No Gaffes, No Gain

Acid washed denim, L'eggs pantyhose, Aqua Net-stiffened coiffures, velour tracksuits. There are plenty of sartorial regrets we can tick off on our fingers until the exhausting list has us ready for a nap. Concerning our homes, there's a comparably infinite number of regrettable decisions we've experienced, if not personally made. How about carpeted walls (popular in East coast basements)? Water beds? Furry toilet seat covers? Country floral tile backsplash?

We've all made mistakes. You'll get zero judgment from us. Trust me. The Lily Spindle ladies have our own regrets and we're unabashedly sharing a couple of them with you here, along with the regrettable furniture and design anecdotes from some of our esteemed friends and comrades, some of them major players in the design world, like Capree Kimball of Dog Milk/Design Milk, and Erin King, the founder of King Garden Design in Santa Monica.

And so, here you have it. Here is my most memorable "coulda woulda shoulda":

Back east, beginning in early 2000,  I ran an independent furniture store where everything we created for our clients was custom-ordered with a crazy long leadtime and made in downtown Los Angeles. The style at that time can now be described as “inordinately cushy and obnoxiously massive” -- much of what we carried in accessories and lighting was shimmering with jewels and whirligigs and ornamental doodads and we sold A LOT of blown glass Dez Ryan lamps and hulking, oversized cut-velvet chaises.

When I eventually ordered myself a rolled-arm, high-backed sofa, I selected a mulberry red viscose cut velvet with an all-over floral pattern. I thought it would be dramatic. A showstopper. I though it would be speakeasy sexy. It was none of these. I ended up selling the enormous red beast for a paltry $100 when I moved to Los Angeles years later. - Rebecca

(this is an actual example of the furniture company's handiwork. my sofa was not quite this, but not far enough off to be considered unregrettable.)

(this is an actual example of the furniture company's handiwork. my sofa was not quite this, but not far enough off to be considered unregrettable.)

Here's Deb's: My one memorable design blunder (and I'm still living with the consequences) is my kitchen floor.  Remodeling the kitchen was so fun -designing the layout, choosing the cabinetry, countertop, etc.  When I saw those beautiful black basalt (volcanic rock) tiles I knew I'd found the perfect flooring to complement the walnut, white and stainless palette.  Maybe I had selective amnesia - I don't know but the practicality of that decision never entered my mind.  Oh it was so lovely when it was first installed - all gorgeous black and gleaming! And then my three dogs and three cats moved back in.  Dripping and drooling and shedding, they daily render my beautiful black floor a hazy, spotty, hairy mess. And I have no one to blame but myself. - Deb


It was probably 15 years ago (I hope it was that long ago)!!! I sponged my entire living room using a beautiful yellow and mustard combo . It stayed sponged for probably 5 years until I simply couldn't take it anymore. – Neda Aden, vegan home chef

Don't forget to wear your surgical gloves when you're making a horrible design decision.

Don't forget to wear your surgical gloves when you're making a horrible design decision.


Where I lived in New York there was a great flea market six blocks from my flat . One hot summer, having lost my mind during a heatwave, I came upon a 6ft wooden diary cow that had been taken off a farm bill board. For some reason she reminded me of England so I paid a guy who worked at the flea market to drag this big wooden cow back to my flat. I named her Daisy (of course) and she sat awkwardly in my living room for close to six monthsuntil a kind friend gently asked me if I'd lost my mind.
- Heather McCall,The Animal Works reiki practitioner and animal communicator


One of the worst/dumbest interior design mistakes I made was purchasing a viscose area rug, which is fine if it's in a room you never use and you don't have dogs or kids. But, I put it in our highly-trafficked living room and, well, I have 3 dogs. It lasted approximately 3 minutes, but what a glorious 3 minutes they were! - Capree Kimball, managing editor at DogMilk


My biggest design mistakes - and that word is plural because I’ve sadly done it more than once - is that I’ve bought a piece of furniture for a very specific space in my condo/apartment/house that I don’t love but I thought I needed it to fill a space. This piece is inevitably the first to go when I move. Now, the first thing I ask myself before I buy something is, “do I LOVE it?” I’d rather leave a space empty and wait for the right thing.  - Deb Thompson, owner of Nahcotta


We once bought a sofa from a local dealer — probably close to ten years ago, and it was such a bizarre choice, that to this day, I haven’t a clue what we were thinking. It was a sad brown color with a dreadfully high back. A love-seat that was begging for a divorce. It was even more uncomfortable than it looked; a look that said, “you’re better off on the floor”. Even our cat, Thomas, tried to knock some sense into us in by scratching the shit out of it — leaving our better choices to live claw-free, unscathed. And if all that isn’t bad enough, we managed to transport said disaster in our tiny convertible through our small town, as if to say, “Everyone look! Have a good long look at the dreadful new couch we bought! Yeah, we have the worst taste in history!” Had we any sense, we’d have driven directly to the Goodwill.

– MJ Blanchette, artist (and my sister-in-law)


The worst mistake I ever made was ordering 6 Saarinen office chairs in a gold velvet, sight unseen.  Off eBay.  Thought they would be just the thing for my dining room

 Turns out the chairs had been stored for 50 years and the foam was 'crunchy' and hard.  You sat on them and the dust spurted up in a cloud...cough, cough...ugh.  And the fabric!  I was hoping for 'cool retro'...but instead I got disgusting Boogie Nights vibe off them.

                             "I'm a star. I'm a star, I'm a star, I'm a star. I'm a big, bright, shining star."                           (Chairs shown are for visual reference only. Not *actual "Boogie Nights chairs)

                             "I'm a star. I'm a star, I'm a star, I'm a star. I'm a big, bright, shining star."
                          (Chairs shown are for visual reference only. Not *actual "Boogie Nights chairs)

They were shipped from upstate NY and the shipping and packing alone cost a fortune. Buyer Beware!
- Erin King, landscape designer and owner of King Garden Design


Most of my biggest mistakes can be found in the bottom of my wardrobe. On my shoe rack. Many beautiful pairs of shoes from the 40s, 50s and 60s found at flea markets and vintage fairs. "Oh, look! Tiny shoes! I wear a 5 1/2! I can't just leave them here, I must take them home!" Somewhere in the back of my head the voice of reason whispers that my feet are W-I-D-E but I always ignore it. As for my house. There have been many pieces that have come and gone. At a garage sale in Michigan, I bought an Eames "style" lounge chair and ottoman from a yard sale for $30.00. The father of the man selling it had worked for Herman Miller and he thought it was some kind of early prototype. It wasn't a Plycraft and it wasn't any other knock-off that I could find. The chair was slightly larger than the classic. It was a bit wobbly. I took it home and (sort of) fixed the wobble. I moved it around the living room several times over the years to find pride of place for it. It was divine. Best $30 find ever! I loved it! I moved it across the country to California! It took up half of our small living room! I still loved it! Once day, As I was admiring the black behemoth, I realized that it really didn't fit in the room very well. It didn't really fit in our house in Michigan either. But it was great! And it was $30! And then it struck me. No one ever sat in it! It was uncomfortable! And suddenly, after 8 years of living with the behemoth, I put it on Craigslist and it was gone. I don't miss it in the slightest, but I loved it while it was mine. - Astrid Reed, curator