Monday, January 1, 2007

2006 Magna Awards

MAGNAVERDE




Posted Jan 01, 2007 03:37 AM Jan 01, 2007 03:37 AM

NO, I didn't miss the deadline, I'm floating on a raft somewhere in the Pacific Ocean where it's not quite yet midnight...


it's the....


2OO6
M A G N A
AWARDS

please stand by for technical difficulties
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Posts: 1396 | Location: Chicago IL | Registered: Sep 18, 2002


MAGNAVERDE




Posted Jan 01, 2007 07:16 AM Jan 01, 2007 07:16 AM

Ok, I landed safe in Honolulu, where it's just now turning 12. Sorry for the last-minute time zone change, folks. Everything was hunky dory until about 7pm Chicago time last night, when I somhow zapped everything I had spent the last 3 days working on. So then it was time to try to redo it all by memory, hence the delay before boarding.

Anyway, I wish I could stay around for the fireworks--I'm predicting visitors!--but now I have to go crash for a few hours, because today is the Very Last Day of the big show of Biedermeier furniture up at the Milwaukee Art Museum, and I have to have a little bit of sleep before I head down to the train station. I'll be back later tonight. In the meantime, feel free to throw rose petals--or tomatoes. It doesn't really matter because I'll be a hundred miles away, and I'll be sleeping all the way there.

One last thing. Don't forget, it's a tradition around here that these posts will get blasted to smithereens come tomorrow morning, so if you want anything from here, cut & paste now, becauee a link will do you no good this time tomorrow. I know. I learned the hard way. Meantime, have a good day, all. It's been fun. Except, of course, for the jet lag.
M.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posts: 1396 | Location: Chicago IL | Registered: Sep 18, 2002


MAGNAVERDE





Posted Jan 01, 2007 03:41 AM Jan 01, 2007 03:41 AM

MOST WELCOMING KITCHEN...PATTY LOUISE

Last year, I ended the awards with a hope that maybe this year, I'd spot a great country-style room, or a cool modern room so that I could broaden the range of the awards. And LO, it came to pass, and in the form of Patty Louise's warm, welcoming kitchen. Normally, I'm not a big fan of country decor because too often, it tends to slide into the cutesy if you don't watch out--and I hate cute: one time a woman came to my place, looked around & said "Ooohhh, I loooove what you've done with this place! It's soooooo cuuuuute" and was immediately banned for ninety days--but when it's done with a straight face & no nonsense, country style & I get along just fine.

Anyway, Patty Louise's whole house is great, but it's her kitchen that gets the award, because kitchens have to be wonderful for them to even register with me, and this one is. What makes it so appealing is Patty Louise's--and this is a word you'll see a lot of in this year's awards--restraint. I remember when walking through a "country" kitchen meant having to bob & weave like a prizefighter just so you could avoid the dusty strings of dried herbs & flowers & who-knows-what-all that used to hang from the plastic-beamed ceilings, and if there were Mason jars on the counter, they were sure to be tied up with gingam bows, and decorated with hand-drawn labels that announced in old-timey letters "Beans" or "Rice" for the convenience of those who couldn't otherwise recognize beans or rice. Then there were the plastic eggs on the plastic straw in the greasy, dusty twig basket with--of course--a limp gingam bow on the handle. It was enough to put me off my feed, and if a real country woman had ever come across all that junk she would have tossed it out the back door and put that place to order lickety split.

That's what I love about Patty Louise's kitchen. There's no nonsense about it. Not only are there are no pretend vittles in them jars up above, and no quilted sayings hanging up where they oughtn't be, but it has the one thing that all real farmhouses have in abundance: honesty. Patty Louise's stove is clearly new & it makes no bones about it. It ain't playin' dress-up like it's an old coal stove, and it ain't pretendin' it's part of the cabinets. On the farm, a spade is a spade, and a brand-new stove is a brand-new stove and they ain't no point playin' otherwise. That's tomfoolery.

