Okay, Clowns — What Did You Do With All the Real Furniture?

From The Anthology Series, 2024

An open letter to HGTV and other interior designers of the world

The Train Wreck called Mid-century Modern

I’m fed up with the invasion of stick furniture and kindergarten color palettes. Decorators, I demand you explain yourselves and answer these questions.

  • Who died and left you in charge of the supply chain?
  • Who said we wanted our living rooms to look sterile, like something from an old Soviet movie during the Cold War?
  • What’s next, Gulag Nouveau?

Furthermore, how and when did the line between accent walls and preschool decoupage become blurred?

To me, and from the looks of things, all you’re doing is going up to the attic, grabbing a 1960s high school boy’s old wood shop project, and passing it off as ‘high-end’ furnishings. Oh puh-leeze.

Please don’t insult us further by dragging out those blonde two-tiered side tables from the 60s. Ug — ly! The answer is no before you come at us with those colorful chrome dinette sets and those rainbow-colored aluminum drinking glasses. We’ve seen them before — they’re not new.

And oh, for the love. We’re not about to pay up to $5 K for those cane-back tubular steel beasts you’re hawking as modern Cesca chairs. They’re old reruns, darlin’ — part of every cheap dinette set sold by Value City Furniture in the 80s.

We all had them as young married couples. We all got annoyed at their splintering and the wicker sticking in our skin when we sat on them, so we all threw them in the dumpster and got real furniture.

Do everyone another favor. Leave the nubby Chenille bedspreads with those ridiculous hanging-down ball thingies in that old trunk of great-grandma’s.

Seriously, who came up with that idea?

Questionable Cousins

While discussing tired design ideas, let’s step away from the microphone for a second to discuss The Great Shiplap Invasion and what you call Modern Farmhouse Design—two more design styles that are getting a bit long in the tooth.

Will you stop already?!

I’m convinced that the ubiquitous signs and wall slogans from this trend are what’s causing today’s plague of early-onset dementia. Rather than using our brains, we’ve gotten so lazy that we rely on these kitschy signs to tell us which room is the kitchen and when it is time to relax, live, laugh, and love.

I don’t even want to think about the pestilence to come when we remove all those reminders to bathe and brush our teeth or the arrows telling us where to deposit our dirty laundry.

Here’s How Designing Malpractice Occurs

The lemming dance is rather predictable. First, HGTV showcases a new trend.

Designers-in-waiting utter a diabolical giggle, wiggling their eyebrows and twisting their mustaches. They know that just as soon as folks throw down the TV remote, the early adopters among them will discard their current decor and immediately rush out to buy everything new.

If you’re dead set on being one of these folks, I have some advice. Money’s tight right now. There’s no need to break the bank or hire an expensive designer if you find yourself being sucked into this craze. Some things you can do yourself.

For example:

  • Do you like the minimalist look? Buy padded card table chairs from WalMart.
  • Are you flamboyant and on the avant-garde side? Buy a sassy white Mohair throw and drape it across the back of that card table chair. You can while away the hours, picking fibers off your clothing for days.

It’s All About Nostalgia

Human beings are nostalgic little creatures. There’s a certain charm in revisiting the past and looking fondly at the days of yore. But, friends, there comes a time when we must stop the stupid. We’re not meant to live in the past. We must turn around and move on at some point.

An old classic song by The Guess Who prophesied this phenomenon rather eloquently back in 1970.

“Tripping back now to places you’ve been to. You wonder what you’re gonna find. You know you’ve been wrong, and it won’t be long before you leave it all far behind.” ~ Randy Bachman

Gray Tiger Striped FloorsThe Perils of Design Malpractice

Bad interior design is not a victimless crime, folks. Especially if you’re a real estate agent who will have to offload these decorating crime scenes to someone else down the road.

  • Consider for a moment the glut of houses that will need immediate remediation to remove the HGTV-inspired ‘gray-everything’ before you can list them. Gray floors, gray walls, gray trim, gray drapes, gray accents, and more. Is it any wonder why so many people are on antidepressants?
  • Don’t EVEN get me started on those hideous cheap striated floors they’re putting in most homes and condos. (I’m making that sticking-my-finger-down-my-throat gesture as I write this.)
  • Sorry, y’all, but no amount of expensive area rugs and modern accent pieces can direct the eye far enough away from that jarring tiger-striped vibe going on down there.
  • Real estate sales and commissions may suffer. Just sayin’.

