Lending out your home

mtnrdredux_gwJuly 15, 2014

We had a second home (lakehouse) for a decade, which we sold, and now have a beachhouse. The new house is closer to much of our family and generally more in demand.

Over the years, we let people use our lakehouse from time to time and also donated stays for charity auctions. I would say people used it without us 1 or 2x a yr

Our new beachhouse isn't even done yet, and we are being overrun. Like it has been in constant use by family both when we are up and when we are not. I don't want people to use it when we aren't there, for several reasons:

1. I like privacy and I don't want to have to worry if I have left anything private anywhere
2. I like things perfect; and I don't want stuff moved or changed or, frankly, even used! For example, they got sand in my new W/D. At this point its just a few grains that I hear whenever I open the lid. I sound like a lunatic being bothered by this, but it does piss me off.
3. I did not decorate this like a rental house or even a second home; there are lots of fragile and/or expensive things. I would never expect anyone to replace them, as I think of that as the risk one takes when one has guests.But I didn't think the risk was going to be 24/7
4. I am trying to be a very (very) quiet neighbor, as our neighbors are for us. I can't control or trust what others do.
5. We have the house professionally cleaned for us. Then, someone else stays there, and they clean it. They probably thing they are doing good, but they do not clean as well as the professionals.

Am I just an unreasonable pill, or? WWYD?

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cyn427 (zone 7)

"I don't want people to use it when we are not there..." Then, just say no. Family probably knows you well enough to understand all your issues (!), and a simple explanation (we just are not having anyone stay when we aren't there.) with no excuses usually works best, imho.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:26AM
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It's your home, do whatever you want. If you don't want people staying there, don't invite them or tell them no when they ask. Personally, it boggles my mind that anyone would ask to stay in someone else's home. I usually have a hard time begging off an invitation (I say no thanks to invite, invitee insists, etc.) to stay with people in their home so the idea of asking or hinting isn't anything I can remotely relate to.

This post was edited by funnygirl on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 12:34

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:31AM
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It's hard for me to say no to people, but in this case I would. Better for them to be pissed off than you! We rented our home once to friends of good friends. They had a cat that ripped up our fairly new sofa. When I sent her a letter saying she owed us money for a new sofa, she got mad and said we told her it was an old sofa and we didn't care what the cat did. Needless to say we never got any money from her.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:32AM
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No, you're not being unreasonable. It's your home, not a rental property. You don't have to provide a list of reasons, just a no, we've decided not to allow others to use it without us.

We only allow my BFF and her family to use our place. They treat it as their own and even buy things (gas grill, patio table) and repair minor things (he's handy, my husband is not so it works in my favor!).

We haven't had many requests from others but we just stick to a No, sorry, we don't allow others to use it when we're not there.

ETA: my siblings have never asked to use it when I wasn't going to be there so that's never been an issue. It's friends and distance relatives we've turned down. And that's easy. :-)

This post was edited by hhireno on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 12:16

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:41AM
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You are not being unreasonable. Just say no. But say it loudly, from the beginning (now) and with DH on the same page. You don't want wails of 'Well, you let 'X' use it, why can't I?'
You don't owe ANYONE the use of your home.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:54AM
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It is your house and you are entitled to make your own rules. It is a reasonable stance not to allow the home to be used in your absence.

However, I would feel bad not sharing my vacation home with family. I think I would allow siblings and other close friends to use it, and I would just pay for the cleaning afterwards--assuming this was an expense I could afford. For me, it would feel worse not to share than it would feel to have my stuffed moved, touched, and perhaps broken. I am someone who doesn't like my stuff messed with, but I am also able to make to conscious decision to just "let it go." But, I say all of this never having owned a vacation home.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:02PM
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I know it will be difficult to change family behavior when they are accustomed to using your former vacation property regularly. I think you will just have to be clear that this house, unlike your former lake house, is not set up for others to use. You can tell them that you are happy for them to visit when you are in residence (assuming you are), but that the house is not available to them when you are not present.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:05PM
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Really tricky and thorny problem ... been in that situation .... many years ago when my family lived in England and we were considered the free B&B for everyone (including people we had not seen for years!) ... plus free tourist trips around the countryside .... free pickup and delivery to the airport .... as you can imagine .... my mum was exhausted by the end of the summer ... and we were IN the house! :)

... when you are not there .... you do take risks with your home -- inside and outside .... BUT you have already let folks borrow your house .... will there be hard feelings from your circle of family/friends etc.? Do you invite these folks to stay when you and the family are staying there?

.... sigh .... again ... I see this as a really tricky and thorny situation .....

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:14PM
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JUST SAY NO! It's your personal, private retreat and you want to keep it that way.

If you feel the need to make any explanations (not saying you do) you can always say: "Our children are older now; they love their personal space and privacy and want to be able to leave their rooms and their "things" the way they want to."

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:16PM
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I'm pretty sure you're not expecting anyone here to claim you should be making spare keys for everyone...

However, it is difficult to place limits on family and friends in this situation, especially since a precedent seems to have been already established. Setting ground rules now may seem, to them, a reneging.

I would plan various reasons for declining guests based on who they are, and how sensitive they may be to a rejection. It could be as simple as, "You know, we'd love for you to continue to use the place. However, we feel the need to scale back on houseguests when we are not there. Perhaps you'd like to come and stay with us when we are there on (insert date)?"

Or, "We received word from the neighbors that a petition is being circulated regarding non-owner occupied residences. Until we know more, we believe it best that guests visit while we are there."

Or, "Oh, darn! I wish we could accommodate you that week, but work is being done on the bathrooms, and I don't want you to be put out. I'll get back to you when the place is more user-friendly for everyone."

I've had situations that called for creativity like this. Coming up with the rejection seemed to cause more stress to me, than the rejection was for them. Most just shrug their shoulders and move on.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:21PM
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I'd have no problem saying no. Our lake house was furnished as a rental and it still bugged me that people did not take care of it! If we had a true second home that we used frequently I wouldn't lend it to anyone except my mother. (Maybe, lol.)

Knowing how much care and energy you have focused in this project--- clearly a labor of love for your family---I don't wonder that the visible evidence of others' carelessness bothers you so. People are going to think you are a selfish so and so and if you have an outspoken family someone may even say so. You will have to come up with responses beforehand, ones that are not argumentative and end the conversation....something like, "I'm sorry, this is just the way I feel about it and the subject is closed." You may be uncomfortable using the "feelings card," as your posts certainly employ mostly facts and logic, but at least no one can dispute YOUR feelings about the matter.

Good luck with this. I'm glad for your sake you are resolving this early. No need to spoil, even a little bit, the wonderful retreat you've created for your family.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:25PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Yes you're being a fusspot ...sand in the washer??...not cleaning your house well enough??...but not unreasonably so in that it's your house and you have the right to use it or not use it as you wish. As long as you are clear with everyone that the house is only used when you're present, explaining that this place is different...blame it on insurance liability if you want....then there shouldn't be a problem. If they get mad instead of respect your decision, then they probably aren't worth keeping that close anyway. I mean do they love you or your house?

And, if you wish, DH and I will be glad to house sit in your absence to make sure no wayward relatives show up...and I promise not to clean...I'll leave it to the professionals!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:29PM
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You are not being unreasonable! Frankly I have often wondered about how generous you are with your properties and how you seemed so okay about it all. I couldn’t do it. If I ever won the lottery and could buy a second dwelling in Asheville North Carolina (a dream) I would have to keep it a secret.
However, maybe I’m just slightly mean. While up north for my mom’s funeral I was hit up by several family members to come and stay with me here in Florida. I ranted about that before as I do not like being used as a hotel. And, as much as I love little children I don’t particularly want a bunch in my house for extended times. It’s amazing how many people let their kids eat in the living room for starters. And, what’s up with all the snack times? Snacks smeared all over the sliding glass doors and crumbs in the track…no thank you! I will have to let my surviving aunt come who is a lot of work. I am ok with the very immediate family though and have had that rule for quite a while.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:42PM
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Welcome to living at the beach!!! You just have to put your foot down and tell them your home is not a hotel. People don't get it either so don't expect them to give up easily. They think its no big deal but they don't realize they are not the only ones that want to visit, nor do they realize all the work and expense that goes into it. Oh, and yes, you will be considered the family b*tch.

This post was edited by caminnc on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 12:59

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:50PM
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I think the big disappointment is that it is not how imagined it. I was originally planning to give people the house to themselves, but once per summer. For some relatives it would be a very nice way to have their whole family together and not have to spend anything.
But, for one,,not until it was done! Unfortunately, since the house is so close to them, they are already acting like they may as well be there whenever we aren't (and a lot of times we are, too!)

LOL, Annie. The irony is that I pay "x" to have the house cleaned, but it is really being cleaned for someone else, because they get there before I do!

Peony, It is difficult, you are right. I think white lies would be very helpful, but I am not good at them! They would cause me a lot of stress!

Tuesday. I think i might just say "we don't like people using our home when we aren't there". SImple, factual, true, we don't "Like" it. Also means we might do it anyway, once in a while.

Teacats, wow, that sounds awful! The thing is, i really like to entertain and want to share my house. But people seem to think it should not stand empty for a moment!

Fun, People rarely used the lakehouse --- it was 3.5-4 hours versus 1-1.5!

Kristine, See, I think I should be that person, who places others enjoyment over my peccadilloes. But I am not. People are welcome to visit and stay. But I don't see why I should give them the keys to my white-slipcovered home with white wooden floors! If I had known it was going to turn into a Marriott id have gone naugahyde LOL.

Lucille, DH is on the same page. When we first bought it last fall I wondered if we should continue to rent it, and he was 100% against it. He just thinks people will leave doors open, windows, etc.

Hhireno, You are lucky --- this is siblings and steps. So it does get tricky. I do recall your BFF's DH and the wonderful paradigm you have with them! To me, that kind of sharing is one of the best things about having a vacation property.

LOL, Cyn, you are saying my family should know I am a nut already? : )

Zackey, that's awful! Yikes.

Funny, I hear you!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:57PM
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I so agree ... I don't think anyone should eat anything outside of the K or DR. The last thing America needs is more places to eat!

LOL, Cam, I think I may already have that moniker...

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:06PM
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We live in a tourist town, one summer after what seemed like endless check ins and check outs by much loved relatives I decided I am done with hosting them all. We don't have a guest house or even a nice guest suit so it was actually putting kids out of their rooms or on the floors. For special guests or a couple of nights it would have been different. But I felt like a poor tour guide driving everywhere on my gas, making meals and doing my laundry at mid night because that was they only chance I had

For now when relatives come, I ask what price range per night are they hoping to spend on a hotel while visiting so I can make suggestions for them to check out. That has stopped the let's vacation with you hosting issue. The ones that come back with we'll that is not in the budget I have said we are working on the house but I do have a tent and they can set it up in the orchard. So far no takers. :-) I do plan on a vintage small but fixed up trailer that would be nice for a couple of nights but with out all the comforts of home

Company comes Wednesday, they got a nice hotel down the road. We are all happy this way

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:22PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Mtn,ha- so glad I was right that I didn't need an LOL there!

