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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Styling for the Masses

Ever since Dara and the Domino crowd took over Veranda, it has become one of my favorite shelter magazines.  Instead of Belgian beige, now we are seeing fabulous color and modern styles that keep me dog-earing page after page in every issue.  The new issue is no exception, particularly with regard to Dallas designer Kelli Ford's magnificent home. 

Ford's home is incredible, a mansion full of art by Chagall and Picasso and in true Texas fashion, decorated to the hilt (by Ford herself with the fanciest fabrics, wallpapers, and custom furniture that (A LOT OF) money can buy.  No one would ever describe this home as understated or demure, to say the least. 

Here are a few glimpses into Ford's amazing Dallas home, as photographed for Veranda:

MoS Washington and I poured over this issue together this weekend, commenting on this no-expense-spared home.  Yet we stopped dead in our tracks when we got to the living room.

Sure, it's pretty and memorable.  But among the inlaid ceilings, hand-woven textiles, custom furniture and and room-size carpets were four chairs that looked oddly out-of-place and oddly familiar. 
Armless Chair in Diamonds Blue Ikat
In this over-the-top family room of this over-the-top home of this over-the-top designer are 4 very recognizable $249 slipper chairs.  You've seen them everywhere- at Amazon, Overstock, and Pier 1.  Veranda's sourcing identified them as Anthropologie (but we all know they are really from Anthro's less expensive little sister, Urban Outfitters). 

I know there are some designers who aren't afraid to mix high and low, but Kelli Ford does not strike me as one of those designers.  Particularly not in her own house, and particularly not with such a recognizable chair.  I'm just not buying it. 

Are the chairs in this room the handiwork of a magazine stylist?  With the exception of Architectural Digest, shelter magazines do varying amounts of styling before photoshoots.  Some may just add flowers or a bowl of fruit.  Others do significantly more.  When I was interviewing for an editorial position at a large magazine, I felt like I had just learned the truth about Santa Clause when I was told that the scouts often look for a home to serve as a clean backdrop so that the magazine's designers can bring in a truckload of rugs, furniture, accessories, and fabrics to make the home magazine-worthy. 

Certainly Kelli Ford's home was magazine-worthy, long before the photographers showed up.  So did a stylist think that adding inexpensive chairs would make Veranda readers relate to this room?  Did the original chairs just not photograph well?  I am convinced that these $249 chairs are not sitting in Kelli Ford's living room as I write this blog post today.  Is this just a case of styling for the masses?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.   


A Flair for Vintage Decor said...

How interesting!! I would love to know how much stylists put into a I am more interested in what the style of the house really is on an every day level versus "done up" by an outside source for a one day shoot. Take care, Caroline

Kerry @ Design du Monde said...

What a sharp eye you have! Now that you mention it I am dying to know. My guess is that this is the sort of thing that no one will actually 'fess up to.

A State of F-Luxe said...

I remember the day I learned that rooms in magazine shoots were maybe not exactly as the home owners lived. I was crushed and elated. I had been struggling to live up to an ideal that doesn't really exist. There was a room that had these great vintage chairs, when I researched the source to find something similar they were still for sale at the source. I want to elegant al people who live in a real, but pretty way!

the Queen City Style said...

Thank you for the tip about Veranda. I had no idea, and am still pining the loss of Domino, so you might have scored Veranda one more mail subscription!... Thank you!

the Queen City Style said...

I've uploaded this story to the Queen City Style Facebook page... love it so!

Anonymous said...

Definitely the work of the magazine stylists! Check out the 1/11/12 Chinoiserie Chic post:


kayce hughes said...

I have always loved those chairs. I hope that you find out the real scoop!

traci zeller designs said...

It sounds so much better to say Anthropologie than, say, CSN Stores or Pier One, doesn't it?!?! ;-)

Evie said...

I think they for sure must have been brought in by the magazine....OR and this is the only thing that makes me think they might not be...Kelli saw them and loved them and thought they would work great in the room (which they do) and didn't care about how ubiquitous they were because daggumit the rest of her house is soooooo unique and over the top. I could play devil's advocate with myself for hours!

Aesthetic Oiseau said...

I definitely had a hold-the-phone moment when I saw those chairs. I was like "What are those doing there?" Agree that their placement is strange.

Anonymous said...

Well, the chairs are there on the designer's website, which is obviously a different photo taken at a different time.

I think everyone is over-thinking how much magazines do. If they were going to swap out chairs, I doubt they'd bring Pier One chairs into a house like that. Let's give them more credit than that.

Haley @ Cardigan Junkie said...

I've seen similar fabric for $70+/yard and think it's more likely that Kelli would have had custom chairs upholstered than to have put such common ones in her home full of high end stuff.

I think it was Veranda's attempt to tone things down a bit, since a lot of readers are turned off by rooms that cost as much their entire house. :)

Simply Grand said...

I never read Domino, I don't read Veranda, I've never been in an Anthropologie store, and I've never looked at the Overstock website, so as pedestrian as those chairs seem to be, I don't recognize them--but even if I did, I have no problem with inexpensive, mass market pieces showing up in what's obviously an otherwise big-ticket decor. I mean, isn't that what the high-&-low thing's all about, showing how to integrate unexpected things into a scheme? What's important is not an item's source, but whether or not it works in a particular scheme, and, to me, in this room, these chairs do.

Or, at least, they would have worked if an incompetent upholsterer hadn't totally botched the job of matching up the fabric's gigantic repeat. Didn't anybody--the designer, the stylist, the photographer, somebody--notice that one of these things is not like the others before the photographer clicked the shutter?

PopOColor said...

Stylist bring in a lot more than flowers for a photo shoot. I am frequently contacted by stylists for pillows from my store to embellish the rooms photographed.

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