vacation homes to give your conscience a rash.

mention “my summer house” and go straight to the douchebag jar. do not pass GO. do not collect $200. bring your wallet – no, not that quilted lady dior shit – and don’t get mugged on the way.

lisa perry / elle decor / dec 2013

despite the massive wealth it takes to buy and furnish homes featured in your run-of-the-mill interiors magazine, i ogle them with a healthy dose of self-delusion. extreme social inequality? nah, everyone needs a comfy place to put up their feet, brew the coffee, spit the toothpaste. that the feet are landing on a $1,900 platner coffee table is just a slight bonus.

but a summer home featured in a magazine…?

lisa perry / elle decor / dec 2013

lisa perry / elle decor / dec 2013

a pristine white canvas on which to showcase your damien hirst paintings while the kids drag sand across the shiny terrazzo floors for six weeks a year…?

lisa perry / elle decor / dec 2013

lisa perry / elle decor / dec 2013

it’s spectacular and it makes my stomach hurt.

i can applaud a summer house feature as a rare curiosity, but the frequency of these spreads boasting oceanside second homes is giving me an itch.

tonight, i’ll be daydreaming about an ocean breeze on the walk past the saxophone street artist warbling the theme to the godfather while the detroit river wind cuts our faces like ice. i might toss him some change. he’s probably saving up for that platner coffee table.


the house-shaped lovechild of your SERENITY NOW and LIFE’S A BEACH office mugs.

for all the atiya-style jibber jabber on city life, a room like this makes my steely resolve crack to pieces.

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

the ocean breeze tickles your eyelashes while you lie around playing candy crush saga.  #nobigdeal

i don’t know who you are, kelly behun, but i will find the construction drawings of your hamptons home and tape them to my husband’s face.

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

note the staircase such as one might find in the greek isles or whilst ascending to God.

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

much like in ferngully, a dozen earthy textures coexist within a balanced ecosystem.  a woodland gnome might pop out from behind the white marble island and hop onto a handstool at any moment. #nbd

each space grabs you by your lapels and screams “i am perfect” into your mouth.  calmingly.

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

i have spent long moments staring at the photos of the house, and i am inspired every time to think “ah, crap.  i should’ve married mark zuckerberg while i had the chance.”

kelly behun / elle decor / jul-aug 2013

like mountains ringing the aspen home, natural features takes this spectacular house into the realms of therapeutic fantasy  (…followed by greedy madness.)

time to stop looking at it before i’m driven to facebook message zuckerberg.

arrested degeneres

ellen degeneres / elle decor / may 2013

been snuggling with the netflix app for days.  (at my couch.  not the pergola.)

for every frame that made it to the gallery wall this week, i rewarded myself with a hit of arrested development.

my place

ok two hits.

portia de rossi, maybe bluth, mother of maeby, gay woman playing straight wife to gay man, awe-inducing comedian of jealousy-inducing haircut and dubious nose job… what was i saying?

she lives on a phat horse ranch with spouse ellen.

ellen degeneres / elle decor / may 2013

the leather.  the RUG.

pause for a moment; note the rich caramel body and curvy weathered arms of the chairs.  that faded green antique rug adds a diffusion of color and pattern, just slips itself into a critical role in the composition without announcement.  how can i be falling so hard for a piece that missed my notice entirely at first viewing?

consider that the last bit of decor tchotch to seduce me was a vase that looks more striking than it would feel if someone were to smash you over the head with it.

abigail turin / architectural digest / april 2013

ellen.  i thought i couldn’t like you any more than i already do.

de rossi and degeneres / elle decor / may 2013

ellen did all the decor for eight buildings on the property.

ellen degeneres / elle decor / may 2013

the wood.  the ART.

ellen degeneres / elle decor / may 2013

a horse lives in that one.  a HORSE.

ellen degeneres / elle decor / may 2013

didn’t believe me, did you?  her name is maeby.

ellen degeneres / elle decor / may 2013

i want to moonwalk to work in my shiny converse sneakers.

anyone else have trouble recognizing portia this week?  a blonde with long wiglike hair does not lindsay bluth make.

still, we’ll give her credit for falling in love with a bona fide design geek.

decor that may cause you to choke on your grape

first, swallow your grape.

haynes and roberts / elle decor / june 2013


watching american idol from under your andy warhol

contemporary art is for galleries.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

oops.  i mean, contemporary art is for your house.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

yeah…  the kind of house where they shoot ralph lauren commercials.  the kind of house where they don’t wear white after labor day.  the kind of house where they think ‘sweet caroline’ is a great song for the dance floor at a wedding.  what do you expect to see inside?  oil portraits?  antique china cabinets?  plaids and mallards?

