Smart Solutions: Let it go, let it go when it comes to the perfect home

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

 With the New Year right around the corner, thoughts of home fill my head. Rather than ramp up the usual to-do list, I’ve decided to take a detour in the opposite direction to cut myself some slack.

Most people are more interested in spending time with you and less interested about the perfect home.

This laidback attitude has been on my mind for some time as it becomes one of those messages that seem to be repeating in my life for a reason. Still, hearing it is one thing, while adhering to it is another.

It all began with a typical trip to Target with my daughter in tow before her friends were scheduled to arrive at our house which wasn’t exactly ready for guests. When our friendly cashier overheard our conversation, she advised me not to address our mess when welcoming others. She said they come in love, not judgment, so I shouldn’t worry about the condition of my home. As we continued to discuss the subject, she had me seeing the situation through a fresh set of eyes.

Then, one night after a particularly busy week I learned that one of my daughter’s friends would be coming over briefly and our house was filled with clutter that I had yet to clear. When I got home to find she was already there, I apologized for the mess. She simply said: “Don’t worry. I’m not judging you.” And she meant it.

I realize that no matter how hard I try, I will never be one of those people with a home that is ready for its close-up shot at any given moment and I’m fine with that. I just need to learn to let go of my own expectations when others come over with little notice.

In the New Year, I’m hoping to care a little less about what others think and focus on what’s important. A home is meant to be lived in and enjoyed and that’s what happens in our rooms and it shows.

Instead of striving for consistently neat and tidy interiors, I’m going to try to relax my standards and maybe put others at ease in the process.

That’s what happened during a recent stop at a friend’s house to get something that led to an hour-long stay. The fact that she didn’t feel compelled to prepare for my visit and even showed me how her screen porch was serving as a temporary fridge until the real one could be repaired made me feel right at home.

Another quick visit to a different friend’s house to see her newly remodeled kitchen reminded me that you don’t have to prepare a major meal whenever you invite someone over. With only an hour or so to spare before we had to get our kids after school, she had me come to see her recently renovated space which was amazing. Though she kept saying her house wasn’t clean, it looked great to me.

Both friends taught me some valuable lessons that I tend to forget. It’s the people you’re going to see that really matter and our homes rarely get the same reviews from our guests, which is why we should invite them more often.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at