Low Hanging Fruit- Basic bedroom decorating

post by daenerys · 2012-05-31T17:26:55.597Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 48 comments


    is a weird topic for a discussion post. Why are you writing it?
    It doesn't count if you don't Use Math.
    I don't care about having a nice place anyways!
  OK! Let's do this!

This is a weird topic for a discussion post. Why are you writing it?

In a recent post-mini-camp skills exchange thread, I jokingly mentioned that I could "help make your room look Awesome!" To my surprise, a couple people were actually interested. Note: I'm not an interior decorator, and what follows will be the extremely basic 101-level breakdown. Follow these instructions, and your room will look significantly nicer than the average 20-something male's (I'm assuming gender, based on the 92% male readership of this site), but not look like it was done by a professional or anything.

Why should I care about Making my Room Awesome?
(aka "Why would you be able to put the word "Rational" in this post, should there not be edicts against it?")

1) It's Low-Hanging Fruit- If you haven't spent much time or effort on room decoration, then it will take very little money or effort to make significant improvements. $200 and a weekend will have your room looking super-awesome for the remainder of your stay at your current location.

2) You probably spend more time there, than any other location- Your environment effects your mood, and your bedroom is likely to be the environment you spend the most time in. It is what you wake up in, setting the mood for the rest of the day. It also sets the mood (or lack thereof) for....

3) Romantic Considerations- 'nuff said

Psh! It doesn't count if you don't Use Math.

How much does it cost?-- I recently Awesome-ized a room, and it cost about $250. Assuming you re-decorate every two years (either because you move, or you just want a change, or your stuff is getting old), then that ends up being about $10/month.

What about time?-- Assuming it takes you about 2 weekends of part-time work, then that is about 30 hours of work. If you value your time at about $15/hour, then that's about $450 total. So it actually costs more in time than it does in money, but that's still only about $19/mo.

Note: Ways to make the relative cost of time less-

So, if you add up monetary and time cost, you get $29/mo to have an awesome room. Considering the small return you get on apartment rental (a $450/month rental is not that much better than a $421/month rental), Awesome-izing your room is a much better investment than renting a slightly nicer place.

But I don't care about having a nice place anyways!

How much do you already value having a "nice" living space?--In my city, you can get a room that is safe and livable, but gross and/or not "nice" for about $250/month. If you are willing to spend $450/mo on rent, then you are willing to spend $200/mo on having a nice place. Assuming you live there for one year, that is $2400 per year. Note, that at this point in the discussion, your definition of "nice" probably also includes location, neighborhood, roommates or lack thereof, etc. Point being, that you are already spending a couple thousand dollars a year on having a living space that is more than just somewhere to sleep, so you can't rationalize that you just don't care about living somewhere nice, unless your ONLY consideration when apartment shopping was price and location.


OK! Let's do this!

(or..."meh, I'm unconvinced. I think I'll hit the "Back" button now")


1) Make sure your room is decently clean- We're not talking perfection here, but no amount of decorating can overcome having a gross room. Keeping your room clean would be it's own post, but generically: laundry off the floor and into a hamper, books on a shelf, no dirty dishes or food. Protip: Those plastic shoe organizers that hang on the back of doors are actually perfect for organizing all sorts of small non-shoe items (pencils, deodorant, scissors, lighters, ipod, etc)

2) Spend 5-10 minutes on the internet- Google "bedroom decor" or "bed set" or something similar, in order to get a basic idea of what's out there, what's popular, and what you like/dislike. 

3) Buy a comforter set- In my experience, very few single males have even made it to this pretty basic step, so just buying a comforter set will put you ahead of the game. Beds-in-a-bag are the easiest way to go for the newly-initiated into the world of Awesome-Bedroom-Making. They are much cheaper than buying all the pieces separately, and do all the work of matching a set for you. They tend to come with a comforter, sham covers, throw pillows, and bed skirt. Valances (the top part of a curtain set) and sheets are also occasionally included.

Protip- Make sure that when you buy your bed set that you've already planned out what you are going to do with your room to complement it.

Protip- You'll be using this for sleeping comfortably, so make sure that it isn't scratchy, stiff, or otherwise generally uncomfortable. Don't buy it without running your hands across it first!

