interiors | art | gardens | style | travel

Best blog name ever:

Yard Sale Bloodbath

Here's a sample:

One of the estate sales was in an amazing house that had not 1, not 2, but 3 pianos! We went out through the backyard to see what was in the garage and it was a huge mess, but up next to the Genie garage door opener was a chandelier. WTF?

Thanks Abbey for featuring it HERE.

I'd rather be here:

Puglia. Or anywhere in Italy. Or anywhere not involving a spreadsheet.

Inexplicable crush number 6:

I tend to have crushes that defy explanation (to most people).

For example:
Marc Jacobs when he was not fit and tan and all Miami Beach-ed out
Turtle on Entourage
The portly and kind of haggard version of Vincent D'Onofrio on Law & Order HERE
Greg Dulli of Twilight Singers and Afghan Whigs

And now... Cee Lo (in photo on right). I can't explain it. It's not how he looks, really. It's that voice... like Nina Simone died and came back as a fat guy from Atlanta who just sings the shit out of his songs. Holy god.

Going On The beat will fuck your shit up. (In a good way.)

A Little Better This is a good one. His mom died somewhere between his mega-hit "Crazy" and when he wrote this song. Play it loud - seriously, he sounds like Nina Simone, huh? Love it.

Now go buy it HERE:

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

So, I am still at work, getting cross-eyed from my excel project...I cruise on over to one of my very favorite blogs, Habitually Chic, and she has a great post about her visit to the Kips Bay showhouse. I scroll through some photos and then I see this tribute to aggressive fruit.

Good grief.

Ah, the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. When I see rooms from this annual charity hoo-haw, I usually yawn and little and turn away. I mean... the rooms are usually really silly and kind of patrician. Blah.

Anyway, this treasure was designed by Ellen Ward Scarborough. I don't think all of her rooms are so cartoony, based on THIS. Why so cartoony here? What is the deal with the Kips thing anyway? Are they on some kind of HGTV/Vern Yip budget?

Anyhoo - - discuss. I have to get back to my project so I can wrap it up, head home, and down a bottle of Lillet.

Drink up.

So, I was flipping through the Seattle Times entertaining section and saw this photo (above), along with an article (HERE) on what to stock to make short-notice entertaining a snap. They recommended keeping Lillet in the fridge.

I'd never heard of Lillet ( "lee-lay"), so I consulted my good friend WIKI and learned that, along with being one of the beverages enjoyed by James Bond in Casino Royale, in her 2006 Off-Broadway show, Everything Bad and Beautiful, Sandra Bernhard takes a sip from her glass on stage and says: "Mmmm. Lillet. It's like an upscale Manischewitz." Right there, I knew I had a winner.

(Why isn't she my neighbor? I love her. Just more evidence that I am, in fact, a gay man trapped in the body of a 32-year-old woman.)

So, Lillet is good. Over ice. Lots of ice. And I used a twist of orange, although wiki might be right... should have been lemon.

I had also wanted to give Campari a try. It's not what I expected. Or maybe just more of what I expected. Too much. I had it on ice with a twist of orange, plus a little of the orange juice. I might need to use it to make an Americano (HERE) to see if that helps me work through the bottle I just bought.

Why all this talk of booze and entertaining? I must have summer on the brain. Plus I am growing mint in pots and realized I needed to stock up on Mojito fixings for the summer. I am not a cocktail expert, but would love to become one. Me, Frank Sinatra, a new patio & backyard, and a Negroni = perfect summer night.

Image from MyNottingHill.

Outdoor furniture

Amazon's Strathwood outdoor sofa HERE

So, I am having an outdoor furniture dilemma.

I want to get an outdoor sofa and a chair or two so my people can lounge around when Seattle finally decides to embrace spring weather. I need a metal, teak, or resin job that I can abandon to wet Seattle weather (and the hot sun of August) and not worry too much about it.

What does everyone think of this new fangled "all-weather wicker." I don't like the matchiness of getting a set. And there is this weird element of "let's have everyone's backyard look like a hotel poolside!" (see THIS which is, well, ambitious). But it is a nice idea to have a low-cost option that will stand up to the elements. I don't want anything that looks too matchy, or that I will hate in 2 years.

