Monday, October 8, 2007

Perplexed by Paltrow

Like many of you I am a Gwyneth fan and I adore her mom, Blythe Danner. I've always thought of Gwyneth as a style icon but with a quirky, natural, unpretentious, girl next door flavor. So I was excited to see her home in the Hampton's featured on so many blogs this week. Check out the posts by Girl Meets Glamor, Bijou Kaleidoscope, and Decorno.


I have to admit the girl has impeccable taste. It seems that every item was chosen with great care. The home is very hip and every piece is about as current as you can get. But I am surprised by the impersonal, sterile look of the house. This could be a photo shoot of rooms from any one of a hundred hotels around the world.

Part of the fun of seeing celebrity homes in our favorite rags is to see how they live. To peak into their personal lives and live vicariously through their mementos and personal objects. This house could belong to anyone. It looks like it has been staged to sell by removing any personal hint of the owner (except for the ever so subtle product placement of her perfume and face cream on the nightstand- sell sell sell) .

In the fabulous behind the scenes post by Habitually Chic you get the sense that even the photographer was having trouble giving the space a human feel. They have added "props" like shoes and child's steps in an attempt to make the reader believe that people actually live in this space. If you took away the photo of Gwyneth you would have no idea what kind of person lived in this home.


A pair of sneakers posed in the front room. Is this to remind us that she has a husband? Where are the family photos? The mementos of her career? Her Oscar? They do show a couple of toys here and there but where are the kids paintings or personal items?

How do you put a sisal rug in the main room when you have two kids crawling around? This is a beach house and they must be in shorts most of the time. Those poor little knees!


I love the canopy treatment in Apple's bedroom but isn't it a bit old looking for a 3 year old? The only personal touch in the whole home is the monogrammed pillowcases. Does this look like a room where toddlers would play? The room looks cold and sterile to me. A stark white rug in a kids room! Come On! I think it looks kind of creepy in a weird hospital room sort of way.

The Moral of This Story.......
The ability to buy expensive, trendy furniture and accessories does not mean you will be able to automatically produce a beautiful, comfortable home. Without your own personal touch and inclusion of some of the messy clutter of life you are merely producing a hollow picture of a room.

I hope at the end of the day after producing all of these unemotional photos she took out all of her real stuff from the closets, pulled the shoes out from under the bed, brought the kids toys back inside from the garage, made a mess in the kitchen preparing dinner, poured a glass of wine and flopped down on one of those perfect sofas and looked around to see a perfectly beautiful mess!
What do you think?

23 comments:

mmadden said...

You hit the nail on the head. When pictures of Gwyneth's house began making the blog rounds, I enjoyed them for their beauty but something just didn't seem right. Now I realize I'm not the only one who thinks the home is not homey at all. I have a hard time believing that anyone at all even lives in it.

I think the sterility stems from a couple things: first, Gwenyth/Chris/Apple probably spend very little time in that particular home (they must - it just seems to unlivable!); and the home was mercilessly cleaned, styled, and rearranged for the photoshoot.

A lot of celebrity home photoshoots come off as inauthentic for me. I always get the feeling that since the home was designed, furnished, and styled by others and the actual celebrity either lacked the time or talent to influence its direction much, it's not an accurate reflection of the owner - at all. More so with this house. Which is too bad, because I like to see where people (celebs or not) actually LIVE - warts and all.

Anyway, thanks for articulating what I was thinking.

Linda Merrill said...

I think the house is beautiful - but since it's probably not their primary house, it does look like a hotel. The living room sisal may be wool, which is more comfy. Or, they have playrooms and family rooms for the kiddies and they don't play in the living room. I was surprised by the white carpet in Apple's room, but maybe they just put down a new rug for the shoot and her real rug, or old rug, was a mess? I love the bedding and don't think it's too mature. 3 year olds don't generally have much of an idea about style - aside from color and Disney character preferences.

Things That Inspire said...

I assumed it was a vacation home, and part of the beauty of a vacation home is that you don't have a lot of the junk that you have in your primary residence. You don't have the mail, the clutter, the debris of everyday life, which makes it more of a retreat.

drey said...

I actually like it, prefer it to the gilt and overly done places of other celebrities.. it's clean, light and bright. i'm sure that after the photographers went, the mess came out too... i mean whose house is REALLY that clean ALL the time??

Jackie Von Tobel said...

I think the house is very pretty I had just hoped we would see more personality from her and a glimpse into how she lives. I'm a voyeur - I want gossip and dirt!!! I don't get anything from these pictures.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I thought the same thing when HC posted this. I didn't want to post anything negative there because she seemed so psyched about GP's place.

I don't like it, however I think it DOES reflect Gwynnie. It's quite cold and reserved. I mean, really, what do we know about Gwynneth Paltrow? (Not that I care.) She's a pretty private person. My first thought when seeing this cover was "Wow, she's letting us see her house? That doesn't sound like her at all." Then when I looked inside I went "Oh, I get it! It's not really her house!"


Btw, nothing about this house says "beach." And there's not one musical instrument in sight or any evidence that a recording artist lives there.

The art reminds me of standard (no pun intended) hotel wall decor.

It's weird how in the 90s hotels started to try to look like homes and now homes are copying hotels. Blech!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I thought the same thing when HC posted this. I didn't want to post anything negative there because she seemed so psyched about GP's place.

I don't like it, however I think it DOES reflect Gwynnie. It's quite cold and reserved. I mean, really, what do we know about Gwynneth Paltrow? (Not that I care.) She's a pretty private person. My first thought when seeing this cover was "Wow, she's letting us see her house? That doesn't sound like her at all." Then when I looked inside I went "Oh, I get it! It's not really her house!"


