Kirsty McLuckie: Top ten pet peeves to get guests going

I believe that most of the country only ever has a truly pristine home when they are selling it. There is probably a German word for the mixture of pride and regret when you look at brochure pictures of a house you are about to leave, and ask yourself why it could never look like that when we were living in it?

But the next most organised and clean our homes ever appear is when we are expecting guests. Specifically, the second the doorbell goes, because up until that very instant, you’ll have been frantically hurling clutter into unseen rooms and slamming the doors shut – if you are human.

But no matter how diligent our efforts, our guests are judging us, according to developer Essential Living, which has compiled a list of the ten small details likely to raise a silent sneer from visitors.

I settled in to read the list of shame, and kept score...

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Image: Adobe Stock
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1Kitchenware that tastes of soap.I’m glad this comes first because I’m not guilty. I’m an obsessive rinser when washing up because, while the wine I buy isn’t always top-notch, it is never improved with a finessed finish of Fairy Liquid.

2A dirty microwave.Just hastily shut the door before any arrivals.

3Overly clean homes. There is zero chance of any guest feeling uncomfortable with the level of perfection round our place.

4Cluttered bathrooms. I get a definite tick for this ick – sorry.

5A sugar bowl with tea or coffee stains in it. I try not to live in a blame culture, but my other half is the only one who takes sugar. A quick check suggests that perhaps, maybe he is sometimes not wholly innocent of double dipping a dirty spoon.

6Pets who have full roam of the house. Our cat insists on an access-all-areas approach, and although we are making headway in keeping her off the kitchen counters with the threat of a water spray, the odd footprint in the butter indicates she is not fully persuaded.

7Stained toilet seats.With three boys in the house sometimes, I’ll always do a last-minute check on this if guests have given notice of their visit. For unexpected drop-ins, I’m afraid all bets are off.

8Wearing outdoor shoes inside. There are occasions when the outside is cleaner than our kitchen floor, so I always advise guests to keep their footwear on.

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9Mouldy food on display. I’m not guilty of this one, unless you count the compost bin.

10Dust build up. While I will have dusted in the event of a visit, I wouldn’t advise guests to don a white glove and run a finger around the cornicing. And I still cringe at the time I reached for an old nest of tables to put visitors’ drinks on – the top one was pristine, the second and third looked carpeted.

Fortunately, most of my friends are equally disorganised, especially those with young children. I sat on a full pot of yoghurt hidden in an armchair at one pal’s recently but, in my experience, the more interesting the person, the more “lived-in” the house.

But, I do have one friend who is very tidy. She is a professional chef and her kitchen, whenever we visit, looks ready for a top-end magazine shoot with gleaming copper pans, the knife rack arranged by size, and light reflecting off her spotless counters.

When she comes to stay here I redouble my efforts, but forget that she always offers to cook for us and so will have to open drawers and cupboards. She is very kind, but did once confess that my utensils drawer – a chaos of spoons, spatulas and ladles, which can be tricky to close – makes her want to cry. ​

- Kirsty McLuckie is property editor at The Scotsman

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