4) Paint- (Note- This is the step that makes the biggest difference, though may be less optimal for renters. IMO, if you intend on staying at a rented location for 2+ years, it is worth losing your deposit to paint, need be) Use your comforter to pull wall colors off of. You can just bring in one of the throw pillows to the paint store, and they will use their Super-Magic Technology to mix paint that matches.

Protip: You want to paint at least one wall (generally the far wall) an "accent color" which is either darker or more vibrant than the other walls. This makes a HUGE difference.

5) Hang some wall decor- This does NOT mean unframed posters. Unframed posters signal "college dorm". If you would like to display your personality via geeky stuff (comic books, fantasy art, etc), this is acceptable, but frames should be utilized, or they should be mounted in some other way. Think of it as protection for your art.

The wall decor part is pretty individualized, so if you make it this far and want specific help, feel free to message me. There are lots of really cheap, do-it-yourself options here too.

(Note- I wrote more on where to get Awesome Art stuff in this comment, below. 


Lighting protip: Dimmer switches are pretty awesome. You can have your room be really bright for studying or board gaming, or you can have it be mid-level for nighttime web browsing or hanging out (when super-bright light would seem harsh), and even have it be dim mood-lighting for more intimate moments

Scent protip: Bad-smelling rooms are bad. Assuming you already understand laundry and throwing away old food (Febreze can cover a decent amount as well), the next step is actually making it smell GOOD. There are many options--if you consider candles too girly, and incense too hippy, then you probably want to go with either high-quality (Slatkin and Co is always good) wall-plug scents or concentrated sprays. You might even have to go into....Bath and Body Works (*gasp!*). If you want more masculine scents go for things with words like "-wood", "sea-", "sage" etc. "Clean" scents are also good, and not necessarily feminine.


Note for decorating other rooms: In the bedroom, it is easiest to base color/decor off the comforter, which is your largest piece. If you feel like decorating a non-bedroom room, then the easiest way to do it is to buy a piece of wall art (of a decent size) that you really like, and base color/scheme around that.



Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2012-05-31T17:51:58.256Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you are out of college, and have unframed posters on your walls, then give yourself a slap on the wrist!

Upon reading this line, I felt an impulse to downvote the post due to what I instinctively perceived to be a simultaneous attack on my ingroup (eccentric geeks) and a move to promote the status of the outgroup which my System 1 summarized as "elitist snobs". A bit of introspection noted that your line pattern-matched quite strongly to sentences such as "if you're out of elementary school and still reading sci-fi/fantasy, grow up". The fact that I do, in fact, have several fantasy posters on my walls also contributed, especially since I'm somewhat proud of them (you won't find original copies of the maps from the Planescape and Dark Sun boxed sets in every home).

I didn't act on my impulse to downvote, but considering the high amount of geekishness in this community, I would suggest doing something about that sentence.

Replies from: daenerys
comment by daenerys · 2012-05-31T17:58:59.870Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the feedback. How does it sound now?

This does NOT mean unframed posters. Unframed posters signal "college dorm". If you would like to display your personality via geeky stuff (comic books, fantasy art, etc), this is acceptable, but frames should be utilized or they should be mounted in some other way. Think of it as protection for your art.

Replies from: Kaj_Sotala, JackV, Alicorn
comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2012-05-31T18:43:35.498Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Much better! This wording actually gives me a positive reaction due to the respect paid to my ingroup.

comment by JackV · 2012-06-01T10:54:51.771Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Awesome avoidance of potential disagreement in favour of cooperation for a positive-sum result :)

comment by Alicorn · 2012-05-31T18:02:44.855Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't have them up now because I didn't get around to doing any significant decorating this move and am about to move again, but in the past I've liked to decorate with cut-up old wall calendars (I have fairies and fractals and sealife and Kinkade paintings and will have pictures of glass art after this calendar year ends). They're not framed, and I don't really wish to frame them because that's expensive, but is it worth matting them on colorful construction paper or something? Or do they not count as "posters"?

Replies from: daenerys
comment by daenerys · 2012-05-31T18:15:26.376Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good job! Pictures from calendars, books, etc, are actually a GREAT way to make it look like you spent a lot more on decorating than you actually did. At that size, it's likely that you can find a decent photo frame for them when they go on a half-of sale at JoAnn's or something. Picture frames are MUCH less expensive than art framing.

A calendar print in a good photo frame can easily look like expensive art!

