My Latest Hobby and the Mustard House Horror Show

My Latest Hobby and the Mustard House Horror Show January 9, 2017


I am not a very tasteful decorator. I have neither the knack nor the funding. I like aesthetics and the study of art, but as far as how to translate my book learnin’ into the world of home decor, I couldn’t say. I don’t have any furniture in my creepy old rental house that isn’t second hand; half of it I dug out of the garbage before Bulk Pickup.

I regularly look at the “certified dank” houses in mcmansion hell and think “well, it’s roomy and airy. We could put up blinds. What’s he complaining about?”

So, I’m not one to talk to about decor. I could help you design a stage set or a cosplay, but I’m not one to talk to about decor.

That said, I do like to look at the real estate listings for fixer-uppers across the river in West Virginia where my church is, and dream about sprucing up an ugly house to live in. You can easily score a house for a pittance in the chimney of West Virginia. Nice big hundred-year-old three-bedroom Sears and Roebuck pre-cut houses regularly go on the market for thirty thousand bucks and sell for fifteen, and those are solid houses. You can get a cheeky character-filled farmhouse for even less, if you’re willing to live with the eccentricities.

It’s become a hobby of mine, scrolling through websites and thinking “we could manage. The kitchen is in the basement, but other than that it looks like a nice solid construction. We could carry our food to the dining room on trays. ” Or, “We could manage. There’s no furnace, but we could put in a wood stove.” Or, “we could manage. There’s a terrifying hole in the ceiling, but those floor tiles are so cute we wouldn’t be looking up at the ceiling anyway.”

Sometimes, though, I find a house that simply makes my jaw drop.

I do not know what to do.

I couldn’t manage. I don’t even know how to begin to manage. It’s traumatic just looking at it.

Misery loves company. Take a look at this with me.

No, no, don’t skip that link unless you’re epileptic. There are eighteen photos of that three-bedroom house. Peruse them. I’ll wait here.

Here are my favorite selections.


Welly welly well well, Mr. Deltoid. I don’t think it would be possible to sit in this living room for more than ten seconds before you started speaking fluent Nadsat.  Viddy well, little brother. Viddy well. How art thou, thou globby bottle of cheap, stinking chip oil? I viddy real horrorshow.


Just think: there was a time in history when somebody said: “Let’s use mustard and white stripes for the backsplash. Let’s buy a tan electric stove. Let’s carpet the kitchen floor in blue and orange polyester. I’m tired of a dated-looking kitchen; I want something modern and futuristic.”


This clever breakfast nook allows you to have the experience of eating breakfast on a lake in Autumn without ever having to step off of the blue and orange polyester carpeting. And I’m a little disappointed that they don’t have a tan dial-operated proto-microwave to go with the other appliances.


I am morally certain that there’s been a murder in this bedroom at some point. If you did manage to fall asleep in there (I recommend protective eyeware and sedatives), you’d awaken in the wee hours of the morning to see the deceased sitting in those bordello chairs in a leisure suit,  smoking a cigarette and drinking Tab. He’d turn to you and open his mouth to speak, but before he could name his murderer, out of his mouth would fly thousands upon thousands of old banana skins. They would locomote toward you, opening and closing their peeled sections like the tentacles of squids; then they would adhere themselves leech-like to your face. Then you’d awake again, for real this time, choking on musty air and sobbing “THIS shade of yellow? In a bedroom? Really?” and turn to one side… and there would sit the ghost, smoking a cigarette and drinking Tab. And then it would start again.


When I was a little girl I wanted that bed, for the American Girl Felicity Doll we could never afford. I wanted the ruffled nightgown and nightcap as well. I never, ever wanted that carpet, and I don’t think anyone else does either. But I would like an armed husband pillow like the one on the nightstand. They’re comfy.

These are just a few photos from that real estate listing. Find your own favorite parts. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

I think they should stop trying to sell that property as a private home and should instead open it to the public as a museum. Charge admission. Have volunteer docents dressed as John Steed and Emma Peel give tours. Every so often during the tour, suddenly dim the lights, turn up the drum machine and take a disco dance break. There aren’t enough fun tourist attractions in the Ohio Valley, after all. Imagine if everybody who came to Steubenville for a conference also went across the river to take a tour of The Mustard House.

Then again, if what I’ve seen of Steubenville conferences is typical, they may not think there’s anything unusual about that house at all.

(First photo: “The Scream,” undated drawing by Edward Munch, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.  All other photos which are from and used  are used in this post for the purposes of satire and parody, consistent with 17 USC §107.)







Browse Our Archives