You do not need to read this - Magnaverde

OakleyMarch 31, 2014

I checked in on a blog I read and found this article on our Magnaverde!

I sure miss his input.

Here is a link that might be useful: Magnaverde

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Annie Deighnaugh

Wow! Thanks for posting this....I came in on the tail end of his time here and have heard so many great things. Let's hope he chooses to once again grace us with his presence.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 7:30AM
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So timely! I reread this yesterday:

If you haven't read those you are in for a treat.

I was lucky to find gardenweb when Magnaverde, Palimpsest, and Marcolo (sp?) were still posting. I miss their input. All with different points of view, but all thought provoking.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 7:51AM
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Not to rain on the parade, but some quotes are better left unpronounced. "Contentment comes easily to those who set their standards low," comes to mind.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 7:59AM
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robo (z6a)

Personally, I think that's a great maxim. Searching for an elusive perfection, I think, leads to a much unhappier existence than satisficing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Satisficing

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 8:36AM
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From our own Anele's blog! She really has a way with words.

Am I dreaming or do I remember a magazine spread on Magnaverde and his apartment?


    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:06AM
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You're not dreaming, tina, there was a link to it here several years ago. I think the last thing he posted was about painting upholstery.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:11AM
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Circus Peanut

I remember that one, tina -- he had these gorgeous pieces of old persian carpet in his apartment that always got attention and he'd laugh and say he picked them up at a rummage sale. Fabulous tablescapes. Wasn't he a professional theater designer or somesuch?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:12AM
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Elraes Miller

Tina, the webpage has a link to his magazine spread.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:16AM
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I read it differently, Robo :-)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:23AM
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That's Anele's blog?? Cool!

I firmly believe what M. said about setting our standards low, although I do think he could have used a better choice of words.

I was in a funk a couple of years ago because I wanted a precise look to my home. One day I finally woke up and realized it will never happen because 1) I don't have the house that was my inspiration piece, and 2) I'd have to be a zillionaire to buy what I wanted. lol

I am content with what I have...except for those elusive tiers I can't find for my dining room and kitchen!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 10:08AM
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robo (z6a)

kwsl I did as well until I got into the clippings and realized it was a legit sentiment I could get behind.

"Like they say, it ain't rocket science. Go easy on yourself & save some money in the process. Whatever you've already got is probably good enough."

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 10:10AM
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Lol, robotropolis, I do subscribe to the maxim, Don't let perfect become the enemy of good.

However, I think "good" is still a bar I'd like to set at a reasonable distance above "low." :-)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 10:47AM
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I was an avid poster here when Magnaverde showed up. I found there were many gifted and helpful talents here. Magnaverde had a small apartment (or duplex).

I never really saw anything that he actually did except paint a sofa and incorporate what he called "goodwill" finds into a small room and nothing ever seemed quite finished.

He obviously marketed himself to Oprah's people who came in at the last minute and helped "redecorate" before the shoot.

He enjoyed his philosophy and enjoyed talking historical/period decor and what he had learned. Don't we all.

At the time, there were so many great talents here, but I felt he was one of many, not the only one and what he did was unique (market himself to Oprah and talk about classes he had, experiences he had). I just am not sure what he ever gave me. There have been so many who posted here, some fleeting, some longstanding. I remember Jim (?) whose talents I felt far exceeded those of Magnaverde, but then beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? Anyone remember Kat from California, the lady from Maryland. Pal obviously had a big interest in architecture.

No bad intended, just that I think no one stands head and shoulders above another. We all have our input and all have our talents and we learn one from another.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 1:42PM
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Patricia, I was also here during Magnaverde's time, but I never really saw what he did except a couple of really 'distressed' looking things. Also painting upholstery is just a patently ridiculous concept to my mind. I am willing to be proven wrong, but that just seems like a really bad idea.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:15PM
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I barely crossed paths with Magnaverde but always disliked the quote attributed to him at the top of this forum. To me it says "settle for mediocrity". But, others were more familiar with his contributions here, so I cannot say about that.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:22PM
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Jockewing, I do recall the distressed pieces.

I also recall the pieces of Persian carpet. Don't know where he said that came from. He was featured on Apartment Therapy if I recall correctly.

About Oprah, I got the feeling this did not work out as he had anticipated.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:30PM
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Wow. I am surprised to read the negative.

Magnaverde gave me great advice a number of times. I distinctly remember him doing the same for others. I appreciated his well thought out and well written advice.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:36PM
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Oak-- wow!!! Thank you so much for this. I had no idea you read my blog. What an honor! I miss him, too. :(

Annie, yes, we sure can hope.

