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?
Barrett: It’s hard to look at this photo and not immediately notice two very big things.
First, apparently mini blind manufacturers are, inexplicably, still in business. Second, that kale colored ruffle valance should never be the focal point of any room. No matter what Lillian Vernon says.
But then I took time to conduct further inspection, after which I discovered much, much more than those two massive, in-your-face offenders. The natural pine trim, however dreadful, at least breaks up the monotony of the lily-white-on-milk-white palette that could easily blind guests on bright days if the blinds were cracked.
Yet the majority of the room’s design violations take place on the sofa, which showcases how marriages can go horribly wrong. Here, stripes, florals and polyester sailboat seascape throws join in unholy matrimony. Hopefully what appears to be an Ernest Goes to Camp drawstring backpack isn’t part of the everyday motif.
Let’s just hope the photographer takes some time between shots to Febreeze between the sofa cushions. Especially the two closest to the door.
Richard: Do you know what drives me crazy about rooms like this? (Warning: this will reveal just how anal I am.)
It’s not the artwork. I mean, yes, the juxtaposition of the vaguely primitivist nude on the right with the large, Thomas Kinkade-y woodland scene (probably entitled “King of the Valley” or “The Forest’s Royal Family” or “Prince Staggerton and His Freaky, Funky Fawns”) is jarring. But at least there’s a theme going on, which is mostly “nature”. Or “naturism”.
It’s not the wallpaper, which is so aggressively neutral, it’s like being mugged in a wheat field by a Sandy Duncan impersonator, wielding a fistful of Triscuits. Plus, my mother had this exact same wallpaper put up in the house that we lived in between my 4th and 9th grade years, so, you know: memories, like the unnecessarily moulded corners of my hallway.
No, it’s the fact that in hanging said artwork upon said papered walls, the decorator didn’t use picture moulding and wire. Instead, s/he punched right through the wallpaper with a couple of lousy nails — possibly several, if there wasn’t a studfinder handy — meaning that s/he is now stuck with this particular arrangement until s/he decides to repaper the place, because patching holes in wallpaper is not for the faint of heart.
And goddess forbid s/he should move out before selling the place. Take down these paintings, and the house will look like the set of The Golden Girls: Sarajevo, 1993. Don’t people think of resale value anymore?
David: One chair begets another chair begets another chair. We’ve no proper ‘problems’ with this room save for a crisis of indecision as to where to park our asses.
High props for bringing back the rich bohemian application of rug-on-rug layering. And classy, expensive rugs at that! Mixing the Southwest American Indian pattern with the Persian creates a beguiling textural transitional effect.
Wellness Check Alert though when we’re forced to consider safe ambulation through the dwelling. One catch, trip or snag with a toe and, well, consider the law of physics. This probably explains the plethora of chairs: There’s always a spot to make a safe landing. Wise call!