If you are anything like me, you can’t resist picking up a magazine. I scoop them up as soon as I see them, regardless of where I am, and dive right in – devouring the pages, looking for the good stuff, and generally going gaga over the gloss. I subscribe. I acquire. I categorize. And – I confess – I hardly ever throw them out. I also use and re-use magazines in a myriad of ways, and have taught myself a lot by reading them.
Of course, you could lean the other way. Maybe you are the type who can’t imagine cluttering up your space with excess paper, you wouldn’t want to waste the money, or you just can’t find the time. Maybe, you don’t see the purpose of so many pictures, and can’t find anything really worth reading.
In either case, when it comes to creating a comfortable home, decorating and design magazines can be an excellent resource. ‘Shelter mags’, as they are often referred to, are chock full of ideas, information and inspiration. And, if you pay attention, they can provide you truly valuable clues about the kind of home that will make you happy.
That is, of course, if you can get through without losing your mind.
You know what I mean! Design magazines can be hazardous to your health and self-esteem.
Extreme envy and desire. Creative confusion. Analysis paralysis. Design dyslexia. Self-doubt and crushed confidence. Oh, and don’t forget downright dismay at the excess of it all. Each of these leading to overwhelm, indecision, and inaction…aahh!
Make Magazine Reading Worth Your While
There is a better way. You can turn your magazine reading around. Here’s how:
1. Read the magazines. Yup, that’s right. Actually, read them. Sure the pretty pictures are a very attractive distraction, but there is much to be learned by reading the printed word. It’s not just fluffy stuff. Often, there are helpful insights to be gained from editors, experts and homeowners alike, so take the time to absorb the stories.
2. See the big picture. Recognize that magazine content is programmed into editorial calendar. This means you are almost guaranteed to see small spaces in spring, whitewashed cottages in summer, and lots of festive outdoor foliage in the fall. Or, whatever. The point is, unless you’re obsessed like me, less is more. Pick and choose just one or two titles that appeal to your aesthetic preferences – or stick to a season/edition that is relevant to you.
3. Don’t be fooled by the fantasy. Everybody knows that fashion models aren’t representative of real world women. Runway or print, they’ve been dressed, made-up and/or ‘photoshopped’ to create a picture of perfection. The same is true of shelter magazines. They are meant to inspire readers rather than inhibit them, so don’t lose sight of reality when scanning the glossy pages. Do you see signs of everyday life – or adequate storage for normal stuff? If not, be suspicious! The room has likely been styled, re-worked,or otherwise beautified.
4. Take note of the details. It’s easy to flip too fast past the pages that don’t suit your taste, but try to resist the urge. Instead, stop and linger awhile. How are the colours combined? Are there many patterns or just a few? How is the furniture arranged? What is happening in the background – with the architecture, the walls and the floors? What is the effect of sunshine in the space? Are there any historic or geographic influences that catch your eye? Once you’ve deconstructed the design details, do the same with the images you love. You’ll be amazed by the knowledge you can acquire!
5. Skip the trends. Ignore them. Completely. Be brutally honest with yourself, and keep track of only those items or looks that truly light you up on the inside. Bookmark them or cut them out, and keep these images together in a file. Over time, you’ll start to see themes, and be clear. These are the only ‘trends’ worth observing.
6. Apply the styling. While it is true that most magazine interiors have been made to look perfect, the stylist’s tricks can go a long way in giving your place a lift. Study the bookshelves, tabletops, and walls of your favourite photos – and apply the techniques you see to your own stuff. Then, add fresh flowers, a few candles or a bowl full of fruit to top it all off!
When You Do
Big house or small, nostalgic stuff-lover or modern minimalist, feeling at peace and expressing personality in your space are meaningful goals. But doing so does take plenty of effort, time and thoughtful planning.
So, when you’re ready to take your place from ‘nice and normal’ to ‘noteworthy and nourishing’, start with design magazine or two. Take careful note of what attracts you the most, and employ a discerning eye to uncover the clues you need to ensure your environment reflects the real you. When you do, you’ll be far less susceptible to the constant stream of “design news”, and better able to create your very own version of comfort, beauty and personal style.
Image via Curbed.com