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  • Architectural Digest | Clever

"Why Buying a Multicolored Couch with Animals Doing Drugs on It Was Not the Best Idea..."

We first fell in love with Rebecca Harrington when she tried all the things for New York magazine (including Hillary Clinton's diet and electrocuting her face), which is why we were stoked to hear that her second novel was debuting this month. In Sociable(Doubleday), we get a taste of Rebecca's signature wit courtesy of main character Elinor Tomlinson, who shows up to New York City with journalistic aspirations, but has to work for a lousy old website (gasp!). [Editor's note: We may be biased, but we think that digital journalism is the future.] Elinor—who would totally be a Clever reader, if she were a real-life person—grapples with her expectations of adult life vs. reality. Here, the author behind the new release tells us why decorating has been a paralyzing experience.

I love home decor. I pore over Pinterest. I have favorite interior designers. I take special interest when celebrities open up the doors of their private California yoga studio for mere mortals like me. I subscribe to every interior design magazine known to man—and keep them in an annoyingly overstuffed magazine rack so that I can “refer to them” if I need them.

You might think this would mean that my house is a beautiful curated affair with soft gray throws everywhere—but you actually couldn’t be more wrong. My house only has a couch in it.

Here is the problem when you truly LOVE interior design: Nothing matches up to the glamorous visions inside your head. Every time I go into West Elm nothing seems remotely like Pauline de Rothschild’s apartment. There are only gray midcentury-modern couches and I actually already have a couch. So I usually leave with nothing.

But to be fair to me, it is the couch I finally bought that is the real true problem and the person I blame for almost everything that has happened to me in the last four years. At the time, I fell in love with this couch that had animals doing drugs on it. It was so cool! The animals were multicolored and they weren’t only doing drugs, they were also drinking margaritas. I thought it would be the kind of “bold choice” that Pauline de Rothschild would make. Finally, I would have the elegant and “eclectic” house that I always wanted. Let me tell you something. It did not work out like that. When you spend money on a couch that has multicolored animals doing drugs on it, in velvet on a black background, it is the worst decision you could ever make. It's not a bold choice, it is a choice that paralyzes you. You think “What goes with this panda bear wearing a teal eye patch?” and you CANNOT THINK OF ONE THING that goes with it. It makes you realize that the reason a gray midcentury-modern couch is everywhere is because that is a normal couch that goes with things! You can match a rug to that couch. You can put a beautiful fur throw on it. You can buy a fake Noguchi coffee table and put it in front of said couch. YOU CAN'T DO ANY OF THAT WHEN YOU HAVE A COUCH WITH VELVET ANIMALS ON IT.

So, I think that the moral of the story is that people that are truly incredible at interior design are sort of geniuses. Like, they probably could make my bold choice work. But when you make a bold choice with merely a love of interior design and not really any skill attached, you can really become paralyzed. Pauline de Rothschild’s apartment was awesome because she was awesome. Mere mortals just need to sit back and appreciate on Pinterest and buy something gray.

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