Btw, nothing about this house says "beach." And there's not one musical instrument in sight or any evidence that a recording artist lives there.

The art reminds me of standard (no pun intended) hotel wall decor.

It's weird how in the 90s hotels started to try to look like homes and now homes are copying hotels. Blech!

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

This house is the same as that pink dress of hers. Ill fitting and ill conceived. Too much house and not enough woman.

Brilliant Asylum said...

I enjoyed seeing this house, but got the feeling they had just moved in. My guess is that they don't live like this most of the time. Who could? I am trying to imagine it with sand tracked in from the beach. They must have a very thorough house keeper.

Mrs. Blandings said...

I read another interview with her recently - W? - and it seemed the house was still in process this spring. I think they jumped a tad too quickly. I agree with the vacation home angle, but still, the dining room was my favorite - not because of the chandelier, oh those chairs - and there appears to be no art on the walls. Which is fine, but I don't think that is by design - I just don't think it's finished yet. Same with the daughter's room. Darling bed - I just think it's mashed in the corner because nothing else is in it. As a fellow mom, I have to say, she was on crutches, with two kids running around. The fact that she could allow folks into her home and smile is better than I could do.

melissa @ the inspired room said...

Hi Jackie,

It is a pretty home, but it sure doesn't look like the home I live in with children! Life is a tad more messy and personal than that.

I've written quite a bit about designing homes to be real and authentic, and how homes photographed for a magazine just aren't realistic for everyday life.

They make a lovely photo spread to ooh and ahh over, but can really discourage people when they shut the magazine and look around at real life.

I think you can achieve both, a home that looks beautiful enough to be in a magazine AND has the charm and personality of every day life woven in. Those are the homes I prefer.

If you are wealthy enough for multiple homes, I think you can do whatever you want design-wise and none of them look too lived in. It is a photo shoot, so either they don't live there much or there was some major styling going on!

Thanks for the fun post,
Melissa

Jackie Von Tobel said...

I understand that this is a beach house and probably not used on a regular basis. I just feel that she would have been better served if they had shown it in a less than sterile state. We know they always stylize these rooms to death and I think that's just what they did here.

Tara said...

It looks like a hotel and no where near a beach house. SO sterile, cold...I needed a blankie after looking at the photos!

Calie Anderson, C.I.D. said...

Just stumbled upon your wonderful blog. So happy I clicked on your link from HBOC. I'll be back.

In Style Weddings said...

As someone who comes from an interior design background as well, I have to agree, Gwyneth has a discerning style, all her own.

Oh to live like a celebrity!

Simply love the pics!

LIBERTY POST EDITOR said...

Do celebs ever have messy homes? Or, do they have 2 or 3 people there picking up and fussing about all day after them? Let's face it, many women don't have the time or the resources to be this perfect. The truth is, this home is gorgeous and if you like it, then something to strive for. If I was to style a shoot I would beg for a shot of a celeb wiping crumbs off the counter or picking up wet towels. We need to see the real side; loading the dishwasher, trying to find socks under the bed, sweeping up dog hair, tidying up take out containers, packing lunches, doing homework at the kitchen table... Readers want to see the human side. They want to be a fly on the wall...peaking a glimpse at the authentic life. Let me style one!

Cheryl said...

Just found your lovely blog. I love it! And I soooo agree with you about Gwenyth's home and homes in general. It's those "human touches" that make a house a home, isn't it? :) hugs to you...going to go read some more...cheryl :)

Anonymous said...

Do you ever have anything nice to say about anyone? Geez!

Jackie Von Tobel said...

Anonymous,

I don't think you read the entire post. I commend her on her fabulous taste and her care in choosing all of the pieces in her home. The point of this post is that I was hoping to see a more personal side of her. It seems to me that the home has been so styled that it's left looking cold and sterile. I think it is much more interesting to see homes in their "natural" state than looking like model homes or hotel rooms.

I like a lot of things that I post about and I am very "nice" most of the time. Every once in a while I see something that makes me think - What is up with that?

One of the things I like about blogs is the reader has the ability to respond and let their opinion be known on a variety of subjects. Many people have posted to say they love the home. Glad you chimed in.
Jackie

Cote de Texas said...

Oh Jackie, pay him no mind! You are totally right and this is best post about GP that I've read to date. cudos! That dining room at a beach house? Why? hehe what a joke. Those chairs at a beach home? That wallpaper at a beach home? I've seen a lot of pictures of houses in the Hamptons and none have ever looked like this! Maybe that's why the pictures just don't ring true. Maybe this is the first home she did by herself, which I'm sorry I don't even believe that!!!! You're exactly right and anonymous is exactly wrong! imo. You always have nice things to say about everyone and everything, except for one previously well documented and well deserved occasion, out of how many? Love YOU!!!!!!! Have fun in NYC, we're going in November!

Joni

Another Shade of Grey said...

Her home personally speaks about her, IMO. I do remember an Oprah episode where Gwynneth admitted to being OCD about germs. She's basically a germaphobe, which might explain why her home is so sterile looking. :)

patricia gray said...

I think it is interesting that Gwyneth has now graduated to being an Interior Designer and is quoted as giving out design advice. I love it that only in America can someone be taken seriously in another field of endeavour because they are a celebrity.

s, said...

I don't believe for a second that she did this on her own. Remember: Gwyneth stated years ago that she was raising her children with no help or staff and yet then was photographed numerous times with her children's nannies watching the kids while she's shopping and yakking on her cell phone.

I don't like this place at all, actually. I think it's cold and unfriendly and unpleasant. Not only because it's lacking personal details. But because the items seem sharp-edged and cool-coloured: nothings squishy or cozy. Even a summer house needs somewhere where a person can feel warm and enveloped!