by Margo Kaufman
Kaufman’s first mistake was taking it into her head to renovate the Venice, Calif., bungalow she shares with her husband, Duke, “the world’s messiest human.” But it was not as bad as her second mistake—actually going through with it. Kaufman’s close encounters with surveyors, carpenters, contractors, bankers and architects (“I suspect they teach Huffy the first semester in architecture school, second semester they teach Attitude, and third, Arrogance”) are often hilarious.
This Damn House is grouted with observations like, “Renovation is like dating. It goes a lot smoother when you don’t give a damn.” But don’t put Kaufman, a talk-radio personality and author of the essay collection 1-800-Am-I-Nuts? in the same category as Mr. Blandings; he built his dream house, she only turned a warren of grim little rooms she loathed into House Bearable. (Villard, $21)