"There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them" 

Joseph Brodsky


colour coordinated books by the metre 

I was contemplating this quote today in the context of the prevalence of the artfully styled interior. It was on a chalkboard outside Matilda's Bookshop in Stirling in the Adelaide Hills. It's very common to see Designers incorporating walls of bookshelves in their schemes for clients - bookshelves which they then buy books by the metre to fill up, as their clients don't actually have any books to put in them. And undoubtably they create atmosphere and ambience and the feeling of cosiness and a full life. But a wall of books brand new and completely unread by the owner does depress me somewhat. Perhaps this is because some of what I learnt studying Architecture at Uni sunk in, and that is Truth in Design. If you don't read, and you buy books by the metre as a decorative device, you are not being truthful in the design. And perhaps this is the fundamental difference between Styling an interior versus Designing one. 

Alternatively you can buy multiples of things and fill the shelves up like your own personal homewares store

I think we can all blame print media, television fast renovation shows, the Internet and our general love of a pretty picture for the emphasis on decorating and styling a house. I don't go shopping a lot, but when I do and I venture into one of those homemaker type big box stores I usually leave feeling almost ill over the sheer volume of decorative stuff that is being sold to people, quite obviously on a seasonal basis.


via @sophiepatersoninteriors instagram account


Don't even get me started on television shows like "The Block" that promote fast turnaround, unrealistic budgets, little thought to design and interiors slanted to the demands of the real estate market rather than real living.


 the perfectly colour coordinated Celine bag casually left on the floor via @sophiepatersoninteriors instagram

 Good design is available at any price point if you search it out. But when you're frittering away $20, $50, $100 or so on some cheap cushions and a couple of brass knick knacks, it doesn't seem like a big deal, and maybe you'll end up with a pretty vignette to put on Instagram. 



a piece of good design- a seating niche via

Design is not decoration (decoration is the surface stuff). It's about getting the fundamentals right. I become very frustrated that often decorative schemes are lauded in many of the lower end home decoration magazines on the basis of how they look in the often very manipulated picture, and they may have fundamentally some very poor design underlying it all. At the heart of the way our very visual society values things we have a tendency to laud the designers and decorators and stylists that give a pretty picture. But a year after the pictures are published in a magazine the fabric that was chosen that is supposed to be for light duty domestic use and that has been placed in a heavy duty commercial environment has fallen apart and needs to be replaced… or the paint is peeling off the spray painted plastic animal collection quirkily placed on a bookshelf… or the books on the bookshelf used purely as decor where all the spines are turned to the back of the shelf so all you see are pages… these things all look great in a photographic image, but in reality frustrate and irritate.

the sofa too close to the bed, the stool too close to the sofa, the stool with the large vase of flowers you'd knock over… via

backward books via

It's long been a fascination of mine to analyse an interiors image to see what is likely always there and what has been created for the photo shoot. Some of those clues are contained in the text - pieces of furniture/ accessories/ art that are credited in a magazine are often borrowed for the shoot. Often these items are sourced from the big advertisers in the magazine, but certainly a lot of styling has gone on that bears no correlation between every day life and the perfect picture. Other things require a little more observation - chairs that block doors/stairs/ halls, or things obviously moved into position for a photo that would never be there otherwise - like the fully upholstered cross bench stool with attractive vignette styling including an oil painting in a shower alcove as pictured below.

via @ivyandpiperhome instagram

I have always viewed interiors photos with a healthy dose of scepticism, much as you do a catalogue photo for a fashion label - the model is probably not having such a good time when she's laughing beachside in the middle of winter in a sundress. But it's become obvious to me that a lot of people are perhaps more susceptible to this sort of suggestive imagery as portraying and projecting their future perfect real life.