Yes, as several of us have said, just be straight with them. They will "get" it. I also am not one for making up excuses or little white lies. Not good at that at all and I do think people see right through them. Bottom line, trusting people enough to be honest with them is always appreciated, I think. They won't be thinking, "well, if she didn't want us to come, why didn't she just say so instead of making up an excuse?!"

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:23PM
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It is your property and you do not need to explain why you would prefer not to have guests with or without you. If someone asks to stay and you do not wish to share just say," no, not this time." I grew up and am raising my next generation to realize that you should never ask to be invited to someone else's home, you wait for an invite! I am shocked that not everyone lives by this very basic rule. I have twice had an acquaintance call and ask if we wanted to do pizza night and when I said that sounded nice ask me what time they should be at my house, I no longer say yes to anything with her family! I found her behavior inexcusable and she at least did not ask to have free use of my home whenever she wanted.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:40PM
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I apologize if my response was offensive in suggesting we use white lies with friends and relatives. I was offering alternatives because the obvious has already been stated. And, Mtn, surely you knew what you needed to do before posting here. This situation is right out of Emily Post.

The "truth" are the 5 reasons you mention in your original inquiry. The solution is to simply acknowledge appreciation for their interest in your new property, and you'd love for them to visit while you are there.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:45PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Peony, hope my post didn't make you think you needed to apologize. I didn't think anything you said was offensive at all and I do think we all use your alternatives from time to time-I was just thinking about family. I should have been clearer.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:53PM
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I know, Roarah, people should know better than to put others in this position. As I said, I was looking forward to, when it is done, offering up time to each family once per year. Now, not so much.

Peony, No apologies needed on my account! I have no moral qualms at all with white lies, I just find any kind of lie a bit stressful! What is helpful about GW vs one's RL friends, is friends rarely want to tell you you are wrong. OTOH, GW'ers are only too happy to tell you you are wrong, which is useful!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:53PM
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Am I the only one here that has had a problem with the “truth”? My rule is very immediate family only can stay meaning sisters, brother’s moms and dads. I come right out with the truth.
Funny how the truth means different things to different people! Some people think that my truth of immediate family applies to everyone but THEM. I have such a hard time understanding those sorts. I especially have a hard time with it when I’m put in the position of feeling like the b!t(H. So, I have gone a few years thinking I have everyone broken in on these rules only to have them all resurface during one trip up north. In the past it has never worked for me to suggest hotels. People then just come right out and say they want to stay with me to save money for Disney and the Everglades. I’m thinking of just blaming my sweet ole Rottweiler. He is as gentle as a rabbit but I have a thought to tell everyone he bites strangers and might eat small children.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:26PM
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You could just say you are sorry but it is all full with GW friends. Then you could make sure it isn't a white lie!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:34PM
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Cyn427, no that's the thing, they do NOT get it! I told my SIL last week if there is a hurricane in the area not to come next month as planned. Well, you would have thought I slapped her in her face. Also once you start they want to come more and more. Then they want to bring there dogs and other people with them. It just never ends.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:47PM
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I could never come right out and ask, much less assume i could use someone else's home or personal property. Like you, im particular about my things, so unless i expressly make them available i dont like them touched.

I always just flat out say no-with out qualifiers, because people tend to hear the qualifier as meaning yes. No explanation needed. You will be the witch but your anxiety level will be better. And besides, when you throw a fabulous gathering, all will be forgiven!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:50PM
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Jterrilynn, I have varying levels of comfort telling the truth to others when I know it may not be pleasant or may involve rejection. My DH and I, early in our marriage, lived in a desirable place, and we graciously accommodated our parents and immediate siblings. When extended family began their requests, I, too, tried to use the hotel suggestion and was met with, "we-can't-afford-the-trip-if-we-cannot-stay-with-you." I gave in to this once, and it was miserable for my DH and me. It was early in our careers, we worked long hours, and were put in a position to cook for, clean after and entertain a family with children who had no empathy for us as inconvenienced hosts.

I later surmised this family member's attitude is, "It can't hurt to ask." I now take the attitude that, "It can't hurt to say no." And I do.

But not all the time. Just this past weekend, we were attending a sporting event for our kids. Another parent needed to stay at the event longer than his child (and we) did. He asked if we could take his child home with us. It was a hot day, and his child was as sweaty and smelly as mine were. I had planned ahead and brought my kids an extra change of clothing, and towels to sit on, for the hour-long ride home. I couldn't stomach the thought of another smelly kid in my car (these are middle-schoolers with still-developing hygiene habits). But I couldn't bring myself to tell the parent the truth of why I didn't want his kid in my car. If he didn't already "get it," I wasn't inclined to explain it to him. I simply replied, "Oh, I'm sorry, but we have plans after this and are not going straight home." He ended up trapping another parent into driving his kid home. (ugh)

I'm OK with the truth in many situations, and especially those involving family. But I'm often appalled at the insensitivity of people, and their comfort levels in placing others in awkward situations, that I don't believe the truth would be appreciated and understood. As noted above, if they don't already "get it," then I take the easiest option at the moment to remove myself from the situation.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:59PM
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My friend who has a shore house said she finally got tired of people walking in expecting the Ritz-Carlton and leaving it like a Motel-6.

If other people are going to stay there, unfortunately it has to be furnished and fitted out like a rental property and you have to be willing to have a storage room where you lock anything you don't want people to see, use or break, and unfortunately, usually all three.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:05PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Yikes, caminnc! I am so sorry. I guess I just never did experience that. With houses at the Jersey shore, we never had that problem, even after most of the family had sold theirs. One uncle ended up keeping his place and we never would have considered inviting ourselves to stay there. We would pop down for a day or rent our own place, though, and spend lots of time together. My family just never did invite themselves to someone else's place and I would be appalled if they had.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:28PM
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Mtn, I feel for you. You have been super generous with the lake house but that was because the visits were not over whelming. Different story now.

I think you need to first decide how often you want to be there and then calculate what is left.

Then,speak to each person/family and explain that since this house is closer than the lakehouse, you are now inundated with vacation requests and have to scale back a bit. But, the second piece, which is harder, is that since you have decorated this home differently, you don't want guests there without you. I'm not sure how this part is going to fly.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:30PM
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We had second (and third) homes at a beach in FL and mountain in CO. They were never loaned out to family or friends without us being there. It's not unreasonable, and quit frankly, you need to start off on the right track or it will be this way forever. There is nothing wrong with saying no when you're going to be there as well. No one wants to spend every holiday or getaway with others all the time! Quality time with your immediate family is priceless - they will be grown and gone before you know it! Family and friends should understand and not expect it as a given.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:46PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Oh, and it just occurred to me-how are they getting in when you are not there? Maybe you need to lock up if you don't now, remove any extra key that is hidden somewhere that they know about, or change the locks.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 4:04PM
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No, you are not being unreasonable. You've put your heart & soul into furnishing and restoring that house. Just be honest and say you bought and designed the home as a special, personal retreat for you and your immediate family, & that, unlike your lake house, it isn't set up for/can't take the wear & tear of a parade of summer guests. You're so generous otherwise that I think for once you can say no to sharing with others and can let them cope with the consequences of that decision.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 4:11PM
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"Oh, I'm sorry, but we have plans after this and are not going straight home."

Well, I would have skipped everything after 'this'. The truth was that you did indeed have plans--you had plans to get your own kids cleaned up and then have a pleasant, or at least non-odiferous, drive home. Those plans would have been disrupted by a smelly unexpected extra kid in the back seat :). Why add something that's a lie, ie that you aren't going home?

I once read a great phrase about dealing with this kind of thing. It was that one needs to develop "a polite spine". I love that concept! I do not believe in telling lies, white or otherwise. OTOH you don't owe people any obligation to discuss specific reasons for your decisions.

So for the unwanted houseguests I suggest something along the lines of 'Oh, I'm sorry that won't work for us.' And then: stop talking. Really, if people persist you just keep repeating that it won't work for you and nothing more. Because as another great line puts it: no is a complete sentence.

I practice what I preach and have no compunction in responding simply "Oh, I'm sorry I/we can't (go somewhere I don't want to go/do something I don't want to do), that doesn't work for me/us." I sometimes add "I /we already have plans." My plans may consist of sitting around in my jammies, nibbling snacks while watching HGTV. Or lying around reading a good book. But the specifics are nobody's business except mine.

So mtn, I'd advise working on that polite spine and the simple 'sorry, that doesn't work for us' response from now on.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 5:23PM
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Because, Running, I'm not that quick on my feet IRL. I'm usually taken aback in these circumstances, and the better response usually comes to me after the fact.

Besides, I did not go straight home... I stopped for gas. ;-)

But your point is well-taken, and something that can easily be mastered through practice (which I seem to get a lot of!) to draw upon when needed.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 5:36PM
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IMO you do not owe anyone long explanations. Just have the locks changed and send emails to everyone to that effect and say that in the future they are welcome only when you are in residence and when it is convenient for you. Let them all think that someone else has committed a grievous faux pas.

These people sound like free-loaders who need a direct message. This situation will only escalate if you don't stop it now.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 6:22PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

This is not a recent thread, but my 2 cents, it's your home and you don't owe the world anything. Give if you want to. If you don't, don't worry about it. If people you deeply love, care about, want to help: desire to stay there, and you want to accommodate them, then don't sweat what needs to be done to make it accommodating for you and family afterwards. (or perhaps, just you?)

I like things perfect; and I don't want stuff moved or changed or, frankly, even used!

You should give this some great thought. Is perfectionism the apex of life? Or could it be relationships? Maybe you need to come to a balance in areas outside of work.

From a recovering perfectionist.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 6:51PM
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We have had a beach house for about 9 years. First a "decent" beach house and more recently a "really nice" beach house (IMO) although it is not the same caliber of the mtn beach house. When we had the first house, I often made general announcements to friends and family that they were welcome to use it any time we weren't using it. I mean, they'd have to get the key from me first so it wasn't like they'd just go there without my knowing. But we were happy to share, and the house wasn't so nice that I had to worry about what kind of wear and tear people might leave behind. I also donated weeks or weekends to a few charity fundraisers.

