As I will be moving to my new home in the summer I am presently an ardent reader of any interiors magazines, (and come to that exteriors, as I will be getting my first piece of outdoor space).
I picked up Living Etc and sat back with a cuppa and a notepad and pen to record all my interior design discoveries. Well I was somewhat disappointed, at £3.60, one of the more expensive home mags I expected far more info and ideas than I had discovered in the cheaper magazine alternatives.
Maybe I have just got unlucky that the issues I have bought are full of items I am not going to be rushing out to get, as they are at prices I cannot afford. The coffee table at £3789, the bathroom sink at £2500 (if you like that one the shipping is an additional £375 by the way), the wall tiles at £149.50 per square metre.
Turn over the pages and I came across a page with three different mirrors priced at £618, £810.75 and last but by no means least £1295, sorry but these are not in my league at all and so all in all this magazine just depresses me, as I ended up feeling that style on my budget was a no-no.
Do not misunderstand me there is a great deal to look at and read 164 pages in fact. Let's take one issue there are four News and Views pieces, e.g. what the latest trends are, nine Shopping articles e.g.shopping for bath towels. There are 5 sections on Modern Homes which is looking at individuals homes in detail.
Decorating and design suggestions take up another 6 articles e.g. ten ways with windows.
Add to those the four pieces on Food and Travel and the normal lists of stockists and subscriber offers et voila- Living etc; is there in all it's extravagant glory for you to enjoy.
Now I know that not everyone is in my financial position, there are many who could afford the lovely armchairs shown at £1940 each. This is definitely a great interiors read for them, full of modern designs, an eclectic mix.
But for those of us of more moderate means I believe there are better choices out there. I know that you can look at mags like this for ideas, but I can get those from the other interior mags that give me a wider and for most of us a far more realistic price range. Those publications may show me the same console table at £1650, but they will also show me others at varying prices.
You will find the odd cheap item in Living but it is a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack and invariably the items at affordable prices are bird tables or serving spoons...............
................. oh and the odd tin of paint.
I'm obsessed with all things related to property, DIY and interior design (but it's got to be classy, no Llewellyn-Bowen for me!) which explains why Living Etc is my favourite magazine ever. It always gives equal parts pain and pleasure - beautiful homes inhabited by beautiful people which make me sick with jealousy, but then lots of reasonably-priced design ideas and little tricks of the trade which make me think 'I could do that!'. I used to suspect all the people featured in the magazine were just friends or relatives of the staff, but there is enough 'real life' experience from people who scrimped and saved and had nightmares with builders or floods to outweigh those Jemimas and Tarquins whose architect friend sketched them a plan on the back of a napkin.... They always recommend a full price range of products from bargain basement to designer, and also have interesting travel, food and celebrity columns. They have also started to look beyond the range of private homes - a recent feature was about the redecoration of a homeless drop-in centre which was extremely interesting. Yes, it is far too trendy and London-obsessed but I would rather see features on lovely flats in London, Bristol or Manchester than a villa in Tuscany - a Homes & Gardens element is starting to creep in. Stick to the urban stuff, folks, the green welly stuff is getting on my nerves. And no more Jamie Oliver features, please!
I have been a subscriber to Living etc. for about a year now and really enjoy receiving my monthly copy. Tt costs £2.80 and is full of great housey websites, there's a section on bright new things and how to contact them (ie.new designers on the block) what's in and what's not - each month there are sections on vintage chic, french chic, shabby chic - get the drift. They also feature articles on people's homes, although this is very interesting and gives you ideas on what you can adapt for your home I find that most people featured are either rolling in it and living in houses that most people can only dream of - or have a builder/architect friend who has designed the whole living space for them. Also many of the houses featured are in London and are of the Victorian ilk ie. large bay windows that us in surburbia can't buy for love nor money! They also each month photograph a celebrities home and interview them which is a nice angle.
