Barrett: Those orbs! Those glorious orbs! Yes, I’ve been a sucker for topiaries ever since my first Edward Scissorhands wet dream. But in this room, they’re giving me nightmares.

As are many things.

If Granny knew what was going on in here she’d be rolling over in her red-leather-lined coffin and longing for days when Maple Leaf Rag emanated from her piano instead of what must surely be the theme from The Exorcist on a constant loop.

But sadly she has no control of time and space from her new plane of existence. If she did, she’d surely make sure that the ornate room divider actually divided a room. It’s not called a Hide The Fake Ficus device for a reason.

At least her stock holdings in Backwater Stunts provided enough dividends to ensure that lively gatherings will take place here for years to come.

So long as guests always enter through the back door.

Richard: As a kid, I wanted to wear glasses. I had a chunky build and I enjoyed playing sports, but I never felt comfortable with the football and baseball teams, letting it all hang out in the group showers after practice. I wanted a mask, something to hide behind. More importantly, I wanted to be thought of as the smart kid who secretly ruled the world from his TRS-80 — the kid who could fuck your shit right up with one carefree keystroke.

Of course, now that I have to wear glasses, my attitude has changed. I still appreciate them as accessories, but myopia isn’t nearly as fun as I thought it’d be. You can’t see with that shit.

Worse, myopia leads to pics like this. Sure, everything in the foreground looks shipshape and watertight, but step beyond the half-assembled massage table, and things go south fast.

Ordinarily, I’d comment on the bland microfiber sectional, with its rip up the backside and weird, furry coverlet, like something designed as a setpiece for Game of Thrones but discarded because it’d be way too hard to keep clean with all those bodily fluids spurting about.

I’d also poke fun at the conversational arrangement of overstuffed armchairs, clearly intended for people who prefer to watch happier endings than the ones provided by George R.R. Martin. Or maybe the figurine in the background, which better be a goddamn lamp of Peter Dinklage. Or, you know, just Peter Dinklage.

But no, I can’t see any of that stuff because of all the crap piled on top of it. Chances are, the photographer can’t either.

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…




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