Ok, you get the idea...
What have you seen out there that you like?
If you have a backyard, is it relax-o-rific?
How do you have your little slice of Eden all done up?
Backyard lounging suggestions or ideas?
What's your dream yard like? Are you pool people or plant people?


(Oh, and speaking of enjoying your backyard... did you see THIS? It's a bucket full of cuteness....)

More from Target. Eeh.

Where is my issue?

Seriously. I didn't even know the new issue was out yet, until someone mentioned it in a comment on the last post.

To be fair... I wonder if my subscription lapsed. But if not..... Oooooooooohhhhhh, I will be so angry. So very, very angry.

But let's talk about Julianne Moore. How much did you love her in Safe? And in Far From Heaven? (Oh, and don't even get me started on Dennis Haysbert... I think he's in my free-pass five.)

I think Elle Decor featured JM's place. Very sort of organic modern. Nice. Clean. Tidy. Not pretentious. Livable and cool. I am sure this is just how she decorates for her stylist in the room featured in domino. But I wouldn't know. I don't have my copy yet.

I think this is the Poverty Barn design team's way of...

laughing at us.

Remember when This American Life broadcast Malcolm Gladwell telling his story about his little competition with a fellow journalist to see who could first get the phrase, "perverse and often baffling" published in one of their news stories?* I think the product development people have the same perverse desire to fuck with us.

Monica: Hey Pete, you think they will ACTUALLY let me source giant paperclips?

Pete: How giant?

Monica: Like the size of your foot...

Pete: Of course they will, M. Your giant clothespin was a hit. Try making this game HARDER. Try to get a bombe chest in a gross primary blue made... with STENCILED SEAHORSES all over it. I dare you.

Pottery Barn - - I really want to buy your Seabury sofa, but then you pull shit like this. I have a hard time trusting you. This is no joke.

*Was a bit of a HOAX. Just like some of PB's furniture. Also, thanks to the anon commenter on my beach house post for letting me know about this really scary piece of furniture.


At least not until, like, 20 years from now when people see them in junk shops and paint them glossy white or black and initiate some kind of cultish "vintage" Pottery Barn revival.

But really... no.

Yes or No?

Yes or No?

I went to the library today.

You have no idea what a big deal that is for me. If I want a book, I am like, "Oh! Amazon Prime, how 'bout I order my book today and I get free 2-day shipping."

Now, don't get me wrong, I love me some Amazon Prime, but I am running out of bookshelf space. And money. I have been spending like a drunken sailor. The Anxiety Week series was a bit of a wake-up call.

I am going on a spending diet. I am getting my financial shit a little bit more in order (I just turned in an expense report from '06. I also have had stocks sitting in an "abandoned property fund" at Schwab for about a year and just today claimed it. This is just a slice of my financial delinquency.).

So today I wanted new books. I was about to buy them online. But here's the thing: I live - I am not kidding - about a half block from the library. I went there today and got two books.... for free. What a concept!

I don't play the lottery, so I can't win (see last post). But I can spend less. I want that fucking San Juan vacation house, my friends. And I will have it. Time for me to live below (way below) my means so I can get that island house LIKE I DESERVE, damn it.

On another note, I think I am running out of gas. I haven't had the most inspired blog ideas the last few days. Maybe I need a break. Or maybe just new ideas.

Do you have topics, ideas? Anything we should cover? I am taking all suggestions, and would even consider a guest post. Let me know what we need to tackle next.

Marine taxidermy.

From Coastal Living.

Why are beach houses so... literal? I get that you are a beach house. No need to have giant fish over the fireplace.

Nevertheless, I would take this place. In fact, all weekend I kept doing mental calculations, "How much and how long would we have to save to buy a place on the island..."

For the first time in my life, the lottery started to sound like a good financial plan for me.

Happy birthday to me.

I am a firm believer that if you want to have a wonderful time in life, don't leave the planning to others.

Two months ago, I told My People that for my birthday, I would be going to Orcas Island in the amazing San Juan island archipelago just off the NW coast of Washington state. Needless to say, once Decorno made the plan, they came along.

Everything in the San Juans is magical. There is simply no way to describe how amazing it is here without trading in cliches and face-licking love for this place.

When we arrived, we got a few hours of sun, plus a decent sunset. When we woke up.... snow.

