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Fishbowl5 With WSJ’s Deborah Needleman

Deborah Needleman is author of the newly released The Perfectly Imperfect Home. The book, complete with delightful watercolor illustrations, stresses organized, comfortable chaos. It addresses everything from hanging pictures and creating beautiful drink tables to lighting, adding delicious scents to your home and little tricks you’d never think of. Her book party last night at Room and Board on 14th St. NW was a proverbial girls night out. She’s a former Postie  — former photo editor of WaPo Magazine — so old friends (pictured after the jump) showed up to cheer her on such as Eun Yang, Megan Buerger, Janet Bennet Kelley and Jura Koncius. A few details on Needleman — she’s founding editor of Domino Magazine and now Editor-in-Chief of WSJ Magazine and of its coveted Off Duty section. Former WaPo colleagues Jennifer Barger and Holly Thomas (now with Refinery29) were on hand as were freelancer and former Roll Caller Ali McSherry, K Street Kate blogger Kate Michael, Washington Examiner‘s Nikki Schwab and Komen’s Kiki Ryan.

1. Please envision your least favorite look for a home and describe. My least favorite look for a home is uptight. Decorating that is overly considered and where everything is just-so is more about impressing others, not welcoming them. I’ve been to places where the sofa is practically screaming out: don’t sit on me! You would just be squashing the cushions and wrecking the painstaking composition of decorative pillows. I like a house with a signs of life–and a bit of personality and whimsy–in it.

2. What is something that surprised you in writing this book? How long it took! I estimated it would take about three months, and it took more like two years. It wasn’t like I had to string a lot of paragraphs together, but sometimes writing briefly take a long time. That, and getting a job, which didn’t help.

3. Do you watch HGTV—what are your favorites? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen more than a couple episodes of a decorating makeover show. I’m all about the democratization of taste and giving access to good design to everyone, but I have no interest in a house made in a competitive context in few hours or over the course of a few days. You can definitely get the basics of a pretty decently decorated place together fairly quickly, but then it has to develop a bit over time—it needs the layers that come from life, your travels, and your odd, personal things—your history. Those TV places are like un-aged wine or something.

4. Do you have any quirks about your place like no shoes on the sofa, and no drinks in the living room? I am irked by those quirks, like when people make you take off shoes in their house, or won’t serve red wine on their white carpets. I want my guests to feel comfortable in my house. They’re the priority, not my upholstery or floor finish. But then again, I like things a bit messed up looking.

5. What things do you find beautiful? Morning light, antique fabrics, formal gardens, children when they first wake up, flowers that don’t bloom for a long time, there’s so much all the time. I think I shouldn’t be answering these questions at night before I go to sleep. It sounds like a Playboy centerfold interview: I like walks in the park, world peace…

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