We moved into the house my Mom still lives in when I was 5, and my Mom spent the next 20 or so years lovingly restoring it. I grew up surrounded by decorating books, and pages torn out of magazines, all flagged with yellow sticky notes adorned with my moms perfect cursive handwriting. We used to go to the book store all the time. Normally I would get the latest Nancy Drew while my Mom stocked up on her monthly mag haul. One day, I remember asking my mom if I could buy my first YM Magazine- side note, does YM still exist?
Anyway, it had, like, a shirtless Devon Sawa or someone on the cover and my mom thought “YM” must stand for “Young Men” and was mortified. I explained that no, in fact it stood for “Young and Modern” which I guess I had decided I was, and that it was a very important periodical pertaining to my interests, and through some convincing she bought it for me. That year, I asked for a YM subscription for Christmas, and my obsession with magazines began.
I didn’t just read magazines, I savored them. I still do. I first go through them back to front, reading only the headlines and evaluating which features are of the most interest. I then go through and read articles in order of least-interesting-but-still-interested-to-read saving the best for last. Then I look at the pictures and tag pages of interest. I revisit the issue, front to back, back to front, eventually getting to the articles that weren’t appealing enough to be read on my first pass through. If the issue is especially juicy, I buy a second one so that I can tear from the first and still have a pristine copy for the archives. And then, when I am finished, I put them in little magazine organizers and save them forever because- let’s be honest, I am never really finished with them. I mean how could you be? They are invaluable resources!
Like for instance, in 1999 when Reese Witherspoon married Ryan Philippe I suddenly remembered a few years earlier when she was included in YM’s list of New Hollywood Starlets they asked her who her Hollywood crush was she said Ryan Philippe. And luckily, since I had saved the issue, I found the article and sure enough, there it was! And they had spelled his name wrong! Madness! Unfortunately no one I showed the issue to was as impressed with the whole thing as I was. When I left for college I was finally forced to throw out the YM’s, but that was fine because by that time I had moved on to shelter mags which I was finding much more enriching.
My “Decorating Binders” from college are full of pages torn from House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Domino and the like because there was no room in my tiny dorm room to hold onto full issues- space efficiency and all. I still have these binders, they sit on the shelves in my office along with my complete set of original Dominos, 1960’s House Beautifuls, and all of the other usual favorites.
The cover of one of my “Decorating Binders”- the front sleeve is a photocopy of a page I found in one of my moms design books when I was in highschool. When I was 10 my mom found a sticky-note I had marked in the book, which she then wrote a note to herself about, which I then found 8 years later. I come by all this nonsense honestly.
Inside one of the binders…aka Peppermint Bliss beta version.
When I first started decorating I never even imagined I would be published. When HGTV reached out about publishing our Austin house I am not ashamed to say I cried actual wet tears of joy. I was going to be in a real-life magazine I could go buy at the book store! Just like Devon Sawa! Except with my shirt on! And I could hold it in my hands and read it back to front, and then front to back, and save it on my shelves forever with the rest of my beloved magazines. When I got my copy of the issue I couldn’t even open it for a few minutes because I was so excited my body spazzed and I couldn’t make my hands work.
I have been lucky enough to have had that experience a few times since over the years, and it is never any less exciting. I still go to the bookstore every month to stock up, and I still read them back to front. I really tickle myself when I can tell by the pictures who did the design before I get to the headline page- and I really feel smug when I can identify the photographer. I follow the careers of my favorite editors as they move through the industry, and love noticing how each magazine evolves under different directors.
Beyond being a huge fan, I am creatively inspired by the work of my design idols, and I spend hours studying images of their published work and trying to learn something new about how to trim a window treatment, arrange furniture in an oversized room, or read about the process behind the design. Pinterest makes it easier for me to file, and refer back to, these images but nothing could replace the physical copy. I love how much inspiration is available online. Having different avenues for publication has opened it up and allowed fresh talent to get exposure- I would be nowhere without Rue and Matchbook and this blog for that matter- and I have discovered so many of my favorite designers whose work I might not have otherwise seen online.
At the same time, I feel sad that the internet has challenged the print industry, and I hope that it never gets to the point where it’s not worth it or financially viable for magazines to produce monthly print issues. The internet is great for a lot of things. Like exposing new talent. Also, online publications and websites can produce spreads with squillions of pictures showing several angles and details in a room without having to consider the cost of visual real estate on a printed page. On that note- Magazines, I know you can’t include every shot and angle but if you are going to spend a paragraph describing the gorgeousness of a paint finish PLEASE include that image. It’s honestly just rude to tease a girl.
For all of the reasons the internet is great, magazines (to me) are inversely valuable. I like that editors have to, well, edit their pages discerningly. With all the noise of the internet, I like having a resource that is more filtered, that has a clear perspective, that was put together and re-worked and touched by many different people over a period of time. I love their permanence- you can always go back and delete a controversial image online or delete posts that eventually feel off-brand- but physical magazines are little time capsules. I collect vintage magazines as well, and I love to see not only the designs, but the ads and letters to the editor and the whole context of the issue. It means something to me that now that some of my designs have been published, my work gets to exist in the same way.
So now that I have revealed myself as a probable Magazine-Fetishist (whatever, it’s fine, if the internet has taught me anything it’s that we are never alone in our weirdness and I expect at least ONE of you is in this with me) you can imagine how much it meant to me to have Biscuit included on House Beautiful‘s list of their Top Trends for 2016.
They asked us to send them samples of some of our prints a few months back, but I had no idea it was going to be…that. I don’t have good words to adequately express the gratitude, but it’s lots and lots. All of the Thank You’s.
Also- all of the Thank You’s to those of you who have come back to read what I am writing here these days. And to those who have asked about seeing the new house, I’m sorry if the glimpses have felt like a tease. Trust me, as I mentioned above, I am not into that feeling at all. BUT I also don’t want to rush to have everything “photo ready” like I have in the past. I am growing up and trying my hand at the long game. And, honestly, I hope it will be published somewhere and I want to keep that option open when the time comes. SO! I hope that’s cool, y’all are so cool to have come here again, and I truly appreciate all of the welcoming feedback.
images by Molly Miller for Peppermint Bliss