Thursday, 14 October 2010

Better Homes Than Yours

I have bought Living Etc magazine. I do this occasionally and it is invariably a mistake. Normally if I buy a home magazine I buy Your Home, in which the Homes look – and I say this carefully – as if a normal person has decorated and perhaps had a bit of building work done, then gone on a spree around Home Sense: i.e. they mostly look achievable, and what my house might conceivably look like if I made a bit of an effort. The homes in Living Etc are not achievable and it just depresses me. They normally have one of the following:

- A woman with 5 children under 7 whose home is absolutely white, with a white Terence Conran suede sofa. ‘No it isn’t impractical!’ she trills, brightly. ‘You just have to be organised!’. Somewhere in the house is an antique tailor’s dummy with a silk dress from Alice Temperley hanging from it. It is subtly conveyed in the photographs that the children have all passed their Grade 7 Oboe, are the most popular children in their respective peer groups, and enjoy eating broccoli.

- A couple who taught themselves to be electricians and builders while working full time jobs as Barristers/ Senior Television Executives, and thus renovated their house in Notting Hill on only £500 and a Heal’s gift voucher from Daddy.

- A man who gave up his job as a Barrister/ Senior Television Executive to make pointless things out of reclaimed wood, instantly brought in the equivalent of his previous salary, and has hand carved his kitchen out of an old crate. Which he found at the side of the road. And he has also adopted the cat he found sitting in it.

- A woman who ‘sources adorable little things’ from flea markets in Paris and has a display of manky little bits of lace above her bed, along with a framed shoe from when she was a child. Somewhere there will be a winsome line from a winsome poem stencilled on something, and a chest of drawers that she has distressed with sandpaper and the application of dabs of white paint. I am trying not to gender stereotype with this one and if I ever see a man in Living Etc doing the same I will come back and edit this post.

Anyway, this month there is a woman who lives right in the middle of Borough market and ‘just loves the bustle’, and another woman who has put lots of balls of wool in a big glass vase ‘to make a colourful display’. Readers, I do not think that woman can be a knitter, although perhaps I have overlooked the decorative possibilities of that ball of turquoise fun fur I never quite know what to do with. So I am going to quietly put Living Etc away before Partner finds it and makes fun of me (Partner calls such magazines ‘Better Homes Than Yours’, after a magazine Marge was reading in The Simpsons), and I am going to go and wash up, then read my catalogue on tiles. Tiles! Who knew there were so many different kinds! Shall I be let to sleep,/ Now this perpetual morning shares my bed?

(By the way, I’ve got another interview tomorrow, with Heloise Toop, who is a Cambridge artist who paints the most fantastic portraits – so do check back ;-) ).


CraftyCripple said...

I feel all accomplished now. I have a glass vase with my scraps of yarn in it. But for me it was because I couldn't think of anywhere else to put them and knew if I threw them away I would instantly develop holes in all my hand knits. However my glass vase is in the garage cos we stalled with doing up our lounge when finally got the sofas back in. That was in August 2009 and I still have no pictures or shelves up, but I do have a very pretty fireplace.

Susie Jefferson said...

I threw my Christmas baubles artfully into a glass vase (mainly because I was fed up with hanging them on the tree - by the way, they looked totally crap, unlike the softly lit photo in the magazine...). Said vase now has some fairly good fake flowers rammed into a pile of stones and pebbles (same vase) which saves washing the vase out and trying to remove the nasty residue.

Hence my token effort at Living Beautifully actually matches the wallpaper (clagged on over the unremoveable woodchip: genuine 60s and solid as a rock).

How did I achieve this miracle? Ready-mixed wallpaper paste in a giant tub, which is way stronger than mixing it yourself, applied with a roller both to the paper AND the wall. Rats to messing around with steamers and paper-stripping solution. I've covered it up, the plaster on the walls is still on the walls (I doubt it would have been if we COULD have removed the bl**dy woodchip which I think will outlast us) and I saved a lot of frayed temper and other upset. All done in one day! Magic - and it looks perfect, too.

Susie said...

Crafty Cripple, you were ahead of the time with your glass vase! (But they wouldn't have had you in Living Etc because you can actually knit and your yarn has a function. You would not have been pointless enough for them ;-) ).

Susie, I admire beyond words your dealing with woodchip in a day. Your room sounds lovely. I wonder if someone should start a campaign to make woodchip a desirable original feature? Also pebbledashing because I have got that as well. And to make ground elder a fashionable plant because then I would have a hat trick.

Marushka C. said...

Your description of those beautiful home magazines is too true (and very funny).

MoominMamma said...

Hey Susie!
I thought it was about time I checked out your blog - which I love and it makes we want to sew and knit, niehter of which I do very well at all. :p
This post made me laugh.
I must admit I sometimes crack and buy myself a glossy magazine be it a design one or fashion and I always regret it! My life will never be like that, and I should stick to buying Metal Hammer which is full of darkly clothed people and fabulous music which is exactly how my life is!
Kath xx

Susie said...

Hello Kath! Yes definitely stick to Metal Hammer, that sounds much more life affirming than Living Etc!

I have read it again. There is a man who has designed his bedroom so that you walk into it and think 'hmm. Luxury Hotel'. Whereas you walk into mine and think, 'hmm. Fold your laundry, woman'. I may have a life but I do not think I have a lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

this cracked me up:) so true. and this post reminds me of martha stewartish things...ugh! :)

Vivianne said...


Lori Green said...

The scary thing is that there are actually REAL people like those in Living Etc. They frighten me. :-)

Susie said...

And here they all are:

I, however, have had a quote for a new bathroom today, and will not be joining them any time soon. As well as making woodchip a desirable original feature I am going to start a campaign to make dodgy grout one as well (I nearly typed that as 'grot' and that says it all, really).