About 6 months ago I decided it was time to spread my wings and get out there on my own two feet and buy my own flat. Seeing as London has the most ridiculous property prices in the country this was to be a 1 bed flat. Anyway, 6 months later I had trekked round about 50 flats, seen numerous mortgage advisors and generally driven myself insane with it all. I never thought it would be so stressful, if I had I might have thought twice about the whole idea. My effort was not in vane as I found my dream flat and made an offer and it all seems to be going through as I write. What surprised me most is the DIY bug that I have caught in the meantime. I use to see all the people spending all the free time improving their homes as madness, but now that is all I seem to think about! I’ve spent many an hour or 12 going through the Ikea and Habitat catalogues and marking all the items I desire for my humble home. During this period of madness I have been to every interior design web site and bought all the magazines and watched all the television programmes. One particular magazine that I’ve fallen in love with and regard as my interior design bible is Living etc. I love it, it is not your average interior design magazine telling you what’s in and what’s not. It’s hip and definitely happening. It gives you fresh new ideas for all types of properties and often offers cheaper alternatives to expensive items. It also has in depth sections telling you how to do things. Living etc costs £2.90 per issue and is published by IPC Media and can be found in most newsagents. This is not too badly priced considerably that every month there is a free pull out. Last month it was a little book on colours schemes, this month is was a guide to essential items for your home. But if you do want to save some cash then you can set up a subscription for £11.95 every 6 months which equates to £1.99 an
issue. One of the first things that grab you about the magazine is how bright and colourful it is, with a very modern looking feel to it, and all this is just from the cover let alone inside. From opening the magazine one thing that really struck me as a very nice touch was the following statement (printed on the welcome page, underneath the editors welcome note):- ‘THE LIVINGETC SHOPPING PLEDGE – We know how irritating it is when you live outside London and all the phone numbers you read in magazines have London codes. That’s why we make sure that almost everything we mention is either available nationwide or by mail order. If something’s so totally fabulous that it deserves to be featured but isn’t available nationwide, we try to make sure that the shop concerned will post it to you direct. Happy Shopping!’ Now doesn’t that just show you a lovely feeling of really wanting to help their readers, like one big helpful family, rather than just wanting to sell magazines! Well you might think I’m just being fickle, but I think it means a lot, and people living outside of London will really appreciate it. The first section of the magazine is a page dedicated to reader letters, this is for comments on the magazine rather then requesting interior design assistance. This is then followed by the cover story which is normally a 6-8 page spread covering a particular style of house, this month being a forties style home. This always has lovely detailed and colourful pictures, which really do justice for the house. It also comes with a detailed write up of how the house was transformed from it’s original state and includes prices and telephone numbers of where to get the same items. What I like most about this section is that it really delves into the owners mind and discovers why he or she did what they did and what they found easy and hard. The next
section is ‘Newthings’ which is basically the months round up of new household items and bits and bobs. A nice feature of this section is it’s ‘We Try…You Buy’ section which basically is a half page article that rounds up a range of a certain product and compares them very briefly with ratings. Last month this was on kettles, this month it’s shower curtains. A nice touch for people that want to get down to the nitty gritty. A sub-section of the above section is ‘e-things’ which covers new things available on the net, for the lazy people in us! The next section is another one of the main articles, but this time it actually covers someone’s house, and how they have transformed it from a plain home into something out of the ordinary. Again very beautifully coloured and detailed pictures, with a very descriptive write up including tips and tricks they used! What Living etc have discovered is that people don’t just want to know where something was bought from and how much but also what gave people the inspiration to do something and how they tailored the item to suit their needs. This is something this section deals with brilliantly. I strongly believe that the majority of it’s readers do not just flick through the magazine seeing things they like and copying them, but rather look through the magazine for ideas and inspiration for things that they can adjust and transform to their own needs. Another great part of these types of articles is that not only does it tell you where everything came from and how much it cost but also offers the reader cheaper alternatives. What more could a money conscious interior design enthusiast want. We then get onto the buyer’s guides sections, which every month concentrate on an aspect of your home and offer a lovely selection of items and ideas for all budgets to improve it. IT never seizes to amaze me how many ‘m
ust have’ items I find every month, it’s just a shame by bank account doesn’t agree! We then get to the ‘Decoretc’ section, which covers all the latest news in the décor world. Then we get to one of my favourite sections, which is the How To sections. Every month this offers invaluable guides on how to transform your bedroom from boring box room to blissful boudoir or how to make the most of your cramped home or how to transform your coffee table from a plain Jane style to a designer Debbie look. The list goes on!! Great for all you budding DIY freaks. The ‘Propertyetc’ section is next and covers all the latest property news and gossip, from who is looking to move and where to what new legislation the government has passed the is suppose to help the home buyer. The ‘Foodetc’ section is another news section covering all the latest in the world of food and also offers recipes for quick and easy ways to impress your guests. You then come across the ‘Bestbuys’ section which offers a selection of 3 items in different home appliance or furniture groups and categorises them into either Splash (for the extravagant), Spend (for the average priced) and Save (for the tight budget). A great quick and easy guide. The next section is ‘Citiesetc’ which every month picks a city across the UK and offers advice on where to shop for the best in home design. It also covers what to do and where to go for a day out in the city. The last but one section is ‘DIY Dad’ which gives readers a chance to ask the magazines DIY expert advice and tips on any DIY job. The last section is one of the simplest but also most useful. It is called ‘Directoryetc’ and lists all the manufactures and retailers covered in the magazine with their contact telephone numbers, e-mail address and web site addresses. Th
is magazine really does cover everything, from bargain buys to designer chic. If you’re looking for the easy life ready made goods or build it yourself. All you need is right here.