Anyway, that's what distinguishes a real country kitchen from a stage set where the modern appliances all play peekaboo behind silly false fronts: the willingness to face the truth, whether or not it's pretty. And Patty Louise's kitchen, is pretty, wonderful pretty. I could sit right down & eat a slab of pie, and I don't even like pie. Leastways, I didn't like pie till last summer, when out of good manners, I told an old country lady who offered it that, yes, I'd like a piece of pie. She apologized for the fact that it warn't fresh--that is, she'd made it the night before, after the sun went down & the kitchen cooled down a bit--and I smiled & got ready to choke it down. What she called a piece of pie, I called half the dish. But it was too late: I was stuck. Then I tasted it. Now this was pie. I was used to crust that was either as hard as a rock--like my grandmother's pies--or soggy as wet cardboard--like the ones from the bakery--but this stuff was actually good, light & flaky, just like they used to say on the commercials. And I told her, in total honesty, that it was the first time in my life I had ever tasted good pie crust. Of course, she replied that "women nowadays don't know beans how to cook". What she meant was, most women don't use lard. I could feel my arteries clogging up right there, but I knew that at least I could die happy, having finally had a decent piece of pie. Anyway, that's the feeling I get from Patty Louise's kitchen: it's the real thing. She didn't copy it out of a magazine, or from some TV show or movie she watched. It's not a "Dream Kitchen" It's just a real down-home kitchen. But it's a kitchen that came out of her heart, and it shows. The magic of natural light--it must be time for breakfast--is the other thing you'll see in this year's rooms. Nothing can beat it.Congratulations, Patty Louise.Posts: 1396 | Location: Chicago IL | Registered: Sep 18, 2002


MAGNAVERDE




Posted Jan 01, 2007 03:44 AM Jan 01, 2007 03:44 AM

MOST IMPACT FOR THE LEAST OUTLAY...LUVTOWRITE

In the last 5 years--thanks to TV--a lot of people have come to think of a can of red paint as some sort of decorating miracle cure-all, as if it could magically transform a dull room into a showplace. But it isn't, and it can't. A lot of the time all a coat of red paint does is to emphasize by contrast how boring such a room truly is. I can't wait until the day when strong color goes back to being just one tool in the decorator's bag of tricks, not the whole bag itself. In the meantime, Luvtowrite's transformation of an unremarkable space into a memorable one infused with style is a great example of how to create magic with nothing more than paint & a few mirrors.

In the before picture, the stone of the fireplace looks dull & drab in contrast to the big, washed-out wall in the back. But the choice of a red in the same tonal range as the stone, and on the same warm side of the spectrum, enlivens the look of the fireplace wall as a whole, and enhances the subtle, varying tones of the individual stones. The change of accessories is equally powerful. In the before picture, the wall hanging's problem--like that of the stone--is that too much contrast with that pale wall flattens out its own textures. Not only that, but there's too much visual & textural similarity between the fireplace wall & the hanging: both are darkish, vareigated & square, and the fireplace wins by sheer size. You don't even notice the hanging. It's just a dark thing on the wall.

Replacing that hanging with the three mirrors succeeds for several reasons. One is merely size. This grouping takes up more physical space than the hanging did, which automatically gives it more impact. The mirrors' dark frames also add the one thing that was sorely lacking before: value contrast. Before, everything was too similar: the stone, the table, the hanging, the floor.Even the darker accent color on the window wall didn't have much impact because it was still too close to the other values. Now, with a new baseline--the dark frames of the mirrors--the rest of the tones in the room fall into place. Even the ceiling, now that it contrasts with the wall instead of blending into it, takes on an active role, as the lightest element in the equation.

And that's not all. The varying light reflections in the mirror take on added importance from the crisp contrast with their surrounding dark frames. A mirror in an oak frame to match the table, or in a gold frame, or an unframed mirror wouldn't have nearly as much impact. The dark frames are what add that important third dimension. Then let's talk about rhythm. Luvtowrite could have taken up just as much space with one large mirror, or one bigger (and darker) hanging. Or she could have made a grouping of several different mirrors in different sizes or different frames, or a mirror and--no, please, no--a pair of matching sconces. Instead, her use of multiples of the same mirror makes a much stronger statment than a bunch of different sizes & style would have made. A single one of these mirrors would only be a mirror, but adding two more of them elevates the whole grouping into a design of its own. Lastly, look at the wonderful contribution the mirrors' diagonals make. Hung on the square, they still would have added the needed tonal accents, but this orientation--and the way she has hung them staggered, rather than lined up like ducks--extends beyond the edges of the grouping & echoes the angle of the ceiling & the shape of the light above the table. Look how much livelier the whole room is now. Sure, using a red of the correct color & value helps, but it's Luvtowrite's assured use of contrast, repetition & variation that takes the room to a whole new level.

