Gouging decorators are a part of Manhattan lore going back to the 19th century. But now we have a new and terrifying phenomenon: decorator bullies. They are easy to recognize: At the slightest sign of noncompliance from you, the client, these chintz-slingers morph into Yvonne the Terrible. They hector you about your lack of taste, and when that doesn’t work, they threaten to excise their name from your project-i.e., “You’ll never be allowed to hire expensive decorators in this town again!”
Apparently, we now live in such an aesthetically driven age that the poor client is no longer afforded the basic human right to screw up their own abode. Whoever thought we would live to see a New York where Ivana Trump can’t airbrush her townhouse in gold! Such is the fascism of 21st-century style.
For months, friends have burdened me with outrageous stories of decorators overriding their wishes and preferences. One client was told his vintage jukebox was “too naff” to be integrated in a renovation. It probably was-but that’s not the point. He was forced to flog it, and now lives surrounded by archly minimalist architecture and little else. Another told me of being forced to embrace an overly ironic Rumplemeyer-esque ice-cream parlor scheme in her kitchen.
But when I decided to make these horrible injustices public, none of the aggrieved clients would go on the record. They were all terrified of repercussions from their toile-toting tyrants! Are they scared that they could be found in an alley, beaten to death with a bag of swatches, behind the D&D building? Apparently so.
Girls! Take back the night from these brocade-brandishing bullies! Take inspiration from MTV’s Cribs ! Do you think anyone dared to dissuade Missy Elliott from having her name carved into the floor of her Portsmouth, Va., entry foyer? Not on your nelly! If you want a Starbucks (Tommy Lee) in your den and an aquarium in every room-very Cribs !-there’s no reason why you can’t have it. You are paying the bill.
If you’re working with a decorator who is jack-booting over your aesthetic, here’s a tip: Fire him, run to Amalgamated Home at 19 Christopher Street, and buy zebra-wood covers for every single light switch and power outlet in your pad ($22 each). This simple trick will imbue your domain with a whole new look, and the need to hire a decorator will evaporate like a fetid odor.