FOOF: Dwanollah Décor, Part One: Where'd it all begin, or, Where's the Breadbox, Mom?!
April 2005

FOOF – Dwanollah Despises!

When you’re Foofing, it is just as important to decide what you hate as much as what you love. You may not even realize it until you start planning and shopping, but suddenly, while browsing your local furniture outlets you cringe every time you see fake aged “antique look” pieces, or when you’re looking at flooring samples you realize you have a passionate aversion to Berber carpet. Don’t try to convince yourself you should like ___ because it’s expensive, or because your mom does, or because EVERYONE does, or because it’s trendy, or because it’s not trendy. Just start taking note of those Foof-related items that give you that oogy, icky, uck-feeling.

So, for the record (and because my opinion is always right, right? RIGHT?!):

Decorating Stuff Dwanollah HATES!

Matching sets. Look, we got the Farmhouse Fantasy Oak table and chairs, AND sideboard, AND china cabinet, AND- Look, my bed perfectly matches my night tables AND dresser AND armoire AND TV cabinet AND- Look, EVERYTHING IN MY HOUSE has been PRE-COORDINATED FOR ME! Guh. I hate matchy-matchy stuff. No originality.

Contemporary Furniture Chain Stores, AKA the Pressboard Express. Despite what the ads try to get you to believe, there is nothing of good quality about Thomasville, Ethan Allen, or the rest of that mass-market superstore shopping center crap. At least IKEA isn’t pretending to be elegant and high-end. All you have to do is start poking around, feeling how the couch was constructed with crummy stuffing, or knocking on the tables to hear how flimsy the wood is. Yuck. I mean, given the choice, find some good-quality antiques instead… at least they’re made out of real wood! Hell, even the IKEA stuff is made out of real wood sometimes, not pressboard! Pressboard sucks wanger.

Contemporary China Cabinets/Breakfronts. Especially those with glass shelves and lighting and dimmer switches. And, oooh, a select few Extra Pretty Plates displayed on stands! Blech. They just don’t seem like they’re used for anything but looks, and the looks ain’t that great in the first place. Gimme a good, functional, solid, antique china cabinet with WOOD shelves, NO spot lighting, and crammed to the brim with kick-ass mismatched dishes we use on a regular basis!

Minimalism. Whoever said “less is more” is boring. More is ALWAYS more! Less just plain sucks!

Drywall. *seethe* I HATE DRYWALL! The walls of your home should not be only slightly more substantial than big hunks of chalk! Drywall reminds me of horrible, cheap-ass home additions, like when people take a perfectly good pre-WWII house and tack on a den or a “rumpus room” and ruin everything. Oh, and the worst feeling in the world is trying to hammer something into flimsy, crumbly, evil drywall! DIE, DRYWALL! LONG LIVE PLASTER!

Living rooms centered around the TV/Entertainment center. Really, if your home is a reflection of you and your family, what does this say? And it’s only gotten worse as the TVs and entertainment centers have gotten more and more gargantuan.

TVs/Entertainment centers in the bedroom. Double ditto the aforementioned statement. TVs in the bedroom are gross. Entertainment centers in the bedroom are even grosser. What’s next, you sloths? A fridge in the bedroom to keep the sodas and beer close at hand? A night-table microwave for your bags of chemically-treated popcorn? Bedrooms should be a peaceful oasis for sleeping and boffing. NO TVs IN THE BEDROOM! NO! JUST NO!

Sectional couches with cup holders and drawers for ten-billion remotes and the telephone. The perfect thing for families that have their living rooms centered around the TV/Entertainment center, actually. Can you imagine ANY other country but ‘Merika having such a piece of furniture?

Thomas Kincaid/“inspirational” paintings. “Art” for the masses! “Painting” for the lowest common denominator! Dudes, you don’t have to be any kind of art snob to see the scores of problems with this junk. And the fact that this asshat is making bazillions of dollars off his glorified paint-by-numbers garbage is just all the more repulsive. Most mass-market art sucks. Well, there are SOME exceptions, I suppose….