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

think again.

joe nahem schooled me with his eight-month redo of the connecticut home of allison and warren kanders. these guys collect contemporary art like you collect hours watching reality tv.

instead of turning a house into a sterile museum, nahem turned their collection into a personalized home.

no smooth ice-white MoMA walls at these digs.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

look at the blast of wall art against an antique indian rug.  i am all over that bizniss.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

contemporary art mounted on wood walls?  chairs upholstered in faux-bois?  dude didn’t think outside the box, he took a hammer to it.

joe nahem / architectural digest / june 2013

their art is giving me sweat bubbles of jealousy on my t-zone.

conventional wisdom had me thinking that these pieces need a gallery-like home.  i may not share the nahem/kanders design taste, but now i understand how to style a home for my future arsenal of contemporary art.

just do whatever the hell i want.

from coffee to cocktails (your home, not your outfit)

so the other day i was bumming around my living room in the 2 pm glare, eyeballing how the walls might look in ultra pure white.  quick mental math!  can i paint everything and replace all my furniture for $50?

don’t judge me.  i made syed promise not to judge me before telling him that i wanted to paint our living room white.  he paused for a second, then took on his fiercest “stop being an unreasonable female” face…  the one he’s aimed at me ohh maybe twice since we met in 2004.

ok.  simmering down.

i named my blog after a paint color, for chrissake.  why would i want to deface a cocoon so carefully tuned to comfort us after work?  am i a tween on an abc afterschool special or some shit?  i define cool, not the guy in tats passing me a cigarette.

still, i’m curious why dim, moody, soothing spaces have fallen out of popular favor lately.

dark walls do sneak into magazines despite the ongoing white room orgy in interiors photography.  why the general shortage?  because they obviously don’t photograph with the ba-BAM of their counterparts.

abigail turin / architectural digest / april 2013

it’s like biting into a watermelon with your whole face.

…not something i’d do in a blizzard.  i wonder what this crisp white space looks like at night.  do light fixtures give the walls a dingy, yellowish bleh?  hmm.

conventional wisdom and the limitations of camera technology play to the strengths of white.  interiors photography must occur in maximum daylight.  don’t even consider the alternative, just deal.  this law might as well be etched on a tablet delivered by moses.  thou shalt and whatnot.

this room is already stunning in daylight:

jenna lyons / domino best rooms / spring 2012

by night, it will stop traffic.  spectacular light fixture + extensive architectural detailing = boom.

i start with the exception.  you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

it is left to us to apply our brain’s instagram (brainstagram?) nighttime filter to these spaces that photograph just a tad awkwardly in the daylight.  observe:

casper vissers / elle decor / jan 2013

not blown away by the daytime shot?  fast-forward to night:  white high contrast furniture to define the space.  dark walls receding to visual infinity.  blazing fire.  voluptuous chandelier.  win win win.

(note the checkerboard table.)

try another one:

fisher weisman / architectural digest / april 2013

your retinas are stimulated but not totally pleased with what they’re seeing, amiright?  the daylight against all these textural dark surfaces reads harsh.  i want to desert the house for the sunlit yard beckoning through those patio doors.  this room was born for the night.

strange to say that about a home office, but here we go:

brandi and mikkelsen / lonny magazine / dec 2012

call this a contemporary take on a gentleman cave, good for mallard displaying and pipe puffing.

ok let’s be honest – this room is preposterous in 2013.  it’s too dark for a productive workday and too technologically backwards for evening.  not sure why it exists.  add a chaise lounger and a couple floor lamps, and i might buy the story.

this room is so similar to mine, my subconscious has already moved in:

matthew patrick smyth / elle decor / dec 2012

a low rectangular lamp, a few flickering candles on the tray, a distant light reflecting in the mirror… yeah pretty sure if i wiggle my toes, you’ll see me sitting there just off to the right.

this bedroom is a no-brainer:

tamzin greenhill / elle decor / march 2013

perfection.  next.

more daytime harshness with the promise of a gorgeous night:

domino small spaces / spring 2013

jankety.  but in dim light under a lit blue star, the muted versions of all those colors will pool together cohesively.

and now back to where we started.

my place

subtract the sun.  mute the colors.  add flickering bursts of candle light, sparkle, and reflection.  don’t see it?  stop by some night for a cup of chai.

until cameras learn to capture what the human eye already knows, we’ve got to read between the lines in pretty pictures.  look past the magazine editors.  turn down the cigarette.  aren’t you, like, twenty-eight or something?

happiness hit her like a bullet in the back

oh, flo. for three years now, i have spent every thursday belting out your poetry to the inside of my civic on a weekly drive across the state to site meetings.

florence welch / vogue / may 2013

the may 2013 vogue graces us with a feature on florence welch’s new house in london. girl’s tastes be crazy. you know this already if you’ve had the pleasure of watching florence and the machine in concert or have seen footage of florence strolling down the red carpet.

true to form, her house showcases little explosions of victorian opulance, english grannydom, vintage orphanhood.

welch and benson / vogue / may 2013

welch and benson / vogue / may 2013

compare these photos of her place to the blinding white spaces that are trending these days. there are no illusions of living rooms flooded with daylight here. her home is dark and english. cozy, dark and english.

