When it comes to keeping a house, I draw the line between perfection and good enough, and generally am happy with the latter. Homes should be generally straightened, since it is this care that allows for the space to function without the distraction and unsettled energy of dirty dishes, unmade beds, toys and such on the floor, or unwashed or folded clothes tossed around. Good enough housekeeping is the compromise between keeping the house functional and keeping it real. Perfect order is unattainable anyway.
Mary Randolph Carter’s book A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life (Rizzoli 2010) hits this cord well, and I recommend it. Carter’s book is refreshing in that it is not a decorating book on how to pretty up a room. It is an honest documentation of homes that have evolved out of the organic process of living, and the value of good enough housekeeping. The book features chapters on topics like Living with Bric-a-Brac, Living with Work, Living with Children, and Clutter with real life case histories. Oberto Gili’s home, for example, depicts how he orchestrates his living and work spaces in a tiny New York apartment, mostly due to his love of tables. The book states that the most value table (MVT) “is awarded to a marble topped table near the kitchen and the light of the garden. It’s his (Gili’s) favorite place read the newspaper, have coffee, prepares homemade pasta, edit his pictures, meet with clients, and serve dinner to friends.” Now that’s a creative use of space! Other profiles include artist Nathalie Lete, Pamela Bell, artist Natalie Gibson, and Ralph Lauren executive, Daniela Kamiliotis.
Carter tells us that authentic domestic space evolves through the organic process of living. Interests, travels, dreams, experiences are the stuff of a great interior. Keep it real, let it flow, let go of perfection so that the incredible value of good-enough can do its thing.