Ms. Reid’s site makes overt that which Ms. Morin’s keeps as subtext—that housekeeping is a skill perhaps unmasterable by anyone who hopes to maintain a real life. Ms. Morin presents workarounds that answer questions no one asked (painting scissors with nail polish, for instance, to brighten the workspace), while Ms. Reid confronts the existential chasm that opens when one contemplates the home. Her pictures of inedible quiche fails would never make the pages of Bon Appétit, but failure is all part of the process.
Ms. Reid’s site has seen traffic bumps, she said, tied to major life events—including the announcement of her pregnancy and the birth of her son. A recent post acknowledged the mommy-blogging corner into which she’d painted her site—and the mommy track she’d chosen for herself. “Like many others I know of my generation, I was raised by parents who encouraged me to think that I had all the choices in the world, and all the time in the world to make them,” she wrote. (Her Harvard degree in cognitive neuroscience and decision to pursue acting, then lifestyle blogging, bear this out.)
Needless to say, reality intervened, and the resulting anxiety may help explain Martha’s sudden lack of relevance. Ms. Stewart’s approach presumes a settled manse, a cabinet full of supplies and a house in which one feels a sense of pride. “I love Martha,” said Ms. Kerr, the Hairpin’s Clean Person, noting, however, that “in many ways her approach is kind of a relic of a past time, when people really strove for perfection and to outdo one another. Martha’s whole thing is that she’s so much better than everyone else.”
More than making a new jump rope or decoupaging an end table, the questions that my roommates and I urgently sought to solve were the basic ones. They had criticized me for leaving my bed unmade and my door flung open every day—my room was an unsightly maelstrom of linens. After speaking to Ms. Kerr, my linens are now freshly laundered and tucked in nicely. As for the bigger challenges, we hired a cleaning lady. Our apartment looks perfect.