But then. We bought house #2 and practically rebuilt it. There is more "stuff" in this house that people can screw up, like AC, funky door locks, security system, wifi, 3 TV's, etc... and also, WE use the house more (or we try to) than we used to. Our open invitations stopped. We love to have people visit us, but not every time we're there. And we never offer it up to people to use when we're not there. The good thing in our case is that NO ONE has asked. Ever. We don't have a lot of family who would ask anyway (my only family is my dad, who is almost 80 and lives 2 hours away -- it wouldn't occur to him to use the house himself although he does visit us there -- and my in-laws either live far away or have their own vacation houses).

When people used our other house, I had a standard list on a bulletin board in the kitchen that explained things like trash pickup and the fact that we didn't have a garbage disposal. Now, our house has a lot more persnickety things that would be harder to explain in a simple list.

However, I will say this. If someone asked if they could use our place, I would have a really hard time saying no. I would probably say yes but give them a list of dos and donts as long as my arm!

Mostly I'm referring to people using the house when we're not there. When we're there, we love having company...not nonstop, but we have one couple and their kids who we are very close to, who have come for 3-4 days every single summer. I have a couple of girlfriends who always come for an overnight when my family is there for our extended vacation every summer. And my kids invite friends, too. But I also love our quiet time there when no one is visiting, and I would be annoyed if people were inviting themselves all the time!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:36PM
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I like things perfect; and I don't want stuff moved or changed or, frankly, even used!

You should give this some great thought. Is perfectionism the apex of life? Or could it be relationships? Maybe you need to come to a balance in areas outside of work.

From a recovering perfectionist."


Another recovering perfectionist

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:38PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I can understand how you feel....When we were first married and we had to go on a trip, friends (not married yet) offered to house sit while we were gone...I knew they wanted to play house. I turned them down. I didn't want anyone else sleeping (or doing anything else) in our bed!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:50PM
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It truly amazes me that relatives/friends just assume they are entitled to use your house whenever they want and would even ask you. For six or seven years my DB has owned a vacation home in another country. I would NEVER ask if we could use it.

I think the only thing you need to say is " with this house, we've decided to only have guests stay when we are there." End of discussion. Then you will probably get calls " are you going to be at the beach house this weekend"? And the answer will be either " yes, we'd love to have you"....or... " we're going to be there, but we're hosting Bill and Nancy this time....we'll have to plan another time for you to come"...... or...."sorry, it's just us this weekend for family time."

And if you do invite people, don't feel obligated to fill every bed...as in people questioning why they can't stay over since Bill and Nancy are....."it's more manageable and enjoyable to only host one family at a time. "

Since you said lots of relatives live an hour away, you can always host a group just for the day...lunch or dinner with swimming in the afternoon.

Stay strong...or you'll end up resenting the house and your relatives.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:55PM
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It's your house and you have the right to say no to visitors. You worked hard to afford it (well unless you won the lottery) and maybe even made financial sacrifices in other parts of your life because it was something you wanted to own and you don't owe anybody visitation rights.

My brother owns a seasonal place in Hawaii and my BIL owns a place in a tourist spot about 4 hours from here and it would never dawn on me to expect to use their vacation places as my personal vacation places. They have given me the "oh feel free to use the place anytime you want" but unless I have a specific invitation I wouldn't do that.

I have an acquaintance who curries friendships with those who own summer/winter places and then wangles invitations from them to use them. She has nothing to share in return but one couple figured out her gameplan and stopped saying yes.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:34AM
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Just say no.

Or rather, every time someone asks to stay at the house, just say, "Oh, sorry, we aren't going to be there then."

Then you'll have a puzzled looking family member staring at you, and you'll have to explain a tiny bit. "Oh, with the new beach house, we are only having guests when we are there."

Then, when the family member starts to protest, "Oh, new house, new rule. Guests only when we are there. How about them Red Sox?"

Then, when the family member continues to argue the point, "As I said, guests only when we are there. Think it will rain tomorrow?"

No apologies, no long explanations. Statement of fact and move on. And if the person continues to badger you, leave or hang up the phone.

That's all you have to do to be polite. If someone else gets mad/angry/upset with you, that's their problem. No one is owed weeks at a relative's vacation home. If they really want one, they can figure out a way to get one of their own, or die mad.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 6:27AM
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The difference here though is that for many many years, Mtn had an open door policy. And, she actually enjoyed being able to share in this manner.

Put yourself in the place of the guest, either good friend or relative. They deserve the honest explanation of why things have changed.
Some of the explanations posted would seem hurtful in Mtn's situation although I know they come from a place of solidarity for Mtn.

Mtn, you are kind hearted and I think you feel most upset that you are hurting your friends/relatives feelings. I think you can get through this with truth and kindness. Yes, people will be upset, but if they want to enjoy the beach house, they will have to move past it.

The hard part for you will be explaining the new rules and sticking to it, no exceptions.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:24AM
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Hey I know what you can do! Build a little 500 to 600 sf studio size guest house for two adults with a pullout Murphy and a tiny patio. You could be generous with that. The small size would limit the occupancy size and possible noise toward your surrounding neighbors. Wonder if it would be allowed? That would be a fun project with lots of built-ins and such.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:57AM
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LOL, Jterri, you would know that idea would appeal to me! As it turns out though, the only accessory building we have is a small old garage and we are keeping a car there (my first convertible, which I highly recommend even if you aren't going thru a midlife crisis!). Any other building spot would impact our view. Our house is set back from the ocean so it would have to be in front of us, pretty much. No dice.

Anyway, thanks, as always, for all of the input. I feel a bit better about my "selfish" desire to keep my house to our family. I feel a bit worse about my perfectionism (as I allowed way back, I wish I were a person who cared less about this stuff).

I have decided that, for now, I will simply tell people that "we prefer not to have others in our home when we aren't there". What happens next will depend on them. I still do hope, next year, when it is ready (that's the other thing that bugs me, they ruined the big reveal!), we decide to offer a week to each sibling for their private use. But only a week! We will see.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 9:15AM
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No problem! Just stick them underground with a glass double door lol. When you finish the main part of the house we all might go through withdrawals if there isn’t another project.

This post was edited by jterrilynn on Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 13:47

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 10:24AM
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Well, Jterri, don't we all have at least one relative who we wish were subterranean? Seriously, wherever did you find that!?

As for project withdrawal, i still have pool and landscape design, and 2 bedrooms that are untouched! So I am ok, for a little while at least ....

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 11:53AM
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No, you are not an unreasonable pill, mtn. They, even if they are family, are the unreasonable pills. I read this last night and didn't have time to respond, but I am so glad you decided to let everyone know you all (you, your DH and kids) have decided not to have anyone in the home while you are not there. I think you are being more than generous offering it up for a week. I would write up some 'house rules' if it were mine and presesnt them with the key. Similar to what most rental properties have - no smoking inside, no pets, no eating/drinks on the upholstery/living room, whatever your rules are or need to be.

I can't believe the nerve of people just intruding on your personal space without an invitation! And especially without offering to have a cleaning service clean it for you. That is Rule 1 IMO. We don't offer our lake condo to anyone except family and they always ask first. We have offered it a couple of times (when a friend from out of town was coming 30 minutes away for cancer treatments and I offered it as a place to crash overnight if needed). Maybe you should change the locks!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:17PM
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If you don't, just throw a nightly/weekly rental rate on it. That will keep the freeloaders out.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:28PM
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Mtn, my mom once built a house into a hill with skylights, the front was open as in it looked like a regular ranch style entry. So, it got me to thinking about a guest dwelling. With a few zillion dollars in land excavation it could be doable and not have the view obstructed. Then I thought, why not put another patio on top? So I did. I couldn’t figure out how to explain what was in my head so I partly used a picture from google images and drew over that.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:58PM
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I have read this thread just now with great, great interest. I would describe my personality as being very similar to Mtn's - I am a perfectionist, I am very particular, I am clean and careful, yet I strive to make guests feel comfortable in our home. I am not always successful but I continue to work on it. I totally agree with the advice given here to Mtn. I hope Mtn doesn't mind if I add a follow-on question:

If you were offered the use of someone's vacation home while the owner is away, how can the expectations the host might have of you as a guest be most politely conveyed? (I would never be offended by any list of specific house rules, but I know others would not feel the same way!) My backstory is that we have a beach house, which we have owned for 7 years. In general, we don't allow anyone but close family to use our home if we are not here, but my in-laws have used it from time to time and invited friends. I have managed to stay calm about it, but there are things that have happened that I don't care for - guests sleeping in our bedroom when other rooms are available (not okay with me!), and some minor damage here and there caused by moving furniture around and alcohol spills mostly. We just finished our first substantial remodel and I am extremely happy with it, and I tried as best I could to make it more "guest friendly." I love my in laws and would like to continue to offer them the use of our house, with their friends, but want to convey some expectations - doesn't that sound better than "rules"? My husband is on board with this. I am concerned that we will offend them, and other family members, and every time I imagine a conversation I can't get it right in my head.....

Mtn - enjoy your house! It sounds absolutely wonderful and good luck with your family!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:01PM
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Sounds like you have figured out what to do. We have a second home and no one uses it when we're not there and only by invitation when we are there. It sounds like you somehow set different expectations early on but are making a change now. New place seems like the perfect opportunity to do that.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:49PM
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robo (z6a)

Marina - my inlaws are kind enough to let us use their Florida vacation home once or twice a year.

I know my MIL is MUCH more particular than I am about cleanliness and I respect that by making sure we clean to the gills before we leave. She calls us with a list of things to do and not to do and I write everything on the list down and make sure it is accomplished. They also made sure to ask us not to use their bed. I think that's all very par for the course.

I think the difference with us, like, close family, is that they can do things like that that might not be textbook "gracious host" and in return we can make our stay as stress free for them as possible and therefore keep getting invited back!

So basically I would say that if you're close enough to have that kind of frank conversation, they'll appreciate it because they'll know what they need to do to be able to use your nice space. And if you're not close enough to have that conversation, they're not close enough to have the right to stay with you rent free!

I appreciate that our inlaws let us use the house and in return I ask well in advance, make it clear that it's their decision and on their schedule, and comply with every request they have. Try to leave it better than I found it...

In your case I think the remodel is a perfect opportunity to be like "We'd love to have you stay with us! Since we remodeled, we're being a little more careful with the house and for that reason (XYZ house rules)." Even a sign saying something like: "Welcome! Please, when you're here..." wouldn't be out of bounds.

I clear all guests with my inlaws BEFORE inviting them and I think that's totally reasonable as well. Even a little comment like "Sure, we'd love to have you. Will you be inviting anyone else along? (if yes, who?)" is a little reminder not to throw a rager.

This post was edited by robotropolis on Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 14:04

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 2:01PM
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I think this is your husband's task since it's his parents. It will be easier for them to accept "rules" coming from him than you, even if you have a good relationship with them.

