Monday, August 17, 2009

Dear Shelter Mags, So Sorry I Dissed You

Over the years of my long career in design I must have read of thousands of shelter magazines. In the beginning I treasured every copy, reading them thoroughly from cover to cover and analyzing every picture. I even saved some my favorites and referred to them over and over again.

As my career progressed and became busier and busier I began to neglect and disrespect my mags. I would flip through them quickly scanning for items of interest or inspiring rooms. If I found something that struck my eye I would rip out the page in question and throw it in a messy pile to be sorted at a later date.

The remainder of the magazines corpse was tossed unceremoniously into the garbage can. I will admit that I put very little thought into the time and effort of the many individuals who worked tirelessly to produce the issue for my reading pleasure. I took them and the magazine for granted. I believed there would always be another volume showing up in my mailbox to entertain me, plus, I did not want to clutter up my meticulously styled bookshelves with magazines! How Tacky...

I developed a system that let me store the pages I tore out in a quickly referenced series of notebooks labeled and organized to hold images of a certain subject such as kitchens, or bathroom fixtures. I would tear pages out and my assistant would seal them in plastic page holders and file them away in their appropriate binder.

This system served me well for years but now I am living to regret my lack of respect for the many magazines that have ceased to exist over the past two years. I feel that I should have realized the importance of each issue instead of dissecting it and tossing it away with little or no regard to its content. Should I have saved them all, intact, for posterity? Are we seeing the permanent demise of the once thriving shelter mag industry? If so, should we treasure our remaining magazines before they also go the way of the dinosaur?

Personally, even though I have confessed to misusing and abusing my shelter mags, I always had a deep and abiding love for them. I always felt a rush of anticipation every time one would arrive in the mail and I neglected my important duties of the day to read them immediately upon arrival. I did store my chosen pages reverently behind plastic in binders for eternity. Now when my copy of Glamour magazine shows up in place of whatever subscription to a fabulous shelter mag that was canceled I want to gag.

I find myself jealous of other bloggers and designers who gave these magazines the respect they deserved and now have vast reference libraries of past issues to refer to. They show them off with such pride and dare I say, superiority at their having the foresight not to trash them as I did ( this may just be my imagination but I feel like they know I threw mine away, paranoia? I think not) I feel an immense sadness that I did not erect a huge monumental bookcase to store all of my mags in. It would have had to be a big one to hold them all.

Perhaps I should have wrapped them all in custom covers to make a style statement.

Or should I have gone reverent and stored them like this? They probably would have preferred this environment over the trash can.

I wish I could have foreseen the future and kept them all. This bookshelf would have held a few.

Thankfully it's never too late to start so from now until the last shelter mag left on Earth showcases a product or room that I can't live without I will refrain from tearing them to pieces and give them a respectable home in a bookshelf devoted to their own kind.

In closing, to all of the individuals who worked so hard to produce the issues that I tore apart with my bare hands; I am very sorry and I promise not to do it again.

How do you store your old magazines?

Do you plan on saving magazines now?

Let's Discuss.


Annie Davis said...


Don't feel bad - I think I've done virtually the same thing as you over the years.

But, I don't think I'll change much now. I'm too OCD to have those soft magazines sliding on the shelves next to the books that stand up so nicely. :)

I do have magazine "boxes" and save some of the ones that are more special, but I just can't save them all - they would take over my house!

katiedid said...

Hi Jackie!
I have saved and saved, much to my husband's irritation. When we moved I had boxes and boxes of magazines. Not until the last year did I have a place to store them all. But I now have shelves full in my new-ish home office, and I am so very happy that I kept them all: House and Garden, Domino, Southern Accents, Western Interiors,O at Home, Blueprint and many of the others that have fallen recently. And I plan to keep my AD, Met Home and Elle Decor, House Beautiful and Living....each and every issue!

Linda Merrill said...

You are funny. And, you're not alone. I used to keep magazines, but lacking any real storage options,I eventually tossed them. I just can't stand the piles I guess. I tried to do the tear out thing, but that lasted only so long. I even tried to create a database where I scanned images with references to the magazines - but that was hopelessly time consuming. At times I wish I had the ability to pull something out of the archives, but it's just too much for me!

