Wednesday, May 7, 2008 anyone home?

Usually, when I get a new issue of one of my favorite design magazines, my heart beats a little faster, and if I allow myself a quick flip through the pages, I get really excited when I spot a house or room that sings to me......I can't wait to sit down and really enjoy the magazine, cover to cover, reading and studying every feature.

Recently, however, when I got the May-June issue of Veranda, (and please note here, I LOVE Veranda, and don't remember feeling this way before) I actually felt disappointed, and then actually, well.....sad, truly, sad. (I know, weird....... if you are reading this and you don't suffer the same design disease that I have.)

This particular issue is filled with exquisite design, beautiful rooms in gorgeous settings, all created by excellent, well known designers. Somehow, though, they seem empty to me this month. I don't feel any soul or personality in the houses I see.
This room, designed by the fabulous William Diamond and Anthony Baratta, is a child's room in a beautiful Cape Cod beach house. It is colorful and delightful, creative and clever, but who lives here? Not that toys and books have to be scattered about, but who is the little person who gets to sleep in this fun boat?!

Just today I read about Rose Tarlow over at Habitually Chic.
Rose's book, The Private House, is one of my absolutely favorite design books - one of my design bibles, if you will! I have read it cover to cover and refer to it often when I get scattered and off track, which I do easily.

Habitually Chic quotes Rose - "There are those who spend lifetimes in houses that have nothing to do with who they really are. They may be perfectly designed, yet if they fail to reflect the personalities of the people who live in them, the very essence of intimacy is missing, and this absence is disturbingly visible."

That is how I feel with the houses in this issue - to paraphrase "....the absence of intimacy is disturbingly visible"

Now, granted, the story in Veranda is about how a husband surprised his wife with a re-do of their beach home, working with the two designers they know and trust. (Oh yeah, I'd take that surprise - no, on second thought, I wouldn't, I would have to be involved!) They love the water and the wife collects sailors' valentines. I am not saying the house doesn't reflect "the personalities of the people who live there" - I just can't FEEL it.

Forgive the redundancy, but here is another quote by Rose Tarlow that nails what I am trying to express:

"A house is what we design and decorate to suit an image of ourselves, and a home is what we establish by actually living there. To be at home in our house is ultimately the reward of all the effort and thought we put into that most private process of decorating".

This room, in a Charleston home, is exquisite. Designed by Deborah T. Lipner, it is gorgeous. I love the color of the walls, the lamps and the peek through the window to wonderful, old blue shutters, but it looks like a stage set to me - a very perfect stage set! It reminds me of a room that Joni would love to live in - only hers would be filled with books and art and treasures that reflect who she and her family are.

Is it just me? I love all sorts of design, and can appreciate the off beat, the classic and the finest of furnishings and art............maybe I am just a little "off" this week, but this issue just didn't nourish my soul like most do. What do you think?


  1. I haven't seen this issue of Veranda, but from the pictures you've posted I sense what you are so elegantly describing. The quotes you've shared are so interesting as essentially, we can get all the pieces in place but without love (in design or otherwise!) it all rings hollow!
    thank goodness for good friends!

  2. I understand what you mean, and thank you for the visit to my post about this month's issue. I generally feel that Veranda puts out a very beautiful product, but that most of the homes do not seem very personal. I look for ideas and inspiration from Veranda, and so appreciated the quirkiness of the BNO project.

  3. Well we could always let my three girls into the house for the day and then it would definitely "FEEL" like someone lived there!
    Love your header photo (Is it your house?)

  4. katiedid, I love your perspective and will revisit your post to "cheer me up"! You are right, Veranda does not generally show the personal side of design, at least not to the extent of other shelter magazines like, for example, Elle Decor. Your post on BNO was done so well - clever and smiling and with great detail! Thanks!!

    marie louise, I know what you mean! My girls could give it all a FEELING too! Let's not get crazy here.......

    Yes, my header is the front porch, from a side view, of my home in the hill country of Texas!

  5. I can NOT imagine my husband decorating a house for me.... now that would be something to see !

  6. I know what you mean, I think certainly the whole "personalize your home" message is out there more strongly than ever. But I guess some people just like that perfectly staged room look. Clean, clear and void of a lot of personality. Everything perfectly chosen to make a statement and work in perfection with everything else. Maybe that is their personality? I do know people who love that look.

    I love a little life to a place, when things look NOT decorated or too perfectly crafted. I think it is easy to achieve that perfect look (just throw away everything you have and start from scratch with solids and patterns that are obvious and easy to mix). That look doesn't impress me. To each his own, I guess!