Lastly, lt's talk about one more thing: the wonderful difference that comes with natural lighting. All of this year's awards go to rooms that were photgraphed with available light. You can create the prettiest room ever, but it will never come across with a harsh white flash, and because we can't see these sooms in person, the only way to capture the feel they have in real life & share it with others is to use the light by which they're normally seen. In Luvtowrite's after shot, the stones that looked so dingy in the glare of the flash positively glow with the warmth of the light reflected from the floor, as do the voluptous curves of the table's tegs. The beautiful light she captured in this shot would be perfect for a leisurely Sunday afternoon meal about this time of year. Years from now, which lighting choice will better capture what she most loves about this room? Don't forget, the future's right around the corner, & it's important to document the background of our daily lives. Think about it: if our rooms have problems & we need to ask for help with them, natural light is important to use because it makes it easier for others to diagnose problems, but when there's something good that we've worked hard to create, and which we want to rememeber, doesn't it make even more sense to show it off to its best advantage? Take a lesson from these two shots, friends, and learn to take photos with natural light. With today's digital cameras, it's not that difficult. It may take a little while to get the hang of it, but it's worth the effort. Flash is for mug shots & crime scenes.
Posts: 1396 | Location: Chicago IL | Registered: Sep 18, 2002


MAGNAVERDE





Posted Jan 01, 2007 03:45 AM Jan 01, 2007 03:45 AM

MOST SOPHISTICATED SMALL ROOM...BALEGO

Last year, I got confused and handed out an award to a room that had appeared on another board, and I was instantly accused--in one or two sarcastic posts on the board and in a bunch of huffy PMs--of making the person up. Fortunately, another board-jumper like me who remembered seeing the room before--it was Zuzu's--came to my defence, and not only that, she added all Zuzu's other pictures which, fortunately for us, she had saved. At first, I felt bad--not for screwing up, which, believe me, happens all the time, but for being accused of cheating--but after my defender posted the other photos of Zuzu's house & we all got the chance to experence her effortless-looking style, I was glad I had made the faux-pas of introducing a very talented person to a whole new audience.

With a similar goal of widening this board's exposure to talent--wherever it may originate--here is a room that knocked me out in with its low-key sophistication, fresh from another popular decorating board where it first appeared last spring: Balego, like Zuzu, showed up looking for suggestions, and predictably, like Zuzu, she got them, but it didn't matter. After everybody else had finished with their litany of cliches, I butted in & said."You don't need to do anything else: your beautiful room is already finished."

Balego's room's moody, intimate glamour is the direct opposite of Zuzu's light-&-airy look, but what I love is the thing that both rooms--and all this year's awards' rooms, for that matter--have in common: their simplicity & restraint These people know when to stop. There's not a thing more that this room needs. No runners on the table, no trimmings on the curtains, no beads on the shades, no funky accent rug under the table to emphasize all those legs (and catch crumbs & spills), no distracting accent pillows in other colors on the sofa. What's more, there's not a single pattern in sight. A room like this doesn't need extraneous patterns, because there's so much interest in the contrasting values, the handsome silhouettes of the furniture & the beautiful modulation of natural & artificial light. It doesn't even need any more color than it has. It is every bit as sophisticated & glamorous as the elegant drawing rooms in old black-&-white Fred Astaire movies, yet it doesn't have a single piece that alludes to that period. That's what makes a room timeless: not the fact that it's good-looking, but that there are no clues by which it can easily be dated.

But here's the amazing part: this room has no volume ceiling, no pot lights, no open-plan vistas into other areas, no huge windows that it costs a fortune to curtain, none of the things that so many people consider must-haves today. It also doesn't have what almost all new houses feature: a big recess for the TV, which means that the electronics have to sit out right there in plain sight on top of the mantel. Oh sure, Balego could have hidden the TV in a big old honking entertainment center, but that would have eaten up a lot of visual space in a room that isn't very big to begin with. And for what? To hide something that doesn't really need to be hidden in the first place. I love the way Balego treats the TV the same way she does any other item in the room: neither as something to hide, nor as a focal point to make a big deal about. It's just there. Such a forthright, honest approach is never wrong.

