Wednesday, July 13, 2011

101 Things I Hate About Your House

 Intrigued by the title? Provoked? Maybe even smiling to yourself? Good! Author James Swan, of the eponymous Beverly Hills based interior design firm,  hoped for just that reaction when he titled his new book. With a humorous approach, James Swan, systematically goes through every part of the house, beginning at the front door, and points out the dos-and-don'ts of decorating while offering, simple fixes and how- tos in creating a beautiful home. 


This week, we sit down with the amiable and talented author and designer to discuss the book and how it came to fruition. If you have the book already, flip through it along with us. If not, this interview will have you wanting to run out and pick up a copy faster than you can replace that soap you have sitting in the 'festering' soup of a soap dish! Full of humor and great decorating advice, we think you'll enjoy our time with James as much as we did.


"A majority of home-makers will never work with a design professional and yet, they aspire for their homes to be as beautiful as possible. It occurred to me that a bit of laughter might encourage people’s defenses to drop, allowing learning to take place, hopefully followed by positive change." - James Swan


“Intelligence is not to make no mistakes, but quickly to see how to make them good.” Bertolt Brecht

 Also, Jame's has offered to send a lucky listener a signed copy of the book, so please leave a comment telling us what tip that James offered during the podcast really resonates with you and sharing with us one thing you'd like to change about your own home, or a favorite pet peeve when you're in other people's homes (no names, please!).  Just make sure to include your name and email address so we can contact the winner of the random drawing of all entries. 

   


                       
   
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51 comments:

Poppy Buxom said...

1. What I'd like for my own home--a way to store all those books--attractively.

2. What I hate about other people's houses? One word: Tablescapes. I want a place to put my drink, and I don't want to worry that I'll knock it over onto your stacks of coffee table books/leather-bound books/bowls of similar items/balls of string/snuffboxes/candles/Herend animals/china pagodas.

Pigtown-Design said...

OMG! I just moved into a 110-year old farmhouse and was walking the dog the other night. I glanced up and noticed that you could see right into my bedroom because the curtains weren't opaque enough. Luckily, there are only three houses on my road... But hearing this has made me go get some more curtains to be less see-thru!!! EEEEEK!

Pigtown-Design said...

oops! The think I hate is feeling like a house is interior-decorated to death. There's no soul, no indication of the personality of the person who owns it. You're afraid to sit or move around for fear of disrupting the perfection. I love it when someone's personality shines through the decor and you get a feeling of who they are.

Karen Herdina said...

I love your interviews and learn so much from all. I love the fact that James Swan has a sense of humor about how to improve our lives through good design.

Terry said...

That certainly went by fast. It's one of very best from the GSO's. Thanks to Mr. Swan. Having just had a party, I'm super sensitive to guest towel confusion. We've never solved the problem so I guess we've ignored it. We promise to do better!

But my favorite is the idea of a guest finding something personal. It's why staged houses are so cold. It's so wonderful for a guest to stumble on to a family picture wall, perhaps on the way to the powder room.

Anonymous said...

Fake silk flowers continue to bug me, especially when they are full-on dusty. Yuck!
I will be more mindful of using scented candles in the powder.

Thanks!

Dee
drobbins111@me.com

Dianne said...

Loved this interview...on my way out the door to see if I can find the book in my small town!
My favorite tip was the liquid soap and scented candle...so easy and makes such a difference. A pet peeve of mine is dead house plants...please throw them out!!! While you are out there dumping the plants sweep the front porch and walkway..light it too!!!!

innerspace said...

'Fall in love with your house!'
'Show me your stuff!'
The 'Sit and Reach' test...

Those are all tips that I also use to help my clients create more personal, comfortable, functional homes...

But, maybe our house guests would be more comfortable if we used liquid, instead of (non-slimey) bar soap in the powder room and the guest bathroom.

Now I just need to discover some simple, crystal liquid soap dispensers!

Rox said...

The hour went fast... very fun and interesting talk...
He reiterated what home is all about... Show personally, break a few rules, have fun, don't forget the candles and liquid soap in the powder room...
I had a kick out of the fact that people are overly careful with children--they are curious and will touch everything.. I never took any of my crystal off my coffee table nor protected the corners with plastic, in fact, I let my children touch them and took the novelty out of it.... and never had an accident!
I truly enjoy his facebook postings, very informative and useful... LOVE HIM!

roxmiranda1024@hotmail.com

Victoria said...

