Is 'home porn' bad for your self-esteem?

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I can't tell you exactly why it happened. But I know it started after I stumbled on a photo gallery while cruising the internet one day.

What kicked off with mild intrigue, a sort of “wow, I didn’t realise you could do it quite like that" – has become an almost-daily obsession. Sometimes I tell my boyfriend about it. Sometimes I think he actually wouldn’t understand.

There are whole weeks when I just go back at look at the same stuff. Over and over and over again. Other days I'm after something I’ve never seen before.

But no matter what, I always, always come away feeling a bit unsatisfied. Like, why can't I rely on my own thoughts and ideas? 

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Yet, that doesn’t stop me tuning in the next day to look at more pictures. Maybe even take a video tour.

And so the cycle repeats.

I guess you could say I've been a regular visitor of home design blogs for more than a year now.

What began as an innocent interest in finding a new couch morphed into something way less benign.

At an intellectual level, I know there is nothing wrong with wanting a nice place to live in. And given the huge amount of mass-produced crap out there in the furniture/homewares world (that nevertheless has a non-budget price tag); it makes sense to seek inspiration from professionals and enthusiastic amateurs.

At first, it also seems gently savvy and alternative to seek out where the good “vintage” finds might be. And if you do find that “rare” vintage “piece,” to look at what kind of occasional chair or custom cushion cover might look good with that too.

In the same way as one might consult a recipe book. Or a dictionary.

But what a slippery dip that is. One minute you're browsing coat stands (because we really do need one of those). The next you're looking at Zachary and Becca's "evolving San Diego loft" and pondering a Scando-Japanese makeover of your own. 

Indeed, where home design blogs morph into something a bit more um, irrational, are the way they suck you in, Hoover style, with their just-so tableaux and perennially, breezily funky occupants.

Like: hey, I just picked up this one-of-a-kind rug on a stopover in Istanbul and threw it with the (organic) moose head I had mounted on the wall. And everything goes with an original Eames chair, yeah?

It is for this reason that I reckon home design publications are to 30-something women what fashion magazines are to teenage girls.

We know now that Kate Moss doesn’t really look like Kate Moss. She gets makeup, a stylist and a blow-dryist to help her along. And even then, they call in the airbrush team.  

So we don’t get stressy when we don’t look exactly like Kate Moss. And besides, we know the Moss is one in a million, or something close to that in statistics numbers. She’s called a supermodel for a reason.   

Why then, do I check out pictures of other people’s perfecto designed and immaculately curated homes and feel that weird piney feeling? Like, man, that $2,000 Italian vertical bookshelf would look so excellent at my house! And what an outré idea to have it in the toilet!

Why do I look at my own cobbled together abode and think, optimistically, that with a few whimsical bird silhouette paintings,  Diptyque candles and a 1950s sideboard, I too could rule the design world. To the point where someone would want to come and do a glowing photo essay of my home, comprised of quirky-yet-clean still lifes. (Of course, focussing mainly on my collection of boutique beer bottles, 1970s ceramics and the indoor sub-tropical plant wall.)

Why do I get so dazzled by pictures of people’s distressed industrial apartments, with the entire thing made up of exposed walls, exposed light fittings and custom spray paint murals from their successful artist friend Simon and reckon that would totally go in my totally suburban house?

And at the same time, lust seriously after a place that has a 19th century chandelier and views of the Paris skyline (because it is in Paris) and think: yes – this is a look that is achievable in Canberra in the year 2013.

It is the interior design-equivalent of believing I could get my hands on the Victoria’s Secret fantasy bra. And that in that improbable event, I would look just like Candice Swanepoel if I wore it.

Indeed, just as I’ve never seen a supermodel,  I have never actually seen a real life home that looks anything like the pictures on those blogs (sorry family and friends).

So, I know I know, it’s time I stopped trawling through the Nordic-inspired living rooms, modernist kitchens, hotel-style bathrooms and bedrooms whimsically jam-packed with rare Vintage pieces - and started on a home improvement that would actually make a positive difference to my “space”.

Like maybe doing some cleaning from time to time. 

 

11 comments

  • All those places are styled and posed for photos; they're completely devoid of family life. The challenge would be to see what they look like after a fortnight with two working parents and a couple of under fives living in them.

    Commenter
    M
    Date and time
    December 05, 2013, 9:46AM
    • You're right. The majority of the time those houses are styled with new products for advertising purposes. It's basically brand placement for major homeware companies.

      Commenter
      L
      Date and time
      December 05, 2013, 11:02AM
  • All I have to say is...

    Kitsch.

    Nesting.

    Frou Frou.

    Commenter
    Luisa
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    December 05, 2013, 11:40AM
    • all i have to say is that title is misleading.

      Commenter
      markymark
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      December 05, 2013, 4:39PM
  • It's Diptyque candles, not diptych.

    Commenter
    Pedant
    Date and time
    December 05, 2013, 11:59AM
    • Some people really do live like those pictures. I started a few years ago to get ideas to jazz up my home, and like Judith, fell into the trap. I read some blogs daily of 'real' people and see their perfect little homes and their perfect instagram photos and get a tad jealous. Then I recall one of the real people who has a home like those and man! is she a total control freak! Her family are NOT allowed to walk into the house without slippers,never ever allowed to leave something around, everyone has stress due to the daily instagrams, I am sure the hubby is about to leave through sheer utter lack of identity through the ever changing 'vintage' vignette's and blog view numbers. Sadly it's a me me me world and many of the home bloggers or instagrammers are only about themselves, not the fact that a home should be a home and not a display house.

      Commenter
      Jaded
      Date and time
      December 05, 2013, 1:02PM
      • why can't a home be just like a display home?
        stop judging others by your own standards

        Commenter
        david
        Date and time
        December 05, 2013, 4:38PM
    • My house is usually immaculate and it stays that way because my husband and I don't have kids yet and are never home. We've just renovated and it looks beautiful, if only we had some time to enjoy it.

      Commenter
      Kristielynn
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      December 05, 2013, 1:20PM
      • The thing to remember with all those gorgeous yet slightly sterile photo shoots is every one of those places has a pile of crap dumped in a spare room or cupboard somewhere. I like to imagine it all stacked up just behind the camera tripod threatening to collapse on the photographer but that's just me. :)

        Commenter
        TS
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        December 05, 2013, 1:28PM
        • and more often than not somewhere in the article they'll casually mention the owner of the house is an interior designer, architect or owns a homewares brand...

          Commenter
          sc
          Date and time
          December 05, 2013, 2:21PM

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