Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Salon

The Sunday

I was reading through the forums in the "How-To Reality Shows" section of Television Without Pity. It's where they have all the message boards for the decorating programs I like to watch on HGTV like Design on a Dime and Decorating Cents. A lot of people were slamming Kim Myles, the winner of last year's Design Star (TWoP's motto is, after all, "Spare the Snark, Spoil the Networks"). Kim was originally a hairdresser who, unlike the other contestants, had virtually no design experience. She's a bubbly, likeable person and the stuff she did on Design Star was decent, but it would seem that most of what she's done on her new show, Myles of Style, has been less than stellar. Now I wouldn't say she's absolutely awful, but her designs really aren't anything most people couldn't pull off themselves.

But what really annoyed me, after I read about it on TWoP, was one of her bright ideas for an episode entitled "Miami Modular." (Watch the whole thing here.) Specifically: she had an HO (homeowner) organize her books by color (this begins around 8:00). "You'll be amazed at the decorative impact it's going to have on the space when it's all done," she promises. "As you can see," she continues a bit later, "I've gone from dark blue to light blue to green to yellow to red. And I'm getting a great decorative effect with no money down." Granted, it's pretty harmless - something that the HO's can go along with just to humor her and then undo once she's gone.

"For book lovers, this is one of the simplest ways to turn your bookcase eyesore into an art exhibition," says the HGTV blog. "If you don’t have books in each color of the rainbow, start by grouping like colors anyway. It’s what I like to call 'healthy therapy' for die-hard organizers (like you and me)." To which I say: no. No. No. No. ("EYESORE"???) Only if you want people to think you never, ever read your books. Sorry, but this idea of books as simply "decorative elements" bugs me. "Apparently she [Kim] is of the decorator school that orders, 'Get me 3 feet of brown books with gilt lettering and a foot of blue books....,'" snarks one TWoP poster. (But other than that, and the fugly "modular shelving system" that looks like it belongs in someone's closet or storage/utility room, I actually did like the finished product, especially the tiled fireplace!)

My parents actually do have several fancy, leather-bound, super-fancy editions of great classics they keep in the breakfront in the dining room. One was Moby Dick. And lo and behold, I actually had to read Moby Dick in college for a course called American Romantics! So instead of spending money on a new book, I just used that super-duper, awesomely ornate Moby Dick we already had! We're talking thick, gilt-lined pages, rococo-style embellished cover, and lavish illustrations. Total book bling. Way pimped out. And everyone else had their lame-o Penguin Classics. Problem is, my totally cool centerpiece book included no commentary or analysis, which basically made it impractical for an academic setting. But the professor was still very impressed.

To be fair, some commentators on the HGTV blog claimed to be highly visual people more likely to remember what a book cover looked like than any left-brained identifier like genre, category, publishing date, or title. But still . . . maybe I'm a snobby lit blogger, but I believe books are first and foremost to be read. Though I suppose if it makes you happy, why not?

I will be posting a picture of my new bookcase I talked about a couple of weeks ago. My book organization may be an "eyesore" but it sure works for me.

Now Candice Olson - there's a great designer! Love love LOVE this!


Michelle said...

Unbelievable. The comment about the 'bookcase eyesore' made my jaw drop a little. Colour-coding books is just plain wrong.

E. L. Fay said...

Yeah, and there's probably someone out there who saw that episode and went to color-code their mass market paperbacks they bought at the grocery store.

debnance said...

Obviously, the decorator is a big reader! ;->

Emily said...

I have encountered this "books are a decorating eyesore" mentality before as well, and it always makes me want to slap the speaker upside the head. Books are beautiful! Bookshelves are beautiful! I totally don't get it. Maybe it's a bizarro expression of some kind of internalized anti-intellectualism.

Emily said...

PS - On the subject of how books can add to a decor, are you familiar with The Selby? He photographs actual lived-in interiors all over the world, together with the people who live in them, and he always pays special attention to the beautiful, practical displays of books. I think this image is particularly lovable.

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