This may sound a little extreme, but if I didn't want anyone using our bedroom (and I wouldn't) I would put a lock on the door and only you have a key. Even if you tell them not to use it, you won't be there to know whether they do or not. If anyone complains, too bad...it's your house, your rules.

I would make sure all the furniture has protective pads on the legs so floors don't get ruined. Unless they are having blowout parties with 100 people unbeknownst to you, you really can't count spilled drinks...we all do that from time to time. You might also consider a locked closet, cabinet, armoire, etc...for items you don't want used by guests when you're not there (or just stick them in your locked bedroom).

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 2:43PM
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Marina, 'expectations' is so much more genteel and gentle than 'rules'. I like it.

Our bedroom would be most certainly out of bounds for all but our kids and I know I can trust my DD or DiLs to either bring their own sheets or they do the laundry. We have had that discussion and they are very good about it.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 5:34PM
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I just got a message from my friend who is a regular guest at our beach house (with her DH and kids). Here's my idea of a great guest. They are staying with us this weekend and she said, "I have veggie kabobs, corn, and quinoa salad. Let's go to fish market when I get there and pick up shrimp and scallops, and I'll make dinner for everyone." They also usually bring breakfast food and beer. (Not to be consumed at the same time.) I'd have guests every weekend if they were all like this!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 5:46PM
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robotropolis - thanks for your comments. I am the type of guest you are, and I just want all my guests to be like me and you, which I know isn't possible. I do think a frank conversation is necessary b/c my ILs and I are close and my MIL really, really does want to respect my need for a light and careful touch with the house. My FIL is another story - he is a good guy who sometimes drinks too much and becomes a little sloppy. He is the one who moves big pieces of furniture around without much regard for how we like the furniture, etc. But that is a whole separate issue....
Joanie - my husband is the one who puts his foot down about who can be here when we are not, which he does explain to his parents. And, yes, we really need to be clear about our wish for guests not to stay in our bedroom. So far I haven't felt the need to lock anything up, but I do like my private space to stay that way!
SueB - I just love friends/guests like those - they are the BEST!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:06PM
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I like the concept of "expectations", Marina.

But my list might be crazy. Just thinking over my last few days here ... Don't use the toaster when you use the Keurig or the circuit will blow (I don't drink coffee so I don't care, and I like the way they look in their current spot). Don't chop on my Boos 4" block --- it's much too pretty! Be careful what you use when you wash your face - or you will ruin my sink skirts. Don't smoke, for goodness sakes, and don't drink red wine indoors. And be careful on the white linen chairs and DR slips ... and of course no shoes on the painted floors. By the time they got through the list, they'd want to leave. Hmm...

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 12:26PM
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I do have a tent and they can set it up in the orchard ROFLMAO!!!!!

MTN - It's your house and your decision.

Channel your inner Nancy Reagan and "Just say no." If they aren't leaving it up to your expectations, then they don't get to stay there.

And this house is your BABY!!!! We saw all the anguishing and decision making ... turning it over to a second cousin with 3 toddlers and a mutt should not be expected.

We have the use of a friend's "summer home" near a ski resort for the ski patrol weekends.

I guarantee we get asked back by leaving the place spotlessly clean, guest beds freshly made, old sheets laundered and back in the linen closet ... and some goodies they can't get locally stacked on the counter. I do a good imitation of a one-person Molly Maid team.

They are saving us hundreds of dollars and a lot of hassle (eating out takes time and we're exhausted) so I'm going to reciprocate.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 12:42PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Yowzah, mtnrd. If I ever come visit, I'll be sure to don a hazmat suit first and stand in only one spot lest I shed a skin cell or hair or something. I can't believe you've comfortably hosted so many large parties at your house, esp with children, if you have so many concerns. If I felt that way, I'd be a nervous wreck. Knowing you feel that way, I'd be a nervous wreck to be there, whether you were home or not.

"I'm fine, I'll just sit here in the driveway and try not to disturb the gravel...."

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 2:15PM
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Try not to disturb the gravel...hahaha you are funny Annie! lol

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 2:36PM
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Mtn, do you feel this way because everything is new? Will you feel less this way a few years down the road?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 2:42PM
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Mtn - just put tape around your appliances so that it's obvious where thye belong, sort of like a crime scene and then add a note at the bottom of the Great Expectations that all guests must rake the gravel as they leave.

We actually had house guests come to stay with us at our place in the PA mountains who brought their tent and sleeping bags and then asked if they could camp out in the upper meadow for a night or two.

DH volunteered to drive them up to the meadow with their equipment in our Kawaskai Mule and as they started unloading their Jeep he asked them if they were afraid of bears.....or coyotes. They thought he was kidding until we showed them our photos of the bears sauntering down the driveway and scratching their backs on the tree bark - and my favorite - Mama bear and her 3 little cubs. They opted to sleep in beds.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 2:50PM
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Mtn......maybe you should tell everyone you had second thoughts and have sold the place.....that would solve all your woes....lol.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 3:57PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

GF's MIL lives on the shore in NJ and the entire huge family descends on her place every xmas. They rent a house nearby to help accommodate all the people, and apparently the rule in that place is no one can use the kitchen. Makes it kind of tough for a.m. coffee and such, but there it is.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 5:00PM
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I mainly read the kitchen forums, where I've noticed a tendency to make the kitchen a showplace and not much good for cooking. When every little thing in your home is so special and expensive, you can't use it as it's intended. I'm a perfectionist too, and maybe we are better off not to use the best of everything if we're going to be so protective of it. I would rather be more protective of my close, life-long relationships than of something that can be replaced. "Things" aren't worth hurt feelings. I have a well-off sister who I dearly love, but sometimes....the excess....it gives me a lesser opinion of her knowing that her "stuff" is so important.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 8:19PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

When every little thing in your home is so special and expensive, you can't use it as it's intended.

I am going to remember and apply that, mayflowers! Insightful!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 9:05PM
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5. We have the house professionally cleaned for us. Then, someone else stays there, and they clean it. They probably thing they are doing good, but they do not clean as well as the professionals.

Am I just an unreasonable pill....

Yes, and ungrateful, and I'm sorry, a bit snobbish also.

Are you decorating for a magazine look for everybody to see and not touch, or for your lifestyle?

I also can't wrap my brain around buying an expensive and good Boos cutting board just for looks.

I'll sit out in the car with Annie.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 8:43AM
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Yes but…some people do not clean right. Some people will go up to a wood dining table and just spray furniture polish all over it with no consideration that the spray is covering the upholstery as well. I have had people scrap crud off my stainless steel refrigerator with a knife and permanently mar it. Or, they stand near a painted furniture object and absent mindedly move their foot back and forth across it and destroy the paint finish. I have had people use abrasive cleaners on the range top too. I’m sorry but it may just be stuff but it’s my stuff that I like. Ok, I admit that half of the above was done by my immediate family lol but still…

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 9:19AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

So agree jterri!, Frankly, it took me years as a homeowner to learn those things so I don't trust others much at all in the care and preservation of household items.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 9:32AM
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We owned a second home in a college town. I was happy with my sister and a couple of very close friends staying there - and I let them know they were welcome anytime. (I knew their levels of cleanliness and carefulness were similar to mine) And they all know how particular I am. And I CHOSE to offer it to them. They didn't ask or assume they were always welcome

However, like mtn, I really didn't want other people there. I'm sure most don't mean to be careless, but accidents happen.

Mtn, I don't think you are being unreasonable. It's your house. You've decorated it and live in it the way you and your family want to live.

I think you've gotten good advice above about a "polite spine." When you say no, remember to smile.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 9:36AM
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I think the point is that the house was renovated and decorated for Mtnrdredux' family's lifestyle, not her relatives'. There are different standards of use as well as cleanliness. Use the Boos chopping block for chopping? Absolutely, it was designed for that. Chop onions on it and leave it overnight without cleaning, or leave something that discolors the surface because it wasn't cleaned in a timely fashion? No--- but that's exactly the kind of thing people might do on a vacation or when using something that belongs to someone else. The difference between "use" and "abuse" is different for everyone, and mtn is clearly fearing the latter based on extensive experience with these same people.

Fwiw, Mtn, I don't think there is a universal understanding of the finishes you have put in the house.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 9:46AM
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Mtnrdredux -- is it really about the things or more about the constant influx of people?

Here's my experience. We get a lot of overnight guests since we are near SF. When we first got our house I worried that I wouldn't be able to handle visitors well because I'm somewhat control-freaky. Then, a visiting relative spilled something, tried to clean up and left bleach spots on the new carpet. Surprisingly, I was ok with it. A kid carved lines into a wooden table with a dinner knife. Also no problem for me (husband was a different story). But, when our second child was born and all the grandparents plus another relative all descended on us at the same time, all of a sudden it drove me bananas that people were rearranging the couch pillows. [edited to add: I didn't realize at the time that I just really wanted some space to figure out a routine with the new baby, and that wasn't happening with all the visitors. In my mind, it just couldn't be that I wanted folks, whom I love so much, to go away -- so it manifested as "they are messing up the place."]

So, just wondering whether it might just be the current situation that is setting you on edge, and you just need a break from the crowds to complete your project and then reassess. Get things set up with your "new baby." Because from reading your other posts you sound like a very generous and welcoming person who enjoys(?) hosting family and friends. Wish you the best in sorting things out.

This post was edited by Oaktown on Sat, Jul 19, 14 at 10:25

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 9:49AM
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I think that is a helpful perspective! It's true, we aren't done yet and still need some time. Funny you mention throw pillows --- my cleaning person at homes wants every darn pillow on a jaunty angle --- argggh ! And thanks for your kind words.

KSWL, Yup, you are right; standards are different.

BBSTX -- Yes, there are people I don't worry a wit about (yes, my sister is one!). I have pretty much decided everyone is welcome when we are here. And only a very few when we are not. Thankfully the breakdown doesn't fall along lines where that will be obvious.

Jterri and Bumble, LOL. I have had cleaning people mess things up, too. Take the relatively simple issue of towels. I bought all new white towels for the house . (BTW, they are called something like Turkish Ultimate, from BBB and they are very nice if anyone is looking). When I wash a white towel, i check for a stain before i wash it, and i Shout the stain. Before I put something in the dryer, i check again. If the stain isn't gone I don't dry it, I soak it. If it never comes out at all, I don't put the towel back in circulation (I want to be sure when I hand someone a white towel that it is totally white!). Not many people, let alone cleaning people, inspect the laundry this way. I bet most Moms do!

I am not sure how any of this is snobbish. But, anyway... I am decorating for my enjoyment. I enjoy/prefer many things that are fragile and impractical. That means, instead of covering my DR chair with (at one extreme) vinyl, they are slipcovered in white denim skirts with little ties in the back. That means, after dinner, I will take a look at them and see if they need to be tossed in the wash. A guest might not think of that.

