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.

Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Meg's Marvelous Maison

My friend Meg is a preternaturally stylish 27-year-old who has somehow at her tender age mastered the art of being fabulously cluttered. It's English Country House meets American Blue Blood (she went to the University of the South and wore black gowns to class like Harry Potter and is in the Junior League where she takes her volunteer duties at a domestic violence shelter very seriously. She's also a frighteningly good shot).
At my insistence she took photos so I could show you what I mean. I went to her wonderful, richly layered 644-square foot apartment in a 1920's era building in DC for her birthday (Very Norma Desmond) -- homemade Bolognese for 30 on the roof overlooking National Cathedral and Georgetown -- and this is what I saw. I was humbled. Girl's. Got. It.

I actually gave her a pair of those antique Chinese lanterns for her birthday. She admired them at my house, and I am trying to de-Circus my place, so I was happy to gift them. It's nice to know they have a good home. Naturally she mailed me a perfect thank you note on embossed stationary within a day.

Isn't this perfect? Who can pull off plaid curtains? Meg, that's who. The map to the left of the window is an antique, with pushpins all the places her grandfather served in the foreign service. Please try not to gawk at the picture of him with the Queen of England. It's embarrassing.

Here are some close-ups of details.

I presume that desk is where she penned her thank you note to me, in correct blue/black ink.

A blue velvet couch from Craigslist, for something like $200. A cashmere throw she traded miles for.

"Oh hi, I bought this etagere long before they were trendy so I could stack my books perfectly. Are you jealous? Don't be. "

Notice how she unites different lamps with red silk shades.

Observe below: the correct use of a dresser in a living room.

Her kitchen is tiny, but still she managed to feed 30 people an amazing roof-top dinner.

Nothing but cream tapers in candelabra please.
Just so you don't forget she's an Amerrkin:

Oh this old elephant stool? Pish.

Let's use the loo, shall we?

If your antique priceless Persian rug is too big, simply fold it over. That's what all the chic girls do these days. Good gravy, I admire her style.

Carefully edited beauty products.

And come ON. Silver service on the john? Yes please.

A well-deployed garden stool. And a clock in case you're running late, splashing about in eau de parfum and toilet water and face powder and the like.

And now to sleep, if not to dream. But seriously, she made those awesome curtains.

Check the pops of color: yellow, turquoise, red. Gutsy!
This is how you decorate a small room: fearlessly. Let it be cozy and layered. Don't try to make it something it's not (ie, big and airy).

Those curtains again. She made em!

To my knowledge this is not her family's steed, but it may as well be. We'd believe it. She should tell people that.

Check out the confident mix of blues, below.

Chang Kai-shek did not give these to her grandfather, from what I heard.

Every bedroom needs a monkey lamp and ginger jar. Red silk shades again.
Thanks for the tour, Meg, and for making the rest of us feel inadequate.
If it's any consolation she's a TERRIBLE driver and is allergic to peaches.


  1. Jeez oh Pete! That's a great little home.
    Note to me: now that the dog has died, find a priceless Persian carpet for the loo!

  2. Meg would be appalled that you called it a "couch." Couches, says Meg, are for frat boys. That's a SOFA, darling.

  3. So much to love in that little nest. Well done, Meg!


  4. wow, and to think you have friends who stil have futons in their living rooms. haha yikes i need to grow up a bit

  5. That's the woman I'll make my wife.