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101 Things I Hate About Your House

Written by Rebecca Christian

That headline caught your attention, didn't it? Me, too. It's also the clever title of a witty and useful new book by designer Jim Swan, who promises readers he'll take them on a room to room tour to transform their homes from faux pas to fabulous. He delivers.

Between the comatose houseplants, the blinding entryway light  meant to discourage bad guys from wandering up to my vestibule from the nearby freeway but more suitable for interrogating prisoners than welcoming guests, the stack of catalogs on (where else?) the dining room table, the furniture pushed up against the wall like redneck mothers, the faint and to me, a dog lover, not necessarily unpleasant whiff of canine I don't always remember to temper with a candle scented with what a chemist for Walmart thinks orange blossoms smell like, I saw myself on almost every page.

The books is full of fun color illustrations, like this dowager's beringed hand in desperate search for a coaster on which to lay her 'tini.

Swan writes, "Often to be pitied is the guest who approaches, sweaty glass in hand, clearly intending to perch on a pouf and join in the riotous conversation. Perching complete, she looks for that small but monumentally important 3 1/2 inch shield with which she can honor her host and aid in protecting the costly table top on which her dripping drink wants to be placed....It's fair trade, in my opinion if the French polish on that walnut-marquetry candlestand becomes ghosted and ringed with water spots."

He also rails against too-high piles of pillows that become kitty jungle gyms. (Um, do they still call them "jungle gyms?" That is my phrase, not the author's).

The book would make a fun gift for a friend who wants to improve the look of his or her home (and isn't so thin-skinned they'll take it as a hint instead of a present.) Or you might want to get it for yourself -- Swan's commonsensical advice tells you what you already know but tend to forget as the detitrus of life piles up around you and the force of habit makes you blind to your own surroundings. I, for one, am going to do something about my graveyard for dead appliances. Order the book ((HCI) for about $13 from amazon:

You also might want to check out the book's quirky Facebook page.



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