As far as the Boos, raise your hand if you have never bought a virgin cutting board and hated seeing it cut on? I do plan to cut on it someday, but there are two issues. One, i love patina, but patina has its awkward teenage stages. The first few months of the "patina" process just look like heck. So that always holds me back a bit. Also, I think I should make the "inaugural cut".. LOL. As it is, it is easier to use a cutting board for whatever I am cutting, then scrape it off into the trash and wash it. It is not my intent that it never be used.

Well, the view from the car is pretty nice. Can I bring you some lemonade? : )

Bumble, yes, I agree, and at its essence, it i really what the post is about. The tradeoff between utility and beauty.

Mayflowers, We do use our house as intended, just carefully, IYKWIM. Other than the anonymity of GW, very few people know that i am so finicky or certainly that things are so dear (if you aren't into decor, most people have no idea what you can spend .., especially as I don't particularly like things that are OTT or ostentatious). We do entertain a lot, including kids and families. After all, that is one reason to buy a getaway. I certainly don't think that guests have come away with the impression that our stuff mattered more than they do, and if they did I would wonder why they come back.

Annie, Personally, I would never make a place off limits or lock part of the house. We all have our spot on the crazy continuum, and I'm not there yet!

Joanie, LOL!

Maire_cate, Too funny about your erstwhile "campers"!

Ellendi, I've pretty much decided, and in the original post it is the first thing listed, is that it is really about privacy. We have always done a lot of entertaining in our homes, but this it the first time we have had a lot of demand to stay in our house without us (makes sense, as many family members live quite close to the beachhouse, vs 4hrs to the lake). I don't want people sleeping in my bed, or not taking care of things the way I would (which is an unreasonable standard, but there it is), or simply not knowing how to close french doors so the wind won't blow them open....

Annie, I am being a little extreme to be funny, but the reason we host so many parties is because we like to! It's just a little extra work when you aren't kid proof, but it's worth it.

Lazy, LOL. I am not a Republican, but maybe I should be because I am really bad at "no", the patsy volunteer for everything! What a nice idea of yours to leave your hosts things they can't get! We have a list of those already!

Anyway, I have to go pick up some stuff to make dinner. Overnight guests tonight! Maybe I will hack into the Boos. Or, no, maybe next week. ; )

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 12:56PM
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Reading how others would be great guests by leaving the house spotless...well, isn't that a given? What I've not read, though I probably missed it, is leaving a really nice, thoughtful gift. The few times we've used a friend's home during their absence, we've purchased a case of their favorite, or better, wines and left gourmet goodies in the the frig and pantry . If they won't be returning immediately we leave the wine and a few fun and / or useful things. Expensive , yes, but it makes us feel good about using their home, and the amount is probably just the equivalent of two- three. days stay at a hotel.
And if MTN seems overly finicky to some, I say to cut her some slack. She's posting her feelings here honestly, almost as if thinking aloud ....feeling that safe with us as she learns how to most comfortably share this special new home. Also, as ellendi suggests, it's likely the newness that has her on edge. It was several months before I'd allow the cleaners near my new honed marble bathroom counters. And I'm very laid back about most things, but they were so beautiful...and new!! On top of that, you go ahead, Miz MTN, and be as finicky as you'd like. You're a far less selfish woman than I would be with my home.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 3:10AM
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I just got another request to stay with me in the fall. The person who invited herself was my aunt and there is no way I would even attempt to enforce our immediate family only (brothers, sisters, their husbands or wife’s, moms, and dads) rule with her ( my recently deceased moms sister). I was only slightly irked as I had told her about our renovations and she didn’t even ask if the fall was good for me. I sent her an email stating clearly that I was very much looking forward to her staying but to keep it mum do to our house rules. I also wrote that I would let her know a good time “after” our renovations and mentioned that I would pick her up at my nearest airport------------------ At the end of the email I stated how she is always welcome.

The other thing about my guests is that they choose the airport to be picked up at that is two hours away (flights are cheaper) instead of the West Palm Beach Airport which is around twenty minutes or so.

When I went up north I had lots relatives mentioning they were thinking of planning a trip to see me. These are not people that could afford to come with their children, do all the Disney and other stuff unless they had free food and lodgings.

I’ll be honest here. I just cannot afford to put bits of money away for me to travel on a BIG trip every two or three years And put bits toward retirement funds And DIY money for what needs to be done in my home And a small amount to charities And help my sons occasionally And the over three hundred a week it costs me for families to stay (usually around $500). We are just regular people that are budgeted and work hard for what we have. Families who have stayed with me seem to think I’m well off and will make a big deal of it if they buy groceries for one and a half days out of a week or one round of drinks out. Like they are doing ME a favor!

For some of us it’s not just about people being in our bubble (although for me that’s part) it costs a lot to be a free hotel when it is constant. If I let it happen I would have at least four families a year that didn’t fall under the very immediate family rule. That would take a lot of my money from my vacation fund. This does not count the immediate family as I try not to put a price on that although some have taken the piss.

I'm thinking (dreaming) that I’m just going to ask the non-immediate family sorts who will not take no for an answer if $500 a week lodging fee (no food included, no car included) sounds ok to them. It’s a pittance in the world of lodging but might weed out the cheap inconsiderate.

If I were well off and beyond comfortable financially, since I don’t much like semi strangers (long lost relatives) in my house I would ask them what charity they wanted their $500 a week sent to. Again...a dream!

Maybe I'm just too much fun hahahahaha

This post was edited by jterrilynn on Mon, Jul 21, 14 at 13:51

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 1:27PM
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My statement would be: "Please feel free to enjoy the ocean house as often as you did the lake house".

Just because you got something more desirable, should they be indulged? I say no. Those who really needed a break drove to the lake house and were grateful, I'm sure.

By now having ocean house and a shorter drive, you have made it easier for everyone to accept invitations to parties that you host. Yeah!

If the lakehouse was too far and not great enough, they can continue to vacation in the same place they went during the lakefront years.

Exceptions allowed by personal invite for poorer relatives who could never have such a vacation without your charity. A beautiful oceanfront vacation is beyond the reach of most.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 4:08PM
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Jterilyn, I am flabbergasted ! Only my immediate family and bbf ( and she'd protest) would expect or accept an airport pickup. And chosing an airport two hours away, because it's cheaper for them? I am, again, blown away. What do they do for a car once they've arrived...borrow yours?
Your relatives, and MTN's are far brasher than mine, and we are a casual, close knit, smaller family. Brother and sis might tease or vaguely hint, but no one would ever bluntly ask. Only our children, who are always
welcome, with few exceptions, could come whenever.
Sadly, I think you will probably tick off some, but so be it! Take care of you !

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 7:56PM
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I think it's interesting that it's so easy to accept the perspective that if you have nice things and don't want them to get ruined that "things are more important than people".

How about this perspective?
I think that people who don't take care of things that belong to other people are pretty self-centered and selfish too. As if they are "too important" of a person to be bothered with such things.

I have a sister who thinks that ruining things, losing things, misspelling things on invitations or addresses--none of these things are important because they are just things. None of them are important to her, because she is one of the most self-absorbed people I know--she thinks She is more important than those things, and by extension than those to whom those things belong, of course.

This post was edited by palimpsest on Mon, Jul 21, 14 at 22:59

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 10:51PM
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Mtn's relatives aren't coming in and trashing the place. They're doing normal things like cutting on a butcher block and washing their faces at a sink. She can't have them there doing that because every surface is precious, and she can't find a way to tell them without hurting their feelings. Maybe just admit to being neurotic about the house. I'm sure they have an inkling.

Reminds me of when I visited my sister. She had candy in a Depression glass candy dish. My six year old son broke the lid trying to get a piece. She yelled at him and he cried, and yes, I did get the impression the dish meant more than my son's feelings. That Christmas I bought her an even nicer candy dish.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 11:21PM
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IMHO, and based on your story, you are indeed describing a neurotic who values things over people. You are not describing me. I have never yelled at or so much as expressed dismay at any guest (much less at a child for goodness sakes) who has damaged something of ours (and it has certainly happened). If I had, I don't think any property I have ever owned was so amazingly, utterly unique and fantastic that people would have chosen to spend time with an azz, just for the privilege of staying there.

I am sure most people do not have an inkling, MayF. We seem to always be opening our homes for everything from block parties to charity events, to school parties, extended family etc etc . I will continue to do so, with pleasure, but I am ---- without any guilt --- limiting the use of our new home without us present. I have said this several times now.

I am not going to apologize for filling my home with fragile or dear things. I will not apologize for putting in vintage MBA sinks with a sink skirts, or a folding RR sink. But will my visitors be confused about how to use separate hot and cold taps? Will they assume that the sink skirt is thrown in the wash? Will they have any damn clue about how to use a folding sink? I am not a Marriott and should not have to appoint my home to allow unfettered unsupervised use of my house.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 12:47AM
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Will they know not to walk on a painted floor with shoes?

I agree that you control who is in your home and when. I think everyone here is in agreement. But how do you control everything even when you are there? For example, the sand in the washer. It's part of living on the beach. How could you have prevented that? Shake out all their clothing yourself? Whether it's your new rules or you being watchful of how they handle your things, they will have an inkling that they need to be more careful at your beach house. That could make everyone feel less relaxed.

I never said anything about hosting parties at your own home. I am discussing the beach house only.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:26AM
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Mtn, I don't think you should apologize for any of this, either. What a discussion this thread has generated!

My grandparents had restrictions and limitations on areas of their home and their belongings, because they appreciated and were proud of being homeowners. My entire family (both parents' sides) consists of very hard-working people who do place value on their possessions, not because possessions are more important than people, but because they view possessions as earned and not easily replaced. For my grandparents, and my parents, respecting one's home and its contents aligned with their work ethic and appreciation for life's blessings.

(They also would never entertain the idea of an animal in the home, which would likely generate a lot of negative reaction in this forum, too.)

They did not live in the era of consumables that we have today, and I believe our young adult generation is being impacted by the fact that such products as cell phones and clothing are *expected* to be abused and replaced often. This is a reflection of the quality of today's manufacturing, of course, but also reflects a certain lack of "pride of ownership."

Today, my husband and I use and enjoy what we have, but we don't treat them as disposable. We demand that our kids understand how much things cost, and that we take care of what we have. In doing so, we're also setting a precedent of respect for others, too. I was so pleased the other evening when we attended a graduation party, and the first thing my kids did when we entered the hosts' home was remove their shoes without being prompted to do so. (And then I breathed a sigh of relief they had remembered to put on clean socks.)

I'm admittedly neurotic about many aspects of my home. This doesn't mean I don't love and cherish my family and friends who use it.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 2:06AM
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You aren't going to convince me that people who have expections that because a relative has something that would be great to have at their disposal that they should be able to use it essentially at will and treat it no differently than they would their own possessions --that they aren't at least as selfish as the person who owns it and isn't thrilled about other people using it.

