Yes, this is a long read, and yes it’s about the You-Know-Who’s. But it says (verifies?) everything we instinctively don’t like about the Fixer Upper effect. The #shiplap hashtags, the national obsession, the gentrification, the whitewashing (literal and figurative), the rumblings of anti-LGBTQ religious stances, the bougie-ness, the very Instagrammable-ness of it all.
And while it’s all about Waco, Texas, it’s also about our towns. (Well, Beacon, cohost J’s town, at least. How about Milton/Marlboro, Rob?) Many towns. Many downtowns in any American city. How do we improve and build even better communities for everyone who lives there? How can we all come along for the ride? Can we do that while having some personal fun and individuality in design???
BTW, we’ll get over the Gaines eventually. It’s just that they, like this article, seem to sum up a lot of the conversational threads of the middle class home/garden/shelter/real estate sphere. We’ll be back to ogling hot gardeners or obsessing over wallpaper in a hot minute.
Cohost J here. I think anyone who has fallen in love with Paris is dying on the inside today. The images of Notre Dame cathedral in flames are heartbreaking. Though the worst-case scenario didn’t materialize and the firefighters were able to put out the blaze before permanent structural damage was done, this is still a punch in the gut.
I’ve been to Paris twice and went to Notre Dame both times–twice on my last trip in 2014. I took a Gothic architecture art history class in college (and almost changed my major because of it) and went gaga over the flying buttresses, the arches, the rose windows, and all the little details frozen in stone, including those famous rain spouts we call gargoyles. Despite the hordes of fellow tourists, once you step inside the doors and wander through its forest of columns, this feeling of wonder and peace settles over you–which is exactly the intention of its design. I am not into the church (lower nor upper case!) at all but the building still gives you that religious feeling, somehow. That bodily response to a cathedral is not unique to Notre Dame (I literally cried at Chartres cathedral’sblue stained glass–design nerd alert!) but ND is literally the heart of Paris. Geographically and spiritually. How far to Paris? The mileage is measured to Notre Dame’s front door. It’s kilometer zero. And as a visitor it can become the center of your memories too.
Notre Dame is so much more than a church. It is more than brick, stone, glass and wood. It is architectural history in physical form. It’s an incomprehensibly collaborative art installation (and yes, it was built using exploitative practices and unholy money and yes I’m still not down with the organized religion thing) that spans the centuries. The wood, stone, glass and brick can be rebuilt–maybe add a little steel this time?
After all, Notre Dame was not a static structure. It changed too, and the process of renovating and restoring it seem to be the likely source of this fire. The lovely super-ornate, majorly Gothic over-the-top (pun intended) spire which collapsed was a nineteenth century addition, after all. Fun fact: it’s a major blooper in Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame! Quasimodo dances around the roof and uses the spire like a stripper pole, but it would not have been there when the story was set!
Anyway. They will rebuild. They were already in the process of reconstructing and preserving it. Designers and architects will combine wood and stone to create something magical. The fire is now part of Notre Dame’s long history. Hopefully what we remember is that buildings and artworks can awaken emotions in us, and they too can be lost. No one died in the fire, thankfully, but those who love that cathedral, for whatever reason, felt like we were watching a death unfold. Through design, our public places and houses–even houses where God lives–can feel like home, and we need to recognize and celebrate them in the now. Before our own history is history.
A good porch swing, I’m down with that. Maybe a funky hanging chair in the corner.
That’s OK by me, because no one will actually curl up in it except toddlers and pets for more than five minutes.
As for indoor hammocks: you’d better have one of those retractable walls and beachfront property, because other than that, it looks wrong. Do you really need to feel air flow beneath you that badly? Or is it the gentle swaying motion you seek? (AKA, flipping over on your ass whenever you try to get in or out of said hammock.)
But alas, indoor swings, hammocks and hanging chairs are trending right now, and it feels like a case of too much. As a novelty, they’re cool. But now they’ll be a ubiquitous waste of money. So, #trendoids, invest in seating for no one (except toddlers and pets) and let us know how you feel about it in two years.
And speaking of things that are super-popular but make us say “Ughk, why? Why are so many people into this? Who’s the crazy one in this relationship?”
This week, news broke that THOSE PEOPLE are taking over the DIY TV network. It’s officially a media empire. I guess it’s the same situation as when Martha Stewart created her own channel and people scoffed. “How can you fill hours of airtime with that one brand?” they said, and they were right. Martha went from over-exposed to joining the cast of Orange Is The New Black (not really, she just looked the part) to Apprentice co-conspirator, and then settled back into her groove. Now she’s doing collabs with Snoop Dog and starring in hilarious promos for Transformer movies and it’s all “a very good thing.” Will the Gaineses have to go to jail for some white collar crime (it HAS to be white, and preferably with shiplap) for us to appreciate them? Time will tell. In the meantime, I’m afraid the Magnolia channel’s slogan will be “do it yourself, but we’ll do the thinking for you.”
Let’s be honest. Most of us have a Love/Hate relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow. Academy Award winning acting. Life in the spotlight. Bougie children’s names. Incredibly fit in her forties. Signature lifestyle brand with the awful name. That whole “conscious uncoupling” thing. It’s often hard to know whether to Tag for Love or Tag for Hate.
