Soon To Be The Coziest Room In America, and a Super Quick Review Of The One Gentleman (Dolce & Gabbana)

A Work In Progress

It's been another This Old House sort of month here in the fair hills of New England. There's a big difference between living in your own house vs. living in a room, or an apartment. Or someone else's house, for that matter. My one rule with my new home is to avoid buying furniture from IKEA. Not that there's anything wrong with owning IKEA products, it's just that I'm not 19 and living in a dorm room anymore. And even if I was, I'd probably feel like an American cliché if my decor consisted entirely of IKEA furniture. Plus, there's that awful thing now where people step into a sleek, modern-looking room, look around, and immediately say, "IKEA?" If they do that with my house, I want to be able to say with total honestly, "Nope."

I finally finished painting the living room, about two weeks ago now. It took me two months to paint it. I know, that sounds ridiculous, but one of the nice little features of owning a "midcentury modest" house is having plaster walls with genuine plaster crown molding. It's a mixed blessing, though. The molding is more striking than any prefab molding for sale at Home Depot, but its permanence means you can't fudge the details in a paint job, nor can you take it down to attend to the intricacies of the cut. That means I had to go up on a ladder with Q-tips and painstakingly paint the molding with them. That task, along with taping and painting the built-in bookshelf, took forever.

I finished just in time. My walls had barely dried when my furniture started arriving. I ordered a couch from Overstock.com, and an area rug to match. The rug came first, with no problems (it's very pretty, as you can see above), but the couch arrived severely damaged. It looked as though a forklift had missed its mark and plowed through the rear left leg, tearing a ragged gash in the fabric and leaving part of the frame in a million splintered pieces. I contacted Overstock and they declined to pick up the damaged goods, but offered to send me a replacement free of charge. About a week and half later the replacement arrived, also severely damaged, this time with an eight-inch gash along the top cushion. At this point delivery was refused, and I wrangled a full refund on the first couch. The damage has since been fixed, and you'd never know anything happened.

The current ongoing saga concerns my curtains. I ordered them from Best Window Treatments, a company in CA that specializes in custom curtains. They're not cheap, but they're nice. I ordered two panels when I should have ordered four. The two I received are up, a lovely spice color, and I ordered two more to go with them. Three weeks later I received the second set of panels, but they were the wrong color, so I sent them back on their dime, using a label they emailed me. More time goes by, and eventually I realize I still don't have curtains, so I call them to check. They tell me the replacement curtains were delivered two days ago. I have no idea what happened to those curtains, although I wonder if someone stole them off my front step. All I know is, I never received them. I've been told that a third set of panels is being sent to my alternate address, and that a Fed Ex guy will be visiting me to go over what happened with their delivery, but so far neither has arrived.

Today however I visited an antique store for the second time this month to purchase an old desk that I've had my eye on. In the picture above you can see a wooden piece holding a lamp on the far right - that's the "new" desk, pictured in full below. It's really a very old desk from the 1950s by The Maddox Table Company, which was originally headquartered in Jamestown, NY. It's a beautiful mahogany piece to go along with my cherry coffee table and accent chest.

It's in terrific condition, Pattern No. 464, and it was only $175. It even came with a piece of glass on the top that has these great molded glass feet to hold it just over the surface and prevent scratching. I love old items like this, and even though it took three hours to clean them, I'm really happy with how the brass handles on the drawers look. Originally they were a dark grey, almost black, they were so dirty. They shined up nicely, and really bring the piece back to life.

My next project is my 250 sq ft kitchen, which literally has a hundred cabinets. This one has been in the planning stages all week, with colors finally settled on, Congoleum flooring pretty much selected (although now I'm wondering if I should go with two different color tiles instead of the same color), and Formica still being selected, very carefully. I've located a manufacturer of metal trim for kitchen counters, and they have a few designs in the old-school fifties style, with the lines. That has me psyched. What doesn't have me quite as psyched is the prospect of having to power-sand and paint a hundred cabinets. I've also been taking measurements around the house, and a surplus door from Home Depot may or may not fit in the basement. The addition of another floor layer in the kitchen will require some serious shaving of the cabinet unit over the fridge, if I ever hope to get a fridge in there again (it's going to be vertically challenged once the Congoleum is put in). Oh, and ADT is coming in three weeks to install security. Tomorrow I have to get concrete to patch up the front steps. And, and, and . . . I have to get a chimney sweep over ASAP. It never ends.

As you can imagine, this leaves me little time for perfume. In between the projects I managed to try my long-standing sample of The One Gentleman by D&G, which I'd completely forgotten about. I didn't really have any preconceived notions about this fragrance prior to wearing it, so my reaction to it after two wearings was pretty unbiased. It was also, unfortunately, quite visceral. I really don't like this scent. The second time around I took a look at some Fragrantica reviews, and only one hit the nail on the head for me, summing it up by saying it smelled crude and unpleasant. That's exactly right. This perfume is totally forgettable from beginning to end. It has that department store "rasp" that several middle shelf masculines exhibit these days, including things like Terre d'Hermes and Bleu de Chanel. Some people blame Iso E Super. I don't attribute the unpleasantness to Iso E though. Jim Gehr mentioned to me on Google+ that Iso E is very subtle, hypoallergenic, and almost odorless altogether, used primarily as a texturizing agent more than a singular note. I have some pure, unadulterated Iso E, and it's very soft and smooth.

There's definitely Iso E in The One Gentleman, but I blame the scratchy nastiness on whatever aroma chemicals are used to create its "suede" note. Suede is one of those random notes that some brands have been trying to pass off as "manly." So far every suede note I've encountered has smelled neutered and rough. Suede dominates the heart of T.O.G., but it's smooshed up between an unwieldy synthetic lavender, which for some reason is riddled with anosmia-inducing black pepper, and a bare vanilla base note that is as bland as it is unbalanced. The white-musky blah-ness of that vanilla note winds up being the whole story after forty minutes or so. Where does that leave me? The marketing for this one is typical Men's Mag fare, with Matthew McConaughey in a tux looking very unconvincingly dapper. These prints project glamour and worldliness, but what I get instead is cheapness that goes nowhere. If D&G promised me a box of Macaroons from Ladurée, I'd expect a packet of Pop Tarts instead.

Anyhow, enjoy the rest of your Labor Day Weekend, and I'll see you in September!


  1. Your post brings back a slew of memories of furnishing my own home from scratch two years ago with mostly period pieces from eBay and antique shops, though my couch I had made to order in a factory in Nottingham. It was a slow slow process with lots of glitches along the way - nothing as spectacular as your gashed sofa, though I had a gashed washing machine turn up once. Curtains were much trickier than I anticipated, though I had a local company make and fit three of the four pairs I bought, which meant they took responsibility for the whole order, which was less stressful than trying to figure it all out myself. Anyway, your living room is coming together nicely - I look forward to hearing how the kitchen goes. I am about to embark on a total bathroom revamp!

    1. I remember your mentioning that on your blog! It's amazing how all-consuming it is! And finding the right furniture pieces is truly work, but when it goes well it's a great feeling. I'm lucky that I'm well out of true "antique" range, as my period only dates back to the fifties, but then again many antique dealers don't abide that technicality, so I still visit their shops and find stuff. Good luck on your kitchen Vanessa!

  2. I think the colors you have chosen for this room are really beautiful.

    1. Thanks Katy! Red and green are a tricky (often overly festive) combo. Hope I can pull it off.


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