Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Rant (Warning: Sarcasm Ahead)

I love decorating magazines. Better Homes and Gardens is my favorite “all-purpose” mag, and I love their Special Interests Publications which focus on specific subjects.

Lately, though, I’ve come across a couple of things that kinda rubbed me the wrong way. The first was in the Summer 2009 issue of BHGSIP Decorating magazine.

The lovely home below was featured:

Here is a quote from the homeowner:

“ ‘I wanted heavy-duty stools for [the] kitchen…so I was a bit nervous about going retail.’ But the inexpensive stools from Crate & Barrel ‘have held up beautifully’. ”

On the same page, a sidebar entitled Retail 101 says:

“Cathy kept costs down by mixing designer pieces with retail accessories from places such as Target, Crate & Barrel, and Pottery Barn. ‘It can definitely be hit or miss, but I’ve had very good luck with several retailers.’ ”

I’m sorry, but does that sound extremely snooty to anyone besides me? I realize that most of the homes in these mags are owned by people who can afford to hire a decorator/designer, including this one. But oh my, how do the rest of us survive, shopping at Tar-jay the way we do? Our homes must be full of shoddy things and rickety furniture.

I’ve regularly read bloggers (including me) who drool over the PB catalog and try to figure out ways they can recreate the look without paying PB’s high prices. My word, it’s a good thing we didn’t waste our money there after all, seeing as it’s so “hit or miss” and everything!

Then recently I was re-reading the September 2007 issue of BHG and this line jumped out at me:

“…Brenda is not afraid to play matchmaker, pairing furniture and accessories from different decades.”

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’m pretty sure there are more homes in America with furniture and accessories from different decades than not. Whether or not we collect antique or vintage items, most of us probably have heirloom or hand-me-down pieces. And while we may not have a decorator to pull it all together for us, we try make it work and make our homes look good.

This is real life, folks. Couch: circa 1985, coffee table: IKEA circa 2008, windows as decor: circa 1940(?), dropleaf table: circa 1993, and reupholstering waiting room chairs with drop cloths. Family: right in the middle of it all.IMG_3477

Ordinary people with realistic budgets trying to make home a pretty, comfortable place. Like me. Like you. Getting creative with what we have and what we can make.

If you ask me, that’s worthy of a magazine article.


Amy@theredheaddiaries.blogspot.com said...

I am so with you!!! I get so irritated with magazines showing clothes that cost more than I would or could ever dream of paying and recipes that are "kid" friendly with ingredients that I have never even heard of. I wonder how many more people would buy their magazines if they actually featured something we could realisticaly do????

Miss Obara said...

You are so right on! Thanks for writing what so many of us are thinking. What ever would they do if they knew some of us even shopped at....shhh, ready for it....Goodwill? EEK the horror!
Seriously, Layla from The Lettered Cottage is being featured in The Nest, I believe, and she detailed the magazines visit. She said that shipments of stuff was sent days before for the shoot. Now, if you've ever seen her blog. Her house IS beautiful. Just the way it is/was....nothing is as it seems I guess.

Nancy @ Live love laugh said...

I agree! I get excited to read the shopping for items page in the mag and then realize-no way! I have curbside finds and my my own and mom's furniture and ikea fillins-Doesn't everyone? We do have to LIVE here! Sadly it is staged, I guess, in the magazines.

Pam said...

Amen, sister!

Carmen said...

I totally agree with you as well. And it's not just the decorating mags that do this, it's the fashion mags. What's wrong with Target? I happen to love Target! :)

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

I love you. There, I said it. ;)

You took the words from my mouth....it DOES sound snooty!! Yes, I KNOW that the sideboard I purchased from IKEA is not great quality, will not last 60 years, and is not a "designer" piece. But I chose it b/c it fit my budget, I liked the way it looked, and I needed something and didn't want to wait 10 years to save up for something from the $$$$$ store.

As much as some of the magazines and their interview subjects say that they're in touch with *Real* America, I don't think they are.....

Cindy said...

This is why I haven't bought or subscribed to magazines lately...blogland is much more inspiring and realistic. Great post...you are definitely not alone. Wonder if and editors will read this?

Karen at Nittany Inspirations said...

I so agree with you. The phrase Conspicious Consumption comes to mind when you see people with more plates than the White House or more crafting stuff than Michaels. I like a nice appointed pantry and craft room as much as the next person, but do you really need 100 rolls of gift wrap? I love to look at Pierre Deux catalogue, where a throw pillow costs $275. One day I opened the new catalogue up and there was my living room (or a very similar twin). My stuff was purchased at thrift and discount stores. OK, I'm ranting now. I'll stop.

Missy K said...

This was so cathartic for me to read! I'm glad to know others "talk back" to such ridiculous statements in magazines. Without those of us who mingle our in-law's old sofa with a goodwill side table and a Target ottoman, they would have no one to buy their magazines.

To take it a step further, I think it takes a wonderful talent to blend items from lots of different sources on a budget than it does to create where money is no object.

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

Amen! That seems a little crazy to me (and out of touch). You tell 'em, Sister! :-)

arkie said...

Maybe if more readers of BHG would write in and tell the magazine how they feel it would listen?

Until they make a "real home" magazine, I'll just keep checking out the wonderful "real home" blogs I have found. Your blog is so great! Thanks!

Lucy Marie said...

This is so true. You know what drives me nuts in magazines? When they publish comparisons between two rooms, or two dresses, or two whatever ... and call one the "pricey" one and one the "budget friendly" one and then you look at them and the budget friendly one is still ridiculously priced. I was reading a magazine the other day and it had an outfit that some celebrity was wearing, and showed how much it all cost. Then beside it it showed you how/where you could get "that look for less". Meanwhile, in the "budget friendly" option, the boots were over $500, the purse was like $200 and so on ...

