Fourth Ingredient: Consideration
"A person's good manners are primarily a matter of considerate actions; a house's good manners are largely a matter of considerate furnishings that are comfortable, co-operative, and easy to live with. They take into account the fact that things, no matter how beautiful, are less important than people."
-- Vogue's Book of Etiquette, 1969
The book goes on to say that consideration begins before one enters the front door: have a well-lighted street number, a driveway free of obstacles, and a clearly marked mail box.
"A reasonable amount of shabbiness is nothing to be ashamed of, and certainly should not be confused with dirtiness...Too much newness can have overtones of a store display and give the impression that a house is more of a showpiece than a place for enjoying a full life."
"Anything that is irritating or a hazard is inconsiderate and should be eliminated or fixed -- small rugs that slip, the bathroom lock that does not work, the table leg that wobbles." Pillows should enhance comfort, not make it hard to sit down.
Make sure entryways and stairs are free of scattered toys, but remember "It is not a tragedy if there are fluffs of dust in a corner, if the sofa pillows are crushed, or the newspaper is spread open on the table. An often-used desk is usually cluttered, an overflowing table in the front hall simply means that a family finds it the most convenient place to leave all sorts of miscellany. Friendliness is essential to the well-mannered house, and is expressed by its relaxed acceptance of people's comings and goings, their habits and hobbies, their needs and pleasures."
"Consideration is many-faceted, and a considerate house is as generous in its own way as a considerate person. Both focus on making people feel happy, at ease, and unaware of any effort that may have been exerted to bring about their sense of well-being."
Images one, three, four, six and eight show the family and apartment of Lorraine Kirke -- wife of Bad Company drummer, Simon Kirke -- Fernando Bengoechea photographer, Elle Decor, December/January 1997. Image two courtesy Kathryn M. Ireland. Image five, Christina Cuomo Elle Decor, circa 1999.