 The cover of Home Beautiful magazine with photoshopped changes to a pool cabana - furniture, light fitting, window, flooring, hanging chair

The original image they based it on in a house featured some months before in the magazine, designed by Melinda Hartwright Interiors

I once had a client for a project I worked on in Melbourne wanting to cancel the sofas we'd already ordered based on a photograph from an advertisement of a leather sofa she'd spied in a magazine. It was a close up photo of a young woman snuggled up on a leather sofa with a little girl next to her, both wrapped in a cashmere blanket and smiling blissfully and tenderly at one another. You could see a corner of the back seat cushion and a corner of the arm of the sofa and that was all. So I called the company (Natuzzi) to ask what the sofa was and to get a full image of it so that we could see what it actually looked like. It was ugly. I sent her an email with the image of the actual sofa, and she was horrified and said it was nothing like she expected it to be. She was happy to go ahead with the original sofas that were already half manufactured.

So what she'd actually been sold on was the image of the smiling mother and child on the sofa, and she was projecting that she'd like to live moments like that in her future. Essentially design and decoration is loaded with all the expectations of special moments we'd like to create, of the way we'd like to live our lives. Big warm family gatherings where everyone is happy and convivial (when in reality you don't get along with your family and Uncle Billy always is drunk), snuggling with the golden child on the sofa, cooking delicious meals from scratch in your enormous and very clean kitchen (when you more often buy takeaway). All these things are loaded into our psyche when viewing images of houses and inserting ourselves into fantasy pictures that many then try to create in their own homes. I've always said that the best thing you can do when starting the design process for anything is to be realistic and honest about how you live - if you don't cook, you're unlikely to start just because you have 2 wide ovens, an inbuilt deep fryer and steam oven.

carefully curated shelf styling via

Real design is about making your life easier - it's not about chairs that block doorways, spray painting something gold from Target for a decor accent or any of the other things that might end up looking good in a photo and being pinned 10,000 on Pinterest. Unfortunately the business of design and decoration and the relatively recent culture of shopping for home items on a seasonal basis has masked the underlying truth - that good design will make your life better, and that it doesn't matter how many throw rugs, coffee table books, turkish towels, diptyque candles and cushions you buy - if you don't fix the underlying problem you'll just be buying more and wondering why it doesn't work. The best house is the one that reflects its owner - not someone else's idea of what is good taste, current fashion or supposed personal interests and hobbies that they don't actually have. And perhaps this is why the images of perfection in magazines are a little like a souffle in reality - pretty but can fall flat in the end.

56 comments:

  1. I personally love a lived in look (which is why I will never be featured anywhere, heehee!) but I loathe the books my the meter. Our books are threatening to overthrow us, but I love them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, but as an author of course you have a lot of (real, read) books to decorate with. I like a bit of a lived in look too, so can sympathise to some extent, but all the unread books do make me sad. xx

      Delete
  2. Did they put a rug by the pool in that cabana??? Soooooooo funny! IG has stamped the importance of the vignette so sales of "stuff" must be through the roof. All mine are static and never "used" my bedside table changes all the time and has stuff I actually use on it. I'd love a painting in my shower cubicle but life doesn't work that way does it. What I don't u sweat and is why there's books by the foot when it's cheaper or the same price to buy real books. Can you please explain? I need your expert view BC as s civilian I can't wrap my head around it. Do you feel IG has further fuelled it or am I giving it too much credit?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes of course - outdoor rugs are all the go now (they do exist!). I definitely think Instagram has fuelled it all. Everyone is a stylist now, so stylists now call themselves designers, and every homeowner can photograph a tightly cropped shelf or tablescape. I've noticed the format of Insta also particularly suits the vignette.
      Books by the foot come colour coordinated though! I've looked at the sites that sell them before, and they offer them by colour, or in a tonal mix. So it would be quicker as a designer to just order them in the colours you want, rather than have the tedious task of going to a bookstore and picking out the spines yourself. I guess?! xx

