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Comfort Zoned Residential

Remember this dollhouse? It had a bubble chimney. My house does not have that.

Nancy was talking about confidence on my group blog, LIPSTICK CHRONICLES and it started me thinking about comfort zones.

I am confident in arenas where I know what I am doing and I believe I have a gift for the arena-work. I am a confident teacher, for example, because I both love it and believe I have a facility for it. If I am NOT already good at a thing and if I do not feel I have a gift for it, I am a quivery worm who pokes her worm toe into the shallowest drop and makes embarrassing terror-noises.

My comfort zone is very, very small.

In trying to define my comfort zone, I realized so much of it is location, location, location. My comfort zone includes the inside of my animal-hair-coated house, and I feel twice as confident doing new-spooky-untested-unhabitual things there than anywhere else..

My house is part zoo, part slum, but it smells like me and my family, so it is home. Granted, sometimes, in the rainy season, it smells like wet dog. BUT it is the specific smell of my own personal wet dogs, and so, unless I wander into traffic or catch brain worms, I plan to grow old and die here.

I should probably be embarrassed to have people over,but I find the place very COMFY.

You might, too. If you like holes.

All the furniture is hand me down crap, so old it is vomiting its stuffings. Our small auxiliary dog , Ansley, ate great scoops out of the carpet before she relaxed and decided she was safe here. I have decided not to replace it because weโ€™ll just get another dog who will eat the new stuff. The paint is chipped, the wallpaper is peeling—-we take care of the structural things to protect our investment, but the cosmetic?


All that said, on WEDNESDAY our home will be invaded by a NEW SOFA. I got one because the arm is about to fall off the current one. It is NICE, this new one, and should be HERE in three days and utterly destroyed by July.

I also have a nice bedroom set— we had to go to kingsize to fit in more animals. BUT! Except for that bedroom set, I think this sofa is the first piece of furniture that cost more than 200 bucks that I have bought in our 17 year marriage.

I am going to coat it in Scotch Guard, of course, and I will try to remind the children not to run back and forth across it as if it were a trampoline, but in a lot of ways, I have already released it to its terrible fate.

A dollhouse of my house would not look like this.

I am comfortable with that. And I am comfortable having people IN to visit my pit BEFORE the new sofa even comes.

RIGHT NOW, I would have people over, even knowing that if one sat on the arm of the sofa it would fall off in a chunk and they would land on their buttocks.

If I invite you over, I assume you are coming to see me, not my window treatments, most of which quite tasteful and neutral and came free with the house. I just assume people who LIKE me will accept the kind of undomesticated animal I am, and they wonโ€™t mind sitting on the corpses of armchairs with cats climbing all over them, so long as the food is good and the wine keep flowing.

Who are you?
A house proud kind who tries to keep up with the latest faux finishing foofahs??

Proud Slob who feels like, โ€œLove me, love my host of empty pizza boxes?โ€

Slob of shame who hides dirty dishes in the oven?

Or someone in between?

33 comments to Comfort Zoned Residential

  • Lise

    I’m firmly in between. I feel very, very lucky to have been able to buy a lovely older home, and like to keep it looking nice. But by nature I’m a slob so I constantly struggle with it.

  • Beth R

    Proud mess – my house is clean – for the most part – it’s just that I have all this stuff that needs horizontal surfaces to rest on. Most of the time, that’s the floor ๐Ÿ™‚

    And I’m totally into hanging out in pet-hair infested houses. I miss having pets. There’s something so cool about having those weird little carnivores snuggling up to you…

  • OMG! I love decorating and painting things new colors and arranging and new furniture and picture frames. I do not always have the money for new things or additional things so I just move stuff around. I would LOVE to have an immaculate house that smelled like fresh lemons or verbena or some such, BUT I have three kids, two cats, a husband, and as of last August, a brother, and a dog and through the summer, a niece and a nephew. My house is so full, there is no more space to put any more bodies. My house is so full there is no more space to put any more ANYTHING. My house is not immaculate.