Snow falling on madrona trees. Snow at sea level. Snow in April. The last snowfall at this elevation this late in the year was about 1975 (before I was born, for those keeping count).

The actual birthday is tomorrow, but I already got what I wanted, which was nothing. Nothing but this, that is - a weekend with a view, and with this goofy family I found and made mine. Happy birthday to me.



The boys... running in the snow to the hot tub, which is tucked between trees and with a partial view of the water. Leave it to me to allow them to run around in swim trunks in 35 degree weather.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend.

This is why we don't actually *read* Elle Decor...

A reader emailed this to me:


I can't even bring myself to read the comments on your wonderful postings on money and anxiety as I'm living it, moment by moment. Will indulge myself later this weekend, but you've definitely hit a nerve with me, as always. Judging by your postings, I am older (49) than most or your readers, but no less affected by the "upscale emulation" going on around me, compounded by typical mid-life issues (which rival adolescence in intensity) of identity...I have found myself drawn to the blogs that combine creative design with boho chic as a soothing balm and appreciate your public service. I will probably have to cancel my subscription to Elle Decor after this month's above mentioned article reports the following : "The Powers-Caudell household is the kind of place where liquid laundry detergents are decanted into clear containers and where even the Splenda is splendidly displayed, tucked into glass dishes sized perfectly for those sunny yellow packets" ... I am now on my way to sign up for a volunteer position at the local soup kitchen, thanks to this smut! ....

A fan,


Sweat equity.

From the NY Times. Read the article HERE.

In these times of mortgage crisis and credit card debt, of people living over their heads and losing their homes, it may be instructive to visit David and Gina Giffels, proud owners of an exquisitely renovated 1913 Tudor house, with six fireplaces, a solarium and a billiards room, which is well within their means, in part because they paid $65,000.

It is true, this was 12 years ago here in Akron, as the city was struggling to come out of its Rust Belt doldrums, and at the time the house was not so exquisite. It was, in fact, as the couple learned only at the closing, about to be condemned. There were large holes in the roof, various furry woodland animals in residence, a barely functional heating and plumbing system. The roof over the master bedroom leaked so badly that the previous owner had placed 55 aluminum baking pans on the floor to catch the rain. Passers-by, glimpsing the house through trees and brush, assumed it was deserted.

Saving this house has taken David Giffels, a columnist at The Akron Beacon Journal and sometime rock musician, and his wife, Gina, a special education teacher, 12 years. And the renovation, most of which Mr. Giffels has done on his own, is not finished. The strain on their marriage, as Mr. Giffels admits in his sweet and funny book, “All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House,” which will be published next month by HarperCollins, has not been inconsiderable. Weekends, vacations, time Mr. Giffels might have spent with his two children, have been given over to such projects as removing, cleaning, and re-caulking the 733 windowpanes in the house. (He counted.)

On the other hand, except for the mortgage on this house, the Giffelses have no debt. This is not only because they have done so much of the renovation themselves, but because they do not have and never have had credit cards. Their feeling, anachronistic as the servants’ call button in their dining room, is that if you don’t have the money for something, you don’t buy it

See the slideshow HERE.

Read the article HERE.

Many boots were sacrificed in the restoration of his home.

Confidential to C

Here's the chalk-boardy-art idea idea I mentioned. I thought this might be good for you.

Images from May 08 Canadian House and Home

STATUS ANXIETY WEEK: Old habits die hard

Well, it's Thursday (in New York.. almost Thursday in Seattle). You've almost made it thought Status Anxiety Week. Hasn't it been fun?

Did you know you guys left 133 comments on the "What Do You Make" post? (Felt good to get it all out, huh?)

I was sitting here thinking, "What else do we talk about this week? We've already covered the big ones - salaries, real estate, and outsized social ambitions... what else could we possibly cover?"

Then I was thinking.. how else do people show wealth (or fake it... or not care...) and started thinking about cars and clothes and hair and shoes.

My friend T who is *quite* the fashionista totally shocked me by driving a Jetta. I was proud of her for it, really. I just figured that a girl who rocks Loeffler Randall shoes, a Goldenbleu leather capelet, and whatever brand of skinny jeans is on the verge, well, she would drive... I dunno... an Audi, a Mini, a zippy little Kompressor.


