A House is Not a Home

Hi!  Musette here (Tom is wearing Perfume That Will Keep Him from Killing Folks and I can relate! )  – with a difficult post.  It’s got some ‘smells’ in it but is mostly….oh, heck….I don’t even know how to explain it so I guess I might as well try to just write the damn thing, right?  Right.

Okay – here goes (but a caveat: this may offend yet ANOTHER segment of folks who clean the hell out of their houses.  Hope not.  This post is NOT meant to judge ANYBODY – it’s just my experiences and impressions, okay?)

So.  Awhile ago I wrote a post in which I talked about visiting a friend’s home.  In that post I talked about spending time at that home and …well, in the way the Universe can get sometimes, I managed to offer the persack opposite of the compliment I was intending  The story was actually about me and how , as I have grown older, I have also grown up a bit, especially as regards houses and homes, though so many of my friends and acquaintances still regard me as House Judgemental (“omg.  I had to clean up/repaint/reupholster because you were coming over”.  As if I were John Saladino (and to be honest, if he was that judgmental then he needed to stay his butt home, right?) .    But in my haste (deadline!) I neglected to really flesh that out.

This notion of House Judgemental recently came up in conversation with another friend whom I was visiting.  This friend used to have a huge, gorgeous house – but circumstances had infused it with misery and despair, turning it into a huge, gorgeous tomb.  You could smell the unhappiness – unhappiness & despair have a smell, did you know that?  Kind of like overcooked cabbages and old grease.  Not that her house smelled like that but …….you know what I mean?  That weird ‘mental smell’  that lingers in your soft palate….

Fast forward…several years later…things have leveled out for my friend.  She had to give up her big, beautiful house…and now she lives in an adorable little cottage..that is home.  Light-filled, with such warmth and love.  There are so many things ‘wrong’ with that little house ( a closet the size of shoebox, a wonky stove, windows from 1958)  …but not a thing wrong with that home.  It smells like fresh coffee and cedar and sunlight and contentment.  And a couple of Little Dogs of Fabulousness)

And that was the point I was so clumsily trying to make (and omg how I manked that up) – I’d just come from a visiting a  House.  It was so perfectly ‘done’ and so emotionally empty that it felt like a model house.  It smelled…cold.  Like cornstarch you just took out of the freezer.  I was beaten to death by the aggressive, soulless perfection.  And then…. The next day I went to my wonderful friend’s glorious home that was so full of life and love and Little Dogs of Fabulousness…and I realized that it isn’t what’s in one’s house – or even the house itself – that makes a home.  It’s the ‘why’ – and the ‘who’.   (a side note:  my friend’s home?  It’s also a pretty freaking fabulous house! lol!  I would happily bite everybody in this town for a chance to have that house!)…and her home, too, smelled like fresh coffee and sunlight and love..and such kindness..

I continue to hold that close to me as my own friends come to my crappy little Shotgun Shack in this podunk town. In my youth I was such a house-proud psycho, owning Giant Houses (in fab cities) filled with gleaming crystal and pristine floors – and I realized that a lot of my attempts at House Perfection were a mild form of aggression: like a 1950s new bride faced with a visit from her mother-in-law; you are gonna admire the hell out of my house, dammit!  But a home? A home is Life.  Perfect one day, messy as hell the next.   Dishes in the sink or a kitchen you could perform surgery in (which is never gonna be my kitchen, alas).  But whatever the case, and with any luck, it is filled with contentment & love (and for the record, you do not have to have a house full of people for that.  Or even a dog!).   People now come to my house, which has a laundry list of things wrong with it – and find me in my home, which hasn’t a thing wrong with it.  And the crystal is still here but maybe it isn’t always gleaming.   And sometimes it is because I just had a blast cleaning it (Yes I Am That Freak).  But either way, my friends don’t care.  Why would they? My HOME  smells great, like chocolate and eucalyptus and sunlight and contentment (and Bob’s Flower Shoppe diffuser oil – see I toldja I would get some smells in here).  And mess or no mess, they are always welcome.   And I try to fill my home with kindness.

