Barrett: It’s hard to look at this photo and not immediately notice two very big things.
First, apparently mini blind manufacturers are, inexplicably, still in business. Second, that kale colored ruffle valance should never be the focal point of any room. No matter what Lillian Vernon says.
But then I took time to conduct further inspection, after which I discovered much, much more than those two massive, in-your-face offenders. The natural pine trim, however dreadful, at least breaks up the monotony of the lily-white-on-milk-white palette that could easily blind guests on bright days if the blinds were cracked.
Yet the majority of the room’s design violations take place on the sofa, which showcases how marriages can go horribly wrong. Here, stripes, florals and polyester sailboat seascape throws join in unholy matrimony. Hopefully what appears to be an Ernest Goes to Camp drawstring backpack isn’t part of the everyday motif.
Let’s just hope the photographer takes some time between shots to Febreeze between the sofa cushions. Especially the two closest to the door.
Richard: Do you know what drives me crazy about rooms like this? (Warning: this will reveal just how anal I am.)
It’s not the artwork. I mean, yes, the juxtaposition of the vaguely primitivist nude on the right with the large, Thomas Kinkade-y woodland scene (probably entitled “King of the Valley” or “The Forest’s Royal Family” or “Prince Staggerton and His Freaky, Funky Fawns”) is jarring. But at least there’s a theme going on, which is mostly “nature”. Or “naturism”.
It’s not the wallpaper, which is so aggressively neutral, it’s like being mugged in a wheat field by a Sandy Duncan impersonator, wielding a fistful of Triscuits. Plus, my mother had this exact same wallpaper put up in the house that we lived in between my 4th and 9th grade years, so, you know: memories, like the unnecessarily moulded corners of my hallway.
No, it’s the fact that in hanging said artwork upon said papered walls, the decorator didn’t use picture moulding and wire. Instead, s/he punched right through the wallpaper with a couple of lousy nails — possibly several, if there wasn’t a studfinder handy — meaning that s/he is now stuck with this particular arrangement until s/he decides to repaper the place, because patching holes in wallpaper is not for the faint of heart.
And goddess forbid s/he should move out before selling the place. Take down these paintings, and the house will look like the set of The Golden Girls: Sarajevo, 1993. Don’t people think of resale value anymore?
David: One chair begets another chair begets another chair. We’ve no proper ‘problems’ with this room save for a crisis of indecision as to where to park our asses.
High props for bringing back the rich bohemian application of rug-on-rug layering. And classy, expensive rugs at that! Mixing the Southwest American Indian pattern with the Persian creates a beguiling textural transitional effect.
Wellness Check Alert though when we’re forced to consider safe ambulation through the dwelling. One catch, trip or snag with a toe and, well, consider the law of physics. This probably explains the plethora of chairs: There’s always a spot to make a safe landing. Wise call!
Eric: The holidays have a way of sneaking up on you. Suddenly you’re feeling surrounded, maybe even invaded.
It’s no secret that I do not care for theme décor. I don’t like it when the room looks like it came out of a box, especially when it’s going back in right after the Feast of the Epiphany. Christmas, shistmas.
This room is done in a style we in the know refer to as Rich Old Lady. Think Mendl, Parish, Maugham. At least here the holiday touches are not overpowering. A bow here, a bough there, a goblet, a cocktail napkin…
It has not progressed to the level of cloying Kinkade/Radko nightmare we started to dread as soon as Independence Day passed and the winter celebration season began.
Say a prayer of thanks to Great-Aunt Hortensia for the room’s restraint. Elegant ol’ bitch, she was. Would she be aghast that callers are being entertained in the drawing room and not the front parlor, or would she just wonder to what do all those remotes filling her lead crystal sleigh go?
At least she still has a sense of humor. Check out the back-wall trompe’. Guessing where she would throw those limes is my favorite thing to do in this room.
Except for putting the holiday back into its very small box, that is.
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Richard: The Men’s Task Force at the First Baptist Church of Antimacassar, Alabama had truly outdone themselves. An hour before the Valentine’s Ball, they stepped back and surveyed their work. Everything was ready to go.
It hadn’t been easy. Just getting the ball approved by the church’s Events Committee had been a fearsome undertaking. Vera Mae Shoemake insisted that a respectable house of worship like First Baptist had no business whatsoever hosting a party to commemorate a pagan holiday like Valentine’s Day. “You mark my words, Raynell!”, she shouted, poking a newly French tipped index finger into the barrel chest of the Task Force chairman. “The man upstairs ain’t gonna be pleased with none of these here Satanic shenanigans! You hear me?” It was a rhetorical question, but she paused for effect anyway. Then, she spun on the heel of her chunky, navy blue pumps and stormed out of the committee meeting, a cloud of White Rain and White Shoulders, en route to the Coca-Cola machine.
But Raynell and the men persevered. They filled the church basement with the best furniture that Goodwill had to offer. (Some of it was a titch scratched, but it was nothing that a few of Betty Boutwell’s old flannel nightgowns couldn’t cover up.) They scoured their kids’ bedrooms for whimsical lamps. (It was a Valentine’s Ball, after all: mood lighting was a must.) And to top it all off, they asked members of the church chorus to donate artwork for a sprawling silent auction. (Organ-master Buzz Meriwether had been especially generous.)
With only an hour to go before guests were due to arrive, the men added an elegant, baby blue throw blanket for the sofa — which, in fairness, had seen better days, but it was comfortable. And Charles Chisolm brought in a charming Valentine’s Day garland that his great-niece had made in reform school. They hung it at a jaunty angle and collapsed on the sofa from exhaustion.
Unfortunately for the Men’s Task Force, Vera Mae Shoemake wasn’t done with them yet. She and the half-dozen other members of the Old Testament Study Group had formed a picket line outside the entrance to the basement, waving signs that read, “The journey to hell begins down these stairs!” and “Valentine’s Day is made for VD!” No one could get in –or out — all night.
And that is the story of the first and last Valentine’s Ball at the First Baptist Church of Antimacassar, Alabama.