Another option for you might be decorative memento boards. They can cost upwards of $30 to buy outright, but are pretty easy to make, using cork board and elastic. You can cycle through displaying different art pieces. I just made one last week. I've got a pic, to show you what I mean, but don't know how to post it in a comment, so will post it in the OP, for you to see.

(I also made the necklace holder in the background, for like $4- pretty gold-colored nails hammered into a wood piece)

For other ideas, you can google "turn calendar art into wall art" and get a significant amount of relevant hits.

Replies from: Alicorn
comment by Alicorn · 2012-05-31T19:24:55.638Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't see the picture in the OP.

Replies from: daenerys
comment by daenerys · 2012-05-31T19:36:15.624Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry, I couldn't figure out how to get a pic posted in the main post editor either, and then I had to go to work.

I just put a couple up in dropbox

Here is the pic with the memento board. It was made with a corkboard, black elastic, and a couple of brass pushpins.

Also, here is a picture of the entryway to my room to demonstrate what I mean by "accent wall" (the dark brown one is the accent). There's going to be a really pretty black and gold old-school Singer sewing machine on the stand, once I get it back from my friend's house.

Sorry for the low-quality. All I have access to is a friend's camera-phone.

comment by knb · 2012-05-31T20:03:22.588Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would add: get plants. Having plants seems to reduce stress in the workplace, and I imagine this effect works at home as well. In addition, I think plants just make rooms look more appealing. I'm not sure if well-made fake plants have the same stress-reducing effect, but I bet they do. I have a number of fake and real plants in my bedroom. Fake plants are low-maintenance, but they do have to be dusted every so often. Real plants need watering, and they have to be replaced eventually.

Another good idea is to have a couch, loveseat, divan, or big, comfortable chair in your bedroom (if you have room). This gives you a place to read/watch TV, etc without using the bed. There is some research suggesting that people who do work or watch TV in bed have a harder time falling asleep or don't sleep as well.

Getting a "sunrise alarm clock" might also be a good bedroom addition.

Replies from: RomeoStevens, ChristianKl
comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-05-31T22:11:48.194Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I had a fish, it died. I just got a philodendron, we'll see how it goes.

comment by ChristianKl · 2012-05-31T21:09:15.154Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When it comes to plants in bedrooms it's just important to think about CO2. A lot of plants emit CO2 at night when there's no light. If you are sleeping in a room with closed windows that can be problematic.

Sansevieria is a plant that doesn't release CO2 at night but absorbs it. It's also okay with getting water once per month.

Replies from: knb, brilee
comment by knb · 2012-05-31T21:45:34.605Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do you have any cites for the idea that having a few plants in a normal sized bedroom is problematic? That seems really implausible, especially since bedrooms aren't air tight, and the CO2 presumably diffuses throughout the entire house. I'm not talking about sleeping in a rainforest here, just having a few plants.

Also, a lot of people sleep with another person in the room, do plants really emit more CO2 over the course of a night, than another person would?

comment by brilee · 2012-05-31T22:30:54.896Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Downvoted for being about as plausible as fan death http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_death

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2012-05-31T20:11:36.184Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For the benefit of people who have no idea of what a color scheme looks like (cough), please tell them what color to use for the comforter, the walls and ceiling, the accent wall, the lights, and any rug or carpeting. Otherwise the whole post isn't actionable - a problem, not a task - for anyone who doesn't grok color schemes.

Replies from: daenerys, RomeoStevens, sixes_and_sevens
comment by daenerys · 2012-05-31T22:40:21.261Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's the good news about buying the beds-in-a-bag and choosing paint color off that-- The bed-in-bag designers did all the work of choosing a color scheme FOR you! You don't need to come up with a color scheme yourself, you just choose a bed set you like, and utilize their already-made color scheme.

If look up bed-in-a-bag on amazon (or click here ) you can see a bunch of examples of bed sets. Notice how the vast majority of the time, the wall color is painted to match one of the colors found in the comforter set. (Note- I do NOT think that internet shopping is a good way to buy your bed set. I definitely recommend going to a meat-space store)

Of course, just like it is possible to put together your own bed set by buying individual pieces instead of buying a "in-a-bag" set, it is also possible to choose wall colors that look good that AREN'T in your bed set. However, this requires a bit more skill. For our purposes, it is much easier to just stick with the basic pull-your-wall-color-off-your-bed technique.

Choosing WHICH color(s) to pull off the comforter set can be tricky.

