Great House Therapy: Lady Macbeth’s Murderous Mansion of Death -The Toast

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Name: Lady Macbeth, witchlike queen of undaunted mettle known for her strong opinions on masculinity and a fondness for murder
Location: Scotland, near a heath and not far from a forest
Size: Kingly
Years lived in: Since the Macbeths’ recent regicide; owned (at least for now)

It has been a nonstop year for Lady Macbeth, whose husband’s recent promotions to Thane of Cawdor and then to King of Scotland meant a new home for them both. After grueling negotiations with their movers and the weird sisters out on the heath, they said goodbye to their only-okay castle in Inverness and moved into the royal domicile that was recently vacated by Duncan, whom they killed while he was visiting them.

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“I know what you’re going to say: it’s a total violation of codes of hospitality to murder your guest,” she said. “But it’s a rat race out there, and I wasn’t about to just wait around for my husband to become king. We wanted to be proactive and really blue sky it.”

Lady Macbeth “leans in” not only in the professional world, but also in her approach to decorating the new castle.

“There are challenges with inheriting a property that belonged to someone you plotted to stab repeatedly while he slept,” she says. “You want to put your own stamp on it and make it personal, but you also want to respect the memory of the former king to keep the rabble happy.”

Macbeth is also a big fan of the property, which boasts a large dining room, dark and foreboding chambers, drippy candles, and lots of thunder and lightning. Lady Macbeth hopes to use the dining room do more hostessing in the future. When it comes to tablescapes, she favors a rustic vibe and is always on the lookout for pinecones, bark, pilot’s fingers, and other things one can generally find in cauldrons.

“The good news is that we don’t have to have Malcolm over anymore because he’s raising an army against us,” she said. “God, he’s so boring. Good luck with your boring army, Malcolm.”

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A Chat with Lady Macbeth:

Her Style: I like bearskin rugs from very large bears, red velvet drapes, knives with bone handles, and gargoyles that are extra-menacing. When it comes to floral arrangements, my taste tends towards snapdragons, burrs, and those flowers that are green and spiky and don’t look like flowers at all.

Important Influences: I’m inspired by the aesthetic of shrieking owls and crying crickets, but that can be challenging to translate into a scheme for an antechamber. I love an industrial vibe – lots of metal, high ceilings, exposed pipes, brick walls, a concrete floor, and maybe a sputnik chandelier. What we have here is more classic, but that’s Duncan! I once saw an abattoir that I thought was just lovely.

Interesting Features: Our old castle featured a drunken porter who mostly just talked about erectile dysfunction, but I kind of miss his hijinks. Here, we have some nice Disney-esque turrets, where I hope to hide some more bodies one day.

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Important Pieces: Last week, I went to an estate sale for yet another guy killed in battle and picked up some fluffy Mongolian lamb pillow covers. We also have an impressive collection of severed heads. Severed heads aren’t just for sticking on pikes anymore – you can bring them into the home as memorable embellishments.

What Friends Say: That they’re sorry, but something came up and they can’t come over after all.

Key Features: I love our plush sofa by the hearth, but Macbeth’s taste is a bit, well, soldierly, and he wanted to reupholster it in camo. I told him absolutely not. We also have some gorgeous family crests, although they’re not exactly ours because of the whole usurpation thing.

Biggest Splurge: After the spirits unsexed me and filled me from the crown to the toe top-full with direst cruelty, I decided that I needed a cave for myself. I have a proper bar in there and a lot of taxidermy, including a wildebeest and a squirrel paddling a canoe.

Proudest DIY: I adore my decorative raven, which I actually shot and stuffed myself. Macbeth doesn’t really like taxidermy, but he always says: “Happy wife, happy life!”

Biggest Embarrassment: Banquo’s ghost, no question. The absolute worst thing about killing people is that they always turn into ghosts and show up at your dinner parties. Macbeth really lost it, which was mortifying for me, particularly as I wasn’t feeling super-confident about my soufflé that evening.

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Biggest Challenge: Finding a comfortable bed for the master suite. We don’t sleep well. Apparently, I have been walking around at night, folding pieces of paper and trying to wash imaginary blood off my hands, while my husband is all “SLEEP NO MORE! MACBETH DOES MURDER SLEEP.” He thinks the problem is reckoning with our heinous crimes, but I think we’re dealing with a mattress issue. It’s time to go Tempur-Pedic.

Plans for the Future: I’d like a red SMEG toaster. And maybe central heating; it’s cold as balls here. I don’t know if this is our forever dream home, but it’s great for now – and much better than Macduff’s castle, although we haven’t been over there recently.

Best Advice: Just because it’s Scotland doesn’t mean that you have to incorporate a lot of tartan. You don’t need your home looking like a university club filled with asshole bankers. Hey, when it comes to decorating, fair is foul, and foul is fair if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Susan Harlan is an English professor at Wake Forest University, where she specializes in Shakespeare. Her essays have appeared in venues such as The Guardian US, The Morning News, Roads & Kingdoms, Nowhere, The Awl, Public Books, and Curbed.

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