Orcasgramma, what a coincidence! I agree-- those who are new to his writings will likely be pleasantly surprised.

Tina, yes, you have a good memory! Thank you for your kind words.

Circuspeanut, I hadn't heard of the rug pieces.

Technicolor, thank you for your comment today!

Robo-- yes-- the quote must be seen within a larger context.

Kswl, lol!

Patricia, I hope you don't think that by anyone singling out Magnaverde, it in any way implies that others' talents are of lesser value. There is plenty of room in our hearts and minds to admire many, many people, I think.

However, if my memory serves me correctly, I seem to remember reading that his apartment was the only one shot by O magazine in which nothing was changed. The way it was in the magazine is the way it was in real life, albeit photographed phenomenally.

I also do not think (not sure) that he marketed himself to the magazine. His apartment was featured in a contest in Apt. Therapy-- maybe that is where they found out? I don't know. In any case, even if he did-- why not? The world is full of people with far less talent making a fortune off promoting themselves. I wouldn't begrudge him or anyone else that same opportunity.

I missed the work of the posters you mentioned-- would love to see some of what they wrote/did.

Jockewing, I think the difference between Magnaverde vs. many others (I don't mean here; just decorator bloggers in general, which he is not) is that he wasn't about, "Let me show you what to do" or "Let me tell you what to do." I think he (like Pal) had a greater purpose-- he wanted to (for free) educate us. We are bombarded by a million instructional shows and blogs . . .DIY this or that, ad naseum. But, if we look at what they are doing from an educated perspective, we can more easily sort the good from the bad.

Dedtired, I don't think it is about mediocrity. It is about people getting stuck in details, I think, without seeing the big picture. For example, Magnaverde has a gorgeous rug with holes in it that came from a hotel. It was good enough to be shot in a magazine, but for many people, it wouldn't be. But if he had bought a "perfect" one, it wouldn't have had holes/imperfections . . .but it likely would not have had anywhere the same style as the one he had. I've seen a lot of rugs, but never one like his.

Also, while he states we can more easily be content with lower standards, he isn't necessarily saying to have low standards-- but he is putting it out there as a choice. If you look at his work, he does NOT have low standards. Again, he is asking us to look at the big picture. He works with what he has in such creative ways, and he does it on a budget.

One of the things that amazes me about him, which I just read the other day is his generosity. We know how much he doled out free advice . . .but I didn't know that for everything he buys, he DONATES the same amount. Wow. I don't know anyone else who does that. I'm sure there are people who do, but I don't know them.

I live in the Chicagoland area-- someday I am going to take my family on one of his tours.

This post was edited by anele on Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 21:52

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:50PM
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Anele, I think you and I have different memories but that happens in court with witnesses as well. I once had an encounter with a violent criminal which I recalled in what I thought was vivid detail, but my young son who was with me at the time, recalled other details that I totally forgot, making my story sound bogus, but he was correct, and after I underwent therapy I recalled some other unpleasant details in the same way he had remembered.

That does not mean either one lied, but we often remember different things.

I did not mean to rain on his parade or yours, but it is just what I recall.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 9:57PM
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Patricia, in all honesty I do not understand your comment. I am not remembering an incident or encounter with him-- this is based of what I have read. It is very different from what you are describing, especially because my reading experiences are in no way traumatic for me.

We do not have to rely on our memories-- a simple search will bring up everything in writing.

I am so sorry for your encounter! That sounds horrible, esp. with your young son with you.

Boop, I am surprised by the negativity as well, but I guess I shouldn't be. Controversy is everywhere. It is never, ever my intention to criticize (though I inadvertently do IRL, unfortunately) or bring negativity, so I do feel bad that this was related to what I've written.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 10:05PM
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I was only making a point that you remembered things one way and I remembered them another. I was not trying to make it a criminal case, but you obviously have a vested interest in this person and I have no further interest in discussing this.

However, I checked and my memory is correct. The Pepto-Bismol sofa was changed to white slip covering as were other furnishings and if you care to look, go ahead. There were other items and changes made as well.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 10:27PM
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Nope. He made those slipcovers. He made them from matelasse Sure-Fit and tailored them. He wrote about it.

In fact, when I was asking about whether or not to try making my own, he encouraged me to do so and explained how.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 10:30PM
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Thank you for the link and the blog post. Interesting read for me.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 10:44PM
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I am too "new" to know anything of Magnaverde.

