The other day the word “irony” floated across my frontal lobe while I paged through a stack of home decor books.
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Whenever I think of this word, I flash on my ninth-grade English teacher, who had the best definition of irony I have ever heard. “Irony,” Miss Crisco said, “is the opposite of what you expect to happen.”
So there I was, with several review copies of design books that a publicist had sent me, and, frankly, one bad attitude. I’ve seen hundreds of these books over the years, so when faced with a new crop I feel as jaded as a bookie. And then … the unexpected happened.
See, I had particularly low hopes for “Think Home: Everything you need to plan and create your perfect home,” by Judith Wilson, a London-based interiors journalist, partly because of the book’s lofty, over-promising title. (Even though I know from experience that authors do not have the last word on book titles.)
I expected the predictable — a book featuring pages of beautiful if unattainable, stylized home interiors surrounded by a confection of instantly forgettable words. But as I leafed through with my so-tell-me-something-new mindset, a double thunderbolt of irony struck me. Not only was the book the opposite of what I expected, but also it was unexpected because the design advice was unexpected. (Miss Crisco: Is there such a thing as ironic irony?)
Pages were filled with counterintuitive moves that shouldn’t work but did. While I had heard the bulk of Wilson’s guiding lights heard before, I liked best the many occasions when she turned conventional decorating advice on its finial and offered ironic design. Here’s are some examples:
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through marnijameson.com.