Here's the other amazing part: if you look at any of these pieces individually, they're not all that remarkable. I've seen chairs like this dozens of places. Same with the lamps, and the chandelier. The sofas don't look like anything so extraordinary, and the curtains are as plain as they could possibly be without going away completely. The only thing, in fact, that you couldn't pick up at any big home store is the art on the walls, and there's a simple reason for that: this is Balego's own work. She's an artist. Then again, this whole room demonstrates that fact. What separates an artist from a copyist is an artist has the ability to create a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts. Broken down, a Picasso drawing is nothing more than charcoal & paper. Here, Balego has taken materials available just about anywhere, and by her skillful use of contrasting textures, tones & the varied effects of light & shadow, she has raised the entire room to the level of a work of art. That's what makes an artist: knowing how to use the materials at hand to best advantage. That, and knowing when a work is finished. This one is, and beautifully. Way to go, Balego. Why not drop in over here, some time?Posts: 1396 | Location: Chicago IL | Registered: Sep 18, 2002


MAGNAVERDE





Posted Jan 01, 2007 03:48 AM Jan 01, 2007 03:48 AM

MOST AMUSING MAKEOVER--TOOTS

Toots & I go way back. As a member of the old HGTV boards, she joined this board on Day One, the same day I did. A lot of people--funny, talented, good-hearted people, have joined since then. but sad to say, a lot of them have gone away for one reason or another. I, for one miss them, even if I didn't always agree with them. Toots, however, is definitely here for the long haul. I try to stop in most days, but Toots is here every single day, and by her post total, I think she must be on here all day. She says gardening keeps her young, but I can't see how she could possibly have any time left for that. I think it's her good nature that keeps her young. That, and the fact that when it comes to the garden, she really does seem to know everything. Therefore, she's always helping others, and when you're constantly helping people, that can keep you young, too.

As far as I can remember, I only benefitted from Toots' plant knowledge once, when I threw out what I feared was a really obscure question about a rose that seemed to have been everywhere back in the early 196Os, but which I hadn't seen in decades. I gave the best description I could, considering that I was only ten years old the year I saw it in my grandmother's garden, but Toots came back with the answer, and she did it in about ten minutes: Tropicana. I can only imagine how much help she must give to people who--unlike me: I live on the 4th floor of a 192Os apartment building--actually have real gardens. But she's just as helpful over here on the decorating board. If she doesn't have the answer at hand, she knows where to find it & she gives you links to a whole website about that particular question. And she's a whiz with photoshop. Anyway, when I told that rose story on the board a while back, someone wrote back and said "Isn't Toots a treasure?" and, indeed, she is.

Best of all, Toots is funny. More than a few times, her good sense of humour has been what pulled back from the brink a thread ready to go into one of the occasional meltdowns that seem to happen on any message board where such a diverse group of people gather. I don't have time to look into every thread, or to always read all the comments in a particular thread, but whenever I'm scrolling through a thread and see Toots' smiling avatar, I always stop to see what she has to say. It's just about always either helpful or funny, and often, it's both. Even if it's a topic I don't care about--like what color somebody used on some show last night--I stop if I see Toots' name as the last poster. If nothing else, her avatar--those wacky glasses, the hat-from-I-don't-know-where, the big kind smile--always put me in a good mood. If there's something in her answer that's useful to me personally, well, that's just a side benefit. It's the smile that gets me every time.She smiles; I smile back.

Except my smile turned into a Pepsi-spit a few weeks back when she gave herself a holiday makeover. For anybody who's on this board for the first time today, here's what you missed: Toots "disguised" as you-know-who. I remember sitting on his lap at the old Bloch & Kuhl store in Danville, Illinois & screaming my head off in terror, but if he'd looked like this, it would have been a whole lot less scary. I probably would have laughed instead of having bad dreams about the guy for the next few months. Toys or no toys, he gave me the creeps. Anyway, Toots' funny impersonation cracked me up, but I'm still glad to see her with her gardening hat back on and sans beard. You can play dress-up, but don't ever leave us, Toots.Posts: 1396 | Location: Chicago IL | Registered: Sep 18, 2002


MAGNAVERDE




Posted Jan 01, 2007 03:51 AM Jan 01, 2007 03:51 AM


MOST UNEXPECTED STORYLINE TWIST...BELLA & RAYMANRETRO

Albert Einstein was the first person to propose the theory that time progresses at different speeds, depending on our location & our own speed. Well, that was just a theory but we have proof: at Pecan Place, time moves faster. Or maybe it moves slower.Whatever the h*ll is going on down there, Bella & Raymanretro always seem to accomplish more than the rest of us do in the same amount of time.

