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Chair help.

From the mail bag:

Hi decorno

i live in australia and i think your blog is fantastic and your readers are very cool. i love that there is a place for people that loathe naff posters and wall decals. may i please ask for some advice from you all?

i bought some chairs, which i'd like to fix up. i'm thinking stain, lacquer, something, but not paint. the people i bought them off seem to have stored them outside so they're kind of raw and silvery coloured in places from sun bleaching.

problem is, i've never restored a piece of furniture before and i have no idea what to do. i went down to my hardware shop and the 16 year old guy with emo hair couldn't really help.

i'm planning on using the chairs as bedside tables in the master bedroom. the colouring in that room is taupe and white with doses of red and blue in doses and a large artwork above the bed. the artwork is predominantly blue, red and yellow. we have a dresser in this room which is dark reddish wood.

i'd love it if your readers could give me some inspiration and some advice re treating wood. i've attached a pic of the chairs.

many thanks

Readers - any advice?

Those corny Christmas cards.

You know those corny family Christmas cards, the ones that people have printed up at the drugstore? I love 'em. I love that they aren't letterpressed or otherwise dolled up with rivets and ribbons. I love that they are so cheap and cheerful. I love to see our friends' kids. I am genuinely excited to tear open the mail and find out how big Marc and Susie's daughter is now. I just love it.

We were never Christmas card people growing up. Like hugging, it's one of those middle class things I have had to learn to appreciate, but I am completely won over by Christmas cards now. (Still working on hugging, FYI.)

Our friends keep all the cards year after year and then put them out in a big bowl for people to flip through. Brilliant. I am going to steal that idea. To be able to flip through and see all these friends year after year and see how the kids have grown and what they are wearing. Totally adorable.

So - as we wrap up the holidays - do you have any ideas to steal? Any cool ideas you or friends have? Traditions for Christmas or New Year's? Let me know.

And what are you doing for the New Year, anyway? I wanna hear.


Windor Smith


Design: Kara Mann. Western Interiors.

Best comment ever:

People have been rediscovering an old post I did HERE about my entertaining pet peeves, one of which is being asked to take my shoes off. I had no idea how riled up people get about this issue. People seem to forget that I am never to be taken seriously. Ever. But they do. And I just sigh.

Anyhoo, the old post has generated new comment action. In fact, it think it's generated the best comment ever on Decorno:

"It's amazing that the same queens who ask to eat my ass are afraid of germs tracked in off the street. I don't attend sock hops and that label in my shoe is for my eyes, not yours.

My 'things that are wrong' include guest hand towels. Nobody will use them. I usually scrunch up towels just so people don't wipe hands on their pants. The tea towel covering not-for-use towels kind of bothers me as well.

Another wrong thing is the dish you brought for my dinner party. You can't use my stove, refrigerator, or serving dishes. I put a lot of work into this and I'm not ready for your famous risotto. It looks like spanish rice. Leave it at home.

Door hangers bother me. They are people who gravitate towards my doorways and just hover there. I made sure there was plenty of seating throughout the house. Please don't block the doorway. If I throw lit matches at your pashmina we may all need a hasty exit. Oh and what's with the pashmina, Bill?

I respect and understand non-smoking households. I am comfy smoking outdoors. My house is usually non-smoking. I do however make sure there is a comfy smoking lounge for chimney guests. If you do not smoke, you are not allowed in the smoking area. We all know you'll walk around sniffing your sweater for the rest of the evening and giving an old lady cough."

Now THAT is a comment, people. Gold star for you, Anon.

City gardens.

Loving this book.

City Gardens: Creative Ideas for Small Spaces

Garden books are either:
1) Too plant-focused
2) Too suburban & bland in terms of design and layout
3) Too dreamy and unreal, like, "Fancy-Ass Gardens of Europe"

This one is just right. A small book, but full of good ideas for people with in-city lots. Every idea here is elegant and sharp. No crap.

Do we like mowing strips?

I can't decide if they are a great solution for keeping the lawn looking tidy, or if they are just the garden equivalent of bad lipliner.

Please advise.

More garden lust.

Thanks to Great Dame (who left a comment in the last post) I am now turned on to Howard Design Studio landscape architects, the firm she works for. Holy god, the photos are amazing.

Because you can grow pretty much anything in the Washington, people do just that. They grow everything in a big messy rubble of plants and vines and call it "cottage." Ugh.

Now this is my idea of landscaping. Order & loveliness at every turn. Yum.

Garden lust.

I have been obsessing over HER work and THIS store, via THIS blog.

Deborah Silver & Co landscaping.


I want this backyard.
I want the entire house, actually.

The home of John Truex and Richard Lambertson. Elle Decor Oct 08.

Riddling rack.

There are so many bad ways to store wine, you know? All those gross, rickety metal racks with metal vines and fake leaves twisted around... that sort of thing. But this riddling rack I do like.

