Why I love/hate interiors magazines
I have parlayed my yearning for home ownership into reading interiors mags. Clean, crisp pages of Dulux colours and well-behaved dogs sitting neatly at their owners’ feet; a paradise of magic hour and designer fabrics.
I have a love/hate relationship with the contents. Love in the sense that I enjoy imagining who I would be if I lived in those houses. Maybe I am a country GP who inherited the family farm? Maybe I make smart financial choices and own a classic blazer?
Hate in the sense that none of it resembles anything I am, have, or can reasonably afford. The needling sensation of status anxiety plagues me like a dead leg.
Even on my best days when I am carrying a handwoven basket or picking flowers in my garden, there’s always the dog shit I just stepped in or the aphids infesting my roses. My dog would never sit still for a photograph because she’s too busy barking at the neighbour’s cat.
My house is a mouldering, freezing nonagenarian with a former chimney as a pantry, an oven less powerful than a hairdryer and carpet that’s survived world wars.
Yet I still find aspects of this strange old rental more appealing than what I find in the magazines. Page after glossy page of grey, beige and white. Marble counter tops, custom leather couches, statement light fittings and tasteful artworks.
When I read the prices of things, I revel in the shock. An $880 vase! If something seems affordable, I narrow my eyes, suspicious.
But what I have noted, in my many months of dreaming, is that these houses lack humanity.
I know they’ve had stylists through for the photoshoot. I know they can’t look like this all the time. But even still, there’s a blandness that’s like eating children’s food. It’s all fish finger brown and mashed potato neutral.
The hosing-out potential of polished concrete floors doesn’t evade me but where is all the crap? Where are the Monster Trucks and Hot Wheels? Where are the bath sharks and LEGO pieces? Where’s the pile of books, the family photos, the birthday party invitations stuck to the fridge? Where is the ugly-but-comfortable chair where babies were nursed, and the couch with the ass-sized sinkholes?
Where do these people get all their money, and why don’t they buy their own stuff? Are they too busy to pop down to The Reject Shop or Harvey Norman? They all seem to hire interior designers to choose their jellyfish lamp or curate their brass taps.
Where do they put all the stuff they’ve collected throughout their life? The heirlooms and hand-me-downs? The letters, local plumber fridge magnets, granny’s china and plastic containers?
Our hall stand collects flotsam like the Pacific garbage patch. There’s stuff we don’t want or need and yet throwing it out might cause a problem. We don’t know because we don’t throw.
Do these people erase their past, straight into a skip bin? Who are we if we don’t have that weird drawer full of phone chargers, birthday candles and sticky tape? Are we better versions of ourselves? Do we suddenly have capsule wardrobes full of cashmere?
When I put on my TK Maxx cashmere scarf this morning, I discovered that it’s full of moth holes.
I can’t afford a house and even if I could, it would be flawed, no matter how hard I tried to be better.
I’ll try to remember this next time I see geese in a country photoshoot. Geese are hissing, aggressive psychopaths, interiors mags are liars and my house – and life – is true.