Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life” as Want to Read:
A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  284 ratings  ·  49 reviews
How to live creatively with collections, clutter, work, kids, pets, art, etc... and stop worrying about everything being perfectly in its place.

For all those who choose to live "imperfectly" with the messy things they love, this book shows how to do so creatively, happily, and with considerable style ideas from leading designers. A beautiful and inspiring volume, A Perfect
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 19th 2010 by Rizzoli
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Be the first to ask a question about A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  284 ratings  ·  49 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life
Jan 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wow people. Such bitterness. I loved this book. I'm so tired of looking at glossy magazine photos of glossy over styled houses. The only house that was a bit much was her sister house with the marble kitchen counters. I've seen books with houses so pristine you can't imagine people living in them let alone children and pets. These houses look lived in.

I like this design aesthetic. I live in an oldish ~ house ( 100 years). While it isn't particularly cluttered (except with books, and paintings a
Feb 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
The title says it all - almost! This book is filled with warmth and regard for people and yes, things. It seems the author and her case studies enjoy their lives, enjoy their friends and family, enjoy their things, and don't feel guilty about it at all. I enjoy Carter's take on what makes a home. Here are some nuggets from the book: "Don't scrub the soul out of your home" (back cover);Clutter is a skillfully arranged state of spirit ( p 48); A wall cluttered with images that personally appeal to ...more
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. It tells the stories of lots of folks and their lives and how they live with their things. I am not an excellent housekeeper. My house is lived in. And I love it that way. This book made my heart happy, because it reminded me that my house can be the way I love it. Even if that means piles of stuff, or if it means nothing but the necesities. Who cares what others think? And don't try to live up to someone elses standards. Just mine.
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design
I like to keep this book prominently displayed among my interior design books because the title is so inspiring. Carter understands the pleasure that comes from arranging objects into a comfortable surrounding. Books fill the pages of the numerous color photographs as well as lots of other objects. Sometimes I think I have a lot of stuff in my house, but the homes in Carter's book have a lot more. How much time it must take to amass such huge collection? Or do they just go to estate sales and au ...more
Jun 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people with a chronic case of the messies
Recommended to Relyn by: House Beautiful or similar magazine
Shelves: shelter-books
Hmmm... What can I say about this book? It's interesting, I want to finish it. But... BUT! The one thing every residence profiled has in common is that each picture gives me an overwhelming desire to go in and CLEAN IT UP!! The mess and the clutter wouldn't bother me so much if the title didn't seem to indicate that doing things differently was a mistake. PLEASE! The author looks at these pictures and sees life. I look at them and see MESS, delay, and aggravation. It's fine with me for people to ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've always liked to look at decorating magazines. Even though much of what they show is staged, I enjoy the juxtaposition of things and furniture--or absence of them in some cases--that can conjure up a different life.

Mary Randolph Carter visits a number of houses and apartments around the world (including her own) to illustrate the different ways of living with things. In between she philosophizes about what makes a space feel lived in, comfortable, and welcoming.

While none of these residences
Feb 16, 2011 rated it liked it
I liked this book, but I had higher expectations for it...
I really enjoyed reading paragraphs here and there about how to find comfort in your home as well as making your home more welcoming and enjoying clutter and an umade bed on occasion. I like how it declared we don't need to have a perfectly kept house to be happy and we can enjoy the personal clutter that makes our houses a home and how it personally represents our lives. I didn't like the authors taste on every persons clutter, but I enj
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and felt encouraged by it. It's a huge book filled with beautiful photography of real people's homes--real people living real lives. Some would call this clutter, but these people are making it work. As a result, I felt more freed to tread that ground between allowing my home to be what it is and to become what would best support my family's life instead of adhering to common "wisdom" about how a house should be arranged.
Maureen Flatley
Apr 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful style guide and memoir from my personal Style Icon, Mary Randolph Carter.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it did not like it
Nope. This book is just justification for hoarders. I understand the value of not stressing about a clean house, but that is different than being a hoarder and living in filth and chaos.
Sep 14, 2018 rated it liked it
This is better writing than other books of hers I have read. Though I was hoping it would be more of a helpful way to show our collections of stuff it seems more like case studies of more artists and their stuffed houses and studios. When you work with mixed media you have to have a massive amount of stuff stored around to use. So most of these came as no shock to be cluttered to the max. I agree that a magazine ad spotless house has no soul but I also think that when your clothes are piled on t ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
So many pretty pictures. An antidote to all the minimalist books I've been reading.
Apr 13, 2020 rated it liked it
This book shows how people live in their home.
Nancy Ensign
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Gorgeous photos and wonderful prose make this book a lovely weekend read.
Julie Richert-Taylor
Intelligent validation for caring more about life richly lived than about appearances or expectations. Gorgeous photographs and wonderful interviews to inspire and soothe our creative inner curator.
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
My favorite parts of this book are the photos of all sorts of differently cluttered homes and all the reasons they have for living the way they do. It is endlessly fascinating to me to learn about people who live in ways completely different from my own. It helps me relax and embrace whatever sort of home I choose to create - or even to accept what it is, even if it's not exactly what I want.