    That fact used to make me crazy. It used to make me depressed and lethargic. I am a stay at home mom who HATES HOUSEWORK! I am a failure. Except now? I’m coming to realize that my house will never be immaculate. I HATE HOUSEWORK. I like clean. I like organized. I like for someone else to do that for me, thankyouverymuch. ALSO? I have kids and I hate being angry at them for the mess. So, we deal with the mess as best we can, shove it in the organized closets? I THINK NOT! We shove it in trash bags and put it in the office or my room. Such tactics will work until my kids move on to make messes elsewhere and I loll around in deSPAIR wondering why I thought I EVER needed an immaculate home. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I am an ashamed slob. It is my goal to be an unashamed occasional cleaner of my house.

  • lisah

    Proud messy person here! I don’t have the energy to keep my home perfect or to worry about what others think. If there is a BIG event like a graduation I do my best to organize (or hide) things. Otherwise, Love me? Love my mess.

  • Tenessa — the first time in our marriage that we had ANY disposable income — about 3 or 4 years in, when Scott took this great job in Atlanta and I was done with grad school— I said I did not want a nicer place or new furniture or more nights out or better clothes with the “mad money.”

    I wanted a twice a month cleaning service. AMEN, SISTER.

  • Kim

    Definitely messy! And it has been noted by my 7 y/o and one of his friends (thank you very much annoying little buddy). Just today said 7 y/o commented that he needed to be more careful at grandmother’s house because she keeps it “shiny clean, not like our house.” Again, thanks. That said, I like a little mess but sometimes the dog hair does drive me to distraction. Thankfully, a glass of wine with dinner tends to help.

  • Katherine

    Mostly ashamed slob like hollygee. I try, but I have too much stuff. I tried briefly having a cleaning person, but I found it took all my energy picking up stuff so that they could clean. Sometimes I think what I need to do is find a cleaning person who will only do kitchen and bathrooms at first.

  • linda j

    Wow um this post is exactly what I needed today. My nephew is coming this week for the first time in 8 years and looking around my house I wonder WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE??? I only have I notable child left at home, the other is 19 and only comes in for crashing, food, and laundry. His mess is limited to the kitchen. The younger is 9 and albeit a bipolar child with adhd my house looks like I have 6 kids a full time job and the words trash can have never been muttered. Oh and a live in boyfriend who is still waiting for his long dead mother to do his laundry…

    the truth…

    I am pissed off that those that made this blasted mess aren’t ashamed to the gills.

  • Erika

    I don’t mind clutter and toys strewn across the house and the mountain of clean laundry that always ends up taking up half the couch before I decide it’s time to fold it. I don’t like the “dirty” messes, though– food encrusted dishes left anywhere except the kitchen sink, or kool-aid or juice in a sticky, syrupy puddle in front of the fridge (to name the most offensive situations I’ve encountered just today). Otherwise, I just figure there are so many better things to freak out over. (Although I do wish my vacuum cleaner did a better job at picking up dog hair.) So I guess I fall somewhere in-between? But maybe a little closer to the slob-ish side? No shame, though. My house looks lived-in. And in a way, I think that’s a compliment to our family.

  • Lori B.

    I’m a slob, who was raised by a slob, who was raised by a slob, ad infinitum… I loved my grandmother’s house, but it was overwhelming. Toys, antiques, screaming birds, clothes, rugs, pillows. I never really realized how bad it was until I took my very own four-year-old there and he had what was probably a preschool panic attack. So needless to say, that clean gene does not exist in this body.

    At this very moment, my house feels like a suburban house of horrors. I tried the “put everything into trash bags and then go back through the bags and only pull out what we want to keep” method in my girls’ room the other day and it was a failure. Now I just have garbage bags spilling their guts all over the hall. Someone deliver me! It’s such a wreck I have put off my bi-weekly cleaning lady for two weeks trying to get my act together. Did I mention my husband was raised by a neat freak? Did I mention he is an engineer who likes order and calm? Did I mention he keeps mumbling things about fire codes and hazards and not being able to get to our children’s beds in an emergency, because there is so much CRAP?

