The Case for Nice Things


The physical environment I am in influences my psychological well being. I don’t think this is a profound statement. Of course, it affects everyone. Yet, I have so many friends who are parents who tell me they hate their living space because of old furniture that doesn’t go together or walls painted colors they can’t stand because of their children.

“I can’t have nice things because of the kids.”
“I am waiting to get nice things until they are grown.”
“If I get nice things the kids will just ruin them.”

Excuses. Children need to learn how to live in and among nice things.

They need to learn how to care for nice things. You can make this process a little easier on yourself though. Here are some tips:

  1. Make sure the rule that you can never write on anything but paper is constantly reinforced. Try to turn it into a positive: only drawing paper keeps our house nice.
  2. Buy nice things that can’t be broken. No glass, for example.
  3. Shabby chic is an option. Buy stuff at garage sales and paint them. Up-cycle them with sweat equity. Then if something happens to it, no big deal.
  4. Buy furniture from Craigslist. Ask questions before you pick things up. Do you have cats or dogs? Does anyone in the home smoke. Then assess the cleanliness of the home when you go there. If they can’t keep things clean, walk away. Lots of people in DC move away for diplomatic posts. These people are looking to offload nice stuff quickly.
  5. If you only want to buy new, I get it. Google around for sales. I suggest to ALWAYS get the stain guard. My mother-in-law came to stay with us in our old small apartment for back surgery. She needed a comfortable bed to sleep on that we could use as a couch. Apartment Therapy had a ranking of best couch/beds. We went to Ligne Roset and bought the suggested couch, with stain guard. We love our couch and we can clean our couch if something gets on it.
  6. I propose only allowing eating food at the table. No walking away with crackers. Start this early. At first you have to be consistent until it becomes habit.
  7. My final suggestion is kind of a two in one. “No shoes” in your house and get a Roomba. The “no shoes” policy keeps the floors clean. People step in dog poop and then get dog poop on your couch when they sit on your couch. Just don’t allow it. You can get some visitor slippers like those used in Japan to make things more cozy. The Roomba. Well, I could wax on and on about mine. The bottom line is that kids will keep their toys picked up if they think Roomba will eat them. Fear is a great motivator. Tee hee. And there is something so satisfying about having your home vacuumed while you are out.

My bottom line is that you need to make the place you reside at, the place you want to be. That means living in a home you enjoy, even if kids are present.