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09 December 2008 @ 03:55 pm
Am I missing something?  
I'm a horrible house keeper. I freely admit that.

But I feel like that even if I took everything out of the room and completely cleaned with all the harsh chemicals known to man that my house still wouldn't look as nice as a lot of other people's houses. Am I missing something? I understand "repainting" is a tool, but it really seems to be even beyond that. There just seems to be a steady decline to the dinge-death of the household.

Are there other things that I'm missing from my knowledge of house cleaning?
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This is a test of the Mugar Omnimax Theatre.dcltdw on December 9th, 2008 09:09 pm (UTC)
My brother's house is wicked neat (he's a neat freak), and that's because I believe he spends a very large amount of his free time each and every week cleaning his house. That's not how I'd want to spend my time, but hey, if I valued a clean house as much as he did, then I probably would spend that much time, too. :)
The Water Seeker: bridge to nowhereplymouth on December 9th, 2008 09:28 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen your house in years but I do know that another component of "making a house look really sharp" is to have all color-and-style coordinated furniture and decor. I would imagine this is not something you care enough about to insert significant money and time into (I certainly don't - I still have a lot of the yard-sale furniture my parents bought me when I first graduated and some IKEA stuff) so really I wouldn't worry too much about it.
mathhobbitmathhobbit on December 9th, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
Picturing your house -- is the rug on the first floor what you want it to be?

I think your kitchen is actually nicer than most of my friends' -- someone actually thought about what they wanted it to be before they started moving appliances in. That weird little space where you keep your pinball machine, on the other hand ... why do you even have that room? (Maybe you love that space; that's fine too!)

Maybe go through the house room by room and decide which you like, then try to find commonalities?
Gregghudson on December 9th, 2008 10:18 pm (UTC)
Our house is a one-family house which was converted, not terribly well, into a two-family by some previous owner. The room with the pinball machine was the first-floor kitchen. We can't use that room for anything particularly useful without doing Actual Work because there is kitchen stuff along the whole back wall, so it winds up being kind of a combination pinball room/hallway extension/storage area/water fountain.

The first floor rug is definitely showing its age. It's tough to replace because of the weight machine and other heavy furniture.
mathhobbitmathhobbit on December 11th, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
Ok, I have no tact and I think this is a really interesting question. So I'm going to play with it and hope you don't hate me forever.

I think your second floor is fine, unless you want to mess with the games storage in the dining room or do something expensive to the bathroom. But really, it's fine.

But what do you see when you come home every day? The first floor. Is there a thing you could do to the entryway that would make you happy? Maybe move some of the coat storage into the spare kitchen (it could be a mudroom!) or hang a chandelier in the stairwell? Stained glass on the front door?

What if you got rid of your front porch? There might be more light.

I think you've made a good decision in keeping most of the computers and exercise equipment in the back room. Would you be interested in curtaining off that space?

You've done a lot with the TV room. I hope you like the furniture arrangement that's there now! (I think it's a huge improvement over what you used to have.) Possibly you could move a few more things into the back room; maybe you could get a throw rug or new curtains or replace the blinds. Maybe the cat tree wants to move to where the love seat used to be. Maybe the games want to move to where the DVD's are now. I don't know, but I think that room has a lot of unused potential.

Disclaimer: I really enjoy thinking about space and what's in it but I do not represent the height of fashion. Take everything I say with a grain of salt! Also, what I'm talking about is moving things around, not fixing them or cleaning them. Maybe that's not what you want at all.
pekmezpekmez on December 9th, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
I think that people who are especially interested in having their houses look less dingy start with stuff that is new/fresh ie a new coat of paint, new tile on the floor, new carpet. And then things do continue look better if they are cleaned thoroughly and often. But think of an old linoleum floor that has texture that has collected grit in it for 25 years - you can probably get it pretty thoroughly clean from a housekeeping perspective, but it will still look like an old linoleum floor - you may be right that some of the stuff in your house was heading towards not looking shiny and new before you ever started living with it and not cleaning it very often. On the other hand I imagine that if some anal person had cleaned it with a mop every week for those 25 years it would probably have never accumulated the grit in the first place and would look much cleaner. Our back entry a 3'x4' or so rectangle of the ancient gritty kind and I am thinking that we should forget the good housekeeping and just buy a small rectangle of linoleum every 5-10 years. :)