Umm .. budget friendly for WHO?

I don't know if they do this in decorating magazines, but it drives me bonkers!

dixie said...

You go girl!!

I think you should send a letter to the editor of BH&G. Seriously!!!

Manuela@Pleasures of Homemaking said...

Oh I know, it just makes me laugh! Honestly, get real! It's almost as funny as people who downsize to small homes and you find out the homes are 3000 sq. ft.


Primitiques 'n Poetry said...

If I read what they said, I'd probably be ranting, too. But, I just look at the pictures for inspiration and move along. I'm forever looking for new twists and eye candy. No need to read usually. At least that's my solution! ~Mindy

Lou Cinda said...

AMEN Sister!! I have thought the same things so MANY times!!
God forbid something should happen and these people lose their wealth and have to drop down to our level!!

Can you just see her in a Salvation Army or a Goodwill?

I think not! Her loss!

Great post!

Lou Cinda :)

Brittany said...

i agree. i have furnished my house on a tiny budget. its home & i love it!

charlene said...

I subscribed to BH&G too - it's by far my favorite magazine. But I do agree with you on the snooty comments from time to time. It's definitely annoying!

I'm not even in the realm of being able to outfit my home in PB or C&B(still too rich for my blood) but instead I use their catalogs and BH&G as inspiration when I go to flea markets, yard sales or antique/junk stores. I've added such personality to my home in the last two years shopping in these kinds of places and have done it with very little money.

I do agree that you should send a letter to the editor of BH&G sharing your thoughts on this subject - wouldn't it be a hoot if they published it in one of their issues?!

LuLu said...

I just made you a latte for this post! enjoy! you are so right... clapping for this post,

Kimberly said...

YES! Well said!


Heidi said...

Sing it, Sister! I personally don't consider Crate & Barrel inexpensive, and Pottery Barn is even more $$ than that! I'm so tired of magazines that are out of touch with real America, and I'm not talking about mags like Lucky or Traditional Home where you just know things are gonna be pricey. BH&G purports to be a mag that is "in touch" with middle America, then they go and print things like that? Nice.

kimmcl said...

Yeah I gotta agree. Very condescending. Great post! Kim

Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel are cheap now???????

Some magazines are so ridiculous. I refuse to even read the stuff in those types of mags. I just flip through and get ideas and move on.

Anna said...

so true! I love to look at Pottery barn and all those type of places, but I really can not afford anything there unless it is something small on the clearance rack!

Its So Very Cheri said...

Amen Sistah!!!

TRICIA @ The Zoo said...

I'm absolutely with you, Holly. It's hard to keep "reality" in perspective sometimes when the "realistic" home magazines we love are so filled with completely ridiculous things.

Loved this post. LOVED the sarcasm. You are a girl after my own heart. ;)


P.S. Your "brave use of furniture and accessories from different decades" is perfect!!

Country Dreaming said...

You go girl!--that ranks right up there with magazines that use the word "affordable" sooooo loosely.
Affordable clothes, decorations furniture and on and on.
The affordable clothes one rally pushes my buttons. "Susie has on an
affordable ensemble, pants $120,
white blouse $100 and black sweater
$100." Now I don't know about you
but I can buy A LOT of "affordable"
clothes for $320.
Now I am ranting.


Anonymous said...

Love your post! Comments like this are by people out of touch.

I also stopped watching Oprah because she would make comments like this. She made some ridiculous comment about how everyone needs fresh flowers, they aren't a luxury. Oh really, I don't know anyone who can SPLURGE and have fresh flowers all year long. @@ Big eyeroll O.

Beverly @ The Buzz said...

This is by far one of the best posts I've ever read. I have a subscription to BH&G, but only because my MIL gave it to me. It's not a magazine I like. I only look at the pictures--never read the quotes, they just make me mad. I've heard the magazine called "Better Homes Than Yours" and I think that fits. And I quit watching Oprah, too, for the same reason as anonymous above.

gina said...

I got a one yr. BHG subscription free with a BHG TV console that we bought at Walmart this past summer (which BTW was a piece of cr@p - quality wise)... oh, the irony.

gina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kibbygirl said...

I am completely with you. How great would it be to have a magazine with these beautiful pictures and then the affordable places to make it possible. man, if I was so inclined that would make a great venture :) Thanks for the rant!

Dawn said...

Very well said, my friend!

I don't have a decorating budget at all. I've made my house a home with very little money, redone hand me downs, or someone else's unwanted pieces.

I am always inspired by what "real" people do with some creativity rather than bucket loads of money.

Anonymous said...

That line jumped out at me too! I do still receive this mag and enjoy looking at the pics - but it is a bit demoralizing to realize that even most of the "weekend get-away" homes of the folks featured are larger and way nicer than mine. Reading these blogs has been a lifesaver for me. I am excited about decorating my home now that I know I don't have to spend a mint to make it nice and cozy!

hzgrace said...

I have to agree with your post and most of the comments. I too love BHG but truthfully blogs like yours are really what inspires me now days. I don't want to covet nor be dissatisfied. Being content with what I have, using the God given creativity, and loving on those around me. Now that's is a wonderful journey!

The Prudent Homemaker said...

What always makes me roll my eyes at the covers of the magazines I see at the checkout. It's the food magazines that say "Only $2.15 per serving" or even "Only $1.25 per serving" and they tout these as being really inexpensive meals.

Meanwhile, I feed my family of $7 for $5 or less for all of us for most of our meals (and sometimes I spend $1.25 or $2.15 for the ENTIRE MEAL for all 7 of us). To me, the "low/inexpensive" prices of meals that I see are too much for us! That would mean $10 or more a meal for all of us, which would more than double my food budget! No thanks!