Clean For A Cause: Creative Homebodies

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I am really lucky, because I get to spend my days writing or making things. My jobs as an editor, author and crafter mean that my life is chock full of creative days. I get to spend lots of time looking at beautiful things, or tacking made-up words together or making things from other things. It’s my day job. How great is that?!

One of the good things about being a professional creative is that you get to be a bit of an enfant terrible.  People expect you to be eccentric, rattling around in a messy cottage wearing a kaftan and strings of pearls.  And they totally WANT you to do the unexpected.  If you pause for a very long time after they ask you a question, they assume you are creatively cobbling together a really interesting answer.  If you write a proposal for someone consisting of the word BINGO written 12 times, they nod encouragingly.   If you turn up to a meeting wearing a peacock called Steve as a hat, they giggle and mention how creative you are.  You are to spend your days sipping fancy drinks whilst quoting EE Cummings and the idea of doing normal things like cleaning the shower or drying the dishes are deemed to be off your radar altogether.  It’s a win-win (unless you are Steve or you quite fancy shiny dishes and sparkly bathrooms, like me.)

Not only do you get to be a bit terrible and wear funny hats, but you get swept up under the label ‘creative’ amidst a whole lot of other wonderful creative people.  All kinds of people WAY more fabulous than you are deemed to be your brothers and sisters.  You are all part of the family called Interesting, and people expect nothing less than surprises, eccentricity and kooky chaos from you.

But do chaos and kooky go hand in hand? I know for a fact that those who don’t consider themselves creative LOVE a field trip to the home of someone Interesting.  Sometimes they even field trip to my house.  They have seen documentaries about Interesting types.  They are sure you will open the door revealing a hallway lined with taxidermy and a chandelier made from found teaspoons.  They are convinced that they will have to tip toe over paints and easels and vintage typewriters to reach your chaise longue.  They are certain that when you bring out the tea that you’ll plonk some sugar cubes in with gusto and stir the cup with  a nearby knitting needle or salvaged porcupine quill or some other creative objet.  They are seeking chaos. They are coveting kook.

They’ve heard the saying ‘A clean house is the sign of a misspent life’ and they are fully expecting your house to be a loving interpretation of Grey Gardens (sans raccoons.)  They are dead set wanting  things  to be both messy and well spent. True.

This is where I’m sure to disappoint.  My house is not like that.  Granted it’s a bit cluttery and it’s certainly chock full of objet.  But I do not fancy raccoons at tea time and I can’t abide mess at all.  I need to be a bit neat to be a lot happy.  Creativity does not mean chaos.  Clutter can be curated. Flourish can be freshened.  I might be a bit frilly at times, but I like a clean floors, smudge-free screens and tidy benches with my pearls, thank you very much.  Sometimes I wear rubber gloves with my kaftan.

Let’s be honest though, Martha Stewart I am not.  Neat does not come naturally.  I’m pristine’s problem child. I need to incentivize my cleaning.  I have to make it Interesting.   I set rewards for extended periods of neatening up (one hour = one new book, right?!) I promise myself nice dinner parties with friends if I tidy things regularly.  I take myself out for coffee if I manage to make the bed AND sort the laundry.  I create playlists so I can robot as I de-spot.  (Here’s a playlist I made for your next whip about!)  I pour an extra glass of wine if I get things done in time.  Cheers!

As much as I enjoy the vision of the cluttery junk and disorderly creative, that’s not the kind I choose to be. I need to have beauty and some semblance of order around me to be happy.  I need a clear canvas to have a clear vision.  I get my best ideas when things are sorted and uncluttered, because my  brain feels sorted and uncluttered too.  Clearing little bits of chaos leaves lots of room for bright ideas.  I think EVERYONE, whether they consider themselves creative or not, needs a bit of neatness to foster happiness.  A little bit of order goes a long way towards making us feel accomplished, cheery and successful.  I think when things are neat, we feel neat too!

I like the sound of a clean room and I like the calm that a little bit of a tidy creates.  It makes me happy.  When the practical to-dos are done and I can move on to the Interesting want-to-dos with peacock hatted abandon.  This is when I get to write or design or sew or make.  And this is when I am happiest of all.  This is when I feel Interesting.

