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I'm not here.

I mean, not at home, that is.

I am with JJ and 3 other girls at a lovely little home in the Russian River Valley in northern CA. My fiance's dad bought the place 6 years ago and he completely rebuilt it. Wrap-around porch, view of vineyards, lovely outside desck and patio with fireplace, salvaged wood floors that he put in upstairs, gorgeous ebonized hardwoods downstairs. Ugh. He's so industrious it makes me weep at what little we have done at our home. He's amazing. He even made a bunch of the furniture in here. Crazy.

I'll try to upload photos when I am back. Have a good weekend everyone. I'll be sure to have a glass of wine for each any every one of you.

Home Ec

I'm 31. I am about to get married to a guy who has a son who is 13. I have been with the man who is my fiance for 6 years (7? I can't even keep track now.)

I was having dinner recently with my friend Tracy and she asked, innocently, if I got along with the kid. (Yes.) She asked if that was always the case (yes and no).

I took that as my opening to do what I do, which is spread the gospel of realism as it relates to 30-something relationships.

It was never easy. I met someone who already had a life, had already had a wife. Someone who already had a kid.

I supposed not really wanting a child of my own (so far) helped in some way. At least there wasn't that weird jealousy like "let have our OWN family" which can, I find, be both a genuine want for some people entering into a blended family, and also, at times, a desperate strategy for laying down some kind of territorialism in the new relationship. At any rate, it's not a dynamic we had to fight.

But we had other battles.

The most sitcom-like part is that he was still best friends with the twin sister of his ex-wife (did you catch that?) and her husband. So when it started to get serious, I had not only the pleasure of meeting his really beautiful blond, gregarious, smart, high-achieving ex-wife, I got to become friends with her IDENTICAL TWIN. Yes, twin. Staring at the ex. Even when she's not there. Totally awesome.

The worst part about that kind of situation is that is that you anticipate the natural order of adversity guiding your emotions, actions, biases. You think you get to have an enemy. But then, in my case, you realize: the enemy is not so bad. You don't learn this in school; it's not the chapter after "hemming pants" in Home Ec, although maybe it should be.

Let me tell you: that really fucks with how you think you're going to function in a step-world.

There were bumps. No need to go into that here. But the amazing part is how not bumpy it is now.

We have his son half the time. The ex-wife lives just about 5 blocks away. The twin sister of the ex-wife lives 2 blocks away. All the cousins are friends. I love all the kids. I love the adults, too. We host the kids for movie nights. I like to laugh with the ex-wife about my soon-to-be husband. We share inside jokes about him. I was desperate for paint thinner one night and she was the second call I made (after her twin). It didn't really hit me until the next morning that it's all so normal now that she's become the neighbor I will borrow a cup of sugar from.

I never wanted this. There were a good 3 years where I actively told friends, "Don't get involved with someone who has been married before." I meant it. I look back at my 27 year old self and I know I meant it. But you don't give that kind of advice once you have folded the weirdness of family into your own experience. These years are what I know now, and they are good. We just cleared the table from a dinner where I got to enjoy the company of this kid who isn't even mine. That's a gift. A true gift.

Love conquers biology, I think is what I am trying to tell you. It's funny the people who become part of your tribe, if you are around them enough. I don't just love the fiance and the kid. I love the ex-wife and her husband (even though he wears socks with Tevas). I love the ex-wife's twin sister and her husband, our good friends. I love their children and the sarcasm they inherited. I love the fiance's kid - his kindness and his deep sensitivity and his now-ripened sense of irony and adult reactions to the world around him. And I love the man, this man who gave me this fucked up sitcom-worthy family, because he waited around long enough for me to figure out that it was all going to be ok.

Photo by Ethan Hill.

What is this?

What is this? It's replacing the Wing Dome hot wings outlet in Capitol Hill... half a block from Dinette. Not open quite yet.

Looks a little like Portland's Cielo Home. If the merchandise is similar, I will be in heaven.

Shop Cielo Home HERE.

Dear AD

Hey, AD. It's me. Decorno.

Yeah, I know you're never going to read this. You're too busy driving your aging wife to her Botox appointment. I can't believe you guys are still married. You're always in New York and she's always at the Palm Beach house. Sad.


Hey, I wanted to let you know that I was thinking about you. There are a few things that bug the living shit out of me about you.

First - halogen lights. Halo-fucking-gen lights. In *every* issue. Uplights. Downlights. Spotlights. Recessed lights. Light-lickity-lights. It makes me DIZZY just to think about it. Who can eat under those? That's not a dining room, it's an interrogation chamber at Guantanamo. With lights like that, you could get me to confess to pretty much anything.

Second - Your covers. Who are these people? I mean, I like John Travolta as an actor, but he's not a compelling personality outside of his roles. And I don't think he's a style icon, exactly. So why is he here?

And this one. David Copperfield? I don't even think this one is real, to tell you the truth. You can't always trust those crazy Google image search results. But then again, you have Travolta on the cover, so why not DAVID COOPERFIELD. Crazier things have happened.

Third - Jennifer Post. I am not even going to explain myself here. You know why AD. You know why.

