Misunderstanding the Goal of Tidiness

“What can you do to give your house a show-room shine?”

This question brought me up short.

Have I struggled for many years to develop the habits that will allow me to have a neat, clean home?


My goal was never, not once, to have it be a home that you’d see in a magazine. I wanted decoration and color schemes that would make me happy. I wanted to be able to store my stuff neatly and logically. I wanted to let go of possessions that I no longer needed.

But the idea that I wanted my house to look… like a stage set or a picture in a magazine never once crossed my mind. Magazine articles are generic. They’re a least common denominator. That’s like having your home decorating ideal be a hotel room or something – pleasant enough, and will be close enough to most people’s tastes not to offend the eye.

What an awful way to live!

See? That’s my my view from my writin’ chair. Neat enough, sure. But is it staged as it would be as if I were selling the house? Made generic and magazine perfect? No. There are dragons and skulls and pictures and toys around that are unique to me and make me happy.

That is such an individual thing. I have dragons and yarn and books. My husband has action figures and movies and artwork he has drawn. My mother has teapots and depression glass and crystal figurines.

Sure, we want to make sure that we don’t use the sofa as a wardrobe. (Though I can remember having someone come over and there was underwear on the sofa. It can happen…) We want our bathrooms clean and our dishes washed.

But showroom shine? I don’t live in a showroom. I have a home. I like my knitting by my writin’ chair so I can pick that up and work on my projects.

The goal is to be able to get to my yarn and have a place where my knitting lives so I can grab it easily. The goal is to have clean clothes put away and dirty clothes in the hamper. The goal isn’t and should never be to have my home look static like a museum exhibit. Homes are a dynamic process, so they cannot and should not always look “perfect.”

Whatever that means.

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