In a perfect house, the dog wouldn't shed, the front door wouldn't stick and the knob wouldn't keep falling off our daughter's bedroom door.

Small inconveniences, indeed.

But the other day, as I pushed the retractable cord button on the hair dryer and saw the cord neatly disappear – zippppp – I was thankful for the little things that do make life easier.

A lamp on a timer that automatically turns on and off every day. A hook by the back door that holds dog leashes. A coat tree that doesn't tip over even when multiple jackets and scarves are flung on it.

I appreciate our automatic garage-door opener on stormy days, the dimmers on many of our lights and the big stack of white terry dishcloths plentiful enough to get us through the week until the next laundry day.

A few others (including some I'm working on):

• Inexpensive wineglasses that fit in the dishwasher so we don't have to wash them by hand. Sure, there are stemless styles out there but for those of us who prefer them stemmed, it's nice to have some that fit on the top dishwasher shelf – even if it takes some rearranging among their fellow juice glasses.

• Fitted sheets with corners that don't pop off the mattress during the night. We have some that do, and some that don't.

• A laundry chute to the basement with access on both the first and second floors. This is for dirty clothes only, please.

• A reliable ice-maker in the freezer.

• Enough hangers in the coat closet (and remembering to restock them before company arrives).

• Baking dishes that clean easily. I might add that the ones that are a pain to scrub often are the sizes we need to use most often.

• Simple white serving pieces that can be used for everything.

• A big, durable table in the kitchen that can take plenty of wear and tear – homework sessions, cookie-frosting, art projects, card games, note-writing, hanging out – oh, yes, and eating. No crying over spilled milk or worrying about scratches.

• Lids that fit securely on the containers.

• An absorbent mat at the back door that soaks up at least some of the boot slop.

• Reusable grocery bags in the trunk when you need them.

• A dishwasher that has already been emptied when you go to do it.

• A pad and pen by every phone that won't wander off.

• Finally, an upright vacuum cleaner that actually fits in the small back-hall closet – even if it requires a little kick before the door can be closed.

Having it in such a convenient location makes it so easy to retrieve when it's time to vacuum up the dog hair.