James Lileks is the author of several books, including The Gallery of Regrettable Food: Highlights from Classic American Recipe Books
and the forthcoming Mommy Knows Worst: Highlights from the Golden Age of Bad Parenting Advice
. He is a columnist for the Star-Tribune
in Minneapolis and a syndicated political humor columnist for Newhouse News Service. Visit his popular website, lileks.com, for the whole James Lileks experience.
You'd have to take care leaving the house through these spaces; the sudden change in taste could give you the bends.
Look. Folks. It's simple. If you have poor taste in decorating, don't go nuts in the entryway. Wait until your guests are inside before you spring something unusual on them. But, you say, doesn't that fabulous statuary look so right over by the door? It's an ancient Belgian God of Fertility or something. You can hang hats on the erection. Or use it for umbrellas! That' s not the point. Most people don't want to encounter this sort of thing right away, if ever. Especially one that's been handpainted in such a unique fashion. Put it in the spare bedroom; it'll keep houseguests from lingering.
One more rule for bad entryways: don't forget a small table with a bowl on top. It serves no use; there's nothing in the drawer; people bump into it when taking off their coats. But there must be a small table with a bowl on top. It's not the law, but it might as well be.
The visual equivalent of granulated glass in your eyes. Looking hurts. Blinking hurts. Rubbing hurts. Blindness, when it comes, is almost a comfort.
It's one of those rooms that almost feels ashamed of itself:Don't blame me. I had nothing to do with this. I couldn't move. I watched what they did to the kitchen, heard the cupboards scream out as they applied the dots, one by one by one. . . . I knew I was next and there was nothing I could do. It was horrible.
Atrocities like this are partly responsible for the founding, in 1977, of People for the Ethical Treatment of Entryways.
Says the note in the designer's guide that coughed up this picture:"Gigantic patterned wallpaper in a small area is exciting because it breaks all the rules." Well, a flaming pile of pig crap in the foyer breaks all the rules. Smearing goat brains on the walls breaks all the rules. Sometimes rules are there for a reason-such as keeping you from doing this.
"You can be adventurous in little-used areas." You mean little-used areas like the front door? What, did people enter through the chimney and leave through the coal chute?
This is a foyer. This is the first impression. This is how you warn people your taste tends toward interesting colors, such as those found on the buttocks of a rudely shaved monkey.
Of course, one could say the same thing about the Hindenburg disaster.Living rooms
The name for these parlors-living room-wasn't entirely inaccurate. Something did live there-a fern, perhaps. Some dust mites. A spider. But humans? Rarely. These were showplace rooms, mausoleums where the examples of domestic style were interred. On any given day the sofa and chairs would be sheathed with plastic condoms, lest the fabric be soiled; the drapes drawn lest the hard mean sun suck the color from the cushions. All these rooms needed to complete the picture was Lenin in a glass casket. The people who stuffed their living rooms with this horrid junk would probably have bought plastic covers for the plastic covers, if such a thing had been marketed. Think about it: Your plastic covers keep the fabrics fresh and clean, but what of the covers themselves? Dust, sunlight, pet dander, parakeet psoriasis-why, your plastic covers are depositories of domestic filth. Your friends understand why you keep the covers on when they drop by for a chat; you're saving the sofa for Company. But don't you owe it to friends to give them a surface that's Company fresh? Introducing new Cover Covers, from Dow Corning! No messy polyurethane rolls with DNA-mutating aromas; Cover Covers, which come in a handy spray can, keep covers fresh for centuries to come.
Or you could just rope off the room.
Or you could brick it up and show people pictures.
Laminate the pictures first. You can wipe off the fingerprints.From the Hardcover edition.