My only exposure is that quote, which has been here seemingly forever. I think it is fine advice as a general matter.

But something about it being there every day at the top of the page sets such an odd, off-putting tone to me. As if the end of the quote was, "... you poor, clueless slobs".

That has nothing AT ALL to do with him, though, it is purely due to GW's laziness. How hard is it to find a few decor quotes very few months and freshen things up, folks! And the imagery, too. Why?

Anele, cute blog. It is new? I only see a few months.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 11:11PM
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"I think the difference between Magnaverde vs. many others (I don't mean here; just decorator bloggers in general, which he is not) is that he wasn't about, "Let me show you what to do" or "Let me tell you what to do." I think he (like Pal) had a greater purpose-- he wanted to (for free) educate us."

This. Exactly this.

I come to these forums a lot for very specific knowledge: What's the best way to sell my house? Can I use this type of flooring on this type of floor? What's the most efficient HVAC system in a house with no ductwork? What goes with pink but isn't pink? The good folks here hit a home run for me almost every time.

But Magnaverde (and pal and a few others) really made me THINK about design in a way that changed my whole approach to it. I'm more honest with myself now. I think about every thing I bring into my home now. Does it have a purpose? Do I love it (or at least like it a lot)? Does it work with my lifestyle?

I remain grateful for his generosity.

P.S. Anele - fab writing!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 11:22PM
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So where did Magnaverde, Palimpset, and Marcolo go?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 12:50AM
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I thought he was terrific and very giving of his time and knowledge.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 3:55AM
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O spread quote "So smart - rather than starting from scratch, Bart custom fit pre-made Sure Fit slipcovers to his sofa. He says, "it's the cheapest way to get a ton of fabric you can throw in the wash".

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 8:12AM
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I'm enjoying your blog Anele. The multiple spouse entry had me laughing and horrified at the same time. No WAY do I want to be responsible, emotionally or physically, to any more than one guy. Too exhausting.

I'm another who enjoyed Magnaverde's input. But, he is one of many. My greatest enjoyment from this site comes from the process. I love reveal photos, but watching how it comes together is so much fun.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 10:03AM
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Thanks for posting this. I am reading his blog on SG, I think he is an artist in word as well as the visual.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 10:15AM
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I remember way back, before the spread in the magazine, which was fantastic (I still have it around here somewhere, might have to dig it out to enjoy again). There were a fair number of members here who were quite cruel to Magnaverde, accusing him of being a fake because he offered advice but didn't post many pictures. They mostly shut up when the magazine article came out, thank goodness. It's clear that he has talent as well as considerable design knowledge, and I always thought his ability to remain calm and true to himself when his honesty was called into question repeatedly was admirable.

I think the advice that appears at the top of this forum is invaluable, and it has helped me make some solid decisions over the years. Glad to hear a bit about him again!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 8:12PM
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I am so impressed with your memories! I remember Magnaverde, but nothing specific - except the painted sofa. I remember he posted to one of my questions one time, but I have no idea what it was about. I guess as long as I remember where I live, I'm ok, but I do wish I could remember people and conversations I've had.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 9:00PM
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What I liked about Magnaverde so much was that he was so down to earth and practical. When commenting about many of our rooms; especially kitchens, dining rooms, etc., he would often include an observation that he could picture people being cozy and enjoying being together in it. As much as he loved beauty, he always found a way to pair things that were great to look at with a space that invited you in.

He responded to one of my posts a long time ago and was very generous with his time and comments. He gave a classic lesson in the power of contrast; when and where to use it, and why it is so important. And while my room was not destined for a photo shoot by any means....the principles he illustrated so well worked beautifully there.

I would love to see him post again but very glad I was around when he did. He had a great eye, and a way with words! I hope he is doing well. Many of us learned so much from him.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 8:04AM
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I find the search function on GW to be lacking. How can I find some of Magnaverde's old posts?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 9:05AM
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I loved reading his posts and the last post I remember was one in which he was helping someone select kitchen chairs. They took his advice, which was contrary to their instinct, and the result was great. I, too, use his quote to decorate for my actual life, which is 2 shedding dogs, a cat, 2 beloved grandchildren who visit frequently, and a DH who uses his chair to rest during home projects. That velvet sofa I covet...fuggitaboutit!

Kitschy, below is a link to some of his previous posts. I always use google to search, not GW.

Here is a link that might be useful: Magneverde

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 9:26AM
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Reading the link Dee posted shows just how unpretentious Magnaverde is and why so many people enjoy his input. He encourages us to trust our instincts instead of running out and buying expensive items an ID wants us to do.

