Friday, February 04, 2005

It's a small world after all

Maison et Object, the large home furnishings and decor fair held bi-annually in Paris just wrapped up this week. I was reading their rather large report on the fair and found the following paragraph:
"The Home, a collective passion
The world has changed in ten years. So have our ways of being and living. And so have our desires. For the past 10 years, MAISON&OBJET has reflected sociological and cultural changes that structure the homeware and object market. From year to year, from session to session, this homeware exhibition anticipates, decodes and stages the
emergence of new consumer behaviour. 1995-2005. It has been a decade since the home became one of the central values of our society. People talk about the "stay-at-home revolution". Against the storms of life, the living area, a location injected with strong emotion, has become a place of replenishment and self-development. The size of homes has increased together with a concern to increase their comfort. With the nineties, new needs appeared – the need for recognition, personal fulfilment, the need to give meaning and pleasure to life. A new vocabulary arrived: "cocooning", now replaced by "nesting". Whether a cocoon or a nest, the home harbours our dreams of happiness and shelters our desires for wellbeing. In the hit parade of factors providing individual happiness identified in 2002 by Cetelem, the home is easily the leader with 63%, way ahead of work (59%) and leisure (48%). 99% of French people believe that living in a warm home represents everyday well-being, according to the Domoscope observatory of the Unilever group. The rise in virtualisation makes the tangible place of the home even more touching. In a destabilised world where references are waning, the home continues to reassure us."

Given the recent tensions between France and the U.S., it's nice to know that we are more alike than we are different. That a basic love, such as that of home and hearth, transcends geography and culture, and gives us a common ground on which to mend our fences (do they really make for better neighbors?).

to read the entire Maison et Object report...
©2005 Linda Merrill, Chameleon Interiors

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Reality shows

Like everyone else, I watch my share of reality tv. I watch THE APPRENTICEand the new WICKEDLY PERFECT. Always interesting. It's not a surprise thatthey are popular - afterall, shows like THIS OLD HOUSE, which has been aroundfor 25 years, has always been popular. They are, in effect, reality tv aswell. HGTV is hugely popular - with its' many shows focusing on high-endand low-end design. Unfortunately, while they are similar to "reality", whatthey are not is "realistic". I have watched and enjoyed my share of theseprograms and have some very definite opinions about their quality. Theseprograms fall into two broad categories: "best practices" and "low cost,quick turnaround." While one can pick up some great design ideas from theshows, none truly portrays the reality of a design and/or renovation project.Here's why:

- Most give few details on how much time or money these projects consume.

- There's little information about the decision-making process, particularly before work begins.

-Major renovations involve disruption and a measure of lost privacy, even without the presence of television crews.

Clearly, good television doesn't mix well with all the little detailsof the design process. That shouldn't mislead viewers into thinking thatmakeovers and reconstruction are quick, hassle-free and cheap -- for example,that whole rooms can be redesigned in a couple of days for less than $1000.

TLC's "Trading Spaces," and "Design on a Dime" and "Sensible Chic" onHGTV, are all entertaining and have a certain "wow" factor when the workis revealed to the homeowners. What they're not telling viewers is that thebudget numbers they present exclude labor costs and gloss over just how muchlabor it takes to accomplish these projects in record time. There's alsono mention of the compromises made in lumber and materials quality necessaryto keep within that $1000-per-room budget. There aren't many craftsmen ordesigners willing to be associated with mediocre materials in private practice!

"This Old House" is at the other end of the scale in the "best practices"category -- and best practice doesn't come cheap. The home depicted in the2003 series "Concord Cottage," in which an outbuilding was converted to livingquarters, cost nearly $500 per square foot to complete.

One of my favorites is "Designers Challenge," which showcases three differentprofessional designers' plans based on the specific needs and wants of realhomeowners with real, stated budgets. The designers each develop presentationsafter interviewing the owners; the homeowners select a designer after hearingthe presentations. While uncommon for residential designers to do such pre-contractpresentations, it is fascinating to see their different perspectives, tounderstand there's frequently more than one good solution to a design quandary.This show also leaves time and cost details unclear, but will often alludeto the months it took to complete or that the owners went over budget toget what they wanted.

Great ideas can be gleaned from most of the design programs on television.While viewing these shows, however, it's important to keep in mind thoseproject aspects that are left out of the dialogue.
©2005 Linda Merrill, Chameleon Interiors

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Bright and cheery design

After the snowstorms we've been experiencing here in the northeast - a little shot of color could be a welcome thing. If you're looking to brighten up your space, check out the following website - they offer a wide selection of textiles, rugs and wallcoverings in a bright array of colors - something to add a little sunshine!

Susan Sargent
company c
©2005 Linda Merrill, Chameleon Interiors