When I asked her, she was hardly apologetic. She basically said, "No one in Seattle cares anyway, so I spend my money on clothes." And if you know Seattle, well, they don't give a shit about that, so what Tracy really meant is, "I indulge in what I love (clothes) and I can give a fuck what people think (about cars)." At least that's how I took it.

I dressed like a moron until maybe 5 years ago. I mean, my lameness has been diminishing gradually over the years, but your inner Anna Wintour would cry to see photos of me in middle school. And then a few years ago I started trying to figure it out. I also got a fashion/accessories-related job and had to, well, kind of care about those things. So, since these things do seem to matter in my job, I try to throw in a few bit ticket items with my uniform of jeans and some kind of black top. The only things that spice it up are aggressively large snotty handbags and shoes. I am partial to Louboutin, Zanotti, and Costume National. I am not going to lie.

Now that the economy is, well, having a bit of a correction, I do look at some of my shoe/handbag spending and think, as Scooby Doo would say, "Ruh Roe." The hard thing is that you can't go back. I try looking at $79 shoes and can't do it. I can't buy a shoe without a leather sole. Cannot. You slip and slide in them... the construction is wonky, they fall apart, you wouldn't bother to keep and re-sole them. Plus, shoes is my business. You learn to love the craft of shoes. And once you live in a pair of shoes that treat you right, shoes that are really well made, you can't go back. It's a bad new habit I just can't kick.

So - - after all that, here's the question:

Now that we've all upgraded
Now that middle class chicks in Seattle are buying $400 shoes
Now that we're spending $6 bucks a day at Starbucks
Now that you're spending $225 on hair cut/color a month
Now that you have that Mercedes payment
Now that the kids are in private school
Now that you eat out at restaurants 3 nights a week
Now that you go to pilates class or the gym
Now that you buy fresh flowers every week
Now that you are getting used to a big vacation every year (I mean... that's our birthright, no?)

...can you cut back? And if so, on what?

What indulgence have you adopted in the last 5 years that you are willing (or have had) to abandon? Or are you keeping up the new habit, and just scrimping in other areas (like... keep going blond, but no trip to Mexico this year?)


In a recent post on Official Topics of Adult Conversation, I got this comment:

anonymous said...
No. 1 on your list really should be real estate! I can't go anywhere without hearing about real estate anxiety, real estate envy, real estate boasting, etc., etc., ad nauseum.


M friend JJ and I have several games we like to play. One of them is "How much is that house worth," which I turn into a truly horrible game by looking up people's property assessments online. What did they pay for it? How long ago? What's it worth now? Does Zillow overstate the value? By how much?

It's so bad now that I find myself driving home from errands on some days trying to remember 3 or 4 house numbers I want to be sure I look up.

New York Times real estate section? Love it. Got jealous at the NY couples who flipped home like 5, 6 times in the 90s and early this decade and got over before the bubble burst? Maybe a little.

When I asked my CPA how I should be investing my money, he told me I should consider investing in a second property. The thought made me orgasmic. Hmm, I thought, I could be a rental slum lord. Yes! Passive income? YES! Yes, yes, yes! (Did I take his advice? No... I mean, I have wood rot issues to deal with in my OWN house before I start buying up Park Place and Marvin Gardens.)

Why do we all love the real estate topic so much? Is it because it's really the only way most people are going to make real money in their lifetimes? Is it the status anxiety issue? Once we realize we have average jobs and average lives and average happiness, are we turning to our homes and children to play out our competitive nature and find some kind of success? Or, is it really just adult Monopoly? Watching your own stock rise, so to speak?

Are you or any of your friends obsessed with real estate?
Do you know people with second homes who jaw on about it?
Do you know people who had a questionable loan and lost it during this housing recession?
Do you size yourself up to your friends and their places?
Would you say that most of your friends and family have a better/worse house than you?


We interrupt this broadcast....

Ok, so I am trying to make this week "Status Anxiety Week" on the ol' blog, but we do need to attend to grave decorating matters.

My fresh-out-of-college associate is moving into an apartment that she is SUPER excited about... it's new, clean, bright, and has an excellent deck with nice views. What she doesn't love:

The carpet.

