interiors | art | gardens | style | travel

Yes or no?

This painted floor. Yes or no?

Is there a red, white, and blue + American flag filter in Google reader?

Because I am not looking forward to a week of style/fashion bloggers posting wardrobe and style mashups with a 4th of July theme.

ADVICE: I got a bad review. Do I submit a rebuttal?

Hi everyone. We're back with more free advice. (You get what you pay for, kids!)

Anon writes:

I work my ass off. My boss just gave me a review that said I'm reluctant to take on some of my responsibilities and gave me no examples. She gossips about me with the director of our department, who bad mouths me to her direct reports. I have a rebuttal ready to submit with examples instances when I did the work she accused me of not taking on, including working from a courtesy computer in a hospital waiting room when my mother was intensive care. I can't quit, I need this job. Do I submit the rebuttal? 

I'm sorry about this. It's very difficult to work 40 - 65+ hours a week and feel unappreciated or undervalued. It blows.

Before we decide if you submit the rebuttal, let's assess a few things together:

1) How do you know that your boss is gossiping? You probably do. So I am not second-guessing you. But I will say this: I recently moved into an office next to my own boss's office. I love him. He's rad. BUT, I can *barely* hear him and often, I think, "What is going on in there? Who is that strange new voice? Who is in there talking to him. ARE WE ALL GETTING FIRED." Paranoia. I am so not getting fired. He was just having a goddamn meeting. It was just standard office paranoia. Let's make sure you rule out the possibility that your boss isn't really gossiping about you.

2) If this behavior is happening, then the next thing to figure out is the most important: If you present this "rebuttal" will she be open to it? You probably already know the answer to this. If the answer is anything from "probably not" to "no way" then you shouldn't. Why? Because it is likely that she is unwilling to receive this information from you and unwilling to change her point of view.

Next, when you say you work your ass off, are you confident you are doing the things that are important to your boss? If you are working your ass off on the wrong things, then it doesn't matter if you are working your ass off. If you are working you ass off from a hospital, it doesn't matter if you are working your ass off from a hospital if you are working on the wrong thing or delivering average work. Success at work happens in two dimensions: 
1) What you do (performance)
2) How you do it (leadership/ your work style)

You need to do the right things (things your boss values) in the right way (with a style your boss/company appreciates and values).

If you got a bad review, then you're not performing to her standard in either or both of those areas. This doesn't mean you're a bad employee or can't made good contributions. You just need her to articulate what she wants in those two dimensions. And then you need to execute against those expectations.

The best thing to do is set up a follow up meeting where you offer no rebuttal. In fact, everything that comes out of your mouth should be a question. You should ask questions to isolate what good performance would mean to her, in terms of what you are expected to do and how you are expected to do it. You should be very open to the feedback. Nod. Listen. Really listen. Don't explain anything. Just ask and listen. Don't think of yourself as her employee. Think of yourself as a consultant. She is your client. Listen to what she wants. If she's not good at telling you, you need to draw it out of her.

THEN, once you and she are both clear on what she expects, go do it for three months. Then ask for feedback on recent performance. If she tells you that your work has improved and you're meeting expectations, congratulations. No rebuttal is needed.

Let's look again at part of your comment:

My boss just gave me a review that said I'm reluctant to take on some of my responsibilities and gave me no examples.... Do I submit the rebuttal?

A rebuttal is just a fancy word for an argument. You can't argue at work. You have to perform. Only your performance will convince her.

(Unless she's crazy, immature, or very undeveloped as a manager with no demonstrated success helping people advance their careers. In that case, do everything I said above and just keep working until you find another job.)

How's my driving so far?

ADVICE: What to do with the wall across the bed?

Next up, M Foley asks:

I recently moved into a house with a small "master" bedroom, and I've been struggling with what to do with the wall directly across from the bed. There's only about 40'' between the end of the bed and the wall, and this space serves as the walkway between both sides of the room/bed. Floating shelves? A narrow console table? Fun art? (Changing the layout of the room is not an option because of drafty windows and our current furniture.) Any help would be fantastic!

