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Thursday, December 30, 2010

She makes my heart hurt

So I was in the ER yesterday because my lifelong heart condition decided the holiday break was a fab time to party. Not to worry, Dumplings, I'm home and resting and hope to have surgery to sort it all out in a month or so.

But while I was prone on a gurney hooked up with more cables than the Ace Awards, I was forced to watch HGTV. And who should come on to torture my already fragile heart with HORRENDOUS interior design? The six-foot Scandinavian Chicken herself, Mandice Olson.

I hadn't watched her laughably-named show "Divine Design" in ages. On purpose. But I was too tired to reach for the remote, and I thought the Ativan drip would soften the experience. NOPE. The Chicken was hard at work clucking around this basement scratching out her signature style.

I'd hoped there would have been some creative growth on Mandice's part over the past few years. NOPE. Still a sea of frosted glass, aquamarine and espresso finishes, passive-aggressive "You can't change my design EVER" built-ins, and enough crap accessories to stock a Marshall's home department.

In search of photos to make my point, I forced myself to scour the Chicken Coop (the part of HGTV's website devoted to Mandice). The beta-blockers made it possible for my heart to endure the experience.

I found, unsurprisingly, room after room of pale blues and dark browns. The Aughts' gift to design history. Like Paris Hilton gifts STDs.

If any one person defines department store soft contemporary, it would be Olson. She's a one-woman Macy's-sponsored decorator show house.

On the HGTV website, The Chicken calls her decorating style "contemporary modern" which is like calling Padma Lakshmi "drunkenly inebriated" or Vern Yip "piercingly shrill." An adjective describes, it doesn't define. Also, what would be the converse - "traditional modern"?

Even when she deigns to do traditional (and you know it kills her to leave out the frosted glass), it's still quintessentially Mandice. Dirty sky blues and chilly finishes.

Asked in an HGTV interview to pick a dream client, Mandice clucked "Donald Trump. I would like to show him how to live elegantly and graciously while practicing a little restraint!" Wellohmyyes, words-on-walls is the epitome of gracious elegant living. As are sock monkeys.

Canadian Dumplings, help me out - you don't actually think your fellow countryman(dice) is putting out good design, do you?


Alexis L., The Studioist said...

Raina, I'm so glad you are feeling better. Please take it easy and try not to get too riled up until you are absolutely sure you can take it.

Re Candice: The most I can say is that she has a signature style, which doesn't seem to be the case with a lot of HGTV personalities, and stays true to her preferred palette. I don't think it's a coincidence that she mostly designs basements and the occasional attic.

Raina Cox said...

Thanks, SisterWife, I'll take it easy with the iffy design.

Mandice did mention on the HGTV website that she prefers doing basements over any other room.

What does it mean?

Kathleen said...

Words on walls. I've never understood why anyone would do that.

Tara Dillard said...

Words are not allowed in my Landscape Designs. They hijack the brain & destroy acreage.

'WELCOME' is the most offensive. Whether doormat, flag or cheap tacky resign sign staked in a cheaper tackier pot.

Must stop here or be placed in the hospital bed next to you.

Isn't there a name for what Candace does so well? Catalog Design?

I'm curious what her personal dream home would look like. Probably not Catalog Design.

Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

Happy Candace's design style is keeping you chipper !!!

Acanthus and Acorn said...

I hope you are taking care...but so glad your posting abilities are not compromised!

Personality wise, I like her...she seems like a lot of fun! But, I've seen her show enough to know about the the ABUNDANT accessories. They all appear to be from discount stores and that drives me nuts, regardless of the budget!!! I'd rather see bare spaces.

Visual Vamp said...

Be well Raina. You're a trooper!
xo xo

my favorite and my best said...

that shit was on fire!!!!


Brandi said...

I find that most of the designers with shows on HGTV do little to impress. But I think they're going for a mass market look so I guess that's what the network wants? Idk, it's lame-o either way. this network should have shows that challenge people right?

David said...

I think Candace is good with space planning, and I like a lot of her upholstery choices, but I'll agree with the questionable accessorizing. Mostly I like the old shows with Edmund the sewing guy. (come back hottie!)

Above all I'm glad you're home and alright. "Raina on a gurney" isn't something any of us want to consider.

only a movie said...

Take care of yourself and switch the channel over to some Jon Stewart, sweetie.


sanctuaryhome said...

I like how someone referred to her style as Catalog Design. I find the look makes me want to yawn, the rooms are full, but nothing is a focal point, nothing is unexpected to create the all important design tension.

Take care of yourself, Raina!

Keri Batchelder Hoffman said...

First off, get well soon!!! If a local reader can run an errand for you just let me know! I too have some heart issues but luckily they cause me little grief, knock on wood.

