A Perfectly Kept House

The "perfect" home.

The “perfect” home …

Is the sign of a misspent life. So proclaims Mary Randolph Carter in her book. The first thing that came into my mind — someone paid her to publish this book? But as I flipped through it, the book became more and more comforting. Its main purpose is to help people “live creatively with collections, clutter, work, kids, pets, art, etc….and stop worrying about everything being perfectly in place.”

How noble and novel! Instead of showing us model homes filled with beautiful furniture and impossibly groomed people, we get clutter and more clutter. Nevertheless it is rather artistic clutter made beautiful with artful photos.

... is the sign of a misspent life.

… is the sign of a misspent life.

There are chapters on living with bric-a-brac, living with children, living with dogs, the purposeless room, the unmade bed, living with junk…you get the drift. She features a different person in each chapter.

There is Nathalie, an artist living in Paris with surfaces filled with her ceramics and artwork. And horrors! a mother who gives her children permission to draw on their sofa.

Another woman who shares her home in New Jersey with husband, four children and four dogs. There’s also a baker whose kitchen is filled with her baking paraphernalia.

And my favourite is the ultimate hoarder who puts me to shame. Her name is Natalie and she lives in London. Her four-hundred-year-old house is filled with cat and bird paraphernalia, not to mention live cats. Every surface seems to be filled with something.

Her husband would plead with her as she went to the market “Please don’t buy anymore junk.” But he’s also decided if you can’t beat them, join them and decided to turn her clutter into paintings he calls “Kitchen Kitsch”.

The book is also peppered with quotes that we can remind ourselves with.

“Comfort is born out of use, therefore the most comfortable houses seem to be the ones that have been lived in.”

“I think I am better at making a house warm, than keeping it organized.”

“I don’t collect, really, things just sort of pile up.”

Snapshots from perfect homes.

Snapshots from perfect homes.

Of course it helps that these people are living in nice and big houses and not trying to cram everything into a 3-bedroom apartment. But clutter is clutter. The bigger the space, the more room to add. Viva la clutter!

The perfect workbench of yours truly.

The perfect workbench of yours truly.



  1. Haha, and is there another saying that “a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind”? I tend to fall in between. I think each of us has our own threshold, beyond which we cannot function.

  2. katherine61

    i like that quote..it does say something but i also read a book that if we need to spend too much time finding things, its time to declutter and organise. The author recommends we do it every 6 months. Its written for mums!!

    • The quote is super useful on days when we are too lazy to clean or tidy up. It seems like those photos in the book are artfully designed clutter. If they are maintained like that every day, then i think the owners spend a lot of time on arranging and cleaning too!

  3. kkkoh

    A lot of their things look like they are totally useless knick knacks so I don’t think they would need to look for anything among the mess except maybe the baker.

  4. katherine61

    I have minimum displays in the house so that i don’t have to clean them and i feel display items really add clutter to the house. Do u collect knick knacks? SOme people collect knick knacks from travels.

    • nope, i don’t. I dont like ornamental things except for plants/flowers and photos. Everything else on display must be functional haha. I do like the idea of having an eclectic collection of tea pots and tea cups though. If i have space! (oops…. ning begged to buy this ostrich egg from the JB ostrich farm. It’s now in a box. And the children love their build-a-bears… well… hope they outgrow these soon)

  5. kkkoh

    I have a lot of knick knacks. And photos. My place is littered with them. Sometimes quite fun to look at them and think of the places we have been. But I don’t buy as much anymore when I travel. No space! So now we satisfy our shopping cravings by buying food or toiletries that we can use up.

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