Of course, Bella's always been that way. It seems like it was only a day or two between the time she was thinking about stripping the paint in her old living room & the time she had faux-grained the whole place. Then I went to lunch & when I got back, she had gone & papered the room. On my coffee break, she papered the ceiling. Then she lnocked down a wall & redesigned the hallway. Then she redid her dining room set, then she papered the room. Then she built a whole beamed ceiling by herself & hung a new fixture. Then she paperd that ceiling. And she did all that stuff--with step-by-step tutorials for us sidewalk supervisors--in her "free" time, when she wasn't working, or shopping for stuff she needed for the house. In the back of my mind I remember something about a door...Anyway, that was last year. Old news. This year, she went to a flea market & came back with a house. And a guy. Make that a great house and a great guy. Talk about a perfect match. These two are going places, and doing it at warp speed. And what have I done this year? Well, I've thought about painting the living room. I feel like a total slacker.

But it wasn't just that Bella & Raymanretro found each other--that happens to lots of couples--or the fact that we got to watch things develop--although, if you were like me, you missed all the little clues that Bella dropped along the way: sometimes you have to hit me ovee the head or shake me awake--but that when when it came time to put all the pieces together, the two of them did it in such great style. Actually, though, those of us on the boards weren't rally the only ones who had a surprise in store. Because when Bella found out that their new town's annual parade was in direct conflict with their big day, and that because the parade route would come directly past their new place & would therefore complicate the arrival of their guests, she simply made an end run around the problem. That is, she applied the old advice "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em", and insinuated the two of them into the actual parade itself. Without, by the way, mentioning any of this to Rayman. She hired a carriage & a driver & had it timed so perfectly that one minute, Rayman was adjusting his top hat in the mirror, and the next thing he knows, he's rolling down the street in an antique carriage, waving & smiling to the noisy crowds lined up along the street just like a real-life Ferris Bueller, except that Ferris was by himself & Rayman had his beautiful & resourceful bride-to-be right there beside him, right up til the time the whole entourage pulled up at the front gate of their new home, whereupon they disembarked from the carriage & walked up their front steps to get married. Holy kamoly, what an entrance. If the decorating thing doesn't work out, Bella can always find work writing screenplays And just think, every year, for every anniversary, the whole town will help them celebrate.

Of course, they haven't slowed down since then. What with Rayman's electrical expertise (and his hoard of cool vintage appliances & lighting fixtures) & Bella's knack for getting the right look (even if it means painting 6,000 flowers on a ten-foot ceiling) & Tammy Loves Roses' assistance & natural good taste, they've already managed to give their house the setlled atmosphere that normally only comes after decades of loving care. To look at the pictures of their house, you'd swear they'd lived there forever. They also have a great talent for spinning straw into gold. When they ended up with an ugly French Provincial living room set, they somehow spun it into a historic church pew, full of time worn character, which pew, of course, they had just the perfect spot for on the sunny back porch that they ripped apart & redid after all the wedding guests had gone home that day. Don't you wish real life was like that? And don't you know that one of these days, we're going to see Pecan Place in a glossy magazine spread, with Bella & Rayman out front, sitting in the porch swing where it all started? The best part is we got to see it here first. I just can't wait to see what surprise these two will pull out of their sleeves next. What a couple!

Posts: 1396 | Location: Chicago IL | Registered: Sep 18, 2002


MAGNAVERDE




Posted Jan 01, 2007 03:58 AM Jan 01, 2007 03:58 AM

BEST HOLIDAY STRESS RELIEVER....Mxxx Rxxx (Name hidden to protect the "innocent")

Just when you've think you've seen it all! Just when you think you know your board-mates. Yikes! I was away from my own computer & using the machine in a pal's kitchen a week or so ago, on the day this thing went up (no pun intended) on the board, and therefore, not being logged in, I couldn't see the picture everybody else was giggling about. All I could see was the red X. Ironically, for the first time ever the red X actually meant something, but did I heed that warning? Nooooooo. Nor did I give adequate thought to just why the view total & the comment total seemed to be growing bigger every second (no pun inteneded). No, I innocently logged on to my account & voila! this...thing... popped up (N.P.I.) onscreen at the Exact. Same. Moment. that said pal's 12 year-old son happened to be passing through the kitchen.

I heard him coming down the hall & had just turned around in the chair to greet him, but instead of meeting my gaze & saying hi, Junior's eyes flashed toward the screen, then his mouth flew open in a huge laugh & he yelled "MAG! what are you LOOKING at?" I spun around in my seat, saw the "tree" & then I busted up too, which brought Dad around the corner follwed by Little Sister. Sis took one look at the screen, didn't see what all the fuss was about & went back to the TV. Good thing. The rest of us just sat there cracking up. After my pal got his breath back he said "Is this what you do online?" but in the meantime, Junior had already hit the PRINT SCRN button & was even now removing the copy from the printer, which copy he then waved around in the air above his head, dancing & laughing "I'm gonna hang this in my locker at school!" Well, Junior was fast, but Dad was faster & he snatched it out of Junior's hand & said "The H*LL you will."