To go back to my sister as an example. She doesn't "trash" things, it's not like she has drunken parties and throws dishes.

Its that she doesn't take care of things in her Own house because to her those things aren't important, so she isn't going to be anymore careful with anyone else's things:

You have to clean the floor after she prepares the simplest meal, like a sandwich

Expect to find greasy or newpaper-inked hand prints on everything she touches, which is the wall around every lightswitch, the door around every knob or handle, or the wall going up and down the stairs. Looking for the switch instead of rubbing her hand around? Using an actual knob, handle or handrail? Not important.

Expect to find scuff marks on doors, she pushes them open and kicks them closed with her foot.

Expect to find a dirty dish put away in the cabinet. She's probably reading a book while "cleaning up" and got distracted, putting a dish away instead of in the dishwasher.

Expect to find, or not find, the bottle opener or other kitchen implements for days because she walked off with them and put them somewhere.

Expect to find a sh---y diaper in some random wastebasket or under the bed she changed it on...she "forgot" to pick it up and but it in the suitable trash. You may not find it until you walk around looking for the source of a bad smell.

Expect her to break a light fixture in the bathroom because she's reading while drying her hair and hits it with her hairdryer.

Expect her to break the glass or chip the frame of a picture hung in the guest room because the eyes "look at her" daughter so she takes it down and turns it to the wall--and not carefully.

This is not trashing things, this is how some people (and more than you might think) "Use" things.

And you probably think I'm selfish and a terrible snob too.

But I slept on the floor at a sister's house this weekend. On a rug that smelled like cleaned up dog pee. Because she couldn't actually keep track of the fact that there was more beds than people and told me I didn't need a hotel reservation.

Oops more people than beds. And I didn't say anything. One because it doesn't matter about sleeping on the floor. I 've done it before and I'll do it again. Two because she would be offended (and defensive) to have it pointed out that she's neglected to do the most basic things.

This post was edited by palimpsest on Tue, Jul 22, 14 at 7:21

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:15AM
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I admire the gracious way you open your home to others, and the careful way you are establishing boundaries.
This thread I think is destined to become a GW classic, read and thought about by many, as all of us have similar tensions in our lives between nurturing others and realizing what we need for ourselves.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:57AM
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Knowing you feel that way, I'd be a nervous wreck to be there, whether you were home or not.

Oh, me, too! Frankly, I strongly dislike staying in others' homes because the likelihood of something going "wrong" is high. Any time we are out of our routine, out of our usual environment, accidents happen.

I only stayed in someone's home who was not immediate family once. She specifically invited us; she had a constant stream of guests. (It was her 2nd home and she felt better having people there when she was gone . . .sort of housesitting). There was a huge, sunken bathtub, like a hot tub. Well, one of the days we were there, the sewer backed up, right into the tub! Yuck. Apparently, this was something that happened on occasion. We had to deal with it (call the plumbers, get it cleaned, etc.) But, of course, I still felt very guilty, as though we had caused it somehow. I really feel uncomfortable in others' homes (except my mom's, of course, because I used to live there!) because I know things can go wrong, and I don't want to cause problems.

Every house has quirks, and not knowing those quirks can lead to damage. Or, it's simple matters like guests just not being careful.

In our last house, we had the only room that had wall-to-wall carpeting cleaned for a party. At the party, it rained, which was a shame, but one of the children (old enough to know-- older than some of my kids) walked outside in the mud, got his feet good and dirty, and then came into the room with the rug. We could never clean it well again. Now, in my family, even my 2 y.o. knows to take off her shoes . . .and would notice if her feet were muddy. It's not because we are rich, but BECAUSE we aren't-- it costs money to replace things, and so we are careful.

As for yelling at a child for damaging something-- I don't think it can/should be done with a guest, but my own children are definitely shown my displeasure if they break things (which almost never happens), esp. since there is only one room (really, just 2 corners of it, even!) in the house where they have to be calm. (The rest of the house is fine to play, be crazy in . . .and we have a big backyard.) I was pretty upset when one of my daughters broke my brand new lamp shade that I'd waited months to buy, because she was playing in one of the only areas of the house she should not have been. Why? Because it costs money that I don't really have to spend on that.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 8:14AM
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I don't think mnt's family is careless and do respect her home. But like anele said, accidents happen. But it seems to me she's trying to guard against life happening. You can't live and keep everything perfect. As I said before, it's going to be hard to monitor things that are being used as they're intended to be used. I used the candy dish incident as an example of something being used as intended where it got damaged. The reaction was about the precious thing and I guess you could say it affected the relationship since it happened 22 years ago and I'm thinking about it again. Lol.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 8:56AM
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This isn't directed at you Mayflowers, it just happens to come after one of your posts.

One of the undercurrents that I routinely feel in Mtn's threads is that there is a....disapproval... because she has paid domestic help and freely admits it.

I don't think there is anything wrong with having "help" or full-on staff, and I don't think it's snobby or pretentious to admit having it if you do. In fact I think it's "false" if you would try to disguise the fact.

If your time is spent more efficiently doing other things, and you can afford to keep others gainfully employed, more power to you.

There is nothing undignified in Any honest work, no matter how menial. It's not as if hiring someone to do your cleaning or ironing is preventing them from doing advanced pharmaceutical research or something. I am not saying that to be snotty, I'm just a realist. In my own small family there is a Phi Beta Kappa; a practical-shrewd woman who will be a millionaire before you know it; and a high school dropout who works for a landscaper. To each his or her own ability.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:09AM
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I'm sure a large percentage of women posting on this forum have cleaning people, so I don't think that's the undercurrent. Nor do I think it's her wealth, if that's what you think "one of the undercurrents" is.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:37AM
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I think one of the the topics is the house as a hobby, at least that's what interests me most about the discussion. When you build it and furnish it almost exclusively thinking "What will look nice?", but those nice things don't work out so well when you put people in the hobby house, how do you transition from it being a hobby and now live in it? And I'm not talking about unreasonable people like Pal's sister, who should stay at hotels.

Understand that I have some of those tendencies myself. I sent my other sister, who is more like Pal's sister, a picture of my living room and she said "Does anybody live there?" I told her we camp out back.

This post was edited by may_flowers on Tue, Jul 22, 14 at 9:54

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:50AM
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Pal, I don't sense that at all. As Mayflowers said, I am guessing I am the odd duck here who can't afford help cleaning (or if I did, I'd have to make many other choices that I'm not willing to make . . .like live in a dangerous neighborhood). I am more likely to know people who clean homes vs. those who pay for help, but I certainly don't begrudge anyone who can and/or chooses to spend money that way.

We spent a long time painting our deck this weekend. We are far from done. My husband (going to turn 42) said he was "too old" for "that" kind of work. I sort of think he thinks it's beneath him, even though we aren't wealthy. I, on the other hand, can't begin to tell you how much I actually enjoy manual labor. The solitude, the peace, the not-having-to-manage-kids (we paid our oldest to help) while I do it is fantastic for me.

And Mayflowers, I totally get what you mean about the candy dish. And, truth be told, even though my daughter was doing something she should not have done, I am disappointed in myself that I got upset at all. So, while I do show disapproval over "things," I wish I wouldn't.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:54AM
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Meh, anything that is more than slightly out of the modal personality or accepted normative behavior of Gardenweb parameters is almost always (subtly at least) differentiated.
And it's not about plain old income or plain old whatever.
And I don't think Mtn has "a cleaning lady" that comes in every week or two and runs a vacuum and throws some cleanser in the bowl.

I call it as I feel it, but maybe I am just paranoid :).

Peace and all that, Mtn. :-)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:12AM
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"I'm sure a large percentage of women posting on this forum have cleaning people"

I don't have one and I am not affluent. I don't care one way or another, I enjoy people for what they say not what they have, but I would not think that by reading posts here that one could surmise the above.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:16AM
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So, now I am wondering Mtn, knowing how you feel now about your new house, would you have done things a bit differently?

I think you got so wrapped up in the enjoyment of the decorating, that you didn't realize how it would effect you when it was finished.
The truth is, you have decorated with unique, beautiful things and now you are uneasy about them getting damaged.

The other aspect is that this home is more accessible to more people. You are a gracious person but the combination of how you want to keep your home and how people will actually treat it is overwhelming.

I guess we all have a story about possessions being more important than people. I have a sister in law that made it be known that she thought I was hard on her things. (I think I might have chipped a platter while I was hand washing after a dinner.) I stopped helping her. (She rarely invites us, anyway)

I can see putting a special value on a family heirloom, or even something that has sentimental value, but my SIL put this value on all her "antique" things that she has accumulated. I feel everything should not be equally important.
If you use something, there is a risk of breakage or damage.

In the case if my SIL, I told her to just use everyday things for us. But to be honest, with me it was a case of a thing being more important.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:37AM
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I never saw any under-currents regarding having house staff directed towards Mnts but maybe I missed it. I mean who wouldn’t want cleaning people on a regular basis? Are there really people out there who wouldn’t? I usually hire someone to clean after big DIY projects because every little nook and cranny needs attention and it’s too overwhelming for me alone. However, I normally clean with the cleaning person. It’s sort of fun then because we crank up the music and drink sherry after.

Still having a full time cleaning staff brings up a good point in making a flood of visitors more bearable (at least one would think). I’ll just add that to my many rants above lol. I do not like non- very immediate family to stay because it’s a lot more work in cleaning for me. I wonder if I’d be more generous if I had a full time cleaning staff…don’t know. Maybe if there was a cook as well? Maybe if I had more money and didn’t feel the grocery and utility crunch!? Still don’t know. I admit that I don’t like people in my bubble for too long so that could be my main problem. However, add all the rest of my rants and too me the whole thing is too stressful in more ways than one.

Edited to add...

Martinca, I think the behavior may be regional. My new neighbor is from an area near the Midwest town where I’m originally from. She arrived at my door without calling first (normal behavior for those Midwest parts). We got to talking about the differences with people/friendships in the mid-west verses southeast transient Florida. It’s a whole different way of life up there because you have been around the same people for years. Many things are just a ‘’given’’. She “neighbor” said people down here think short term so there are few givens. Also, people up north in that area think nothing of driving 45 minutes to an hour for a restaurant. Here, we have many choices within 10 minutes. Up north people think nothing of driving hours to anywhere so do not see the slightest problem of an airport pick up even if on the other coast. These differences can be frustrating when you haven’t lived in the Midwest state since 1978. And, more so if you barely know these people.

This post was edited by jterrilynn on Tue, Jul 22, 14 at 12:50

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 11:42AM
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I don't think the minutiae are really the point, but let me answer your questions anyway.

