Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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Empower By Design- Surviving IKEA

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Until a few months ago, I had never set foot inside an IKEA. So, after selling off some old furniture to replace with more streamlined, modern ware, I hauled my ass over the Hollywood hills and headed over to Burbank. There – IKEA’s major blue hulk of Swedish wonder laid in wait, stocked with inexpensive, clean and functional designs for the choosing.

Screw the assembly part and the heavy packaged slates of wood that needed to fit into my two door Mini. After selling my old armoire from Pier 1 circa 2000, which I lugged out from New York City to Los Angeles several years ago, I was ready for some apartment therapy.

What stopped me from going to IKEA was that it was always sooooo far away. Whether it was on Long Island or Brooklyn, the headache would start just thinking about it. And now that my closest store is in Burbank, I put it off again for years. Traffic? No thanks.

But I did it. I drove to IKEA land, toward an area I’d never been, wondering how this New Yorker ended up driving along an industrial California road with bulging mountains on the horizon, in what felt like nowhere alongside a freight train line that probably saw Boxcar Willie roll into old Cali back in the last century. West End Avenue and the Grand Central Shuttle felt so far away.

All this to get to a place where they sell candles for $3.00.

But drove I did. And you know what? Learned a few things. Like how to survive a trip to IKEA without getting your soul sucked out of your brain.

For a then newbie like me, IKEA was a strange place. Just going there felt like I’d landed in an alternate universe. Pass those doors, got my bag and shopping cart, and it’s as if I was on Swedish territory. Well, I guess I was.

Meanwhile, I  languished in a building that felt as if Bed, Bath and Beyond and Crate & Barrel had an orgy with Home Depot in a SIMS world. Items with names like SVÅRTASEN, PANDRUP and VIMLE jumble your brain. It’s almost English but it’s not.
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When you enter an IKEA, you find your way through a pathway that goes one way around to various departments. It’s like being on a train on a one-way track where you have station stops, but instead of “125 Street” or “Grand Central”, you have “Bathroom”, “Bedroom”, “Office” – etc. And instead of a train, you have your feet, your cart and a line of people marching like ants alongside you until they make a beeline for the lamps.

As you see plates for $2.00, glassware for $6.00 and fancy woks for less than a Macy’s sale, you begin to enter into IKEA HEAD – an hypnotic mindset where your brain starts calculating the cool things your home will hold – what goes where – how things will be easier with that. You are now under the IKEA spell.

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Oh, look! Chris found Valentines Day salt & pepper shakers! Thanks, 30 Rock.

Settle in and just go with it.

Ahhhh….clean, white, modern functionality in my newly designed home. Come to me…

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Yes, I bought this desk.

Never been to an IKEA?

Here are some tips for first time IKEA people who don’t want to lose their mind. And I’m telling you this because since my maiden voyage, I’ve been to that big blue palace three more times and embraced the fatigue and brain squeeze of the place to where I feel I’m an almost expert.

Eradicate IKEA Brain Freeze. Create an Online Shopping List:

The beauty of modern day technology. Websites. Apps. IKEA has both. Hop onto the IKEA webpage or download their app. Create an account. Then go search for whatever fulfills your design starved home and click those beauties onto your “shopping list”.  There, you can edit or add, thing and absorb. Then, narrow down your booty so you’re ready for the day. Print it out, and then get going.  When you arrive, keep your blinders on. Look at the maps for locations. Get your stuff, and get the hell outta there. Brain freeze adverted. You’re welcome.

Order Your Stuff Online and Pick up at the Store:

Want to really narrow down your vision at IKEA? Never step foot in IKEA. Order your stuff online; however, be aware that you’re going to deal with a large shipping fee ($25 for even small items), and a two week wait. Plus, for big stuff, you’ll be under the thumb of a delivery schedule with windows of time that rival your cable repairman. So, be okay with that.

