8.12.2011

Leaving Negative Comments: What's the right approach?


I try to avoid the negative.  And it's for selfish reasons--the more I focus on the positive, the better I feel.  Critiquing other people's work is fun: snark is fun, but if you get too much into them, it's hard to avoid that negativity creeping into other aspects of your life.

Therefore, I normally don't do critiques of other people's work.  It is, quite frankly none of my business.   However, I was recently face to face with a design I hated, the living room on the cover of House Beautiful.  The designer is a major one and his work was deemed good enough to make the cover of House Beautiful, it's really only important that his client like the way the room turned out,  it seems (though we didn't really get enough photos of the room to get and idea of the size and layout) that this was a hard room to decorate, and to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, "The opinions of one little blogger doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world."  And, to be fair, the colors and furniture pieces themselves are lovely.  However, that two chair/ cocktail ottoman set up in the middle of the room is just stupid looking and completely impractical.  While I admire people who can take a fresh approach to a room, I hate it when a design is strictly about "Hey, I'm new and different....nobody's done this before."    In this case, there's a reason for that.

What I think is wrong:  Number one , the chairs and ottoman are described as easy to rearrange as needed for entertaining.  I've worked at a furniture store.  I can guarantee that high-quality furniture of that bulk is anything but "easy to move."  Besides, while I don't mind a little tweaking for different occasions, if you have to continually move furniture for a room to function---something is wrong with the layout.  I also think that the three pieces are very heavy looking.  In my opinion,  better solution would have been a huge pink round about like this one in Windsor Smith's foyer:


Or a small center table and two stools:

I think either solution would fit the space better and be more attractive when the room is not in use.

I've now broken my rule and posted a negative comment, but I feel that any one putting their work up for view in such a public display can take a little criticism.


Letitia Baldridge, Jackie Kennedy's Social Secretary, and etiquette expert.  Love her.

 Where I feel really uncomfortable, though, is commenting negatively on blogs.  What I struggle with is, is it better to take the "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" approach.  Or is that just a cop-out.  (To clarify, I'm talking about discussing impersonal design decisions or criticisms like "that mirror is too small" or "I think that rug is the wrong choice," not "you're ugly, so is your room...and your dog is too fat.").

The problem is that not having a separate viewpoint means that there is no discussion---no matter the actual design features of the room, whether they work or not, everything is "j'adore" and "lovely."  But on the other hand, part of the problem is that a lot of blog readers don't have a design background, so they end up like the celebrity judges on Project Runway.....instead of dispassionately discussing the room from a design perspective, it's all "I would have that room" or "I could never live there."

So since I'm a wienie, I usually just say nothing, though I'm often tempted to take the easy way out...a negative view via an "Anon." comment.  What led to this topic....I see so many blogs with rooms that are the decor equivalent of actress Blake Lively...undeniably pretty, but just as undeniably bland, and almost impossible to distinguish from dozens of others that look just like it.  Those rooms that look like they were (and in reality the probably were  designed from  checklists:  take this rug + this fabric+ this color+ these accessories+ this art= fashionable room.  The result is that it is attractive and on-trend, but has absolutely no personality.  None.

Oh well, at least I don't have to live there.
Ms. Baldridge checking on arrangements for a state dinner at the White House.



3 comments:

Valorie Hart - The Visual Vamp said...

Methinks some crazy zany stylist was the culprit here. xo xo

carla fox said...

I agree....are they selling shoes here? Where are the little floor mirrors;)

Anonymous said...

I have been subscribing to House Beautiful for years and I'm losing interest in many of the layouts........they just don't relate to me..........I don't know if it' s the new editor or what.......but I'm usually disappointed. I have old issues that I go back to often for inspiration. I needed to vent!