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7 reasons I've started buying interiors magazines again!

7 reasons I've started buying interiors magazines again!

Do you ever buy interiors magazines? Do you even buy books anymore or do you read them on your kindle or iPad? The relevance of buying home magazines when you can get endless interiors inspiration online is a issue that has been batted around interiors circles in recent months and one that I've had on my mind recently too. So why bother buying interiors magazines anymore? A few months ago my answer to this question would be very different... 

My terrible confession is that until recently I hadn't bought an interiors magazine for years. Literally years! I had gotten so bored of them and when I was looking for inspiration for my home I couldn't find anything I wanted or that matched my style. In my previous flat I used to cut all my favourites rooms from magazines and re-arrange them in my scrapbook for future reference. Even when I look back now (maybe 6 or 7 years later) I can still see how those same images reflect my own unique decorating style. So what's stopping me buying magazines anymore? Have I just got out of the habit of physically arranging my ideas and got into the habit of saving ideas on my iPhone?

Downpipes Farrow and Ball lounge from old magazine
E81A1509Room and home book.jpg

Digital Dreaming

Another reason that can't be overlooked in this digital age is that we can get room inspiration from lots of other places like Pinterest and Instagram and it doesn't cost a penny. These images are people's actual homes and sometimes we see the insightful process of their decorating journey AND you get to enter into a dialogue with the homeowners, getting first hand advice and feedback. All to good to be true really! Although I definitely get inspired by what I see on these social platforms, it pays to be a little cautious. Two queens of the interior design world Sophie Robinson (remember from the Great Interior Design Challenge) and Kate Watson-Smyth (her new book Mad about the House is a must-read) both talk about the 'perils of pinterest'. It's great to save your favourite ideas to a board for a specific room as I think your can see you style and vision for that space emerging through the similar images you are pinning but you can't just replicate a room that you see. Your own property may be a different period, have different features, a different ceiling height and certainly different types of natural lighting flooding the room (size and number of windows and what direction the room is facing will dictate how even the paint colour appears). This is tricky and is why hiring an interior designer can be a good idea as they can understand your vision and translate your ideas into a reality for your own space. So in a world where we are saturated in visual stimuli and inspiration (by our own choosing), maybe taking it down notch a looking at less images more intentionally will actually stimulate our own creativity.


Another problem I have with certain home magazines is something more philosophical so bear with me. I have started to realise (and have mentioned this before) that I have a issue with show homes and magazine covers. Although they are beautifully styled and designed (and I really do appreciate the skill and eye for detail that it takes to make that happen), rooms for me need to be evocative of the person that lives there. This is one of the reasons I have people on my Instagram feed and not only rooms. Rooms where the design doesn't reflect the person that lives there or exudes their personality are sort of pointless and uninteresting to me. Real homes (where people live and grow) have tell tale signs that life has been lived and are not afraid to show the odd scuff mark on the skirting boards from the ride-on scooter or red wine marks on the table where a wonderful dinner party once took place. Even creases on the sheets from where someone slept evokes my emotions more than perfectly straight bedding! I fully realise that this is not the point of a studio shoot or magazine cover but what I am alluding to is that for my own interiors inspiration and visual enjoyment, I appreciate a sort of perfect imperfection. This is something that influences my own photography too - I like a bit of grit and realism as I believe it conveys emotions, stories and truth more powerfully.

On an aesthetic level I think there are other reasons that I'd stopped buying home magazines. I got so frustrated with all the writing across the room images and bright arrows illustrating tips or where to buy something. Don't get me wrong, I love this on instagram stories but in magazines it defeats the purpose of all the amazing photography. As a photographer, I believe that the photo can (and should) speak for itself and I'd rather the text below or around the images. Some magazines are better at this and for this reason Elle Decoration has become my absolute favourite to read. 

Colourful interior design magazines

Without any further rambling, let's have a look at the seven reasons to buy interiors magazines in 2018...

1. PHYSICAL Mood-boarding

As I've already mentioned making mood-boards is something I used to do quite a lot. Now for my clients I create digital boards rather than physical tactile ones and the main reason for this is the cost implications of sourcing specific materials and what works for my business model. I find that a digital mood-board works well for people as it gives us the ability to have a quick glance to see whether the colours and materials for a specific space sit well together and if the room exudes the right atmosphere. I also do this when designing my own rooms too (have a look here and here). However at a recent workshop with the Secret Styling Club I re-encountered and remembered the joy of creating a physical board and nothing replaces the ability to touch a piece of fabric and see how it reacts to light. Magazines are still a great resource to aid with this way of designing a room. 

Charlotte Argyrou's vision board for her business proudly up on her studio wall!

Charlotte Argyrou's vision board for her business proudly up on her studio wall!


Something that is really getting me excited about the interiors industry and something that aligns with my strong personal ethos towards design is the trend towards individualism. Every magazine I've read in the last few months has really focussed on this too and when homeowners are asked the key to creating a great room, most of the time their answer is a variation of 'create a home that reflects you!" This is something I noticed as a strong theme of London Design Week where I visited a few months ago and I'm excited that this is where the interiors industry seems to be heading. This is where we create new and unique ideas.