Optional Step 3b If you send me a pic, I'll send you an opinion.

In general (but not always), if your bed is 75% or more Color A, then you do not want it to be against a wall painted Color A.

Another not-always-true generality: the color that shows up the LEAST in your bed is an "accent color" (but not necesarily the accent color you want on your accent walls)

Another option is to look up your desired bed set on the internet (amazon, etc), and see how it is displayed in its ads.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-05-31T22:14:44.654Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

basic rule of thumb is differing shades of the same color + the complement as an accent color: http://colorschemedesigner.com/ select complement, spin the wheel, and look at the upper right box.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2012-06-01T00:46:13.893Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Pro-tip for the geek crowd: coordinating colours for a room, outfit or piece of art uses most of the same principles as coordinating colours for a website. It's too late for me to go looking any of them up right now, but I suspect resources on website colour schemes are probably a more accessible technical introduction to colour theory for the median LW reader than their counterparts in other fields.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2012-06-01T10:18:09.447Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Two personal notes:

  • Lights: Being able to dim the lights in your bedroom is ESSENTIAL, but lots of people don't have the option of dimmer switches - especially since they don't work well with CFL bulbs. Buy lights that you plug in! Just turn on the lights on either side of the bed and turn off the main light.

  • Paint: if you have the option of painting, we went for a "feature wall" setup, in which three walls are white while one is a rich, deep red. This works really well! The room is bright because of the three white walls, but the feature wall stops it feeling clinical, and makes the room seem bigger because one boundary isn't so hard. As bold decorating decisions go this really paid off. [Edit: just noticed the main article suggests this too.]

Replies from: Kaj_Sotala
comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2012-06-02T07:38:32.110Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Being able to dim the lights in your bedroom is ESSENTIA

Why is this? On/off has worked fine for me.

Replies from: ciphergoth
comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2012-06-02T07:48:23.360Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For sex - people are in my experience much more likely to feel relaxed and sexual in dim light than either bright light or no light. But for any other time you want to be able to be relaxed in your bedroom or you want other people to be.

Replies from: Kaj_Sotala
comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2012-06-02T14:11:25.654Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah, that makes sense.

I think my normal lights are dim enough that they're fine for relaxation and sex, so I haven't noticed this.

comment by falenas108 · 2012-05-31T18:28:28.466Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Some other things I've picked up:

If the room is small, or just not very large, push everything up against a wall. The floor space makes the room seem a lot bigger than it is. Of course, this means the floor will actually have to be clean.

Try to avoid bright colors in painting the walls, it also makes the room seem smaller.

If the room smells bad despite keeping it relatively clean, and you don't want to use scents, then just putting a fan on works pretty well.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-05-31T17:40:55.841Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you are willing to spend $450/mo on rent, then you are willing to spend $250/mo on having a nice place. Assuming you live there for one year, that is $3000 per year.

I think you mean "$200/mo" and then "$2400 per year".

(I personally spend more on rent only for quiet, lower crime, or lower commute times, which are difficult to purchase through improvements after moving in.)

Replies from: daenerys
comment by daenerys · 2012-05-31T17:45:49.924Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah, thanks. I can't math.


comment by jsalvatier · 2012-05-31T17:32:47.299Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Paint why does paint make such a big difference? What sort of change are you thinking of? White -> some more exciting color?

Replies from: daenerys
comment by daenerys · 2012-06-01T02:34:45.708Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The reason I personally think paint makes a huge difference, is personal experience. (I decorate a room sans paint, and it looks meh. I paint a room and do nothing else, and it looks amazing) Therefore, the following "reasons" I came up with are after-the-fact rationalizations, but valid, I think, nonetheless.

1) Walls are the "biggest" part of what your room looks like. By that I mean if you closed your eyes, pulled out your camera, and shot a random photo, I would guess that >50% of the resulting photograph would be wall-space (given that you held your camera horizontally). In otherwords, when you're looking around your room, MOST of what your looking at, in area, is wall.

Note that it is completely POSSIBLE to have a room with white walls, and have it look like it was decorated that way, but it takes a lot of skill to pull off white walls well. Even then, you still might have to paint in order to have the RIGHT white.

2) White is the default color, and so signals a lack of effort. No matter WHAT color you paint your room, as long as it isn't white, there is an intentionality to your wall color, that white doesn't convey. The rest of your decor has to pretty much be of professional quality to make it look like the white was a conscious choice.

