Designers Who Yell at Their TV’s

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On Saturday I was enjoying a nice trip to the gym, working up a light sweat while half-heartedly pedaling away on the elliptical and watching HGTV, as I do every time I’m at the gym. I’ve probably seen every episode of Property Brothers, Love It or List it and Fixer Upper at least twice, and I always end up talking to the TV like it can hear me (in the privacy of my own home), with running commentary on tile choices (hideous), furniture staging (that rug is so stupidly small), property selection (LIST IT!!!  HOUSE #2 you big dummies!!!) and how much I love Chip Gaines.  But on Saturday I ended up actually yelling at the TV in public while watching Property Brothers because I forgot people could hear me and I was so annoyed by what I was seeing and hearing involving a renovation budget.

Totally unrealistic cost depictions are a chronic issue with HGTV shows, but this one was exceptionally bad and it made me so frustrated.  Jonathan and Drew were claiming that a full gut-to-the-studs kitchen renovation (new cabinets, counters, appliances, wiring, etc.- PLUS taking down two walls and putting down hardwood floors throughout  the whole first floor of a home) was going to cost a “whopping $18,000”.  Now, I know I live in an area of the country where home prices, and therefore renovations, cost way more than normal but this is absurd- the cost of labor, permits, dumpsters, the design they executed plus the products they used would have been easily $40-50k. Cabinets ALONE for a medium sized kitchen from a big box store like Home Depot would cost $6-8k easy (before installation costs!) Hardwood flooring for 1,000 square feet would be at least $6-7k for a $5 a square foot pre-finished product with installation. You can see that before we’ve even added in demo costs, appliances, lighting, plumbing fixtures we’ve almost hit their “budget”. These skewed numbers make my job as a designer so much harder.

Expectations set by clients based on these ridiculous “budgets” create disappointment and delusion.   And it does the design/ build industry a disservice to make viewers think that re-wiring an entire house’s electrical system (many days work for an electrician crew of 2 people) costs $2,000. That’s so far off it’s hilarious and probably has caused many a  electrician to curse when a client says “But on Fixer Upper that cost only $xxx…”  And as cute as Chip and Joanna are, when they say that adding a powder room to a house is $5,000 I can’t help but shake my head knowing that simply moving a toilet from one wall to another (which is a lot of plumbing work involving cutting joists) cost me that much ALONE in my own bathroom renovation! (On a side note: do you think Waco, TX has had like, a massive influx of people relocating there based on home costs on this show??)

Does this frustrate you guys too?  I still will watch the channel religiously because I love it, and Andrew and I have fun hotly debating the prices, choices and absurdity, but I can’t help but feel the budgets are getting more and more unrealistic (as all of reality TV is, I suppose!)

 

 

 

Why Is High Fashion So Ugly?

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(Like, what is this giant corduroy suit? No, really… it looks like she spent a debaucherous evening with a very large, kindly elderly gentleman who gave her this to wear for her walk of shame home.)

This weekend I was flipping through the Wall Street Journal’s fall fashion magazine, and as I have found myself doing lately whenever I browse high fashion spreads, I was left completely baffled and shaking my head.  Why is it that editorial fashion is so painfully ugly right now?  Of course, there are all sorts of people with various style desires, but I can’t help but feel that in the past year or two there is a prevalence of straight up hideous, ridiculous fashion on the runways and only a small percentage of wearable, beautiful looks.  Fashion can be art, and there are designers that are known for producing items strictly to be appreciated in that sense, but when mainstream designers start making things that just seem unwearable, and fashion magazines fill their pages with those looks, I feel frustrated!  I want to see things real people can wear- even if unattainable price-wise, the inspiration is the most important part and something we can all use to guide us in creating our own versions of those high fashion looks.  Flattering cuts, interesting patterns, colors, layers and textures, pretty dresses!  But this stuff below? No thank you.

PSA: That is a Shirt, Not a Dress.

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Ok, this is my random thought for the week.  This has to be said, much like four or five years ago when we all had to band together as a gender and decide that “tights are not leggings” ( nice thong!) and “leggings are not pants”.  The 2015 version of this is “that shirtdress is a shirt, not a dress”.   Someone brought this up to me the other day when witnessing an otherwise pulled together woman strutting around in public in not only an insanely short shirtdress, but also a sheer one and was BAFFLED. I think I can safely say that  no woman ever wants a man to look at her and have his first thought be “Oh my God, she forgot to put her pants on this morning! Poor woman!”

17 lbs.

As I came up the driveway after work yesterday I noticed a package on my doorstep.  I felt a tickle of joy, because who doesn’t love getting presents in the mail (even when you ordered them yourself online and forgot that you did so- thanks self!).  As I walked up to the door I squinted my eyes. That couldn’t be….could it? All of that? Really?

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Yep, that’s a giant bundle of Restoration Hardware catalogs.