      Delete
  3. I find those books with the spines turned in quite disturbing. That would give me a nervous breakdown. Spot on as usual with this post, and I have to say those big homeware stores are pretty scary. So much stuff! I go to one to buy the marseilles hand soap I use in our bathrooms, so I'd say I have to pop in every few weeks... and it's always filled with different things, completely different the whole store. I also have to walk through it all to get to the soap section, I'm sure that's planned.
    One thing I learned from doing a massive renovation of our house is that if the basics are done well, the floors, walls, trim, windows, garden structure etc, then the decoration just falls into place because the things we love really shine. The vase of flowers, the glassware, a special dish, beautiful cushions, candlesticks etc, it all looks amazing.
    Another excellent post Heidi thank you! XOX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your second paragraph just exactly hits the nail on the head with what I'm trying to say. You just don't need to mask problems with pretty vignettes because you don't have them in the first place.
      Agree with you about the homewares stores - I'm always thinking "who is buying all of this??" There's just so much useless stuff for sale. How many thousands of decorative brass anchors (for instance) are actually sold and put in an interior from these stores? Along with all the other stuff? Just landfill of the future I think sadly. xx

      Delete
  4. Heidi I love all your posts but this is my favorite! I am so annoyed by useless "styling" everywhere! It's funny because in my early 20s I was so obsessed with it and had so many things that were just useless shit. I then really started to find beauty in utility and had a harsh few months of donating all my stuff I didn't use. This included so many vignette centric glasses, plates, trays. once I realized that each of those little purchases was actually a highly emotional decision trying to buy an idealized life, it became a lot easier not to. I have open cabinets by my sink and they say empty for a while because they're not even that usable. I did finally fill them but told myself only with things I already have and use. They're too small for Le Creusets :) the result is actually a decently functioning center for dish soap tablets (housed in a blue and white bowl) cookbooks, gin and diet tonic water, and blue stemware that I use for water or generous pours. So I guess that's the distillation of my life in my kitchen: doing dishes and drinking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You forgot drinking! Love that you keep your essentials on the shelf, and that one of them is dish tablets and the other is Gin. They are kind of inseparable in a way...!
      I too had useless stuff in my early 20's. I think though that the look at the time was a much fussier interior, so it kind of went with the times. I had plates hanging on the walls, there was a lot of blue and yellow.. I definitely favour a more streamline look now, but I think the lasting legacy is an aversion to useless stuff that you have to dust. Sounds like you ended up with the same conclusion :) x

      Delete
  5. Great post once again Heidi!! It is a worrying trend, this over-styled house. Everyone may all implode from trying so very hard to get it 'right' all the time. My favourite houses have always been those which sport an eclectic collection of loved objects, thrice-read books and wonderful art. Such a home can only be cultivated over time, not generated from one-off forays into mega-stores. Don't even get me started on the colour sorted books!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well I think the danger is always feeling a failure as you don't live up to your carefully styled vignettes maybe?! I love looking at people's collections in their houses, and always check out the books on the bookshelf, you can learn a lot about people. So then that's kind of an interesting quandary when the books are not actually chosen or read by them..

      Delete
  6. Yes, indeed! That silly garden seat with the roses - purely staged! When I am asked to style my clients' homes, I often will use things they 'already' own. (That includes clipping flowers and foliage from their gardens.) We'll simply move items around until we find the best location. That way it's still personal and meaningful. There are times when a client will not have the right pillow, accent table, etc. Then I insist we go shopping together so they can have an input. It's their home, not mine. And I do think magazine editors overstyle everything. Great post!
    Cheers
    L

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think your approach is perfect Loi. You do need a bit of styling to bring together someone's collections, or give a bit of life to an interior. But a lot seem to go in the other direction where everything is styled to within an inch of itself.

      Delete
  7. Paper Books are dead to me. I read books on my phone.
    In a broader sense, it's just obsession with stuff. We have too much stuff. It's crass- whether designer or Kmart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My older sister is the same - she uses her kindle now, and this approach works for her. But I love to have the books I've read around me, and often reread things. If i didn't enjoy the book I pass it on happily.
      Funnily enough I have a draft post that's been sitting around for ages called "More is More". So much to say on that topic...

