The Hidden Dishwasher & the Pursuit of Perfection

yellow dishwasher disguised as cabinet

The official religion of Oak Park is home design and renovation. It is practiced in one degree or another by almost everyone who lives here.

A couple of weeks ago I went on one of Oak Park’s annual pilgrimages, “The Kitchen Walk.” The Kitchen Walk is a fundraiser for a local not-for-profit. It consists of, walking around and looking at how other people have redone their kitchens … for several hours … on a Saturday afternoon … and paying big money to do so. Hey, I come from a religion that circumcises and wears beanies, so who am I to judge a different faith?

I noticed something very strange at the Kitchen Walk (in addition to the fact that I was actually on it), the hidden dishwasher. As you can see from the picture above, the dishwasher is disguised as a cabinet. This idea has been bothering me for weeks. I get wanting a smooth, minimalist look in your kitchen. Since having kids I too crave a clear counter, a calm, orderly look. I’d give anything to have a refrigerator not covered in magnets and drawings. But, hiding the dishwasher?

Why do these people want to pretend that they don’t have a dishwasher? Why do they want to pretend that their kitchen isn’t actually a kitchen but a “kitchen”? What’s next, a bathroom with a hidden toilet? It reminds me of a roommate my husband used to have. She arranged cookbooks in their kitchen in such a way that you couldn’t cook in the kitchen. She also refused to allow his magazines in the living room because they messed up the aesthetic. She may have also been the one that kicked him because his parents called too often when he had a cold. This is the one thing I do not fault her for, I’ve considered it myself.

I think the hidden dishwasher bothers me so much because it seems to be a new form of competitive perfectionism. There have always been women who refuse to leave their house without their hair and makeup  “done.” There have always been women who have to bake the best brownies, have the cutest husband, raise the best children, or outshine the other moms at the PTA. Women who present themselves as perfect.

Until recently, these perfectionists could only present their “perfect life” to their own social circle.  Women who knew that the perfect ones weren’t actually perfect, but flawed and insecure like the rest of us, possibly more so. When you live in a community with people you learn their flaws and strengths. Maybe Ms Perfect is a pain in the ass, but she still brought you a meal when your dad died. Maybe the perfect mom was back to pre baby weight in two months, but you know her husband is a jerk.

Today though, thanks to the Internet, we are all bombarded with perfection 24 hours a day. From famous perfectionists like Martha and Gwyneth to less famous ones like “The Pioneer Woman” and your local mommy blogger with her perfect manicure and perfectly decorated birthday cakes. You don’t know these women and their faults , so you start to believe that maybe they are perfect.

I see it in the wedding space, with blog post after blog post of perfectly designed and styled wedding shoots that are supposedly DIY affairs. Recently there’s even been a “scandal” that some of these “real wedding posts” aren’t actually real weddings, but “inspirational” shoots. (Hey, we work with weddings, there’s not a lot of scandal, we take it where we can get it).

I think this relentless pursuit of the perfect house, the perfect kids, the perfect party, the perfect wedding is driving us all perfectly crazy. It’s why we have Bridezillas, women who have been pressured into believing that this day must be PERFECT and if it isn’t, their marriage will suck. It’s why we have Momzillas who believe that they and their children must be perfect. It’s why we now hide our dishwashers.

It’s not enough to have a great kitchen now you have to pretend that you don’t eat in it, too. Personally, I’m tired of all the perfection.  There’s no rest because even the people you do know now hide their imperfections behind carefully constructed Facebook posts. A friend called me one day to say, “Have you seen X’s Facebook? I’m exhausted just reading about her outfit.” I couldn’t agree more.

So, if I redo my kitchen I won’t be hiding my dishwasher, in fact I may not even wash my dishes.

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4 Responses to The Hidden Dishwasher & the Pursuit of Perfection

  1. Carrie says:

    I feel like I’m always playing the devil’s advocate on your blog … but here goes. You know I’m ANYTHING but a perfectionist. My home would only qualify for the Disaster Walk. And yet, if I could afford it, I can see the appeal of the hidden dishwasher, for the same reason I used to keep our TV in a cabinet with closed doors. I like a home that looks more vintage, without technology on display. I like the appearance of wood better than glossy metal. Except of course for my KitchenAid mixer, which is a thing of beauty in itself and I would never hide away.

    I may not be able to afford the hidden dishwasher, but I do have a “hidden fridge” — behind all that artwork which in my asthethic (if you could call it that!) is much prettier than that huge metal box.

    • To me that’s kind of the same point, Carrie. If you have a dishwasher but want to pretend that you don’t because it isn’t “vintage” or “natural” it’s still a fake representation of what your life is like. It’s still going after a “perfect” aesthetic, just a different one. To me that’s different than putting your TV in a cabinet. Putting the TV in a cabinet removes it from the center of the room and the center of attention. The dishwasher isn’t on display, it’s just part of the appliances.

  2. Emily says:

    I’m not sure that the covered dishwashervis an attempt to hide the fact that you have a dishwasher any more than those Sub-Zero grudges with cabinet exteriors are an attempt to hide the fridge. No one is denying that they have a dishwasher; they just want it to blend in.

    But as to your larger point, the problem is not with the people who project a perfect image, be they celebrities or your neighbors. The problem is with the receiver if she interprets it as pressure also to be perfect. You know well that I prefer to be nicely dressed and made up in public. That does not mean I do so to make others feel sloppy or to imply that they should do the same. I do what I am comfortable with; others should as well. It’s like Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

  3. Pingback: The Pursuit of Imperfection | Advice from Marta

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