And speaking of wine (sort of). I keep getting requests to write a holiday edition of "Things That Are Wrong." But the truth is, I like nearly everything about Christmas, so it's hard for me to drum up a list of ten. But I will say this:

Wine charms. I hate wine charms. I cover this and other entertaining pet peeves HERE. Please feel free to add to the list.

Hope everyone had a good holiday.

Christ climbed down.

You know, I am not that religious. (Don't act surprised).

But my father used to drag me to church years ago, and I remember this woman telling a story about how she was on her last $20, and she would need to spend it on, say, food. And she would later find, mysteriously, another $20 bill in her wallet. And she said it kept happening and that she knew it was the grace of God in her life.

My reaction as an 8-year-old little girl was, naturally, to think, "What kind of cockamamie horseshit evangelical crap is this?" But don't you find there is some essential truth to this cockamamie horseshit evangelical story? That even when you are at the bottom, you still have something to give, and that goodness does come back to you.

I hope tonight, of all nights, even the most godless among us can enjoy the myths of the season. The ones that teach us to give more, to be more, to live better, to love truer, and to give away your last $20 and know that, maybe in only a cosmic way, it will be coming back to you.

And with that little sermon, I leave you with my favorite little ditty from Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no rootless Christmas trees
hung with candycanes and breakable stars

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no gilded Christmas trees
and no tinsel Christmas trees
and no tinfoil Christmas trees
and no pink plastic Christmas trees
and no gold Christmas trees
and no black Christmas trees
and no powderblue Christmas trees
hung with electric candles
and encircled by tin electric trains
and clever cornball relatives

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no intrepid Bible salesmen
covered the territory
in two-tone cadillacs
and where no Sears Roebuck creches
complete with plastic babe in manger
arrived by parcel post
the babe by special delivery
and where no televised Wise Men
praised the Lord Calvert Whiskey

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no fat handshaking stranger
in a red flannel suit
and a fake white beard
went around passing himself off
as some sort of North Pole saint
crossing the desert to Bethlehem
in a Volkswagen sled
drawn by rollicking Adirondack reindeer
and German names
and bearing sacks of Humble Gifts
from Saks Fifth Avenue
for everybody's imagined Christ child

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
no Bing Crosby carollers
groaned of a tight Christmas
and where no Radio City angels
iceskated wingless
thru a winter wonderland
into a jinglebell heaven
daily at 8:30
with Midnight Mass matinees

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and softly stole away into
some anonymous Mary's womb again
where in the darkest night
of everybody's anonymous soul
He awaits again
an unimaginable
and impossibly
Immaculate Reconception
the very craziest of
Second Comings

Merry Christmas, you crazy bitches.

Leah's back - and this time you have to decorate her room.

That's right. After THIS, we're having a do-over since, well, she's not interested in us telling her to go to Thailand and have sex for money (joke, people! only a joke! sheesh...). She just wants to know how to decorate her room, for God's sake.

So, here we go again. Let's help her out.

Here's what she wrote today:

Hi Decorno! After the debacle of last week... let's try this again! I'll try to be more specific this time. I'm moving back in to my parents' house and I need to revamp my high school room. The room isn't 20x20 (I'm terrible at estimating size), it's actually closer to 15x15. You can see how it's set up in the photos. You can also see the piles of stuff that have built up over the last few years. Most of it is my parents', and most of it will be cleared out.

I do need this to be a room I enjoy and feel comfortable in. This does not mean that I will live at home forever just because I chose a nice paint color. I'll eventually move out for many reasons, and the decor of my room is honestly not going to change that. I want to change the color because I know my parents were never thrilled with it in the first place. I won't settle on any major changes without their opinion, because it is their house. But they're very flexible, so it will be hard to find something they really hate. In my current apartment, I'm not allowed to paint, so I would love to have some fun here. But a neutral color would be okay if someone could give good ideas on how to bring in color in another way.

Some other things people asked about:
-The floor is hard wood.
-I have a queen bed, but I'm not a big fan of the frame I have now.
-The closet isn't huge, so I need somewhere to put clothes.
-I hate my high school book shelf, but I still need some kind of shelving.
-I have a sewing machine, and have made myself simple curtains in the past.
-My budget will be small, but I don't mind springing for a couple of things that I can keep for a long time.
-Moving in is NOT negotiable. I'm doing it, but it's not permanent. Don't worry, I've been to Rome. Twice. I paid. [Ha! Ok, got it. We will quit bossing you around now... - Decorno]

Thanks for doing this again! I'm still surprised at the reaction your original post got. At least it's a good story for me to tell.

So, everyone... ideas for Leah?

(UPDATE: Thanks to Google alert, I found THIS.)

Look, I am not going to be coy.

