As mentioned in a previous post, I like having a look of “lived-inness” to wherever I live. I think Deborah Needleman puts it perfectly in her book “The Perfectly Imperfect Home”:
“…I have come to realize that the soul of a house needs attention…a strong personality and signs of life…with interesting people and dinner parties and friends spending the night.”
But there is a difference, in my opinion, between being “lived-in” and being messy. A few weeks ago, my father-in-law was kind enough to help us with our French drain project. After a long day of digging ditches and standing around in about a foot of muddy water, we retreated to our den to relax our bones and watch some Despicable Me (LOVE that movie!!!). My father-in-law noted tools strewn about, the contents of the table in disarray, hopelessly muddied clothes tossed carelessly around the room, and a wood-paneled floor covered in a collage of muddy footprints, both from the humans and the dogs that, to mine and my husband’s dismay, were let out to play in the rain-soaked backyard. He looked at me and said, “Looks as if your house is finally getting that lived-in look. Isn’t it great?”
This is actually after we cleaned up a little. It was much, much worse than this.
I could only muster up a half-smile, hoping it hid my disgust in how our precious home looked. The sight of the downstairs made me sick to my stomach. Not even a few days before that, I had spent a long time mopping and Pledging the floor and fluffing up throw pillows. I was happy about how comfy and inviting the overall effect was. The den he was pointing out was not so much lived-in as it was a slushy nightmare that made me want to go running in the other direction. After my parents-in-law left to go back home, my hubby and I discussed the comment, and he agreed with me: lived-in doesn’t equal messy.
These are our work boots after they’ve had the chance to dry out and stomped off a little, and the water bottles that became worksite casualties. You can’t really tell how muddy the brown boots are because they blend in with the color of the mud, but if you look at the heels at the “Danner” label, you can barely make them out beneath the layer of mud, if at all. Also, most of the mud actually didn’t end up on these boots, but rather, the floor and our pant legs (don’t have pics of either of those, fortunately!).
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think my father-in-law and I just have a different opinion of what “lived-in” means. To me, lived-in means it’s not picture-perfect for the top decorating magazine. The colors don’t match exactly, throw blankets are slung over the arms of chairs, and little quirks that show off our personality are thrown in here and there. It’s inviting and coaxes you to cozy up and stay for awhile. It’s unique and it makes you smile and you’re not afraid to leave something out of place. It has, as mentioned above, a strong personality and signs of life.
I’m not calling myself a neat freak. I’m pretty far from that. But I do like some semblance of order. My hubby’s parents have a very “bring nature indoors” approach to their house, which can be nice for some, but leaving the backdoor constantly open brings in an awful lot of dirt and bugs–more than I care to have in my own house. Then there are my parents (you didn’t think they were innocent in the matter, did you?)–actually, it’s mostly my mother–who hoard things like they’re going out of style (sadly, too, I’ve seen many things in the garage that HAVE gone out of style…like, decades ago). There is so much stuff in their house it gets claustrophobic sometimes. Again, I’m not necessarily criticizing it. It’s just that it’s not the way I choose to keep my own house. So I think I may be a bit overly sensitive as to how my house looks because I don’t want to end up like either of their houses. Luckily for me, hubby agrees.
What do you guys think? Am I being too touchy? Is life too short to worry about a little (um, in my opinion, a LOT) of mud? What touches do you have in your place that make it feel personal and lived-in? Or do you keep your house pristine and home decoration magazine ready? (If so, what is your secret?!? You have a second home that you do all your living in, don’t you?) I’d love to know in the comments below.
To Finding Peace in a Place That Has You Written All Over It!