Oh, you know the kind... the kind a developer puts into a new apartment building. Beige-y and basic.

C, we will call her, likes clean spaces, pops of color, nothing too Ikea-y. You get the picture. I have included some of her favorite rooms to give you an idea for her tastes.

Can anyone give her advice on the carpet issue? (Let's assume for now that she can't convince the landlord to let her replace it with berber or whatever... although, she's pretty tough. She might end up making that happen.)

I am sure, for some many apartment dwellers out there, such advice on the carpet situation would be much appreciated.

STATUS ANXIETY WEEK: Outsized social ambitions?

THIS excerpt from the National Post so perfectly paints a picture of "outsized social ambition." What a phrase, huh?

"The problem is that Toronto lies at a uniquely awkward halfway stage between bumpkin and sophisticate, between arrived and arriviste, between coach and first class. In poorer parts of Canada, an article like this would never appear, because people don't have the money or outsized social ambitions that fuel the underlying dinner-party culture. But nor would it appear in truly world-class cities either -- places where the money is old, and people know their way around a fish fork. Like the guy who intentionally double-parks his custom Porsche in front of the tennis club, or the stock-broker's wife who flashes her four-carat rock to the bridge group, Toronto has the money but not the class."

A reader sent this to me, and it was perfect timing because I have been trying to think of how to ask this question, which I think is basically:

Do you have tales of friends or neighbors with outsized social ambitions? For example, I was given a house tour a while back during which the owner apologized for the baby grand piano in the living room, as if to say, "I know that's a sure sign of fanciness. I hope our fanciness doesn't put you ill at ease. (For the record, it does not.)

And then there are people who call their babysitters "nannies" (I've covered this topic before). It's like having a detached garage and calling your place and "estate."

So - let's hear it:

Do you have an excellent tale of friend, neighbors or acquantainces with "outsized social ambitions"?

We want details.

STATUS ANXIETY WEEK: What do you make?

Yep. Ultimate taboo topic. What do you earn?

Parade Magazine (I know! I can't believe I just typed that either!) just published my FAVORITE issue of the year, the What People Earn Issue. I love it. I love that it's like setting up the strawman, so to speak... "Yes! I make more than a psychic! And I make more than a social worker! Hooray for me!"

So - let's hear it, people. A few notes:

1) Feel free to post anonymously, if you choose

2) Try to give some indication of type of work, years doing it, and region of the country

3) I am going to turn on comment moderation for now since it allows me to publish your comments in batches, and with a time delay, so no one associates the timing of your anonymous answer to, say, another comment you leave on here tonight.

If you don't want to play that game, tell us - - what is the minimum annual salary you could comfortably live on.

**Updated questions**
1) If you are a SAHM, is this a temporary state for you, or the long-term plan? Are you freaked out by not having control in earning the paycheck? (I am a control freak and the thought of leaving the money-making up to my man freaks me out beyond belief.)

2) What's the biggest pay increase you have ever earned? And did you get this at an existing job, or by moving companies?

3) Do you know people in your current or past jobs who had/have exactly the same job and made more money? I always like to hear if this bothers people and/or if they have done anything about it.

Official Topics of Adult Conversation

My friend and I were emailing one another when we decided we needed to compile an authoritative list of Official Topics of Adulthood.

Here it is. The funniest ones are his, just to be clear.

-Sex (who is having it, who isn't, or conspiring to hide the fact that they are having it with someone they shouldn't)
-Schools/private schools
-Other people
-Botox/cosmetic procedures (First it's always... is she having it?? I would never.. and then the slippery slope into one woman's confession, and then into "Who's your doctor?")
-How much we paid for something / best deal ever
-The Oscars
-Gaining/losing weight
-Parents and their illnesses/annoying traits
-Co-workers and how we are better than them
-Illnesses, real, imaginary, and future
-Doctor visits
-Sex, weird/awkward/ridiculous/lame encounters that make funny stories, after about 10 years have passed
-Weird things that happened to you in college
-What people would be like in bed/naked
-People that behaved in an annoying way at parties
-eBay stories
-Craigslist stories
-Email mistakes that went bad on you (accidental cc’s, etc.)
-Stuff you’ve stolen from your office
-Weird things you do in your office (one lady I work with trims her forearm hair with a big old office scissors [and no, she doesn’t have a lot of forearm hair, but still])

I seriously don't think I have had an adult conversation about anything than one of the above in the last 8 years. Have you?