Here’s a cool thing. Order and pay for your items online and then pick up at your local store. No fuss. Just go to the information desk and ask where to go get your stuff. Someone will help pack your car so you can bounce – fast. No IKEA brain freeze, and you don’t get sucked into eating Swedish meatballs in the cafeteria. However, their potato chips at $1.79 a bag are awesome delicious at a price that makes your earn for 1978 again.

Bonus: You don’t get into arguments with your loved ones.

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As per Liz Lemon, IKEA can ruin relationship over dining room tables.

Go During Off Days:

I hate crowds and weekend parking nightmares. Suggestion – plan on going during the weekday when you have a day off. Not on weekends. Not during holidays where the whole nation has off. If you’re planning some time off or have flexibility during the week, go then. It will cut down on aggravation. You’ll find parking. There are just enough people to make you feel less lonely in that big place, but the lines won’t be long and the freedom to roam will less hindered.

Going in? Get Comfortable:

Okay, so you’re going in. IKEA is a vast, giant beast of a building. Wear comfortable shoes or sneakers. Also, bring that shopping list so you can get what you want and get out. Also, bring water. As a first timer, you’ll be blown away by how caught up you’ll get as each pretty, shiny thing you see spins you into a tizzy of “OMG..I need that now.” You need hydration, because the food and water is at the end of a long, long, long pathway through the homeware, past the warehouse and beyond the cash registers.

Get Your IKEA game on:

So, you’ve pass the doors and see all the cool stuff that create the ‘New You’.  IKEA HEAD has now lulled you into “The Zone”. As the synapses in your brain start easing into the flow, look down. A giant arrow appears on the ground, leading you in one direction past Art, Plants, Candles – until you spill out into a giant warehouse where you grab what will become your weekend project – your two o’clock in the morning nightmare – your date with a little “L” shaped metal bar and screws that go exactly where Swedish instructions tell you they go.

Bring Your Phone. You’re Taking Pictures:

It’s 2018. Like I have to tell you to bring your smart phone. But the whole point of IKEA, especially if you’re buying furniture to build, is to know how and where to find it.  Each furniture piece has a location tag. Take a picture of your item, and the “Self Service Area” tag. See it below?

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You will need to know that area, aisle and bin number once you head over to the warehouse-y place. Taking a picture of the item and the tag will help so you don’t get confused if you’re buying more than one item. You can see the picture of your desk – swipe left – and you see the corresponding self serve area tag so you know where and what you’re pick up.

Also – be mindful of the color. If your item comes in black, brown and white – and you want it in white – make sure you look at the colored dot on the box that denotes what color the item is inside.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint:

Hey, you wanted to go there in person. Now, you have to commit. Linger. Study. Fall in love with drapes and desks and rugs. Allow the brain freeze to take you in. Stay a while. Mindful shopping will allow you to edit your shopping cart/bag and make you get what you need. Don’t be ashamed if you have to go do the loop again to re-think things. You will be tired, but many a calorie will be burned, and the long haul will pay off.

Make Sure You Get Everything You Need:

You get home after burning off your Fitbit in steps, only to find you’ve picked up the wrong lamp base, curtain rod, do-dad that goes with the hizzy hoo. Now, you want to eat your face off. It’s likely you don’t want to return to the land of IKEA for a while. It’s usually a major trek, and to do all that driving and wandering with temptation in reach, yikes – you need a few weeks to power down after that. So, make sure your get what you came in for. That’s why exploring online offerings and bringing a shopping list is so helpful.

Assembling Those Items:

Be zen about assembly. Mull over the instructions. Be slow and mindful of the components. Open the box and have a look. Pretend you’ll start it tomorrow, but play with it. One step after another, and before you know it – you’re done.

If it’s a total bear of a build – then go on Youtube and see if there is a video. Or call IKEA and have them help you. Or – hire a guy to come to your house and build it. But come on. See that desk above and below? I bought it, brought it home and built it in less than 2 hours. It was fun and satisfying. And now my office looks cool. (And I bought and built that cubby hold shelving unit too.)