when was the last time you saw a daytime interiors shoot with the lamps on?

welch and benson / vogue / may 2013

i first heard of florence on npr in 2010, when i tuned in to melissa block interviewing a softspoken british woman who described her art with intellectual calmness before grabbing a drum and unleashing her lyric, her voice.

her home completes the story.

i am still smitten.

checkerboard vindication

this page out of the may 2013 elle decor gave me a chuckle:

remember my rant about the new chevron?

mark jacobs must be snorting fairy dust.  everyone with pupils and a soul wants a piece of this guy.

all these months later, i’m still not satisfied with the availability of mod checkerboard in interiors.  elle decor scraped the barrel and came up with… a shot glass.

step it up, designers.  we need you.

home office tips to enabling workaholism

been getting intimate with the new home office, four to sixteen hours a day.

harrowing work weeks help me realize why modern day commercial offices are bright, sleek, and colorful, and why your home office should reflect that aesthetic for maximum depression-avoidance.

note this collection of home work spaces i stored away as inspiration from the feb/march 2013 issue of rue magazine.

this is most pleasing to me:

liliedahl and silacci / rue magazine / feb-march 2013

i imagine a pulitzer-prize winning body of short stories, perhaps olive kitteridge, emerging from a leisurely few years spent chewing my pencils at this desk.  so romantic.

also a death wish for an engineer with a deadline.

this is funky and modern:

anthony gianacakos / rue magazine / feb-march 2013

a little cramped, though.  i imagine staring happily at this vignette from a couch eight feet away rather than wanting to sit at the chair with my laptop.

this one wins:

erin hiemstra / rue magazine / feb-march 2013

it’s a skoch too curvy, too furry for my taste.  BUT all the critical requirements are met:

1.  wide, deep work surface

2.  floating desk

3.  oodles of light

so far, my office passes the 16-hour test.  once the daybed is finished, it’ll pass the 24-hour test.

hmm.  see you in a few decades at my retirement party.

an interiors kool-aid drinking buddy

met myself today.

the march/april rue magazine features ellie somerville of luxe magazine, an editor whose brain i share.

what i see in these pages is my home if i had redone it from scratch in 2012 rather than 2007.  (and if i were as talented as a paid pro.)

excerpts read like things i’d say in my blog:

once settled, ellie made swift work of furnishing the apartment… “stores like west elm, ikea, crate and barrel, and z gallerie made this process easier and were great affordable starting points.”

ellie somerville / rue magazine / march-april 2013

floored that an interior design magazine editor would admit to this.

unless you have been cryogenically frozen since 1981, you will recognize the ikea LACK tv stand.  just marginally less obvious is the CB2 coffee table.

there’s the subtle animal hide, eons more current than my contemporary floral rug which is about as hip as VH1:

my place

excuse the terrible photography; i’m hoping an SLR is in my future.

feeling in step with the patterns on her cushions:

ellie somerville / rue magazine / march-april 2013

her color story leans mauve and mine dives into blue, but threads overlap.

my place


ellie somerville / rue magazine / march-april 2013

that, my friends, is an ikea kivik sofa.  shut up.

in the chair and the mirror above the couch is a light tone raw wood finish i’ve been pulling teeth to introduce into my living/dining room.  if only i hadn’t committed so strongly to dark wood finishes!  *shaking fist at sky*

some sad attempts to remedy this include purchasing this west elm coffee table, which will inevitably be cheaper than a reclaimed wood piece, during the next massive sale.

west elm

and stripping one of my occasional chairs despite its art deco silhouette.

don’t hate, ok?  sanding it down is a work in progress.  there must be an eighth inch of glossy black paint on this thing.

i also threw a mango wood vase on the dining table.  once all the pieces are in place, it’ll come together like the austrian lodge (well…theoretically).

my place

note the white + crystal lighting here.  ellie uses the same concept in the form of a lamp in her living room.

after taking into account that our trends are a couple years out of sync, my approach has been remarkably similar to hers.  happy thoughts.

rue blurbs below reveal some things we live by.  you should too, then join us for my imaginary weekly brunch with her.

convenience wasn’t the only upside to using reasonably priced furniture and decor; the freedom to experiment was another perk, and a deliberate one at that.  “as i go on my own design journey, i can practice with scale, color, and materials without making costly mistakes.  not everything is perfect, but i’m ok with that.  this is my little design laboratory, and things are always changing.”


listening to a typical sunday in ellie’s life only drives her point home.  “i get the newspaper and sit on the sofa with my feet propped up, surrounded by my dogs.  i have coffee, and there’s beautiful natural light streaming in – that’s the moment i feel most at home.  i’m comfortable, i’m happy, i’m at peace.”

yes.  except the part about the dogs.

“anyone who’s interested in design never feels like a space is truly ever done,” ellie says. 

“i’m learning as i go, and i’m enjoying it.  it’s fun.  this has really felt like a home to me.”

brain sharing.