    As you may have guessed, my crazy meter is off the scale right now and my house is the number one reason. When I don’t feel like I want to take a bulldozer and haul everything I own off to the dump, I like to say, “I’m in the ministry of making others feel better about their homes.”

  • Jessica

    I am firmly in between. I want things to match somewhat, so we got a bunch of bookcases that match and finally have matching (kind of) furniture in the living room. Otherwise, everything is handed down and falling apart. I think the headboard we have is probably a good 20 years old and from Wal-Mart, so not super-good quality. It was my parents’ before it was mine, and we kept it when we got married. It’s in pretty bad shape, but it is a bookcase headboard and still holds our books (even if my side pushes back from the bed every so often and swallows my pillows in the middle of the night). I’m not super-organized at home (don’t tell my coworkers, because they all think I’m extremely organized) and hate almost all housework.

    I want to be organized and neat and stuff, but I don’t care enough. I love what you said. I’ll assume from now on that people are coming to see me and not to critique my apartment and/or housekeeping skills. Good thinking!

  • Carole

    I am a bonafide mess. My house has been feng shuied for clutter and is much better than it was when I had a house full of young-uns. In fact my house is so much better; I can hardly believe it. It is actually wheel chair accessible (it has to be these days for my dear man). But my husband can’t see that it is better. That’s the trick. Marrying somebody who is OK with a mess. Because when I see my chaos, I see love. I see my life. My husband sees it as an indictment about my worth as a human being. New sofas about 10 years ago about made him totally insane. He’s only now OK with the autograph our granddaughter put on it 8 years ago. A totally clean house drains me of creativity. Usually while I am cleaning it.

  • This is missionary work I can get behind: “I’m in the ministry of making others feel better about their homes.” HA! I LOVE that.

    AND I SO AGREE about mess v/s filth. I LIVE happily in mess and junky furniture, but I could NOT bear for living mold to leap out of a toilet and strangle a visiting child.

    ALL THIS SAID — I have this weird PINGING OF JOY when I see my current garage, the FIRST garage I have owned where a person can actually PARK A CAR. Before that Great Clean the garage was more a Storage Unit.

  • Corey

    Suffering from what FlyLady.com calls Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome (CHAOS), where every flat surface has piles of clutter and crapola, clean laundry overflows the baskets (why do we even have dressers?), and toys create obstacle courses. One 2nd-grade friend agreed with my daughter that her house was more fun to play in because it’s neater; another cheerfully pitched in with a hearty, “I love to clean up!” {shame} It’s a losing battle, and I’d rather be tired from running and reading half the night than cleaning into the wee hours.

  • I am most definitely an in-betweener. As a reformed slob, I get a little anxious, in a “zomg I am falling off the wagon!” kind of way, when the mess creeps up above a certain level. But that level is … er, about waist-high. I do like for things to not be all manky and broken, but I am out of luck there because we have a not-quite-year-old standard poodle puppy. If you’ve ever had one of those, then I need say no more. If you haven’t, well … they eat everything. EV-ERY-THING. Because they are sort of evil and brain-damaged. But then they puke it all back up again, because they have sensitive stomachs. And you forgive them, because they are adorable and sweet. Right now all the carpet in my house is shredded around the edges, where it sneaks under the baseboards and tile, because the dog ate it. And there is a wooden baby gate blocking my fireplace, because it’s gas and he eats the little fake-ember lava rocks out of it even though we have told him time and again THOSE ARE NOT FOOD.

    This morning my house smells like coffee and dog farts. There are dirty dishes in the sink and a pile of unfolded (but clean!) laundry on the bed. The couch cushions are scattered all over the living room because the dog is absolutely convinced there is buried treasure in that sofa; he only needs to dig a LITTLE BIT MORE to be able to find it. Come on over!