"Will they know not to walk on a painted floor with shoes?" A lot of people I know take their shoes off when they enter a home. Even moreso when you are in a sandy area. But I have never ask anyone to, except my own kids.

'I agree that you control who is in your home and when. I think everyone here is in agreement."
Not exactly ... there are different opinions about allowing people to use it without us. That is the crux.

"But how do you control everything even when you are there? For example, the sand in the washer. It's part of living on the beach. How could you have prevented that? Shake out all their clothing yourself? "

Okay, here's the deal. There is an (older) w/d in the basement. That is where I do most of the laundry. There is a "(brand new) w/d in the MBR suite. It is in a little hallway that is accessible (through a door) to the rest of the floor. We had a guest stay here when we were not here. They did laundry in the MBR laundry. The machine was pristine. I had used it once. When I got here, there was sand on the floor in front of it. There was sand in the various dispensers. There was sand on the top of the washer, in the dryer, all around the edges of the lint filter. What would I do? One, shake things out over our verandah. Two, take things in through the walk out basement and wash them there. Three, even if you did use the MBR machine, when you unloaded the w/d, didn't YOU see, and hear the sand ? If so, do what i did .... wash it off!

"Whether it's your new rules or you being watchful of how they handle your things, they will have an inkling that they need to be more careful at your beach house. That could make everyone feel less relaxed." I really don't think so. I am not sure how, as this thread has evolved, the impression had been that I have changed rules. I never changed any rules; I was just never so popular before! If they feel less relaxed then they might somewhere else, they hide their anguish well!

"I never said anything about hosting parties at your own home. I am discussing the beach house only." I take umbrage with statements about valuing things over people. That would not seem to be venue-specific! This is a decor forum, and so I spend most of my time here talking about decor. You can easily tell that I enjoy decor and it is important to me. I am not sure how you can judge whether it is more important to me than anything else, especially people, unless we started posts to discuss all the things we each do for others.
Seems to me you are projecting issues/incidence with your sister on to me, a total stranger.

Peony, Yes, I think the thread has hit on interesting points. And your point is well taken --- ie in many cases the focus on taking good care of material things is a respect for money and the hard work that most of us do to earn it, rather than a sign of excessiveness.

LOL about the clean socks! (no holes, either?).
I had a similarly gratifying experience with my 10yo DD. She was visiting an adult friend who made her a cup of tea. They were at the dining table, and my DD asked for a coaster --- the woman was so impressed! Funny thing, we don't even own coasters.

Pal, do you ever marvel at the DNA that you share? People do have different sensibilities, but she sounds more than clueless! I have one SIL who always gets orange makeup all over my towels, but she is a saint by comparison.

Lucille, I did solicit opinions here, so it's all good! and yes, it is thought provoking!

Anele, I think I recall you sharing that incident here before. Oh my! As for yelling at kids for ruining things, DH always reminds me of a Dennis Miller line "you can have nice things, or you can have kids." Somewhat true! I think the thing with kids is, they generally are poor at seeing the consequences of their actions. And they are ignorant. Of, say, the potential damage of a squished blueberry on the floor, then tracked through the house (scary music playing). It's a big part of parenting. Yes, kids need to be taught respect for things.

Mayflowers, Like anything, balance. Everyone has their own personal comfort level with how much they will put up with in terms of impracticality versus something they enjoy. I have found it for myself and my family, but that doesn't mean it would apply to everyone.

Anele, That doesn't sound like disapproval over things, it's disapproval over her behavior, which happened to have a consequence for something material.

Thanks, Pal! : )

No, I really enjoy the things that make our home unique. I would not have it any other way. At the end of the day, some of my choices will just make it harder/more costly to clean and maintain. That's okay as a tradeoff. As I said, I have decided that I am limiting who uses it when we are not here, but other than that, the "vacancy" sign is up.

And man, there are some real PITA people out there. I was taught then when someone damages something, they apologize, and you say "oh don't worry!" As a host, your job is the comfort of your guests, period (regardless of your inner voice!). If something is so expensive that you would be terribly pained to have to replace it, it was too expensive to buy. And if it is irreplaceable, then don't use it unless you decide that the pleasure of using it outweighs the risk.

PS I think I missed responding to some replies --- if so sorry!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:07PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Okay, let me be perfectly blunt here. Mtn, I would love to have either of your homes. I would love to have staff, including gardeners and housekeepers and cleaning people. A cook would make me swoon with happiness. I would not ever be inclined to want people staying in my home if I were not there. I am a little green with envy, but I like my home and weed-laden garden that I never seem to have time to make perfect. I do not in any way resent that you have such wonderful homes and wish you years and years of joy and laughter in both houses, including that oh-so-wonderful itty-bitty stone house.

Oh, and I would be irritated about the sand in the new appliances, too. However, I would have a sink skirt that could be thrown in the wash! :)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 2:46PM
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I have been following this and was not going to say anything else, but I must!


Now I feel better.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 2:51PM
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MTN, I agree about the nice things or kids . . .I shop accordingly. The lamps were in a strategic location that no one "needs" to be by, which is why it was annoying. With the exception of a very few pieces (the lamps!), I always imagine our things knocked over (inc. by the cats) or walked on or whatever, and plan it out that way . . .and oops, sorry for repeating the story about the rug!

Pal, I guess I still come from the perspective that it's all relative. To some, sure a "lady who cleans the toilet" may be normal, so full-time staff is at a new level. For those who don't have even monthly cleaning help, any help is a new level. I don't think, however, that just because someone else is one or two or a million steps beyond where we are financially, means we are envious. I know I'm not.

I just want to put in a disclaimer for my conscience. I say often on these forums that my husband and I are not wealthy, while knowing full well that, relative to much of the world, we are.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 2:54PM
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No, it was the sewage story! That was memorable, LOL.
I agree with you ... spending time on line talking about decor matters puts you in the 1%; globally at least. Ever single one of us must count ourselves lucky.

Thank you, Cyn, and Tuesday for your well wishes. And nothing is ever perfect, which is part of the obsession!

PS The sink skirt can go in the wash, but some products can stain fabric even if it is washable ... think Clearasil for example.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 3:36PM
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Oh, I'm just cranky. I haven't had anyone clean for me either, in my adult life, and actually, my SO cleans houses for a couple of people with specific cleaning needs.

I wasn't accusing anyone of envy, which is why I didn't use the word envy. You don't have to be envious of someone to just not quite like something about the way they do things.

But like I said, I am cranky. Please ignore me if you think that's best.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 4:25PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

We have a live-in couple. They clean whenever we want and they clean exactly as we would...they are exclusive to us and clean no one else's house. They also cook and do laundry and windows and groceries and lawn care and garden.

Their names? Mr & Mrs Annie Deighnaugh!


    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:24PM
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Although it is worse to have sand in & by the new WD, even if they used the lower level WD any guest should have cleaned up the sand!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:54PM
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Why not use #4, the quiet neighbor concern. Out of respect for your neighbors, be clear that you will have guests only when you are there. End of story!

This is your home, which you have taken great care to decorate and have it to your liking. Nobody will exceed the boundries you set.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:56PM
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Mtn, you are exceedingly gracious and honest in these threads about your home and life.

I say just drop the bomb. Even if it is "sorry, the house isn't available". I feel like you and your family need a Summer (or four) to build your own memories there without someone else hacking up your cutting board. The wear and tear that eventually is going to happen should come from your kids or DH first. Draw first blood as it were. You have put a lot of heart and soul in the design, you should have some time to enjoy it before anyone else.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:35PM
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All I have to say is that I received a Boos block as a gift. I have not cut on it, and don't plan to! I put a glass dish on top of it, and it holds fruit.....

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 11:24PM
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Bethpen . This is the very best response here!! I love it and wish MTN would take it to heart and do it!

" I say just drop the bomb. Even if it is "sorry, the house isn't available". I feel like you and your family need a Summer (or four) to build your own memories there without someone else hacking up your cutting board. The wear and tear that eventually is going to happen should come from your kids or DH first. Draw first blood as it were. You have put a lot of heart and soul in the design, you should have some time to enjoy it before anyone else."
I'd probably say, ' you know, I just feel very sentimental about this place ....' And then quote Bethpen regarding ' heart and soul, etc. ' Pefect.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 11:51PM
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As a matter of fact, I'm ( thanks in part to to Beth) beginning to sincerely relate here and feeling very ticked. As in, how dare they? Standing by, contributing zero, there on the sidelines, salivating, ready to barge in the moment their relative's vacation home, not theirs, becomes habitable.
Phooey on them ! Say this : "we've decided we want to take a season or two to be in our new home as a family, just us, make it ours. The end.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 12:12AM
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Frankly, I'm appalled by all/most of this; I would never think of asking to stay in anyone's house! I don't want the responsibility for other's things. I very much understand mtn's reservations about leaving people alone in her house. My own things mean a lot to me also and I don't want to lend out my house either. It has nothing to do with how she feels about people. Right on, bethpen.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 2:28AM
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Pal, are you referring to me when you said there is a "disapproval" of Mtn. having someone clean? Not sure where you'd get that assumption. I was just using the cleaning thing as an example because it's called "good manners" to clean after you stay in someone's home.

If guests didn't clean-up before they left, you know Mtn. and anyone else would be livid. I'm talking basic cleaning here.

Mtn., I wouldn't tell anyone to come to your house only when you all are present. That way you'll have guests all the time.

Yes, drop the bomb and just say NO.

BTW, when are you going to post pictures of the house we helped decorate? :)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:21AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I don't have a second home but I do experience much of the annoyance of wanting to be exceedingly gracious and welcoming in my home (while I am here!) and still find family and guests clueless about most things.
Trying to help me clean up the kitchen after a meal is one thing most want to do and do wrong.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:07AM
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I sympathize because I like everything perfect too. I actually hate even wrinkles on the bedspreads, and my eyes are drawn immediately to any offending dust bunny on the floor.

But.........my family. I love those guys so much of course they could stay when they wanted. I would also include three close friends as they are "family" too. I don't think I would like all these visits and it would be a grin and bear it kind of thing. In the end when I go I am sure I will be thinking of my family and reflect on how I treated them in this life. When my BIL passed away unexpectedly I remember with some angst how I was annoyed with him the last time he visited, but am glad I did not show it.

Still it is your house and you have the right to say no and enjoy your house as you like.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:21AM
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I am fairly obsessive about my house but I hope not overly so. One of my teenagers mentioned that our house is more organized than most of her friend's houses.

That being said, I had ELEVEN college kids stay in my house over 4th of July weekend. Six boys and five girls. Kids who legally went to bars every night (with designated drivers) and went to the beach every day. Over the course of three nights I think i picked up one wet towel, rinsed some sand out of the boy's shower and rinsed one grotesque thing out of the boy's bathroom sink.

