Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Place of Order and Beauty

Today I had a productive day at home. On my day off I mostly choose not to drop my husband into work so I don’t have to pick him up again. I am then free to focus completely on being at home, whether it is cleaning, pottering, decluttering and tidying or crafting, reading and relaxing.

I did my usual homemaking tasks such as vacuuming the carpet, hand-mopping the hard floors (we have three small areas), running and emptying the dishwasher, dusting, laundry, making the bed and preparing dinner.

I also like to concentrate on one additional area in depth. Today it was the kitchen. I have additional kitchen items like the slowcooker and sandwich press in our tiny home office, because they don’t fit in the kitchen cupboards and I don’t want them out on the bench.

I was playing Anthea Turner’s Perfect Housewife dvd non-stop in the background. Anthea would never stand for that, I thought. So I emptied out our kitchen cupboards (it didn’t take long, we have a tiny kitchen), wiped and dried the shelves and then put most things back, including, wonder of wonders, the slowcooker and sandwich press. Of course they fitted, with room to spare.

Inspired, I also did the pantry, tidying it as I put things back after cleaning the shelves. I found food I thought we had run out of (including three packs of long pasta when I didn’t think we had one). And our pantry isn’t that big. It showed me that you really have to do these things on a regular basis.

If you haven’t viewed Anthea Turner’s programme you’re in for a treat. She lives in a beautiful Surrey mansion (well, before the credit crunch in England, she had to move to a smaller mansion afterwards) and takes homemaking to an art form. I picked up plenty of tips as I watched (or should I say re-watched for the 60th time).

Something I really like that she said was to treat the running of your home like a small business, ‘because it is your business’. She also said the running of the home was not dissimilar to the running of a boutique hotel.

I listened to some podcasts of Anthea while I was working too (had to pause the dvd for those).

And here are Anthea’s top 10 tips from the same website.

1. You can’t run a home that’s a mess, so first of all you have to de-clutter it. If it’s not beautiful, useful or seriously sentimental - IT GOES. Charity shop or bin (you decide what’s best).

2. There’s no getting away from it, you have to clean - often and frequent is my tip.

3. When cleaning always start by dusting first, once everything’s cleaned down then hoover and wipe floors.

4. Make your house a home. Consider your house from an aesthetic point of view, does it make you feel good. If not what can you add to it to make it more appealing.

5. Run your home like a business and treat it with the same seriousness. Think about how you could run your home more efficiently, certain days for food shopping, budgets etc.

6. Storage is very important, for instance - don’t have winter coats on the coat rack during summer, store them away, think about shrink wrapping them if necessary.

7. Teamwork is also really important, when your children get to a certain age they can help with household chores, putting dirty washing away, cleaning and tidying away their toys etc.

8. Avoid Wastage. If you cut up a lemon and have a dishwasher put the left over half into the dishwasher. It adds a little ting and sparkle in your wash.

9. Get organised. Purchase a diary you can pin on your kitchen wall and put every event and birthday into this diary.

10. Finances, keep them up to date - if you have bills to pay keep everything in one place or buy a folder to keep them in.

I also decluttered quite a few items – I went through my candle cupboard. We burn them every night so get through a fair few, but having consolidated my candle collection I won’t need to purchase any for quite a while. I decluttered about half of my candle holders.

When I buy or are given a scented candle, often the glass is really pretty too. After the candle is used I put them in the freezer to shrink the last bit of wax and pop that out, then put the glass into the dishwasher. Apart from putting tealights or new candles in them, I use them in the bathroom drawer for cotton makeup squares, my towelling headband etc, and in my makeup area for brushes, pencils, mascara and tweezers (which are hung on the side to protect the point).

Still, I had a lot more than I wanted. So I chose my favourites and donated the rest.

