I love beautifying my apartment, and in the last year, my sister and I have kicked it into overdrive. The centerpiece of our apartment has always been ammo crate bookshelves. When Kristi and I were in high school, my mom would buy these ammo crates for five dollars apiece at a local store that had hideous things like camouflage overalls and fishing lures. She loves a sale and the ammo crates were a deal, but they sat in our garage for a long time. Kristi was the one who figured out that they made fabulous bookshelves when staggered and stacked up on top of one another. And each crate had rope handles on the ends so it was easy to move them by stacking the crates and lifting them up by the rope loops. The last time we moved and the movers saw all of the ammo crate bookcases, I thought they were going to pass out. I could see them mentally calculating how many crates there were and how many flights of stairs they would have to walk down with them. Then we showed them the trick, and suddenly they were all smiley faces.
Last year, I spent August in Berlin and had a fine time glutting myself on German art from the Weimar Republic. I picked up a few posters of artwork by Otto Dix and George Grosz, a couple of my favorite artists, and brought them home with me. Kristi and I also had a poster of one of our favorite Caravaggio’s from a trip to Florence a few years earlier, and we had never had it properly framed. I took the art to the Frame Shop at Pearl Paint when Kristi was working there, and she helped me pick out really great frames and mats and then had the great idea of using a circular mat for our Caravaggio shield of Medusa.
Once we had all this fabulous artwork to hang up, we wanted the walls to look festive, so we went to the hardware store and picked up a few gallons of paint—banana yellow for our kitchen and a really saturated turquoise for my bedroom. Around the beginning of the year, Susan Godfrey had a Kickstarter campaign for the last funding she needed to start her coworking studio, the Productive, and she had a set of drawings by artist Maya Edelman as a prize for a certain level contributor. I fell in love with one particular drawing—The Sadness of Not Fitting—and had to have it. I wanted to support the Productive, but I wanted to own this particular drawing even more. When I got the drawings, I had Kristi evaluate them once again and she came up with the perfect frame treatments, which cost under twenty dollars and look great against our yellow walls.
The ammo crate bookcases still look wonderful, but I was getting sick of the rest of our living room. We had used the same blue futon cover and curtains for several years, and they were starting to get dingy and yellow. Our friend Sarah was coming to visit in October for Kristi’s birthday, so this became the perfect time to fix up the living room a bit. I had it in my head that I wanted skull curtains, and Kristi, the master seamstress, said okay and that we could go pick up some material and she would stitch them up. We went to the Fashion District in Manhattan, where skull fabric was all the rage a few years ago, and found nothing but a chichi silk fabric with a very subtle skull pattern after visiting a half-dozen stores. One proprietor told us to come back in a week because the stock is always changing. We just couldn’t wait that long. We went home and Kristi found some nice-looking fabric online with the bold, dramatic skulls that we craved. We decided to take a risk and order it, and the fabric really did turn out to be lovely and worth it. Again, it cost less than twenty dollars, and Kristi whipped up these babies in an evening.
In this same week, I also decided that I had to have a leopard-print couch—probably because I’m reading all these heavy metal biographies and autobiographies right now as research and animal prints are a big part of the style. Also, my mother started buying us leopard-printed things starting in high school. I have a leopard-print cigarette case from her that I use for my laundry card, and we both have matching leopard-print comforters from Christmas one year. Now, it’s turned from Mom buying me leopard to me buying it, so maybe the fetish is just something I’ve inherited from my mother—a genetic predisposition for leopard print. The leopard-print futon cover that I ordered online looks so nice, and now we have the old grungy blue one as a spare so Kristi can rip it apart and make a pattern for new futon covers. I’m imagining zebra print and snakeskin print, a skull print. Maybe we’ll change the futon cover every time a new guest comes to visit us.