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I keep looking at interior decorating stuff.

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem.

It's moving that does it to me, I think. I am moving to what is effectively a blank canvas. I find myself staring at websites that have galleries, and not the good kind, but the kind that use words like "chintz" and "floral motifs" and discuss stencilling.

I'm not sure what chintz is, but I'm pretty sure I hate it.

The problem is that the very notion of interior decorating fills me with mild self-loathing, because it's so! damn! girly! I am opposed to girly the way that I am opposed to testing cosmetics on bunnies. And it's all so...y'know. Thing. Sort've...housewifeish. No one has yet dared to call me a housewife, despite my working at home, which has fortunately prevented me from having to rip anyone's limbs off and club them to death with the bloody stumps while screaming "I AM A PROFESSIONAL ARTIST, ASSHOLE!" (Possbly people can sense this from some distance away, which is the reason it's never come up.) But still, being a prickly sort, I am twitchy about any activities that might in any way imply any such thing.

But nevertheless, I find myself eyeing the sorts of magazines that advise carrying around paint chips and fabric swatches, with headlines that advise "Turn Your Kitchen Into a Mediterranean Shaker Country Modern Retreat in 471 Easy Steps!" with the mild guilt of someone eyeing porn. (Actually rather more guilt, since the internet has desensitized me but good.)

Maybe it's art guilt. I have the Legitimate Artist's contempt for art that matches the sofa. I have a mug that says "Good art won't match your sofa," in case I forget. This has spread, unfortunately, into a deep-seated belief that if the art doesn't clash violently with the furniture, I am pandering to the establishment. (What establishment?) In fact, I think on some level I believe that if, for even one moment, I consider my home as an aesthetic whole and attempt to alter it--or god forbid, try to get something to match something else--I am swearing allegiance to the Martha-Stewart capitalist running-dog home decor-military-industrial complex and they'll find me curled into fetal position with a copy of Better Homes & Gardens hanging out of my mouth.

The other problem, of course, is that I have about as much chance of decorating as an elephant shrew of learning the polka. I have visited endless websites that promise to tell me how to redesign my apartment on a shoestring budget. This has taught me that my definition of a shoestring budget is obviously a little different than these authors. My decorating budget is anything I find in the couch cushions, and I am, of neccessity, confined to a series of rental apartments. I look at these palatial mansions with glorious bay windows and cathedral ceilings and fireplaces roughly the size of my car and am filled with enthusiasm, only to face the fact that I live in a (larger than the last one!) shoebox with mandatory white walls and dark faux-wood cabinets. Repaint the place in blue-violet and copper? Love to, but the landlord would suffer apoplexy. Such is life. (On t'other hand, I also look at these hideous overstuffed floral-printed bright-yellow-and-pink bedrooms that make me want to run shrieking into the night, so I suppose it balances out.)

In the end, I always just shove the furniture against the walls, try to cram the art into the new place (always a challenge...) and call it good. Utilitarian R Us. And my vague dreams of an actual decor go by the wayside. And a few months go by, and I again find myself lurking in the home section of book stores, looking at books with the word "Style" and "Chic" in the title. They do not make any books entitled "Eclectic Disaster Style for Artists" designed for people who have more art than furniture, and who's net possessions, by weight, are more than half books.

But hey, if I ever manage to get around to decorating, maybe I'll write one. "Step One: If you must have art that matches the sofa, paint it yourself..."

Our sense of interior decorating has mostly been limited to get rid of the terrifying wallpaper and paint the walls. Though I do stencilling -- really need to finish because a half-stencilled hallway looks dumb -- when I have Uncontrollable Moments of Nesting.

(Strawberry vines in the hall, something squarely geometric for the living room when I acquire tuits, and the Chinese character for 'water' for the bathroom once we strip that and repaint it.)

They do not make any books entitled "Eclectic Disaster Style for Artists" designed for people who have more art than furniture, and who's net possessions, by weight, are more than half books.

Sounds like me... though I'm by no means "professional"...

Write one! I'd buy it, for one.


One thing that can make a surprising amount of difference is putting a few pieces at angles. Then you can get small tables or shelves or whatever for the corners, and put neat things like plants and lamps on them, and it feels a lot classier somehow.

I get lots and lots of bookshelves, line all the walls with them. And then I grab my acrylics, and paint frolicking animals, and birds in the bathroom.

That's been my decorating mode. :)

We got matching furniture for several rooms, towels that matched the color of the guest bathroom, and we have a painting (Or print of one) over the fireplace that matches the colors of the room.

Now, granted, I HATE that painting and want to alter it with a flame thrower, but it was a gift from my mother-in-law and I'm stuck with the damn thing. The rest of it I blame on a bonus and the vague idea of stepping beyond the "I found a table by the dumpster, help me get it through the door!" style of decorating we used to adhere to

Check out the Trading Spaces Site, it might give you some ideas. I apologize for the popups ahead of time, it's the discovery channels fault.

It might provide some inspiration and it has a few "how-to" guides with relatively smaller budget that you can improvise on. I don't really do home decorating aside from watching that show, so that's all I can help you with.

Interior decorating..the entertaining way.