And I have the equivalent of 30 Little Dogs of Fabulousness! In one dog.

  • LaDona says:

    How funny…my husband and I live in cute but small San Diego apartment, that sports a huge backyard. We threw a party one weekend that was inexplicably rained-out, so the guests were crammed in the tiny abode, and spilling onto the porch. It wasn’t ideal, but we sure had fun crawling all over each other, drinking and laughing. Except one guest, who later commented to a close mutual friend, that she couldn’t believe we had a party in that, “shithole.” I was stunned. My house is clean, not spotless, but clean. And it’s a home, by golly. Her husband is an architect, and she is a wonderful cook who thinks she knows more about wine than she does. So in her eyes, my wonderful home and husband were an embarrassment. After I got over the intense desire to pour a gallon of Mr. bubble and purple dye in her perfect fountain, I realized how deeply unhappy she must be, in her perfect home. I’ll take a shithole filled with love and a thousand perfumes every time.

  • Svetlana says:

    First an alert for those who may have been craving a FB of Amouage Fate but the price tag choked you Beauty Spin has big bottles on sale for only $152.
    I hear you Musette, my job has me in lots of houses and homes, there’s a difference.

  • filomena813 says:

    To me the physicality of the “house” does not matter.
    A house is not a “home” and home is where the heart us,

  • Sherri M. says:

    House-proud Psycho…lol! That’s me when company is coming (esp. in-laws) for sure! My 16 year old daughter just accused me of being superficial when I told her to clean her room. Fine, i’m superficial; I can live with that! My dear daughter has to clean anyway because said room has reached epic unhygienic proportions. It’s true that love makes a house a home, but there has to be balance. I think if you keep after laundry and dishes alone that’s half the battle.

    I have allergies, so I have no choice but to keep the house relatively clean, but I’m an obsessive shopper, so it gets pretty cluttered. My perfume shelves need dusted, and I’ve been avoiding it since it gives me a bad headache, but they’re in a closet anyway. One good thing about our perfume passion–at least our homes smell good!

  • I like a clean flat, makes me think better.

  • Marilee says:

    I never like visiting people’s houses that look like showrooms… Designed to the max and nothing out of place. We LIVE in our house…. All of it. There is not a piece of furniture that doesn’t have some kind of living scar on it. And yes, not always perfectly tidy or dusted (but otherwise fairly clean, there being a difference in my mind between “clean” and “tidy”.). But there is warmth and welcome and yes, good smells of all kinds here. Yay for homes instead of houses!

  • jackie b says:

    Every house gets messy sometimes, I can’t live my life being anal about that! No one told my animals to keep their fur to themselves either. Funny, I just remembered my mother used to vacuum every day, ridiculous waste of time.
    BUT…there is a difference between messy and downright unhygienic.

  • Eldarwen says:

    We are in the middle of a remodeling project, so it looks like a bomb went offor in the lower level of the house. Clean houses are so aggravating for some reason. Obsessive house cleaning says you aren’t truly living life. I’m not the cleanest person with 2 dogs needing my love and attention and having fun with family and friends are more important than a clean house.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Musette,
    We veer wildly too. Parts of the house are gloriously tidy but other parts seem destined to be a mess.
    One of my personal bugbears is my mess on our dining table. Half of it is perfection and the other half is all the office/perfume/post office stuff. It’s there until we have guests for ease and convenience. All mine and a mess. Only I care, Jin is cool as long as the couch has a blanket, a bunch of pillows and the TV is working. We purposely designed the living/kitchen space to be clean & tidy in 20 minutes. No worries really.
    The place always smells good though.
    Portia xx

  • tammy says:

    Oh God help me, I am the WORST housekeeper.

    I do keep my dishes washed up ( by which I mean, I usually wash them every day, but I skip a day now and then) and I wash the commodes and sinks a couple times a week, but I hate dusting and mopping, and any horizontal surface, up to and including the floors ( maybe especially the floors) is covered with random crap. (In all fairness, the crap on the floor is usually my husband’s clothes; not sure why he can’t be as fastidious as me and throw his dirty clothes on the backs of chairs, but it’s not worth picking a fight over, ya know? )

    No excuse for it, either; it’s just my husband and I, and I don’t work. My parents were both tidy, but I didn’t inherit that gene. I’m lazy and I have too much stuff. Plus, there are just so many other things I’d rather do!

