Confessions of a Mag-a-Holic

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

26 thoughts on “Confessions of a Mag-a-Holic

  1. I haven’t yet commented on your “big return” to the blog, but oh my goodness! It makes me so very happy to see “Peppermint Bliss” amongst the new posts in my blog roll. As a long, longtime reader, it is such a delight! Love you, love your work and as always, can’t wait to see what you do next!

  2. I’ve read your blog since the beginning and you are always the first I read when you post. I love your attitude and spirit 🙂 congrats!

  3. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who loves magazines. I too start at the back and then to the front. I read all the most important articles first and then go back to read the ones that didn’t jump out at first glance. Whenever someone asks what I like to read I always reply, “Magazines!”. I love your blog!

  4. I am with you in the magazine sisterhood!!! My fiancé moved into my house two months ago and while he knew my brand of magazine crazy he now has seen it all. Guest room = currently housing high school magazine rip outs that I am now filing in binders. Happy to report the wedding date is still on the calendar ????????????

  5. I am so so glad to see you back and posting again- you have been one of my favorite blogs since 2011. I love reading about your design methods and evolution as well as your fam and business. As always, understand the need to pull back the personal but so good to have you back and sharing!!!

  6. Bailey- thank you for coming back and may I say, you’re better than ever! I love this look behind the scenes, the honesty, the passion in this post and your work, home, etc. I love blogs that let me peer into another’s world. Especially when that peek is into something that is a part-time interest of mine.

    Encore! Encore! Encore!

    And yes, I’ll wait patiently to see your new home in print! Can’t wait!

  7. This. This right here. This is why I follow you, your website and Instagram. You know how to write, and you share personal stories. Of course HB highlighted your work!

  8. Magazine fetishists unite! I can’t tell you how many magazines I have stacked around the house. In cupboards, on shelves, in ottomans, in the nightstand… it’s a sickness. But I too love their permanence and their time-capsule quality. Not at all surprised to see Biscuit featured in House Beautiful. Your linens have a modern yet timeless quality – which, just like a good magazine, makes you want to keep them for years to come. Bravo!

  9. I worship you. That was a great column to read and as someone who formerly worked in magazine publishing – on the sales side! Trying to bring in the money!! – that was a wonderful testament that I would have proudly shared in sales meetings. You deserve all the successes you have achieved. Someday you will read of designers who will cite you as the inspiration they found in a saved magazine that their mom or dad treasured. I will wait patiently (sort of) to see you new happy home. Thanks for all the posts and updates! They are so fun to see. Xoxo

  10. I would say we should start a support group, but I JUST DON’T WANT TO STOP!

    Thank you so much for this post and your most recent posts. My biggest wish for magazines is to get more in-depth articles of why a designer went in the direction they did and their thinking behind what they did. Your blog posts always do such a great job of explaining your process- I really appreciate the work you put into your posts!

  11. Congrats Bailey on your inclusion in House Beautiful! It’s exciting seeing the sheets that are on my bed right now in print. Also, I am way too excited about the fact that we have the same decorative doll! That is my weirdness hehe. I can’t wait to see your new house when it’s ready.

  12. I always thought I was the only person in the world who reads a magazine first back to front. I’m so glad to hear you do too! I too have a mag additction. I love my Southern Livings, Country Living! house Beautiful and Artecturial Digest and have the hardest time parting with any of them. I enjoy reading your posts and keep you and your family in my prayers.
    Thanks,
    Lisa

  13. Oh, I was just going to toss my collections and now I think maybe I’m less crazy. I actually had my Domino’s hard bound. I like it for the book shelves (and the crazy) but since I remember them by their cover I’m not sure its functional. Oprah sends old magazines to Vogel and has them bound in goatskin. (I’m pretty sure that story and bookcase glamour shot is in my archive).

    Your book case styling is great, btw. And congrats 🙂

  14. Bailey, I love that you have been posting a bit more on your blog! I always love your perspective and voice. I have followed your blog for ages and it has been so fun to see Biscuit grow over the years, I was so happy for you all when I saw Biscuit in House Beautiful. So exciting and so well deserved!

    As I am in still in college, I love to hear that I am not the only one who has the struggle of figuring out how to hoard all my House Beautiful and Domino issues within my dorm room…I think I might be the only 21 year old who subscribes to House Beautiful and Domino at my college, but whatever! They are my absolute favorite and I love when they arrive. 🙂
    Thanks so much for constantly being a source of inspiration, both in simply the spaces and products you design but also the business you have built!
    xo Nan // Simply Elegant Blog

  15. I was so excited and happy for you when I saw you featured in this month’s HB!!! I’m also so thrilled that you’re blogging again. I love seeing your work, words, and photos. You’re making this Houston girl happy!
    Blessings to you and your family this Christmas!

  16. I literally laughed out loud about the decorating binders from college because I totally did that too. In fact, I’m starting at them on the floor under my desk as I write this. I love going back through them and laughing at how I totally idolized Rachel Ashwell and everything Shabby Chic back then. Still love her work, but enjoy more color now! I also couldn’t bear to throw any of my Domino’s away! So glad you’re back to blogging!!

  17. Dear Bailey,

    How I love magazines and how I love seeing your work in said magazines! I wish my husband understood how important it is to save every issue, especially House Beautiful! (He’s always on me to cull the herd.) You are such an inspiration and I love your work. When I see your designs in a treasured magazine, I say, “I sort of KNOW that girl!”

    I agree with what you said about a magazine being a cultivated space, where editors have to decide what matters. Also, it’s hard to Pinterest in a bubble bath.

    Cheers!

  18. I’m so glad you’re back! I love your point of view, your work, and your homes. Anxious to see what you’re doing in your new place!

    I recently went through an interior scrapbook I made 10 years ago and while my tastes have changed somewhat, I still love a lot of them. I savor my mags, like you, and still tear out pages. I like Pinterest but love print much more, maybe because I’m over 40 and slow to change.

    Best,
    Shannon

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