Author Archives: Michelle Jones

More Color Coming in May’s House Beautiful Magazine

house_beautiful-2010-05.jpgThough House Beautiful magazine’s May 2010 issue isn’t billed as a color issue (Martha Stewart Living magazine‘s May 2010 issue is), color is the first thing you’re likely to notice about the cover. The cover photo is of an L.A. apartment living room whose neutral palette is dotted with splashes of color–throw pillows, peaches, art.

The issue is actually called the “Big Advice Issue,” covering little decorating tricks and secrets that “nobody ever tells you about,” but there is an undeniable dollop of bright, spring-like color in almost every spread.

In the monthly “Color” article, 12 color experts discuss “unappreciated” shades, ones we’ve come to avoid or disdain. They suggest taking another look at peach, for example, or mauve.

I, for one, am delighted that Farrow & Ball paints is touting a shade called Pigeon 25, a “cross between gray and green.” Exactly. I have a skirt and blazer in just that shade. It can be accessorized as gray or green, travels well, is business-like yet comfortable, but I digress….

Getting back to the colorful May House Beautiful magazine, it’s probably purely coincidental, but even the “Instant Room”–a page resembling a design board with swatches of fabrics and a drawing of a room featuring those elements–boasts a full-color drawing. (Note to editors: This makes it much easier to envision the finished room.)

Meanwhile, the featured interiors are awash in color: orange linen curtains paired with a rug in wide blue and white stripes; cobalt pillows in a room with “Ming” green walls.

Color is also applied liberally throughout the text of the issue. Why aren’t more designers doing that?

By the way, since this is in fact the Big Advice Issue, you might be wondering what kind of advice is dispatched. It ranges from things to keep in mind (good fabrics for dining chairs) to suggestions (replace bathmat with rug) to products (an oil for hardwood floors).


Real Estate Reading

kiplingers_july2010.jpgBefore readers can follow the moving advice offered in recent Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, they’ll likely need to buy or sell their current digs. Fortunately you’re covered there as well.

In the May 2010 Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine (the same issue with the advice on moving), the “Living” section was mostly about buying a home. In one story, Kiplinger’s staff writer Thomas M. Anderson discussed his D.C.-based search, from crunching the numbers to first-time buyer’s credits beyond the (now expired) federal ones.
Anderson also made a point that house-seekers who are fed on a steady diet of HGTV might need to consider: namely that tiny, less-than-perfectly constructed places stuffed full of “stainless and granite” aren’t the best buys. (Don’t get me wrong, I looooooove “House Hunters,” especially episodes set in Paris, London, Rome, Berlin. Sigh. I also loved “What You Get for the Money” and “National Open House.” HGTV, are you getting this?)

Getting back to Kiplinger’s, the May issue also included “Kip Tips” on negotiating closing details (date, costs, etc.), foreclosures and short sales.

Great, but what about selling your current place? Well, two pages of Money magazine‘s “100 Smartest Things to Do With Your Money” feature were about selling one’s home. Tips included hiring a professional photographer to shoot your house, following up with open house attendees, and convincing your agent to accept a lower commission.

The selling advice I liked best, though, was in Kiplinger’s April “Living” section: “Buyers are on a blind date with your home,” the story reads, “and they want love at first sight.” Succinct and evocative; perfect.


Springtime via Real Simple Magazine

real.jpgAh, spring: time for allergens and deep cleaning. No wonder it’s my least favorite season. Yet, in the world of Real Simple magazine–represented by the simple beauty of Stephen Lewis’ cover photograph–spring is a refreshing time of renewal.

If anyone can make cleaning seem less tedious, and truly beautiful, the editors at Real Simple magazine can. (I know, I have a copy of the book, Real Simple Cleaning–it looks gorgeous and I plan to actually follow the tips one day….)

In addition to the usual assortment of product and procedure tips, the spring issue–which happens to be the 10th Anniversary issue–addresses health in the “Numbers to Live By” section with information on body mass index, glycemic index, cholesterol, etc. This “guide” is a helpful nudge to those of us who need some motivation to kick-start fitness plans that have been languishing since resolution season.

All this was fascinating, useful, interesting. But what delighted me most was a page of recipes for asparagus! I developed a fondness, an appreciation really, for asparagus during a fellowship year in Germany.

During Spargelzeit, asparagus season, the whole of Germany seems to be overtaken with a zeal for this vegetable matched only by the veggie-craving children in those fantastical Hidden Valley commercials. I remember window and floor displays in stores, recipes in newspapers and magazines, special menus at restaurants and a particularly catching commercial jingle (“Thomy, hier kommt der genuss”).

Meanwhile, my favorite asparagus recipe? Simple (real simple): wrap it in bacon!


From Frontline to Good Housekeeping

goodhousekeeping.jpgTis the season of graduations and with many people thinking about college, some of the personal finance magazines are running stories about paying for it. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, for example, has a story on college savings plans in its June 2010 issue.

But a piece in Good Housekeeping magazine’s June 2010 issue caught me eye.

Written by Barry Yeoman, the story discusses for-profit colleges, particularly the difficult time some students have finding jobs and thus repaying student loans after graduating from the schools.

For-profit schools have come under the microscope lately, with pieces in the New York Times and on a May edition of PBS’s “Frontline.”

Yeoman’s piece in Good Housekeeping magazine follows a similar line; titled “The School of Hard Knocks,” the story is illustrated with images like that of a diploma going into a shredder and coming out as dollar bills in strips.

In keeping with the magazine’s target audience, this story on for-profit schools focuses on women, an apt theme given that Yeoman says 64 percent of the three million people attending these schools are female.

House Beautiful Magazine’s ‘Color’ Commentary

house_beautiful.jpgI grew up with House Beautiful magazine: My grandmother, mother and aunts subscribed to it for decades (and I love diving into their personal archives). I recently rediscovered the magazine–lured by the February cover–and I feel right at home in its pages.

I particularly love the monthly “Color” feature in the openers section.

Each month, Christine Pittel asks 12 designers to weigh in on a color issue. In February it was painted floors (which yielded surprisingly bold choices); in March it was various shades of blue. (March, in case you missed it, was the “blue issue.”) April covered suggestions for painting south-facing rooms (lots of pastels and neutrals).

OK, I actually hate painting. I really hate painting. But I love color theory.

And I love House Beautiful magazine’s presentation. The colors are presented as small, rough swatches that show texture and brushstroke–a great way to get an idea of what the paint will look like on walls (or floors). A couple of accompanying photographs illustrate suggested color schemes.

Though other presentations of paint are also effective–Better Homes and Gardens magazine‘s March spread of paint can lids, for example–there is something about the clean arrangement of text and graphics that make this section pop.