Eleven slightly inebriated young adults knew how to act in someone else's home There is no excuse for an adult with a family to not know how to behave as a guest. Mtn has every right to control how and when clueless people use her home.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 10:15AM
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Mtn, oooh, that story is even worse repeated! Sorry again!

Pal, I get what you mean. Yes, you're right-- disapproval does not necessarily equate to envy. And, I'll take Cranky Pal over No Pal any day!

Annie, hahaha! We have the same arrangement here!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 10:29AM
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No, Oakley I am not referring to any one person in particular.

One of the things I will say though is that if it is someone's job (or unpaid role if it's a family member) to do a particular task, like cleaning, you may actually be "getting in the way" or messing up the system that is in place.

When I was growing up we had a cleaning lady that came in about 6 times a month, and the extra two days a week were either special projects or ironing, and there was a lot of ironing in our house. Honestly, this woman appreciated every single hour my parents could give her to 1) stay away from her husband and (2) make as much money as she could hide from him--he'd steal anything--so she could divorce him.

Anyway, when my parents had parties and people in, she was often hired extra to keep up on the extra laundry, tidy up the bathrooms and iron clothes for people who traveled in and were staying at the local hotels or whatever.

This was her job, it is what she was *there* for.

One of my friends felt that this was some sort of oppression or something and said she could iron her own dress, she didn't want someone we had "working like a slave" to do it.

They went back and forth rather politely "I'll do it", "No, I'll do it". etc.

Finally the cleaning lady who was really almost like a member of the family asked to talk to me and said:

"Either I iron that dress or it doesn't get ironed. She will just be getting in my way, messing up my schedule, and if she tries to do it I might just break her arm. Get her out of here."

1) she was in the way.
2) she was interfering with the job of someone else
3) she was implying that the job that this woman did was so menial she should be embarrassed to be doing it for someone.

Likewise I had someone at my father's house with me recently and they were told "do not make your bed on Tuesdays, and don't worry about the bathroom, put your wet towel on the edge of the tub.

They made their bed, they hung up their towel, and the cleaned the bathroom (toothpaste on the mirror or something) and *this cleaning person actually said to them:

"Why did you make your bed? I just have to unmake it. Which towel was yours? Some of these were clean and I wasn't going to wash them All. And *Please *Do *Not use my cleaning products!"

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 10:38AM
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We've had a steady stream of overnight and day company since we moved into our beach house six weeks ago, with plenty more company to come this summer. I absolutely love it, but it can be exhausting and overwhelming at times ... especially as we're still trying to get settled. We're traveling this weekend and have friends staying here on their own with some of their family. They were invited to stay as a thank you gift, but still, I understand your concerns!

Sounds like you already decided what to say to those who desire to stay there when you're not present, but here are a couple thoughts:

It's true that all houses have quirks, and I don't see anything wrong with making a long list of those quirks and house rules for those times people are there without you. (Or even for when they're there with you.) You can make the list humorous and light yet thorough and add fun/funny illustrations. We do this for one of our homes that we rent out, and it gets positive feedback. The list is accompanied by info regarding amenities in the house as well as area activities and attractions.

I encourage you to spend the money on professional cleaning after EVERY guest use, even if the house only used for a day by a single guest. I had to switch my thinking on this from "I'm paying $x to clean up after them" to categorizing all cleaning as a part of annual maintenance costs. We built/bought our homes for our pleasure foremost, and it would not be pleasurable for me to walk into a home with dirt, sand, stains, etc. My cleaning people in various locations know my expectations, and they take care of things before I have to. If I have to pay because a guest can't afford it, that is simply a position with which I've been blessed. I have a hunch you feel the same way.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 10:57AM
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Congrats on the new house. Did I miss what you decided about the painting over the stove?

I do like the idea of a book/guide, but they caught me short. And yes, we have always had the cleaning people in at the lakehouse before all guests arrive and after they leave ... but in this particular case, there will still areas being worked on and the cleaning person contacted me and said she didn't know if it made sense to wipe everything down until the workmen were done (which I appreciated). Then there are also complications like Pal mentioned. One guest who stayed there made the bed, but I wondered it they washed the sheets. I would hate for the next guest to be the ones to discover the answer was no, KWIM!?

Edited to add; Thanks again all, for your inputs.
Oakley, I still don't have one room that is totally done,done. A carpet missing here, sink skirt on order there, etc etc. Don't worry, when I am ready the photos will be ad nauseum ... you know me. Queen of oversharing.

This post was edited by mtnrdredux on Wed, Jul 23, 14 at 11:11

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:05AM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

"They made their bed, they hung up their towel, and the cleaned the bathroom (toothpaste on the mirror or something) and *this cleaning person actually said to them:
'Why did you make your bed? I just have to unmake it. Which towel was yours? Some of these were clean and I wasn't going to wash them All. And *Please *Do *Not use my cleaning products!'

Pal, bet that person was mortified and if it were me, I would not darken your doorstep again. Some of us just can't leave a bed unmade or a towel unhung. It is not a big deal to "unmake" a bed to change sheets. I suspect the guest was just trying to be a good guest and left feeling awful. If that were my cleaning person, I would be so embarrassed and I would let him/her know that dressing down guests is not the way we do things here. No matter what was done to make that person feel welcome, your cleaning person undid it all whether the person let on or not. My goal with guests is to make them feel welcome, at home, and as if they are the most wonderful, enjoyable people who ever graced my home.

I am fine with people here who share frustrations and rants and then bite their tongues in real life. Much preferable to the other way around.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:20AM
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So guests have stayed in the house, and what has actually occurred so far is some sand was left around and in the pristine W/D. No other incidents reported, but a lot of potential for things to be damaged. So your relatives probably weren't raised by wolves after all. It seems you will need to walk them through the house and give instructions for most of your things, and that could start to sound picky. Since you sound really annoyed about the sand, I don't see how you will avoid not being a helicopter host.

We have relatives on Puget Sound who built a $1 million+ home ten years ago. We visit and have also house-sitted a few times, and they have a list of what not to do. She also visited us and tore off the labels from my placemats, saying she hates when people leave the labels on.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:30AM
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Mr. Mtnrdredux and I purchased this home as a special retreat for our family, and have put our heart and souls into arranging it for our personal use only this summer. When the time comes to share it with you, we’ll certainly be in touch. But for now, the answer is NO.

Keep chanting that and have it or something similar easy on your lips when people ask to stay. Be firm. Enjoy your space and let the others find their own!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:31AM
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Actually, no, the guest wasn't mortified. And we have been cohabitating for 19 years and has been in the house regularly before and since. :)

The cleaning lady didn't really yell, it was more like an explanation of "why" and since my SO had been told explicitly ahead of time Not to do certain things, I think there was an understanding after that.

And actually I would *never scold a cleaning person, because I think that is the sort of thing that would put them into a subservient position. She's providing a service that is actually kind of doing us a favor, and I think it's also up to the household to be accommodating to her, as well.

Technically my SO was wrong, so I think it was okay for her to explain why. She's a little rough around the edges and she will never have the subtlety of a hostage negotiator, but that's why she cleans houses and isn't out running a major company. In fact, when my sister yelled at the former cleaning lady about something my mother made her apologize in person *and in writing.

The cleaning lady and my SO just had a nice chat at my dad's 90th birthday party. :)
Over the years the people who've worked for my parents have been sort of a part of the family, and sometimes there are family dynamics. At the former cleaning lady's funeral her son mentioned that my family actually treated her much better than her own.

This post was edited by palimpsest on Wed, Jul 23, 14 at 12:07

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 11:57AM
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May flower I do not understand your judgemental attitude towards Mtn. She has done nothing impolite or wrong. It is her house and her right to run it and worry about it in her own way! These are not invited guest,they are people who assume they have a right to use her home at their will and without regard to her belongings and feelings.

What has happened to our society where when someone mentions that the things they have worked hard to own are important enough to be kept nice and hope that others would respect that desire is considered horrible and non caring. Not every house should need to be "family friendly" (boy do I hate that phrase and attitude too) maybe it is time for families to be able to live civilly surrounded by nice items for which they show appropriate respect and care.

This post was edited by roarah on Wed, Jul 23, 14 at 15:06

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 3:00PM
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I'm sorry if it came off as judgmental. I'm just giving her food for thought about how impossible it will be to keep up everything to her high standards and still enjoy the home. I wasn't aware they were uninvited guests. Kind of an oxymoron, isn't it?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 3:44PM
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"May flower I do not understand your judgemental attitude towards Mtn. She has done nothing impolite or wrong."

FWIW, I've had the same confustion--and , yes it does come off as very judgmental.

Not sure how you could have missed the fact that the original question and lengthy discussion deals with people who are asking to stay at a beach house without the owners' being present...that was pretty consistent in the entire conversation.

I just assumed perhaps there is some personal situation or background that is causing you to respond so negatively and may have little to do with what the OP brought up.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 4:51PM
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Just trying to insert a little levity. FWIW, mtn, I think you have a perfect right to do as you wish. And people who invite themselves to your home are thoughtless clods who were raised by wolves (how's that for mixing my metaphors!).

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:28PM
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"Not sure how you could have missed the fact that the original question and lengthy discussion deals with people who are asking to stay at a beach house without the owners' being present...that was pretty consistent in the entire conversation."

Nope, haven't missed anything. I don't think we need 100 something posts to agree that she doesn't need to let people in her home when she's not there. I think she is also fully capable of figuring out how to say no. I am mainly addressing how to balance her needs vs. her guests' and taking the guests' POV. Just for the hell of it, all right?

Since her "uninvited guests" thus far are there with her permission, whether given begrudgingly or not, they are in essence invited guests. So I'll assume for a moment that since they live closer to the house than mtn, the uninvited guests have the key. Someone asked this and didn't get an answer. So maybe they have the key to check on the house when she can't so they feel they might as well have a swim while they're there. Maybe they feel entitled. If she discovered on her arrival to the house that they have been helping themselves to her home without her knowledge, I wouldn't let them chop on my Boos block either.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:58PM
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Thank you to Roarah, Running, et al, and BBSTX, for the very kind words and levity, too.

Anyway, the apron is hilarious. It reminds me of an old brass plaque, rather sturdy and nice, that was attached to the kitchen door of the beachhouse (through which everyone enters). It said something like "Guests make us happy. Some by coming, some by going". The line is funny, but I didn't really want that on my door. It is gone now.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:59PM
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Mtn., I can't wait to see pictures!

Pal, I wasn't talking about cleaning when a housekeeper is already there. I'm talking about cleaning up before a guest leaves the premises. It's just good manners.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 6:23PM
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If the first apron doesn't work and your guests over-stay their welcome, try this one:

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:03PM
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