Maxwell in the Chicago Tribune!

Maxwell in the Chicago Tribune!

Heather Blaha
Sep 21, 2006

Just a few days late on the uptake...did anyone else see our very own Maxwell in a Tribune article over the weekend? The writer sought out Maxwell and salvation through Apartment Therapy. Read "Furniture as Homewrecker", an article about Lisa Cregan's quest to not hate her living room. To quote:

I gathered the family and explained that our living room was suffering from poor "flow." The furniture would have to be rearranged so that visitors wandered the room in a gentle meander. My husband, who can sense decorating bills the way a Doberman smells fear, pointed out that on the old "Dick Van Dyke Show" the Petrie family had a perfectly happy home despite Rob's tripping over the living room ottoman week after week. Gillingham-Ryan had a ready answer for that one. "Rob needed to be tripped," he said and laughed. "He was too straight."

(Full article below or link here.)

FURNITURE AS HOMEWRECKER
THE CURE FOR THE UNLIVABLE LIVING ROOM AND OTHER DIVISIVE AILMENTS? THE ELUSIVE OUTBOX.

BY LISA CREGAN
Published September 17, 2006

I hate my living room. It's right there next to the front door, but you'd never go in there. Even my teenagers and their friends, who seem to make wide-ranging use of the house when my husband and I are away--preferably multiple time zones away--don't go in there. Honestly, the other day a vacuum cleaner salesman asked me if he could do his demonstration in another room.

I am happy to report, however, that help has arrived, thanks to the gods of immediate gratification at Amazon--"Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure." Inside, the author of this addictive little manual, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, provides perfectly plausible explanations for why your furniture could be ruining your marriage, thwarting your career or even aggravating those infertility problems.

I am not exaggerating. He says we need to think of our homes as living, breathing organisms. By the time I got through Chapter 2 my problem was clear--my living room was choking to death. I dialed up Gillingham-Ryan to discuss.

"People are good at consuming," he told me gently. "They have a hard time doing the opposite." He recommended a merciless editing of my house's contents; only then would my home breathe free. Unnecessary furniture and useless gimcrack should be placed in a corner labeled "Outbox." Once an item had spent sufficient time in the Outbox it would release its villainous hold on me and I would feel free to get rid of it.

But what if my husband keeps taking his steer-horn hat rack out of the Outbox, I asked. "Well, then you put up with it," he said. "It's part of loving him." Not the answer I was looking for.

I pressed on, though. I needed to ask Gillingham-Ryan how teenagers, dogs, orphaned remote controls and assorted electric guitar amps fit into the tidy, ascetic lifestyle he advocated. Gillingham-Ryan and his wife live in a 250-square-foot apartment--that's right, 250 square feet--in Greenwich Village. I told him we needed 250 square feet to store the herd of My Little Ponies my college sophomore wouldn't get rid of. Unruffled, Gillingham-Ryan did not back down.

"Space is not the lesson," he said. "It's living lightly in the space, no matter how large or small it is." For instance, he recommends switching to "house shoes" when you come home. Our son wears his hockey skates in the house. Maybe this just wasn't going to work.

Delving more deeply, Gillingham-Ryan tried to get to the root of my decorating failures. "I really feel strongly that if you don't start when you are single," Gillingham-Ryan said, "if you wait until you are married to get your home in order, you won't know what to do when you are a couple."

Were my problems predestined? After graduating college, my friend Wendy and I rented a place in Brooklyn. One day a kindly neighbor noticed our front door ajar and called the police, who quickly investigated and tracked us down to report that our apartment had been brutally ransacked. Sobbing, we raced home only to find our rooms exactly as we'd left them that morning.

Still, I was hopeful. I gathered the family and explained that our living room was suffering from poor "flow." The furniture would have to be rearranged so that visitors wandered the room in a gentle meander. My husband, who can sense decorating bills the way a Doberman smells fear, pointed out that on the old "Dick Van Dyke Show" the Petrie family had a perfectly happy home despite Rob's tripping over the living room ottoman week after week. Gillingham-Ryan had a ready answer for that one. "Rob needed to be tripped," he said and laughed. "He was too straight."

My husband is just so blind. I have been handed the road map to our future bliss: Meander and wear house shoes.

I hope it's not too late.

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Author Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, also co-founder of the blog apartmenttherapy.com, will be at CB2, North Avenue, at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 5.

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