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 17, 2010

UPDATE: How The Skies Parted and Erin Made Some Commitments to Furniture

I don't know how, exactly, but my friend and former roommate Erin -- living for the first time on her own in a studio apartment, devoid of everything but a blue ultra-suede couch -- has finally Committed.

I believe it all began with this lovely series of photos she found on House Beautiful. This is what she wants to live in. Weensy problem: she doesn't want to paint the ecru walls in her apartment the lavender above. She can, but she will likely only be in the apartment for eight months and doesn't want to go through the trouble of painting them only to paint them back to white when she moves out. As you can imagine, i take a dim view of that attitude, but I'm so pleased she is finally heading in a direction that I won't ride her too much. Too much.

And then she found this on Craigslist for some wonderfully low sum:

This Empire chest of drawers is perfect for the look above -- stately and masculine. It's stalwartness will be offset by ladylike color ...we'll get into that in a moment.

All, however, is not well in Erin land. I found for her THE IDENTICAL BERGERE CHAIR you see above -- linen, with a little pillow, a smushy and comfy and welcoming but classic too and ladylike and momentous. It was on Etsy and -- sit -- it was $165. That's it. Erin dithered. Do you think I should buy it? she asked me about 30 times via e-mail. I never waivered. When I finally pointed out this chair was exactly the one in the purple pictures, she got in touch with the artisan who was offering the chair and of course, it was gone. Because it was a $165 Bergere chair. Let this be a lesson to you, Erin, I said. Hell hath no fury like me when you don't do what I say when I say it and then decide to do what I say, but it's too late.
UPDATE! However: all is not lost. I just found these two chairs (fingers crossed they are still available) at a local antiques store and they are just $110 each. They will do as is, or with the wood painted white -- tying them into the dining room chairs -- or glossy black (the same as the second dresser, also below). The faded red will work well with the coral table you will see shortly.

Anyhoodle. I just emailed it to Erin, and she better move on these.

Erin was also lurking around this bed:

It doesn't look like much yet but: I am having her reupholster the headboard -- probably in something flowery to capture if not imitate the wonderful Chinese wall paper in the House Beautiful house. I want her to paint the bed aubergine -- a deep dark eggplant.

Then, these chairs: $65. I have convinced her to paint them white (its not hard to convince people that, so you know).

And to upholster them in something fun. I selected some fabrics and sort of paired them. I really like the second pair -- the blue and brown flowered fabric with the chain graphic fabric just under it. The first pink fabric is the closest I could find in a 10 minute search on It could go with the polka dots, but I think that's a little flaccid. The orange and white stripe would be nice, or the black and white chevron.

The lavender daisy fabric could go with the polka dots -- again I think too girly. why did I cinclude those pokla dots at all? -- or the chains. I don't like it with the black and white knots; the circles are too similar. So these are just options. I'd want to go to the fabric store and pick them out in person, and pair them up: but I'd say a floral headboard and a graphic chair seat.

She could also go with a deep purple velvet headboard with some decorative nail heads hammered in along the edges and bring a floral in in pillows. In that case, I'd want to see a panel of glorious Chinese wallpaper, framed -- maybe just artfully covering a large bulletin board.

I found this one. It's British so might take a little while to cross the pond... While it lacks the pink background of the House Beautiful room, there is enough pink in the birds to satisfy me. There is also a version with a light blue background that would also work.

Since the HB room above has touches of electric yellow, I think this fabric should be used on a foot stool or pillow:

The room also needs another touch of color. Erin just found this craigslisted side table in coral for $85. It's perfect.

She also needs a place to put her TV. This dresser will do, painted glossy black (oh stop clutching your pearls and gasping, it's not a museum piece).

and outfitted with these excellent pulls (objects in blog may appear larger than they actually are. These are secretly less than 2 inches.)

Now, to deal with the wall color. This apartment is notable for its impossible-to-penetrate plaster walls -- which obviates a lot of hanging (masonry bits would be involved, and what a pain in the ass that is.), be it drapes or paintings. So I'm thinking she should get 3 8-foot sheets of gypsium/drywall, paint them her desired lavender, and then just stand them up against the wall. They'd be both art (color blocks!) and wall color, and would be portable and could be repainted or upholstered at some later time.

She should look for a wall board that is not meant to be used on curved surfaces. She wants something stiff; in any case she may have to reinforce it to keep it from sagging. I don't think so if she selects this one:

She should paint it Benjamin Moore's California lilac. It seems a little less electric than the purple above, but she doesn't have the great architectural details of that house (trim etc) or the awesome natural light.
Now, for a Bergere chair in natural linen, a couple of small leopard pillows, some kind of coffee table... maybe with chrome on it... and a crystal or glass or mercury glass table lamp or two with black lamp shades to stand in for the chandelier.

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