The Right Coast

January 09, 2004
Redecorating hell
By Tom Smith

The object, of course, is to make your Southern Californian tract house look as if it was the last, best effort of the Pasadena version of the Arts and Crafts movement, or the summer retreat of a wealthy Mexican rancher, or something that, if you thought about it, you know you will never achieve. Part of the reason you will fail is, long, long before you get where you once imagined you would get, you will stop caring about what your house looks like. Because you had no idea how much it would cost to buy a chair, let alone a look. It is just a trivial species of the vanity of human wishes.

"I look at this room," our decorator said, "and pine is still winning." Oak is supposed to be winning. You can mix pine and oak, but oak has to win.

We got sisal carpet, or fake sisal rather. The real sisal is extremely impractical. The fake sisal is only very impractical. It shows stains. It unravels. We had had the sisal a matter of hours when our dog caught her collar on it and ran away, pulling with her a long thread, like that of an unraveling sweater, producing a quickly growing gap in the family room floor. But, and this is the really important thing, our decorator likes it.

I have learned that there are some important legal reforms needed. It should be legal to tell anyone working on your house: "I will be there Tuesday so you can come in and work, but you should know, if you don't show up, I will kill you." It should also be legal to actually kill them when they don't show up. You should also be allowed to kill them for installing things improperly and for charging you more than the estimate. Many humane ways to kill workmen are available.

To replace our perfectly ordinary cabinetry would cost as much as a new 700 series BMW. That is just wrong. I wouldn't spend that much on a car, let alone on shelves to keep cans and dishes. Why do people spend ten of thousands of dollars to store stuff they can buy at Target? If we had inherited the family china from Lord Douchebag maybe it would be a different story, but we didn't. Anybody who cares that much about china or cabinets needs to get a life. When the time comes, they will get painted. Our decorator will choose the color. That way we can be sure he will like it.

Did I mention that the housekeeper's little girl drew all over my leather club chair with a blue pen? It won't come out. The housekeeper has been fired for failure to keep house in this and many other ways, some of which show up on the carpet. It serves me right for buying a chair without my decorator's permission. He doesn't like the chair. He didn't say so, but I can tell.