In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

How Evan in Chicago Should Decorate His New Apartment

Over at Apartment Therapy, Evan is looking for furniture and design suggestions for his new place in Chicago.

It's a small place so he should minimize the number of pieces but make each of them comfortable and functional and of course, great looking. And all from the latest 100 posts on Chicago's Craigslist.
First, a generous, neutral couch: $349

Now a coffee table. Ideally it would be round because the apartment is so square, but I like the sparkly and lightness of this too. And the price: $100

This one is round, and can be painted if Evan doesn't dig the wood tone... Also $100. It's 42 inches in diameter, so six people on cusions can sidle up for Chinese takeout and watching Mad Men, which depresses me in its entirety. Thank God for Gloria Steinem.

This chair is only $25, and is sort of hilarious in an Archie Bunker way, and could work because Evan has one orange accent wall.

But I vastly prefer this one. It's white leather with nailhead trim, and $200, but I have no idea where Oswego is. I think Evan is going to be taking a road trip. Because seriously: quilted leather. Yes please. With that chrome table? Heaven.

Now, a rug. This one is fantastic and 8X10 and $50!

I think Evan should put his bed in the corner (unlike Baby, whom nobody puts in a corner). And it should have a tailored canopy to separate it from the rest of the room -- sleeping in a tented cubby is so nice -- and it should be a fantastic pattern -- with either the colors drawn from the r ug above, or get a neutral rug and do something like this, which would work beautifully with an orange wall and open the way for pale blue accents:

Next he needs a bunch of book shelves -- all different sizes and styles, but all painted the same color (preferably the prevailing wall color, or if they are on the orange wall, orange. I want them blending in, not standing out, because they are not special. Here are two:

or just get this one.. which has the added advantage of being white. A flat screen TV can go on the desk.

He has a breakfast bar so doesn't need much more -- perhaps a place to put his tv, an ottoman.
I clearly need a hobby.


  1. Hi Pam,

    This is studioren, AKA Charise. You "offered" to help so here goes. I have a 473 sq ft studio in Brooklyn. I have to renovate and decorate. My thoughts are to first create a breakfast bar by partially knocking down the wall separating the kitchen and living area. My musts haves are a queen size bed, sectional or sofa, maybe a club chair, small coffee table, some sort of entertainment center/cart for media storage, divider (thinking Ikea expedit bookcase). Here is a link to the apartment layout:
    It's the first layout. Let me know what you think.BTW, I'm on a tight budget, having to contractors to do the work, per the coop board.

  2. studioren! yay! you're my tomorrow/thursday project! check back...

  3. 1) OK -- on first look I'd endorse tearing down the wall between the kitchen and living room and laying in nice generous counter -- extend it into the living room by a foot at least so you can pull up stools and sit comfortably under it.

    If you are renovating your kitchen, leave as much unbroken countertop in a single run as you can manage. One stretch of 4 feet is worth 6 X as much as 2 2 foo expanses of counter. You will not regret spending the money on a solid surface like quartz or granite or soapstone -- especially nice.

    2)How important is a formal dining area to you?
    If it's not, I'd suggest looking for a real dropleaf table -- they made a bunch of them in the 40s and 50s -- that collapse down to about a foot wide. Place it upagainst the back of your couch, and open it up only when you have a dinner party. That buys you some more room in your kitchen if you want to extend the counter a bit. That's what I would do, but it's possible that for resale value you'll want to leave an area that is obviously "a dining" area. However, in 473 sq feet... I'm not sure what your eventual buyer can expect.
    Think about mirrors for a backsplash. They can realy expand the feel of the kitchen and are still unusual enough to be cool. (I have mirrored toe kicks in my kitchen and I love it. Bounces a lot of light and drives my cats crazy).
    Don't go to crazy in the kitchen -- stick with white tile and stainless steel or white tile and white appliances. Bring color in with accessories. You want your kitchen to be timeless - tile is a pain to replace, and an eventual buyer will be hapy with white. And so will you.
    3) The obvious place for a queen bed is up against the back wall of the place, across from the bath. You can put it long ways -- they are about 5 feet wide and 7 feet long, so put a 5 foot wide, 2 foot deep dresser at the foot of the bed for additional storage... linens? clothes? then do the curtain trick I talked about in the earlier pos. I'm sort of a one trick pony on the bed canopy but its the best way I know to divide a space and make a bed feel special without blocking air flow and sight lines and making the place feel smaller.
    And its a great way to bring in color and pattern for a minimal financial and time comitment. Make friends with a staple gun. Finish raw edges with grosgrain ribbon -- can be very tailored or very hip or very girly or very romantic, depending on how you do it. You'll also need to make friends with a glue gun. But both of these things are very nice and handy to have. The bed curtain would leave the bed open to the living room. You'll need 9 yards. Check ebay for fabric, or, or some other online place. I found a bunch recently looking with another friend.
    4) Place a sectional or large couch with a club chair and ottoman on the end of the room near the wndows. You can be picky about the couches. They are hard to unload, so don't be afraid to drive a bargain. Put the drop leaf table behind the sofa (and pop it out for dinner parties.. but mostly people will naturally eat on the couch, or at the kitchen bar.)
    5) I'll post specific furniture finds as I see them, in suites, on this blog. Remember to jump on craigslist stuff that you love -- the good stuff goes quickly. And remember -- you have to start somewhere -- so commit to a couch, or a table, or a rug, or a fabric, and build from there -- editing as you go. You can live very haooily in probably 15 styles... youll need to pick one. Think of the whole place as a single unit, like a high-end hotel room. You can put me in your RSS feed or google reader so you'll be alerted when I post.
    Ok posting this so my crapy computer doesn't freeze up before I can. More to come.

  4. omg I just did a long comment to you and of course my stupid computer timed out. Complete comments by Friday, with links. (updated as I find them!)

  5. oooh it showed up. heaven. Still. check back.