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A Crash Course in Mid-Century Modern Design, and How You Can Get the Look

by Kate Wagner
Mid century modern guide to furniture, architecture and design
Drawing of a Suburban House from a 1953 issue of House + Home
Photo from the archives of the author.

Mid-Century Modernism is ubiquitous - from Ikea to West Elm, Architectural Digest to Houzz, the sleek, clean style remains atop interior design charts almost ten years after its resurgence began (often accredited to the onset of Mad Men in 2007). This article provides a crash course in the movement's important figures, furniture and interior design styles. Learn how to get the mid century modern look in your home without paying a fortune. 

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Behind-the-Scenes of Rustic Modernism: Your Complete Guide to Farmhouse and Industrial Chic

by Kate Wagner

Farmhouse and Industrial Chic decor and style guide. How to get the look.

In 2016, NPR’s Natalie Jacewicz asked the question: “Why does every new restaurant look like a factory?” Indeed, over the last ten years, the industrial look has dominated popular interior design, aided by the enduring popularity of boutique companies like Restoration Hardware. Recently, more traditional stylings, sometimes called Farmhouse Modern or Texas Modern – like those featured on HGTV’s hit Fixer Upper – have permeated households far...

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Curbly Original
Whose Style is That? Louis XIV or Donald Trump? An Interior Design Guide to the New President

by Kate Wagner
Whose Style is That? Louis XIV or Donald Trump? An Interior Design Guide to the New President
Kate Wagner is the founder and editor of McMansion Hell, a web site for people who love to hate the ugly houses that became ubiquitous before (and after) the bubble burst. Photo: Sam Horine

If I had a dollar for every time I received a request to take on Donald Trump's interior design, I'd have enough to buy coffee for quite a few weeks - no small feat. 

As the Internet's chosen McMansion taxonomist, I have spent a lot of time with tacky. After spending so much time with tacky that my fingers have started to stick together at the mere thought of a grand estate, here is my thesis: 99% of McMansion decor is inspired by people like Donald Trump. As Fran Lebowitz so elegantly put it, "Donald Trump is a poor person's idea of a rich person." It's a pretty simple system, really: gold = rich. Columns = rich because banks have columns. Chandeliers = rich because they're big and shiny. You catch my drift. 

We as people have been fascinated by the dwellings of celebrities since the dawn of celebrities, who, back in the day, were usually royalty or the Pope. Donald Trump's Manhattan penthouse apartment is a particularly interesting (and recursive) instance where a celebrity decorates based on the taste of previous celebrities. In this case, King Louis XIV and King Louis XV of 17th and 18th century France. Luckily, the world was spared from the continuation of the heavily ornate Rococo style for a couple centuries thanks to the French Revolution. Then the 80s happened, and Donald Trump came with them. A fun guessing game to play is: Is it the French Palace of Versailles or a Donald Trump apartment?

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Not Just For Hipsters: In Defense of Tiny Houses

by Kate Wagner

 

Not Just For Hipsters: In Defense of Tiny Houses
Photo: StudioBuell Photography

As the internet’s authority on ugly oversized houses, I am frequently asked about my views on tiny houses, mostly by people who hate them.

To get my manifesto started: I love tiny houses with all my heart because, above all, they are a symbol of change.

The tiny house movement is a symbol of moving towards a more sustainable way of life in the wake of the McMansion era of old. It isn’t just smug hipsters moving into tiny houses, it’s everyday people who simply want to live with less. In America, the vehement reaction to the tiny house is to be expected, as Americans love the cleverness of their design and their roguish mission, but at the same time balk at the idea of having less stuff. Of all the editorials against tiny houses, the most common topic of their ire is the thought of tossing out most of their belongings.

However, those who attack the tiny house movement don't understand that the move to live in smaller dwellings is ultimately a good thing, and that their smug editorials do more harm than good to the cause of living more efficiently, with a smaller environmental footprint.

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