Does cleaning help you to clear the decks and clear your brain? Are you more Interesting when you’ve dealt with your share of the domestic load?  (I have a very smart, Interesting, feminist friend who once questioned me DEEPLY about fighting black mold.) Is it okay to talk about cleaning?!  Do you clean?!  Is a clean house the sign of a misspent life?

xx Pip

PS: Would you like to share the bits of YOUR home that you love the most? Tweet or Instagram a photo with the #homebodies hashtag to share or join in.  We’ve got lots of wonderful bloggers posting their thoughts on home and #homebodies over the coming weeks.

This post was written for Harpic’s Clean For A Cause Campaign. Harpic will donate $10 to Save The Children for every hour that you clean. Win!  And speaking of winning, you could win a $100 gift voucher here, thanks to Harpic.


Image Credits : These photos of my house were taken by my friend Kirsty Macafee (Except for the one with all the cute soaps in the wooden shelf, I took that one!)

  • Trish

    I love a clean house but I hate cleaning. I procrastinate at every step, and Facebook is a wonderful distraction. Tomorrow is allways the day to clean. Then someone comes over and I’m embarrassed, and I look around after they leave and wonder how I allowed my house to degenerate into such a mess! so I start cleaning, and a: realise that cleaning is NOT the worst thing in the world to be doing, and b: how much I enjoy a clean house! I vow to never let things get into the same state again, but inevitably I repeat the whole process again.

    • Pip @ JustB

      Hah! Do you know, I invite people over just so that I have a regular cleaning deadline! An audience is always a great incentive to keep things nice! Thanks for your view, Trish! x

  • Reannon Hope Bowen

    I too love a clean sparkly house but unfortunately rarely is my house like this. When my boys were little & I worked less I had days that things got done, vacuuming was done every day, the floors were mopped each Monday, the bathrooms cleaned each Sunday. Now that I work full time the routine has slipped ! Especially in winter when we spend the whole of Saturday on the side of a footy field. When Sunday rolls around the last thing I want to do is clean! So my housework standards are not what they used to be. Everyone pitches in to do something around the house & no, they don’t do it the way I like but I can’t complain right?!
    If I could have one luxury it would be a cleaner, it really would! To free up some much needed time I’d love to be able to pay someone to come in once a week to make my home sparkle…..such a lovely dream.

    • Pip @ JustB

      Oh YES! I would love a cleaner too. I think ‘you do what you can, when you can’ is a great philosophy in regard to cleaning. You don’t want to let it RULE you, but you don’t want to feel like things are getting on top of you, either. I am feeling cold, thinking about you at the footy, Reannon! xx

  • heatherconroy

    Thanks for the playlist Pip! It’s a winner! Clean house for me all the way. I draw my inspiration from Shannon Lush and her comfy clean ways.

    • Pip @ JustB

      Oh yay! I am glad you like the playlist. I think you can’t help but grin with a bit of disco to get you going! x

  • Helen H

    I’m a really creative person with a really messy house & I couldn’t agree more with your post Pip. My messy house TOTALLY stifles my creativity. It’s a daily battle, I’m really trying to get organised & get my house in order, it doesn’t come naturally to me but I so desire to have my house in order, I really believe it is holding me back from reaching my potential in many areas of my life. I can’t think straight with all this mess around me!!

    • Pip @ JustB

      There’s a great book called ‘The Happiness Project’ which talks about getting your house in order, and how much it impacts on feeling happy. I’m a big believer in a little bit of progress making a big difference, so I think the key is to do a little bit of maintenance each day! Thanks for reading and for commenting too! x

  • Jo

    Now I’m back working full time I’m like Reannon – what gets done gets done. But when the kids were little it was done – hard to create in chaos! but . . .
    I knew people whose houses were immaculate but kids watched sooo much TV. They’d come to me and say ‘wow – your guys are so creative’ then look at the current WIP on the dining room table, or the ‘craft’ table and say how can you live with this mess! Ummm a) turn off the box and b) give them somewhere to create – and leave to finish tomorrow. Really it will be OK if the Lego is still there tomor if its not finished! I guess its all about balance. I want clean but not necessarily perfect order Jo x

    • Pip @ JustB

      I SO SO SO agree! I totally know families with tidy homes and square eyed kids. That’s a great point, Jo!! x

  • Cate

    I’ve started some casual work helping hoaders clean and declutter. Trust me, your places are absolutely fine by comparision!