by Debi Young, Crown Point, Indiana

In every home, the busiest and messiest rooms in the house are the kitchen and bathroomHowever, the living room and family room are also pretty busy! A home is subjected to a lot of wear and tear by a family. No two families are exactly the same, and therefore, no two homes are used in exactly the same wayEven two homes with the very same floor plan may not be used in the same way due to the dynamics of each family.

If a home has both a living room and a family room, it is more possible to keep the living room presentable for unexpected guests, while the family enjoys the den or family room as a more personal spaceThe same is true of a home with an eat-in kitchen and a dining room, vsone that just has an eat-in kitchen or just a dining roomIn some homes a formal dining room, a formal living room, and possibly a foyer are located near the front doorIf these rooms can be kept clean, neat, and attractively decorated with seasonal touches, the occasional family member or guest who drops by can hopefully overlook any “lived-in” look of the family room and kitchen—especially at a time overlapping meal times.

A home IS to be lived in! I enjoy decorating magazines and some decorating shows—especially since I teach home decorating at Hyles-Anderson CollegeHowever, I don’t want my home to look like a magazine cover—a no-touch zone! That doesn’t mean that my home is a free-for-all for kids to play in any room they chooseMy husband wouldn’t have appreciated replacing lamps, etcevery time something got out of hand!

We always had fair and proper boundariesIn fact, for most of our children’s lives, we lived in a home with four bedroomsOne was located downstairs near the family room, and it was used as the toy room. Books, games and toys were stored on shelves in this room, and every evening before bedtime, all play things were brought back to this room.

The main living areas can take a real beating from a family, and I for one found it very depressing to wake the next morning to last night’s mess. I find it hard to face a new day with “leftovers” from the night before— especially when I know those “leftovers” are totally unnecessary!


1 EVERY EVENING pick up and put away anything that does not belong in these rooms.

Fold and replace afghans or blankets. Reshelve books. Remove any snack dishes. Put away games, CDs, DVDs, etc. Don’t wait until you are too tired to do this—end the evening early enough to allow 15 to 20 minutes for this pick-up time. You will appreciate it so much in the morning!

Incorporate other family members’ help. Most anyone old enough to get something out is old enough to put it back! It may take less time for Mom to do it, but a teaching tool is lost, and it isn’t fun living with a martyr—which is exactly what you will end up feeling like.

2  SINCE YOU picked up everything the night before, you can begin cleaning the next day one step ahead!

Again, start from the top down. Dust any ceiling fan blades; remove cobwebs from ceilings and corners.

3 DUST LAMP shades and lamps.

If needed, use a soft 2” paint brush to dust pleated shades. This is also a great tip for any furniture or accessories with carvings and crevices.

4 DUST ALL furniture—not just on the top, but all over!

Be careful in choosing a furniture polish to use on pieces of furniture that are of great value to you. Many of the well-known spray brands smell great, but they can actually harm, if not wear away, the wax finish on quality furniture. Be careful of oil polishes. Oil oxidizes over time and turns dark. This makes any deep scratches or scuffs show up unfavorably. Many good furniture lines warn against using anything but a paste wax bi-annually and dusting with a warm “dry damp” soft cloth in between. Oil cannot feed wood through a polyurethane, shellac or varnish finish! Unless the original finish was an oil finish, oil has no business on wood!

5 USE A good glass cleaner for any glass tables, accessories, mirrors, etc.

Be careful about using a glass cleaner that includes ammonia on brass or lacquered brass. Over time it can cause a chemical reaction that creates pitted or blackened places that cannot be removed. (I speak from experience!)

6 WHEN PURCHASING and arranging furniture in the family room or living room, choose things that can do double duty.

If a bench is needed, maybe one that provides storage for blankets, pillows or easy access toys for little ones would be a good choice. I always like to keep cleaning supplies for a room nearby, so an end table with a cabinet is handy. Factoring in these ideas can make keeping a home neat and organized so much easier.

7 VACUUM CARPETS or dust mop and wet mop wooden floors.

Do high traffic areas every day or as often as possible. (Moms with little ones at home are laughing right now, and I’m giggling with you!) I am going to give a recommendation for a company who won’t even know who I am, but after two other very expensive trials, I have found THE BEST floor steamer on the planet! It’s the Slim and Light by Haan. I love it!

8 AFTER CLEANING a room, concentrate on all of the senses.

Play some lovely music and light a few candles, even if no one is home but you! Encourage yourself in your work! In cooler climates, light a fire, or during summer gather up some flowers from your yard for a casual bouquet. These touches are likely to make you and your family respect the rooms enough to keep them picked up and organized, and they will help you feel like less of a scullery maid and more like the queen of your castle!