Shelter Mag Smack Down: Elle Decor vs. Met Home

On the same day that the news broke of Domino's demise, I received my March issues of both Elle Decor and Metropolitan Home in the mail.  Each Magazine crying out:  read me first! I'm better!  I deserve to survive this dreary economy!  Oh, and how about you renew your subscription while you're at it?  With the passing of several shelter magazines over the last several months, rest in peace, Vogue Living, one has to wonder what it takes to stay alive, and furthermore, to stay on top.  Rather than picking a mag to read first, I flipped through them simultaneously, page for page, I compared these last-men-standing, to see which would survive the battle of the fittest.

While Elle delivers color, PUPPIES!, and lots of Madeline Weinrib, Met Home gives me an arch lamp, KITTENS!, and a light filled, but otherwise dull space.

Cover Challenge winner:  Elle Decor.  While I am more of a cat person, I do prefer all the fuchsia to those drab gray sofas.  The bent-wood chaise is endearing, but a bit to Viking for my taste.

On the left, Elle's table of contents gives us 3 preview shots of upcoming stories, while Met only shows us one.  Met really makes it count though, with that uber-hot gold table on the right hand side.

Table of Contents Challenge Winner:  Draw, not only do these two look nearly identical side by side - perhaps someone's graphic designer is moonlighting? - but even the copy editors seem to be collecting paychecks from both companies:  Met Home headlines with "Capitol Gains," a story, presumably on a DC home, while Elle Decor spoon feeds us "Insider Trading" a slightly more mysterious title but with little variation from the former.

For some reason, I always read the editor's letter in any magazine.  I don't know why, they're never that great and tend to be the editorial version of a beauty pageant contestant's response to her question on current events.  Margaret Russell kills in her letter this time, bringing both praise and criticism to this year's Top Design winner, Nathan Thomas.  Margaret seems to appreciate Nathan's style, but the letter acts as a disclaimer reminding the readers that she would rather set fire to her hair then have his hastily decorated apartment in her magazine, but, well, rules is rules.  Donna Warner talks about the economy (snooze) and a bunch of trade shows she visited that had fabulous(!!!) new items, none of which appear in this month's magazine.  

Editor's Letter Challenge Winner:  Elle Decor.  Mrs. Warner drove a hard bargain posing next to that horse, and, I tell you, it just about tipped the scales, but Mrs. Russell's letter was too good to pass up.

Each magazine gives a sneak peak of the items we will most surely crave in the up coming months, according to Elle, we will want lots of pattern, color and well, pattern and color.  Apparently, Met Home thinks we will want a bunch of crappy stuff painted black and awkwardly framed.  What you cannot see here is that Met Home's "Word" section is actually sprinkled with more variety than Elle's but it's a bit confusing and across the map... soooo:

Trend Spotting Challenge Winner:  Elle Decor.  While I appreciate the variety in the Met Home display (again, not fully shown) I value the clarity of vision presented by Elle just a little bit more.  This was a tough call and I really wish that the horse from the table of contents had been in this section, making my choice that much easier.

Each magazine has a lead story that veers a bit off course from the rest of the edition's fare:  Russell delivers on her promise to feature Top Designer, Nathan, while Warner gives us some brew-ha-ha about prefab houses.  Honestly, I didn't read the article, I already subscribe to Dwell.

Lead Story Challenge Winner:  Draw.  You may remember that Erin and I already covered Top Design ad nauseam, so that was a bit old hat, about as old as, say, prefab housing.

Elle and Met Home each take a tour of the globe bringing us back the most salacious treats our hearts can handle, and will most surely kill to obtain. Elle Decor promises that butterflies are the new black, while Met Home counters with the argument that we will all be causing riots in the streets to get our hands on every possible bit of fuchsia.  (Remember, Fuchsia was all over the cover of Elle, so, apparently, they unknowingly agree)

What's Hot Now Challenge Winner:  Met Home.  Ok, Elle Decor, Butterflies?  Really?  I know that the last butterfly trend was laid to rest circa 1999, so, working on the 10-year-trend-cycle, mathematically, these winged beauties should be on deck, but I have to say, sometimes trend math is wrong and I'd really like to pop those suckers back in the vault for another 5 years.  Met Home, on the other hand, you've read my mind:  I really have been into the hot pink lately.  Pssst, you would have scored double if you'd trash-talked red, currently my least favorite color.

