Is a Tidy Life With Kids Possible?

I think not.

For a year I was the book buyer for the interior design section of an evil super-sized bookstore on the upper east side of Manhattan. The buyers at the home office figured this store should have this special section for students of the New York Interior Design School situated near by.

During that year, I gorged on interior design books. I was allowed to bring them home, three at time, so that I would be knowledgable on current titles. It was heaven, I tell you, heaven, to be paid to read and shelve and showcase interior design books.

Now I recall those heavy glossy hardcovers and the rooms, whether minimalist or lush with textile and antiques or the quirky mash up of both. Well designed and impeccably tidy, not a single one of them looked like a child could reside in the place. These rooms didn't look like a child could even visit. It was plausible that a child perhaps slept there, but was removed immediately after waking.

This look persists even on house tours in Apartment Therapy where the homeowners claim they have children and even showcase bedrooms for children to prove it. They even go so far as to have a chalkboard wall in the kitchen and a living room "cluttered" with  a few artfully placed retro or antique wooden toys.

Oh Please. Please. Stop the stylist fussing behind the scenes with the basket of retro wooden toys. Stop with the storage unit rented before the photo shoot filled to the hilt with all the plastic toys and beat up blocks and duplos and broken game boxes and filthy scooters that litter any kid filled home. Just stop.

Where's the Legos in every corner? Where's the mouse poop left by the fat mouse that has it good in your apartment because your children don't eat a meal without generating 5 dry muffins worth of crumbs at every meal? Where's the old Kenmore vacuum cleaner that you just keep in the corner of the dining room in a half deranged idea that you can capture the food mess after every meal? Where are the drapes with the uninspired paint and magic marker stains? How are those light filled windows not covered with greasy little handprints? Why are the lampshades on your standing lamp not broken or crumpled, permanently at an angle because of your two year old's amazing basketball skills?

No, a tidy life with kids is not possible. But the tame space principles must evolve around the phenomenon of children. Maybe some day I can teach them that it's not's not ok to throw wooden toys at the mid century credenza or to run into the living room after eating pizza and rub your face into the dark green fabric of the sofa. "Because you see, the grease stains from pizza cheese on your cheeks will leave a stain on the sofa!" I am shrill and my teeth are clenched as I say this for the umpteenth time this week.

I could go on.

But I would argue: No, it is not possible.  But it is not enough reason not to have kids if you are inclined to having family AND still have a nice home. After all, they won't always be so beastly to the furniture. They won't always need you to shift the home around their changing selves.You can buy new stuff when they move out. I am sure there will still be good stuff on Craigslist in 18 years.

Case Study: Gushing About Art, Digging Out From Under the Past

Why Is It So Hard to Let Go of Things?