4.04.2010

What would you be willing do for a perfect home?


How hard are you willing to work, and what would you sacrifice for a perfect, "magazine spread" home?  I'm not talking about marrying someone 40 years older in order to be able to hire Nate Berkus and purchase a $20,000 custom sofa (yeah, I'm looking at you Katie Lee Joel), I'm talking about how much time, effort, and cold hard cash you're willing to shell out to make your current home as magazine perfect as possible.  How long are you willing to search for a "perfect" rug, accesory, piece of art, etc?  How much time are you willing to devote to styling the open shelves in your kitchen?  Are you willing to put your appliances away after every use in order to preserve the serenity of your all white kitchen and better show off your backsplash?  Are you willing to enforce a no shoes in the home rule to try to maintain your white painted floors?  Are you willing to fluff the down cushions on your sofa after each and every time you sit on it?  Are you willing to Swifter your dark, dark, I said I wanted them dark, dammit, wood floors everyday to maintain their ebony sheen free of dust?  Would you rather spend your tax refund on a Louis Vuitton purse or a Louis XVI settee?

I've been thinking about this lately, especially after a consultation and presentation to a potential client.  Their home, which they've just finished renovating after Katrina damage, had some striking features designed by the previous owner, an architect.  However, I could tell that wife was not houseproud.  In other words, it was soon obvious that she was not the kind of person that goes around carrying pillows, flowers, and accessories from room to room trying to find that exactly right combination.  (You know you do that.....I know I do).  Her priorites lay elsewhere, which of course is perfectly fine.  However, this lack of real interest in her house created a challanging situation for me as a designer.  Before it was damaged by Katrina, she had moved into the home, added the necessary things to the existing design details, and was happy with that.  Now that she had an opportunity to start fresh, she wanted it to be pretty, and personal, and polished, and perfect.  However, since she's never really been into design, she honestly had no real idea of the time, effort, and money that go into making a house really fabulous.  Even though my design budgets are actually on the lower end of professional design (if you compare design projects to autos, I'm usually working in the range of a higher end toyota with some options---we're not talking a rolls royce budget here), at hearing that one fabric that we wanted to use in a limited amount cost $67/yards, the wife said, "My husband works too hard for his money to throw it away like that." 

That's a valid viewpoint.  But it did make me think of what it takes to make your house fabulous, and how much freaking work it is.  Sometimes I wished I didn't care so much about my decor.   I can't afford clothing AND upholstery, so I wear Target's best while saving for high end fabrics.  But there is a backlash.  I, unfortunately, have an all or nothing type of personality.  I'm either fanatical about every decor detail, frantically decanting my detergent into better packaging, or I'm so bummed that my home falls short of perfection that I can only be bothered to do laundry when the pile of discarded clothing become an insurmountable obstacle to the bed.  I need to learn balance.

And the real irony is, I know better.  I know that magazine homes don't even really look like that.  Yes, they ARE gorgeous, but the photographs are as accurate as a celebrity's Vogue cover  (when Drew Barrymore was on their cover, she was so heavily photoshopped I didn't realize it was her until I read her name....and I still couldn't see the resemblance).  Those rooms have been cleaned, staged, styled (often with borrowed objects), and photoshopped into unreal creations.  Recently two bloggers I enjoy reading, and who both have gorgeous homes, posted about photo shoots in their homes.  Even though the homes were attractive enough to attract national media attention, both were basically transformed with professional stylists and thousands and thousands of dollars worth of additional accessories and furnishings.  The point is, when I look around my cluttered kitchen and compare it to House Beautiful's Kitchen of the Month, I need to remember that HB's kitchen doesn't really look like that.  At least not all the time.

With that said, I think I'm going to go style my kitchen cabinets.  Just in case Stephen Drucker drops by. 

6 comments:

Southern Chateau said...

Great post. Evidently we all run into the same type of people. I think we all need to qualify our clients better. If they don't have some idea or appreciation for what we do and how much things cost, then we need to move on. Like I say all the time, when I am working for someone who is cheap for nothing, I could be spending my time working for someone else getting paid what I'm worth. This person is not worth the effort. Cut your losses and move on. Hope you have a nice Easter.

Kim@chattafabulous said...

I think I am in love with my "magazine home" and often disappointed with the lived in look. Family of 4 with 2 dogs would not make the pages of Elle Decor on most days. Well designed rooms are way up on my list of priorities, but I do have my financial limits as most folks do. The challenge comes in with creating the look you're after in the budget you have to work within. Do what you can & be patient!

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and am really enjoying it! I'm a college student, living in a dorm. Since I'm working in a pretty tight budget, I've had to be creative about decorating. I found old art books at a book fair and tore them apart, rather than pay a small fortune for posters. I spent a day repainting cardboard storage boxes from the dollar store. I did splurge on nice black lampshades for a pair of
$10 acrylic lamps that have a vintage Lucite look.
I'd love to invest in pieces that I can keep for years, but the reality is that decor needs to be the disposable part of my life right now. My resources are going to mostly books, and a bit to a post-college wardrobe, and I don't regret those decisions :-)

Marlo said...

You know, I was just thinking the same thing about how homes look in magazines and what they look like in real life. I've seen pictures of a room, close up shot, and it looked amazing. When I saw the room from a distance it was still nice but not as stunning. And here I am going crazy trying to get the magazine look.

I will spend a little extra to get something I really love but not that much extra. I'm on the search for a coffee table and the one I love is $6000.00! I just love it but way out of my budget. I'm looking for a similar look for less and won't buy anything unless I really like it.

By the way, I've been checking your blog since February for new posts. I hope you have time to post more often.

Visual Vamp said...

Great post Mitchell!
You are a very good writer!
You know I work on my house, but it's pure fun and pleasure.
I stopped trying to make it magazine worthy, because now it is blog worthy ha ha.
I just try and make it a Vamp, Alberto, and Cholo worthy home LOL
Keep up the writing!
xo xo

Visual Vamp said...

Great post Mitchell!
You are a very good writer!
You know I work on my house, but it's pure fun and pleasure.
I stopped trying to make it magazine worthy, because now it is blog worthy ha ha.
I just try and make it a Vamp, Alberto, and Cholo worthy home LOL
Keep up the writing!
xo xo