      Delete
  8. Your post has clarified in my mind the problems I have when I look at Pinterest/blogs/magazines etc. It is so easy to be caught up in how the stylist wants to you respond that you end up not being true to yourself. I have stopped buying magazines as all the images of houses are the same and you wonder how on earth anyone lives a real life there. I love pictures of homes with bookshelves full of well read books I always look at the spines and the titles and you can pretty well tell if they are personal or bought as a job lot. Our home is full of books and the things we have collected over years of traveling and living and I sometimes feel embarrassed as they don't fit with the images I see but it would be pretty easy to work out who we are and what our interests are if you were to visit our home. So thank you for the post I agree with you 100% and now can relax and enjoy our home....as we should.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right about all the magazines looking the same. I read a lot of Interiors magazines, and the overlap is astounding. So many houses are featured in multiple different magazines from other countries - syndication is a problem now in this global word, something a lot of Editors don't seem to be aware of. There is also a generic sameness that becomes bland after a few viewings. Same look, same photographic angles, same tick a box decor items.
      Your house sounds lovely and personal. I'm sure your guests appreciate that warmth, rather than the sterility of over styled good taste.

      Delete
  9. Well Heidi you've hit the nail right on the head again. I was contemplating my freshly painted partly finished kitchen cupboards this morning ( all painted in Dulux whisper white ) and wondering is this really me or have I been sucked into the white vacuum. I have stopped buying magazines as I'm sick of the same old same old. I was browsing through some books yesterday and came across a book by William Yeoward and was instantly drawn to the front cover when I analysed why I was drawn to it is was the colours. I so agree about real design and really couldn't be bothered with having to move a chair to get to a cupboard or vases of flowers in precarious places and I definitely don't want perfection too hard. Isn't it better to have good storage, furniture that is comfortable and things that make you happy around you. Only this morning I was looking at a post a designer had put up as a possible scheme for a clients home asking what we thought . I thought predictable. I certainly didn't comment. I even restyled my dresser a few months back stood back and thought it looked like something in a home wares store. Nothing I can't change. I'm for the individuals who post photos of there individual style it might not be what I'd have but it's still fabulous. I also think shopping for home wares is no longer fun as once again we see the same old same old even in what were my favourite stores.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, agree Karen. I was talking to my cousin the other day who does the buying for one of the larger homewares stores in Adelaide, and we were joking about copper/ rose gold/ marble fatigue and geode shapes taking over the home. It does feel like everything is the same in all of the stores to some extent.
      I love that William Yeoward book, he does great interiors. I've also found that I'm enjoying more the less mainstream decorating magazines, all the big ones are very much the same.
      But I hope you love your kitchen! It looks great in the photos I've seen on Insta, I think the problem with white is when absolutely everything is white, and it can feel a little bland. You've got other things going on so I'm sure it will just feel fresh instead :) x

      Delete
  10. So agree with you Heidi, magazines work around increasing their sales, they do whatever it takes!
    Abhor books that are only for show, never read and in a foreign language!
    Loathe cheap accessories that never become heirlooms. Incredible how middle aged people move into new homes with brand new everything as if never having a past or any sign of a previous life!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too find it very odd when people wholesale throw out all their possessions and start anew later in life Lillian. Is it because they want to forget their past perhaps? I don't know...
      I've become very jaded by a lot of the magazines in recent times. There is such a sameness, and such a look that they push, and it revolves around buying things to satisfy their advertisers. Blogs stepped in for a while to fill the void, but many of them now have advertisers, sponsors and affiliate links and do the same, just in a less professional manner than the magazines that they were once so different from.

      Delete
    2. I love the deeply personal and slightly shabby. x

      Delete
  11. Heidi, excellent post. I nodded as I read ! I have lots of bits and pieces and books and pics - most very unfashionable or fashionable by accident for a short time - our beaten copper jugs are from my South African great grandparents. I think a home develops over time - our 'stuff' is a result of our time living in lots of different places. Every time we moved to a new house it would feel like ours as soon as we unpacked.

    I read American TV and mag stylist Emily Henderson's blog - she is totally open about her quite shallow approach to styling and the difference between what she does for clients and then styles up for a shoot. Fascinating.