I get LivingEtc virtually every month and love it. I find it really interesting looking at how other people have decorated their places. The only criticism I may say about it is that it isn't very accessible to a wide audience. I find it very 'London' orientated and 'trendy'. I understand that their target audience is probably young couples, DINKY's etc but even to these people there is a certain unobtainable aspiration involved. I know - I'm one of them! It is very much a lifestyle magazine (as it says on the cover) and something to look at but a lot of the stuff they feature is just TOO expensive. Such as a hand towel for over £10, shown in the October issue. It's only a hand towel and I'm not sure if any are that good to warrant that price tag - a towel's a towel! I'm not sure if I would call it a 'home' magazine. Perhaps I have certain 'traditional' connotations with this idea, despite my modern ways and modern looking home. My other gripe would be the price increase - it now costs £2.80 when it originally cost about £2.20. I think there's been a recent price hike. As I said, it's a lovely mag to look at, just wish I could use more of their ideas. Sorry - I must just be jealous!
Free gifts you can use! What a novelty! It's true, though - I have actually found a use for couple of the free gifts from this magazine. This is unusual as most freebies end up as offerings to the local charity shop. The items and homes featured are eminently usable and adaptable to the abodes of lesser mortals like me, who do not possess sweeping staircases, extensive grounds, and, oh yes, a couple of million in the bank. It's got a nice little feature every month whereby an item of furniture is shown in its various guises, e.g. 20 coffee table, from a £10 version through to a £999 version. Fans of the magazine beware though - the Living show is a washout - small, with many of the few stalls there were duplicating the same type of merchandise. A disappointing effort from such a good magazine. Your time would be better spent at the Design show.
Living etc is in my opinion the absoulute best of all the home magazines by far. I also buy Elle Decoration but find this a bit to unaffordable..nice to dream about what you can probably never have but not very practical. Living etc is funky, modern, stylish and affordable designs..often giving high street options where people have bought designer stuff for their homes. I also occasionally buy other home magazines but I am sooooo fed up of stencilling, ragrolling, scumble glazing and all those other "effects" styles. Living etc gives bold ideas without all the fiddly didly bits the other magazines promote so much. I have renewed my subscription for another year and that is GREAT..it comes at least 2 day before it is in the shops. BUY IT NOW...If only it was out weekly..I would just overdose and have to move to a 10 bedroom mansion to try out all the ideas....go decorate my people....
We've all seen the tv show and wondered how easy it would be to try out some of the things they do - well now you can try it for yourself with the Changing Room magazines. We've just moved into a new house, and to be honest when we moved in it was absolutely mank! The magazine gave us loads of ideas on different decorating techniques that we probably never would have tried before. We've now decorated the living room by colour washing the walls, and the house looks totally different now. You also get a free gift with each issue - normally a stencil, but somethings different stamps or paint effects. The great thing is that it gives you ideas and you carry it on from there. It also gives a section on decorating know how, like how to strip and hang wallpaper etc. There are sections on designer ideas, like a great bed made from a bookcase, or radiator covers etc. The only problem is that you may have to order it from your local newsagent as a lot of them don;t stock it now that it has been out for a while. It is out every fortnight and costs £1.99 an issue...great value for money as it gives you loads of things to think of.
I have, for the past four months, been in the process of buying a lovely little one bedroom flat all of my own. The thought of having my own flat to decorate and furnish exactly as I wanted is too exciting. When the offer was first accepted, I bought loads and loads of home magazines. Most of them were full of completely unobtainable expensive furniture, kitchens and bathrooms that I could never even dram of affording. That is why Living Etc. magazine is a god send. It does not follow exact decorating and furnishing trends, it allows you to snoop around real homes, and does not bombard you with overpriced designer furniture which you would never really buy, unless you were really rich or really stupid. Or both With each issue, I change my mind about how I am going to decorate. Last month it was minimalist industrial, this month it is kitsch. One of the best things about this magazine is that it does not dictate how you should have your home. If you want chintz it says, go for chintz! Another plus point is that every month they give you instructions on how to make (from scratch!) a different piece of furniture, and also how to transform a room in a weekend on a budget. This magazine is, in my opinion, the best home furnishing/decorating magazine available. No self respecting coffee table is complete without one!