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Sunday, March 1, 2009

A dirty shelter magazine secret

Desire to Inspire.

Do you know what makes me absolutely crazypants? Besides white subway tile in a kitchen and zebra-skin rugs. Overly styled interior shots. The British are NOTORIOUS for this. Always an artfully arranged throw, usually accompanied by a classic handbag on the floor.

Sometimes they mix it up with a messenger bag and a sweater.

Or an open magazine.

Or a laptop (someone's hard at work!).

Hard at work, properly accessorized, and ready for a cup of tea.

Oh, some sassy Sex and the City wine-drinking girl fun happening here!

I'll let you in on a little magazine secret. The super-tight vignette shots are totally fake. They are not real homes. Well, it may be someone's house but it's being rented out for location shoots. The magazine agrees to showcase certain items or products from an advertiser in exchange for a set amount of paid ad space.

Stylists haul loads of furniture and accessories to a location and set up highly styled vignettes. The photographer then snaps quick, hot, and dirty interior porn. So when you see photo credits for Conran or Selfridges or Designers Guild, flip through and count the ad pages.

Odds are the magazine had to pony up extra to be able to paint the fancy design on the wall, then had to re-paint it white. Notice the empty curtain rings on the rod? Whatever was hanging there clashed with the featured products.

Country Homes and Interiors.

This stylist has relationship problems with her emotionally stunted mother. A woman who never gave her cuddles and threw her blankie away in a dramatic episode at age three.

And don't even get me started with slips/dresses/bathrobes in bedroom shots. GAAAAHHH!

All photos from Living Etc., an unrepentant repeat offender, unless indicated.

Update: I received the following email today (03/04/09).

Hi Raina,

Your blog was linked in a post on one of our forums, so we could see your comments on our styling. Could you post a reciprocal link at the end of the blog, where you credit the magazine, so people can have a look at some more pics in our gallery? We don't mind people using our images, as long as it directs them back in our direction at the end.

Thanks, and happy bag hunting:)

Kind regards

Sara Norrman
Managing Editor
Livingetc

[Living Etc. photo gallery]

20 comments:

Kate said...

Without a doubt , us Brits are a pretentious lot. The last bedroom is a horror, its a terrifying place for me to imagine myself in, silver and florals and slip dresses and country cottage, flippin heck I'd rather be in a boozer in a NZ jail.
Confused? I must have been away from home too long.......

M said...

Ooooh your so right!

Here in the Netherlands we have the famous shot of a woman sitting on a sofa drinking a cup of tea and reading a magazine while her childeren ( whom she met an hour before the photoshoot true a casting agency) are playing on her crispy white sofa eating chocolate cookies........

The stylist who came up with that should be locked up in a small room for a week with 5 childeren, a white sofa and 50 pound of chocolate.

Sol Kawage said...

ahahahha thanks Raina, I truly needed a good chuckle this morning.
However, I have to admit that Living Etc is my favorite shelter magazine.

hello gorgeous said...

But they sure are purdy.

My favorite is when they say they just found the chandelier in the basement. Oh, wait. That's HGTV.

BTW, I'm inventing zebra-printed subway tile. For kitchens only.

Yana said...

wow, the bag and random cloth thing is well overdone. I wish I had that mirror though...

and tell hello gorgeous that I am in need of a backsplash in the kitchen...I really think the zebra tiles would be HOT.

Melafrique said...

valid points but good for inspiration.

Raina said...

Welcome Melafrique - love love your gorgeous photo!

Designers' Brew said...

Wow... #1 and #3 even look not so much "lived-in" as straight up sloppy!

Designers' Brew said...

HG, somebody beat you to the punch:

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/dc/hot-or-not/hot-or-not-animalprint-bathroom-tiles-078018

Raina said...

Got dayum, NerF! Those top two photos make me tingly all over.

The rest of it notsomuch.

erin@designcrisis said...

I don't even like to let guests into my house when it looks that messy. Who leaves glasses of red wine on the floor, just waiting to get kicked over, anyway? Probably that same person with 5 kids, chocolate cookies and a white couch.

Still laughing over the empty curtain rings... that photo makes this post a hall of famer.

susieq said...

So funny! Drives me crazy too. Can't tell you the number of times I mentally Photoshop out shoes, glasses, throws from Living Etc. images.

sherri said...

agreed.

nkp said...

Ooops, did I open up a can-o-worms? And thanks to you, every interior shot I looked at today all of the sudden had a screaming throw and designer handbag in it! Who'd a thought! I guess I just ignored the "accessories" and was too busy devouring the furniture...agreed, "stop the madness!" ;0)

*TRUFAX* said...

Not all Brits are guilty. World of Interiors doesn't have such hackneyed styling. I think the Livingetc stylists just don't have any other ideas - proof is the number of orchids which appear, like there are NO other flowers or plants? Every issue of LE looks drearily similar.

hmstrjam said...

i do love that pitcher of milk though!

Raina said...

Hello *TRUFAX* and welcome! You are so right about WOI. That magazine sends me into delirium each and every month.

woodley park-zoo said...

I totally have garments and bags on chairs, a laptop open on the dining table, and clothes hanging on the hook in the bedroom. Am I over-styled? Don't worry, I know the point you're making is the inauthenticity here. Some of those seem much worse than others, like the strange angle on the tulip table with the open magazine.

*moggit girls said...

Yessssssss. You took the words right of our mouthes....

Back Garage said...

I. love. this. post! You just made me love my own apartment more -- in fact I want to do a photo shoot here that shows the real "haphazards": untidy electrical cords, dust bunnies and dead plants. And I love how, even while taking them to task, some people are still nervous to rail on a design magazine. "Oh, yes, but... still such great inspiration." Bah.