3) The walls are the background for everything else. Most obviously, it's the background for your art, but it's also the background for your furniture, and even yourself, when you happen to be in the room.

Note: Now that I think about it, I would like to mention that you should NOT paint your room and lose your deposit if you are not decently-off financially.

Replies from: RichardKennaway, dugancm, RichardKennaway
comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-06-01T12:49:25.303Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wall is for bookshelves.

Replies from: daenerys, Alicorn
comment by daenerys · 2012-06-01T19:59:27.843Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes it is! That's actually my next project. I have tacky office track shelving that came with the room. I'm gonna paint everything to match the wall they are on (so the tacky tracks and such don't stand out so much) and then fill them with books. The books will also cover up the tacky tracks, so you won't be able to see how low-class I actually am ;).

It will be the Awesome Wall of Books....of Doom!

comment by Alicorn · 2012-06-01T18:40:19.964Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But on the other hand, if you completely fill all your shelves with books, you need to buy another bookshelf - so you should always have room for some decorations on the bookshelves.

Replies from: daenerys
comment by daenerys · 2012-06-01T19:56:45.206Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's a good point, not just for book shelves, but for other things too. Whenever I set up a new bedroom (I moved a lot in the last year and a half), I would always purposefully make sure I had an empty shelving unit and an empty dresser or other storage unit somewhere.

If, when you start, you are already utilizing all available storage, then what's going to happen when you get something new, take up a new hobby, or need easy access to something you usually keep in storage/basement? That's how messes happen.

But if you plan ahead, and realize that sometime in the next year, you will have new/different things that need to be put somewhere, you can just leave open space available in dressers and shelves and have somewhere to put away new things when you get them!

comment by dugancm · 2012-06-01T12:09:30.863Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

...you should NOT paint your room and lose your deposit if you are not decently-off financially.

Unless the apartment owners and managers only care what it looks like when you leave and you can afford to add a few layers of white base paint just before doing so, to avoid losing the deposit. Such policies are often clearly delineated in the lease contract, and you can sometimes negotiate leniency with the management as long as you do so in writing and have it attached to the contract pre-signature. YMMV

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-06-01T16:22:17.109Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Note that it is completely POSSIBLE to have a room with white walls, and have it look like it was decorated that way

Can you expand on the distinction you are drawing between "decorating" the walls white and merely painting them white?

Replies from: smk
comment by smk · 2012-06-06T09:21:43.194Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My guess is it means that the room looks like the white wall color is an intentional and well-chosen part of a cohesive design.

comment by Kingoftheinternet · 2012-06-01T03:00:31.895Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How do you like to find art? I have trouble finding things that I like enough to put on my wall.

Replies from: daenerys, Armok_GoB
comment by daenerys · 2012-06-01T05:35:08.977Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good question! Since you asked about how I personally like to find art, I'll answer with some personal examples. But I'll try to generalize it into usable concepts, k?

Firstly, note that when I say "art", I DON'T mean "paintings and prints in frames", but rather "Awesome things to put on your walls and shelves to make your place Awesome." Don't limit yourself to just pretty pictures!

Next, I get the impression that you really want the stuff on your walls to reflect You. It's good to have some You-reflecting pieces, but it's unlikely that every little thing in your room or house are going to do that job. It's much more likely that you'll have some You things, and some I-Needed-Something-to-Go-Here-that-was-Vintagey-Looking-and-this-was-On-Sale things.

That said, here are a number of ways to get Awesome things, ranging from the most You, to the least You

1) Magpie awesome things from your life
This is the most You thing... Did you once meet Awesome Person and get their autograph?? Frame that sucker and put it on the wall! Do you paint miniatures?? Put em in a display case!

Some examples from my life:
-When I did SCA (medieval geekery), we would generally frame our awards (hand-painted and calligraphied scrolls) and put them on display
-I dated someone who used comic books (in display frames) and his father's photography as his wall art
-In a post above, Kaj mentioned having maps from games on his walls. How Awesome!

2) Make things
You don't have to be an uber-artist to make Awesome things. There are lots of crafty sites on the interwebz that are full of ideas, or even better, you can have your own Ideas. It can be hard to have Ideas, though.

Examples: Most of the things in the pic I linked to in an above post are things I made. The memento board was made from a cork board. The necklace holder was made from pretty nails and wood, and the model rickshaw was made with balsa wood, a hanger, and power tools (I like power tools!)

