If I've learned anything from my favorite English teacher, Mr. Hairgrove, it is that money and taste are not synonyms. Case in point: Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay cosmetics and one of the greatest female entrepreneurs in American History, lived in a pink mansion in Dallas, Texas decorated with pink leather sofas, pink wallpaper, pink appliances and, yes, pink carpet! Poor (filthy rich) thing! While I'm sure I'd enjoy a tour of her pink palace, I certainly wouldn't want to live in a that world! Back in my beige world, one of my best resources for design ideas comes from visiting other people's homes. Yesterday I was invited by a realtor friend to go on a little adventure through big homes of the Hudson Valley. Open houses are a great way to get cool decorating ideas (often people have hired professionals like yours truly to stage their homes for the market) so sporting a hot pink button down shirt, I headed out to tour some of the "elite" listings of Upstate New York. To qualify for "elite" status a home must start at $5 million so we headed to the corner of rich and snooty where our tour began in a 14,000 square foot pink marble palace. While the views of the Hudson river were breath-taking, the use of pink marble in every bath, on every floor, on every counter, made me gag! Next stop on the tour was a recession-friendly home on 100 acres listed at $8.7 million. The main house, owned by a Wall Street tycoon turned hunter, was decorated with dead animals, tacky wallpaper, sponge painted walls and rooms that looked like crime scenes. My favorite part of the estate...the 27,000 square foot horse barn pictured above. No, I'm not a rider of horses (although I did have a collection of My Little Ponies as a kid) but I fell in love with the colors of the barn so, channeling my inner Peter Pan, I stole from the rich...just a little chip off the side of the barn....now I can run to the Home Depot or Lowes, have them scan the color and paint my charming little place to look like a palace. I don't judge the rich but I do feel sorry for them...sometimes!
TIME TO COMPLETE TASK: Three hour tour
STRESS LEVEL: Getting a rich education for free: LOW