Tag Archives: oscars

MARCH 9 2014

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▶ The Oscars were incredibly snooze-worthy, in my opinion, as everyone who was projected to win did win and if I wanted to watch something with a predetermined outcome I would just tune in for the Russian Parliament’s potato sack race during their annual summer picnic. (As if anyone would dare let Putin be a runner-up.) And speaking of jerks who have no business talking politics (me) Jared Leto name-checked Ukraine during his acceptance speech. Now, I don’t want to speak for the entirety of Crimea but I think we can all agree no one there is looking to Jordan Catalano for confirmation that their dreams can come true. UGH. I think it was the Washington Post who said it best by calling that sort of off-handed remark ‘drive-by’ politics. You know somewhere Jane Fonda was turning over in her oxygen chamber when she read that. On the bright side–the side that does not include a 3 minute bit about ordering pizza or calling Liza a drag queen, Ellen–I did win my Oscar party’s ballot contest with a personal best of 21 out of 24 correct picks. Fair warning: in the future, if you hold an Oscar party and invite me over, you will rue the day when I accurately predict the live action and animated short films because my head may explode from shock and the brain matter will ruin your nice sofa. My other misstep was going with Jennifer Lawrence over Lupita and I don’t need to explain myself on that one. I just liked her better. However, if I had known that after she handed out Best Actor to Matthew McConaughey she’d spend his entire bat shit crazy speech throwing shade (scroll down to #10) I would’ve also voted for JLaw for Best Sound Editing and Best Original Screenplay knowing full well I’d lose those categories too. Anyway, my prize for winning was an American Hustle poster, which I have no idea what to even do with so for now it’s nestled away in my closet. If there are any takers please email me your address. I’ll sign it as if I’m Amy Adams and ship it to you.

▶ During one of the many snow days we’ve had here in the Northeast I succumbed to my boredom and said alright alright alright to True Detective, and I am publicly declaring–very cautiously–that I like it a great deal. It’s good. Decent. Let’s say decent, but I certainly don’t love it. It’s beautiful to watch and the acting is superb but I have no idea what it’s really about, aside from white men of opportunity contemplating there own mortality and objectifying women (how original!). Not that I regret having invested my mind grapes in a marathon binge but, folks, tonight’s the season finale and I’m still just as clueless as I was when I saw the first episode. It’s a comment on…spirituality? Apathy? Child abduction? Woody Harrelson’s receding hairline? Who knows. One thing I’m sure of, on a creep scale of 1 to Paul Dano, McConaughey is at Christopher Walken (which is way creepier) and that’s all I really need to capture my attention, even if that monster refuses to remove his shirt no matter how loudly I scream at the TV.

▶ I mention monsters because it seems I have created one in the form of a 12-pound miniature pinscher named Finn. Let me backtrack. A few months ago my cousin called to tell me she had discovered the benefits of coconut oil. In addition to being a culinary fat buster it is also great for your digestive system, and its antibacterial properties make it great for your skin. She mentioned–my cousin being a small dog owner like me–that coconut oil is stellar for your pooch’s coat, too. That was really the beginning of the end. When I got off the phone with her I called my vet. After his approval I promptly went to the market and each day since have been slopping a teaspoon on Finn’s dry food each morning. Peter Paul & Mary, was she right! Since then Finn’s been slinking around like the apartment like he’s in a Garnier commercial. The unintended side effect, however, is that now I have a canine with a sophisticated palette who won’t eat his food unless there’s healthy dose of tropical goodness mixed in. Seriously. I ran out of the stuff the other morning and tried to sneak it by him but all I ended up with was a resentful puppy and a lot of side eye:

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He just stared up at me with that look–that looks that says, “Don’t even try me.” What dog refuses a bowl of delicious kibble? The dog who won’t stand for anything less than a drizzle of coconut oil, as I now know. If there are any dog owners out there this is the one thing I would not recommend you give to your pet. Unless you’re ready for the power dynamic between you two to change then by all means have at it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Finn: 1, Evan: 0

▶ I have been receiving a lot of heat lately for posting some questionably negative comments about Apple’s new Swedish-inspired line of automobiles, IKEA, and all I will say about that is it’s not totally uncalled for, though I feel like I need to ruminate on this topic a little further to give the blogosphere a clearer picture of where I really stand. I am, after all, a millennial and if I didn’t feel the need to tell strangers about how I’m misunderstood then I would be doing my generation a great disservice.  So, please, Johan and Tuva, hold off on firing those angry emails until I’ve had time to expand on my utterly brilliant/vapid thoughts in a post, will you? I promise I will explain myself but I can’t promise it won’t make you want to punch your computer’s face in its face, as I imagine most TINAH readers are want to do when they subject themselves to the silly things I ramble on about. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am. If I am getting too up on myself, however, just send me a picture of a cat dressed as a human–which I HATE–and I will interpret the nonverbal communication to mean my jets are in need of cooling. It will be like our secret code word, OK?