As for Mandice...I admit, she has been a guilty pleasure of mine. Mainly because she usually starts with a pile of crap and then delivers a completed room - even if the same room over and over and over it is still something the home owner would never get otherwise.

What does drive me nutso is her long Matrix coats (WTF?) and when they zoom into her man hands adjusting curtains and vases (again, WTF?). But if a 7 foot tall water polo player can make it to the big (HGTV) time then I say, you go girl.

Thanks for the great post!!! As always. And made even more special from your hospital bed :)

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

Oh my goodness, seriously?!!
I'm so glad you're home now. Please let me know if there's anything we can do to help -- er, like uh, head to Denver to babysit the Pea while the docs put you under ;)
But in all seriousness, yes, I must admit in my salad days, I was someone awed by Olson's er, transformations. But it was all so cheesy boutique hotel-ish -- tv screens installed behind bathroom vanity mirrors, track lighting everywhere, faux curtains to create the effect of windows in a dark basement.
Hope you start feeling the snark again soon, Alcira

Squeak said...

As a Canadian Dumpling, I am deeply offended by most of the stuff that passes as design in this country. I've always called it "department store decorating", but I like "catalogue design" even better!

Oh, there are a couple of interesting designers, but that's it. And the ones that do good work don't have TV shows.

I'm sorry to hear you're so sick. Take good care of yourself.

Robin said...

I have often wondered if Candy was color blind and blue and brown are the only colors she can "see"...

Glad to know that your humor transcends all illness and medications and hope you are feeling better.

De tout, de rien said...

And you think your Nate Berkus is any better?

Raina Cox said...

De tout, de rien - With real-life clients - yes. On his TV show - no.

Petra Voegtle said...

Dear Raina,
I am terribly sorry to hear about your heart problems. Sending you best wishes and healing thoughts. Hope you will remain in good mood and that your upcoming surgery is a minor thing to get you completely to your old self.
Take good care for yourself and do less than you feel you could.
You have a family who will worry about you...
Best wishes,

Bri@Meyouandawiener said...

Damn girl you're pretty gangster to be blogging seeing you were just in the the ER, feel better soon.

As far as Candice Douche-Olsen I hate her style in fact I'm not a fan of HGTV either which is a good thing we don't have cable. The whole I just went to one store and bought everything look is just wrong.

Have a great New Years!!!!

NK said...

Hello, just found your blog. Hope you get better!
I'm totally loving your post, you got me HOOKED. As a Canadian dumpling, I think at least part of the reason why design is SOOOO bad in Canada is because its very expensive to have any original stuff delivered up here. Kim from desire to inspire is doing a great job of making Ottawa happen on the blog map. But truth be told, its nearly impossible to find awesome things in Canada outside the GTA.
Anyway, I digress... I find Olsen's style blah, I don't have cable, so never saw her show before. I think blogging is WAY better and more educating than any show out there. Expecially with such talented blogers as yourself :)

lady jicky said...

I do not know her and I think I am not missing out on much either!

Her rooms are all very "safe" and I am so glad to hear you are too and the doctors can do something to keep you that way!
Take it easy and stop watching that TV :)

Raina Cox said...

lady jicky - Thanks, and I'm not sure why your 2nd comment on the "Caption This Post" isn't showing up. It popped up in my email but Blogger ate it.

P.S. Dave doesn't mean any harm. He was just being playful.

Teri said...

Good heavens, if you wanted to get out of finishing the master bath I am sure we could have arranged something less harrowing then the ER and heart surgery.

What I want to know, is in the fourth room picture, what in the hell are those brown things over the bed?

And, the word over my bed would not be sleep. ;)

Raina Cox said...

NK - Hello to you Creative Canuck and welcome to this deliciousness!

I agree about Kim from DTI. She and her blog partner Jo make the world a prettier place.

Teri - It's some sort of fan contraption. I've seen it before, but only on ceilings. Having those flapping over my head while I slept would make me hella nervous.

DaniBP said...

Raina you are my bestie for blogging while recovering. I hope everything sorts itself out beautifully for you.

I was laughing my fool head off reading this post! Haha so true! I am one of your Canadian Dumplings, let's just say I saw this show once and my jaw was on the floor from the badness. I think that was when I stopped watching HGTV altogether.
xo Dani

Dianne said...

I think Candice is laughing all the way to the bank!

lavalotti said...

Hope you feel better soon. We don't get HGTV in Germany, but these images are kinda making me glad.

Kim@Chattafabulous said...

You nailed it with the "passive-aggressive you can't change my design EVER" comment. I have often wondered why her tv clients would allow her to install those eye-level-fireplaces flanked by espresso custom cabinetry and illuminated with the sparkly halogen potlights. There's a time capsule for ya! Feel better, Raina- you're a tough one!

