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Design and other ephemera

Last week, I greeted the day on Sunday eating pate, triple creme, home-made hummus and crackers in bed. Lest anyone have any doubts, this may be the absolute best way to begin a day. Or at the very least, the best way to begin a day when sleeping alone. The night before, I hosted my first small gathering at my newish apartment. It was a roaring success. Hostessing an event always makes me a little anxious. On top of all the cleaning and shopping one must endure for company, there’s also the issue of who to invite. In my admittedly neurotic mind, few scenarios freak me out quite as much as the prospect of bringing people together only to have them not want to talk to one another, or for the chemistry to fall flat. I suppose it’s a little like match-making, although rather than creating a marriage, you’re assembling a low-key evening of conversation and cocktails. Assembling a guest list is a delicate art, indeed.

Luckily, because my friends are intelligent, interesting people, the four who passed the evening with me on Saturday got along smashingly. I could not have asked for better chemistry among participants and I spent the entire night feeling very lucky to know all of them and to have a gorgeous apartment to entertain them in. The magical guacamole I made might have been a factor as well. In my life I have made some very elaborate meals. At the dining co-ops in college I would regularly plan and oversee the preparation of dinners for over 100 people. I have been known to devote whole weekends to baking bread. I once made a beef stew that took five hours to execute and the person I served it to practically licked her plate when it was all gone. The problem with being a foodie, besides an unfortunate addiction to eggs from a *specific* stand at a *specific* farmer’s market, is that it’s easy to fool yourself into believing that complicated and labor intensive=better. When it comes to the guac, nothing could be further from the truth so I am going to share a little secret with you: it only requires three ingredients–avocados, lime, salt. Simply mash up the previously mentioned three ingredients, you can use fancy salt if you’re like me and need to be a snob about it, stick it in a bowl and stand back in amusement as you watch your friends attempt to makeout with a food product. It will be a glorious scene.

All of this is to say that one outcome of entertaining for the first time in a new place is that it helps you identify what improvements you should be making to your space, while validating the design choices you have already made. For instance, while I had agonized about buying a sofa and was then forced to wait six weeks for the one I finally did select, seeing my friends Angela and Kristin splayed out on it drinking and playing a card game made me so unbelievably happy that I had bought that specific sofa in that specific color. What isn’t making me happy however, is my ridiculous excuse for a coffee table. An unfortunate fact of life is that coffee tables are expensive, and I have not had the cash to buy one. So I’ve been improvising with a hand-me-down wicker trunk stacked with art books and magazines to provide hard surfaces. Unfortunately, said trunk is not quite large enough and I spent much of the night asking Kristin to please pass me the corn chips as there wasn’t room for them on the trunk so they had to sit next to her on the sofa. I have therefore resolved that my next significant purchase will be a real-life coffee table and as such, have commenced the process of figuring out which one I will buy.

My dream table will be sleek, modern, sexy and unobtrusive. While I do not anticipate wanting one of solid wood, this chrome number with a reclaimed salvaged wood top from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is a definite winner. Sadly, since the price is not listed, I can only assume that it falls into the category of “if you  have to ask, you probably can’t afford it.” Alas. And given the porousness of wood, I also fear that I’d be forced to develop a much deeper relationship with coasters than I currently have, and I’m just not sure I have the patience for that.

A fine alternative and not that expensive in the grand scheme of things is this nice chrome and glass table from good ole Crate and Barrel. I know some people find C&B totally predictable and mass marketed, but for affordable, tasteful, high-quality goods, they are often one’s best bet. This particular item looks perfect for resting a bowl of corn chips, guac, and anything else you may wish to free your hands from.


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