House Guests Part II: The Saga Continues…
Call in the experts for serious cleaning.
Water is the key to life and I’ll bet we have done a million dollars worth of work in our career restoring rooms post water damage. Add in fire and the number goes to multiple millions.
The goal is to leave the house in better condition than you found it. Leave a decent tip for the maid and your cover is less likely to be blown. A decent present for the absent hosts is also key. I cleverly (and generously, I thought) called in the painters once in Palm Springs to repaint the powder room of one borrowed home as my surprise Bread and Butter gift. Granted, that might have been presumptuous, but I still think glossy black walls and ceiling was a good idea. Our hostess was a bit less convinced, but she has since come around. So the Miscreant Boys had the house for a weekend with ‘their little friends.’ I get a call from the housekeeper mid-week after their stay: “There sure were a lot of house guests last weekend.” Hmmmm. Wonder what that means? “And there is a stain in the sisal I don’t know how to handle.” No problem, I would look at it Friday. Friday came and I was dragging a huge Moroccan rug (Hermes noticeably absent) from the car into the house. It had been at the restorers after a few years of doing hardship duty as our bar rug. FYI, red wine and unsteady octogenarians do not mix.
We hosted a charity thingy last fall and their caterers served hot mulled red wine. Trust me, for about 100 reasons, do not serve hot mulled red wine.
Isn’t this wonderful? This cute ‘boy band’ is named “Blood Stained Carpet.”
Well – I sort of (not really) wanted to replace that (huge, expensive) rug, anyway.
Once we were headed to a friend’s Paris apartment for a week. She called from California and asked me to check the front hall sisal. The French housekeeper told her the people who’d ‘bought’ the apartment at a benefit auction had stained it and would I see if she needed to replace it.
I googled “man on carpet” and I got carpet on man.
Which reminds me of another carpet stain...
Our first glamorous job was for a Christie’s decorative arts expert. The place was a jewel box. And as we were backing the painters and cleaners out of the space, all looking perfect, I assumed all was happily done. Silly me. I wandered out at 3 p.m., leaving the young, pretty housekeeper, two painters packing up, and an exterminator boy – who had nothing to do with me – in the apartment. When I returned at 5 p.m., the client and Hermes were standing in the front hall looking at a greasy circle in the pale sisal. (That damn sisal is fragile!)
It was such a pretty apartment. Full of treasure. See Leda and the Swan? And a painting of Hermes.
It’s never good when you find this note taped to the front door: “PLEASE read this BEFORE you enter the apartment.” Years ago, I cleverly booked Hermes’ assistant to house/dog sit while we were in India for five weeks. On Week 4, our office manager, Lynne, went to check on something at my apartment. Riding up in the elevator, the house/dog sitter sheepishly said, “I have to tell you something….” as the elevator door opened and a wave of smoke smell enveloped her. Turns out in Week 1 he had thrown a lit cigarette into the trash under the kitchen sink. Happily, per the Fire Department report (!), the flames made the pipes burst and the water put out the fire. He had spent the next four weeks frantically trying to restore the kitchen and clean up and get rid of the smoke smell – way beyond his capabilities. It would have almost been worth it to have seen Lynne’s face. Almost. FYI: six weeks later, no smell! I could go on and on… Primum non nocere. The all-time best advice book for housekeeping is Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House. Brilliant and packed with information. —Carey Maloney
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