McMansions. When big hunks of drywall meet the suburbs. Gee. Just because it has 5 bedrooms, a cavernous kitchen, a den, and an office doesn’t make it any less a flimsy tract home! Of course, what especially sucks about McMansions is that you can’t get away from them because they’re being built by the thousands everywhere, so chances are, if you want an affordable home with more than two bedrooms, you’re stuck with McMansions.

Coffee table books: So. A book for the sole purpose of adorning a coffee table. A book not for reading, but for decoration. Someone somewhere has convinced the American public that placing a copy of The Legends of Golf or Scenic Yosemite National Park or Frank Lloyd Wright indicates a certain level of socio-economic status and sophistication. But really? It just indicates that you’re retarded. *sigh* But I guess it’s better than stacks of magazines on a coffee table.

Fake plants/“fakis trees” (tm The Slacker Hacker). Especially when they’re all dusty. For pity’s sake, go to the nursery and get one real, live plant! Get a low-maintenance one if you have a brown thumb! Get some sprigs of pussy willow or bamboo or SOEMTHING alive! Plants (unless you are the guru of kitsch, or unless you have deadly allergies) should not be made out of plastic and fabric!

Glass top tables. Especially dining tables. I can’t explain it, but the sound of glass on glass when you’re eating or setting the table gives me the heebies. Plus you can’t layer kernifty tablecloths on glass-topped dining tables.

Obvious “collectibles” like stupid-ass dolls, figurines, teddy bears, plates. “I’ve gotten into collecting Lalique figurines, and I have two whole china cabinets [with track lights and dimmer switches, natch] of them at home!” “Look, I can afford to buy the WHOLE SET of Cherished Child Collectible teacups and saucers!” “Would you like to see my collection of cloisonné miniature boxes?” “I collect Dale Earnhardt plates/Victorian Lady dolls/Harley memorabilia/BeanieBabies!”

For. The. Love. Of. All. That. Is. Holy!

This type of mass collecting is for people with no real interests… or personalities. It’s all back to that bit about “your home is a reflection of who you are,” and collectables like that scream that you have so little personal taste or interests that you have to buy your hobbies in insta-pre-packaged chunks… heck, in expensive insta-pre-packaged chunks, if you’re especially insecure.

Collections should be as unique and special as you. So if you inherited those 20 Hummel figurines from your grandma, and you have happy memories of seeing them at her house, that’s one thing. If you have a whole bunch of kitschy gas station or beer signs all over your kitchen ‘cos they’re wacky and amusing to you, that’s one thing. If you have a bunch of G.I. Joe stuff because you’re interested in the social implications of gendered toys, that’s one thing. But if you just “collect” a “cute” “collectable” for the sake of saying you collect something, that’s lame.

Every so often, when I visit Mommy, she makes me watch her favorite show, Clean Sweep. (This should surprise no one who remembers the story of the breadbox. I think Mom gets off on not only seeing everything organized within an inch of its existence, but in seeing big bags of stuff carted away. The show, of course, horrifies me and my packrat soul to nightmarish proportions.) The only thing I can get on board with when watching this show is when some person gets berated for “collecting” dusty boxes of Barbies or embossed sports mugs or Beanie Babies or decorated masks… especially when said “collections” are crammed in half-assed storage someplace in the bowels of a spare room closet. If it’s not taken care of and/or displayed as something special, it is NOT a collection! Real collections are valuable to you.

However, the fact that something is expensive, popular, or advertised as “limited edition!” does not make it valuable or special.

This collecting-for-the-sake-of-collecting/accumulating-something always reminds me of Strega Nona’s house, with shelves full of crappy elephant figurines because she loved elephants and thought they were soooo cuuuuute. Hey, I think elephants are awesome too, but that doesn’t mean I want my whole house full of ten million useless, meaningless, stupid-ass “collections” of them. Plus the problem with “collecting” something is then people think they’re set for life in terms of getting you presents. Gram made the mistake of expressing her liking of owls, and I swear, for 25 years, all she got from friends and coworkers and family on her birthdays and Christmas was owl this and owl that. Of COURSE she’ll love it; it has an owl on it, doesn’t it!? So there’s now about 4 boxes in storage of… owls. Potholders and mugs and plaques with cute sayings and bathroom sets and dishtowels and figurines…. *sigh* Why? Why does anyone need that crap? Why does anyone need a house full of nothing but seahorses or cows or apples or-

Plus, is it any coincidence that so many of these “collections” are the hallmarks of trailer-park décor? You gotta admit, many of these collectibles do have a distinct white trash air about them. And unless you 1) are honkin’ up your kick-ass vintage Airstream, 2) are a senior citizen, or 3) are Britney Spears, just walk away from the Straight Outta Wal-Mart collections.

