This is it, folks! Could Be Better is winding to a close after three years. In this bonus episode, Rob and J. say farewell, reminisce about some favorite moments, and share their final advice on home decor. Who will deride all-white interiors and Magnolia now? Who knows but we are sure someone will. Thanks to the thousands who have tuned in over the years, special thanks to the designers and magazine editors who supported us, and to hands-on help from Tim, Michael and Bob. Theme music was by Bensound.com. May your home and your garden be a little bit better than your neighbors’ and your best friend’s!
It’s July, it’s summertime, and after months of quarantine/shelter in place/safer at home you deserve a little treat–so we’re bringing you TWO episodes for July. In Part One, we do our usual shtick and go through the magazine offering up our unsolicited opinions (spoiler alert: there are tags for hate and tags for love). In Part Two, hear our conversation with our very first guest, Paul Trudel-Payne, an actual award-winning designer who hosts his own podcast! (We’ll be on a future episode of his show, In Your Mind.) Part One brings us some Independence Day crafts (not doing those, sorry), yet another all-white house, a gorgeous garden that stresses us out, and some Upstate and Chill. (It’s a thing: Google it). Signature cocktail: Cherry Ginger Coolers a la Moscow Mules. Theme and interstitial music by Bensound.com. And make sure to listen to Part Two with our special guest for more shenanigans!
Yes, this is a long read, and yes it’s about the You-Know-Who’s. But it says (verifies?) everything we instinctively don’t like about the Fixer Upper effect. The #shiplap hashtags, the national obsession, the gentrification, the whitewashing (literal and figurative), the rumblings of anti-LGBTQ religious stances, the bougie-ness, the very Instagrammable-ness of it all.
And while it’s all about Waco, Texas, it’s also about our towns. (Well, Beacon, cohost J’s town, at least. How about Milton/Marlboro, Rob?) Many towns. Many downtowns in any American city. How do we improve and build even better communities for everyone who lives there? How can we all come along for the ride? Can we do that while having some personal fun and individuality in design???
BTW, we’ll get over the Gaines eventually. It’s just that they, like this article, seem to sum up a lot of the conversational threads of the middle class home/garden/shelter/real estate sphere. We’ll be back to ogling hot gardeners or obsessing over wallpaper in a hot minute.
Photo by Ilana Panich-Linsman for BuzzFeed News
This is the last and final time we’ll tag Chip and Joanna Gaines’ design aesthetic for hate. It’s not that we hate the Magnolia Home aesthetic completely (though it is a bit white on white on white.) To their credit, they have perfected the intersection of farmhouse chic and industrial modern. It’s a look that works in many home and commercial settings. The problem: it’s the ONLY look they offer and its EVERYWHERE.
There’s no doubt about it, “Fixer Upper” was a monstrous hit for HGTV. For many of us, the show had a fresh appeal at its start. By the end of the season one, it was abundantly clear that the Gaines’ would be serving up the same exact look episode after episode. Can you say “shiplap?” The show went on for 4 more seasons! The monotony of Magnolia Home design and décor was mind-numbing. Moreover, “Fixer Upper” came to epitomize the monotonous offerings on home improvement television networks.
Anyone saddened by the end of “Fixer Upper” doesn’t have to go far to get their fix of Magnolia Home. Product lines can be found at Pier 1, Target, and Home Depot just to name a few retailers. (There’s also their higher-end licensing deals (like Loloi carpets). We don’t begrudge them their success (well, maybe a tiny bit.) It is the ubiquitous nature of their design line that’s ripe for hate. Magnolia Home muted off-white tones, galvanized containers, and “salvaged” accents are seemingly everywhere. (And they themselves are everywhere: even the check-out aisles via People and other celebrity news magazines.)
It begs the question: Does a pervasive design aesthetic stifle creativity and individual expression in our personal design choices?
Not too long ago, folks would say “Your living room looks right out of a catalog.” Now, they can say “Your living room looks right out of Magnolia Home.” We don’t think either is a compliment.
So, Buzzfeed did a Valentine’s post about Kanye West’s OCD Cupid’s gift for wifey Kim (Kardashian, duh), and we couldn’t agree more: it’s freaky. Not only was the gift creepy (Kenny G playing in the midst of a billion glass vases holding a single rose), but the subsequent shots of their home gave us hives, too.
UPDATE February 2020: This home also made the cover of the March 2020 issue of Architectural Digest. The article makes me want to hurl even more than the monotone interiors.
Yikes. Talk about white on white on white. Comfort? Warmth? Liveability? There’s no time for that in Mega Celebrity Land!
Oh, wait, there is that one room with a few pops of red…
So here’s to our first Tag for Hate post. But we know…this one was a no-brainer.