Eric: Before you reach that certain age, there are things every gay man needs to know. Take notes. This room demonstrates how brutal the results can be if you don’t start learning and applying.

Overhead fixtures in the bedroom? Only when necessary, and only using saturated, color-correcting soft white. Assignment: research 3-point glamour lighting, rimlight with bastard amber and fill with babyass pink.

Do not rely on the blue neon illuminating your collection of undersea cuteness, creepy dolls, extra linens and assorted crap. Especially when that light is bouncing off the bedwall mirror.

Speaking of that, it’s only fair to warn your guests that objects reflected are smaller than they appear. Better yet, run a curtain across it and only open as much as needed. Overnight companions can’t sneak away if you blind them with the sunrise.

Baskets are not an endangered species.

A beach towel? Really? Spend the extra $5 and buy a dedicated skeet blanket. It will also help with your too-perky aqua sheets.
Damn right you should cover your head. By that I mean paint the ceiling.

Displaying electronica as wealth is tacky (see: baskets). There is no reason at all to build the remote control an altar.

I hope you continue to study and learn. There will be a test. It’s called your Golden (or Silver) Years, and they can be a real bear.

Richard: As bonus rooms go, this could be a lot worse.

You see, no one really knows what to do with bonus rooms. Sometimes, we turn them into offices. Sometimes, they’re sad guest bedrooms. But mostly, they’re used for storage, because all those afghans crocheted by our dearly departed Aunt Doris have to go somewhere, and that somewhere damn sure isn’t going to be on a bed.

Using a bonus room for massage seems like a great idea at first. You work long hours at the cubicle farm, and by the end of the week, your arms, legs, and other appendages crave a little oil-based love. You find a twin futon at Goodwill, pick up a few cheap towels, and — poof — you’ve got the perfect place to sprawl out and let your husband/boyfriend/Scruff hookup of questionable means go to town on your deep tissue.

But what works in theory doesn’t always work in practice. Here, the mirror is a smart move, making the space feel larger and brighter than the bleak, light-sucking hole that it truly is. And though I hate rugs on carpet, I’m willing to overlook this one — at least it matches the vaguely oriental lamp. The totes rando tchotchke collection on the far wall, though, is beyond the pale. Either those shelves are meant to display Lalique crystal oyster dishes, or they hold the finest massage oils that Marshall’s has to offer. It can’t be both.

And one other thing: if you’re the kind of guy who likes massages to end happily, for fuck’s sake, keep black lights out of the room. If CNN has taught us nothing else, it’s taught us that.

Richard: Technically speaking, beige is a color. Then again, technically speaking, sweatpants are acceptable attire in casual situations, so fuck “technically speaking”.

The problem with beige is that it’s now 2014, and none of us are building and selling spec houses, where dullness and monotony are de rigeur. So, forget what the assholes on HGTV tell you about creating a neutral backdrop for your tablescape, mancave, or other word they’ve created for things that already exist. Remember: there’s a reason Shelby Eatenton Latcherie never said “Beige is my signature color“. If beige is your signature color, please turn to the person on your right and wake her up, because I guarantee you have put that bitch to sleep.

Even if you didn’t sense all that — even if you’d landed here from Kepler-186f and didn’t know a thing about Motifs of Western Decor — I know in my blackest little heart of hearts that you would take one look at this photo and crave a double espresso. The bedspread decked out in the world’s saddest rainbow of taupe, ecru, beige, and sand; the pillows that magically match the microfiber headboard and the painted wall: this is what the inside of a Xanax looks like.

And FWIW, I was going to give this one a pass, assuming that it was some second-tier W Hotel flophouse on the outskirts of Elizabeth, New Jersey, but then I saw that caricature, and I knew this was someone’s personal living space. When a caricature is the most interesting thing in your bedroom, you’ve got no reason to get out of bed.

Eric: Listen to your dearest daddy or you will get a spanking. And not the good kind. Those gabardine slacks are gabar-done. Disappear them and the obscenity they rode in on.

There are a few solid pieces here to work with. The dresser and clock are not bad, but they’re beaten into submission by the crap surrounding them. Is that a dildo and a beercan hiding amongst all that clutter? I shoulda known you’d know where to hide the toys and the booze. If Uncle William Haines were still alive he would backhand your face. I’ll wait while you google him.