Re: Interior decorating..the entertaining way.

should have been www.toreadors.com/martha/


I have the same problem, I hope to move as soon as possible and I find myself pondering wallpapers and paints. I consider getting a new house like a huge crafts project where I get to cut and paint and sniff glue (and roll them into those annoying little balls and bounce them off other people's heads).

I know one thing for sure though, I'm going to need the hugest bookcase ever. Ofcourse a trip to go buy furniture is an exercise in restraint all on it's own as I'm a sucker for desks, nice roomy smooth desks, with drawers. Mmmm..

I need that mug.

You're an artist! Of course you want to live in a really cool-looking place. Martha Stewart got nothing to do with it.

And my suggestion: If you must have art that matches the sofa, get the art first and find a sofa to match.


Make the art first, and then design a sofa to match. Just to your specifications, on size, color, fluffiness, and ability to unfold into a bed or a robot or something. But size comes first, or you might suddenly realize your purchase doesn't fit through either door of the house and you'll have to take out a window. Not that that's ever happened to me.

Ursula, are you wanting to decorate because you're unsatisfied with your place's decor, or because the magazines tell you you should be? You don't seem like the kind of person who would (a) succumb to cultural advertising, (b) write in your LJ about it, and yet (c) not notice what's really going on -- therefore, it can be assumed that you're decorating for the right reason, namely, cos ya like it! Disgusting, isn't it? Imagine, a visual artist having preferences for how things should look.

I certainly question my own motivation for certain activities and desires that happen to be culturally mandated. I like most pop music, for instance, and have to work hard not to hate myself for it. Makeup catches my attention at a distance, even though I dislike the idea of kissing chemicals. Ultimately, you can't let that stuff get you down; if your culture has left you with a genuine, unshakeable desire to decorate, even if it doesn't square with your other likes and dislikes ... stop trying to move the immovable object, and just decorate to your heart's content. ('til your heart's content? sp?)

One more general comment before I go:

*!#$ Martha Stuart! Long live the resistance!


Hmm.. Where can I get said sofa that transforms into a robot?!? :D

The housewife bug

Hi Ursula,
I had a friend who lived in military housing and couldn't get creative with his walls due to regs so he built fake walls that stood about 3 inches away from the real ones. He and his wife had a blast decorating.
Here's a thought: Why not make the furniture match the Art? Refabric the couch and stuff.you could make wombat pillows even; as well as cardnil bird throw rugs. You could have a really unique home.

[Alopex] Don't think of it as decorating your house. Think as it as being set designer for the filming of your life. A slight tweaking of your perspective could do a lot for your guilt!

Personally, if I had endless money I'd build a home designed after the Hobbit holes in the LoTR movies. I just love their interpretation of Tolkein's descriptions. All that rich wood and the details and the curves and the folksy trinkets scattered around. True, it's kinda like Frank Lloyd Wright meets Martha Stewart in a wombat tunnel, but there's something about the result that is very inviting to me. My hat is off to the LoTR set design crew.

I can just see myself taking a stab at personal set design, throwing my hands in the air, and yelling "Screw it! I'll do it all in CG!" and then bluescreening the rest of my life.

Actually, that's kinda tempting....

Interior designer delurking...

Well, interior design student, which means that I'm not disillusioned enough yet :-)

It doesn't all have to 'match'... that's the tricky part *G*. While we're taking flame throwers to things, I'm going to thorw Martha Stewart, bed-in-a-bags and art-to-match in the pile. If you want to give designing (I hate the word 'decorate' with a burning hot passion) a try, have a look at the space as an entire 3D composition, not a collection of floor/walls/sofa/TV/otherstuff or, worse yet, "the living room". Forget that you're decorating and don't limit yourself to what can be found off the shelf in a store. Paint is your best friend, you can change it fairly easily, and you can do some really interesting things with it... things that will make your walls vibrate and make you go "Damn, that's cool" when you walk in the room. And that's what it should really be about... not having everything perfectly coordinated and put together so it could be photographed for a magazine, but creating a space for yourself (And James, of course), that feels like more than a room and makes you feel good to be in. It makes a difference to how you feel in your home, even though it's a subtle one.

Right now I'm in a stark white apartment that's making my skin crawl, but I've managed to art it up a bit with a few prints and cards. The pieces don't 'match' in the sense that I don't have three perfectly positioned pictures of turnips hanging in the kitchen, but when you take in the whole thing as a whole there's a sense that it works all together as a larger composition (Minus the white walls and the awful student furniture). Everything from colourblock artists, woodcuts, art nouveau, and some of my own work. It's a lot of fun and it's an ongoing process. With your skills as an artist I'd be interested (And a little scared... in a good way, of course *G*) to see what you could come up with. Good luck!

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Our basement "computer and art" room used to be a hideous shade of orange/rust. The bedroom was purple, and they both had one half wall of textured wallpaper. Either it was stylish at the time or they were cheap. The dark colors made each room look like munchkins should live there.

Then we had the great flood of aught three and insurance repainted for us! Woo hoo! We had no idea about what was trendy, but we liked the idea of wallpaper borders, so we had those added to the rooms as well. I read recently that wallpaper borders are so "last year", and I honestly don't care.

I have two canvases that are intended to become masterpieces for the living room area. We're going to have to settle for whatever I can scrawl on them though. :)