26 September 2012

Another Bait and Switch


 

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It’s déjà vu all over again.  Just a few weeks ago, Reese Witherspoon splashed her historic Libbey Ranch in Ojai on the pages of Elle Décor.  Declaring it a "work of art” that she is just a caretaker of, the ranch is surprisingly now for sale for a cool $10,000,000.  That’s quite a gain from the $5.8 million she paid Kathryn Ireland for it in 2008.  Though Kathryn lived there, restored it and wrote a book about the ranch, rumors are that she never actually owned it.  Reese bought the ranch furnished, but she was quick to hire L.A. decorator to the stars, Kristen Buckingham, to rid the interiors of anything that looked like Kathryn, or so it was said.  The photos from Elle Décor showed a completely different looking estate from when Kathryn lived there – it was now sophisticated and cool in neutral tones – long gone were Ireland’s vibrant and colorful fabrics (or so it seemed in Elle Decor.)  Antiques and mid century pieces mixed together to make it all very hip, very today.   While I absolutely loved what Buckingham did, readers of Cote de Texas mostly disagreed with me and in the comments section, Ireland won the contest, hands down. 
So why is Reese selling?  In the Elle Décor article, Reese states that she wanted the ranch in order to give her children the same experience she had growing up in Tennessee.  She wanted her children to get “muddy” and play outdoors with all the animals.  Towards that purpose, she brought in horses, ponies, donkeys, pigs, chickens, goats and four dogs – all for the benefit of her two children and her baby, soon to be born.  Reese told Elle Décor she felt relaxed the moment she drove through the gates – where the phones don’t ring and there is no access to email (maybe that is why she is selling, no email would drive me insane!)   Within an hour of arriving, she would be sleeping on the big couch.  Doesn’t sound like someone who is close to selling, does it? 
 
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The same sell off happened to Kathryn Ireland.   In a snarky way, I reported on the event on the blog -   after appearing in two major magazines and writing a book, Ireland put the estate up for sale.  Were we, the readers, now expected to be targeted customers in a  high stakes real estate war?  Was there anything wrong with magazines pimping out their readers as potential clients?   Did it matter? 
That whole magazine/book episode with Ireland seemed highly manipulative to me at the time, but I’ve since noticed it seems to be a trend.  Many times an interior designer or actor will show off their home in a magazine as a prelude to putting it on the market.    Reese doing it shouldn’t be so surprising, but she did sound rather sincere in the interview stating how much at home she felt at the ranch.  Maybe the decision to sell had nothing to do with the timing of the magazine spread.  Perhaps Reese agreed to the magazine spread just to show off the work of Buckingham – and it does deserve to be seen.   Still, does it make a difference if the article was only to show the interior design or to show off the estate to perspective buyers?   Is it a bait and switch?  Is the article really saying – come inside my house, it’s  beautiful – look at the way I live my life, and  oh, by the way, this TOO can be YOURS, all for a cool $10 million.
And then there is the subject of the bait and switch furniture.  Seeing the rooms in the real estate brochure, you will see that Reese’s house looks little like it appears in Elle  Décor.   The difference between the two is quite shocking.   The magazine shows you rooms that really don’t exist.  The more I looked and studied the differences, the more manipulated I felt.  I’m curious if you will feel the same way.  When you look at a magazine, do you expect the house to look something like the pictures?   Or does that not matter to you?  I must say, that I think it does matter to me.  I don’t mind the stylist adding flowers and pillows, but when they totally redo an entire room just for the magazine shoot, it goes a little beyond the pale.    Just admit it – be honest about it.  The readers of magazines that cost over $5 deserve as much. 
Another thing that hit me while looking at the photographs from the real estate brochure, is how talented the photographers who work for the magazines truly are.  Under their eye and the careful work of the stylists, they can make a shack look like the Palace of Versailles.  The photographs in magazines are works of art and nothing will drive home that point more than a real estate brochure with their photographs taken without the help of a trendy stylist.  And it’s not just the stylist that is important – so is the sun.  Landscaping looks so much more appealing when the sun is out brightly shining or is dappled through the shade of a large tree.   And even inside a house, the interiors show off so much better when natural light is streaming through the windows.   Who would think one house for sale would create so much to ponder?
And then there is the real estate brochure itself.   Suddenly, there are pictures of rooms and rooms that have never been seen before!   I honestly thought I would never write about the Libbey Ranch again.  But, seeing all these new photographs of rooms never shown before piqued my interest and hopefully will interest you too.   People must still be interested in this ranch – Kathryn Ireland’s book is now out of stock at Amazon! 
One more point in driving the desire to write about it again is there is a lesson here to compare the magazine photographs with the real estate photographs to learn how to take better photographs.  I know I’ve picked up a few tips myself.   The appearance of a room in Elle Décor compared to how it really looks is startling, begging to answer, what is true – what is real?   So, indulge me one more time with this look at the Ojai Ranch – until the new owners decide to open their doors to House Beautiful or World of Interiors.
Enjoy!
 
