July 08, 2002
The Reluctant Design Student

The irony is not lost on me that while Mike and Matt are debating books about the punk-rock past, I am worring about light fixtures.

Strictly speaking, I am not worried about specific light fixtures. I am worried about my lack of knowledge in general about light fixtures, which I fear will result in some future embarrassing incident at Home Depot.

My light-fixture anxiety, however, is part of a larger issue. Now that we "own" a "home," as many people put it, I have been fretting intermittently about how to decorate.

I confess: on my own, I am not very effective. I don't want to spend too much money, but I don't want anything cheap. I don't like our current blinds, bathroom fixtures, etc., but I don't want to give up my Saturdays to shopping for new ones. At times, I wander around furniture departments, from Marshall Field's to Pottery Barn, fingering things, but I don't want to make a commitment.

Meanwhile, Eric's many records are largely inaccessible in cardboard boxes. Our living room is an eclectic mix of Grandma's furniture and dumpster chic. There is a light fixture in the kitchen that looks like it was salvaged from the Gorton's fisherman's ship. We have towels that date back to the Reagan era.

And this is a good place. Not like the ones that came before, with holes in the bathroom wall and pipes that oozed brown goo.

And so I ruminate.

I am going to whip out my checkbook one of these days, for real. Until then, I have compensated for my indecision by decisively buying shelter magazines.

Unfortunately, "Angst-Ridden 30something Afraid to Spend Money" does not seem to be a widely recognized demographic for shelter magazine publishers. Far too many specialize in "country clutter" kinds of motifs that I have no use for, ever. (I don't know why "book, magazine, and music clutter" isn't more popular.)

Can't relate to Elle Decor, which always seems to feature homes with pools the size of my back yard. Dwell and wallpaper offer freakish parades of Manhattan lofts, not exactly applicable to me. On the other end of the spectrum are the do-it-yourself magazines, from Martha Stewart Insider Trading--whoops, Living to This Old House, where I start with making a stylish umbrella stand and end by putting in new floorboards.

A coworker used to give me House Beautiful now and then, and this one came closer to meeting my needs for a while. However, I see that recently Hearst has given the present editor the boot and replaced her with someone from Traditional Home.

The New York Times quotes a Country Living editor who comments that the previous editor was perhaps too "uptown, stylish and over the top." Whoa! I can see how this would be a problem. The new editor, in contrast, is "understood by middle America." By the little old ladies in Peoria, maybe? Sheesh.

I'll hold off on that HB subscription for just a little longer then, I think. Not sure a "traditional home" is what I'm looking for either. I'll show them all and subscribe to Architectural Digest. And continue haunting the furniture department at Field's, waiting for that next big sale.

Cool sites, regardless:

About.com does a decent "How to Read Decorating Magazines."

Designzine.com, "the online newsstand for design," which doesn't seem to be updated anymore, alas.

Interior Design.net is more of an industry publication, but still interesting.

Posted at July 08, 2002 09:20 PM

Hi Anne!

I recently picked up a copy of "Small Room DECORATING," an expensive but poorly produced magazine featuring myriad blurbs on the wonders of storage units, which are, thankfully, very popular these days.

It actually reads a lot like a Hustler's Barely Legal (maybe you are familiar because you are in publishing). By this I mean to say that all the content is very flowery and superficial and enticing, with lots of alliteration and maybe 5 different nouns in the same paragraph refer to something like a "container."

At any rate, you might like it, but probably not.

Posted by: sabrina on July 12, 2002 08:08 PM
Post a comment
Due to the proliferation of comment spam, I've had to close comments on this entry. If you would like to leave a comment, please use one of my recent entries. Thank you and sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Email Address:



Remember info?