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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Can you be less awesome?

The New York Times yesterday asked if we as a country are "over-propped." The article posits "the self-consciously styled home has become almost commonplace," spurred by aspirational shelter magazines and design blogs. "[M]illions of Americans are now 'amateur stylists - scrupulously attending, as never before, to the details and meanings of the design and décor of their homes, their clothes, their appliances, their meals, their hobbies, and more.'"

Good. Lord. This photo nearly makes me want to give up on life.

A helpful slide show gives ten examples of overly self-conscious decor items. They include books arranged by color, vintage typewriters, Edison bulbs, terrariums, monogrammed towels, taxidermy, Le Creuset cookware, bar carts, vintage fans and fresh flowers, above. (I have to disagree with that last one.) My own list would include "kicky" bergères, brightly-colored leather poufs and those ubiquitous squirt-gunned color field paintings.

Fess up, Dumplings, how many of your home decor pieces are on the NY Time's list? And what are your thoughts on this Pinterest-fueled race to the bottom of individual expression?

For a primer on overused home props, see Fuck Your Noguchi Coffee Table.

Photos: 1. Drew Kelly for The New York Times, 2. Trevor Tondro for The New York Times.

How to Tell When You're Over-propped [The New York Times]


brismod said...

I'm not ashamed to say my orange Le Creuset fry pan makes me look like a better cook than I am. And now that they have phased out incandescent light bulbs in Australia, an Edison bulb is almost an illicit thrill (I have two).
Great article. I will be editing my interiors accordingly. xx

Raina Cox said...

brismod - Yeah, I'm not sure what's so overwrought about great looking cookware. I'd take piece of a Le Creuset in a heartbeat.

Kare said...

Who cares what the NyTimes thinks. If playing with your house and any of the things on their list make you happy then that is great!

Modern Country Lady said...

Being a greedy cook, I really can't cook very well without a Le Creuset style kinda pan-the cast iron type- but a type called Le Chasseur will do as well at a heck of a lot less money.I plead guilty on the taxidermy in the past but only because I went to an auction and no-one wanted a lamp with a red shade and a base made out of a deer's foot.Yep I know- the whole auditorium went "Aaargh"- so I bought it, feeling sorry for the deer who died for this monstrosity- meaning to bury the lamp.In all my moving around to other countries it is, I fear still at a former parner's abode and probably still not buried.I hope this will not be held against me- the good intention was there.I am all for fresh flowers but as they are so stinking expensive in the UK I usually go for some nice branches of shrubs or stuff from the wild unless my better half buys me some nice peonies, lillies or whatever.

Leith said...

My mother-in-law gave me her Le Creuset stew pot. It's great for chili. I wouldn't have gone out and bought it on my own.

I've got nothing else on the list. But isn't such a list just the other side of the coin of comparing yourself to the Jonses - not wanting what they've got versus wanting it?

Jessica said...

Interesting! I see their point. It'd be nice if some people put a little more personality into the Pinterest-inspired ideas they copy. But I still can't help but wish a large majority of my friends and family would read MORE about decor. I'll take "too awesome" over "literally no thought went into this" or "all of this furniture came from my parents' garage" any day.

Nataliya said...

I dream of upgrading my cookware to Le Greuset. Plan to start collecting these as soon as the kitchen reno ends. Overall I like my little blog world of design. But truth be told, in real life, I'm the odd one out. Noone (in my real life) gets why choosing the right gray is important. Or how we can dedicate so much time/effort/money to upgrading our home.

Maybe the article speaks only for a portion of the society.

EAC said...

Guilty of one Edison Bulb infraction. The alternative would be a frosted bulb in a moravian star lamp. Just No. And really, the New York Times makes an excellent cage liner for people with parakeets, but is not useful for much else, except perhaps as packing material for some new Le Creuset.

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

Wow, who woulda thunk that of all the items mentioned above, the Le Creuset would dominate the discourse!

I have several pots my mom handed down, and I'll cop to occasionally wishing they were in a more streamlined black or cream color way, as opposed to the bright orange and red. And yet the food tastes just as fine ;)

As for the over-edited house phenomenon, I blame Domino entirely. I spent several years lovingly building up vignettes throughout my home. The subsequent years were spent tearing them down glossy coffee table book, by book.

