Home

One look at Home, a Hachette pub, is enough to convince me that "home is where the art is." It is more than a place to hang your hat; it's where you take refuge from the world and, if you're very lucky, escape to a black leather LaZBoy with a G&T and a hypnotic view of the ocean. Or, as Kermit the Frog was fond of singing, someplace green. At least, that's one of my resolutions for 2007. The other, far less practical, is finding a political candidate who doesn't dissemble, which is harder than it sounds. Leaders of both parties may disappoint the idealist, but who can go wrong with good lighting?



Which is what Home is all about: giving readers a pictorial guide, often accompanied with brief floor plans, that explains how to enhance a room or house or just the creative options of, say, a loveseat. The focus is on the actual piece of furniture or the house, not the people or pretentious activity that take place within its environs. House & Garden this isn't. This is a classy, user-friendly how-to, including design tips that won't force you to cash in an IRA to buy a vase. The furniture is another story.

Also, and no small thing given its shelter status, the magazine is easy to navigate.

If I wore a hat, I'd tip it to the art director for keeping layouts clean and eye-catching, while using different typeface to illustrate distinct moods. For example, in the story titled "Gracefully Done," she employs a script style and drop caps I can only label chic. And I loved the white space. Often, design books are so overdone, I reach for Advil, not swatches.

The story itself, decorating a 1928 seaside cottage in Sag Harbor that probably costs more than my lifetime income, was interesting, too. By "country" they don't mean Walker Evans' WPA America. The influence is French and Italian rustic; in short, if Juliette Binoche spent weekends in Tuscany, her getaway would look like this. Though whether it would sport a wall sconce that resembles a menorah is anybody's guess.

Also, I learned more about porticoes than I ever knew existed. For instance, I learned what they are: "The covered structures supported by columns that frame a house's entry." They act as a buffer zone between the outside and inside, though the writer lost me when he claimed they doubled as a "switching device, separating your public and private selves." I don't need a $50,000 portico to delineate my private self. As Popeye so neatly put it: "I yam what I yam." So was Scarlett O'Hara--and I'm pretty sure Tara had a portico.

Though it's true I don't usually put my feet up and scream at the TV at work. For starters, we don't have a TV, but I am lobbying for a coffee machine. Note to boss: I'm crazy about the $24.95 Gevalia model on page 15.

Now, I don't, as a rule, shop via magazine. But if I did, and budget wasn't an issue, I'd keep Home's furnishing on my wish list. The rooms are gorgeous, be it dining room, bedroom or a nook to stash your piano. The candelabra on said instrument, however, is a little too Liberace for my taste. He can get away with it; the rest of us can't.

One quibble: the cover. The copy says "Fab," but the photo says drab. That's odd, because there is an embarrassment of riches inside. Still, we learn as we go. And what I learned from Boston-based designer Dennis Duffy is this: In a small room, there is only one star, such as a painting, or, in my case, the new 32-inch flat-screen TV. Yes, there is lovely art on my walls and a 1933 Bakelite radio on the bookshelf, but this is 2007, and technology--and I never thought I would say this--rules.

The bigger, but still tastefully sized screen is a godsend; its predecessor was so small I thought I was going blind because I couldn't read the CNN crawl. Once I could, I realized it was time to switch the channel--to TCM.

Sure it's nice to be informed, but it's better to watch Joan Crawford, in a gorgeous Adrian gown, spar with Clark Gable in a Park Avenue penthouse. The talk is sassy, the décor divine. And I think Home would approve: It's the ultimate in form and function.