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Magazine Cover-itis

Most decorating books, blogs, websites & magazines deal with products and design. What are the latest, the most popular, the most beautiful objects or techniques for your fixing up your home–the “I have got to have it” sort of stuff. Double page spreads of homes that photograph beautifully, or are staged to appear picture perfect to its readers. And rightly so, as these are the things that will show well in photos, and will inspire people in their quest to find the “perfect” solution to their situation. And these images sell magazines and entice readers by giving people a feast for the eye. I love them!

Yet, for years, I struggled with “magazine cover-itis”? Have you heard of it? I believe I have made up my own name for what I have. It is a disease that makes one obsessive about each and every corner of their home maintaining a cover shot existence. Creating an image of beauty becomes a priority over creating a beautiful home. While to some degree I still am afflicted by this disease (it is incurable), it no longer brings about so much frustration when I cannot achieve that “magazine look” all the time. Magazine cover-itis is a part of who I am, to be sure, but with life experience has come a measure of maturity — an acceptance of reality and priorities. And a new appreciation for creating imperfect beauty for real life, not for prestige or show.

Authentic living, for most people, is not always magazine-cover material. But there is a richness about it that cannot be denied when you enter the rooms of those who understand it. There is an indescribable beauty in a home that has history, life, happiness, spirituality and love within its walls. It is a place where children can run through the halls with messy shirts and dads can take naps in the living room. Moms can bake cookies and yummy things in an apron that doesn’t match her outfit, while dirty bowls pile up on the counters. Friends can come for a chat and they don’t care if there is laundry being folded on the coffee table. Books to be returned to the library can remain stacked by the front door and teenagers can do homework on the dining room table. Babies and dogs barf on things. And cherries can fall from trees onto the driveway leaving their own unique messy mark where they fell.

This is life. Not a staged version where the mom is “cooking” in a size-two cocktail dress and three-inch heels and there is not a dirty dish to be seen. Real life isn’t always picture perfect in every way! And yet, there is beauty there! You can have all the latest and greatest designer things and miss the most important thing of all. What kind of life do you have within those walls? Why are you buying those things? And what are you sacrificing to have them?

So many things do not translate as well into stunning photos, but they are part of what makes an authentically beautiful home. I think you can have a fantastically lovely home, one that is both at times (and from certain angles!) magazine-cover ready, AND has a beauty that pictures cannot see.

That thought makes me happy!

But always getting the cover shot at the expense of substance, appropriateness and balance of priorities makes it all a mirage. And that does not make me happy.

When you understand how to create authentic beauty, you often do not need to work so hard at knowing what to do for your home, you can avoid spending a lot of money and you don’t even have to know what the current decorating fads are — you are pleasing your own eye, creating beauty for your own rituals and designing a home that suits your life.

Tomorrow we will begin to talk about specific ways to achieve real-life beauty for your home. For now, I hear my son rustling about in his room. Real life is calling…


  1. maria

    “So many things do not translate as well into stunning photos, but they are part of what makes an authentically beautiful home.”

    can be said about people too, don’t you think?

  2. Laura

    I absolutely love the way you look at decorating and your home! Kudos!

  3. melissamichaels

    Thanks! Maria — I agree, great beauty can (and should) come from much more than a cover-girl face. True of homes & people!

    Laura, thanks to you as well. I appreciate all the support as I get this blog up and rolling!

  4. stefania popescu

    Melissa, you are a kind of poet just like me! Your blog touched my heart! I have a tiny house, 24 sqm, which I share with my five cats, this is “our” home and we love it! And all is exactly as you describe here! There are indeed so many other things that make a home to be a home, but thank you for reminding me!

  5. Ashley

    Yes, I hate and love this about myself as well! Thanks for the inspiring words…I just purchased a few items and was getting frustrated that they were not looking perfect. Take a breath, let it sit for a few days, and I am sure it will all come together eventually! :) Thanks Melissa!

    Ashley @ Domestic Fashionistas inspiring blog post..Baby Shower Cupcakes

  6. arline

    I live alone, so it is easy for me to make my house the way I want it, which is, as you so aptly put, Magazine cover ready< HA

    I have magazine cover-itis

    What will I do when I allow a partner to come into my world???

    When my sister and her family came to visit, she said my house is very beautiful, but it is NOT kid friendly, or comfy to just hang out in.

    She’s right, and while I don’t plan on having kids, I would like to bring some comfort into my home, and make it welcome for visitors to sit down, and thinking they cant touch anything. I promise nothing I have is that precious, artful yes, but… well anyway, I appreciate your post.
    As usual, it is thought provoking and fun to read.

    arlines inspiring blog post..Last nights dream is on my mind.



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