*One Important Note: If you are going for something over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek, kitschy-campy, you can get away with a big-ass collection that reflects your own cheesy style… which, of course, makes it a collection in the true sense of the word.

Wallpaper borders. This is one of those décor things that I blame on HGTV. It’s so easy to do! See, it makes your painted drywall wall look like it’s been WALLPAPERED! And if you’re extra-classy, you can get Thomas Kincaid (<reverent whisper>) Painter of Light ™ (</reverent whisper) wallpaper borders! How... how LOVELY!

Catalogue/Showroom Houses. What makes a house a home? NOT LOOKING LIKE EVERYTHING WAS DELIVERED, EN MASSE, FROM THAT HOME FURNISHING STORE AT THE SHOPPING CENTER! Please don’t get every single thing in your bedroom from Pottery Barn, down to the three coordinated throw-pillows and two tasteful leaf-prints on the wall. Don’t have a living room that looks just like it was set up with tract lighting on the floor of the local HomeStoreInc., with the two perfect sofas, two perfect chairs, coffee table, sideboard, three lamps, and simple bowl of fake flowers, all in the same shades of plum and taupe with splashes of umber. This is beyond matchy-matchy; this is totally impersonal and inexpressive! Have some family pictures, a bunch of favorite books, an incense burner, your mom’s afghan, or even ONE weird tchotchke somewhere. Have something of you!

Vertical Blinds. Yuck. A bastion of crummy apartments. I hate these things. I hate the brrrrap sound they make when opening and closing. I hate the way they sound when the wind blows them. I hate the way there’s always one slat that won’t work right, and you have to twist it back into place and open/close/open/close the thing three or four times to try to get them all lined up right, and eventually the slat falls out and you have to keep trying to get it back into the clip-holder thingie and it makes that awful noise as the slats keep swacking together-

Stupid furniture arranging. It amazes me that some people do not understand basic furniture arranging. Some homes have stuff either all pushed back against the walls, or it’ll be blocking doors or windows or cutting a room off in a weird way, or will just plain be awkwardly butting up against other pieces or not leaving normal and natural space to walk or sit. Don’t put your couch where it blocks one of the room’s entryways. Don’t cut off the window with the armoire. Don’t put the bed against the closet. Don’t be stupid. I can’t help remembering the Story of Trauma that Milla told me when she moved into her Grandma’s basement… which had been, well, enhanced by her grandfather, who thought he was a skilled carpenter. Seems Gramps had interesting philosophies about making rooms function, and firmly believed that the perfect bedroom would be windowless and painted black with a wall-to-wall mattress directly set on the floor so that when you opened the door, you fell right into bed, because that’s what you used the bedroom for in the first place, right? Completely nonsensical….

Family/friend photos in bathrooms. Photos of your family and friends are important. But do you want to be staring at those cute pictures of your nieces and nephews remembering the fun you had together at the family picnic last year or your bestest pals in Las Vegas when you’re, uh, doing your business? Or, worse, “Yikes, Grandma and Grandpa are… WATCHING me!” Makes the pee crawl right back up.


Homes with no books. Worse, homes with bookshelves filled with DVDs/tapes. Positively soul-sucking.

This is by no means a definitive list; I’m sure, given more time, I could think of LOTS more sucky things, like dirty bathrooms and kitchens, homes that smell like cat/dog pee, or shower organizers, but this is a start. It’s also worth emphasizing that a lot of decorating don’ts can become spectacular if done with irony, of course.

Except for those fucking vertical blinds….




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