Monday, June 29, 2009

No! Not that kind of vice!

Shelter magazines. Friends and family will agree, they're my vice of choice. An incurable habit. The thing I spend so much time and money on, I don't even want to think about how much time and money it would all add up to. But, see, there's this: I don't smoke anything. I don't drink much of anything. (Although, if you hand me a margarita, I will drink it. And the next one. And the next one. So it's a good thing I don't live in a Mexican restaurant.) I don't own too many shoes. I don't collect coats or expensive handbags. What I do own, hoard, subscribe to in embarrassing numbers are shelter magazines. Not surprising I suppose, considering my current profession. They're actually a necessity. Now. But this vice? This addiction? It goes way back. Before design school. Before home-ownership. Back to when Architectural Digest was a to-the-trade publication. What are my favorites, you ask? (I'm pretty sure I heard someone ask) Well, let's see. Until a few months ago, I would have said my all-time personal fave was Cottage Living.

Thanks to my hoarding tendencies, I have every issue!

But this crazy economy has caused too many great magazines, like that relatively new one, to close.* Not enough people spending their money on home decor and improvements to support the advertisers who supported the publishers. So even more senior, well-respected industry favorites like Domino, Country Home, House & Garden, and Home are gone now too.

Two kind of quirky titles I purchased at the newsstand more times than not, Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion and Martha Stewart's younger, hipper spin-off Blueprint, were a lot of fun but they too are no more.

Yes, some of my favorites remain. Veranda, Elle Decor, California Home+Design and Southern Accents top that list.

And I wouldn't know what to do without the range of inspiration I find in Traditional Home, House Beautiful, Metropolitan Home and Western Interiors.

Recently, I even crossed the border and found a couple of fine replacements for some of what was lost. They're doing the job quite nicely too.

One each from Canada and the U.K.

But the one I'm most grateful for, the one I've read continuously since high school, is still going strong. Better Homes & Gardens. Thank goodness (and Meredith Publications) it's remained so popular. Ok, maybe not "popular" like a celebrity or the homecoming queen. It's not known for being the most stylish or artful or cutting-edge. But it's real. And it's comfortable. Like your oldest and dearest friend who would never make you feel dumb for not knowing what a fauteuil** is. Reading BH&G doesn't feel as much like homework as some of the other titles I use for research and inspiration. Even so, since the closure of so many, this magazine has really stepped it up design-wise. Take a look at these images from recent issues:

Pretty great, right? I think so. And where else can you find inspired decorating, region-appropriate gardening guidelines, parenting advice, health and beauty tips and ten recipes for potato salad all in the same issue? I don't know. I don't need to know. Because I have my old friend BH&G. And all of her little sister "special interest" publications like "Decorating" and "Beautiful Interiors". Curled up on the sofa with a stack of BH&G's to page through feels the same to me as watching a favorite old movie for the fifteenth time. Cozy, comfy, reassuring, familiar. So I guess I'll call this old friend my "new" favorite.

Left to right, top to bottom: covers from 1926, 1958, 1973 and 2009

Tubbs and Crockett image from my own personal stash of memorabilia. (kidding)

*If you are a design blogger or have been reading design blogs for more than a few months, you know that the subject of "dead magazines" has been discussed everywhere by everyone. But I'm new here. And I'm still not completely over the fact that I won't find the current issue of Domino or Country Home or Cottage Living (!) in my mail box this week. Or ever. And that makes me sad. So give me a break. Thanks.

** A fauteuil is a fancy French armchair of the Louis XVI era, very similar to the more commonly familiar bergere but much more difficult to pronounce. Five different vowels in one eight-letter word?!

NOTE: After writing and scheduling this post, I learned that Western Interiors was also closed a couple of months ago. Bummer. But no longer shocking. Also a bummer.


Love Where You Live said...

Hi Tracy,
First, thank you for stopping by my blog. It's good to know you're here. And, secondly, thank you, thank you for such a wonderful post. I'm a field editor and really want and wish everyone would support what's rapidly becoming a scarce breed. The shelter magazine, that is! We all need to buy . . . support them. Or more will close. Bravo to your vice (and mine, btw). cheers-s (p.s. we share the same affinity for margaritas.)

FrenchGardenHouse said...

What a great post! It's nice to know I am not alone with my magazine problem. I too, am trying, in my own little way, to support our decorating magazines by buying each one I don't subscribe to. :)
xo Lidy

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

Thanks for leaving such a great comment on my blog and you have a great blog here...don't be a stranger.

for the love of a house said...

I so miss my Cottage Living and Country was always such a treat to find them in the mailbox. Thank goodness I have all the back issues...

Anonymous said...

I too am a magazine fiend. My new love is Southern lady. Check it out if you haven't. Love your little bit of blog land.

Karen Eileen

Maya said...

I love this post. I guess I covered all of the magazine you mention (have to check again)..., meaning they are listed on my blog and many more. I'm enjoying them online (only)...