I bent down to pick it up and almost fell over from the shock of the SEVENTEEN pound weight. Shrink wrapped and delivered via UPS (the package guiltily emblazoned with “carbon neutral shipping!” on it), this stack of bricks clamored down onto my dining table as I stood there in awe. What a truly obscene thing this is! I couldn’t even believe it- I had to open it to make sure that the whole neighborhood’s catalogs didn’t accidentally all get dropped on my stoop. Nope- just 11 catalogs all for me . Then I thought, maybe these are just delivered to members of the trade/ designer program? One quick check of Instagram proved that wrong too. And supported my own quickly developing feelings- people are PISSED about this.

Now I love Restoration Hardware’s products, and I order from them all the time for my clients. In my experience they have provided well-made, clean lined upholstered goods, bedding and accent pieces that are priced much better than a lot of designer brands I use.  And I will continue to order from them- but not without standing up against this offensive waste of trees.  I love getting a catalog as much as the next girl, there is something nice about flipping real pages and looking at items in an editorial manner that the internet just doesn’t provide. However, when I do all my ordering it is online. Restoration has a good website that is easy to order from, and I guarantee that most of their orders are placed that way.  And for those people who don’t have the internet and need to order over the phone, I doubt they are spending $1,299 on a Deconstructed 19th Century Replica Slope Arm Dining Chair.

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(11 books in total- and yet THE INTERNET)

So that leaves us wondering who are these for? I don’t have time to flip through 8 billion pages of catalogs of items I can find quickly online and neither do any of you. And I wouldn’t keep these “Source Books” in my office to use as a designer because they aren’t even helpful- there aren’t any dimensions listed on anything anyway! So I have to wonder, why would the big, smart business people running this company think this is a good use of a massive amount of money? It has to cost at least $10 to deliver each 17 lb. package and printing these things isn’t cheap either.  Doing some quick math (with the disclaimer that I got a C in Fundamentals of Pre-Calculus) they are likely spending millions on these things only to enrage their own consumers!   To me this whole thing seems like a backwards PR nightmare!  And there is a hint of that issue within the very package of these “books”- a slip of paper heralding their “commitment to the environment” and lauding the recycled paper they use to print these, the carbon neutral delivery system and the fact that they are only send them once a year. So basically, they are saving the environment, right?!

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(I clearly ripped this in a fit of environmental rage. Or just struggling to open the shrink wrap….)

I lumbered my stack of catalogs right to the recycling bin without looking at them (I spent an hour on their site at work already), as many of you probably did too. And it made me feel gross to be tossing out what felt like six trees. So I looked on the back and found out that you can opt out of receiving these.  Call Restoration at 1-800- 762-1005 with your address and cancel your “subscription”. I plan on doing it this morning, and I hope you do too.  It’s the only real way to send a message to the company that this isn’t what you want from them. If they really want to spend that kind of money per consumer, I personally would rather get a gift card for $20 along with a single, slim catalog of new collection highlights.  As much as I love Italian Banded Sateen Bedding (and I do, I really, really do) I love trees and oxygen more.

A Designer Disappointment

My dad sent me this article from the New York Times yesterday and to say it disappointed me is an understatement. Take a read and then lets discuss….

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You see Thompson, CT is a very near and dear town to me.  It abuts the town my parents’ home is in and is the town in which I married my husband (at the Lord Thompson Manor , which was so amazing that two of our friends married there after us!).  There is a gorgeous, albeit small, main street where some truly stunning historic homes stand and this, my friends, is where we pick up on our story.

As a designer- interior, architectural or the like-we are taught to not only love homes but live, sleep, eat and breathe them.  They are the medium in which we express our artistic talents and the canvas upon which we make our mark. To find out that a designer, never mind an incredibly FAMOUS designer, would treat a historic home with such disdain, such negligence, disgusts me.  He is incredibly successful and has the means to restore this property to it’s historic glory, but if that doesn’t interest him he should simply sell it to someone who does want to.  To hang onto it and let it rot just because “he can” and thinks “no one should be able to tell him otherwise” is repulsive and against everything a designer should stand for. To allow it to fall into ruin, have it affect an entire town and specifically his neighbor’s property values all while becoming an eyesore in a totally charming town is quite possibly the most unflattering display of ego I’ve ever heard of in this business. To allow it to be demolished is thumbing his nose at history AND his own industry. And finally, to threaten to “sell it to a funeral parlor” just to piss off the neighbors proves this man is frankly, a total asshole.  Who would trust their home to a designer so cavalier, rude and self-centered with no appreciation for architecture or other people?

I for one have signed the petition to save this gorgeous piece of history from demolition and send Mr. Buatta a message- GET OVER YOURSELF. I hope you will too and share this story with others.  It’s yet another example of the fact that money can’t buy you everything, least of all CLASS.