"Amazing"? Maybe for a Pulte Homes neighborhood model.
That's what House Beautiful has become - stuck in dated trends and uninspired interiors.
When Newell Turner took the reins four years ago, I was hopeful we'd see the venerable magazine move away from faux-painted McMansions and cracked-out Diamond Baratta projects. And for a while we were treated to creative, colorful rooms filled with covetable pieces.
Then came the questionable monthly series and oddball features, like the unabashed grab for advertising dollars with the paint color swatch articles (Hello, Benny Moore and Sherwin Williams!) and "What's on Your Vanity?" (Come on over, Estee Lauder and Lancome!). I can't be the only one squicked out by the monthly "I Love My Bed." I have zero desire to see the spot - no matter how incredibly decorated - where various and sundry designers snore, drool and fornicate.
Gorgeous, but don't black light it.
For every brilliant turn, like the Quadrille founders' Maine summer getaway, there has been the beyond bizarre Southampton house of the McMillen ladies and the deadly dull home of the design development director for Pottery Barn (Oh, hello again, potential advertiser!). If you told me the latter was from this month's Better Homes and Gardens, I wouldn't bat an eye.
HB's website is a pop-up ad nightmare of deep-thinker pieces like "12 Designers' Dogs on Christmas Morning." I understand that High Number of Clicks = Increased Ad Rates and who doesn't love a dog in a Santa hat, but Soleil Moon Frye's Favorite Holiday Gifts"? Really? Really?! Other recent "Wait-what?!" posts include the declaration of Moroccan rugs a "Wild Design Trend of 2013," "The Actress Who Takes Paint Cues From Her Toddler," and "Jessica Alba's Tip For Bringing Color Into Your Home Office." HB is no longer aspirational, it is slipping into a down-market mash-up of Good Housekeeping and US Weekly.
In late 2012, Turner was named Editor in Chief of Hearst Design Group, a position overseeing the creative direction of HB, Elle Decor and Veranda. He remained HB's editor and began to lighten his tremendous work load by assigning guest editors. Except that editorship goes hand in hand with authorship, and having a magazine with so many differing points of view makes for a messy read. Though the world traveler vibe of Chesie Breen's issue was inspiring, the Charlotte Moss-helmed November issue gave us one of the worst HB covers in recent memory:
Those flowers - DIDon't.
Next up is guest editor Sara Ruffin Costello, the Russell Brand of the shelter mag world, who will no doubt be giving us the February, uh, love issue. Coincidentally, that's the month my subscription runs out.