OMG, easy! Install a flatscreen TV!! Is there anything better than watching Real Housewives in bed... while drinking. While eating dark chocolate. While also casually flipping through the latest copy of OK magazine? No. 

I say this as someone who currently doesn't have a TV in my room. But man I wish I did. (Instead, I have my computer across the room, and I tilt it toward the bed while I watch Hulu or Amazon or Netflix.) 

Upgrade all the bedding. Upgrade the lamps. The key is to make the TV-in-the-bedroom installation situation as luxurious as possible. You don't want to feel like an unemployed sweatpants-wearing Judge-Judy watching loser. You want to trick out the space so it feels like you're at the Ritz. Watching RHONY. 

I will add this: If you put art up, you need to go big, and you need something under it to anchor it. I don't like paintings or photography hung without something (console, bench, etc) placed underneath to anchor it. Otherwise, I think it looks too gallery-like and unfinished.* And if not art, what about wallpapering that wall with something crazy. Like THIS. (Which I think is amazing.)

I realize my "I love TV in the bedroom" position is controversial, so I invite other suggestions from the rest of you.

*Says the person with every unfinished decor project you can imagine.

Image from House Beautiful.

ADVICE: I have $1 million dollars. Can I stop working for a while?

(In my dreams, this is what 50 looks like.)

Hi everyone,

In THIS post, I told people I would solve their problems. What a bold claim! (And I wasn't even drinking when I wrote it.)

I am going to tackle Kristen's problem first because it was one of two that have nothing to do with decorating. (The other one was about a long ear hair. I said condition the shit out of it and let it grow.)

So here we go:

Kristen wrote: I'm 50 and my husband is 54. We are both without full time jobs, but have $1 million saved. I want to play and try new directions, but the conservative side of me says keep job hunting. Need "life" advice! Decorating will come next.

Let's solve this problem:

First, you need to answer some questions:
1) What kind of work did each of you do, and for how long?
2) Were you good at this kind of work?
3) Were you fired with cause?
4) How long have you been looking for work?
5) Why haven't you been hired yet? (Don't say "the economy.")

I am curious about your net worth because that's different than just what you have saved.
What if you have two mortgages on your house? What if you have $90k in consumer debt? etc etc etc.

Here's what you should do: 
If you have a net worth of $1M (mostly liquid... not including real estate), and if your answers to my laundry list above are positive (i.e., I wasn't fired; I do a kind of work that I can still get hired to do; I haven't found a job, because honestly, I am not trying that hard because I have my financial shit together and I want to take a break, etc.) then you can take a 6 month break and "play." At month three, you need to spend a few days taking potential hiring managers, friends, or other people in a promising professional network out to lunch, dinner, or coffee to keep your job-hunting/network lifelines open.

Don't spend too much money during your 6 month break with the exception of two weeks where you really go full tilt (maybe a trip to Paris, eat at great restaurants, stay at great hotel). For those two weeks, really live and have some luxury. Enjoy it.

Then get back to work. Lather, rinse, repeat every 5 years.

Let us know some answer to the questions above. (We'll be curious to hear more about your situation.) And let us know what kinds of things you want to do with your time off. What does "play" mean to you?

And congratulations on saving! Assuming there isn't a ton of debt on the other side of your balance sheet, you are an inspiration to all.

omg, this is so embarrassing.

Well, for those following along, yesterday I posted HERE inviting people to tell me their problems and I would solve them.

One of many entries was this:

Anonymous said...
Received a "no confidence" vote from my employer, i.e. was demoted this morning. Will still have to report for the peacocks. This is a real problem. Appreciate your advice Decorno!

Ann Curry

Oh Ann! Clearly I didn't respond in time because you woke up, went to work, and cried all over the fucking place! If I could get into my time machine, this would be my advice: 
Don't cry on your last day. It's a fucking morning show that no one watches. You got demoted and you get to keep a ton of money. Where's the problem?  There is no crying out in the open at work, especially when your work is being filmed.

