For someone who has a family reputation for not exactly being a tidy cat, I certainly get a lot of mail about creating a lovely home. Not that I'm complaining. I pore through every issue of Real Simple, and I generally have a good long look at the Pottery Barn/ Crate & Barrel/ Hold Everything/ Restoration Hardware catalogues that arrive in a steady, Zen-fountain-like stream. I like the peaceful pictures (although by writing this sentence, I know I sound like a simpleton).
During my experiments, I actually did achieve a clutter-free home. A clutter-free first floor anyway. But as I stacked yet more drawings of Pokémon figures on top of the refrigerator last night, it occurred to me that what I really want is not so much a look for the house, but something more like a tone. (This has occurred to me before, but if I put every self-justifying crackpot idea I've had in the book, it would have been 800 pages long.)
We're not necessarily a peaceful people here at my house. Two of us are maybe a little too high strung, plus there are the dogs. They bark at inopportune times, and often Luna will stand on your leg, her paws exactly like little stakes pinning the flesh of your thigh to the couch. The volume tends to be loud, and there seems to be no short supply of dust and smudges and fingerprints.
Last night, I was thinking maybe our tone could be: Fun. Fun seems to be a lot easier to achieve than peaceful. Fun allows your kitchen table to be littered with three decks of cards. Fun says, "Hey, karaoke machine, you don't have to be put away! We're just going to rock out later on!" Fun says, "Yeah, the kitchen tile was chosen because it matches the color of the dirt outside. And that's HUNKY DORY."
Another good thing about thinking about the tone of the house is that it incorporates the people in it, not just the belongings and the cleanliness. It includes the way everyone talks to one another and how welcoming they are of guests. It includes family inside jokes. Maybe, I was thinking last night, the fact that we taught the boy to say "as they say in the Old Country" is just as important in our homemaking as vacuuming!
I know what you're thinking: How messy is that house right now?
The answer is: Oh, quite.