Be Your Own Butler: Helpful Hints For The Rest Of Us

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The June 2011 issue of Elle Decor includes a charming- if slightly surreal- article about butlers. Though I will probably never use the advice on how to become a butler (too clumsy) or what to look for when hiring a butler (too broke: butlers make $75,000-$300,000!), there were some good down-and-dirty cleaning tips…

Making A Modern Butler” features an interview with Chris Ely, founder of Estate Management Studies. In his long career- including a stint at Buckingham Palace- Ely has learned a few things, and started teaching classes because “he says he wants to share what he’s learned from ’30 years of my mistakes’.” You have to admit, that’s a pretty cute thing for a butler to say.

The full list of tips he gave Elle Decor is here, and here are a few of my favorites:

  • Microfiber cloths for dusting They’re great for washing windows & mirrors as well.

  • Mr. Clean Magic Erasers for removing marks from walls I love those, too, but find them a bit scary and mystifying. Right?

  • Avoid chemical cleaners (other than the Magic Eraser, but that’s magic) I occasionally, guiltily, wonder if my all-natural cleaning products are really getting the job done, so this is nice to hear. If vinegar is good enough for Buckingham Palace, it’s good enough for me.

  • A good butler has “‘a healthy amount’ of obsessive-compulsive disorder” This one hit me hard. At work, I spend my days doing my best to make things perfect. Minute, delicate adjustments, constant vigilance. It’s very satisfying to make things nice and neat and even beautiful- but then I come home and just drop things everywhere and make a big mess. It’s time to put that even-a-bit-more-than-a healthy amount of obsessive-compulsive disorder to use at home.

Finally, I leave you with this bit of weekend fantasy from Dorothy Cann Hamilton, owner of The French Culinary Institute, where Ely teaches: “The minute you come in to your country house on a Friday, he [your butler] doesn’t come to you with all the problems because really what he should be coming to you with is a martini.” Teach yourself how to make your favorite cocktail perfectly, break out the Magic Eraser, and live the dream.

Image: From the PBS Series Downton Abbey, photograph by Itv/Rex/Rex Usa, via Elle Decor