Glossy, full-color “shelter” magazines; you know—the ones that have rooms with gargantuan amounts of space, exotic locales, unlimited budgets, and a New York designer. Several years ago I subscribed to three high-end interior design magazines, anticipating great decorating ideas and current styles and trends. After two years I realized that with each new issue, I felt, not inspired or enthused, but irritated. It is the same reaction I have to haute couture. What planet do these people live on? Clearly, we occupy different worlds.
Like some designs of the haute couture, room designs can be just as ludicrous and the price tags just as preposterous. Looking through the magazines I often felt like the little boy in The Emperor’s New Clothes. Some rooms, lavishly filled with expensive furniture, costly accessories, and original art work, were just plain ugly. I could do ugly at a much lower price and save someone oodles of money. The rooms were showrooms…showcasing expensive furnishings but difficult to imagine as actual homes. I couldn’t envision spilling coffee on the $9,000 sofa, or the cat hocking up a fur ball on the $15,000 rug.
Does it mean I have no taste…no style…no class? Probably! Middle-class with bourgeoisie tastes? Maybe! An undeveloped palate and an uneducated opinion? Perhaps!
I do know this: when I look at high-end fashion or high-ticket furnishings, even when I really like the design, appreciate the craftsmanship, love the materials, I can’t help thinking…of homeless people…of hungry children…of families without basic health care…of Henry David Thoreau and Walden Pond…of the 22,000 children who die each day of poverty.
Do I really need an $80,000 gown or a $9,000 sofa?
A gown I’d be afraid to wear and a sofa I’d be afraid to sit on.
And where would I wear an $80,000 gown…the coffee shop, the library, the grocery store?
After two years of progressive irritation I’ve decided not to renew my subscriptions. The high-end magazines offer little that is relevant, significant, or pertinent to my life, my home, or my pocketbook. The magazines are not meant to be instructional, you’ll never find a DIY or a how-to, but you will find that over half the pages are filled with advertisements for products; products I don’t like or can’t afford. I don’t even like the majority of room designs, and frankly, who needs the irritation, especially when I have to pay for it. As for staying on top of current styles and trends…well, that’s a whole other post.