Wednesday, 26 November 2008

are the doors closing on homes titles?

Is Domino going to go down like, um, a pile of dominoes? Hopefully not! Despite the fact I can't buy anything from its pages (sometimes due to price; mostly due to geography), I love flicking through it and stealing ideas. Image from Habitually Chic

It would seem so in the States where, like everything else in the world, they're in a little trouble. According to the Observer, when times are tough, people usually look to making their own homes that bit nicer - hence the need for magazines full of ideas and inspiring images. After all, they'll be eating and hanging out there much more than usual seeing as movies and entertaining luxuries are usually the first things to be scrapped from the budget. But the feeling out there (especially in the comments section of the Observer article!) is that the magazines on the stands aren't catering for those who need them the most. That the overcrowded "shelter" market is fillings its pages with items so expensive, it'd be a good few months wages for some households. And yet, the magazines that did encourage stylish, budget living (Blueprint; Budget Living) have - poof! - vanished from the stands. I wonder if people were snubbing the mags more suited to them for the more aspirational images and glossier lifestyle. And because they didn't want to be reminded of their situation. Or is the internet to blame? Why fork over cash for inspiration and ideas when you can get it for free on a blog, design website or Flickr? I, of course, am guilty of all of the above, but there is still nothing quite like flicking through a brand-new magazine.

I'd like to think that Real Living is a magazine for this era - from the start we've challenged ourselves to fill our pages with items that are both stylish and inexpensive. Occasionally, we slip up, and boy do we hear it when we do! But it's a good thing to be kept on our toes by our readers who want us to live up to our title. So we should! (And for the record, everyone has been briefed again recently to "keep it real") It's more of a challenge to create a stylish room on a budget - as I'm sure real homeowners are aware - so are we doing the trick? Why do you buy our mag (and others for that matter) - for the pretty pics? The info? The ideas? The shopping? The recipes? The projects? The articles? The fact the prices are (usually!) in your price range? And what would be your ultimate interiors mag? I'd love to hear. Call it a little market research!


Anna said...

I've bought RL since the first issue so part of it is that I'm hooked and I like waiting in anticipation for the next issue to come out at the newstand. With a 1.5 hour train commute to get home from work it's just the best way to relax and escape (and plan my next project of course using inspiration from my fave mag!).

Lanne said...

i too have bought every issue. I love it, and find mostly, it is priced within my price range. The magazine itself has gone up considerably from that first $4.95 issue though. A few friends have stopped buying it, as they feel it isn't good value. I feel it suits our style and the inspiration is still in there for me. I like that the prices are listed - even if i couldn't justify the actual item, i could look around for something similar. The big thing for me has been the Big W ads. Who would have thought .. Big W! Ok you have to hunt and seek... but they do have the occasional good buy!

tracey said...

Hi Belinda
I am sooo happy I found your blog. I am such a fan of realliving and it is my ambition to have my home photographed for your magazine. please view my blog or my pictures on flickr. Your blog is DIVINE!

Trixie Jones said...

A big part of why I read Real Living is that most the products are from Australian owned and made businesses. I like the idea of some of the DIY things but rarely would I ever do them. The lamp shadow from a few issues ago? I really did "lol".
It pays to subscribe too. Massive savings and you get the mag a few days before everyone else.

Duyvken said...

I have to say that I love Real Living. My sisters-in-law gave me a subscription for my birthday in Aug and I have loved getting it. All the homes featured are beautiful, there are plenty of practical yet still inspirational ideas and lots of good affordable sources and ideas. Hopefully you'll be around for quite a while!

Peachy Keen said...

I love RealLiving magazine for the simple reason that mostly, thats what it is...a magazine targeted at 'real' people, who do not have $4000 to spend on a light fitting, and are happy to shop at places like Ikea and Freedom...but with plenty of individuality thrown into the mix, and the occasional 'treat' item. That said, I have noticed that the houses being featured are getting quite fancy - I love pulling out my first couple of RealLiving mag, and looking at the real Real homes.

Anonymous said...

I too have been buying the magazine since it started and I think it's great (really should buy a subscription!). I thought it fantastic value at only $4.95 (and while it's still my 'must buy mag'), the price has risen quite a bit which I think brings it up the price of the others around. That said, I enjoy just about everything in the magazine.

I would so love to see more rental homes featured and ideas for decorating rentals. It's tough to have a stylish and affordable home with all the restrictions renting brings.

Love your blog Belinda!


Barb F said...

I have only discovered RL recently, and I am loving it. I am a subscriber to many interiors mags (Vogue Living, Home Beautiful, Belle, InsideOut, Domino), but find some of these titles are almost getting silly in their over-the-topness (Belle, for example, I have not renewed my subscription). I find myself becoming more inspired by truly creative people who can make beautiful homes in the real world, rather than those who just have stack of cash and access to top designers. These people should remain the focus of your magazine, it's what differentiates you from the others.

belinda graham said...

thanks guys, that's great! Always feel free to tell us your thoughts. We're forever shooting reader's emails and blog comments around the team so everyone can see what's being said. Sadly, prices go up and mags are not exempt from that, but I hope the value for money keeps getting better. And Jing, would you believe I've just been assigned a feature today on decorating for renters! It's scheduled for the April issue (and due next week. eek!) so I'll hopefully have some good tips for you x

Anonymous said...

Well B you know I'm a huge fan right from the beginning and I too hope to make it into the mag at some point in the future. I even had a huge chat about it with a customer at work. We both agreed (with others chiming in) it was the best value/inspiration.

I don't want it to get too Better Homes and Gardens-ish though. You appeal to renter as your ideas are cost effective and often temporary fixes. As a renter myself I find these ideas valuable.

I love layouts. Everyone wants to know the best layouts for different rooms and i love the "1 room 3 ways" specials. For renters its all about layout and accessories. I also love the DIY jobs. Spotlight should seriously start advertising in your mag.

I have to agree that some of the houses are getting a bit too flashy in your features but that said I love them. Maybe show a different house from each state each issue. Show the diversity of Australian living.

I also wouldn't mind seeing a story about broadening education and community involvement: Corro Courses, community art/language classes, team sports, volunteering.

I could go on forever but I'll stop there... but you did ask lol.

Natalie said...

I love your mag - it took me a few issues to get the hang of it, but now, along with Inside Out, it is my favourite read. It's great that you feature both Australian and overseas places that are more accessible to the renter / first home buyer bracket, and I am always inspired by the articles on designers and creative types who are just starting out - the article on the girls from Ortolan was excellent!
Keep up the good (and affordable!) work.

Anonymous said...

That's great Belinda, I look forward to reading it in the future!

Good luck with it all!


Amanda said...

I hope I'm not too late in replying to this.
I for one think magazines definitely still have a place. I was crushed to discover that Blueprint was no longer. My "mother in law" would send it from Canada for me every month. I do think the internet probably is to blame but the fact that Real Living shares items and places I can look up online is one of the things I love about it.
I used to hate when I'd see something in a magazine and then it would say "$450 See back for details" and then it would just be a phone number. I HATE that.
Your mag offers us quick and helpful ways to actually purchase the things you showcase and I know where a lot of the stores are!

You can't take your laptop to the beach or by the pool, that's what mags are made for. :)

I also love that you even share things from etsy. Its very real and yet still beautiful.
Thank you for creating a mag that is relevant.

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