Magazine Cover-itis

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…

Creative Project:
Inspiration Boards & Notebooks

Creative Project:<br> Inspiration Boards & Notebooks

When we remodeled our kitchen a few years ago, I used a notebook full of magazine photos to communicate my ideas to the contractor. I slipped magazine tear-outs into plastic sleeves, wrote things like “make sides of cabinet like this” on the sleeves, and left my notebook for the contractor to use as a visual. I also used my notebook to add paint samples, brochures, articles, receipts, tips and other small things into the sleeves for safe keeping.

Thanks to my notebook and a creative contractor, I probably spent half of what it would’ve cost to completely re-do my kitchen. I used my notebook to find inspiration for small details that made it more custom and yet allowed me to save money. See inspiration here on the details I incorporated into my kitchen, thanks to inspiration from magazine photos.

  • Saving photos on inspiration boards or in notebooks can tell a lot about what you like or the kind of mood you are comfortable with. You don’t have to limit yourself to photos of homes, add any photos or swatches that inspire you. You might find you are inspired by nature, by a certain color, by a time period, or by certain patterns & textures. Your collection might suggest you are drawn to a cozy warm atmosphere or a more lively energetic mood.
  • Train your eye to look at the details in photos. Zero in on specific things you like. You can also learn things by noting what you DON’T like, so feel free to include some notes on things you dislike! That is why I like the plastic sleeves, you can write anything you want for now, and add to it or change it later. This is a fun process of learning about your own taste.
  • You don’t even have to know right away WHY you like a particular photo. Include it anyways. You might realize after you have a big stack of kitchen photos that you love a particular style or color scheme.
  • While your notebook may just start out as a way to refine your personal style, you can use your notebook over time to convey your ideas to contractors, decorators or just as a resource for your future endeavors. I like to look at mine from time to time, just to see all the things I love in one place!
  • I have also used my notebook to coordinate my preferences with those of my husband. Often times I will ask him what he thinks about a particular picture and if he hates it, I try to figure out why he dislikes it. Maybe he just hated the fabric, but we could agree on some other aspect. This refines BOTH of our taste and helps us to create a home we both love.

Which is better?

An inspiration board or notebook?

The beauty of the board is the visual impact of having the ideas all on one page in front of you. This is especially effective if you are just forming your personal style or just trying to figure out a mood for a room. It helps to see all the colors and textures as a whole, similar to how you would see them in a room.

If you are designing a kitchen or planning a remodel, or just want to save photos for reference, make the notebook. The notebook is easier to store, easier to make notes in and just more practical for keeping paint and fabric swatches. You can also add to it and expand it over time.

Posts you might find helpful in findingĀ  your style:

Living Authentically at Home
How to Decorate your Home