Our house is starting to come together. Even the parlor is nearly finished. As more and more furnishings, picture frames, window treatments and so forth come in, there is more and more to clean. Just to give you some context, our home is a fully restored one-and-a-half story farmhouse built originally in 1910. It has all original beadboard walls and black gum flooring. The restoration was complete and meticulous. All modern wiring, cable and computer networking, a great room, a deck, full basement with garage, etc. The place made my wife cry when she first saw it. It looks like something that would be featured in Southern Living magazine, and our intention is to keep it that way.
This morning, I interviewed a maid. During the nickel tour, she kept remarking about how beautiful everything is, and how well we’ve kept it up. I purposefully had left the floors unbuffed, the carpets unvacuumed, the windows unwashed, and a couple of other things to see whether she would notice them. I even coaxed her, asking her specifically what she saw in this or that room that might need to be done. Same stock answer every time. I dust. I sweep. I clean. I do general cleaning.
Well, this house needs more than just general cleaning. The hardwood floors look like bowling alley lanes. They don’t just reflect light; they reflect objects. They’re mirror shiny. They have to be waxed with a paste and buffed. She had never seen a buffer before. I showed her ours. I don’t do that, she said. She doesn’t clean windows. She doesn’t clean inside appliances (like the microwave, for instance.) She doesn’t polish leather furniture or wood tables. (She only dusts them.)
So, I asked her what she had to offer that would be above and beyond what I already do, making it worthwhile to hire her services. I mean, if all she does is run a feather duster over the tops of everything, this place will look like hell in a few weeks. Not gonna happen. I want every ceramic figurine picked up, dusted (with a cloth, not a feather duster), cleaned, polished, and returned exactly where it came from. I want wood to shine. I want leather to gleam. I want the glass in the chandeliers to sparkle. She said, “I just clean real good.”
Does anyone else have experience with these sorts of services? If so, how do you approach explaining what you’re looking for? How do you find someone who can appreciate the toil and money that went into restoring a house like this? Someone who understands that it needs to be kept in mint condition? Or am I asking too much, and need to just go ahead and set aside Saturdays for buffing and polishing?