Also, if they are replacing stuff they probaly choose that stuff so that it doesn't show dirt or accumulate dirt in places that are hard to clean. Stuff like light colored carpets accumulate dinge a lot more visibly than wood floors. We have no carpets and I suspect that the floors don't show that much dinge. (On the other hand, it takes very little grit and crumbs before you can tell when walking around in socks that the floors aren't clean... and I know all the spots where the varnish is in bad shape.)

I am also of the belief that all kinds of dingy/cluttery things always look far worse to the person who lives in the house and sees them every day than to someone who visits and sees it once.


Jeredjered on December 9th, 2008 10:49 pm (UTC)
Based on my experience, factors beyond basic cleanliness that affect appearance and sense of dinginess are things like color and finish, material quality and material condition.

For example, are the walls wallboard or plaster? Plaster reduces echo, and makes a room feel more solid. Are the walls flat, or pockmarked? Do they meet at sharp, right angles? Are transitions between rooms plain, or trimmed, cased openings?

The same characteristics apply to floors. Linoleum was very popular during the 60s/70s renovation fad, and the materials installed then look dated. They tend to be beige, patterned, and with obvious seams. They bubble and crack. These can detract from appearance regardless of how clean they are. With tile, off-color grout will look dingy even when it's clean, and old tiles can look dated.

I haven't seen your place in a long time, so I can't really comment on it. Are there specific things that feel dingy to you despite being clean?
A Sage With a Slight Flaw in Her Charactereccentrific on December 10th, 2008 05:36 am (UTC)
What everyone else said. Also, a less cluttered space with more life will give the appearance of being cleaner than a more cluttered space or one with less light.
Binkbinkbink on December 10th, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
The issue isn't housecleaning but where you live. You can't buy a new house there and you can't afford to gut the one you have and start over, so your environment will always be patches upon patches. The kitchen upstairs is doing pretty well because of the overhaul. It is spacious and mostly new materials, but even that isn't the same as a new one would be. For example, the floor is, of necessity, uneven because of the base it had to be laid on.

The only way to get a splufty house is to move to an expensive rehab, a new development, or to Canada or California which doesn't fit with your plans.
As for the aging carpets on the main floor, I wonder (if you can move the small things) is there a company who could be paid to move the heavy items around while they install new carpeting? Does anyone reading here know of one?

Binkbinkbink on December 10th, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
Clean
Don't forget that there is a difference between clean/dirty and empty/cluttered but that both prey on the housekeeper mind. Because you have so many activities that require equipment and accessories, you can't avoid cluttered. With it cluttered, it is harder to clean, and even if it were spotless, it would still feel less than sparkling.

My mother's house started out new, had very little in it but essential furniture (dad had to grow his tomatoes in the basement and aside from his table saw and log splitter, there were few other activities with gear associated), and it was significantly larger than your place.

The second issue is time. You remember my mother's house as pretty much spotless, but she had few activities. She went golfing, had a bowling league and played bridge. Dad did all the household tasks like changing lightbulbs, fixing dripping faucets, getting the cars inspected and repaired, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, etc, and they had no pets. That left mom a full work week of time to do nothing but housekeeping and redecorating.

Camilla Foxcfox on December 10th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
There's a book on housekeeping:
http://www.amazon.com/Home-Comforts-Science-Keeping-House/dp/068481465X/
which I love, because it's incredibly geeky and thorough.

I disagree with her in many places (I've probably never met anyone who vacuumes as often as she suggests), but I appreciate not being talked down to, and I appreciate the fact that she suggests a standard which isn't expressed relative to what I'm already doing.

(And if you like the look and want to borrow my copy, let me know; I haven't meant to be so out of touch with you.)
Someone I am is waiting for my courageforgotten_aria on December 10th, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC)
I'm out of touch with many people. It's quite sad. :(