    And books - my husband's 'styling' is to put all the books he considers excellent in one side of the shelf and the rest (mine) anywhere else. Imagine if I suggested colour coding (kill me now) or spines in - I may suggest it for the newly painted sitting room, just for fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funnily enough I was showing my husband the photos I'd used for the blog post and he could not believe that backward books were a thing in Interiors. Most men are slightly baffled by styling I think, and a lot of what is done now is fairly ridiculous in the cold hard light of day when you're not swept up in the moment by the hype around Styling.
      Agree with you about a home developing over time - love the sound of your on trend copper jugs! I tend to prefer the interiors mags that show lived in spaces with layers to them. All the perfectly styled and very impersonal spaces are so bland. xx

      Delete
  12. Between the extremes of the 'machine for living" (Le Corbusier) and the blue porcelain pineapples and cardboard deer heads with antlers from Ikea there must surely be a compromise. Truth in Design sounds like a good start.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very funny Judith! Well Corbusier was criticised that his machines for living in were often not particularly practical to actually live in.... One client famously asked where she was to put her clothes (he provided no space for her wardrobe) and he told her to put them on a chair. But yes, there is definitely a middle ground between pared back to nothing and Ikea cardboard deer heads for decor.

      Delete
  13. Hi Heidi - I love this post, and so many of the points raised in the comments. I used to read many high end interiors magazines but really about 10 years or so ago stopped buying them as so many had the same content. I originally found the new and interesting stuff I wanted to see on blogs, but sadly some have stopped and others have definately declined with sponsorship. There is a large american blog that "keeps it real" by showing a quirky styled and nicely photographed image and then preceeds to show the other side of the room with a pile of dirty laundry and dishes in the sink. I feel so sad about that. Who wants to have one pretty shelf or wing back chair surrounded by mess? but it sells stuff and is so popular that it really shows why those shops are filled with so much stuff. I originally saw the turned around books, tied with sepia toned satin ribbons together in a laura ashley catalogue (many many years ago) and it looked great but even assuming they were sets and there was probably only about 20 books - it was one of those things were you could no longer suspend disbelief that this was a good idea, albeit beautiful.
    Rebecca

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rebecca, the comments have been so interesting on this subject - it's interesting to see how many other people are irritated by the overly styled interior too.
      I've actually never enjoyed those "keeping it real" type posts people do on blogs. I view the blog photos as a version of how you'd present your house if people came over - not messy, but still real. As such I tend not to remove too much of what is there in real life, which is probably why my photos don't end up pinned 10,000 times :)
      I do also think that a lot of what is essentially set dressing has made its way into a lot of spheres in life, not just Interiors - as a comment further down says, kids parties, weddings... there just seems to be an obsession with propping things for a picture perfect life we don't lead. Quite odd really...

      Delete
  14. Great post, Heidi! Wonderful analysis.
    Can't believe how many people buy books by the colour coded yard. And even more unbelievable that some can arrange books with spines inward. Don't they realise they're giving away so much about themselves that would be better kept hidden - that they're complete and utter philistines! Only a philistine could do this. Also wrapping books with satin ribbon! Have never seen or heard of this. So glad to have missed the trend. We have far too many books, both hubby and I tend to be compulsive book buyers (often second hand from fetes and Op Shops) so definitely not stylish looking. But we are book worms and love the feel of a real book. He has at least one book by every Nobel Prizewinner for Literature and has read at least one by each writer. If he likes the writer he just keeps buying more of their books. It does become a problem though as we don't have adequate storage facilities for all the books. I keep taking ones we've decided not to keep to the Op Shop or giving them away - but then we buy more. We'll need to live to be 100 at least to read them all!
    Pammie xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that many people who have read a lot of books have the same problem P - I know my bookshelves in the library/ sitting room are not exactly artfully styled, but they're books we've read, they're in order and categorised so I can find them again, and after that they're loosely arranged in colour blocking spines/ heights to try to give a little visual order. Still, not a magazine worthy picture I think! So many good books in the world it's hard to not have a pile of unread ones somewhere! I have a large pile still on my bedside table, and I'm trying to work my way through and not buy more... but it's hard and I did buy another at Matilda's bookshop... which I'm now half way through! xx