My favorite tip was to have dimmers on all light switches and lamps, and use pink bulbs or pink or gold lined lampshades to further soften the light.

Brillante Interiors said...

Right to the point! Great to see a book (to be read not just admired)with a different approach to interior design!

economommy said...

I need to figure out how to get my furniture away from the walls and how to cover the windows! I think I would worry about a fire if I left a candle burning in the bathroom during a party, though. This was a great interview!

Maria said...

Oh I'm so a fan of the dimmer switch! Lighting is so important. I too hate furniture pushed up against walls, in fact for decades friends have me come arrange their furniture when they move, but live I in a Northern CA 50's track that doesn't allow for any other layout...and oh what I wouldn't give for a dining room! :)

sparkles_95130 (at) yahoo.com

Loretta Fontaine (APPLESandRUBIES) said...
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Loretta Fontaine (APPLESandRUBIES) said...
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Insidelady said...

Once again ladies a GREAT interview with a talented an innovative designer who's Facebook posts I enjoy daily with my morning coffee! Can't wait to get a copy of his book (it's been on my "to do"list for a while now)His entry and powder room comments are essential tips for all of us.As a manufacturer of custom window coverings to the trade,I can't tell you how many designers do not know the appropriate treatments to specify for windows! James hits the nail on the head!

Patty

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the interview. Love the concept of the book. Adore the comments of facebook friends on "101 Things I Hate About Your House" facebook page. What could be truer than the comment about just cleaning up your powder room and throwing out your dead plants! Often when waiting at someone's front door, I see dead plants right on their doorstep and there they will remain for months at a time. How people walk by them everyday and do nothing to dispose of them is beyond me! Gotta run, I've got a sofa that is anchored to a wall that has gotta move after listening!

Karena said...

One of the best SRT yet!

Loved the conversation, laughed, felt the guilt, remembered helping a friend moving and she Had to take her dead (in my eyes and I'm sure everyone else s) Houseplants with her!

xoxo
Karena

Art by Karena

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the lovely interview. It was so informative that the hour went by quickly. All of James Swan's advice was very useful, but I think the simple reminder to pick up was quite helpful. It becomes easy to overlook the little piles of daily life that tends to accumulate. I thought the title of the book is hilarious, however one thing that bothers me is seeing picture frames and word scultures that say stuff like "Live, Laugh, Dream". You know what I mean. I can't wait for this trend to pass.

Jeanne
sunmumsie@yahoo.com

Marlis said...

Really enjoyed this podcast. So much information. Delighted I'm not committing bathroom faux pas! whew. Now to get the book to find out more of what I can do better.

My pet peeve is when people have everything they own out on display. There is no white space for your eye to rest. Oh one more.. a gazillion pillows on a couch and you can't sit without moving them and then you have no place to put them.

Thanks for a most gracious giveaway.

elizgonz said...

I feel like I've said this a dozen times, but this is one of my absolute favorite SRTs! What an enjoyable discussion. I don't think there was anything said that I didn't already know, but I feel like he lit a fire under me to go pitch that half-dead orchid from my bathroom. And I'm definitely going to work on loving my house. I think that's probably just the motivation I need to finish decorating it. Thanks so much!

R @ Rebecca's Roundup said...

I grew up with my mom ALWAYS telling me, "There's a place for everything, and everything in it's place!" And I agree. I can't stand when I visit other people's homes and I can't even focus on the conversation because in my mind I'm rearranging or cleaning up their stuff! Am I the only one who does this?! This book really does look intersting! rawtruegrit@hotmail.com

Joanna said...

Loved all the powder room do's and don't's. But now I have to wait to see if I win before I can order a book!

Tracy Green said...

this interview has been absolutley amazing, he is so talented down to the last detail, I have never been a fan of fake greenery,and always had liquid soap!! I cant wait toget the book,and I'm getting several copies for gifts, cause honey, some of these women in the south, dont know how NOT to have a ton of clutter (MY hangout girls, NOT ALL southerners)

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

I just ordered the book ! Loved hearing this interview. I enjoy another's point of view when it comes to decorating. I am guilty of the gas fireplace without the tools! I had never thought of that... thanks!

Angeldog said...

