Monday, August 12, 2013

Housework Inspiration – The Magazine Technique

I find I need constant encouragement to do the housework. I'm sure I'm not alone in that I love a nice, clean, tidy house, but when it comes to it, how much fun is pushing around a heavy vacuum cleaner and cleaning the bathroom, or lugging a mattress to change the sheets? And I'm too thrifty and private to want to hire a cleaner. Besides, once I get going I do actually enjoy being my own cleaner.

Last week I used a method I think I heard about from Alexandra Stoddard. She said people asked her why homes in magazines always looked so much better than their own. The reasons I remember her giving were:

- These homes have been cleaned within an inch of their lives, and
- Cords and plugs are hidden out of the way. They could be pushed along the edge of the carpet and skirting or taped to a table leg, and finally,
- Superfluous items are taken out of a room to give an open, breezy look.

She also said it is very useful to take photos of your rooms and study them. Things which stand out as unattractive in a photo, your eye will be accustomed to seeing as you see them every day. But a photo shines a bright light on them.

I added to this my love of makeovers, whether it’s clothing, hair-and-makeup or peoples homes. I took my own Before photos last week, just of the main areas, and then set about sprucing everything up as I cleaned.

I must say I had a very productive day, and at the end of it I took my After photos. At the top is our living room, featuring our new sofas which we saved for, ordered and waited, and finally received late last year. They were handmade right here in the city where I live by a company that has been around for many decades.

We went into their showroom looking for 'plain' sofas, and came out with these. We had in our mind that we wanted the sofa from the Frasier tv programme, which is apparently based on Coco Chanel’s sofa in her Ritz Paris apartment (but hers was made of suede, not fabric. Can you imagine?). But when I saw this Chesterfield style but in fabric, I fell in love with it.

Then, the fabric we chose ended up being made in France. We had to wait longer for it as the fabric mill was closed for the month of August. Being a Francophile I know that almost the entire country closes down for the main summer month of August.

It was quite fun to be ‘involved’ in a French tradition, but it didn’t make waiting for our sofas any easier!

The other photos are of our bedroom and ensuite, just the Afters though. The Befores aren't nearly as pleasing to look at.


  1. Hi Fiona, Cleaning the house has to be my least favorite thing to do. Most of the time I can barely see the difference after I clean and then before you know it, it's time to clean again! Another thing that bothers me is that it is expected of me simply because I am female. Our house is fairly clutter free and tidy though so that makes cleaning a bit easier. I am also frugal like you and just can't justify paying someone else to do something I can easily do, I would also feel bad for the person cleaning our mess! Your home is lovely and has a very serene feeling to it.

  2. Hello again, I wanted to add to my previous comment that I think you would enjoy the blog Small Notebook. It covers housekeeping, wardrobe, etc...

  3. Thank you, Small Notebook looks wonderful!

  4. The privacy issue is what prevents me from hiring a cleaner also, Fiona. I had one before and did most of the work myself before she got here! I love your sofas - and your home looks so peaceful and calm.

  5. I just adore your sofa, Fiona. It must've been so exciting to have it in your living room at last after having waited so long for it to be made for you. Really like all of the soothing, relaxing, spa-like colors you've used.

    Cleaning the kitchen is the bane of my existence.

    Very good tip about taping the cords to table legs or otherwise concealing them from sight. One thing I noticed at a home furnishing store in Paris quite some time ago was that they had long, skinny velvet "sleeves" to cover the unsightly chains/cords on hanging pendant lights, and I thought it was so gorgeous. I've also seen the same thing for table lamps, which is another way, besides taping them out of the way, of dealing with the way they look. Sort of an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach.


  6. Here are some pictures of the cord covers:


  7. Hi Fiona,

    I really like the idea of photographing your space...I am a collector and know that I sometimes have just TOO MUCH and think the photos will enable me to spot it!

    Love that you are back,


  8. Such pretty cord covers Marsi. I might have to make some. Velvet, yum!

  9. I love that you are blogging again. Makes me want to get with the program too! It just so happens that I've started a new housework regime a few weeks ago. Now if I can want to blog instead of other things. :)



  10. Taking a photo is a great idea! So glad you're back!

  11. I love your sofas and your "sofa" story...that you saved and waited so patiently.

  12. I'm so happy that you are blogging again! I came to your blog late and had kept it bookmarked and visited your old posts from time to time. I look forward to reading your posts at whatever frequency works for you. Your home looks lovely. I am good at tidy, but not so good at regular cleaning.

  13. Welcome back, Fiona! I just discovered that you had started blogging again. I always loved your blog as it helps me return to a more gentile attitude when I become too serious and strident. :)

  14. This morning I decided to try to see if you were back!!!!
    So Happy!!
    Life is made up little joys!


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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