when pretty or cool = a bad idea

Emma's Design Blog

Emma's Design Blog

A couple of years ago, we started a file called “bad ideas”. These are ideas featured in shelter/style magazines that look really good, but practically speaking, are really bad. They’d come back to haunt you in no time. Stacked magazines seem like a perfect, charming solution for a table leg, but have you ever TRIED to stack magazines more than a foot high, which, with their glossy paper, are nearly impossible to keep from sliding around, much less as a 2 1/2 foot support for a slab of glass? (Unless, maybe, you bore a hole through them and put a pipe through the center to secretly hold them together).

We’re got nothing against cool-for-the-sake-of-cool design. But we really mind design that masquerades as a practical idea and has a lot of back-end problems. So although bold, white + a color striped rugs look great for a minute (and in pictures)…

Cottage Living

Cottage Living

…we’ve learned the hard way that white wool or cotton only has one destiny: to get dirty.


And although Elle Decor‘s florid prose makes their “Irresistible Open Showers” seem like “spacious sanctuaries that can transform an everyday activity into a luxurious indulgence”, we think of the water bouncing off our heads from the shower all over the floor, and and sopping wet bath mats (remembering many wet French bathrooms)…

Elle Decor

Elle Decor

…And we see that elegant all-glass shower as being a lot of water-spotted glass to clean…or just, a lot of water-spotted glass…

Elle Decor

Elle Decor

We design things in our heads all the time, but part of the process is thinking it through, and asking (even though we can envision just how fabulous it will look):  “What’ll happen to this when I actually use it, in a week, or for a few months, or years? What’s wear and use going to do to it?  Is this “good idea” real or an illusion?” (And if we’re honest with ourselves and it’s not a solid idea, well, then we’ll have to work on it some more.)

Those are the same questions we ask when we look at shelter and design magazines. Is a particular fabulousness what we really need in our life?

8 Responses to when pretty or cool = a bad idea

  1. Elizabeth 04.07.2010 at 12:00am #

    These made me chuckle. I always raise my eyebrows at photos in design magazines of books whose spines are turned inwards — for some reason, that “great design” just bugs me —

  2. Linda 04.07.2010 at 8:42am #

    I totally agree! While I love some ideas…others make me wonder “what are they thinking?”

  3. Harriet Bell 04.07.2010 at 9:28am #

    Add bright white tiled bathroom floors to the list. They show every footstep and hair. That’s why the Swiffer was invented.

  4. puu 04.07.2010 at 9:28am #

    sorry, but as much as it pains me to say it, having an open shower really is a life-changing luxurious experience! i haven’t been in house with one in almost four years and i still remember how great it was.

  5. Joan 04.07.2010 at 5:49pm #

    HA! You can add black carpet to the list of “shows all,” too. Black & white carpet might be the worst of both worlds.

  6. Sally 04.07.2010 at 6:04pm #

    That’s not to say that there are SOME open showers that are just swell…but the design is critical, and the one I showed is, for my money, a disaster. Thanks for the balance…

  7. Constance 04.10.2010 at 1:34pm #

    Thank you for the smile. I love the photo of the dirty white rug. Ha.

  8. Ella Jane 08.07.2012 at 11:37am #

    a friend’s house featured a bathroom with a clawfooted soaking tub and shower in the middle of the room… it seemed great, but there was no shower curtain in the world that could keep the water from getting absolutely everywhere, and when you were done with the shower the nearest towel was on a wall rack six feet away… not nice.

    btw, speaking of poor design choices: what’s up with the font color in this comment box? I don’t know if you all can control it or not, but you might want to consider changing to a color that offers more contrast!

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