I enjoyed the interview and look forward to reading the book. I was thinking how I often buy new and add new to my house, when what is really needed is "removing" the old, or at least purging some of one aspect of the decor. For example, family photos. I liked what he said about children's artwork and photos, but sometimes my pet peeve in a house is overkill of framed family photos. I was guilty of this, (once counted over 20 photos of my son in my living area!) and some would say I still am! But over the last year, I have significantly decreased the photos on tables, shelves and walls. I also liked the conversation on rooms not used often enough, especially the dining. Ours is a pass through room from our kitchen to the family room and our pool/cabana, so thankfully we use it often. I don't think there's a room in my house that goes unused very often. Even the guest bedrooms....they are often filled! Thank you for the inspiration to continue to "tweak" my home.

Anonymous said...

I take the dimmer switch advice to heart, but am in home where that's not possible. But congrats to James for also making this available as an e-book -- wish more designers would offer this option.
Jeanine

southernaccent4546 said...

I liked the tip about the fingertip towels. I usually use them if they are out. I am always amused when I go into my powder room and see that people haven't used the freshly ironed towels there. What did they use? Did they fear messing up my towels? I try to take extra care to make guests feel at home so now I guess I will muss the towels before the guests arrive so that they will feel more free to use them. I guess sometimes that it is hard to draw the line between company and guest. We want our guests to feel at home and like family but we can go too far.

Vickie H. said...

Just an EXCELLENT interview with a terrific guy! Loved basically every word that came out of his mouth! And have taken to heart the message about the fireplace tools on the hearth of a fireplace with gas logs! This little book is a treasure trove!
Thank you!

Kelly said...

I loved this interview! I definitely will have to get this book so I can read about all the other rooms in the house that ya'll didn't cover in your podcast. I guess I really found the artificial flower arrangement thing really resonated with me the most. I'm guilty of having flowers around longer than they would live if they were real. I'll have to be more conscious of that.

Marilyn said...

1. What about when you walk into a house and there is a HUGE studio family portrait over the mantle, several photos everywhere... "Look, it's me me me me me...Here I am with my kids, here they are in their graduation caps, here I am with my parents, as a baby, ..."
2. Have you joined new friends in their home for dinner and they immediately want to give you a tour of the house?! I often want to say, "Hey, we sell homes... we came to see YOU!"
3. My entry is vapid. Time to get to work...
Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Anne said...

Loved this podcast. The comments about the gas fireplace really hit home with me! And also getting rid of the dead orchids - we are all a little guilty of something!

Ronnie said...

What a delightful book and a long time coming. Sounds like a unique take on how to actually live in your home but have it say "beautiful!". Thanks, James!
My problem is keeping front and back entrances looking great. I live in a nice 104 year old, two story coastal craftsman house that I love. I am so proud of being the owner and caretaker of it, but sometimes my best effort aren't enough. Example...a new neighbor came knocking today. When I opened the door I found my dear sweet dog had wadded up the doormat and deposited his half chewed rawhide bone and icky slobbery squirrel toy beside it as a decorative touch. Blah. Love SRT. Keep it up!

Lili said...

I'd love to be able to have a scented candle in the bathroom, but there's no place to put it that the cats can't get to.

Lili said...

And my mother used to LIKE people being able to see in at night. She thought her house looked nice and they would enjoy it. Of course, she also didn't really mind if people saw her in her nightgown.

Teacats said...

Bought this wonderfully fun and witty book from the moment it was posted on the pre-order lists from Amazon! I do have many, MANY of the no-nos from the book in my very small and ordinary suburban home -- although I did clean the dust off the silk flowers -- much to my DH's amusement! (the dust promptly fell on the nosy cats -- setting off a barrage of sneezing LOL!) My fav tip in the book? The one that you all talked about -- making sure that chairs DO have accessible tables! I have actually pulled a small table closer to my chair at a friend's home (they just laughed at my odd ways!) when we attended a party there!

A wonderful SRT! I'd love to hear "101 Things -- Part 2" where you go through the rest of the book!

Cindy said...

James tip on candles in the powder is great and money wise, it's easy to find and buy.

Change for my home,window treatments. What is to much, not enough? ....

Pet peeve - keep your candles dusted! ;)
Thanks!

Susana of Montessori Candy said...

The tip on making sure guests have a place to rest their drinks on really resonates with me. I have a small living room, so I haven't made that a priority, although it is sooo important! I am going to have to make a change for sure! A few things that drive me bananas when I go over to visit family is seeing them hanging art and photographs too high on the wall, or with one small lonely photograph on a huge wall. Another one I can't stand is mismatched china with chips on it (Not Shabby Chic, just shabby!). I say, just get rid of it so I'm not scared to cut my lip while drinking that friendly cup of tea! Thanks for offering this free book! I am so intrigued after hearing the podcast and would love to win it!

Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) said...

I think I'm an accidental decorator. lol I had the candles in the bathroom because I love the soft lighting and don't want my guests to enter into a dark space. I also added a small lamp years ago for the same reason. So nice to enter into a space that's already softly lit...no fumbling for the light switch in the dark.
I have the fireplace tools beside my gas log fireplace, but only because my last house did not have gas logs, so the tools came along with us when we moved. Yep, purely an accident...I have to admit, I probably would not have purchased them if our last house had gas logs.
Now, next year a designer will say, "how ridiculous to have fireplace tools beside a gas fireplace...who are they trying to fool?" Then we'll all be rushing to hide our fireplace, tools. lol

Susan (Between Naps on the Porch) said...

I didn't read the comments above and someone may have already suggested this...or James may already be planning it, but it would be fun to see a sequel/companion book: 101 Things I LOVE about your house. Of course, it would have things like, "I love that there's a spot for my drink, or a candle in the bath" etc... It would be fun to be reminded of the things guests love to find when they are visiting for a party or are an overnight guest in the home: A pitcher and glass bedside, fruit or cookies for a midnight craving, a spot to sit and read before retiring, extra blankets, etc... What fun that book would be to write!

Ideezine said...

Great podcast interview. As we live, age, design, and change we all lose sight of the simple things that affect a room/s and leave impressions on people as well as your personal well being so you love your home as you love yourself.

Truth, in your face, or subtle reminders are all to achieve the ultimate goal a lovely home. Home management has a lot of "to do's" just like a living body.

As a designer, I read the room I enter each time I go anywhere. We can always do more...but there are basics that shouldn't be overlooked.

My favorite tip from James Swan is: Powder Room do's & don't...Clear out the clutter, CLEAN UP, and freshen up the air. Paper host towels of sorts for hand wiping. Of course supplies in the powder room and candle type lighting.

I'd love to win this book, I'm a designer, blogger, and am always asked my opinion about home keeping, cleaning, design, and home etiquette. Perfect reference as well as learning tool for everyone.

Just Rosy said...

I LOVE your podcast! Thank you for providing such fantastic topics and doing what you do!

My favorite topic from the James Swan interview: make sure every place to sit has a reachable table.

All comments are so useful and smart! Thanks again, can't wait to read the entire book!!

Luciane at HomeBunch.com said...

Fabulous interview. James is so fun to listen to, to twiit with... just a great designer.


Have a blessed week, girls!

xo

Luciane at HomeBunch.com

Kay said...

I really like the idea of letting your personality shining through what books to read / what artwork your kids did... I totally agree with it.

I also liked the idea of having the computer/ media/ library/ homework room instead of having a formal dining room that is used twice a year!

Loved the ideas! Very practical..

Pigtown-Design said...

Just did another tip from the podcast... added some lighting to the back garden, so it's not a black hole. Now i see little lights out there reflecting on the glass table. Thanks!!!

xo

Anonymous said...

I'd love to win this book! I'm still pondering the comment about the reading materials in the powder room though. Maybe a male thing? I actually dislike seeing that. But I am all for the candles, liquid soap, dim lights and the other powder room suggestions!
stephaniemast@hotmail.com

Barbara said...

Fall in love with your house! Let it reflect who you really are. Great words of advise. Thanks for an excellent post.

CRICKET said...

Lovely intereview. I started wandering around my house - side tables are going to be moved up on the priority list because of the sit and reach tip. Its not the first time I have heard it but this time it really spoke to me.
Katie
leadawareness@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Regarding the comment that you did not know any children who had a run-in with the furniture, I hit my forehead on the furniture when I was 6. Fortunately the scar is at my hairline so it's not very noticable now. However, I have not really liked accent tables as a result. I don't like coffee tables because they are in the way when I'm trying to get to the sofa and my shins have suffered.


I liked the idea of seasonally changing out the silk flower arrangements. I LOVE beautiful silk flower arrangements but I'm very picky about them. I probably only like 1 out of 500 that I have seen.

Anonymous said...

I know you have probably already given away the book by now but check out what i hate about my house here: http://theklubb.blogspot.com/2011/08/skirted-roundtable.html

Look forward to reading your book James!

Bobby said...

What I hate about some people's houses? The fact that I don't live there!