Why would the network allow her this moment? No one gets to take a bawling victory lap at my office. You get cake, and you go. That's it. Professional, dignified, full of sugar, carbs, and vacation pay.

Enjoy your $20M "failure" and thanks for setting women back a few years with your self-pitying goodbye.

Free advice.

I will solve any problem. Post yours. Answers tomorrow.

Am I the last to know about this?

It wouldn't surprise me.  The 8mm Vintage Camera app is basically Instagram video.

Although I was just recently mocked everyone's Instagram addition (right Harv?) I am liking the video. It's fun. (But all new things are fun.)

Do you use it? I am going to have a lot of fun with phony-vintage video during my upcoming Italy trip.

Your Real Estate Agent Hates You

This is a photo from a condo listing in Seattle. Congratulations, Pete Aranguren, your listing has (unsurprisingly) been on the market 786 days.

Will you be my personal shopper?

Ridiculous. The whole time I was driving home, I thought, "One pothole, and the mirror is going to shift me into neutral..."

No seriously. Can you guys recommend a new car for me? Presently, I have such a small car that I can't fit anything in it. For example, I have a 30 - 24" (ish) photo that I need to take to the framer, and I don't have enough trunk space to take it there. So it's gone unframed for a long while. And when I am buying benches and chairs and desks, etc., I have to arrange to have them delivered. So dumb. I am over it.

So - can you recommend a cute(ish) car... maybe a crossover or an SUV? If you love your car and you can actually haul more than 3 cans of paint and a small mirror in it, then tell me all about it! I need some help here. (Can't be a super new model. I am big on buying used. Must have existed circa 2006.)

Before and after.

This isn't my house. But it should be. Scot Eckley makes dreams comes true.

Photo by Andrew Buchanan,


"In order of importance: 1.Self, 2. Marriage, 3. Child. Of course all are as important as each other, but neglecting the one before is a disservice to the one after."

In the comments of THIS post, someone asked me:

Can you post a modern home that you like? When I think of modern, this is what I think of. I'd like to see a modern home with more soul, and I trust your judgment.

Sure. I'll add more as I find them, but here's my deal with modern:

It should be rational and lack adornment. Newer cheap "modern" houses that I see going up in Seattle in-fill areas have irrationally placed windows and the design seems to zig and zag without any cohesion. I like some vintage modern homes (I love Palm Springs, for example, and there are a ton of great old homes there, but some are still old shit boxes with weird design.) While buying a Tom Kundig house is out of reach for most of us, I like his designs because the homes look built to last. Concrete and steel. His house "The Brain" is not really a house. It's more like a retreat. But the point is that you look at it and it seems like that building has an intellectual life of its own. The building is an idea. If you're not going to wrap yourself in the comfort of a cozy bungalow... if you're going to go modern, then go modern. Build a house that contributes something to architecture, even in its simplicity.

But honestly, I have no idea what I am talking about. My deal with modern homes is like porn... I know the good shit when I see it (or something like that).

Post links to modern homes you love in comments. And if you can help define what makes a good modern home, let us know.

Who in god's name is taking photos of all the style bloggers?

Seriously. Who? Husbands? Boyfriends? This is the modern equivalent of making your husband hold your purse while you shop.

Also, what is going on with the fake-shy pose everyone makes? You're not shy. You post a photo of yourself nearly every day. Good for you. (I mean that.) Now stand up straight and let someone* take your goddamn photo.

*Your beleaguered boyfriend, likely.

Tell me about a time you spent so much money it hurt...

but later the thing (or experience) was so fucking awesome that you never regretted it.


The ugly side of "modern"

This kind of house seems to be popping up everywhere.

Soulless, ugly, drab, and cheap. I am all for modern. ALL. FOR. IT. But this just looks bad. Bad design is not modern.


Need some help here....

Does anyone know how to turn on my Audrey-Hepburn filter in both Pinterest and Google reader?

Your favorite new Etsy artist?
Or a superstrain of gonorrhea?

You make the call.

Professional Blog Designs by pipdig