I also really loved the chapter on unmade beds. I hadn't thought about what an intimate portrait of our l
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
thought this was great. i have always been a huge fan of the American Junk-series & Mary Randolph Carter in general, her sensibility & ethos. this is all her.

i tend to pick up on the little things when i read her books. certain things & nuances stand out & i take notice...

houses should be lived in & imperfect & have character and not be like hygienic, fascist little hospitals.

it is 2016, and in a way, this book could be a perfect little antidote to the increasing zero-waste, de-cluttering, mini
Elisha Condie
Jan 11, 2011 rated it liked it
I thought this book would be more funny but it's serious. See, Martha Stewart has it all wrong, people. Cluttery homes are lived in, full of personality, life, meaning. So what if it's messy? That just means that the people in that home are terribly interesting. Definitely they are NOT messy. Just interesting. No one say anything else about it.

Obviously this book appeals to people who have slightly (fine, or not so slightly) cluttered houses. And you know what? It's ok. I read a passage once
May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: decorate
What a delightful book and finally a book that I agree with! The author's perspective is perfectly described in the title and I wholeheartedly agree. Despite two neatnik neighbors, I believe my house should be tidy which I define as relatively clean and picked up, but not cleaned to the point of enslaving me or my family, and eliminating the stamp of our personalities and hobbies. Like many of the photos in this book, the top of my bedroom dresser is obscured by piles of books, but it shows I lo ...more
Just flipped through it. I love the title idea: that one shouldn't spend all one's life cleaning the house. But to me that means you should have less stuff around to get messy, and you work hard at keeping on top of it in small pieces so it's never an overwhelming job (ha! easier said than done). The photos in this book are too cluttered for me, as my tastes are seeming to grow more minimal the older I get. I agree with living life, but also not living it with everything piled up in rooms with m ...more
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love this book - really resonated for me. Sort of a more home-spun Selby, if you will. I like artifacts and treasures from travel, things picked up at junk shops or vintage stores, things handed down. And art. These things give a home personality to me and make it unique. It was fun to spend time in the pages with other kindred spirits, collecting their own unique backdrops for their lives. Lovely.
Narelle Todd
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book celebrates displaying our precious items and living creatively. This is not a book for those who believe being organized means living in a show home environment with all surfaces bare and everything away. This book celebrates the creatives and tactile who love to have their beloved things on display and accessible. Fantastic coffee table book - the pictures are glorious.
Hannah Emery
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Picked up this book on a whim, as someone who a) has an Inner Interior Designer and b) struggles regularly with the battle between dust and beloved clutter. It wasn't exactly what I expected -- I was looking for a little more philosophizing and a little less pictures-of-piles-of-clutter -- but it was fun to read nonetheless. A nice quick-to-flip-through and (figuratively) lightweight tome.
Nov 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I didn't get to read all of it, the title drew me in. Beautiful book. Charming writing. Can't say the pictures inspired me.... I like a lived in home but all the clutter in some of the pictures stressed me out!
Debbie Hoskins
May 16, 2011 rated it liked it
This was fun to borrow from the library. It made me think about decorating more creatively. I'm not sure whether I would be brave enough to let my kids write and paint on really nice upholstered chairs. It looked really cool in the picture.

If you tend to be a pack rat, it will let you relax...
May 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
I must admit. I didn't read this book. I looked at the pictures. And it made me think about all those warm, cozy houses I've been in and how the ones I really love are a bit cluttered and messy. It's a lovely book. Check it out from the library and peruse!
Jun 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love that this designer is creative director for Ralph Lauren, and uninhibited-ly (sic?) celebrates that homes are for living in. Even more amusing are the Goodreads comments from all the poor Goodreads folks who were dying to go clean up the messy rooms!
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Many times when I walk into someones home I hear the words, 'I am so sorry for the mess'. Then I respond and say, "I love seeing that this home is lived in, it is a sign that people are living life." This book hits it right on the spot.
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Beautiful pictures, interesting viewpoint. I feel like I went a little crazy when we staged our last house to sell it and I haven't really recovered from it. I also feel like I am living in a culture where well-organized, decluttered houses are fetishized. This book was a fresh perspective.
Nov 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
The title is literally the best thing about this book. A "coffee table" book full of pictures of rooms so messy they made me twitchy was not what I was expecting, nor anything I'm going to spend time reading.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids
  • What a Wonderful Day to Be a Cow
  • Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave
  • The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well
  • Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living
  • Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness
  • The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11
  • Love the Home You Have: Simple Ways to…Embrace Your Style *Get Organized *Delight in Where You Are
  • The Joy of Hygge: How to Bring Everyday Pleasure and Danish Coziness into Your Life
  • Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks
  • Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?
  • Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
  • Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
  • Beyond Borderline: True Stories of Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder
  • The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes
  • Whispers of the Dead (Sister Fidelma, #15)
  • The Silver Palate Cookbook
See similar books…

News & Interviews

There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
54 likes · 16 comments