This story was originally published in the May 9, 2011 issue of New York Magazine.
I wouldn’t call myself a shut-in. I have the ability to leave my home; I just choose not to. But because I’m such a homebody, it’s important to be surrounded by things I love. I prefer items that convey a sense of mystery, playfulness, or theatricality. My favorite things often have a story behind them and are usually handmade or discovered at a flea market. My furniture is small and low. It’s not unlike living in a dollhouse.
Sometimes, to keep things exciting, I decorate my house as if I owned a child. I’ll toss a tiny pair of shoes in the hallway or lean small wooden crutches in what I refer to as “the baby’s room,” which is actually a tiny space where I make things. I continue to call it the baby’s room because it confuses people and it’s creepy.
I love theatrical props: a cup filled with solid fake tea, say, or a collection of fake food, including a rubber turkey, which, during the holidays, I wrap in tinfoil so it appears to have just come out of the oven. I also have a fondness for prosthetic skin disorders, artificial nails, and stage weapons. My favorite lamp shade is adorned with hair-sample swatches dangling from the rim. I have 60 wooden flying bats — 60!
So, what is my decorating philosophy? Mostly, I choose things on a whim and worry later about how they fit my décor. For many people, this wouldn’t be a big problem. But without any preplanning, why don’t you try and figure out where the antique wax medical model of syphilis goes — above the table with the taxidermy duck or next to the papier-mâché Cyclops? Hmmm … And now you begin to understand my world. — Amy Sedaris