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▶ Last week I was invited to an event by bespoke clothier Alton Lane at their showroom in Flatiron. It was a style presentation aimed at teaching men (ha) how to assemble and pack outfits for their upcoming spring getaways (wedding in the Hamptons! Stag party in Chicago! Sight seeing in Montreal!). They do amazing custom suits and shirts and since I didn’t have the heart to admit I’m not a real adult who wears things that button I RSVP’d with my attendance. Not that there was any other option, really, since I knew there was going to be scotch and BLOCKS OF CHEESE. The evening was co-hosted by Mad Men’s costume designer and thank god I was distracted by their showroom’s exquisite decor–brimming with leather-y goodness and rich texture–otherwise I would’ve cornered her and done my best Megan Draper impression. There are few universal truths in design but it is my belief that a well-worn leather cigar chair is a one of them. Can we check on that? If it’s not already it should be inducted into some kind of Hall of Fame and pront-o, Gina. Who can I talk to about that? Anyway, Alton Lane had some gorgeous ones and throw in half a dozen well-placed cow hide rugs and I was in heaven. The warm feeling the scotch gave me helped, too, but mainly it was that post-industrial, masculine aesthetic that comes from pairing rugged, natural textures and dark woods that was doing it for me.

▶ This morning I stupidly agreed to accompany my friend to a BDSM club disguised as a cardio pilates class. To quote the great philosopher Julia Roberts, “Big mistake. Big. HUGE”. When it comes to working out my routine is that of a man from the 1920s. It’s very simple. I warm up on the stationary bike and then I lift heavy objects over my head until I hear something pop. Sometimes I may go rogue and indulge in a stretch or two but that’s only if I’m feeling adventurous. Fitness fads are just not my bag, man. If I ever felt the need to take an antigravity kickboxing ballet class I’d rather sit on a knife and call it day. But my friend got me at a time when I’m feeling a little vulnerable–I’ve been coping with the brutal winter by eating pasta and swilling red wine most nights–and now that the weather’s changing I can only think about getting my beach body back. So against my better judgement I said yes. Our instructor, Kendrick, was great because he didn’t stand for anything short of total commitment. He really put the ‘sass’ in ‘go fuck yourself, you weakling’, which I admire, but I think I’ve seriously broken my body, you guys. There’s something not right about what’s happened to my muscles which I thought were healthy and strong but there was a lunge set somewhere in there that has me second guessing my own physical prowess. When we finished I left waddling down Park Avenue. It was not a good look.

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▶ Out with the old, in with the new! I’m very excited to report my new desk was completed and delivered last week! I didn’t mention this before because I wasn’t sure when it would all come together but it has been in the works for awhile now. THANK YOU to the good people over at STOR New York who very generously built me this one-of-a-kind beauty. You might remember I had a Stash desk from Blu Dot before, but I was never really comfortable with it. It did the job and looked pretty, sure, but I didn’t follow my own advice and rushed into buying it simply out of necessity. Ugh, be damned, hindsight! What an asshole move that was on my part. Once I got it into my place and lived with it for a few days I knew it wasn’t going to be something that would move with me throughout my life. This is a perfect example of how waiting to consider your options will save you time, money, energy and migraines. Not to mention it decreases your consumer footprint. If I had been smarter about it 18 months ago I wouldn’t have found myself in the position of having TWO desks. Luckily I found a guy on Craigslist who just bought a home in Westchester and whose daughter needed a desk for her new room. That makes me feel better about being a bourgeois capitalist pig, but it still gets under my skin that I fouled up on this one. If the adage is Lead By Example then I must be the David Patterson of DIYers. Let this just serve as a cautionary tale, TINAH readers, and rest assured I’ll continue this pity party elsewhere, like at the bottom of a strong vodka tonic.