  • DebR

    In-betweener here too. Some sorts of messes bother me not at all, some make me crazy.
    Pet hair on the couch? No problem. Pee-dribbles on the toilet seat or the bathroom floor? Problem. A layer of dust on the furniture? No problem? Dirty dishes stacked in or around the kitchen sink? Problem. Teetering stacks of books on various assorted horizontal surfaces? No problem. (Home-y even!) Unmade beds? Problem. And so on…. There is no logic to it, even to me, it just is what it is. I am not an easy person to live with. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • JulieB

    Boy, what a group of kindred souls! With three kids, and several animals over the years, I used to be very ashamed of the crap and I know my husband, who had essentially lived on his own from age 17 used to feel really overwhelmed when he’d come home from work – it brought up issues from his past when he saw clutter, etc., even though the house was clean, more or less. As I was growing up, my mom was not domestically oriented although she has quite a flair for decorating – years of working in the theater gave her a good eye for “set dressing.” But the clutter would creep in and accumulate; paperwork on the dining room table, laundry still to be folded and sorted (put away? maybe), school books dropped wherever. Housework was never a routine growing up.

    So I essentially have had to learn to cook and clean on my own. Cooking was a lot more fun. Cleaning, not so much, and really, it still qualifies more as haphazard rather than like clockwork. But I did find the Flylady site a few years back and it made me realize I had too much “stuff” growing up, as did my sister. We were overwhelmed with how to deal with it. My kids are the only grandkids on both sides, there are three of them, and each one started getting even more stuff than I ever had. And, they all have the gene that goes back deep in my family; we can’t get rid of _anything_.

    So, I’ve come to stop extra crap from entering as much as possible, and really began to let go of some things, especially things I just “had,” and a few things that I had that made me sad even. It’s not great, but it’s better, and I think everyone has felt the tension ease up over the years. Having older kids has helped tremendously.

    But yeah, my friends don’t come to see the upstairs halls and bathrooms that still have the builders paint from when the house was build 16 years ago (I have great plans for that, but the roof needs fixing first) and they don’t worry about the scuffed “Pleather” sofa, or the never ending tumble-weed of dog hair that seems to show up 5 minutes after I put the vacuum away. I’m officially in between, and pretty happy about it.

  • I have a lovely home that throws up on itself regularly. Last weekend as my (much younger) sister-in-law bemoaned the fact that her bedroom is always a mess, I told her mine was too. She shot me a dirty look and said, “Your bedroom is NEVER a mess.” I then informed her and her naivete that yes, Virginia, our bedroom door was closed for a reason. I then escorted her into the fourth level of laundry hell–dirty clothes ALL OVER the bathroom floor, clean clothes piled atop the bed (freshly relocated from the sofa where she had been sitting)and a lot of dust on furniture. Those were her first words after she surveyed the carnage, “You. . .you have. . .DUST.” Why yes, yes we do. Life is dusty. And you need clothes.

  • Jill W.

    I am a mess. I try not to be. I long not to be, but I am. My husband is a neat freak who is surprisingly tolerant of the cluttered mess we live in. We do have a housekeeper who comes in every two weeks and is worth every penny (I think what I pay her blessed soul is a perfect 1:1 ratio of dollar to negative mental illness number), and that forces me to pick up some of the clutter. I love coming home from work on the days that she has been there. Ahhhh….

  • Jennifer in NC

    I say “Love me, love my mess!” Life is too short to obsess over a little clutter. My interior design style is “lived-in”. My house is clean when I cram everything into the closets when company is coming over!

  • BerniG

    I am a slob! I was raised by a slob, but I’m not nearly as bad as she is. In my house growing up. we had paths through the filth to walk around. My house just has piles of clutter, but I’d like it to be better. I am trying to get on the right track again. It seems like there are always better things to do than cleaning. Sigh, I’ll get better, I will have to if we’re gonna sell this house!