What is missing from the list?

If you like flea markets... much as I do, you will like THIS article and the silly little "interactive" bit on page 2 where you can see more photos and hear audio from the writer.

I was sad to read that what little is left of the Chelsea flea markets (the garage market) is rumored to be closing in November. I've brought home excellent stuff from that old chain-linked formerly-empty lot on 26th. The times are a changin'.

Guess it's time to make my way to Brooklyn on my next trip.



Too-fancy outdoor pavillions...

...not just for magazines and their stylists anymore.

You can see it here in all its $500 glory.

She's back!

One of my favorite bloggers took a long spring vacation (extended, unfortunately, by an injury to her blogging arm), but she's back.

Go say hey.

It's here.

May Elle Decor has arrived. And, by god, fabulous Margaret & her team & her publisher & their distributor & the mailman all managed to get it to me before I saw it on the newsstand. (Unlike some magazines.)

And it looks PERFECT. So many white-hot rooms, I can't wait to dig into it.

I simply couldn't look at the last photo anymore...

...and didn't want to get more of you in trouble at work, so I offer up this piece of eye candy instead.

Decorno loves you.

(PS - I just noticed the Robert Longo art in the photo. I am officially over it. Just FYI.)

It's too late now to warn you...

that this is probably not safe for work. Sorry about that.

But, as some of you know, I am totally in love with THIS blog, and she does pretty amazing recaps of the HORRIBLE show Real Housewives of New York City.

Anyhoo.... you need to read her post. It's funny. And that woman? Kinda sad.

And this photo? Well, it's just mean, I know. But someone had to show you.

The $150k kitchen?

“The person who buys this kitchen isn’t polishing their own hardware,” said Mr. Peacock, stating the obvious. The Private Collection, he said, is an heirloom-quality room, with more detailing, hand-selected woods, those silver knobs, and a higher price, about 25 to 30 percent more than his other kitchens, he said, which on average, including the appliances and countertops he recommends, go for $185,000.

This is choice:

“My husband wanted a Christopher Peacock kitchen — period,” said Lisa Skinner. Her Scullery kitchen arrived in her new Greenwich home in September, she said, over the protests of her builder, who wanted to replicate a Peacock kitchen and promised to do so for less money.

Oh - you so know those people. They have to have the name and the looooove to tell you all about it. Vomit. These are people who say they love & collect Petrus and Caymus, but would fail if you blind tasted it against Cakebread or Mondavi or (maybe) 3 Buck Chuck.

You can read the whole article HERE.

Palm Springs Vacation Rental

So, few things terrify me as much as being trapped with a bunch of women. I love women (see Feminist post below, capital F), but honestly, sometimes women are nothing more than a bunch of crazy bitches.

But here's the thing. I like the actually crazy bitches. I do NOT like the weird competitive, suburban, blow-out, uptight, 3-carat types. They bug me.

So, needless to say when I got an email from Richele proposing a little bloggers getaway in Palm Springs, I was like "Yeah!" and then, "Wait, nooo!' Because, you know, women are crazy.

But one look at this pool and the roster of the actual crazy bitches who will be in attendance and my mind was at ease.

That roster, exactly?
Scented Glossy Magazines

Hens & Chicks (JJ only blogs like every time she gets her period, so she's really just an honorary "blogger" but because she's cooler than me and gives me street cred, she's invited.)


Richie Design

Life In A Venti Cup

I Could Kill Her (holy fuck, are they funny - - also, I love you because HERE you imagine I look like Angelina Jolie.)

HabituallyChic - if you will fly out here, I am sure we have an air matress for you, too, sister.

So - given the line-up, I am sure it will be awesome, despite my fear of groups of women (thanks middle school!). If things get really weird, I can just get really drunk and fall asleep in the sun. That, my friends, is always the answer.

If you, too, need a getaway, you can rent this yummy place HERE. And here's a little secret... if you mention "bloggers discount" you get 15% off. Not too shabby.

Can you come with us? Yes if you're a hot man and you're willing to make drinks for us.
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