Opening Pandora’s (Crayola) Box

Supposedly, the ‘playful use of color’ differentiates Mid-Century Modern from Minimalism — or so ‘they’ say. Hmmm … that’s interesting. When I think of painters, the word ‘playful’ isn’t at the top of my mind.

I have never encountered a group of contractors in white overalls, all choreographed, two-stepping as they belt out “Happy” by Pharell Williams as they ‘playfully apply color’ to the walls.

This shows that ridiculous vocabulary is part of this modern decorating nonsense. Furthermore, in the interest of public safety, I feel it’s only fair to warn you. I may snap the next time I hear someone say they’re adding a ‘pop of color’ to a room. A person can only be expected to listen to so much nonsense.

“Give me back my neutrals! I like warm earth tones! I’m living in a home, not a Jetson’s cartoon — at least not yet.”

Here Comes The Sun

Furthermore, what’s up with the ubiquitous sunburst pattern in the Mid-century Modern design?

Move on down the road, Skippy. I’m not hanging anything in my living area inspired by a design tattooed on every Hippie girl from Woodstock. Nope, that is not my idea of haute design. Along those same lines, who decided that macrame anything was something we wanted? More Woodstock inspiration, I presume?

Seriously, you so-called ‘designers’ really need to lay off the weed during work hours.

Show Us What You’ve Got — No, Wait, Please Don’t

Open shelving is another head-scratcher I can’t wrap my head around.

What? Your contractor was working along — installing your kitchen casework and suddenly decided, “Nah, I’m done. Forget the doors. Let’s leave everything open. Pass it off as a trendy new design element.”

Designer types say it promotes clean lines and minimal clutter. With no doors to close and hide kitchen necessities? Oh my goodness, you poor, naive, hoodwinked consumers. Did the contractor cut the price of your cabinets by 50%, seeing as they left half of the casework off? Doubtful.

Check back with me a few months after you move in. I promise you, you’re going to have clutter. And it will be in plain view for all to see—all the time.

Face it, few of us are obsessively orderly enough to keep things looking like a show home 24 hours a day. And if you are one of the uptight few who manages to pull this off, you’re living in a showroom — not a home.

The Few, The Proud — The Uncomfortable

Our young designer friends (smell the Clearasil?) seem fascinated with modern furniture with those skinny wooden or metal legs. Stop and ask yourself: Is that furniture realistic and functional?

In today’s carb-overloaded environment, 69% of America’s population is overweight, and a full 36% are obese. Report back to me after your son’s 300-pound linebacker buddy plops down on your expensive dainty chair.

How’s that working for you?

Um, About Those Planters

Oh my — those nasty-gnarley plants you’re sticking everywhere — no, no, NO!

Mid-century modern living room with too many plants

Don’t get me wrong, I love Mother Earth as much as the next tree-hugger guy/gal, but Mama needs to stay outside where she belongs.

That said, I’m open-minded and willing to consider other perspectives.

Okay, so let’s suppose I DID want to cozy up with nature and blend into a luscious jungle amidst burgeoning greenery while remaining indoors. In that case, I’d visit the Rainforest Cafe and soak in the beauty of the environment—but only long enough to grab a burger and take in a quick thunderstorm.

Stuck in My Ways

Admittedly, I tend to overdo it in the humor department. This rant is one of those times.

However, the bottom line is that I lost nothing in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s, so I do not need to cartwheel back a few decades or live in the rearview mirror. So, unlike others who throw away substantial furniture to embrace today’s Tinker Toy design, I’d like to suggest a better way to handle a yearning for days gone by—listen to a few oldies.

Trust me. Nostalgia is like gas, folks — it passes.

Y’all do what you want. I don’t need to redesign my home to look like the Brady Bunch house simply because I have a fleeting memory of the ’60s–but I appreciate your friendly offers, HGTV.

Now — put our real furniture back!

Real Furniture for real people


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