Wear and tear on furniture is inevitable with kids and pets in the house — even on the briefest of visits. Marni Jameson found ways to beat dirt at its own game.
The following three realities cannot coexist in one house: kids, a white couch and low blood pressure. Forget it. I’ve tried. Before we had kids, my husband and I got a white linen down-stuffed sofa, which was gorgeous in its brief prime. But, once we acquired kids and dogs, it was no match for our household.
Mud, paw prints, vomit, bike tracks, crayon, coffee rings and mascara (all that crying!) left their imprints until the sofa was a biohazard. I had it cleaned so many times the fabric finally came apart, like me.
Faced with choosing between my love for fine, delicate furnishings and my family, uhh, well, I was torn. Let’s see, would I rather live in a pristine world where white things stayed white, silk was not a controlled substance and underwear stayed folded, or with three barely evolved humans in conditions no better than an Army barrack?
Today, the white furniture, fragile fabrics and light carpets are gone. I’ve moved on to slate and distressed wood floors, impervious leather sofas, and earth tones in every color of dirt and grime.
Most Read Life Stories
- 9 Seattle bars shut down temporarily over the weekend due to COVID-19
- Kimchi, kombucha and kefir: What are the facts on fermented foods?
- Wake up with itchy spots? A look at what bites at night
- How two longtime couples found love in the Seattle area
- Cherry turnovers get a lightened-up makeover with the help of phyllo
So I was intrigued when I heard about Debbie Wiener, who just published “Slob Proof! Real-Life Design Solutions,” (Alpha Books). An interior designer, mother of two teenage boys and wife of a sloppy husband, Wiener has stopped stressing about her house and started making it work for her rambunctious, careless brood. I had to call her.
Wiener redesigned her home, choosing materials for livability. The place still looks great, but everyone can relax. “What I really care about is that they’re happy to be home.”
Here are some of her top slob-proofing tips:
• Think camouflage. “I’m a big fan of strong color and pattern,” says Wiener. If you choose color over neutrals and prints over solids, you’ve made a huge leap.
• Make floors match your dirt. Skip the white travertine. Wiener’s favorite floorings are slate, mottled stonelike pavers and wood, the more distressed the better. When picking carpet, think how the color will look in six months.
• Put rugs at entries. That’s your first line of defense. Rugs should have colorful patterns, and include the color of your pet’s fur. Wool is particularly durable.
• What not to put on furniture. When choosing upholstery fabric, hold a swatch up to the light and pull on it. If you can see through it or it stretches, forget it. Thus, avoid silk, linen and chintz. Opt for chenille, leather and heavy woven fabrics. We both love Crypton (www.cryptonfabric.com).
• Get drapes off the floor. “A room with an active family is no place for floor-length curtains,” says Wiener, who prefers shades that sit inside window moldings, accented with valances.
• Go darker on walls. Darker paint hides more dirt. Use a sheen you can scrub.
• Add some glass. If you hyperventilate when someone puts a drink on your wood table without a coaster, spare yourself. Have inexpensive glass toppers cut to fit wood end tables and coffee tables.
• Lose the lamps. In active rooms, put all lighting in the ceiling. “Nothing I do will prevent the men in my house from throwing a football,” says Wiener, who removed all floor and table lamps.
• Know the power of pen. Wiener relies on 20 Sharpies in assorted colors and White Out to touch up scuffs and blemishes in a jiff.
Marni Jameson is the author of “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo). www.marnijameson.com