The scale is almost double that of the Stash desk so I may have to change things up to make it feel like there’s not a walnut Cadillac parked in my apartment. Sadly, my treasured thrift store brass floor lamp may get the boot. It can’t hold its own against the heft of the new desk, though I already have a good home lined up for it should it lose this particular hunger games. I’m thinking–gulp–a hanging pendant? Maybe a Louis Poulsen PH5? Is that too much? Will it fit within the space or just stick out like sore digit? Am I already halfway into my self-deprecating vodka tonic and not thinking clearly? The answer may be D) All of the above, but whatever I get I guarantee it will be secondhand and beat to hell. After this double desk debacle I can’t even begin to think about buying something new.

But here’s the best part:

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Orange drawers! Boom. So much fun.

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TALKING PROCESS

It’s Sunday morning here in New York and we are preparing for yet another–and hopefully our last!–winter storm. The streets are empty, the sidewalks have been salted and outside my window the city is enjoying that nice, calming hum of a sleepy neighborhood not yet awake. Walked and fed, Finn has retreated back to his bed for his first of many mid-morning naps and I’ve got a huge pot of coffee making eyes at me from the counter. My apartment is quiet except for the drone of the fridge and the soft, flat footsteps of my upstairs neighbor padding down her hallway. But it’s not any Sunday–IT’S OSCAR SUNDAY–and there’s a lot to do before the big show begins. I must finalize my ballot. I need to decide what I’m making for the party (I’m leaning towards Deep Fried Lupita Nyong’O-reos). I have to chill the bubbles. In a few hours E!’s pre-carpet pre-show pre-everything coverage begins and if Kelly Osbourne and Ross Mathews play Guess The Nominee By Their Collar Bone and Which Starlet Will Win Best Supporting Cuticles and I’m not nestled deep into the arms of a champagne haze HEADS WILL ROLL PEOPLE.

So, during this brief window of Jared Leto jab-free time, before the chaos of the day ensues, I want to answer a question I get emailed about a lot–one TINAH reader Emma asked in the comments section of a recent post (thank you, Emma, for allowing me to Henry Higgins you publicly!)–and that is about process, specifically how I tackle designing a space.

** A WORD OF WARNING **

I am hardly an authority about any of this business, dear readers, but I do know what works for me and since I’ve gotten a significant amount of inquiries about it I felt I should share. What you are about to read below should by no means be considered a rule of thumb but rather a loose set of guidelines upon which your own principles can be applied. Take away from this as little or as much as you find useful, but if you come home to your husband hanging a hammock in your living room do not hold me responsible. All I ask is that you proceed with caution, keep your arms and legs inside the tram at all times and bear in mind these are not the musings of a sane man.

THANK YOU

Gather references

Before I start any project, big or small, I will always begin with reference photos. Specifically I would call what I do a ‘mood board’ but then I’d be afraid you’d judge me for being a pretentious jagweed. I think it’s important to see everything I’m considering all in one place. It really helps to edit myself. Like when I entertained covering my bathroom in some Hinson & Co wallpaper after seeing Steven Scarloff’s stunning feature in House Beautiful, the reference board I assembled showed me how clearly I had lost my mind and saved me from making a wrong turn, both aesthetically and financially. The board doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Most of my references are just print outs and pages ripped from magazines–occasionally I will cut swatches for texture and pattern–so don’t be concerned about the assembly. Just get everything in one place. Gather more than you think you’ll need. Look at it with a discerning eye and consider balance. If your references are feeling too cold soften them up and pull in some texture. If they are feeling too dull bring in some pattern. If you’re new to using color lean towards neutral pieces and inject pops of it here and there. Try to stay way from the need to match pieces together. This is the time to play! Keep in mind this is your design so you are the harbinger of your own definition of good taste. I’ll touch on this more later but remember to pick things you really want to wake up to every day, not things that are trendy or what you’ve read are cornerstones of modern design. Pintrest has been amazing in this way because it allows people like us forage the blogosphere and curate a huge amount of material with zero commitment or cost. I would recommend getting an account and start pinning immediately! You’ll be glad you did. And then link me to your account so I can follow you and skim off your genius OKAY THANX BYEEEEE.

