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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 10, 2006

Turning his chintzy into classy

By Tara Solomon

Dear Advice Diva:

I'm stumped about how to deal with my taste-challenged boyfriend. He wants our new apartment to look like a set out of "Scarface," and I just refuse to let my home be so tacky. He likes shiny walls and big leather couches and is even considering putting glass block in our dining room alcove!

Help! How can I get him to listen, especially since he's the one paying?

—Martha Stewart He's Not

Dear Martha He's Not:

As long as he doesn't want a gun rack in the study, you can work around his design quirks. On the other hand, a soaking tub in the middle of the bathroom (a la Tony Montana) would be way cool.

OK, so your honey is a guy's guy — his tastes aren't all that different from a lot of alpha males. Say yes to the shiny walls, and do lacquer paint in a rich espresso brown (very Billy Baldwin). Leather couches are fine, just make sure they don't look like they're wearing '80s shoulder pads: Must be streamlined. Or choose a suede-y microfiber (much easier to clean pizza off). A light color (white, off-white or oyster) would be divine. Throw in some Lucite and chrome pieces to keep things modern, and give him a few macho accessories to feel good about.

If you've never mastered the art of Gentle Persuasion for Their Own Good, now's the time to learn.

Dear Advice Diva:

My father has been married to my stepmother for over 35 years. When I was 12, my real mother and her then-husband moved the family from Minnesota to California. My stepmother found out and proceeded to read me the riot act of what a terrible mother my real mother was.

Since then, I've tried to forgive her, but I don't think I can. Because of this, the relationship with my father was strained until the past couple of years. My father and I have both suffered heart attacks, which has brought us closer than ever. The problem is, my stepmother is jealous of our closeness and feels that she should be included in all correspondence or activities. And my dad agrees with her. My Dad and his wife are too old and our relationship would be over if I were to say anything negative about her. It's something that I have to live with and get over.

— Leery of Dad's Fourth Wife

Dear Leery:

If you have the resolve to harbor a grudge from childhood, then you have what it takes to forgive your stepmother, however insecure, jealous, inconsiderate and petty she may be. Release all that toxic emotional crap, my dear, or you're in for a lifetime of bitterness.

The Advice Diva welcomes your questions. Write her at advicediva@miamiherald.com.