Richard: The difference between an art gallery and the average home comes down to flat surfaces. You want a room to be pretty and witty and completely non-functional? Take out all the shelves and tables. You want to live there? You’ll need a place to sit and work and eat and display your gewgaws.

As handy as flat surfaces can be, though, they have a few drawbacks:

1. They collect dust, so they’re always in need of a good cleaning.
2. They’re clutter magnets, and since that clutter is right out in the open, it makes rooms look messy.
3. Some people want to put bigger items on shelves than should rightly be there.

This room is a perfect example of all that. The precariously placed boombox makes me especially nervous. Who needs that kind of thing anymore? I’d rather see a nice nut dish there, myself. Somebody ought to send in a Goodwill SWAT team to haul most of that crap away before those shelves collapse and give Ms. Himmelfarb downstairs the shock of her life.

Richard: I come from a long line of hunters and fishers. To this day, we cut holidays dinners short so my brothers have time to sit in the blinds for a few hours before the sun goes down. They’ve tried to recruit me to their team, but like that horned-up sorority girl who had a crush on me in college, I never took the bait.

So, as someone who has a deep-seated loathing for all things hunting-related — from the bloody, senseless cruelty of it all, to the mind-numbing dullness of waiting around, to the God-and-Country country music that invariably accompanies the ordeal (I would rather have silence than Lee Greenwood, please) — I should hate this room. And yet, I don’t.

Yeah, sure, that bed needs a dust ruffle STAT. And that pressboard furniture looks like it’s one PBR spill away from collapsing into a heap of wet sawdust. And for fuck’s sake, what have we told you people about overhead lighting? Still, the whole thing is clean and organized and color-coordinated. (As long as you don’t mind blue.)

That said, I’ll never understand why anyone would want so many dead things in a bedroom. For the sake of overnight guests, I hope it’s not a metaphor.


Eric: Our dear mother, Carlton Varney, once warned us about what happens when your décor goes over-feminine, mixing too many lace curtains and doilies with too much wicker and Kountry Kutesy. He called it The Dollhouse Look.

I believe that the obverse has happened here. Obviously.

When you adhere slavishly to a played-out and stereotypically archetypically masculine theme, when you buy everything during one stop in one section of one store, this is what happens. I call it Bachelor Pod, and it makes me weep.

Can’t quite get a handle on what’s up here. The sci-fi floor-lamp is so glaringly out of place that it’s keeping me from ruminatin’ on anything else. Reckon I dunno what that metal curlycue thing is, or why it isn’t on the short wall, or what in blazes that 1×12 is doing, or why the oversized furniture is circled close like it is, or why everything is tobackky brown….

I’m afraid to sit a spell, round up my thoughts, but I do know that the first thing to do is weed out all of the “cute” “art.”

Now that the walls are bare, paint at least a few of them. Bring some definition to this wasteland. A nice faded blue, maybe. If you use a whiskbroom and do two coats (one vertical, one horizontal), you’ve approximated denim. Here it would work, and that opens up a whole new frontier.


Richard:The life of a musician is hard — but then, you knew that. Harder still is the life of a real estate agent in 2010. Seriously, that shit blows.

But Steven is no ordinary real estate agent: he’s arguably the best Fort Lauderdale has to offer. As proof, check this shady, Masonite-paneled abode, constructed in the late 1970s for New Age wunderkind, Yanni. Sadly, Yanni moved on long ago, but to make sure that househunters know the provenance of the windowless split-level ranch with off-street parking and beach view, Steven commissioned a portrait of Yanni’s longtime bunkmate, Linda Evans. “Buy this”, Steven whispers as shoppers stand quietly before the painting, “and you’re buying a piece of entertainment history”. (But not the portrait, because the portrait stays with him.)

When Steven paid for the portrait — $500, acrylic on board, signed on verso — little did he know what a great investment he was making. As it turns out, the house is haunted, and no owner has lived there for more than a year. Which means Steven gets to dust off the portrait every few months and make another 6%. Cha-ching.

Today, however, Linda Evans isn’t enough. (I never thought I’d write those words.) In this market, Steven has to go the extra mile to make his customers happy — though more often than not, it’s just an inch or six. At least the commission gives him something to think about besides the shoddy ceiling paint job.

Richard: Sweden is known for many things, including:

• Greta Garbo
• Pacemakers
• Lutfisk

Sweden is also known for Ikea and H&M, which many people consider signs of the End Times, but you know what? That shit sells. And as long as you don’t get it wet, your pants/sundress/Elkkefarjarrr bedroom suite will look damn good.

But despite all the stylish crap available in Sweden, here we are in the living room of an Arbesko shipping associate, surrounded by furniture that looks like it might’ve been pulled from the set of a short-lived Scandinavian sitcom ripoff of Working Girl. That is an educated guess based on the color of the armchair at left, because that shade of mauve has only been seen on milk cartons since it went missing in 1988.

Frankly, it looks like someone went shopping for a new flat-pack dinette set, threw away the MDF table and chairs, and kept the cardboard boxes. Which only goes to show: even Swedes can’t understand those assembly instructions. At least the pussies in the room will have something to play with.

Eric: I fear that the reign of gay taste is ending, brought down by the heterosexist idea that function trumps form, that the feeling of kicking back is more important than the appearance of that back upon which one kicks.

The demise of our stylish supremacy can be summed up in one phrase: velour-covered squooshy furniture.

If I squint and hit myself upside the head, I can almost picture the orange couch and blue chair kinda working together in the same room. Not a room I’d get naked in, of course, even if they had the skeet blankets missing here.

Yes, yes, yes, I know I know I KNOW already that these aesthetic monstrosities are soooooo comfortable and that they last forever. I’ve had my recliner since La-Z-Boy was just a brand name and not a cultural aspiration.
I also know that it wouldn’t kill you to buy a goddamn slipcover two shades lighter than the walls, thereby beginning a deliberately casual feel, reducing the visual bulk and keeping the room from feeling overstuffed.
And yes, they do make them for recliners. So there.

Laminate KD storage pieces, entertainment centers and so on are a sometimes necessary evil. Kindest thing to do is a soft drybrushing in a light, neutral tone, letting some of the fake woodgrain show through. Doesn’t take long, helps with the cottage feel our gay magic is pulling out of the stale air, and shows mercy to your guests who want to look at anything other than their own reversed images.

Gays who survive the coming schlockopalypse will, I pray, instinctively remember that mirrors are important for what they reflect. Give that mega wardrobe the bedside seat it deserves. Nobody needs to see that sad little torchere twice. Once is surely enough..

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