Eric: Like those who join in our festivities, the trio of tableaux making up the Lurid Digs Holiday XXXtravaganza are simultaneously highbrow and low-, naughty and nice, sacred and profane. A Christmas miracle? I’ll be the judge of that.
Dreck the halls? Done.
If you’re gonna do seasonal décor, you must first clear out all the other seasons. If the room is bursting at the seams, your jingle bells won’t be able to breathe. Observing everything means nothing gets noticed. Nothing except the fact that your house looks like Party City exploded.
That neatly wraps up our first two celebrants. As for our third reveler, his room perfectly represents the mixed message this time of year has become. Whose Christmas is it, anyway? The cheap sentimentalist’s, the reindeer and snowman crowd’s, or the competitive glitzer’s?
Simply put, you can’t do over-the-top gay and finish it off with a kitschy cute treeskirt. That’s like dusting off your vintage Bob Mackie and pairing it with flipflops. It simply isn’t done, because it gives children the wrong idea of what this time of year is all about. Winning.
As for the tree itself, I’m not sure if I’d put flawlessly gift-bagged presents ‘neath it or zip it up the back and wear it to Winter Cotillion.
Personally, I can’t wait to strip all this down and get ready for Mardi Gras season to begin.
Richard: Aesop said that familiarity breeds contempt. This room proves him right: its accumulation of blunders quietly seethe at one another, like feuding New Jersey housewives standing in line for communion or frappuccinos.
It was conceived as a basic, beige-box apartment — nothing fancy, nothing you’d want to feature in Architectural Digest, but then again, most of the homes in AD look like they can barely support human life, so fuck them gently with a chainsaw.
Then, things were added, the seeds of discord were sown. A sad door with faux-brass hardware. Baseboards cut down in the prime of their lives before they could reach a reasonable height. An ungainly window unit — no doubt necessary, because anyone building apartments this cheap isn’t likely to budget for central a/c, though you’d think she might at least pony up for a conveniently placed outlet or two.
But the worst was yet to come: floor-length curtains hung two inches too low. I have nothing against the idea of placing long curtains over short windows to create a sense of height and drama. But unless you’re living on the set of The Hunger or in a Bonnie Tyler video, please don’t let them touch the ground. Yegads.
As for the competing animal-print-throw-blankets-as-area-rugs, I’ll let them pass. They add an element of whimsy, and if there’s one thing beige needs, it’s some variety now and then.
Richard: There are two possibilities here:
A. La Quinta is now doing theme rooms — this one being called “I Dream of Jeanne Moos”. Perhaps the hotel chain is trying to capture the lucrative Catskills honeymoon market, or maybe it’s jockeying to be the location for the long-awaited sequel to Aria (working title: Aria 2: Continental Breakfast & Fox News).
B. This is the set of a very kinky version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, sponsored by Pier One, Chico’s, and Lady Evangeline, the fortune-teller with offices conveniently located behind Porky’s BBQ, on the I-10 service road.
The problem isn’t exactly the decor. I mean, yes, the circa-1997, tone-on-tone bedspread is atrocious — and that’s coming from someone who’s crazy for monochrome — but in the right context, I suppose even that could work.
No, the problem is that everything feels as if it came from a different part of the design universe, got sucked through a black hole, and landed here, willy-nilly. It’s like a very bland episode of Big Brother — which is to say, any episode of Big Brother — but instead of douchebags and douchebaguettes, the contestants are comforters and weird-ass colonial-esque headboards.
This is why I don’t watch CBS, people.
Richard: At first glance, you might think that there’s nothing wrong with this room. “What a lovely armoire!”, you’d say, “What beautiful plants! What a bold color on that wall!”
But look closer. Do people really live here? Here is evidence to the contrary:
1. That armoire is perfect. If you’ve ever dealt with veneer furniture, you know that’s some crazy ass shit. Even the tiniest pieces in the quietest corners of the softest-spoken actuaries emerge from their crates dinged up. How is it that this giant, allegedly real-world thing hasn’t been scuffed to hell and back?
