We all love to look at magazines, but it would be really hard to live in one. Forget the fact that you’d have to be two-dimensional. The real problem is that you’ll be making at least five pretty big decorating mistakes if you lived in those magazine spreads.
- Not enough lighting. Did you ever notice that most spreads of beautiful rooms don’t have many lamps? That’s because unless the magazine page is actually an advertisement for lamps, they clutter up the picture, including those danged cords. So lamps are removed and instead, there is usually a photographer’s light kit slightly less blinding than the sun shining onto the framed shot. In reality, to get comfortable lighting that takes you from morning to night, through the gray days of winter and cloudy days, too, an average room will need three to five lamps at different levels (floor-level, above the shoulder, and overhead lighting).
2. White/light furniture. All white furniture looks great in a magazine! And I actually don’t have a problem with it for living, either. (Check out my all-white sofa and chairs that the kids and cat sit on every single day.) No, the problem is that highly stylized white rooms are great for magazines, but some people just love color. If you want that peacock-blue chair, go for it! Craving color? Then ditch the white and mix it up. Don’t get bullied into the minimalist look if that’s not you. There’s even a term for people who love to decorate with a riot of color: maximalist.
3. Eliminating family photos. Magazine spreads are visually simple, and often they are selling or at least featuring the latest products. In order to draw your eyes to where the photographer and magazine editor want you to look, they’ve often removed family photos from a photo shoot in a real home. But your family photos might be exactly what makes your home feel like you! Perch them. Hang them, Scatter them, Group them. You can have both a room that feels designed and finished AND a room that features your best memories.
4. Creating a junk room (to hide all the stuff that isn’t in the photo). Have you ever read some of the blog posts that go “behind the scenes” of the photo shoots you are admiring? All of the day-to-day items got removed and thrown in the hallway or guest room, far away from the photo area. Even in some of the most beautiful homes we are honored to work in, the homeowners often have a room that they allow to get totally trashed, where all the odds and ends go, rather than actually deal with discards on a daily basis. Instead, we help our clients set up a donation bin, or schedule regular pickups, so their whole house is lovely all year long.
5. Buying useless accessories. Do we really need orbs? Shouldn’t a pillow be both beautiful AND comfy? Sorry, sequins do not belong where I intend to lay my head. Art that you never get around to hanging? Vases that never hold flowers? I know farmhouse-style is all the rage, but what exactly do we think is going to happen to those candle lanterns after they sit on the front porch all summer? Most people will throw them out after just one season, once they become dirty or rusty (most can’t easily be painted). You’ll find all of these in magazine pages, but it doesn’t mean they are right for your home.
We’re becoming more savvy about what social media does to our self-esteem…it’s not a good thing. Comparing your body, your home and your life to what you see in magazines can be dangerous. Magazines have been around forever, but we can still fall into the same trap of following the featured trends, and instead creating decorating “mistakes” in our own homes. If it’s happened to you, you aren’t alone. But as you decorate for this season, you have my permission to follow your own inner decorator and avoid these five mistakes you’ll make by studying magazine pages.