Western Interiors

What defines a Western design? If you guessed antlers mounted on a wall, take an extra $50 out of petty cash. Certain Hollywood types may love PETA, but Barclay Butera, a designer to the stars, favors the au naturel look in his Utah apartment. That's assuming, of course, that slicing and dicing wildlife constitutes organic. Happily, the antlers were "naturally shed," though what makes them wall-worthy is beyond me. Otherwise, just throw in earth tones, lots of wood and a coffee table the size of the average Manhattan studio, and you're good to go.

That's the purpose of Western Interiors & Design, which has a new cover look but the same editorial mission: showcasing, in the words of its editor, "the best, most innovative interior design and architecture coming out of the trend-setting western region." In large measure, it succeeds, thanks to gorgeous photography and straightforward prose.

Plus, Western Interiors offers solutions to design questions in "The Idea Book" section. The mag asked a panel of designers and architects for their professional recommendations in 16 key categories, including cabinetry and hardware. This could also be called, were I in the sales department, classified ads. The cool bit: there are green, eco-friendly tips in each area, which is clearly the wave of the future.

Another trend, at least in Western World, is uncluttered design, whether the structure is a five-bedroom home in the Texas Hill Country or a loft in Santa Monica. It's pricey, pardner, but serenity doesn't come cheap. I can't think of a better way to de-stress than to jump into the pages of this magazine, much like Buster Keaton hopped into a film in "Sherlock, Jr." Movies have always sold fantasy; if you need the print equivalent of a quick escape, peruse WI.

One caveat: the black-and-white leafy wallpaper on page 97 sent me reeling -- same for the drapes in the bedroom. I had to grab the Vicks VapoRub. Still, I liked the distressed furniture, which was called "in need of painting" in my childhood. Today's discard is tomorrow's antique.

And sometimes, yesterday's animal is today's ottoman. Not! Actually, the Los Angeles-based design company Postobello used a faux-crocodile-covered ottoman in a living room touting more shades of white than I knew existed. The fur pillows are probably faux mink, meaning, you don't look PC, but as Bette Davis blared in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" "you are Blanche, you are."

Designer Jennifer Kates dubs the room "elegant and sophisticated but very casual and livable." I'd agree. She adds that kids can "jump on the furniture," which is where I draw the line. First, it's white. Second, jumping is an outdoor sport. The place where, no matter the activity, my mother worried we'd put somebody's eye out.

However, most parents have less qualms about kids acting out in hotel rooms. And here's a great one -- Scottsdale, Arizona's Hotel Valley Ho, where, in 1957, Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner held their wedding reception. This is desert modernism in all its mid-century splendor. Thanks to an $80 million restoration, the 194-room Valley Ho is reclaiming its fabulous '50s style. The story chronicles the hotel's history and details its transformation. The Michael Graves bathtub could house a small family.

If this is what the West looks like, we should all be in migration mode. The terraces alone would make God jealous.


Published By: Western Interiors & Design

Frequency: Bimonthly

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