I’m home, but not “in”

I arrived home this afternoon and immediately noticed how clean everything looked when I opened the door.*  Quite a different view from last year!

While eating a late lunch, I read the Detroit News and grimaced at the Homestyle section: “What’s In for ’14.”  Things high on the list – like open shelving – rank high among my dislikes.

To avoid furniture that lacks character, local designers recommend “vintage-inspired” furniture.  No, no, ¡de ninguna manera! Why waste money on knock-offs when you can have the real thing?

When I moved into La Casa de Tontería, my furniture consisted of dubious heirlooms, including an orange-and-black plaid davenport that acted as guest bed. Family, friends, and friends-of-friends came to the rescue (or as my pal M’e said, “Rummaged through their garages and basements.”) Within a day of moving in, I had furniture in every room.

Since then I have gone upscale; e.g. I paid $71 (INCLUDING TAX!) for a drop-leaf, hidden-board dining table to replace the heavy heirloom table I inherited from my grandparents.  (By “heirloom” I mean that it was composed of battered oak, glue and wood-filler; by “inherited” I mean that it was still in the basement after the estate sale and no one else wanted it.)

So my recommendation for 2014 is to shop in charity stores and moving sales. If you have a little skill at painting, you can also shop the curbs before the garbage truck makes its rounds.  Just avoid cushions (bedbugs!) and anything that smells of cat urine.

I do agree with the experts that faux-painted walls are passé, if only because of the nightmarish quality of those in La Casa de Tontería. (Someday, gentle reader, I will relate those horrors, but right now they are too fresh in my mind.)

However, I must respectfully disagree with the wall-treatment replacement suggested by the design expert: wallpaper.


I admit to using wallpaper to create a faux wainscoting beneath the chair rail in the guest room.  I even like fancy wallpaper in tiny powder rooms, especially if it’s original to the house.

However, I am in the process of tearing wallpaper out of the kitchen and dining room.  The %&$%* original owner put it up and THEN hung the cabinets over it. He even put it up as a cheap alternative to a backsplash behind the stove and the sink. Imagine my surprise when I discovered neither it nor the stove were yellow. How many layers of grease does it take to make green wallpaper and a white stove match? The world may never know…

My advice? Wallpaper is best when it’s seen least. 

*Note: When I opened the refrigerator, I had quite another impression.  I knew I’d forgotten to take a salad, but beyond the whiff of Colonia de espinaca podrida (Eu de rotten spinach to you English-speakers), there was also congealed poppyseed dressing that was still oozing from a tipped jar.  Now it’s not only spic and span, but re-stocked.