mesmerizing and messy

May 20, 2012 at 5:35 pm in Home & Garden by Shannon Ingram

I finally did it. After a lifetime of insisting I could only entertain with a spotless house to show off, I had friends over last night for dinner in my messy house.  OK, so I did clean the sink and mirror in the powder room and run a dust cloth around the living room, and my husband cleaned the patio tables. But for once it wasn’t balls-to-the-walls cleaning – vacuuming, mopping tile floors, sparkling kitchen and bathrooms, etc. And guess what? Our guests seemed to have a great time.  Maybe that’s because I served dirty martinis with blue cheese olives that I stuffed myself. And my husband grilled great steaks. I doubt our friends, Linda and Bob, ran their fingers along the mantel to check for dust or checked behind the white waffle weave shower curtain to see if the bathtub was shiny clean. No, this time we just hung out, talked, laughed, shared experiences and created another memorable evening of friendship. And I had a relaxing Saturday.

That being said, my dear mom was probably spinning in her grave. She was the consummate hostess and her home was truly her castle, always in perfect condition whenever guests came through the front door. Once, when I was in my 20’s, working and going to college full-time, I invited Mom, Dad and my brother and sister over to my apartment for dinner. Mom raised her eyebrows shortly after arriving. Then she took me aside in the kitchen and scolded me for not having cleaned the bathroom mirror and for having my neatly folded laundry piled on my bed instead of put away in a drawer. That made me think that everyone who ever came into my home was going to judge me by water spots on mirrors and the amount of dust build-up on a corner table. And God forbid any dog hair is visible on the floor. Because of that fear, more often than not I have chosen to avoid entertaining at home, preferring to take someone out to lunch or dinner if I knew I wouldn’t have time to do at least four hours of cleaning before guests arrived.

I recently changed my mind about the cleaning thing, thanks to one of my best friends who entertains frequently in her beautiful, creative and usually messy home. Everyone loves to go to her home because it’s warm, happy, there’s a swimming pool and an art studio, music, two dogs  and lots of love. She and her husband are two of the greatest hosts I’ve ever known and they are great cooks, too. So when I was thinking about not seeing friends lately because I’ve been too busy with work and travel, have a very untidy home office and am unable to spend quality time cleaning house, I decided the heck with that attitude! I don’t want to regret that I didn’t see enough of my friends because my house was sloppy. Besides, Anonymous said, “Dull women have immaculate homes” – yet another reason why I always seem to gravitate to Anonymous when it comes to quotes.

Mesmerizing and messy is definitely more my style. But in memory of Mom, I’ll keep my bottle of Windex handy and my wonderful cleaning lady every other week!

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