2. The plants are perfect. Also, they’re super generic. (Seriously, there’s no need for pothus, ever.) And there’s no mat underneath that spathiphyllum. Assuming it’s real, someone has a lot of money to burn on carpet, or they have a very weak understanding of horticulture. And gravity.
3. Everything else is perfect. There are no stains on the carpet or the recliner. There’s not the slightest bit of texture on that flat plum wall, which is, frankly, the sort of color that a C-level designer would use on a half-assed home improvement project on HGTV. And that light? That track light that’s above and out of frame? Either someone went to a lot of trouble to get their boudoir pic just right, or this is a new ad campaign for Levitz Furniture.
God, I hope Levitz and its globe lamps are coming back.
Eric: I would title this specimen: Halfway to Doublewide. And since it’s Thanksgiving week, let’s start with (and instantly abandon) a food metaphor: Which is better, overdone or undercooked?
What we have here is a half-baked room.
You could almost put a decent trailer together with these pieces. Almost. I like the chair-and-a-half recliners. Sometimes those extra few inches come in handy. Even though I’m from the home of red clay mud, I hate the brick. Paint that shit.
I honestly don’t mind the purple wall (but it had better be accent only). It looks kinda pretty with the green and the blue. What does it need to be complete? Yellow elsewhere. That would complement the wall and bridge the plants and flowerpot. And I’m not talking buttercream, either. ’70s burnt.
Basically, the work here is halfway done. The upholstered pieces are bought, the repro casegoods have been delivered, the neutrals are in place, the accent colors ready to begin.
What’s left? Only design, pattern, accessories, finishings, individuality, taste…
Barrett: After finishing his painting, “Vendedora de Flores,” I bet Alfredo Ramos Martinez hoped and prayed that one day it would be appreciated by generations of art lovers.
Instead, it ended up in this room.
Though all signs point directly to this one piece of art from the Father of Mexican Modernism as the inspiration for the entire scheme, it seems that things fell apart quickly. This room’s designer tried to riff on the floral theme with tributes to the painting evidenced behind the sofa and in a ceramic vase on the laminated particle board shelf in the entryway.
The linoleum floor might be practical in tropical climates or regions where electricity is too scarce to run a vacuum cleaner frequently, but practicality rarely equals good taste. Ditto dream catcher/Jesus-fish mobiles hanging from crucifix-themed hat racks positioned too close to the ceiling.
Points should be awarded, however, for selecting quality furniture with very sturdy construction. Because when arms double as seats, the number of guests you can have into your home for Bible Studies or Art Appreciation Summits expands by two for every sofa, love seat or chair in the room. Now that’s practical.
Richard: I love pink. It’s the color of rosebuds, mimosa blossoms, and my dogs’ pudgy bellies. And as Diana Vreeland famously said, pink is the navy blue of India. (Which is a great quote, if nothing else.)
I especially love pink in the bathroom — all shades of it. Sure, it can feel a little grandmotherly, but isn’t grandma what you need when you’re hunched over the toilet, sick with the flu, vomiting up everything you’ve ever eaten in your life? Or when you’re a teenager, experiencing the first joys of masturbation underneath a pulsing showerhead? Grandma makes everything warmer and fuzzier.
Here, we have many manifestations of pink done right: the humble bathmat is schoolgirl simplicity; the vaguely ombré shower curtain is totally on-trend; and the deep mauve walls are pink’s sophisticated apotheosis.
1. The wreath. I don’t get wreaths. I suppose they’re okay when they’re dangling in windows, but perched on doors, where they always seem on the verge of falling off? Count me out. And when they’re stuck on the backs of doors, hung on coat hooks, overlapping a perfectly good mirror? Double out.
2. The mirrors. Mirrors are magnificent, especially in tight little spaces. I just wish these three matched. And honestly, I wish that medicine cabinet were somewhere else. Like, say, somewhere it could be used.
3. That furniture — specifically the étagere and the towel rack. (At least I think it’s a towel rack. Hard to tell.) They remind me of the house my family lived in during the late 1970s, which was a gloomy, windowless, ranch-style cave littered with alleged antiques “curated” by my mother. Fifty Shades of Oak, it should’ve been called. At least this owner had the good sense to paint the pieces a nice contemporary white.
Did I mention I love pink?