Fourth - There isn't much architecture in your digest. I know you remind us by telling us that you're a magazine about interiors, but come on now. Try to be good at something. Interiors or architecture. Pick one and apply yourself.

When it's doctor's office time and I am scanning the dingy magazines before me and my options are a Newsweek circa 2006, Highlights, that hard-cover Jesus book for kids*, or AD, the choice is clear (and it's not you). You're soulless and you make those big, expensive, decorated homes look incredibly lonely.

And any publication about homes - where we eat and laugh and make babies and raise them and feed them and care for the ones we love and live out our good days and bad... any magazine that makes a home - of all places - feel lonely, well, that's a digest of interiors I just don't need to see.

24 Karat Vintage Interiors in Georgetown, Seattle

Look certain shop owners in Seattle. I am on to you. I see you shopping at Pacific Galleries, Antika, and 24 Karat for excellent finds, and then I know you simply recover and charge another $2000 for these treasures.

But that's ok. Because I shop at the source. And for many in Seattle, the best kept secret (until now) is 24 Karat Vintage Interiors in Georgetown, a neighborhood known better for its drinking outposts and its tough urban/industrial terrain.

Brigh's treasures come from here and abroad (Paris, specifically) and he's not at all catholic about his tastes. In his store you will find vintage chrome chairs (ready to plop in an LA home) right next to a $4000 pair of antique chairs. It's all about the mix.

You can see this great collection for yourself at:

1226 South Bailey Street
Seattle, WA

Ok... I am slowly wrapping up my series on great shops in Seattle.

In your city, what are those shops that you think are the underground sources for the best finds?

Great Stuff, in Seattle's Georgetown

Kirk Albert is the only game in town.

That is, he is the only one hunting down and acquiring incredibly unique vintage items and then offering them up for your retail consumption. What makes his buying so unique is the risk involved.

Kirk goes big. A giant gilded shoe (formerly a display item?). A time-worn stack of vintage wedding cake molds. A huge "MEAT MARKET" sign. You won't see this kind of stuff in your regular store, but Kirk isn't operating your regular shop.

Kirk specializes in lighting and offers his own designs crafted from vintage parts. He used to sell at Seattle's large Pacific Galleries, but recently moved to the still-seedy but on-the-verge neighborhood of Georgetown, just south of the downtown Seattle core.

My friend JJ and I visited him yesterday, chatted him up, and took these snapshots for you. WE LOVE KIRK. Not just because he is the best display merchandiser in Seattle, not just because he has a keen eye for cool product, not just because he's addicted to reality TV and is a fucking crack up. No. We love him because as soon as we walked out of his store and hopped back into the big rig, we decided that Kirk has the best head of hair on any man we have ever seen.

So, go see for yourself and pick up a MEAT MARKET sign while you are at it.

Georgetown, Seattle shopping: 24 Karat, Revival Home & Garden, and Great Stuff

This is the store called Great Stuff. Kirk, the owner, is a masterful merchandiser.

Big shopping day in Georgetown, Seattle, a neighborhood that is on the verge.

Here's a preview. I will be posting more after I go get my haircut by Isabella at Gene Juarez. (After a 5 year search, I found the BEST haircut from the most adorable stylist in all the land. Go there.)

Incredible finds at 24 Karat Antiques.

More great stuff from Great Stuff.

Revival Home & Garden.

Casting Call

I am working on a few projects and I need some help:

1) Do you have (or know of) a Seattle-based home, design, gardening, or otherwise fabulous personal blog? If so, please email or leave a comment with a link.

2) Are you a budding interior designer or shop owner and want people to know about you and your fabulous work? If so, please email me with photos and information.

3) Do you make or manufacture a cool product and want help finding distribution? Maybe you make letterpress cards, have a cool lighting line, produce soy candles that cure cancer, make hand-stamped organic cotton fabric... anything you think Decorno people might love. I would love to hear about it and help you get your product in front of small retailers.

4) I am looking for guest bloggers on these topics:
- Landscaping & Garden
- Ask a Designer (would like a small stable of established designers to help with design questions)

Neece's vintage chic.

I recently bought a chair via Craigslist from a cool chick named Neece (read about it HERE.) I was so smitten with her place and her murals that I begged her to send photos so I could share them. Her place gives me vintage envy and makes me want to run out and scoop up pieces from the 60s and 70s immediately.

Neece is a working artist and takes commissions for murals like the lovely ones you see in her kitchen and entry. You can contact here HERE.

What are the things you bought that you've never regretted?

We all buy mistakes and they are so easy to dwell on. When I moved into my house, with it's lovely bones and its shit interiors, we made mistakes we are still living with (like putting lame carpet in upstairs...).

But I was thinking today about homes and why it all matters. Actually, I was thinking, "What an interesting day... a blog I started as a lark is getting a lot of traffic now."

And then I was also thinking, "My fiance must think this is all really stupid. I mean - who the hell wastes time writing about decor?"

And then I was thinking about Deborah Needleman and the Domino dustup. And what I settled on was this: we love the same thing. We love the idea that home and identity (for a certain class) is tied together. That it really does matter, for better or worse. It's some kind of expression. And when we get it right, it's happiness.

