Dream Room Goals & How Interior Magazines Shaped My Style
I've lived my entire interiors led life working off inspirational pictures and planning my dream rooms. I have a huge collection of back issues of Livingetc and Elle Decor and a sideboard full of defaced magazines with the pictures cut out after years of creating manual mood boards, prior to the advent of Pinterest. In 2007, we'd pushed our mortgage to the absolute limit (this was the height of interest rates so close to monthly mortgage payment the price of a week for two in Barbados, sort of levels) and bought our dream Victorian semi in Caversham. The house was in fairly good condition but in need of some work.
It had a ridiculously small kitchen on the back for the size of house, as you can see from the floor plan (the breakfast room was entirely separate) and my dream was to knock it into the conservatory and create some huge, glass orangery type scenario with open brick wall and industrial lighting, spurred on by the dream rooms I saw in my magazines. The toilet was colder than holidaying in the Arctic Circle and the utility room (that's the room with no name) had an entire wall of damp and only enough room to open the fridge door half way, plus the biggest spiders seen since the rainforests. Work was required. Unfortunately, these plans were scarpered when it came to light that I had a County Court Judgement from 1996 for a £12.50 debt to The Book Club incurred when I moved house and forgot to tell them. The Bank computer said NO and my dreams of orangery stardom in the pages of a magazine were trampled underfoot. Godammit. We sold the house to two married women who were pregnant with triplets and every time I go back to Caversham and pass the house with the scaffold in front of it, a little part of me grieves for what might have been had I not taken advantage of The Book Club's credit facilities. Sob.
When writing this blog post, I went back to my raft of magazines and it was actually like looking at an old family photo album. I literally used to use the houses that I saw in these pages as templates for my own home - I remembered every single one of them. This was way before Pinterest and any real form of social media. Time flies quickly, but bear in mind that the Apple iPhone is only ten years old this year - ideas for decorating your home back then were very magazine led and influenced. In 2007 I had subscriptions to eight, yes eight, interior magazines. I used to upload pictures of my home to the magazine websites, entering every competition I could. My crowning glory was being voted House Of The Month on the Livingetc website and winning £150 of Rockett St George vouchers. Nowadays the competition would be so fierce I'd have more chance of completing a triathlon or cross channel swimming.
Ah, the memories going through these mags. Both my dining room and sitting room were inspired by the home of Sally Conran from the May 2007 edition. I purchased a Bon Appetite plaque simply to style it the same way that she had. My kitchen inspiration was the home of Mairead Fanning - her IKEA island covered in steel and the white poured resin floor was my absolute dream. This was also where my love for retro and mid century furnishings was sparked. Sheridan Coakley's (founder of SCP) home with it's original Poggenpohl kitchen from the October 2007 edition made me long for a seventies bungalow. I first saw the Togo from Ligne Roset in these very pages and I still scour eBay weekly for this sofa which remains my ultimate dream. And who could forget the White Issue of May 2007 which introduced us to Atlanta Bartlett's calm and serene yet textured neutral decor? These homes were inspirational but also often achievable.
What's also really fascinating going through these ten year old magazines is the fact that lots of what you see is still really relevant. Obviously this isn't true across all spectrums - there's some seriously dodgy wallpapers and some very uncomfortable looking Italian furniture - but some of these homes would still look at home in the pages of the magazine today. I still yearn for gold shelving (albeit mine is very dodgy spray painted IKEA) and I've just hung similar bamboo wallpaper to the one shown in the Texas home of Amy Hovis shown in the June 2007 copy. Without a doubt, kitchens seem to be the one thing that do really date which doesn't help when you are negotiating the minefield of choice nowadays. To me, my navy cupboards painted last year already feel, well, 'last year', although I daren't tell Joe. I'll give it a few months before I break the news to him and get out my paintbrush.
Joe and I, of course, have very different ideas for a dream room. I questioned Joe for this blog post and he came up with the following. His requirements would incorporate a 65" plasma TV (or projector if he could get away with it), huge sound bar with matching speakers, solid pine coffee table with two ledges circa John Lewis 1995, wall to wall carpeting, no cushions or throws and one huge overhead light (dimmer switch free) with no side lighting. The piece de resistance would be a brown DFS leather sofa with electric foot and head rests. He would be happy with just a couple of pieces of art - preferably 1980's Athena style photography, possibly Six Workmen Sitting On A Joist. The other would be Edward Hopper Nighthawks. He drew the line only at Man Holding Baby. And that's why I NEVER allow Joe input into anything decor related.
So how have these magazines shaped my style? Over the years I have lusted after the homes I've seen in their pages. I've incorporated some of the ideas into my spaces and plenty of them have lasted the course. What I have gleaned from my ridiculously huge interior magazine collection is that good design doesn't date. Your style will change, but if you pick pieces that you really, really love then you will always have a space for them in your home.
Last year I created a hashtag called #dreamroomgoals to find out what other people had squirrelled away as their inspiration. It was really fascinating. So many different styles, many more than could ever be put into just one magazine. Which is why social media has been a total game changer when it comes to interiors. Pinterest and Instagram have made available countless sources of inspiration that previously we would not have had access to. We are not restricted to magazine pictures, we have real rooms from all over the World to draw on for decorating inspo. It pushes forward new ideas and individual designs created by people who give barely a thought to what's 'on trend' but who decorate based on how they feel works for them. It's liveable decor.
Last week I relaunched my hashtag, mostly because I wanted to write this blog post and I needed the input of the Instagram community to demonstrate how wide ranging interior design had become and what impact having a zillion photographs to hand at any time had on how we were planning our homes. And people posted in their droves, just confirming to me that I absolutely bloody LOVE Instagram.
So here's my Top 15 and be prepared - no two are the same but every one of them is someone's Dream Room!
So please, keep using #dreamroomgoals. There's nothing more exciting than seeing new design, great ideas and inspirational, often achievable, feeds. Thank you so much, all you lovely people who tagged me in your favourite photographs!