I just turned in a review of Barbara Flanagan's Smart Home to Culture11.com. I will post it when it runs. In essence, Flanagan lists the 98 objects she believes are necessary for a well-appointed abode. Why teaspoons, but not salad forks, make the list can certainly provide fodder for debate.
More broadly, though, Flanagan has her finger on the cultural pulse. Lots of people are looking for ways to pare down, scale back, and focus only on things or ideas that matter. The whole Core Competency Parent concept is about focusing more time on fewer things -- the things that actually bring joy and meaning to our lives. For most working parents, these are our careers (if we're in the right job), nurturing our family members (kids + spouse), health that comes from adequate sleep and exercise, and a social or community life that brings us joy.
Unfortunately, some of Flanagan's objects would quickly steal time away from these things. She believes in linen napkins, not paper towels. If you've got children, this soon creates mountains of laundry. She doesn't like non-stick pans because of the potential environmental problems of their coatings, but for me, any time not spent doing dishes is work, family, or leisure time gained. It is true that fewer objects take less time to manage, but why, why, do two of these objects need to be an iron and an ironing board? Either don't wear clothes that wrinkle or send them out. Life is too short, she notes, to bother with separate salad forks, but I certainly believe -- given that I'm not in the professional cleaning business -- that life is also too short to iron.