A few more items went in the Red Cross Shop pile – decorative items that while are quite pretty, I just don’t use. An example is the cream coloured semi-precious agate stone (the shape and size of a chicken egg) on a small brass stand. Every time I see it I am reminded of the woman I used to work with who gave it to me. She was mostly quite nasty and condescending, and out of the blue she gave this to me as a gift. I don’t really want to be reminded of her.

Another good thing about my day of homemaking – it’s a good workout. I feel really nicely tired/relaxed. Anthea thinks so too - ‘You don’t need to go to the gym, just put on a pinny’.


  1. Your day at home actioning domestics does sound like days off are not unlike to be at home accomplishing something worthwhile...being productive on my own time.

  2. I'm like you Fiona I LOVE cleaning and organising when I am free. I get a real sense of accomplishment when I see how lovely and shiny, and how beautiful and fresh everything is. In fact, I had to fire my cleaner because there was never anything left for her to do.
    Unfortunately I don't share your love of Anthea Turner :-(

  3. I love the many uses for the candle holders...I never even considered that. Good tip! I think I'm like you...once I start cleaning...I notice the other things that I should I can never clean just one thing or one area.

  4. What an inspiring post! (The part about handling the candles was especially timely for me....) I am unfamiliar with Anthea Turner's dvd...will have to track it down -- maybe I'll be similarly motivated :)

  5. I watched Anthea when her show was on here a few years ago. I'm focussing on homemaking right now so I partiuclarly enjoyed this post. Maybe my next trip to the library computers I'll check out Anthea's podcasts (can't do that from home - blasted internet connection!).

    I like your tip for the glass candle holders. I just put one in the charity shop box, maybe I'll take it back and find another use for it.

  6. I used to enjoy watching Anthea's Perfect Housewife. I always felt inspired afterwards. I like your tip for getting the last of the wax out of a candle holder.

  7. One of the things I've planned for 2011 is to get rid of all clutter and superfluos stuff in my house, that way it will be a lot easier to keep it clean and tidy. I'm the kind of person who dislikes doing housework but then I also dislike clutter and mess, so it's all about simplifying the whole process:)

  8. Excellent post on treating your house as if it were a business - it should be more important than a business! I don't do it everyday, but I'm trying to approach many of my homemaking tasks like a butler, and only retaining items and traditions that I love.

    Each New Year's Day I go through the closets and have a day of ruthless judgment: do I really like these towels? Do these clothes really project the image I want? I find it cathartic.

  9. I have never heard of Anthea Turner. I will have to see if I can get some of her DVDs at the library.

    You accomplished lots in one day. I usually poop out after a good pantry clean out!

  10. I love this post…I actually stopped in the middle to clean up because it inspired me so much. Starting from tip 1, it's all true.

  11. I have never heard of Anthea either and will be checking her out. I have been trying to do exactly as you mentione and be a great housekeeper, which of course means so much more than cleaning. Thank you for this post, Fiona.

  12. oh fiona i just love you. i wish you could come over here and get my house all sorted. i've been decluttering like a madwoman all week and it doesn't sound half as nice as your day. you sound so peaceful. i've always looked at homemaking as a business. after all don't they say it would take a salary of $100k a year to replace a wife and mother. it's work, that's all i know.


  13. Janet, I just about choked on my coffee. ME come and help sort YOU out? The lady with the pristine white house with only a precious few curated objects in it?

    We may be different types of housekeepers. If I do everything at once in a fast frenzy I end up all shaky and in need of milk chocolate and highly sugared items. You on the other hand may thrive in such conditions.

    I work better having plenty of time and making it enjoyable, beautifying as I go. I'm pretty lucky though, I don't have to clean the bathroom and toilet - my man does that. He's a keeper.

  14. Thank you for the links! I love homemaking and being organized! These podcasts and dvds sound right up my alley! I am in the middle of purging my house to redecorate and renovate.

  15. Here is another post for the fridge. Thank you for this, the link, and the podcasts. It is just the kick in the pants I need.

  16. I've been trying to make homemaking fun for me. I enjoy the results, so I may as well enjoy the process. This is a very inspiring post.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...