My favorite room is a jumble of wreckage and castoffs. I like this room most, I realized today, because it never mattered. it's a personal room; it's not meant for guests to hang out in. In it I have a fake-Saarinen low-table I found for $75 at a flea market. A $25 chippy dresser that I prop a mirror on and use every morning as I put on my war paint (lipgloss and mascara) to face the day. A $20 aluminum garden chair that serves as a dumping ground for dirty clothes and piles of magazines I plan to get through. A funny teal French bergere that I bought from a nice artist off Craigslist that I hope to recover, but know will sit untouched for 6 months before I have the time to fix it.

These are things I don't regret buying. I could spend my time worrying about decorating mistakes, but I grow more sure and stubborn about the things I like every year. I like the cheap stuff the most. The vintage paintings, the wobbly wooden table we use to prop up flowers in the lonely staircase landing; I love the photography, like the one up top (by Chad States) because it's the kind of thing that keeps a Tudor from feeling like and uptight BBC devotee. Despite all the things we need to fix here, there is good stuff. Stuff that makes it feel like home. Good things we scored that we will just never part with.

What are the things you don't regret buying? Do you have an impulse or a splurge-y thing you acquired that has stood by you and made you happy ever since? I want to hear about it.

Decorno mentioned in Washington Post.

Ah, yes. Blog Watch. Terri Sapienza does a fun weekly round-up of interesting home and design blogs each week. Decorno's Domino posts resulted in today's mention.

The post would not have been even remotely newsworthy without the really excellent comments from all of you. Thanks again for making Decorno more than Ikat and "Pretty!" Your comments are always hugely entertaining and thoughtful.

Click HERE to read Bloglines on

I also enjoyed Linda's comments on her Cameleon Interiors blog, wondering if we're all becoming shills for the magazines. Then again, I offer up thrilling content like THIS commentary on fish-shaped laundry hampers to balance out magazine related posts, so I do feel like I am a little bit off the hook when it comes to posting things from magazines. :)

And lastly, everyone gets spanked HERE by one of my very favorite blogs, Isuwanee, for ruining Domino by posting things in advance. I invoke a Sinead-like "Fight the real enemy!" response in her comments section.

Paul Costello wants you to take better photos.

Remember THIS post about photographer Paul Costello? If you love Domino magazine, chances are you've drooled over his amazing work.

I emailed Paul recently to ask him for advice on interior photography, especially since so many of us are blogging and sharing photos of our homes on the web. Paul had great advice:

From Paul:

Don't ever use an on camera flash.

Get a tripod and bracket the exposures. In otherwords if the lightmeter tells your camera to expose for 2 seconds, start there then do 4 seconds, then 8 seconds until it is obviously too bright.

Sometimes the best light is really low light... Don't be afraid of 30 second exposures.

Turn off your lamps and overhead lights... Not just in the room your shooting but in nearby rooms as well.

If the room and the styling are ugly, it's likely your pictures will be ugly too.

Even most point and shoot cameras have manual settings. People would be well served to get familiar with their cameras... They'll be suprised how many functions even cheap cameras have.

If you're scouting for magazines (this is good advice for anyone) remember that editors want to see the whole room... Avoid tons of middle distance vignettes. Also try to show how rooms flow to each other.

Frame up shots with things in the foreground and middleground. Sometimes it's cool to let a chair close to the camera go all blurry.

Try things that are contrary to the obvious way you look at the room... Like get really low or get up high. Don't think you need to always be super graphic and at right angles.

Take a shot from a better angle of view. Be willing to move yourself - or your furniture - around.

In otherwords, experiment while you're shooting... The best pictures are often surprises.

Lastly, the way a room looks best when you're standing in it is often not the best way to shoot it... Get ready to move furniture around.


Get to know your camera. Play with depth of field and aperture settings. You can then focus on points of interest and the background sort of fades away.

Sometimes details matter. Get close.

Natural light. It worked for the masters. It can work for you.

Thank you, Paul Costello, for your advice.

Revival Home & Garden opens in Georgetown, Seattle

I got an email today from Leah who *just* opened a store in the so-cool-it-hurts neighborhood of Georgetown in Seattle. (Ahem, she did not invite Decorno to her opening... I just would like to point that out right here... but I'm not bitter... seriously).

Now with 24 Karat dealing antiques there, with Kirk having opened Great Stuff, and with Revival cutting the ribbon, I would say for Georgetown (finally):

Game on.

Just this morning I was telling two young associates at my company... buy a house in Georgetown. It's gritty, it's cheap, it's fabulous... it will only get better. Good things are happening there, but so far it's been a chop shop, a Vespa store, Fantagraphics (gotta love that... can you say Ghost World?), and All City Coffee. But real retail has been tough. Revival finally puts Georgetown over the hump when Seattle-ites decide which far flung and blocked-by-water neighborhood it wants to journey to for a weekend outing.

So... visit Revival and check out the whole neighborhood. And buy a house while you are at it. You can't lose. Things are happening here.

Revival Home and Garden
Great Stuff
Nine Pound Hammer bar

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