Monday, December 18, 2006

The Horror! The Horror!

I've been thinking about taking a month-long sojourn to a new city to refresh my life's focus and spend some time learning something new. To that end, I've been searching the Internet looking for furnished, short-term apartments for rent.

The apartments I've found range anywhere from $1450 to $2200 per month. Of course, that seems high but I'm only talking about one month and completely furnished so I don't think it's too bad. What I would like is a nice apartment that has a good number of amenities such as cookware and perhaps Internet access and an available laundry. It also needs to be conveniently located so I can readily walk to the place where I'll be learning that new thing.

Yet while having a nice and decent place to live that's conveniently located is important, what's really emerging as Factor Muy Importante is the interior decoration of the apartment.

I'd like to think that I have some sense of taste and what's fashionable. God knows I've made a number of missteps in this department, such as the all black furniture. Smooth and chic in 1989 but by 1992 it was well played out. One thing I have found over the years is that I'm not necessarily a "one style, fits all" kind of guy. Visit some people's homes and it's one theme, such as Federal with wainscoting all over the house. Nice, but it gets a bit monotonous to me.

For myself, I like variety. Perhaps a bit of eclecticism. I don't necessarily mean a mish-mash of pieces in one room, but perhaps a collection of rooms that are as varied as my own interests. Today, I let the architecture of the space be my guide. I let the space speak to me on what it can become.

For example, none of the shops I've built (or planned to build) are alike. They each had their own character. The original Jay's Shave Ice was a reflection on the plantation style homes Hawaii with it's white paint, blue trim and corrugated steel roof. The second Jay's kept the spirit of the 1928 house and incorporated design elements that combined modern cabinetry with colors that gave it a homey, country, Waimanalo feel.

The original design for Spro Coffee was very rock star to play off the Recher Theatre next door. Translucent illuminated glass and steel bar with a La Marzocco Mistral espresso machine, electronically controlled concert lighting and sound system, it would have been off the hook if we could have landed a deal with the landlord. Spro Coffee Fells Point would have been stark white modern in the front room, with primary accents, and a warm, earthy coccoon for the back room. The Spro Coffee Kiosk at the Towson Library reflects the contemporary concrete structure of the building with an industrial pine and steel facade and black lacquered cabinetry.

For my personal spaces, I've played with the hip and modern (all black everything) and the post modern (contemporary) but there's something about the old that seems new to me. While most of what I have is modern in design, my favorites are a bit older. Like the Kamehameha V koa tea table. The King George II tilt-top, pie crust, claw-footed table. The Audrey Poole Kelley original oil paintings. The relic arrows from Northern Luzon. The Hawaiian kukui nut lamps made of lava rock that were absconded from the collection of the Honolulu Academy of Art.

Give me interesting pieces and give me a wonderful palette of colors to compliment them.

But what I found most disheartening about this apartment search is how poorly decorated they are. I mean, just horrible. $1750 for an apartment that still sports the off-white paint the builders put on the walls. White couches with gray and pink throw pillows - can you imagine the rest?

Suddenly, I'm finding myself willing to pay nearly any price for a place that's decently appointed...


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