Make a budget

This is a HUGE part of the design process a lot of people overlook or feel they simply don’t need, but a budget is not just for professionals and their clients. Once you’ve gathered your references your budget will help you translate your wish list into reality. I don’t do anything without one. Really. Even if it’s as simple as pulling up my bank account and checking the balance (and crying once I see what it is). A budget is the best way to navigate a sea of seemingly infinite design possibilities. That $5,000 credenza you referenced from Hive will either become a reproduction from a wholesaler, a Craiglist find, a thrift store hunt or a piece from IKEA (or the actual credenza from Hive if you’re fancy like that), and if you are honest about your finances the decision will be very easy to make. Be as detailed about it as possible. Start with a budget for the room and then pare it down, piece by piece, if you can. The goal here is to define your purchasing power so the more specific you are the less stress you will incur. No muss, no fuss!

Don’t rush

I’ve curated my references and have a budget. I have a strong idea of where the design is going and from where it will be sourced. Even though I’ve got all this I still make purchases one at a time, starting with the largest pieces first. In my experience designing a space is a mutable process, one that can change with the introduction of each new component, so allow yourself the time to settle into a decision and reevaluate. This is why I start with the heavy hitters first. It’s much easier to return a chair than it is a bed, and if you get a bed that plays much differently with your room than you imagined you will need the time to gather new references, edit your budget and re-source accordingly the things that will surround it. Don’t feel like you need to get it all done in one fell swoop. It may be uncomfortable walking into a room that’s only half-done, but you’ll be much happier in the long run knowing you’ve picked something lasting and that you adore.

Gut Check

This is specific to my process so feel free to skip this step entirely, but I am not Malcolm Gladwell. There are very few times when I ever feel my first instinct is the right one, so it helps for me to question it. If you are like me you can get wrapped up in a moment or a feeling and if you don’t check yourself you run the risk of turning your home into a set from Mad Men. I guess this goes back to my previous suggestion of taking your time, but I want this post to look like it has a lot of useful information and that I’m smart so I’m going to be redundant and hope you think I have more to offer. But I don’t. It’s really just fluff. Check yourself. Or don’t. What do I care?

Tape it out

If you read the blog you know how I’ve never met a roll of painter’s tape I didn’t love. For those of us with brains ruled by our somatic sense taping down the layout and dimensions of your design can help you walk around in the space before you commit your time, money and energy to anything. I know it does for me. Call it a poor man’s feng shui!

Design with the future in mind

When I design I like to keep in mind the staying power of my decisions. The last thing I want to do is buy a bunch of shit I will only grow tired of and want to replace in a year, so I do my best to choose things I know (or think I know) will move with me throughout my life. I sort of explained my feelings on this here, but it is summed up much more clearly by Graham Hill during his Ted Talk, Less Stuff More Happiness. Graham is a genius about the whole idea of life editing. He just crystallizes it so beautifully. When I transpose his philosophy onto my design process I come up with my own version of a Wild Card. Now this may seem like I’m contradicting myself after getting on my soap box about making a budget and sticking to it but this is the step in which it is OK to break the bank and spend a little more. If you find a piece you can’t live without and you know you’ll have forever…BUY IT. I grant you immunity. That one expensive thing is more likely to stay by your side throughout the long haul than that Hemnes dresser from IKEA which you will probably replace two or three times over in the course of decade. So, yea, alright, I guess I am a giant, blowzy hypocrite. And if the dresser from IKEA is the thing that will follow you from place to place then fine–GREAT–but the takeaway here is just don’t buy anything because you need to fill the space. Allow yourself an investment piece.

The Erykah Badu Factor

Here’s the last rule–ugh, rule. Rule sounds terrible. Commandment? NO. Decree? I’m not a politician. Edict? How royal! Let’s go with that–rule edict of my process. I try to remind myself to always keep things a little bit weird. There is nothing less interesting than a room that looks like it’s been ripped straight from page 74 of a Design Within Reach catalog. I get why it happens; amateur designers like ourselves can get self-conscious about our decisions, am I right? It’s very easy to look to a source of authority and say, “Oh, that is good design. That is what I need to replicate,” but that way of thinking will just saddle you with a space devoid of personality. My goal throughout the whole process is to remain cognizant of what can make the space unique, what  can make it just a leeeettle different than anywhere else. Don’t be afraid of the strange–embrace it! In fact, GET ALL UP IN THAT FUNK. I’m not recommending you reupholster an ottoman in Lycra or buy a duvet cover made of human hair but be fearless in the knowledge that there really is no right way in doing any of this.

Go forth and design!