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Go easy. Enjoy the process. Bring in something new that is bright and functional. Create a fresh way to bring in a vibe so opportunities have space to enter.

Go forth IKEA novices! Design and be productive!

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La Brea Design Crawl

Article Featured over at http://dormerandmass.wordpress.com.

The holiday slumber is taking hold, and people are stepping away from their offices and stepping out to do their shopping. I’m no exception. However, for me, going through stores that focus on home design, household function and just pain gorgeousness is where I’m at today. So, I decided that while having some down time in my life right now, I’d go down Los Angeles’ La Brea Boulevard – the ribbon of road that houses some of the most beautiful designs that bedeck and adorn the mansions of the Hollywood elite, and makes the rest of us swoon with each beautiful showroom display.

Today, I walked from 1st street up to Beverly and wandered into the little sanctuaries of modern and vintage design. It gives me some life, and offers ideas for future interior design projects at home.

Over at Maison Midi, French vintage mixed with modern style and function are on parade, with bold colors for Christmas, and beautiful artifacts for gift giving.  The photos above are from Fornasetti  home fragrances,  a line up of intoxicating yet delicate aromas for the home, available in store. This luxury brand is for real hard core collector, with feminine, sexy surreal candle holders, diffusers and ceramic bottle spray containers highly priced. This is a very special gift for someone very special who appreciates intriguing touches to her demure boudoir.

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Modern means French warmth with this funky marbleize crockery resting on textured table cloth at Maison Midi. Can you imagine this in your imaginary French villa? Or maybe in your home resting on a grey modern credenza. Either way, this adds a unique touch to your dining area – or anywhere.

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This book cover is a work of art itself. My Cuban mother would have loved this for Christmas if she were still with us.

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A walk further up La Brea led me into , where Americana Folk Art decor lives in warm deep woods, hand crafted artifacts, quilts of many colors and designs beyond imagination. Cast iron doorstops, old wooden bowling pins, barrels, chairs, and a checkerboard side table, Santa Fe designs and textiles. The smell of leather and furniture oil hangs around, and you can feel the spirit of our North American craftsman on your shoulder. Sturdy, romantic fixtures for the home. Great inspiration during Christmas time when you feel like nesting and bringing all that homestead soulfulness indoors.

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After spending considerable time at Maison Midi and East Meets West Antiques, I headed up to Nadeau near Beverly.  Their motto is “Furniture with A Soul”, and it definitely fits this affordable blend of eclectic, well crafted furnishings for the home.  After spending time at HD Buttercup last week (and ABC Home in NYC), it was refreshing to walk into this duplex showroom of amazing media centers, bedroom bureaus, credenzas, chairs, side tables, hutches that are reasonably priced.  There are styles for every taste, and just walking in makes you want to start designing a new home. It’s just crackling with different items and caters to most design palettes. Quirky moments are found in hidden corners, like this wrought iron bench above with whimsical pillows. Oh hello!

I wasn’t aware they had a line of home decor like pillows, wall hangings and their own line of signature candles. I love me some scented candles because it adds to the five senses that bring the vibe of a room to life. 

So that ends my La Brea design crawl for this week. I’ve covered the east side of La Brea from 2nd Street north to Beverly.  Where will my next crawl be? Another side of the street? Downtown LA? Maybe NYC?  Watch this space and find out!

If you’ve enjoyed this blog, please check out my Instagram account – @dormerandmass where I post the pictures on this blog and much, much more.

Also, head over to my Pinterest account which has an eclectic blend of interests, but design still abounds at www.pinterest.com/drotmil/


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Wednesday Writing Prompt: Dreams Deferred

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‘Ana La Habana’ Fashion

My mother came from Havana Cuba after a member of Castro’s staff told her to take her son and leave the country. This was 1959.

