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Make Yourself at Home in a Quirky Way

August 04, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

The problem with slick shelter magazines such as Wallpaper, Elle Decor, House & Garden and Martha Stewart Living is that they tend to make their feel like lazy losers.

"They dangle an unrealistic lifestyle fantasy carrot in front of people," said Matt Maranian, 34, author of "Pad: The Guide to Ultra-Living" (Chronicle Books, $24.95).

Living rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms, he suggests, can be transformed into meccas of personal style with gallons of bright paint, armloads of synthetic fur, tiki glasses and hula skirts.

Maranian's first book was "L.A. Bizarro" (St. Martin's Press, 1997), a guide to the freakier charms of Los Angeles. Last year, when he decided he'd had enough of the city that has been his muse, he moved to Vermont--but not before gathering decorating tips from his quirky L.A. friends for "Pad."

"They all have done extraordinary things with their homes on their own, using what they had on hand or what they could pull out of a garbage dumpster," he said.

The wall and floor of artist-writer Tom Bliss' living room is covered with a "Romper Room"-like rug, which he made by hand using a utility knife, cardboard and carpet remnants. Artist Jon Bok drew inspiration for his home from the TV show "Sanford and Son." He uses old bottle caps, padlocks, license plates and tin cans to create junk style. And performer/toy collector Kari French brightens up a steep stairway with black light, Day-Glo markers and psychedelic posters.

"You have to have a vision to create environments like these, but more people have vision than they realize," Maranian said. "Decorating magazines encourage people to buy things, not to follow their vision or sensibilities."

Step-by-step instructions teach readers how to create a coffee table with a surfboard and three legs, a "porno chic love lamp" with coffee cans and dirty magazine photos, and curtains out of a hula skirt.

Maranian is talking to a N.Y. production company about a "late-night 'Pad' TV show." He and his wife, Loretta Palazzo, have opened a clothing store in Brattleboro, Vt. Living out of boxes while looking for his dream house, Maranian said, "I'm not exactly a 'Pad' poster-child." Give him time.


Polka-dots have been spotted on dresses, skirts and shirts from L.A. to Paris this season. At the forefront of the trend? None other than Barbara Bush, who has looked positively dotty at the Republican National Convention this week.

And you thought the former first lady didn't have any pizazz. . . .

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