Today we’re continuing my observations from The Perfectly Imperfect Home. This passage I like because it highlights Deborah Needleman’s quirky writing style AND it reveals the secrets of the Ina Gartens and Martha Stewarts of the world. I don’t aspire to be like either of those women materially, but I do appreciate the work ethic, organization, and sense of ease that they both exude.

When I visit a beautifully run home (usually belonging to a fancy decorator or a rich person), I am as fascinated by what’s hidden away as by what’s on display. A little snooping almost always reveals an orderly pantry with entertaining supplies lined up like patient soldiers waiting to serve. It’s not just the sheer volume of linens and vases and platters and the ready supplies of candles, tea lights, and votives that impress. Although they do. It’s how beautifully they’re organized. Here are a couple of secrets I’ve stolen: use a label maker to ID the front of each shelf with what goes where. (This is to keep the staff from mixing things up, but it works equally well when you are your staff.) And toss the broken, ripped, stained, and chipped, plus those things you never use but think you will someday. They are making it hard to find what you need, and therefore planning is that much more difficult.

If you take the time to arrange items neatly, press linens before you need them, and order supplies like candles in bulk, you will be rewarded with a wave of domestic satisfaction every time you see them.

Like the boy scout motto: be prepared.

But looking at this book has me convinced that keeping a good house (or home, even) requires putting energy into both the design and the upkeep that’s past baseline. Maybe not overachieving efforts — nothing in the book is about keeping a perfectly spotless home — but certainly enough effort that you push past the ordinary.

No effort results in an unorganized mess. Minimal work results in marginally dusty clutter. Normal work gets you a clean, tidy home. But that extra effort (“that extra half inch,” to quote Victoria Beckham) is what makes the difference from an ordinary home to, well, a perfectly imperfect one. It’s not the perfection, it’s the energy and thought and care that matter.

That’s what creates the glamour, sparkle, and satisfaction.