Announcing her new offices, Gwyneth stands in front of sleek, blonde-wood bookcases with leaning, lower shelves prefect for highlighting magazines, art, or favorite books. Showcase bookcases in the face of KonMari? Love! The shelves are sparsely filled, prompting her to request recommendations from followers on books on design, food, and corporate culture. Seeking fan input? Love!
That green jumper she’s wearing? Oh my goddesses. HATE!
Round and round it goes. Love? Hate? Love to Hate? Hate to Love? Oh, Gwyneth, you perplex us so. With no end in sight it seems best to just go ahead and employ a Tag for Love/Hate. It’s a mindfully selected compromise focused on equilibrium to reduce stress and help reach optimal wellness. We’re sure it’s What Gwyneth Would Do.
Cohost J. here. It’s Daylight Saving Time Monday here in New York, and it sucks. I feel hung over, even though I didn’t drink last night. It’s a three-coffee kind of day. Yes, yes, all our body clocks and circadian rhythms will adapt and catch up, but here in the worst of it, I can’t help thinking: Why? Why do we continue this pointless exercise?
Turns out, Daylight Saving Time wasn’t really created to help farmers during World War I (or whatever story you were told).
Contrary to popular belief, American farmers did not lobby for daylight saving to have more time to work in the fields; in fact, the agriculture industry was deeply opposed to the time switch when it was first implemented on March 31, 1918, as a wartime measure. The sun, not the clock, dictated farmers’ schedules, so daylight saving was very disruptive. Farmers had to wait an extra hour for dew to evaporate to harvest hay, hired hands worked less since they still left at the same time for dinner and cows weren’t ready to be milked an hour earlier to meet shipping schedules. Agrarian interests led the fight for the 1919 repeal of national daylight saving time, which passed after Congress voted to override President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. Rather than rural interests, it has been urban entities such as retail outlets and recreational businesses that have championed daylight saving over the decades. (Credit: History.com)
Also, it’s not really an energy-saver, either, as we tend to use more electricity to cool our homes later into the evening, thanks to our manipulation of the sunset time.
Those of us who are parents know that one big reason that DST sucks is that it’s hell on kids’ schedules. Our baby was up until almost 10:00 pm last night and naptime was all out of whack. Yes, he’ll adjust too. But again, why are we doing this?
TBH, the “melting clock” above also gets a Tag For Hate. Dali’s original painting: thumbs up. But this (and its clones in every Spencer Gifts since time immemorial) are completely unoriginal. Please don’t buy this.
Inspired by us*, Better Homes & Gardens recently launched a new DAILY podcast called At Home Daily. Though they put out a few episodes since January, they just announced it on their website.
It’s daily, but only two to three minutes long, and apparently meant to be played as part of your daily smart speaker flash briefing. Topics thus far seem to be on their brand but not exactly ours–grandparents, houseplant care, etc.
Part of the reason we started this podcast was to help build a sense of community around home decor, gardening and entertaining using a digital platform. A year ago, they were behind the times (we think) with a definite lack of media projects–a few videos, some slideshow-based web content, etc. We wanted more than that, so we created it. In the past few months, their website has begun posting a LOT more content (regrettably, lots of content recycled from other brands and sites) and now this. So, visible improvements! Obviously they’re making attempts to win the magazine/platform survival war (watch out, Good Housekeeping).
We’ll be tuning in, of course. We wish them well! Though At Home Daily is a also a podcast, our show is entirely different. We’re the outsiders looking in…the readers. And we’re going to keep on keepin’ it real…but on a monthly basis. Speaking of which, did you check out our latest episode?
*totally unproven statement invented by us.
UPDATE: We’ve listened to a few episodes. Not gonna lie…it’s not good. It’s about as dry and void of color and warmth as Rob’s martinis but 1000% less fun. Actually I take that back that comparison because that’s an insult to martinis.
This is the last and final time we’ll tag Chip and Joanna Gaines’ design aesthetic for hate. It’s not that we hate the Magnolia Home aesthetic completely (though it is a bit white on white on white.) To their credit, they have perfected the intersection of farmhouse chic and industrial modern. It’s a look that works in many home and commercial settings. The problem: it’s the ONLY look they offer and its EVERYWHERE.
There’s no doubt about it, “Fixer Upper” was a monstrous hit for HGTV. For many of us, the show had a fresh appeal at its start. By the end of the season one, it was abundantly clear that the Gaines’ would be serving up the same exact look episode after episode. Can you say “shiplap?” The show went on for 4 more seasons! The monotony of Magnolia Home design and décor was mind-numbing. Moreover, “Fixer Upper” came to epitomize the monotonous offerings on home improvement television networks.
Anyone saddened by the end of “Fixer Upper” doesn’t have to go far to get their fix of Magnolia Home. Product lines can be found at Pier 1, Target, and Home Depot just to name a few retailers. (There’s also their higher-end licensing deals (like Loloi carpets). We don’t begrudge them their success (well, maybe a tiny bit.) It is the ubiquitous nature of their design line that’s ripe for hate. Magnolia Home muted off-white tones, galvanized containers, and “salvaged” accents are seemingly everywhere. (And they themselves are everywhere: even the check-out aisles via People and other celebrity news magazines.)
It begs the question: Does a pervasive design aesthetic stifle creativity and individual expression in our personal design choices?
Not too long ago, folks would say “Your living room looks right out of a catalog.” Now, they can say “Your living room looks right out of Magnolia Home.” We don’t think either is a compliment.