The Living Room Scale

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I recently finished reading Class (1992). It’s a witty commentary about social status in the U.S. as told through the eyes of American historian Paul Fussell. Not surprisingly, my favorite part was the “Living Room Scale.” Oh, dare I say that it still applies today. Of course, I took it to see how I fared. Take a try for yourself. It might even make you laugh.

Begin with a score of 100. For each of the following in your living room (or those of friends or acquaintances) add or subtract points as indicated. Then ascertain social class according to the table at the end.

Hardwood floors (add 4)

Parquet floor (add 8)

Stone floor (add 4)

Vinyl floor (subtract 6)

Wall-to-wall carpet (add 2)

Working fireplace (add 4)

New Oriental rug or carpet (subtract 2 – each)

Worn Oriental rug or carpet (add 5 – each)

Threadbare rug or carpet (add 8 – each)

Ceiling ten feet high, or higher (add 6)

Original paintings by internationally recognized practitioners (add 8 – each)

Original drawings or prints by internationally recognized practitioners (add 5 – each)

Reproductions of any Picasso painting, print or anything (subtract 2 – each)

Original paintings, drawings, or prints by family members ( subtract 4 – each)

Windows curtained, rods and draw cords (add 5)

Windows curtained, no rods or draw cords (add 2)

Genuine Tiffany lamp (add 3)

Reproduction Tiffany lamp (subtract 4)

Any work of art depicting cowboys (subtract 3)

‘Professional’ oil portrait of any member of the household (subtract 3)

Any display of ‘collectibles’ (subtract 4)

Transparent plastic covers on furniture (subtract 6)

Furniture upholstered with any metallic threads (subtract 3)

Cellophane on any lampshade (subtract 4)

No ashtrays (subtract 2)

Refrigerator, washing machine, or clothes dryer in living room (subtract 6)

Motorcycle kept in living room (subtract 10)

Periodicals visible, laid out flat:

National Enquirer (subtract 6)

Popular Mechanics (subtract 5)

Reader’s Digest (subtract 3)

National Geographic (subtract 2)

Smithsonian (subtract 1)

Scientific American (subtract 1)

New Yorker (add 1)

Town and Country (add 2)

New York Review of Books (add 5)

Times Literary Supplement – London (add 5)

Paris Match (add 6)

Hudson Review (add 8)

Each family photograph – black and white (subtract 2)

Each family photograph – color (subtract 3)

Each family photograph in sterling-silver frame (add 3)

Potted citrus tree with midget fruit growing (add 8)

Potted palm tree (add 5)

Bowling-ball carrier (subtract 6)

Fishbowl or aquarium (subtract 4)

Fringe on any upholstered furniture (subtract 4)

Identifying Naugahyde aping anything customarily made of leather (subtract 3)

Wooden Venetian blinds (subtract 2)

Metal Venetian blinds (subtract 4)

Tabletop obelisk of marble, glass, etc. (add 9)

No periodicals visible (subtract 5)

Fewer than five pictures on walls (subtract 5)

Each piece of furniture over 50 years old (add 2)

Bookcase(s) partially full of books (add 5)

Overflow books stacked on floor, chairs, etc. (add 6)

Hutch bookcase “wall system” displaying no books (subtract 4)

Wall unit with built-in TV (subtract 4)

On coffee table, container of matchbooks from funny or anomalous places (add 1)

Works of sculpture – original and not made by householder/family member (add 4 – each)

Works of sculpture made householder/family member (subtract 5 -each)

Every item alluding specifically to the UK (add 1)

Any item alluding, even remotely, to Tutankhamen (subtract 4)

Each framed certificate, diploma or testimonial (subtract 2)

Each ‘laminated’ ditto (subtract 3)

Each item with a ‘tortoiseshell’ finish, if only made of Formica (add 1)

Each ‘Eames Chair’ (subtract 2)

Anything displaying the name or initials of anyone in the household (subtract 4)

Curved moldings visible anywhere in the room (add 5)

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245 and above (Upper Class)

185 – 244 (Upper Middle)

100 – 184 (Middle)

50 – 99 (High Prole)

Below 50 (Mid or Low Prole)

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