      Delete
  15. Gosh I enjoy reading all the topics you write about. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you've said. The ridiculous unread books and over-styled vignettes reminded me of all the children's parties I see that are styled to perfection. It makes me laugh that all the food has to fit into the theme or colour palette - who wants to drink blue milk in pretty little bottles with paper straws? I feel a bit harsh saying that as I'm sure a lot of people get a lot of enjoyment from creating their dream event, but I often wonder how much the children/guests are into it? And there's always loads and loads of decorated biscuits, cupcakes, lollies etc laid out beautifully - I'm quite sure these foods are chosen because they are easy to colour-coordinate and create pretty pictures, not because they make for a delicious spread! Don't get me wrong, I do like a bit of event theming and interior styling - just not to the point where how it all looks totally outweighs the actual function. - Denita

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Den - yes those parties always drove me a little mad as well! Why on earth the enormous lolly jars full of colour coordinated lollies that the children are supposed to eat... most of whom are 3 or 4?! I agree wholeheartedly - a little theming/ colour coordination is great, and a theme is fine of course, but much of what is presented is for the parent hosting in the end - maybe to feel like they have a pat on the back for rivalling Martha Stewart? There is such an industry around kids parties now, they're so very different from when we were kids where you didn't invite the entire class to a party, and not every kid won a prize in a game, and there were no children's entertainers (although they are very useful I admit!).

      Delete
    2. Themed children's parties really seem to be the go. Have loved our grand-daughters' - my fave was the mermaids and pirates party. Mostly the girls came as mermaids and the boys as pirates but there were a few girls who bucked the usual stereotype and were dressed as pirates. No mermen though. It was great fun. Our DIL is very clever and an artist (she sells on Etsy) so she'd put together fabulous decorations she'd made herself as well as the mermaid cake she'd made. But it wasn't jars of coloured lollies. Lots of the food was really healthy and appetising and attractive as well. Most of the parents where they live are seriously into healthy food for their children. Many of the children chose celery and carrot sticks over sweets. (It was usually the Dads who ate the fairy bread.) Pammie

      Delete
  16. This is so interesting to me. Esp the comments about people having styled homes and piles of dirty dishes in the sink. Why would anyone do this? Why?

    I am attracted to home wares shops, but as you know my main interest these days is our art collection. I am always fascinated by homes styled to within an in but no art, or what I'd call decorator art. What gives?

    Fascinating topic as always x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was in a house once that was beautifully styled, but there was dust over everything - it was so weird! To take such pride in arranging things and having them look just so... then neglect to actually take pride in keeping the house clean.
      Decorator art has a place, but I think you can always find things at any price point for walls that are perhaps more interesting. I think with art sometimes it can be confidence, and perhaps knowing where to go? Some people are intimidated by auction houses, or galleries... or don't know where to start. I guess decorator art is just more accessible and safe. Although sometimes the prices are more than real art. xx

      Delete
    2. well you know Mr FF and the secondary art market! Such great value for money and so many bargains. And the thrill of the hunt. Yes I spose confidence has a bit to do with it.

      Really great topic x

      Delete
    3. Mr FF has a good eye. I think a lot of people are scared that they're being taken for a ride with art and antiques. It's very hard to quantify, whereas something sold mass that has a RRP is perhaps easier to judge, although when resold probably not worth a lot.
      I love your art, so eclectic and interesting. xx

      Delete
  17. Heidi ,
    Your last two posts have been so interesting ....fantastic observations and writing . You are very talented writer and social commentator plus super stylish person. Thanks for sharing with your followers....love it when your blogs pop up.
    Annie X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Annie, that's so kind of you to say :) Glad you're enjoying the posts xx