    So envious of you tidy bitchez. 😉

  • Tatiana says:

    I never learned how to properly clean a house and I didn’t inherit an organizing gene, so I live in a messy rather dirty house. I try to organize. Got that Japanese book on the subject, but my house still goes back to being a disorganized mess. We’re avid readers and there are books everywhere in this house. Books in the kitchen, family room, dining room, living room, hallway and every bedroom. We sell, recycle and/or donate the ones we won’t reread, but still, we’re tripping over books here. Doesn’t help that I have a messy husband and child and some pets adding their shedding into the mix. But every evening when we’re sitting around for dinner, there is love, laughter, conversation and lots of hugs, so I’m happy.
    Poodle! OMG! I couldn’t even imagine cooking without garlic, shallots or onions. And bacon is just one of those things you have to have every now and then, whether it’s with your eggs or waffles for breakfast or chopped and cooked with garlic and brussels sprouts (the ultimate smelly but yummy dish). I don’t think I’d get along well with your S-I-L.

    • tammy says:

      OMG, I wonder if it’s a bookworm thing?? Every wall in our house except the kitchen and bathrooms is covered in my bookcases. And people always do say our place is cozy and fun. (My little nieces told me they love my house best because there’s glitter and kittens everywhere)

    • poodle says:

      Hahaha. She’s challenging to say the least. I feel bad for the kids. They’re not quite old enough to move out. It can’t be fun for them. My niece won’t even have friends over. It’s sad really.

  • Lindsey says:

    Hi Musette! It was nice seeing you at the Tauer event. I ended up buying Sotto La Luna Gardenia, and I am totally addicted to it! It makes me happy. I loved this post. I have a tiny but very homey one bedroom apartment. 🙂

  • Ann says:

    Amen and amen, darling! What a great post! Our house is usually a royal mess (teenage boys will do that!), and so anyone who knows me knows that if you want to visit, you’d best call ahead so I can do emergency prep. But overall, ours is a a pretty happy habitation. And all the perfume in my dining room (my ‘fume room) gives it a nice, gently scented glow when you walk in. You’ve validated what I’ve always thought: Perfection ain’t always so pretty! Hugs to you …

  • Deb says:

    Thoughtful! Thanks.

  • poodle says:

    I am a lot like my mother and like a clean house but have learned to overlook a lot of things and just live and not worry about every speck of dust all the time. I still clean like a maniac most days but it’s just me, the hubband, and the spoodles most days and they’re not judging. I think it’s good to find the happy medium between sterile and sloppy. My sister in law is a cleaning nut and her house has zero warmth. Gorgeous, and showroom quality, but cold, cold. She even makes the kids take the microwave out onto the deck to make popcorn because she doesn’t want the smell in the house. No cooking with bacon, onions, or garlic is allowed either. it’s a nice house but it’s not a home. I’ll take a little clutter and dust and bacon over that any day.

    • Musette says:

      A clean and tidy house drops my blood pressure down. My life is chaotic enough without having to wade through detritus and Floyd Knows What. Same with the garden. Not looking for ruler-edged borders but some order helps showcase my flowers and veg.

      I am not qualified to address your SIL’s approach to her house but ……….wow!

      and yes, BACON! Richardson Wright wrote an article bemoaning the loss of cooking smells in the home. It is very evocative.


  • greennote2 says:

    I absolutely and completely agree, Musette. Most of us have Lives and would rather be living those with people that care about us than Cleaning. And would we all please just stop apologising for the perceived uncleanliness of our houses. And I adore the ‘Little Dogs of Fabulousness’.

    • Musette says:

      I didn’t use to be like that but I am now! I like a clean and tidy house but omg! give me time with my friends over that, any day!!! xoxoxoA