How do I relax? One of my favourite things is to have a bath a read a non-fiction book or sit in my favourite chair and read a magazine with a cup of tea. Since becoming a parent and a business-owner this is a simple joy that is sometimes hard to find the time to do. I find so much enjoyment and relaxation in doing this intentional resting rather than swiping and scanning through pinterest on my phone or laptop where I get constant pings and reminders about other things I should be doing or responding to (whether work or personal). That just doesn't bring any zen into my life! My husband also agrees and he achieves this relaxed state by putting on a record and laying on the sofa reading his latest issue of Nat Geo (I told you we were a bit old school).

Hey! Someone stole my favourite chair! Read how I reupholstered it  here . Photo by John Ford.

Hey! Someone stole my favourite chair! Read how I reupholstered it here. Photo by John Ford.


Leading on from my last point, although I consider myself pretty savvy with technology and all things digital I actually am a bit of a traditionalist at heart and this comes through in my taste in decor, clothes and jewellery and also in how I read. I've tried reading on a tablet but just didn't get as much enjoyment and would prefer to buy books to flick through and feel and touch (sorry trees!) There is a simple enjoyment to turning the next page and reaching that final page and sentence. I can't bear to schedule my life digitally either and still have a paper diary so I can physically write down what I need to do and then tick it off. Why do people bother creating magazines anymore if there isn't still a market for it? I suggest there is a simple, universal joy in the physical act of reading itself and magazines are relatively cheaper than books especially if you get them on subscriptions. The latest Elle Decoration had a lot of reading content too. My point here is that my personality likes to do some things the old-fashioned way. Here's an illustration from my own interior decision-making.For years I've dreamed of having a hot water tap in our new kitchen to make the whole tea-making process much more efficient. (As a Northern Irish lady there is no limit to the cups of tea I can drink a day!) Then I had the dawning realisation that the ritual of making a cup of tea was actually as important as the drinking of it! So I changed my mind and decided not to get a hot water tap...

5. Get advice!

So some of us aren't keen on getting advice and maybe this is why we like the social media trend where people know better than to offer advice without being asked for it! However there are some amazing insights into interior tricks and ideas from some of the best in the industry in interiors magazines. I've learnt a lot from the latest Elle Decoration including how to work with small spaces and how colour affects our moods (so up my street!) by Kassia St Clair.

Great tips in Elle Decoration debunking the myth about dark colours in small spaces...

Great tips in Elle Decoration debunking the myth about dark colours in small spaces...

6. New trends!

You'll know by now that my decorating philosophy is ditch the trends BUT it's really interesting hearing about what is happening in decor across the world and what may well be hitting the shops in the months and years to come. Don't be a slave to trends but also don't throw the baby out with the bath water - pick and choose from these popular ideas and see what fits into your own unique style. Discovering your own style first is the key (but definitely not easy) and being able to describe and define that can help us bring into being what we really want in our homes. For example I would describe my own decor preferences as dark, moody schemes with modern twists on industrial and vintage ideas. It's like going to the doctor. Imagine the relief when you get a diagnosis for your ailment and finally know how to fix your illness! It's kind of the same for our rooms.

I've always been a fan of Scandinavian design but not white. How glorious to hear that Scandi design becoming more colourful!

I've always been a fan of Scandinavian design but not white. How glorious to hear that Scandi design becoming more colourful!


My final point is that interiors magazines themselves can actually add to our decor. Magazine covers are always attractively designed (I loved hearing from Maxine and Laurie how they get that perfectly glossy look at their Secret Styling workshop) and think collections of magazines look great piled up on a shelf or arranged on a coffee or side table. Guests love flicking through them and they could also work well on a wall-hung magazine rack in a bathroom.

So, which home magazines should I go out and buy straight away?

Here are my top 3 magazines that I am definitely going to be buying my fair share of in the next few months (in fact I'm setting up a subscription to Elle Decoration straight away)! These are my favourite because they are all so well curated, directed and produced and have great written content, appropriate brand ads with eye-wateringly good photography. They also include my favourite aspect of any home magazine which is visiting the homes of real people and seeing their journey through to the completion of their dream home.  

Elle Decoration

91 Magazine (new on the scene and won an Amara award last year)

Living Etc.

So my conclusion is that interiors magazines are back and I'm enjoying them more than ever! They make me feel more connected to the interiors industry and I love having some 'me' time in my busy work/life schedule. I know that sometimes the properties and rooms on their pages can be way outside of our budgets but it's great aspiring to and learning about these great spaces. What about you? What's your favourite home magazine? What are your thoughts on my 7 reasons to buy them? Do you have any to add? As always I love hearing what my readers think so don't be shy in commenting below!

Your's in colour and creativity,

Donna Ford Skirting Boards and Chandeliers

Disclaimer: All photography my own and can only be used with my permission. This isn't a sponsored post, I just love sharing my thoughts and ideas to help you in your own interiors journey.

Home and Away: An interiors lover in Barcelona

Home and Away: An interiors lover in Barcelona

Colour Story: Green

Colour Story: Green