All of our contributors spend hours upon hours to bring us the best pieces of furniture currently in production.  Elle is loving floor lamps this month, while Met gives us a taste of love seats, nesting tables (small space issue) and convertible sofas.

Individual Medley Winner: Draw.  Wile each magazine had a couple of pieces of eye-candy, none were lust worthy and most were on par with an after-dinner-mint rather than a big bowl of chocolate mousse.  

Finally, each magazine dukes it out with their version of decor porn.  First up:  Elle

A few of the more notable rooms from this edition, each are from different homes.  Meh.  While I would probably live in most of them, I'm not really peeing my pants with excitement either.

Next Up, Met Home: 

Really, only a few things stood out to me in this issue:  the mirrored wall in photo 1 (drool) the cocktail table, bottom left (gold!) and the barely visible side-table, bottom right (leather bar!)

Home Tour Challenge Winner:  Elle Decor.  While I would never consider quantity over quality, Elle certainly seems to have both.  I would like each editor to turn it up a notch, though.  You, Me, Erin and the rest of the design blog-o-sphere drop design bombs day after day, most of which induce much more hyperventilation and raised heart rates than these entire magazines combined.  We all know there's so much more out there, so why did I just spend my weekend putting together this post while intermittently yawning?

Yes He Can: A Top Design Story

Alas, the moment we have been dreaming about for months has arrived.  After much nail biting and speculation, the question was answered:  would America be able to elect it's first female Top Designer?  Apparently not.  Wednesday, November 5th, 2008 will forever be known as the day that subversive Nathan spray painted his way to victory.  Did you get your copy of the newspaper? By way of Nathan's win, America stood up and collectively shouted "No!!!  we can not take one more season of traditional design, Preston":

The better of Preston's dull rooms.  Note the Target pillows

The master bedroom that is absolutely, 100% made for sleeping

portfolio shot for job position at Rooms to Go the dining room

Ondine fell just short of victory, which may or may not mean that she now has to take Andrea to dinner and buy her a nice outfit at a posh New York store:

the actually cute girls room that (DRAMA!) almost didn't happen.

It's a shame that they have some intern with a point-and-shoot take these photos, they've managed to completely cut out the largest, and most interesting part, of this space:  the art work which stretched all the way to the ceiling.

Don't you guys feel like we would all like these rooms much more if we had seen them months ago when they were designed?  The time-lapse makes them all seem so passe now.  Oh, and I hate that light paired with the table (too small) and the wallpaper (too underwhelming).

The living room, minus the zebra rug, not so bad

Nathan and stole the show with, ahem, this:

The judges could not stop flipping out about this space and, aside from the groovy sculpture, I don't get it.  Maybe if I were actually IN the space?  I dunno.  I do appreciate that he skipped the formal living room and made a pretty, albeit useless, entryway.

boring bedroom 2.0: now with white curtains!

Nathan almost lost due to the criminally large sarcophagus in the family room.  He did pull at my heart strings a little by recognizing the flaw and not wanting to ask the movers to carry it back outside.  But then again, who carried it out after production was complete?

Clearly the best space in the house (and possibly throughout the entire season of the show) Nathan's dining area.  LOOK!  It's my table!  In white!  Despite how much I enjoy this space, I really can't stand that PAPER PLATE chandelier. I'm all for DIY, it's the reason my broke-ass has a nice home, but really, could you imagine presenting Margaret Russell with a chicken-wire-and-paper-plate chandelier?  You'd have to have ballz (or a ballsack shaped swarovski light) to try to pull that off.  Nathan, you had 80Gs to spend on this house, c'mon.

And finally, the centerpiece of this episode:

Kelly adds 10 years to her age while, ironically, trying to look like a little girl.  I actually like the dress, it's the braids, Kelly.  The braids!

We here at DC headquarters were so excited about this historic event, we even threw a party.  Here are some pictures*

*Election party photos substituted for photos of non-existent Top Design Party

So, there you have it.  Nathan won.  Eddie was mean.  Kelly was crazy pants.  Jonathan's marriage is no longer valid and, praise jesus, I don't have to write about this crap anymore.

editors note:  the part about Jonathan is bologna, get it together California.