      Delete
  18. Great post Heidi - spot on as usual. I am finally catching up after our Mekong River cruise from Saigon to Siam Riep, which was amazing. The weather was way too humid for me, but everything else outweighed that. Have come home to this gorgeous Autumn weather which I hope doesn't disappear too soon! I so don't get why anyone would want to turn their books the other way round ... way too weird for me. I have several friends who have a couple of over styled rooms on show and the rest of their houses are just pure mess and clutter. Hope your children enjoy their holiday break after a long term one. Jo xx PS Wish my husband had read your previous post about not running the bathroom mirror down to granite vanity top in our boys bathroom - our cabinetmaker tried to talk him out of it, but he was having none of that. Yes, it may look good, but is a never-ending job to keep clean!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The cruise sounds fantastic Jo! I'm not so keen on humidity either... think Adelaide's dry heat is much easier, but I'm sure you saw some amazing things.
      Ha! So funny about your husband and the mirror. I love the look and would definitely have a preference for it, but knew it would drive me insane. Sounds like it does that to you!!
      Enjoying the holidays, it was a very long term I have to say. The weather is beautiful - I think this is my favourite time of year. Lovely to hear from you xx

      Delete
  19. I love these meaty posts Heidi and some fascinating comments too. The spines inward book styling is ridiculous - I'd see that in the OKA catalog last year actually and thought that it was a step too far. I have to say, I don't really have a problem with photos being styled... that goes to composition and makes for an attractive image, but it is definitely not design. We consume images now and, of course, that he been picked up by marketing/sales people and translates into the cheap home props that fill the stores. We have a new one in the UK (well, new to me), Homesense - which seems to me to be entirely future landfill. And it all makes for additional dusting as you say.
    I must confess that I'm guilty of over styling my kids parties... I just like the creative side of it, etc. I think that my children do appreciate it, but it did mean that I'm creating very high expectations. My 4 year old had her party about 10 days before her birthday, so I did a second simple Vitoria sponge cake for her actual birthday and, upon seeing it, she burst into tears! The sweets in a jar thing is a waste of time - I did that for my old daughter's 3rd birthday and none of the parents would let them eat anything. Now I just do a smaller range but try to make it all look lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't heard of home sense, but it's kind of interesting to see this more American concept of propping a room on a seasonal basis is slowly spreading. Funny considering that Habitat was set up as a pace to source good quality modern design that wasn't completely unaffordable in the UK, and that's now no longer the place and these other places with a more consumer driven focus have taken over.
      I love seeing the pics of your kid's parties! I don't think they're over styled, and it's clear you get a lot of creative enjoyment from them and the cake making, which you are very good at. I was talking more about the party planners that specialise in kids parties now and the parents that spend thousands on having everything magazine worthy. There are entire blogs devoted to it, and while I'm all in favour of themes and presenting things nicely, they go quite a few steps beyond that and the parties are like carnivals! xx

      Delete
  20. Brilliant, brilliant post, Heidi. You totally hit the nail on the head. So much unnecessary decorative "stuff" being produced (to get this week's "look") that will soon become land-fill. Love your caption about filling up your shelves with multiples "like your own personal homewares store". Great line!

    I find that image of the backwards-facing books just disturbing.

    That (photo-shopped, hot pink) Home Beautiful cover hurts my eyes. It shows how you cannot believe the images you see in magazines. What (hideous) artifice!

    And I'd like to see someone quickly grab a few plates from (or cleaning!) that "carefully curated shelf" without knocking them all to the ground, or smashing a few shells and starfish.
    Great article. I wholeheartedly agree with every word. x Caroline

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That Home Beautiful cover was so interesting Caroline - Melinda Hartwright, whom I follow on Insta, posted it and said it took her ages to realise it was her pool house. Even she didn't recognise it due to their changes! I've also heard from trade suppliers of fabrics at their frustration of when colours are changed in publications, as they get people asking for the fabric, which in reality looks nothing like what was featured in the magazine. I'm afraid I've become very jaded about the whole thing. I read a lot of magazines, but I find I flick through them more and more. Some of the lower end ones for only 5 minutes. I used to read many of the big ones (Vogue Living, Belle, English House and Garden) over and over, but not so much now. Thank goodness I get them all free on the iPad, as I'd be feeling quite ripped off if I'd handed over $7-$8 an issue. xx