3) Gifts
Gifts are always nice, and when you put gifts on walls, they remind you of that person. Also, if the people in your life enjoy giving thoughtful gifts, they are likely to have thought up much Awesomer Ideas for you, than you would have thought up for yourself.

Examples: I have a print my step-mom gave me above my bed. On the giving side, my brother wants to open a Prohibition-era-style speakeasy-style bar with a faux vintage pharmacy front, so for Christmas I framed a Prohibition-era prescription for whiskey, and a pre-Prohibition-era liquor license for him.

4) Go Basement Diving / Inheriting
Your parents, or other relatives are likely to have lots of old stuff in their basements that they have absolutely no use for. Ask permission to go exploring for convertible treasures. Failing any basements to explore, you can always go the thrift store route. If you're super-lucky, a relative might even have nice things that DON'T need any fixing up. (Note: By "inherited", I don't mean "someone died", but rather "someone passed on things to you".

Example: In the "accent wall" pic I also posted above, the mirror was an inherited treasure from my mom. The stand was a reclaimed treasure from my brother's basement. It was pretty junky-looking, but I sanded down the gunk a bit, and gave it a good scrubbing, and now it's perfect. I considered completely refinishing it, but I actually really like the beat-up look. It definitely needs some touching up, and wood glue on a broken support though!

5) Etsy or the like (in meat space- craft fairs and flea markets)
Etsy.com has Awesome Everything. Just type in something you think represents You, and etsy will have a lot of very personalized, handmade items for any interest you have. A bit pricey (so I use it primarily for gifts), since everything is either vintage or handmade, but very Awesome. Other places similar to etsy are craft fairs, flea markets or other online shopping sites (amazon, ebay, whatever)

For example, here is if you type in "Dr Who".

6) Random stores
These places may not have things that are completely You, but they will have Things That Match Your Room, and Can Go On the Blank Wall. The less box-store-y a store is, the more likely you'll find something interesting. So Target<World Market < that little corner store in the Art District . You might actually find stuff you like, and if not, you can always move it to another wall, or into your own basement (for future generations to dive in).

Replies from: Alicorn
comment by Alicorn · 2012-06-01T05:43:11.943Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Etsy.com has Awesome Everything. Just type in something you think represents You, and etsy will have a lot of very personalized, handmade items for any interest you have.

Etsy is also the best place to get something bespoke. If you know exactly what object you need, find someone on Etsy who makes the same general sort of thing, and send them a message that's like "Hi! I want [exact thing]. Can you make that? How much would it cost?" and they will tell you and if you cough up the money they will make it for you. This is where I get my watches and where I will probably get my earcuffs after I have more basics in my collection and where I got my cloak. It is pretty expensive, so I'm not using this to order designer candy or all my clothes or anything.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-06-01T14:51:49.985Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Go online and print out random fanart from your favourite works of fiction. Takes 5 minutes and contains lots of bits abut your preferences, as long as it's fanart anyone who'd complain is a blatant hypocrite.

comment by Stefie_K · 2012-06-01T19:55:31.514Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Another thing worth mentioning: a carpet (depending on what the floor currently looks like). I have no particular thoughts on throw rugs, but if your floor is ugly and/or doesn't match what you're doing with the room, it'll make a huge difference to cover it with an as-close-to-wall-to-wall carpet as you can.

My last apartment had ugly tiles of the kind I associate with basements, and the rooms basically looked like rooms of some kind that had furniture in them. My current apartment is carpeted, and -- with the same furniture and mostly the same artwork -- it looks like a home.

comment by Eneasz · 2012-06-01T15:26:42.815Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The whole post is great, but I'd have upvoted for this line alone:

(aka "Why would you be able to put the word "Rational" in this post, should there not be edicts against it?")


comment by DanArmak · 2012-06-01T12:56:23.360Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you want more masculine scents

Can someone please explain what "masculine" and "feminine" scents are? How do they relate to the variety of smells produced by female and male human bodies? To scented body products marketed to each gender? To culture and country? To non-binary-gender-conforming persons?

Most importantly, how would I measure my own ability to detect and classify these scents - am I lacking raw acuity in identifying or classifying scents (which varies widely in people), or am I just lacking training and experience?