Ana Srebrenik was a single mother and shop owner. She ran a little lingerie store in the lobby of, what was then, the Havana Hilton. Castro and his team had their offices in the building, and every day (as I remember her telling me), she’d see he and his minions walk through the hotel after their day in the mountains.

She got to know his side men casually. One of them gave her the heads up about the revolution and how her capitalist ways were no longer going to cut it in post Revolution Cuba.

My mother immigrated to the US and settled in New York and built another business. This time it was a dress shop in White Plains. This time she designed some of the clothes and hired a tailor to run them up for her store. I believe she had a partner in this venture because I used to hear about a couple with whom she had to settle  when the store closed. Their names are forgotten.

Ana placed her career on a shelf, met my father, got married and had me. Maybe it wasn’t all in that order. I’m never sure. Details got fuzzy. When she was alive, she wouldn’t go into detail. I only knew she always thought she’d get back into her own store again. But she never did.

When she passed away unexpectedly in November of 2009, I had to do what we all have to do once in our lives: clean out the family home, send things to donation, organize estate sales, sell off property.

Among her things, I came upon a portfolio of her fashion sketchings.  They were likely done after she gave up her store. She always loved clothes and good fashion although she never allowed herself to buy many things. Mom would re-purpose old clothes, re-design a skirt, or use a scarf as a belt. Like Little Edie Beale of ‘Grey Gardens’, she’d find a perfect outfit for the day.

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Smart business attire for the day. ‘Ana La Habana’

While going through these drawings, I see a creative side to my mother I had never explored. To me, she was the mom in the kitchen, the mom in the car driving me to school or to the store, the mom in the dark room. Her dreams stunted by responsibility placed upon her as a woman of a certain generation.

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Cocktails? ‘Ana La Habana’

Each dressed devised by her hand evoked glamour and chance situations. There was a bit of glory and opportunity with each sash and button. The lines and shading promoted a dream world she wish she could step into, or to allow a potential customer to live empowered through a frock devised by her own vision.

Yet, those ideas were left frozen on a page, hidden in a binder sitting at the bottom of a trunk. So many years ago, measured by the passage of time where she wouldn’t allow her true creative self to flourish. That it was her duty as a wife and mother at the time. That her way of handling a career and motherhood as a young single mother in Cuba caused a riff between her and her son.

Not this time, she likely thought when she had me. So she shut the dream down.

She encouraged me to be successful.

She was proud of my athleticism and independence.

I think back at the times she never brought up marriage and grandchildren. Never guilted me about it.

She once even told me I should run my own business.  But the everyday corporate life seemed like a societal obligation, having seen my father find security at IBM for entire career.

How wrong I was. The world isn’t the same.

I think of the song *”Days and Days” from the musical “Fun Home”.  It’s sung by Helen Bechdel to her daughter Alison after dealing with her husband Bruce’s closeted life for so many years. She had just asked him for a divorce.

Although the family circumstances are not the same as mine, the feeling of wasted days due to what was expected of her comes to light.

She sings of the ordinary, mundane things, “…lunches and car rides and shirts and socks. And grades and piano…and no one clocks the day you disappear,” and “bargains I made because as a wife I was meant to, and now my life is shattered and made bare.”

Days and days and days. Just like my  mother, married to a very nice, sweet, adorable man whom I worshiped, but held her to what was expected of her. He was likely resentful of her depression, not understanding what she needed.

There is no one to blame really. But lessons are learned. Parents strive for their children to have a better life than the one they leave behind.

I can hear my own mother say it in my ear.

“Don’t you come back here. I didn’t raise you to give away your days…like me.”

Writing Prompt:

What are your dreams? What have you sacrificed in order to live a certain way? What creative activity have you allowed to sit on the shelf?  And if you brought it out of the darkness to make it a part of your livelihood or your hobby, how will you continue to use that talent and never give up?

 

‘Days and Days’, from the musical ‘Fun Home’. Music by Jeanine Tesori. Words by Lisa Kron.