Magnaverde doesn't make people feel like an idiot about their choices.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 9:45AM
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Back when I was doing a lot of landscaping on my own in our backyard, I was frequenting the Garden Design forum here on GW. There was a very talented Landscape Architect and Designer, who I will not name as she does not post here any longer, but she called herself a 'duh-signer' if that tells you anything about how un-snobbish she is. Much like Magnaverde (also before my time here), Pal and Marcolo, she offered her expert opinion which was, to most of us, always welcome, whether it was design or plant selection. But to some who didn't realize her background, or that they really could take or leave her input, there were some pretty hard personal slams occasionally. Plus, her personal business, and a side business of writing articles for magazines, really picked up and she didn't have time for us, so something had to go and it was GW!

So, the good ones come and go, it appears, but I think we all have gained some knowledge from their expert advice, even if we sometimes don't take it or disagree. And I hope we do remain grateful for the unpaid generosity.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 9:56AM
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I miss Magnaverde. I would settle in with my cup of coffee and enjoy reading his posts.

I believe he was very helpful to many of us, more than some of you who posted above realize or remember. We have different degrees of expertise and understanding of art, design and decorating. For some of us, Magnaverde's posts made us look at things differently. He didn't need to put his house on display to make us understand.

I once posted a photo of a sofa asking for the name of the style, and he wrote a few paragraphs explaining it. I saved his explanation:

Oh, my gosh, that's a beauty. This looks to be from the 192Os, maybe English, and its a wonderful pastiche of several different styles from the end of the 18th and the beginnining of the 19th Century. The wonderful flaring arms look like the exaggerated curves on the backs of some Directoire chairs, the graceful serpentine back itself is a slimmed down-version of the camelback sofas that Thomas Chippendale had made popular a few decades earlier and what look like satinwood inlays on the elegant arms and the reeded carving of the feet come from Hepplewhite & Sheraton designs. I could see a piece like this at Clouds, or at Charleston, or in one of Vita Sackville-West's sitting rooms, or, in this country, at Vizcaya or the The Mount.

In other, less skilled hands, such a fruit salad of stylistic influences could have come out clumsy & patched-together, but this piece is wonderful, a free-wheeling fantasy that's loosely based on historic styles but which comes out looking much more exotic, the furniture equivalent of an exotic and mythical bird of prey, or a unicorn. At any rate, it's a great sofa and I hope it finds a new home--and a new owner--that are worthy of it. Very, very nice.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 10:06AM
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Anele: Great writing!!

Yes -- I miss his wonderful stories -- and how he posted illustrations that clearly showed that rooms should be used, enjoyed and shared with others ....

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 10:20AM
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Just throwing this out there, but there are a lot of mediocre and minimally talented designers making a very good living, probably some of them in the Chicago area. Why is he still giving tours of the city?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 10:32AM
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his posts were so entertaining, he was delightful !

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 10:32AM
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I enjoy magnaverde very much and I think he reads here sometimes. Every once in a while he pops up with a post- one not too long ago- I'm trying to remember what it was about!

I really like your blog, anele!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 10:40AM
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Maybe he likes giving tours of the city and prefers to do that over listening to someone dilly dally over fabric selections.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 11:12AM
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To learn more about Magnaverde one needs only "Bart Swindall Chicago"

"This site tells what Mags is doing now. At least as of last fall."

"This article tells a bit about the character of Bart." He certainly dances to his own tune and I'm sure does not care whether others agree or not. IMO he has given freely much valuable advice.

I think those pieces of carpet in his apartment came from a hotel lobby.

The "contentment comes" quote is found on a pic of an old unrenovated bathroom. I think Mags may have meant that tongue in cheek. Most of us would consider that a before pic but perhaps Mags lived contentedly with it.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 11:29AM
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Thanks for that update, lucky. This entire time I had assumed he was an interior designer--- probably because of references to clients---but see he is described as a "noted Chicago architectural historian and writer." That makes much more sense to me. He sounds like a great choice for their showroom director. Their portfolio is impressive!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 11:47AM
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In this season of forgiveness, may we ask Magna's forgiveness and blessings. Unbeknownst to the masses, "anele" is properly defined as redeem or anoint, so could it be that if I am forgiven, as he most likely posts amongst us, he will arise and his excellence return to GW.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 11:54AM
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i remember magnaverde and would guess that he would make an excellent tour guide because i would guess he is loquacious and loves sharing his knowledge with others!!!

i remember his posts/replies being long and flowery, but seemingly because he was a real people person rather than someone who just liked to 'hear himself talk', if you will. i used to think he would probably be a great teacher if he wasn't already one...
i don't remember specific designs/design advice of his tho, so can't comment on that....