    Happy weekend!

  7. love this entry - hate the Veranda too except for a few things!!! hahaha!!! well, at least I'm not lusting after anything new in this issue!

    great post !!

  8. I loved the latter picture. I have that issue and have looked at that home over and over. The color is so soothing and the lack of clutter lets one breath. It was beautiful, orderly and you knew the person living there had taste and was very classy. Not everyone needs "stuff" to feel comfortable.

  9. So, so stunning. I am thrilled to have found your blog. Fredericksburg is one of my favorite places. We used to travel through there a lot on our way to Austin.

  10. Hill... this goes back to a quote I have used on my blog since its inception, and to a post Mrs. Blandings just did:
    That which we elect to surround ourselves with becomes the museum of our soul and the archives of our experiences... Thomas Jefferson, Architect & U.S. President

    These houses are not the museums of the owners' souls nor are they the archives of their experiences.

  11. Yes, indeed. Totally bland and stripped even though the good bones are there. I got a ghosty feeling in the photos, very monochromatic and no life. Thanks for your insight.
    Sara L

  12. Many many thanks for posting your feelings about this Veranda issue .... and I agree with you totally! Far too cold, sterile and devoid of charm .... more like a movie set! Honestly -- I usually adore Veranda -- so I was so surprised at my own reaction!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  13. I just found you from Life at Home. Your blog is lovely and I ejoyed looking around. I will stop back soon! dana

  14. I totally agree with you and am off to check out the book that you love.

  15. I don't read Veranda and anyone who reads my blog would already have guessed that. That magazine is full of "grown-up no red wine in the living room" houses. These are the houses of people with a lot of money and no personality to create rooms their friends will respect and no one in that scene is going to ever enter my sphere of existance so I don't worry about it. Meh. Money just can't make you smart interesting or creative.

  16. No, it's not you. It has no personal touches, tiny favorite paintings, heirlooms, photos, tchotchkes...
    it looks like a page out of Restoration Hardware or Williams Sonoma Home. But as you said...who lives there? It's very nice, but could be a lot nicer with it's owner's footprint on it.

  17. I'm glad you noted the same feeling I had for this Veranda issue...they're usually such great resources of inspirations but I think I've noticed more direction in the To-High End or European homes and not the realistic objectives I lean toward for my own decorating. I might be from the Hill-Country too, but we have great tastes as well.
    Hope they don't loose their focus.
    Enjoy your Blog info.

  18. Can't agree more. The flip side to this is the formulaic use of certain images to imply "uniqueness". Cdn House & Home went through a summer of "naked children" photos. You know, the "we're so relaxed our kids don't wear clothes" idea .. on every 3rd page!! House Beautiful drove me insane with the "heiress on the table" photos. Domino, for whatever reason, is following in their footsteps. So the question is: Do you think it's overzealous stylists, or do people really have so little personality to contribute to their homes that magazines are forced to either strip them bare, or rely on cliches?

  19. Where ARE YOUUUUU????????????????????

  20. Just stopped by to say hi. Hope all is well with you and yours.

  21. Thanks for your recent comments and to "anonymous", I must say, WHO are youuuuu??

    I have been out of touch and running in a million different directions, but am going to try to post something tonight. Thanks for asking! It is nice to be remembered.

    To High Tea Command - I know what you mean about the different phases magazines go through. I don't know exactly what it is - maybe a variety of reasons, that some features are more personal than others. I don't necessarily want to see a photo of the people who live in a house. I just want to see some of their personality in their decorating. However, there are those who pay a designer to create a beautiful interior and they just want to live in it and enjoy it. I get that - it just isn't very satisfying to me to read about.I just read something that Stephen Drucker said about House Beautiful not photographing their homeowners - I am going to look for it and maybe post about it - thanks for the inspiration!

  22. 100% agree. (It was House & Garden I meant to write in regards to the Heiress on Table shots. House Beautiful is innocent. Oops.)
    I feel the same about the personality issue. I understand the desire to have someone create something beautiful to live in - we could all use help. But I honestly think a truly talented decorator or designer should be able to create both beauty and meaning. If they design with a client in mind, and it's not just a statement piece, the room should still speak to who lives there. With or without their presence in the photo. N'est pas?

  23. high tea command - you nailed it! Would you write my blog for me?!

    Seriously, "beauty and meaning" ....... designing a house that "speaks to who lives there"! You said exactly what I have been trying to express! Thank you!



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