Coco Chanel famously advised women to cultivate nonchalance. One doesn’t want to appear to be trying too hard. This goes for your home, too. While a home should be beautiful to your eye, it doesn’t need to be perfect. In fact, striving for perfection makes it difficult to enjoy a home–both for inhabitants and for visitors. When I was growing up, I always disliked those friends’ homes where there was one white room we weren’t supposed to touch. There is something so cold about sofas that children aren’t allowed to sit on and coffee tables no one dares set a drink on. Don’t get me started on glass tables, which are both ugly and uninviting. Who wants to eat on cold, hard glass, with a view of your own legs and everybody’s feet?
There is much to be said for a well-loved coffee table. We bought this table about seven years ago. For a short time, I tried to encourage the use of coasters, but then I discovered everyone is more comfortable if I say, “Oh, don’t worry, you can set it right down.” And I don’t mind the rings in the wood. I think they give it character and make it seem welcoming. (I’m not against coasters all the time, by the way. We do have a side table with a wood veneer. I always keep a magazine on it so I can set a hot coffee cup on the table without ruining the top. If you have a beautiful antique that would easily be ruined, just be sure there are coasters on it when you have guests; they’ll get the hint.)