Of course, it helps to define what we mean by "New York." Safe to say, we're not talking Buffalo -- not that there's anything wrong with it. But shelter magazines tend to be parochial in their reach -- and the moment New York is uttered, that corridor usually extends from Tribeca to the Hudson Valley. Say what you will about designers. They may be wildly adventurous when it comes to throw pillows, radical extremists about ambient lighting. Mention geography, however, and their vision, like Paul Wolfowitz's understanding of appropriate labor relations, narrows.
It does, though, extend to Connecticut. On the theory, I expect, that lower Conn. is really upper New York. The Nutmeg State has many virtues, but when it comes to names, it's a tad precious. Take Cricket Hill Gardens. Not, you'd admit, the pride of the shtetl. On the upside, the nursery revels in the beauty of Chinese tree peonies. Another out-of-city boon: the restored 1926 Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ, with its Moorish elegance and Italianate details. New Yorkers, like people everywhere, value convenience. An hour's ride outside the city is a day in the country; Albany is a schlep.
Also, I was impressed with the "Welcome" page because it sports a nifty piece of furniture from the Transit Museum. It's billed as an "inventive ode" to the NYC transit map, which means it's a thin metal chair that's probably hugely uncomfortable but eye-catching. Or, to borrow a phrase from childhood, it's a "conversation piece," a term that covers a multitude of design sins.
Whereas the "Portfolio" section has a host of objects, including a J Schatz egg bird house that benefits chickadees, wrens and smaller birds. I wouldn't know from wrens in Greenwich Village, though I once had a squirrel eat my air conditioner. True story. And if you've priced them, you can understand my impulse to puree him, had he not destroyed the motor in an attempt to build a condo for his family. Live and let live does not extend to nature when the temps hit record highs.
Mostly, New York Home concentrates on home versus people, who, when it comes to art direction, just clutter up the shot. In all honesty, the mag functions largely as an advertorial. Adding actual ads may amount to overkill. Yet the sleek cranberry-colored Scavolini kitchen ad boasts equipment I can't identify, but would create envy in key friends, which, let's face it, is part of the bonus of affluence. Giving to charity, important. Economic schadenfreude, priceless.
I was equally smitten with the meadow-colored Lalique vase, though I would nix the dandelions cut into the crystal, a little too low-rent for such a high-priced product. Would an iris kill them?
Still, there are some stories that make me smile, in a raised-eyebrow kind of way.
For instance, I love the young med student's one-bedroom apartment, which uses purple as a defining color to calming effect. It takes the concept of graduate digs to a whole new level. One caveat: it doesn't look like the home of any resident I've ever met. Usually, they are filled with books and weeks-old newspapers. And rarely, if ever, does future doctor/golfer spend any extended time there. But if Donna Karan went to med school, this is what her place would look like.
That's half the fun of such mags -- part fantasy, part artistry. But who OK'd the army-camouflage print on the chairs and curtains in the mudroom? This is a little too Berkshires meets Baghdad for me. So much for gimme shelter.
But my favorite faux pas was in the med student's bedroom. Forget the excessively "romantically carved" headboard, which I would slug a "mood killer." Artfully set on the bed is an open, oddly shaped book and a cup and saucer -- on a white spread. Leaving practicalities aside, atop the book are glasses. Not reading glasses, sunglasses. Now, I'm all for playing let's pretend, but reading is sacred. Save the rose-colored glasses for where it counts -- in life.
Published by: Hour Media