Junior, rolling his eyes, went off to watch TV with his sister & Dad sat down at the computer to read through the thread & even though he didn't know anybody, he got a big laugh out of the whole thing. Not as big, though, as Mom did, when she came in the door a bit later & heard the story. Later, after dinner, I was heading out the door when Mom called from the other room said "Oh, by the way, Mag, thanks again for making it so I'll have to monitor all home-made decorations around here for the next 5 years." I told her not to worry, that, thanks to the internet, versions of Mxxx Rxxx's centerpiece will have been spotted on tables all over the world by this time next year. Anyway, we have a new trend setter in our midst, and we were right here on the ground floor when it all began. Yes, right here on the ground floor, rolling around & laughing.

Anyway, MR made me promise I wouldn't give her an award for her cool painted chairs last fall, but I didn't say she wouldn't get any award, and this little project certainly took the cake.Posts: 1396 | Location: Chicago IL | Registered: Sep 18, 2002


MAGNAVERDE




Posted Jan 01, 2007 07:01 AM Jan 01, 2007 07:01 AM

MOST CALMING ROOM--PHOBE

We move from the banners & cheering crowds of Bella & Raymanretro's wedding day to the peace & quiet of Phobe's lovely living room, a Crafstsman/Arts & Crafts harmony in gold & green. Looking at this soothing, simple room, you wonder how in the world this style ever managed to fall so far from grace that 35 years ago, you could have recreated this whole room from scratch for less than $2OO. I know you could, because when I was in college, Goodwill & the second-hand stores of Peoria were jammed with the furniture like this, and the sad-sack owners would practically pay you to take it off their hands. Young & foolish as I was, I passed it up. It wasn't even that I didn't like it. It was just that the stuff was so common I figured I could pick it up any time for a few dollars. It seemed like there was an endless supply of the stuff. Then there was a big exhibit of Arts & Crafts style furniture at the Art Institure of Chicago, and suddenly--almost overnight--the Goodwill cupboards were bare. Live & learn.

These days, we again appreciate this style as much as people did when it was new a hundred years ago. Back then, too many decades of busy wall-to-wall carpeting, too many layers of dusty curtains at the windows, too many meaningless knick-knacks on every horizintal surface had led to an unconscious desire for a simpler approach, so when house designs by Frank Loyd Wright & Will Bradley were published in the Ladies' Home Journal, the public was ready for it. And if most people couldn't afford a new Prairie-Style house, they could afford the Mission-style furniture in the Sears Roebuck & Montgomery Ward catalogs. A lot of that early catalog furniture is still around, and if it's a lot more expensive than the veneered particleboard knockoffs at the big box stores--and it is--it's also a lot better made. A friend of mine has a Mission-style sideboard that her hardscrabble old granny hauled ashore when she spotted it floating down a flooded river one spring during the 193Os. It's still in use. Oh, sure, it has a few gouges where it met some rocks on its way downstream, but it's as solid as ever & its story is lots more interesting than "We got it on sale at Target."

Either way, whether you have the real thing or a new copy, the stuff is handsome. But what sets apart Phobe's room from so many other attempts at the style is her sense of restraint. There's nothing superfluous here. No fussy window treatments to block the viwew and obstruct the limped reflections on the ceiling & the door, no beaded pillows you have to wrestle with to sit down on the sofa, no pot of fake ivy on top of the handsome desk in the corner. This room is already wonderful and it doesn't need any of that stuff. Too many people get so involved in the process of decorating that they forget its purpose--to make a home comfortable--and as a result, their rooms sink like a stone under the weight of too many details, too many accessories. That problem, of course, is exacerbated by our consumer economy, but the impulse to overdo things goes way back. One time J*sus went to dinner at the home of his friends Mary & Martha, and he wasn't really discussing decorating, but we can still apply the common sense advice he gave to his perfectionist hostess: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious & troubled about many things, but few things are needed. Or only one."

So exactly what did Phobe do here? Just about everything. She stripped the trim down to its beautiful wood, painted the walls, rounded up the furniture, and if I recall, she reupholstered some of it, maybe by herself. At any rate, the feeling that this room has been this way forever is an illusion. And that's the hardest illusion of all to pull off: making it look like you didn't do anything. Congratulations, Phobe. Wish I was there.Posts: 1396 | Location: Chicago IL | Registered: Sep 18, 2002

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