In Style Home

While searching for a diverting title at the newsstand last night, I realized that every single May issue of every single publication is about green living. Men's Health links a reduced carbon footprint to an expanded libido. CosmoGIRL! proposes natural-alpaca duvets as the must-have accessory for college-bound teens. Even Playboy elbows in on the action with a "Girls of Greenpeace" pictorial and a glimpse of the newly installed solar-power panels at Hef's grotto. Al Gore, what hath ye wrought?

Eager to get home and biodegrade some styrofoam -- the hard way -- I gave in and grabbed the least noxious-looking of the enviropubs: In Style Home, which looked to be environment-free aside from its saucy tease about "Alicia Silverstone's Eco-Savvy Home." On the cover, the blurb is presented in a light-green bubble, while Alicia herself dons a green blouse. Ooooh, symbolic.

The words that keep her company on the cover tell you everything you need to know about In Style Home. "Pretty," "fresh," "easy," "fun": the magazine positively basks in simple concepts that can be described using two-syllables-or-less adjectives. There's little here that we haven't seen time and time again in home/design pubs -- like the do-cool-things-with-wallpaper story, which is thematically identical to a piece that ran in the April issue of Home.

Still, you gotta marvel at the way In Style makes even the most banal material come alive on the page. Like every other title in the rapidly expanding In Style arsenal, In Style Home traffics in huge photos and warm hues. Most spreads are afforded a tremendous amount of real estate; the few exceptions, like the space-filling product piffle of "20 for $20 (or Less)," make economical use of the pages they're given.

The mag has an uncanny way of making DIY projects seem quite doable, whether by mocking up four variations on a single bathroom makeover or by hyping a company that creates ginormous canvas prints of old snapshots. To this end, In Style Home deserves plenty of credit for including a seven-page, back-of-mag "Sourcebook," which relays copious where/who/how/how much information in readably sized print. Even when the Spring issue ventures into the realm of the silly -- like the ornate "Garden Party" place settings, which seemingly feature everything from champagne flutes to miniature replicas of the Empire State Building -- In Style Home's photographers do a fine job of capturing their color and detail.

Surprisingly, In Style Home sags when it plays up the celebrity lineage of its parent brand. The handful of "Star Shopping" bits (Heath Ledger's so-precious tea cups, Michelle Pfeiffer's pfurniture) distract more than they engage, owing to the abrupt insertion of name personalities. The two celeb home tours/invasions, which feature Silverstone and Nia Long, are far less interesting and creative than the ones that showcase the digs of mere design-world peasants. The mag scores with the diversity of the latter spreads: there's a Hollywood bungalow (lotsa throwback furnishings), a Hamptons cottage (lotsa natural woods) and a big-city pad (lotsa eight-foot-long fiberglass horses).

I have no idea what might be in store for the In Style brand. We already have In Style Home, In Style Weddings and In Style Makeover; I can only speculate that In Style Organic, In Style Garden Gaiety or In Style Celebrity Foodstuffs are next in the developmental queue. No matter what they foist on us, though, the end product is likely to be every bit as fetching and easily perusable as In Style Home. It's perhaps the only magazine brand that can withstand the impact of such aggressive expansion.

Published by: Time Inc.
Frequency: Two issues in 2007
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