Replies from: faul_sname
comment by faul_sname · 2012-06-01T16:11:59.688Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

As near as I can tell, "feminine" scents tend to be sweet, flowery, or fruity. Generally, the scents one would associate with a garden. Masculine scents tend to be salt, pine, or other scents you would associate with untamed wilderness.

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2012-06-01T16:42:33.017Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How do you know this?

I get the sense that you look at some preexisting division of scents into masculine/feminine, and then you make generalizations about each category using your nose. Where does that preexisting division come from? I would guess e.g. personal hygiene product marketing. I wonder how that correlates with other product categories, other cultures/times/places, and non-artificial body smells. I also wonder what operational definition the creators and copywriters of these products have in mind.

Replies from: faul_sname, daenerys
comment by faul_sname · 2012-06-01T17:40:35.265Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Almost certainly, the division comes from marketing. Since gardeny things are perceived as feminine and outdoorsy things are percieved as masculine, that's how they're marketed.

How I know this is looking at the most popular scents for each gender. I think the associations are probably arbitrary and just the product of positive reinforcement in social trends (the more men use a scent, the more masculine it is perceived as being and the more men use it). The easy answer is that the creators and copywriters have in mind whatever they can market as masculine to men and feminine to women.

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2012-06-01T19:41:13.926Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When I smell something, I almost always experience positive or negative affect depending on the smell. I rarely recognize smells, though, except for very common ones. I don't expect to correctly recognize "garden" vs "forest".

I wonder if many people reliably react to scents marketed as feminine or masculine by actually identifying them. If someone used a scent marketed to the opposite sex, how many people (being in a position to smell it clearly) would notice a discrepancy? How many would dislike "inappropriate" scents more than regularly gendered ones? Have there been studies (which plausibly weren't written or published in part as PR copy?)

Even if all the answers are "no", I think the scents industry would be able to sell products as they do now, on the force of suggestion; so both "yes" and "no" answers wouldn't contradict the fact that such sales are are successful. But I wonder how much truth there is to this marketing, other than social conditioning (if even that).

comment by daenerys · 2012-06-01T19:51:03.381Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also, if it helps, I have never heard a girl complaining that a guy's house smelled "too feminine." The reason I mentioned that there are "masculine" scents, is that I HAVE heard guys say that they don't want to get candles or other smell-good options for their home because they don't want their place to smell "girly".

I agree that I doubt there is anything inherently "feminine" or "masculine" about the scents that are noted as such.

But if you DO care about masculine scents, two helpful hints--
1) If you can't tell masculine scents, but can tell masculine colors, just go by look. Masculine scents are more frequently colored more masculine hues of black, blue, brown and green. (but not the uber-bright versions of those colors). (But be warned that brown is often "food" flavors as well, like cookies) Gender-neutral clean scents are generally colored white or yellow and will have words like "linen", "fresh", and "lemon". Going by color gives you another bonus, in that you can get it to match your decor.

2) If you DO go into a Bath and Body Works, or other such store, just ask the people who work there for what you need. They're happy to help. That's what they get paid for.

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2012-06-01T20:21:29.811Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Masculine scents are more frequently colored more masculine hues

Scents have color, now? I am afraid I'm not synaesthetic enough to grok that :-)

While I asked whether scents marketed as gender-specific really had something to do with gender, I already know there's no such thing as an inherently gendered color. (Also: my favorite shirt colors are yellow and pink. Nobody's ever said they were inappropriately "feminine".)

I have never heard a girl complaining that a guy's house smelled "too feminine."

Gendering a whole room is weird. How should a bedroom shared by a man & woman couple smell? Or a working room, or a saloon?

More pertinently, do you think anyone would complain about actual people smelling gender-inappropriately?

Replies from: smk
comment by smk · 2012-06-06T09:43:49.473Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

do you think anyone would complain about actual people smelling gender-inappropriately?

I've never heard anyone complain about someone else's scent being gender-nonconforming, but I have noticed a few men being careful that their own scented products conform. Not that often, though. Actually it's more common in my experience for people to worry that someone else (like, someone they're buying a gift for) won't want to wear other-gender-associated scents. For example, my mother-in-law gave us some floral-scented fabric softener while implying that my husband might not like it used on his clothes (in fact he likes it).

Replies from: DanArmak
comment by DanArmak · 2012-06-06T10:28:54.703Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When I'm choosing a scent or scented object, my only worry is that my cat may not like it.