Tracy Watier said...

Oh, I feel your angst and regret! I have always been torn between saving and tossing. So I'd save the entire year's-worth of as many titles as I subscribed to (sometimes as many as ten!), then in January of the new year I'd settle in on a couple of winter-weather days and pour through all the previous year's issues... looking for anything to tear out that I hadn't already, or deciding to keep the entire issue intact. I'd neatly stack and bag up any that I didn't intend to keep and try to find someone to donate them to who would fully appreciate them(!!)... like a neighbor or relative in the midst of redecorating. Sounds crazy, I know, and I'm sure a few recipients thought I was a little off my rocker!! Now that so many mags have closed, I wish like you do that I'd saved more... Southern Accents and Country Home specifically. This year, as always, I've held on to all the 2009 issues that have entered the house. Come January, I may have a harder time tossing any of them, knowing that they just might be the "last". (I can't help but think how lucky I am that this is something I have the luxury to fret about!) Love the post, Jackie... and wish I had a big giant library like the ones you show so this wouldn't be an issue at all!

Phyllis Dobbs said...

I am just like you, ripping the pages out then tossing. Now,I have stacks & stacks of pages to file. I really love magazines and hated to toss them. Now, I'm giving it a second thought or at least until I run out of storage. I'm afraid physical magazines will be obsolete one day - what a horrible though!

Hill Country House Girl said...

Hi Jackie - I loved this post and am so sorry you threw out all of your magazines! I, like Katie, have kept mine, much to my husband's dismay. I keep them in a new armoire that he had when we married. I never liked it much, but we kept it. In each place we live,it always gets put in an extra room or office, but over time has become perfect for my magazine storage! I have them all, but I do wonder how long I can keep it up without his insistence that I throw at least some of them away! If that happens I will send them your way!

Michelle said...

It's funny...I can go back and find a 8 year old article from a wall of magazines. I used to be a tear-er, but not now.

I actually paid to move 6 boxes or so from Florida to Victoria, because I just can't give them up.

My favs: Elle Decor and Met Home, but I have over 10 years of AD. I wonder how many of us use the expedit bookshelves from IKEA...they are great for mags.

Great Post Jackie...

Unknown said...

At this moment, I don't have a system. I thought it would be a great idea to rip the pages I liked out and scan them into my computer, but that got old very fast! I did that with all of my old House Beautiful issues as well as HOME and various other mags.

Now, I don't rip anything out of my Traditional Home, Southern Accents, and Veranda issues. My mom is like why do you keep those magazines! She just doesn't understand!

Design magazines and good ink pens make me sooo happy!

Anonymous said...

I save entire magazines of my favorites and those issues that blend with my own personal design aesthetics. I am afraid I do not house them in anything special, just plain white magazine file organizers that can be marked. There are some I still tear from and add to style notebooks. I already own three large plastic storage containers full of magazines, which my dh will definitely complain about moving if we ever move again, he doesn't understand, but he moves them for me anyway. I would be lost without my magazines. I recently was on bed rest for 7 weeks and those came in handy and kept me from going crazy. The great part is you always see something different in them each time you look through them.

cotedetexas said...

I saved Veranda and SA intact and AD, but recently have been throwing those out. But now I take as many magazines digitally as I can - I love that system. it's wonderful!!! no paper!!!

Recruitment said...

That’s awesome book collection. This is the room I’ve always dreamed of to have lots and lots of book collection. i can't wait to grab a copy of this magazine.

mining jobs said...

Great book collection! It doesn’t look like a library. It looks like a room where you can get comfortable reading books.

Recruitment said...

Now! This I what I call an amazing collection!

Anonymous said...

I also have a very large collection of shelter magazines, and I keep them all. I store them in large plastic bins in the basement, each labeled with a specific month. Each month I bring the current bin up to the living area and take the month to enjoy as many of them as possible. I also put post-it's on the pages that inspire me the most, for quick reference in the future. The bin is kept out of site and each magazine receives annual attention.

Janet said... bins, in boxes, under the bed, in baskets, in the spare room at my mothers. I keep them all, it's a sickness, I need help. ;) But I love them.

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