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 12:14PM
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I kept to the kitchen side when Magneverde was here and after reading through some of his old posts really wish I had branched out and looked over here sooner. What a talent! And such kind advice that is written with so much care and knowledge. His spaces, and the way that he photographs them, create and capture a feeling that is so nostalgic and deeply warm. I love that he is willing to try anything, that plaster covered table is so strange but works so perfectly with his collected stump and suitcases. And creating a light fixture from a shrimp tray and shower curtain rings, amazing. Really, being able to pull off such oddities and making them fit right in, not many people have that kind of talent.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 1:41PM
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Thank you very much for the nice words about my blog, Teacats, Alex, Nancybee, Evee, and MTN. And yes, MTN, I have only been writing a short while.

Patricia, re: "anele," sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Or in this case, a ragic.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 4:40PM
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I truly enjoyed having Magnaverde here. I think that I still have that issue of Oprah magazine. The only issue I ever bought. He once made a comment to me about my decorating and I never looked back. I stopped doubting my true nature and style. It sounds crazy but after that I became more focused and honed in on what works for me, my family and what I like. I do remember his beautiful pictures and sketches. And that green LR! Sigh.......That vivid, luxurious shade of green.....

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 4:45PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

No one knows and understands the history of American color palettes and sensibilities like MAGNAVERDE. Considering the wealth of useless misinformation that's seemingly written by and for 5th graders, it's always nice to find a post from M because he's the opposite - a wealth of well-written, applicable information for grown-ups.

Have to admit I did not always agree with his opinions or philosophies, but I never questioned the fact that the man knew what the hell he was talking about.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 5:28PM
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Thanks to the person who posted some of his stuff above. I don't think I even knew about anything outside of KitchenForum until well after he stopped posting.

I totally love his style (and FoxesPad, your style reminds me of his).

But, read his essay about his grandmother. It is a wonderful little story with such an upbeat ending. I loved it.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 5:38PM
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Oakleyok, thank you so much for this post. I'm so glad I did not miss this introduction to Magnaverde. He makes me think of Steven Gambrel but more accessible. I can't think of a better way to describe it. Oakleyok and Anele: thank you for sharing him with those of us who weren't here to enjoy his posts when he was around.

I am a frequent reader but seldom post to this forum. It discourages me because it often reminds me of how I felt when I attended an affluent school as a loner without money: grateful to be a loner and sorry for the kids who could not seem to resist the abuse of the self-appointed superiors.

But today kindness and sincerity kicked the snarky ass of elitism!

And Patricia43? Sometimes a cigar is glaring insecurity.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 10:05PM
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Magnaverde (Bart Swindall) really had a way with words. I miss reading his witty posts. He is so right that perfectionists like me are rarely happy and content. He gave me good advice more than one and I wish he would come back and post.

I enjoyed reading all he wrote in the link above. He was a good writer. He was a unique individual.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:03PM
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Magnaverde's writing is easily recognizable. In the end, after going back and reading some of his writing, and seeing how things turned out, I felt he had become a sad and lonely character, and that saddened me for him and I regretted that I had been judgmental of his professorial writing.

No apologies for the catty(less) remarks. However, others may be impressed with the vulgarity thereof.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:17PM
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Patricia43, I enjoyed reading his writings but his taste was not mine. When I saw pictures of his home, I was surprised as I envisioned it differently. But I still enjoyed his input. You have impeccable taste. I love how you design rooms.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:56PM
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Lynn, thank you for your kind remarks. I do not know why there was an uneasy feeling but for some reason, there was and I do feel bad that I was too quick to judge. All people deserve to be treated fairly.

Thank you again. Have a nice mother's day all day long.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 12:17AM
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"He was a unique individual." As far as we know, he still is!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 7:54AM
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Yes, a glaring syntax that is still recognizable.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 8:02AM
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Lynn, I am glad you enjoyed reading his work. I agree-- we don't have to share the same taste with someone in order to learn from that person, especially one who is as knowledgeable as Magnaverde.

Cattyles, speaking of class, I've linked an article by Magnaverde/Bart Swindall on that very topic. One of my favorites.

Here is a link that might be useful: Class Act

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 8:01AM
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