ChrisToronto said...

Raina, darling, the lack of divinity in her design is only part of the problem, although I agree with you 100 per cent. What I hate even more is the hokey, jokey non-stop mugging that Mandice and her crew continually engage in. Three letters: g, a, g.

Modern Country Lady said...

Hey there- take it easy and get well soon!
This designer- never heard of her- - is sooo boring- can't believe she actually has work or clients- but then I guess the world is full of boring people so they need boring designers- right ? - which brings me to my point- we need to be real careful with our non-boring , brilliant , funny, great people so... will you please look after yourself, rest and recover ?? I send you lots of good vibes and will be thinking of you!!!!

Sketch42 said...

" If any one person defines department store soft contemporary, it would be Olson. She's a one-woman Macy's-sponsored decorator show house." BRILLIANT.

BUT- I think candice is one of the best designers on HGTV. I dont know if its because she gets clients with higher budgets or what- but her rooms dont look flat out pathetic- like some of bromstads rooms do. Or genevive. I too was sick all week, and also watching HGTV- (but I couldnt muster the stregnth to write a killer blog post) and I actually saw color splash dude make a BASKETBALL INSPIRED ROOM. every surface was sponge and rag painted. At least candice knows better than that. It was orange, red and yellow. VOMIT.

So while Candice is delivering pretty bland design that is entirely formulaic... its not THE WORST stuff on HGTV. Not even close.

nkp said...

"I'd hoped there would have been some creative growth on Mandice's part over the past few years. NOPE. Still a sea of frosted glass, aquamarine and espresso finishes, passive-aggressive "You can't change my design EVER" built-ins, and enough crap accessories to stock a Marshall's home department.". Um yes, in a nutshell.

You are so, so good. Perhaps even better when slightly doped up....makes your inhibitions jettison out the window?
Ha, right!


Raina Cox said...

Dianne - I'm sure she is.

Sketch 42 - I agree, Candice is the best of the worst. ;) Hope you're feeling better.

Jane K. Schott said...

Great post. Keep in touch and know that I have your back and you have my heart too.

Rebecca (Reluctant Floridian) said...

Glad you are alive and well. I guess it's good that you watched the HGTV post-ER, otherwise maybe you could blame them for your heart issues, no?

Get well!

autrichenoire said...

Gosh she sure loves the blue....and if my house ordered me to sleep in writing no less, I'd probably have you-are-not-the-boss-of-me insomnia

It may be a good time to revisit the yoga pants and couch all day combo.Be well.

The Zhush said...

OY Raina! Hope you are feeling better...your ER scare certainly has not hurt your wit or your writing skills! Have a very Happy and Healthy New Year!

Sharon @ Real Estate Resuscitation said...

You really shouldn't put yourself at risk like that again, especially before any pending surgery.

Hope your heart continues to be well!

Lausi said...

Just a quick shout out, wishing you ALL THE BEST!!!! and a very HAPPY and "HEALTHY" New Year!

Fingers crossed that everything works out fine with your surgery (once it's scheduled!).

And don't strain your poor heart sorting through awful design sins, hun! (not that I don't LOVE your digs at them ;)

Topaz said...

I happen to think that snarking is very therapeutic, so maybe entertaining us with your humor and design savvy is helping to keep you going.

All the best to you, Raina. You are needed and adored.

A Perfect Gray said...

Raina! What? Sending you lots of good wishes for speedy healing. Keep us posted...all my best wishes for a very healthy new year. love, donna

Bromeliad said...

Oh dear. Hope you recover (from the heart thing not the HGTV thing.)

Jessica said...

As a Canuck-dumpling I was laughing my ass off!! Mandice has been slinging the same crap for so long she's could do it in her sleep. You'd think she'd be boring herself by now. At least she's unintentionally funny with her bizarre fashion sense. And I love that she's been quoted as saying she loves to do basements! Every house in Toronto has one and they're either unfinished nightmares or wood-paneled "rec" rooms, so she certainly gets the biggest wow factor in the reveals - almost anything would be better than what she starts with.

Savvy Gab said...

Dear Raina, I am glad to see that your ER holiday hasn't affected your snarky humour! Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

PS - re the giant chicken, I couldn't have said it any better myself so I will not even attempt...

erin@designcrisis said...

I'm not sure whether to fret over your upcoming SURGERY (wtf????!) or to guffaw at your brilliant post... I'm sure you would know what to do in this case.

ps: I'm bummed the Scandinavian Chicken (or her weird sycophant proxy) hasn't commented on this post yet.

Raina Cox said...

Erin - Oh, all you can do is laugh. At both predicaments.