Wednesday, October 3, 2012

what I'm not doing (in my house)

Because I guess that could be interpreted more broadly.  And if so, the top item on the list would be, "fertility treatment." 


Happily, therefore, this post is about decorating.  (I really may need to start a new blog.)  So while I tinker with cabinet #3 (which, I hope, will be ready for its close-up this weekend), since I don't have pictures of new stuff I am unreasonably pleased with, I will talk about things I am NOT pleased with, and will not be doing.  Because these things are optional, which I mean in the sense that, if you are about to embark on a redecorating project and are debating them, I think that you should ignore the siren-call of pinterest and What Everyone Is Doing Because It's Just So Cool, and not do them

(1) Typography.  If your favorite hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant in the Bronx closed down after you going there since you were five and you scored their hanging sign, you should hang it in your kitchen because it's awesome.  If it's a "subway-style" sign that was never in a subway, or the word "EAT" or "BAKERY" or "KITCHEN" or "FOOD" or anything in that vein, or if you bought it (or could have bought it) from Ballard Designs or Pottery Barn, JUST SAY NO.  Because that is not art.  Or design.  It is decor - barely.  And it is going to go out of style reallyreallyreally fast (so they can sell you something else for $120 that cost $1.20 in materials), and you don't like it because it speaks to your understanding of beauty, you like it because a lot of other people told you you should.  STOP IT. 

(2) Any form of fake vegetation.  If you would not want real moss in your house, why would you want fake moss?  If you would want real moss in your house, why would you have fake moss instead?  The same goes for driftwood.  You know I'm right. 

(3) Shells you didn't collect.  Unless you live walking distance from the ocean, you do not need to decorate with shells.  Especially starfish.  If you do live walking distance from the ocean (you lucky dog), you probably don't need to drive the point home any further with the shells, do you?  If you personally collected the shells at a meaningful place and on a meaningful occasion, you may have one (1) container of them.  They don't get to leave the container.  Do not strew them about your bathroom.  They will collect dust - and wadded-up bits of dental floss, and caked-on toothpaste spit.  If you're lucky

(4) Empty picture frames.  This idea was actually pretty edgy and brilliant.  But you weren't the person who came up with it.  At this point, you're not the 10,000th person who's done it.  Since the against-the-grain, I'm-taking-a-new-look-at-what-it-means-to-be-decorative spirit doesn't exist when you copied the idea from a DIY decor blogger who copied it from a part-time professional decorator/mommyblogger who copied it from a mainstream decor magazine who copied it from an indie photographer's spread of an artist's flat in SoHo (ten years ago), do not do this.  Come up with something YOU came up with.  That will be much better, even if you're not convinced it's "cool." 

(5) All white walls.  This is not adventure.  It is the refusal to have any adventure at all - and I do not care how colorful your #$%& pillows are, or whether you can pronounce the name of the country whence the fabric came.  PICK A COLOR.  And by the way, beige is not a color.  Taupe and tan are not really colors either.  Gray could be OK, but don't get carried away. 

(6) Oil-rubbed bronze.  Ten years ago, this did not exist.  Now, we have an abbreviation for it, and no one blinks when they see, "And I got out my *favorite* ORB spray paint and..."  What does that tell you about how things will be ten years from now?  Do you want to change all the hardware in your house every ten years?  Why would you want to do that? 

(7) Eerie little jars with small things in them that don't do anything, aren't worth anything, and don't taste good.  First, you bought a console.  Then, you bought some glass jar things.  Then, you bought "filler" to put in them.  Now they are covering the entire console.  Do you see the problem?  Do you???  Put your keys on the console.  And a picture of your husband.  NO SHELLS. 

(8) Things that are "French."  Notice I did not say, "Things that are French."  The French have fabulous architecture, cuisine, and culture (though of course they're not the only ones).  Does a French cookware brand make the best pots and utensils?  If you're a decent cook (or you're motivated to learn), go ahead and buy them.  Find a fabulous French antique on vacation, or (improbably) in an American antique shop, and it won't cost you an internal organ?  Buy it, use it, and love it.  Will a pattern created by a French textile house go beautifully with your decor?  Sure, make it into drapes.  But if it has an antique glaze and says "Paris," GET RID OF IT.  There's incorporating the finer points of French aesthetics and cuisine (in that uniquely American way), and then there's commercializing their most superficial aspects, usually inaccurately, and always made in China.  You're an American.  Have some pride!  And stop buying stuff you're not even planning to use! 

(9) Anything "distressed."  Distress is not a positive attribute.  Hitting your furniture with a chain, or using sandpaper to hurt rather than to heal, is bad stewardship as well as bad taste.  If you like the look of something weathered and worn, wear it in.  Or, buy a real antique that has been a working piece all its life.  Antiques are beautiful.  "Antiqued" is the devil.  And I am not buying your "duck egg blue" 20-inch side table for $200 on craigslist.  I can paint, too.  And then I varnish without abusing the paint job first

(10) If you use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on a piece 100 years old or more that does not have irreparable surface damage, I cannot be friends with you.  Because friends don't let friends do terrible things like that, and I can't restrain you through the internet.  Look at yourself!  With that can of overpriced, temporarily-trendy paint and that self-satisfied smile!  Have you thought about what you've done?! 


  1. Love love love love love this. Especially the "french" crap. Except you didnt say crap, I did. Can I also add things with a big fat "Chef" with a swarthy mustache on them?? No one wants to see that. and it is far from appetizing.

  2. love all your "not in my house" things!!! Haha :) FWIW, none of these things are in my house either. especially fake plants. ;-)

  3. Lol! I don't think I have any of these things, so we can still be friends. :) Is mocha an acceptable wall color? I agree with TCIE. No chubby mustached chefs. Unless it's my husband. In which case I'd need to have a serious conversation with him about why he has a mustache at all.

  4. Agreed. Most especially on the empty frames. Seriously, people, frames are meant to display something beautiful. And the chalkboard paint. Folks are obsessed with chalkboard paint. I think they just think science could have never brought us here and are in awe and so they slather it on everything.

    1. YES!!!! I was referring to chalk paint, but how could I forget chalkboard paint?! I'm not UNIVERSALLY opposed to chalkboard paint, as I can see it having some (limited) utility; rather, my rule: (1) if you would not have wanted a chalkboard there before you had heard of chalkboard paint, you do not need one now; and, (2) it is acceptable to substitute chalkboard-painted surfaces (such as labels) for more typical, non-chalkboard-type surfaces (such as printed labels) only if chalkboard surfaces are more useful and appropriate than the non-chalkboard alternative. You may NOT use chalkboard items despite lower utility just because you want to put chalkboard somewhere.

      I think maybe you should have a list, too :).

  5. I love this post. I really laughed out loud. And while I do admit I have an empty frame hanging on my wall, that isn't really empty because I hung a plate inside, I know what you mean. I just loved the frame because a friend broke the mirror inside and the frame was cool all by itself.

    This cracked me up. My decorating pet peeve is blue bathrooms with a water/beach theme. IT IS SAD. Does a bathtub make people think of the ocean? Uh, not.