  • I have a LOT of stuff in a LITTLE house. And it ain’t neat. With my friends, we’ll pick up a bit, but it generally looks the way we live when they arrive. But my mom is a tidy freak and HER mom is a tidy freak and it makes for some crazy stressful dynamics when they come to visit (especially at the same time), because neither of them are gentle and maternal. I believe my grandma’s exact words last time were, “How do you live like this?!” Yeah.

  • Carrie (in MN)

    Having a cleaning lady saves me. I’m a well-intentioned messy person who always intends to be better, but my hubby is a packrat and I have three kids and a goofy dog who sheds. The night before she comes is often unpleasant, as I insist that everyone pick up their clutter, but if we didn’t have her we’d never pick up our clutter. I have enough energy to pick up so it can be cleaned, or to clean, but not both. Oh and we have bought some nice furniture slowwwly over the years, but it’s a mix. In my dining room is a nice French pine armoire, for example, and a nice table and chairs, but the china cabinet was bought off Ebay (local) for $25 and painted by moi.

  • Brigitte

    Probably closest to the Slob of Shame, though I use low-lighting and random squirts of Lemon Pledge as my camouflage.

    With the old sofa, I’d be severely tempted to lure a friend (somehow) into perching on the arm, and when it broke, be like “Oh my god, you broke my sofa!!”

  • I’m not quite house proud and not quite proud slob. My momma taught me to never apologize for the state of my house. Best advise ever. All I ask is that if you pick something up please put it back exactly where you found it. If you don’t disturb the dust you don’t see it.

  • Kristen

    I am a cluttery sort. I’ve BEEN the ridiculously clean freak b/c I lived where I had to be. I was tense all the time and it was vehemently NOT GOOD! now, in my house, i’m less than perfect, but I love it when my house is clean…but i also like the homey bits.

    unlike debR – i’m totally fine with unmade beds, but just like her, the drips on the toilet kill me.

  • Cathi

    Once upon a time, when my kids were big enough not to destroy everything in their wake, and my pets were passed the chewing and clawing everything stage, I decided to invest in nice, beautiful, grown-up furniture. Within 6 months a hurricane (Ivan) came and blew it all away! So now I say – so what if the dog just threw up on the new rug. And who cares when someone breaks a crystal glass. And if the cat claws my leather sofa, it just makes it more lived in. You need to use and enjoy what you have now. It might not be there tomorrow!

  • Oh my, I’m SO glad I read these comments. It’s so nice to know that Im not alone. You can definitely add me to that ministry of making others feel better about their homes. Only thing is several of my friends have homes that loom like something in a designer magazine……

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    I am right there with you on the furniture thing. We have only a few furniture items in our home that we actually went out and purchased new. When we moved into our current home, we bought a couch and chair together — other than that we have purchased only individual pieces of furniture here and there. Our home is full of what others may call “hand-me-downs”, but I call them “heirlooms”. My maternal grandmother’s piano, a lawyer’s bookcase from my husband’s grandparents, a huge wooden desk that belonged to my grandfather/my hero, a wooden rocking chair that my mother was rocked in as a baby… I like having furniture with “stories” attached to them, and like you (Joshilyn), my home is my COMFORT ZONE. My sister and mother buy furniture ROOMS at a time and agonize over fabric swatches and window treatments. They ‘dress to impress” their homes. My goal is a home that comforts and welcomes myself, my husband, and my son — the people who actually live in it.

  • JulieB

    Back to say I like this thread.

    @ Karen, I like the way your mother thinks!

    @ Cathi, That’s perspective. Sounds like the Hurricane Ivan at least left you with your most precious ones.

  • Katie in CA

    I am a neat slob. I like the lived in look, and dust is okay, but when the dishes pile up or the papers on the table get to be too much, I must clean!

  • Scottsdale Girl

    I have 5 animals, all hairy sheddy beasts. I have an adult male and teen boy living with me. I have a housekeeper come twice a month. If she did not come we would be wading through hair! My neat freak is more like a neat hippie. I need the dishes washed, I need the toilet clean and I need as little CRAP just tossed around as possible but as far as dust and stuff? Meh.