YOU'RE a Tranny Ding Dong: A Top Design Story

I'm sorry for the Top Design delay but between work (blechk!), following every minute of this pesky national race between some random senators, and my new obsession with The Pick-Up Artist, frankly dears, I just haven't had time.  But let's not dwell on the past, let's jump right in. This week's Top Design delivered it's own special October Surprise and really was that buzz term we all know so well:  a Game Changer.  After much deliberation, Erin and I both Agreed that the Top Design contestants are actually, well, how do I put it?  Um, Good.  Now, don't get me wrong, nothing that actually happened during the filming of la episode to lead us to this conclusion.  It was the airing of photos from Ondine, Nathan, Preston and Eddie's* homes that gave us reason to reconsider our previously drawn conclusions.

*Eddies apartment was not shown at the top of the hour due to his slated elimination.  And those are the rules of reality TV.  Sorry, rules is rules. Let's have a peak at the Designers in real life.  You be the judge.

Preston's real-life home:

OK, admittedly I am swayed by the HORSE in photo #1.  I've never met a horse-in-a-house that I didn't like. 

Here's a shot of Preston's shining moment on Top Design:

Huh?  The first 2 images could tred water in most design mags, while I'm pretty sure I saw that same botanical bloodbath tonight while I was at Hobby Lobby.  (yes, I really was at Hobby Lobby)

The evidence for the cast and against the production mounts when we take a gander at Ondine's pad.  Buckle up, there are a lot of pictures.  Because I love it.

I currently have my attorneys reviewing the squatter's rights laws in New York to see if I can get my booty in there.  Which begs the question, why?  WHY? Did the Top Design production team force us to accept this as entertainment:

You may remember that it was Ondine who was responsible for the tragic decoupage wallpaper

In my personal apartment hunt today I learned that the internet is, in fact, finite (gasp).  I could not find any pictures of Nathan's real-life pad.  Nathan?  Are you out there?  If so, send us some pics of your joint and we'll post 'em lickety split (I bet we'll even have nice things to say about them)

For now, here are some photos of interiors Nathan has designed for clients:

I would gladly sip cocktails and work in either of these photos (they are not mutually exclusive, right?) so why, pray tell, was I forced to endure this:

Paper plates?  c'mon!  This is the Y2K8, that shit is bad for the environment and this room is bad for my soul.

Finally, even though the TD VD producers undermined our intelligence and ability to spot a little foreshadowing, I managed to dig up some Eddie Ross photos (that dude is everywhere)

(is that the vest he was given as a birthday gift on this week's episode?)

You have to admit, Eddie is quite possibly the best designer for the aging WASP crowd in all of North America.  Hey, that's not a bad thing, those dudes have cash.  Still, his first solo Top Design project looked like this:

I just threw up in my mouth.

And it's the producer's fault.

This entire season I've been saying to myself... UGH!  If I had that project I would do this, that, and the other thing. Turns out, no, no I wouldn't have.  I, like Preston, Ondine, Nathan, Eddie and the rest of the bunch would have been at the mercy of a drama and ratings hungry production team.  No amount of experience or expertise could prepare me to design an entire house in 90 minutes.

So, in an open letter to the Top Design Producers I would like to say:  Why?  Why are you spoon-feeding us these sub-par bologna sandwiches when you could pay your camera crew a little bit of overtime to give a few talented designers an honest chance at making something good?  And please, spare the "if they are true designers they can make anything out of nothing" rhetoric, you know damn well that you're setting them up for ratings-driven failure.  You've invited wonderfully talented judges (we really do love them all, even the guests) to join your cast, people who look at and work on GREAT design on a daily basis, then ask them to find nice things to say about a piss-poor room.  It's a little insulting.  As I have said before, if you give these kids a real budget and a decent time-line (an extra day even), you may actually see interiors that inspire and REAL drama born from the jealousy of the less talented cast. It is you, Top Design Producers, that I am holding accountable.  You're a bunch of Tranny Ding Dongs.

PS.  If anyone would like to see a real summary of this week's episode with pictures and stuff, please visit our lovely (and funny as hell!) friend Cliff in Cliffland