My blog rocks, and you know it. It's not all saccharine sweet and girly. I don't fawn over Amy Butler oven mitts and all that other crafty shit. I don't decorate my home with DWR plywood bullshit classics. I don't support wall "decals" and other ridiculous hipster trends. I make you LAUGH. I make you CRY. And I do it all for my love of the people (or something like that).

So if you love Decorno, go tell THEM what's what.

The Management

If you had to pick...

What's your favorite Christmas song?

I have a few contenders:

The Pogues, Fairy Tale of New York

Hallelujah, the Jeff Buckley version... I think it counts as a Christmas song for most of us.

Rufus Wainwright (fucking brilliant), singing "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" - - and not just the 20 seconds from the '98 GAP ad... singing the whole song. What a voice.

And any version of "Baby It's Cold Outside," but especially this one from Elf with Zooey Deschanel and Will Farrell. Her voice! Who knew? Delightful.

I haven't had much holiday spirit until tonight, when I finally started my Christmas shopping, started addressing Christmas cards, started listening to some holiday tunes, and started drinking. (This is how good people survive the holidays, right?)

Abbey's place.

Hey, I don't know how I missed this days ago, but friend of the blog Abbey Nova was featured in Page Six Magazine. I love her place. You can see the story and photos HERE and HERE .

(Incidentally, talent runs deep in the family. Her father is Craig Nova, acclaimed novelist. If you're going to pick up on of his books, he recommends starting with Cruisers.)

Painted floor.

Me likey. A few of you recommended this to me as an option for my kitchen. Good call, ladies.

Found it HERE.


You have to see THIS slideshow.

People live there. Yikes. Make sure you see the crystal bird on the wall. That's my favorite photo in the slide show.


Reader Decorating Dilemma: The I'm Moving Home Edition

Dear Decorno,

I need help! I'm a soon-to-be graduate who will be moving back in with my parents. That means, moving back into my high school room. It is currently bright orange (a choice I made when I was trying to be a quirky 16 year old) and stuffed with old high school memorabilia and all the junk my parents haven't had a place for over the last 4 years. I need to create a comfortable space I actually want to live in, rather than one that reminds me of my dismal chances of getting a job in this economy and ever moving out for good. The room was originally the master bedroom of the house, a basic 20x20 ft shape. My current mattress is a queen, and there's no way I'm returning to my high school twin bed. Other than that, it's all fair game (including the color). Any suggestions for me? What would you do here? Thanks!


Dear Leah,

This is a very easy one. Don't do it. Don't move back.

If you insist on defying me (they always do, these kids today...) you should find another place to live. Why are you moving home? Moving home after finishing college is not good for the soul. Rent, say, an illegal room. I did it. It was $225 a month, which was easy money, even with a shitty job at J. Crew while I was working my way through school. (Read all about it HERE.) It will toughen you up. I moved home when I needed a break from college and it was terrible. It lasted 3 months and then I left. If ever there is a time you need to make it on your own it's now, when the economy is shitty and you're scared shitless.

Don't decorate that room. Don't move back. There is no decor-solution for your here. For me to tell you what color to paint it is like me giving you aspirin to fix a bad case of the clap.

Go out into the world. Live paycheck to paycheck. Get a shitty job. Learn to make the best of it by sleeping with your co-workers at the pub. Stay out late. Do some drugs. Volunteer at the food bank. Move to a totally new city. Sleep with some rich guy to get a free trip to Rome. Sleep with young guys just for the fun of it. Work odd jobs so you have time for matinees in the afternoon. Read constantly things that would never be assigned to you by a teacher. Fall in love - mad, ridiculous, irresponsible love. Ask your parents for 5 grand and move to some beachy spot in Thailand for as long as the money will last you.

Go be both brave and stupid. This is your only chance. Do it for all of us who figured this out way too late in life.


The dollhouse from Hell (or Pottery Barn).

Oh, Mamacita. You kill me.


This month's Elle Decor...

Do you have it yet? I don't, which is killing me a little because (a) you know how I love me some Elle Decorno, but also because a birdy tells me that I am quoted in it.

They did a little round up of design bloggers asking them what trends they are over. You'll need to get the issue to find out.

Which leads me to ask you the same thing, what trends are you totally over?

And...what trend/item do you know you should be totally over, but for which you still harbor a major crush?

I feel like nothing new happened this year, except that people *might* be stowing away their Ikat and have finally donated their red-coral pillows and whatnot to Salvation Army. Or maybe not. You tell me.

What are you over? And what trend are you still shamelessly embracing?

Pet lovers, draw your weapons:

You need to read the comment from anon 1:48 on THIS older post.

We know who wears the pants in every remodel.

At the tile shop tonight, we saw a sign they had posted which read,


We laughed.

I wouldn't cook in here.

It's way too nice to mess up.

Image sent to me by Jessica. Kitchen by Dee Dee Taylor Hannah and Sarah Richardson.
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