answer ever! :)
    Happy Thanksgiving! Hugs, Kimberley

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    1. I know, Kimberley...it totally made sense...how could I be mad?? :)

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  25. We still have a beloved coffee table that is missing stain and varnish on it from spilled finger nail polish remover!
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Jemma

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    1. Oh that nail polish remover is a rascal...but glad to hear I was not the only mess maker! ;)

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  26. Hilarious! Love that your daughter's creation on the wall actually was an improvement, lol! Gotta love those home improvement days! And great trick about the olive oil! You have a slew of tricks up your sleeve, and always glad to read about them! Have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving!

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    1. Her drawing stayed up there for months and gave me a reason to smile amidst the mess! And still today...the gift that keeps on giving! ;)

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  27. I am happy that the damage was averted!! The other day a cushion cover ripped when my lovely daughter was playing with it. Such is life....you move on....and hope that nothing of sentimental value gets damaged or anything too costly....like countertops!

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    1. Oh boy! Been there...and yes, like you said, such is life...and sometimes the damage is minimized when it comes along with a funny story! ;) Silver lining, I suppose!

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  28. Now there's a trick I didn't know. Who me, the olive oil producer! Haha! I will definitely be pinning this one Kim. And remember there is beauty in imperfection.

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    1. Put the tip on the bottle, Mary! ;) Haha!!

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  29. Kim, I enjoy your blog and was surprised to see the sofa dilemma. I have the same exact problem on a checked patterned sofa. Did you find a good fix. I am waiting until after the holidays to tackle this and for now have a lovely knit throw covering the tear. If my attempt to stitch it doesn't work the throw may be my best solution ever!

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    1. Hi Cyndy! Thanks so much for the nice words! :) I am sorry to hear that you have the same sofa problem. It's so frustrating, isn't it? I'm not sure if you clicked over to see how I fixed mine, if you didn't here is the link (http://www.exquisitelyunremarkable.com/2015/06/editorial-content-or-how-to-fix-torn.html). I have to say that's it's been pretty good and it was worth the stitching risk, because it couldn't get any worse! I also have to say that I am ready with a throw...just in case, it happens again! Good luck!

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  30. Olive Oil and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser are staples in Villa Boheme'... when I lived in the Old House and it's over 100 years old of people living and wearing it out I wasn't as OCD as I've become in New Villa Boheme'... I'm trying to relax more, knowing it won't stay pristine. I don't mind the stuff getting 'character' since I have a Love Affair with Old things that already came that way. My kids used to have to explain it to their Friends... No, we're not Poor, Mom likes it looking this way. *Bwahahaha* The Grandkid's and Friends don't even seem to notice now that Old Stuff is trending and more people 'get it'. Thank God my eccentricities are finally On-Trend and I don't seem nearly such a Weirdo as I once was perceived to be! *winks* Well... in some circles anyway, my Morticia Aesthetic is still not FULLY appreciated by the masses... we are the Addams Family of the Burbs. Dawn... The Bohemian

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    1. I like an old worn aesthetic myself....on most things. I am definitely OCD about some things though and that countertop is one of them. Now if it was made of wood or marble, I would not be as crazy. Then I would enjoy the patina, but there is no way to "age" formica gracefully!! ;) Especially now with the tail of a diapered tot from a Bye Bye Baby ad! ;) Ps- I bet I'd love your home...

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  31. Hi a similar thing happened to my daughter. After waiting some months her new leather sofa arrived. A couple of weeks later, daughter in tears on the phone, someone had put a black permanent marker in with the washable ones. Well my beautiful granddaughter found it a proceeded to style the lounge. I had need caught at the traffic lights behind a Leather Doctor that very same morning. I telephoned them and was answered by very helpful man. He suggested she spray the texts with "Alberta VO5 and rub lightly with a clean cloth. This worked and to this day the lounge still proudly sits without the modern texts design. I am not getting anything forentioningthiese companies, but hope this helps other readers. Evidently Alberta VO5 is the only brand to use.
    Thanks

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    1. Very helpful tip, Larain!! Thanks so much for sharing. I haven't tried it, but I am so glad it worked for your daughter. I have been there and it's so upsetting. I am glad she found a fix!! :)

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