A few weeks ago we went to some friends' house for dinner. They have suffered financially in the last few years and down-sized significantly. Their taste is impeccable, though, and what truly wowed me was how lovely this smaller, cozier home was, and how much I liked it, maybe even more than their larger, more lavishly-appointed previous home. I know my friend probably doesn't see it that way. I wouldn't either, I'm sure. But it was a happy night of good food and warm conversation, the kind of gathering where people lingered a little longer than they normally would.
When I browse magazines or websites, I get a feeling from a room. Does it reflect love? Warmth? Togetherness? Do you get a sense that good stuff happens here? Do the people in this house even like each other?
Lately when I get too fussy about picking up and cleaning up and striving for perfection, I remind myself that it's the lack of perfection that is most welcoming.
Years ago when I was on the coffee hour committee at my church, I had Sunday morning duty. I was busy wiping and spiffing, etc., when a woman, ironically named Daisy, said, "Leave it a little messy." I said, "What?" Not to be rude, but I was serving food, and it was church. "What do you mean?" I asked in all seriousness. Daisy kindly explained. She said, "I used to be a bartender, and I learned that people settle down and talk and feel more comfortable if the bar has an empty glass here and there or a half-eaten bowl of nuts. If you're constantly cleaning the bar-top and putting things away, you make folks feel on edge."
Daisy was absolutely right. I love my home. I love decorating. And I even like cleaning. Sometimes. But occasionally I have to remind myself to stop and sit down, to actually live in the space.
And those dishes in the sink? They can wait.