Clean up this mess! How? Figure it out. I’ll get you started:

Those mismatched fabrics cry out like an ungrateful stepchild. Coordinate. Do not try to sneak in those hats and quasi-southwest ’80s fabrics. This ain’t my first time at the rodeo. Tear down that bitch of a wallhanging and put a coat of beige where one ought to be.

And remember, I’m older and gayer and snarkier than you are and I will always win.

Barrett: Far too often, interior designers overlook the obvious when giving clients the fire hazard chic room of their dreams. But the visionary behind this boudoire with the Pepto paint palette learned from the mistakes of clutterfucks past and insisted on the practical addition of fire sprinklers to the architectural plans.

They’re the epitome of function over form in so many ways. Without them, one carelessly discarded cigarette from a victorious checkers match could spell kountry katastrophe.

Due to a lack of indoor plumbing, it’s a fate this heir’s ancestors discovered the hard way. Their framed black-and-white photo serves as a constant reminder that fire safety isn’t just something for anthropomorphic bears wearing ranger hats, but an everyday challenge.

Can fire sprinklers prevent grey-and-white religious cult polyester prom ensembles from igniting yet another raging inferno? In a matter of seconds. Can they keep Ming Dynasty-inspired dollar-store pillows from becoming the accelerant that takes down not just this room but the ‘80s-inspired purple-and-orange sex dungeon one floor below? Indubitably.

Yet most importantly, fire sprinklers shouldn’t have to wait for a four-alarm moment in the spotlight. With a little imagination, the possibilities are endless. But in this particular scenario, they’ll find wonderful purpose to showcase additional potted plants without damaging the ceilings and reducing the resale value any further.

Besides, it’s nice to see that at least something in this room can grow.

Richard: I have a weakness for wood.

I can’t help it. I grew up in the Pine Belt, in a town devoted to timber. If we’d had an official cocktail, dance, or sexual position, it would’ve been called the sawmill. I know that lumber processing is noxious, I know the dangers of deforestation, but something about the sight of real wood makes me all tingly inside.

The problem in this case is, the woods don’t match. The paneling is Masonite. (I know whereof I speak: my hometown is where Masonite got its start. I’d recognize those irregularly sized “slats” and that ridiculous veneer anywhere.) The chest, on the other hand, is actual pine, inexplicably stained to look vaguely like pecan or maybe oak. The nightstand is some Ikea pressboard bullshit with a maple-ish veneer. And I don’t even know what that desk set is pretending to be. It’s the visual equivalent of a four-way vocal battle between Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Patty Smyth, and Martika, all singing Joan Armatrading covers.

The saving grace: the decor. Ignore the two carpets and focus on the nudes (all carefully framed), the monkey lamp, and the piece de resistance, the memento mori floor sculpture, complete with pocketwatch. Unlike other rooms we could name, whoever decorated this boudoir came in with his guns cocked and loaded.


Barrett: Deciding what’s most troubling in this room is difficult.

Is it what lurks between Cushion #2 and Cushion #3? Or that in 2014 there are still American homes without universal remote controls? Is it the fact that the Rooms 2 Go salesperson shafted this family by selling them a sofa and loveseat with wood accents that don’t match the tables? (Bonus points for the abundance of wood curvature on display, though.)

At least there are Birkenstocks handy for navigating the berber carpeting that looks surprisingly clean, but definitely hides bigger secrets based on the state of the hoarder-fantasy kitchen. On the counter I spy spices, a percale sheet set and a teddy bear standing guard over the weekend’s garage sale hauls that the wife is still out collecting with her young daughter (who’s likely selling the sparkly crafts she created while seated at the coffee table). But at least the kitchen island is spotless.

I just want to rub that brass lamp and make a wish on behalf of the lady of the house. She’s lucky enough to have a fella who manscapes and lacks a beer belly, but it’s evident by the smooth-balled snowglobes and knickknacks on that brass-n-glass showcase that much of her spare time is spent daydreaming of far-off worlds where stuffed animals and Hummels live in harmony, oblivious to the naked Sudoku going on back on Earth.

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