Artful display is just that, an art form. It is lovely when the objects in a home tell a story, but overly self-conscious attempts at self-definition through store-bought, table-top pantomime can be jarring.

When it comes to Pinterest, well, I'm stumped by that phenomenon myself. It reminds me of scrapbooking, only easier and even less interesting.
Occasionally I stumble across a photo of my home or some of my personal belongings that someone has pinned off the blog and it always causes me a little bit of mortification and distress. It begs the question, are we all guilty of oversharing these days?

Cheers, Alcira

David said...

When we're done with our kitchen I won't be displaying my Le Creuset, but only because my enormous vintage bowl collection needs all the room =)

I don't get vintage typewriters unless you're a writer or something. There is nothing wrong with nice towels (un-monogrammed for me please) and fresh flowers.

Kim@Chattafabulous said...

Happy to report I have none of the items on the list in my own home, except the flowers, and they're a no-brainer. However, on the FYNCT I must confess to having an antler collection displayed. In my defense, I've had them since the 90's and I still love them. They're sculptural and from nature (and I didn't kill them, they were all found at antique markets).

Gabrielle | Savvy Home said...

Whoever wrote that article is a little jaded. Ok so I'm not a fan of vintage typewriters, Edison bulbs, taxidermy or vintage fans but seriously, who cares if we have fresh flowers in our homes or style our bookcases? Are we suppose to just give up on décor because everyone else is doing it?...

Besides, I happen to like quality monogrammed towels, Le Creuset cookware, and bar carts. So what, shoot me.

Keri said...

Just because something is in a magazine doesn't make it bad, but those in the know seem to get really jaded seeing the same things over and over. My engineering brain doesn't leave room for a lot of creativity so I have to look elsewhere for inspiration. And while things might be done to death in magazines, blogs and pinterest, the vast majority of people in my life don't look at any of it so they just think the choices I've made in our home are cool. And I'm ok with that. It is better than the alternative that I see everywhere else - off-white walls, beige carpet, beige furniture.

Keri said...

and for the record…I'm not ashamed to admit I have a bar cart (which we use, a lot), one piece of le creuset (for cooking, not for display), 1 light with Edison bulbs, and 1 monogrammed towel that was a lovely wedding gift.

Robin said...

Whoever styled that bar cart in the NYT slide show should be shot. There is no liquor on it!

KC said...

I have 40-year old Le Creuset that I use all the time.

We have vintage fans because my MIL never threw anything out. The blades are brass and they work well. We bring them out of hibernation in the basement and use them all summer long - they are not decorations. They are a lot better made than the plastic ones sold these days. I am interested in the Dyson pedestal fan but won't be buying one anytime soon because of the cost.

Love your blog.

Tara Dillard said...

Inherited my gramma's orange Le Creuset, way too long ago unfortunately.

Never liked the orange but love/love gramma. It's used but never 'on display'.

What about a list for the landscape? 2 plastic chairs, weber grill & a mop.


Chimmy said...

totally disagree with the bar cart. some of us don't want to hide our vices in some hideous liquor cabinet.

and i'm with robin, that's no bar cart... it's a drink caddy.

alcira... i'm probably guilty of pinning your digs. i've always liked mood boards, inspiration boards, so pinterest is where i can hoard without having a crazy number of rags all over my house :)

(okay, maybe i still have quite a stash)

daydream believer said...

"Good. Lord. This photo nearly makes me want to give up on life."

^ That killed me.

The article has a point. Just spend 15 minutes on Apartment Therapy.

Interior Design Musings said...

OK, a bit of a backlog of reading to do on your blog, Raina! I've been off the net for a bit. I have laughed so hard at the link to the blog you mentioned. I think I'm going to be sore tomorrow. Also, I loved reading all these comments! Some made me laugh just as hard. All the confessions!! hilarious. What happened to surrounding yourself with things that make you happy because they make you happy. Who cares what everybody else thinks. BTW, could not be more thrilled that you are back at it, my friend. I did not realize how much I missed your take!!! M.

A Perfect Gray said...

loved this one, raina. In the Times piece, I'm busted only by the bar cart; tho FYNCT calls me out on several levels. that was way too much fun. donna

SHERRY HART said... "So what.....who cares"?