I’ve shared that one of my guilty pleasures is watching House Hunters with Mr. Magpie. We love to poke fun at the formulaic show (the people on it must be coached / fed lines — that or every other adult on the planet uses a set of idiosyncratic phrases that I somehow never learned, like “soaking tub” (why not just “tub?”) and “craftsman style” (which I now know, but — how does every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the show have a grasp on architectural styles?)) and put on our judge-y hats (“ew, they went with #2? so hideous!”). One theme we commonly return to in our sardonic commentary is the ambient style of our times. About 9/10 couples on the show cite the following must-haves:
+An open floor plan concept
+A “gourmet” kitchen (*Mr. Magpie always grimaces at the word ‘gourmet’ here)
+Stainless steel appliances
+No formal dining room
Of course I understand that home design, like clothing, is subject to trends. And I am a particularly willing (guilty?) accomplice to those trends, as I shepherd them through this blog. I like the idea of my home, like my duds, looking fresh and new and fashionable — so I, too, am drawn to the currency of the all-white kitchen with a marble slab countertop. But I am also aware that in about 10 years, stainless steel and butcher’s block and white cabinetry will look very…passe. “Ugh, that’s so early oughts,” our children will say to each other, in much the way we turn our noses up to the heavy pine wood kitchens and frosted glass and brass/gold hardware of the 90s. (Also, like every bathroom sink had this kind of faucet.)
Mr. Magpie is more able than I to live above the trends. He’s the same way about his clothing — I think he’s worn the same “style” since he was about 4 years old, and it involves corduroys and oxfords and thick sweaters in the winter, and khakis and polos and boat shoes in the summer, and nothing ever looks dated. He’s long been unconvinced by the “open floor plan” concept. Don’t get me wrong — we’ve enjoyed the open concept in our last two homes, but he’s been known to say: “I don’t mind the idea of a dining area separate from a kitchen, and a kitchen that’s closed off by doors. There’s something nice about being able to cook in private, and serve a dinner without the din and chaos of the kitchen in clear sight.” He’s also much more flexible on kitchen style. In our last home, the cabinetry was sleek and modern but a sort of cherry wood color — a far cry from the stark white so en vogue right now. It worked well against the sleek silver hardware and dark granite and deep foggy blue of the walls. (BTW, paint color pro tip I picked up from an interior designer: you should never be able to identify the color of the walls with one word. The color should always be hard to explain: “it’s sort of a bluish-green?” “somewhere between a peach and a yellow?” “gray with a tint of green?” If it’s too on-the-nose, the color isn’t sophisticated and will make the whole room look too too.) I do agree with his assessment of a separate dining room — I like the idea of entertaining away from the kitchen, where the mess and occasional stress of last-minute prep is enclosed and out of the line of sight. And, I like what it suggests about dining, too: that it should be a separate and special activity in its own space. Mr. Magpie and I have been guilty of eating too many meals in front of the TV, but we’re hell-bent on ensuring that mini eats at a proper table now that she’s getting old enough to appreciate the ritual and significance of it.
But, as with everything, I’ll take a little of Column A and a little of Column B. I’m no purist. I like the idea of being au courant, but I also appreciate tradition. Mainly, though, I revere the aspects of home design that reflect the way we like to live our lives — that are functional and aspirational both. So in an ideal world, I’d love an enormous kitchen and oversized pantry to accommodate the amount of cooking we do, but a separate and formal dining room (maybeeee with like pocket doors or something that you can slide open to the dining room?). And, you know, I’m flexible on the kitchen style. Doesn’t need to be all white or stainless steel for that matter. Our current apartment in New York has a white fridge and, you know what? I much prefer it to our old one because it’s ultra wide and we can slide entire cookie sheets in or, as is currently the case, a whole turkey dry-brining, without any issue. (In Chicago, we’d occasionally have to store oversized food outside…)
Thoughts? What aspects are most important to you?
Also, 10 picks for today.
Pick No. 1: The Lucite Coffee Table
And speaking of ambient style: lucite and acrylic have been mainstays in the trendy bloggerina home decor category for a long while, but with good reason: it adds an element of airiness and modernity to even the most staid of living areas. I’m considering it for our coffee table in our new apartment in an effort to add a little liveliness and airiness to our living room, which otherwise has a lot of wood, brown, gray, etc with a few pops of orange and green for good measure. See below for inspiration:
Some pieces I’m considering:
+My top pick. I love the generous length.
+Tied for first, and much less expensive.
Pick No. 2: The Electric Toothbrush
I’ve used a manual toothbrush forever and always, but am very intrigued and possibly sold on the effusive reviews this Philips toothbrush has received ($178). I also love the design of Quip toothbrushes, but would probably favor the strong reviews of the Philips one first!
Pick No. 3: The Brush Cleaner
I’m guilty of letting my makeup brushes go a little long without a proper cleansing. I’ve long used this spray, which I like because it’s easy to apply directly to the bristles and then wipe off into a tissue, but I recently discovered this little doo-dad ($5) and think it will make the job much easier.(Alternately, you can place this mat directly into the base of your sink and rub them against it!) This stuff also gets incredible reviews, even though I believe it’s intended for paintbrushes! — and I definitely need some of this for my beautyblender, which, incidentally, remains my favorite tool for applying makeup.
Pick No. 4: The Bow Shoulder Blouse
An easy, fun, inexpensive way to liven up your weekend wardrobe ($29)!
Pick No. 5: The Cable Knit Sweater
I’m telling you — you will never regret buying a cable knit like this one in a versatile color ($98). As perfect with trendy sneakers as they are with traditional Chanel flats. Also love this chunkier turtleneck style.
Pick No. 6: The Jeweled Hairbow
Pick No. 7: The Eyeshadow Palette
I’m pretty sure this eyeshadow palette was custom-made for me ($49). I love all the colors, but especially those neutrals, which I’d wear at daytime and then amp up with a little bit of the dark color in the crease of my eye and along the lash line for a little nighttime look.
Pick No. 8: The Dyson Blowdryer
I can’t legitimize its purchase, but this blowdryer ($399) is supposed to be NUTS. In a good way.
Pick No. 9: The Black Tight
I love a good pair of black tights in the winter. Cases in point:
Pick No. 10: The Floral Dress
Similar to the chic pea in the snap immediately above, I love this well-priced floral dress ($118) and would style it exactly as she did!