The best to place to eat Thin Mints is on an old sofa next to a cluttered end table. (Jennifer Bardsley)

The best to place to eat Thin Mints is on an old sofa next to a cluttered end table. (Jennifer Bardsley)

There’s no place like home — and all its worn-out furnishings

What makes a home a home isn’t the latest decor trends, but whether it’s lived in.

Now is the time to offer unconditional love to our home. It’s not featured on HGTV. There is no Instagram fandom following every decorating choice we make in our living room. But our home offers safety, and for that reason alone, it’s gorgeous. What makes a house a home is if we live in it.

Perhaps we have old carpet, a beat up end table or an old sofa. Maybe our kitchen is straight out of 1984 — and not in a cool, dystopian way. Possibly these things annoy us on a daily basis. “If only I could win the lottery,” we think. “If I could redecorate, life would be so much better.”

Are we sure about that?

Ancient carpet that stinks is gross, but old carpet that doesn’t smell, and that still looks OK except for some spots here and there, is a blessing. When someone brings in a tray of barbecue chicken from the grill outside and spills half of it on their way to the table, it’s no big deal. The carpet’s 20 years old already. Who cares about one more stain? Not us.

A scratched end table can still shine with a little bit of lemon oil and elbow grease. When a teenager fails to use a coaster and leaves a horrid water ring, big whoop. Polish it again and put out more coasters. Stack up some books while we’re at it, and don’t forget our reading glasses. Oh, and don’t forget a box of cookies. Now we’re talking.

Who knows where the best place to read and eat Thin Mints is? On an old sofa next to a cluttered end table, that’s where. The problem with new sofas is we don’t want to destroy them. Crumbs, smears, stains — holy guacamole, a lot of bad things could happen. That couch we saved up for three years to purchase could be destroyed in one family movie night gone horribly wrong. It’s much safer to curl up with our loved ones on an old couch, especially if there’s popcorn involved. Who’s ready for the next episode of “The Mandalorian?”

Speaking of outer space, we might get starry-eyed when we see gleaming shaker cabinets and pristine quartz counter tops. But every time we contemplate the design choices someone made for our kitchen — three decades ago — we’re reminded of our situation stuck here on Earth. Guess what? Our families are shockingly predictable. Even if we had the hottest new kitchen trend, half the cabinets would be left open, the dishwasher would be full, homeschooling work would spread across the counter and it wouldn’t have occurred to anyone but us to empty the wastebasket. Our dream kitchen doesn’t look so stellar now, does it?

So here’s to the clutter, the mess and the love. Every stain is forgivable when we’re safe at home.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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