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Design Experts

Richard writes the infamous queer blog Sturtle.com. His turn-ons include wainscoting, ZZ Top, and sharp-dressed men. Turn-offs: sectionals, pleated trousers, and pina coladas.

David K. publishes Nightcharm, the only gay porn site ever to be featured on Oprah and regularly compared to Martha Stewart Living.

Eric B. does not Facebook, Tweet or blog. He uses the internet to cruise for sex, like god intended. He has leopard print in every room of his house, save one. And he does not apologize

Heather Corinna is the undisputed diva of online erotica for chicks. She publishes Scarleteen.com and is a sex guru to thousands of teenagers.

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Richard: Minimalism is the handjob of the design world. On paper, it seems pretty simple. In practice, not so much.

That's because minimalism is a two-step process. Step #1: keep things to a minimum. Which is, like, duh, obviously, but step #2 is far more complicated: make sure the things you've kept are exquisite.

Few things in this room are exquisite.

Case in point: those prints of a Ford Mustang and F1 racecar. If they were five times bigger--and framed, please--they might do the trick, but I doubt it. Commercial photos of automobiles are best suited for the interiors of gas stations, garages, and garbage cans.

I'm no fan of the dining set, either. I could perhaps stomach the lines of the chairs and the oak finish, even though the ensemble screams "Best table for Sunday brunch at the Holiday Inn on Route 9". The upholstery, however, is milquetoast madness--padded like an 80s prom dress, and what bland fuckery is that print? From here, it looks like the world's least interesting hieroglyphs about Tutankhamun's final 401k contributions.

Last but not least: can we discuss the tablescape? I mean, I'm sure our host has prepared a sumptuous, romantic buffet, but did he have to use those boner-killing candles? Is there any shade of blue less appetizing than "country"? A nude table would've been just fine.

David: We're all living through a wildly shifting set of extremes when it comes to residential spaces. To own a home or to rent? Or to live under a freeway underpass?

Just last week I saw a Craigslist post from some douchebag who was renting his fucking van out as a living space -- for three hundred dollars a month -- to whatever poor bastard was willing to curl up into a ball on a makeshift mattress while remaining dead quiet through the night so the neighbors would have no idea that a human being had fallen so low in life as to be renting out a van parked on a residential street as a living space. (Where did the 'tenant' shit and piss?) This, by the way, is what's now known as Extreme Renting. How fucked up is that?

I'm blabbing about all of this while considering our latest Lurid Digs submission because, well, I'm thinking maybe these guys have also fallen on tighter times and are now living with one or the other's mother and they've found a way to optimize what little downtime they might get while mom is out shopping at the Mall of America by using a makeshift dungeon -- in her kitchen.

A quickly assembled sling set up in a shared space is the least likely spot anyone would ever consider something sexually sinister going down. Don't you think? I mean, as soon as mom's out the door -- POW -- out comes a ladder, some chains, the leather hammock -- and there ya go. Should anyone ever ask about the gigantic eyehooks bolted to the ceiling you could just tell them it's for a cauldron that your mom likes to cook with when she's feeding more than eight guests at a time. Why the hell not? Challenging times demand creative responses.

I do worry about hygiene, though. I mean this is an area where food is prepared. And, god help the other members of the household if this is also a room where folks eat. So, to these gentlemen, I'd recommend plastic drop cloths. They are cheap at Home Depot and, well, when mom does discover what those giant eyehooks bolted to the ceiling are really for she'll rest easy knowing that her son was so considerate. Mothers are very liberated nowadays, dontcha know. No mom wants her son living in a van down by the river.

Eric: Longtime readers will recognize that what I'm about to say, I've said before. If you're a new Digger, take notes. Otherwise, you might get sick of me repeating myself: As gay men, we have a moral obligation to teach each other and the rest of the world about flattering colors around which to be nude. These walls ain't it. They're giving me a sick headache, as the granny who originally furnished this room would have said.

I know that beige walls give many of you gay vertigo, so my suggestion is that you take a few deep breaths and go for a soft putty tone.

I've gone on and on about squooshy furniture and vinyl. The quick fix is a semi-fitted slipcover. Wide wale gold corduroy, I think. Much easier on the eyes and buttocks. The missing skeet blanket should be a mossy green microfiber. Speaking of the couch, why is it pushed into the middle of the room, choking the space like that? Push it back a bit, let everything breathe.

Once the couch is back against the wall, gather up all those small framed pieces and group them together behind it. I actually like the interplay between the (poorly hung) mirror, chest, and rug. But they're too close together, so the effect is blurred. That window shawl? No.

This could be a nice, genteel withdrawing room, but right now it looks like Wong Foo Abbey, and that makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

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Richard: Last week, I received an email that said (I paraphrase): "You spend a lot of time writing about the worst interiors, but could you give us some tips on good design?" A fair question, indeed.

Here's the answer, in one exquisite photograph.

There's absolutely nothing in this room that I would change. (Well, four things, but they're minor. Mostly.)

The mix of natural and track-lighting is bewitching. The artwork is a stimulating combination of personal memorabilia and thrift-store treasures, with that hexagonally framed landscape of Neverland -- the jewel in the crown. The stuffed animals dangling from their headboard gallows are a macabre delight. The tri-fold vanity mirror hung from the wall is an unexpected choice -- and it's perfect for those intimate moments when you're on all fours or for rehearsing that big, important Powerpoint presentation.

But obviously, the pièce de résistance is that ode to Burning Man, lovingly crafted from the finest plywood, then painted to match the veneer of the bed. The pivoting arms are a brilliant touch, and the collection of phalli -- no doubt, mementos from the creator's world travels -- are magnificently displayed. It's probably not what the shop class instructor envisioned, but I'm sure she'd love it if she hadn't died of shock.

As for the things that need tweaking, the maroon of the venetian blinds is entirely on-point, but it looks like they might need replacing. The comforter is a little too 80s for my personal tastes. (I survived them, I don't need to snuggle with them.) And I understand that fitting a king size can be difficult in older houses, but seeing bed frames shoved against walls makes the housekeeper in me cringe.

Oh, and one more thing. NO. FUCKING. DREAMCATCHERS. EVER.

David: Or maybe this post should be titled: Can You See Me Now?. I know -- you're right, it's true, there aren't a lot of visual clues to critique in this photo, but my attention is pulled to the old optometrist's eye chart on the wall -- which might explain why the occupant is having such a hard time discerning between a mobile device and a dick.

Or maybe it's just that the new culture of 'app dating' has him swiping through faces, looking for his next hookup while actively engaged with the guy he'd just procured. Kids today! They have the attention spans of a gnat.

There might be a tad too much Ikea going down in this room, the sheets and comforter point in that direction -- but it's hard to tell what exactly is behind that wild mop of hair. If I could part it down the middle I might be able to confirm my suspicion that a lot of home-assembled items occupy this space. Just a hutch. I mean hunch.

The portrait of Jesus over the closet gives the room a fun Catholic Kitsch vibe. And that spirit is echoed in what looks to be a collection of Madonna's (extended mix) record covers, placed over another closet entrance.

In the final analysis, I have to give this room a pass. We'll file it under "A" for effort. (Or is that an "E"?)