      Delete
  21. I love everything about this post. My husband and I went to Cult furniture while in Sydney a few weeks ago, sofa shopping. Next to the first sofa he sat in was a bookshelf decorated with hardbacks that had had their covers ripped right off and were piled randomly on the shelves or in bowls. He was so disturbed. There was a tense moment there where I thought he was going to insist we walk out immediately and never darken their door again. We did find an excellent sofa, that we probbaly can't afford. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's very funny Jo! It seems men find the styling crimes against books particularly disturbing. My husband was very perplexed by the backward books photo I showed him in this post... I think there are a lot of people who don't understand styling. Probably if you've been exposed to it constantly reading magazines/ internet etc you become somewhat immune to the thought that it isn't necessarily normal...
      Hope you find a sofa that suits. Sofas are one thing that couples argue the most about!

      Delete
  22. The sofa is going to be an issue. He is 199cm tall, I'm 170, we have a scale problem when it comes to comfort, worsened by the different ways men and women seem to use sofas. He insists that the sofa be well off the ground (so that he doesn't stub his enormous feet on approach and for vacuum access, or fall over trying to lower himself onto something that comes up to his mid calf), and hates sofas with a chase. He also weighs a lot given his height, when he plonks down in the middle of sofas on raised legs they sag or make disturbing noises. I want arms as high as the backs and think a corner/modular plus one arm chair will suit the space best. We're both annoyed by poor workmanship. This list rules out 99.9% of sofas instantly. Wish us luck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh dear. I think you've just described the impossible to find sofa Jo - so Good Luck! If you did like the one you saw in Melbourne it might be worth coughing up for it. To have a sofa both think comfortable and ergonomically perfect, plus like the look of is a rare thing. Cult etc always have sales, so maybe wait for one of those mid year?

      Delete
    2. Thanks Heidi, we may well just watch for a sale and go for it. The house its destined for doesn't have a slab yet, there's time! Just following your advice to know exactly how we'll use the space in advance. A good friend and I have had multiple conversations about this post. Thank you again.

      Delete
  23. Heidi, thank you for this post. To everything you wrote, I say, "Amen!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it - I must say I've been surprised this post has resonated with so many people. Seems I'm definitely not alone in noticing this trend, or finding it frustrating.

      Delete
  24. Great post again Heidi, I agree the constant need for mindless consumption is sickening. Life is not found in a shopping centre.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank heavens -- you are the voice of reason. I hate McDecorating.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Heidi, a potential topic for a future post please.....
    I was looking at Loithai's Instagram today. And comparing the second and third pictures and decided that I could tell at a glance that the second room (with the citrus throw rug) was obviously the house of a young or young at heart person. I decided that the third picture (blue walls, 'antique' coffee table and nautical picture) was obviously the home of an older person. It was the furniture and the overall effect which marked one room as young and one as old. Despite the fact that they had the same basic colour scheme of geige plus accent. Do you have any thoughts about OLD and YOUNG. I decided that these concepts were independent of FASHION. Needless to say I am interested in this because I am old but desperate to not become a boring old fart. Thanks for any ideas, Judith

    ReplyDelete
  27. Heidi,

    I love your insight in this post! I am highly clueless about both design and interior decorating and it was enlightening in seeing you reveal the reality of those perfect pictures! (I would love to be further enlightened, in fact!)

    You also have a lovely tone to your writing.

    x Deb

    ReplyDelete
  28. Oh the designer landfill that is churned out is enough to make one weep for reasons other than design. The sheer waste of time, money and resources is frightening. I have a new way of reading magazines-I now rather like to read the house/garden type magazines at the doctors that are several years out of date and see what has endured. I pick out what I do and don't like and analyse the whys and why nots. Good art, and pottery made by children will always feature in my house.
    Thank you for more of your fabulous insights.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Search This Blog

About Me

My photo
Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
Powered by Blogger.

Follow by Email

Follow this blog with bloglovin

Follow on Bloglovin

Followers

Things to read....

.