Gimme Good Shelter

Susan’s inspiration pic in Tuesday’s post about Ve’ahavta must have planted a seed because when I saw the photo above by photographer Eric Piasecki in the latest Elle Decor (June 2013) it instantly brought to mind the fan-back chair below featured in a recent Listings List post. The chair has a certain appeal, fussy and not fussy all at once and for $50 it’s a great deal if you’ve got the right kind of room for it.

The top photo — interior design by the inimitable Steven Gambrel — would be the right kind of room. And I’m simply not seeing enough of them on the magazine racks lately. Truth be told, I’ve gone completely off shelter porn, like an addict whose drug of choice stops working. May 2013 represented an all-time low; I stood in front of the magazine stand flipping through title after title and opted to buy nothing, not a single issue. It was the first time since I started blogging five years ago that I walked on by, no Elle Decor, no House Beautiful, no AD, no House & Garden UK, don’t even get me started on the Canadian titles, I haven’t bothered with them in years.

And it makes me wonder, has my passion for interiors cooled? Have my standards been jacked too high? Mostly, I see a lack of taste and sophistication, too much trend and not enough staying power, interiors that feel like they’ll be here today and gone tomorrow. I’m not interested in magazines full of “today’s hot looks,” I want something I can really sink my teeth into.

Fortunately, the latest Elle Decor features lots of tasty spaces, beautiful, well-considered rooms that hang together and make me wish I could work with a real budget on a real space for a client with real taste and trust. Where once I came home with four and five magazines under my arm, this month I have just the one; it’s better than nothing, I guess.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013 by Chris
This post was written by - who has written 846 posts on styleNorth.

13 Comments For This Post

  1. BenS Says:

    I’ve gone a bit off the Canadian titles as well. I actually like a lot of what I see, but too much the same, which starts me wondering whether anything I’m looking at will elevate itself beyond a temporary trend. Vogue Living Australia has some great stuff in it though, and as you mention, Elle Decor.

  2. Rob Says:

    Since Cobi Ladner left H&H and was replaced by Suzanne Dimma, the interiors they are showing are increasingly pedestrian and uninspired. I remember the thrill I experienced several years ago when my house was featured. Now, I’m not sure I even want to submit the photos of my new house for consideration. It’s lost it’s magic.

    However, I think AD is better than ever! I think that Margaret Russell is doing a bang up job! I still savor each issue. Elle Decor has not slipped either since she left.

  3. Eya Donald Greenland Kotulsky Says:

    I hear you, brother. If I read one more article in a decor magazine on “must haves” for spring/summer/fall/winter, I swear I will set the magazine on fire. Ditto for any article that contains the words “good bones” (immediately followed by “gutted it right back to the studs”) or “blow out the dormer”, “pop off the roof” or “pop out the windows”. Newsflash: roofs do not pop off and windows do not pop out, unless there is a hurricane. There is way too much sameness in decor magazines, and none of the tension that comes of an artful mix of older, newer, industrial and domestic. My final beef: those High/Low comparisons between a $7000 item, a $700 item and a $7 item, wherein the lowest priced one comes from IKEA and was made in Bangladesh by somebody else’s kids. Nothing Swedish about that!!

  4. Sue Says:

    Elle Décor is the best and the only game in town! Sue

  5. Monique Says:

    I hear you on this one. For myself, I am happy to read old editions of Metropolitan Home. They still hold up.

  6. Suz Says:

    Absolument! Agreeing with the sentiments above et al. I blame HGTV. They’ve been force feeding a style hungry generation of Canadians with long lines of credit and short attention spans.

    Old age and style will always triumph over youth and a payment plan.
    Alas it is a bandwagon world.

  7. Mary Says:

    Yes, magazines are all starting to look the same – everything is oh so sleek and contemporary. Anybody who’s cool and hip know that sleek and contemporary is where it’s at, right? If I hear “I prefer clean, modern lines” one more time, I’m going to go beserk.

    I’m not inspired by many magazines these days either and prefer books for my fix.

  8. Claire Says:

    Do you remember Nest magazine? Now there was a wonderful magazine. Oh, Nest…I miss it so much! I got really into interiors magazines in the 1990s through a magazine named Casa di Abitare, by the brand Abitare. It was thrilling to me–the features were incredibly unique. The only magazine that does it for me anymore is Elle Decoration UK edition. (Not Elle Decor!) Okay, and maybe House Beautiful. I’m a subscriber to both, but my heart is still subscribed to those long-gone titles from back in the day.

  9. Chris Says:

    Wow, I’m obviously not alone in this gripe. BenS, I’ve tried Vogue Living Australia but I can’t get past the graphic design, which is too busy by 1/2 for my liking. I wholeheartedly agree with Rob that Architectural Digest has roared back to the fore under Margaret Russel with only the rare dud issue. But I do think her departure from Elle Decor has hurt the mag a little, Michael Boodro isn’t quite up to the task. Stephen Drucker’s departure from House Beautiful had a similarly negative impact on that title. I have been happily surprised by occasionally excellent editions of Traditional Home and Living Etc.
    Suz, I think you’ve nailed it with your comment and I am in total agreement. Claire, I will give Elle Deocration UK another look, certainly I think the European titles are at least a year ahead in terms of style direction. And Monique, I hear you, I too still miss Met Home, it was one of my faves!

  10. Mary Says:

    Does anybody else miss Domino?

  11. Renata Janiszewska Says:

    Have you tried The World of Interiors, published from London?
    The give me tremendous enjoyment in looking at colour, pattern, texture and eclectic international locations.

  12. Bev Says:


    You might find some inspiration in some of the monthly issues at


  13. Jen Says:

    Loved that Gambrel room too, he’s one of the few designers I’m still excited about. And hear you on the blahs for shelter mags recently, Chris.
    Have to echo Renata, try The World of Interiors for eccentric spaces, if you can put up with the old money privilege on display (although glancing at the Aug 2013 cover, there’s one of those $12,000 crystal galleon chandeliers that deserves a trend retirement.) Or NYSD?
    Another good fix is simply to up the socializing – I love visiting friend’s homes and scoping out their decor!

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