William Waldron took the photographs for Elle Décor.   I have no idea who the photographer for the real estate agent was. 
The listing agent is up for a guess.  The property seems to be listed with several agents.  My advice is just to google it to find a realtor if you are interested.
The house is described as Spanish, built in 1923, in excellent condition with views of the mountains.    There are 9 bedrooms!  Five full and 2 1/2 bathrooms.  I can only count 7 bedrooms, so 2 must be hiding somewhere. 
 
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The Libbey Ranch as photographed for Kathryn Ireland’s book.  Notice how charming it looks with the gates, windows and French doors all open – as if welcoming you inside.  The sun is bright, yet the tree provides dappled shade.  The house looks romantic and beautiful.
 
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Now, notice in this real estate photograph taken for Kathryn Ireland, the charm is somewhat diminished.  The gates and windows are now closed.  The large tree is mostly cut of out of the photo.  The angle of the photograph is not as appealing as the one above, taken for the book.
 
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And here, without the bright sun, the courtyard looks almost dismal.   This really shows how important the sun is  when taking pictures of exteriors. 
 
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By comparison, the real estate brochure for Reese shows the importance of the landscape – now overgrown and much more lush than when Kathryn planted it.  Again, the sun makes it all look bright and cheerful. But where is that atmospheric tree?  This less skillful photographer didn’t include it in the photo.
 
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Ah, here it is.   Reese’s real estate photographer pulled further away and now shows the tree.
 
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And even further away – the first photograph of the house where you can see the front side of both wings at the same time.  Beautiful gravel driveway.
 
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When Kathryn listed the ranch, this photograph showed off the courtyard.
 
 
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Reese’s brochure shows the courtyard from the balcony, a slightly better and much more interesting view.
 
 
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For her book, the photographer caught the courtyard teeming with life – two horses, and a running dog – it all looks inviting and lovely.  He also captures the flower pots on the stairs and the curtains blowing in the wind.  (Remember those plaid curtains, they show up later.)
 
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For Elle Décor, an equally nice photograph, but notice the sun is not shining – and it makes everything not quite as welcoming.   Had there been some dappled sun behind them, it would seem so much more atmospheric.  Great styling 
 
 
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In this rare photo, you can see how the courtyard looked before Kathryn bought the ranch.  There was a dead tree in the middle of the courtyard – and two tall cypress on the back side that were all removed.  Inside, the courtyard was flagstone and grass – all removed by Kathryn.   Instead of a fountain, there was a birdbath in the middle of the courtyard.   The entire wing on the left had to be renovated – and it was turned into one luxurious guest suite.  The Harold Ramis’ lived  here at this time.  Without the beautiful landscaping, the courtyard doesn’t look nearly as lush or manicured – the curb appeal is lacking. 
 
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And another view of the real estate brochure that shows how the ranch looked when Kathryn bought it.  Notice the walkway and grass where there is now a fountain and gravel.  Kathryn replaced all the flags and grass with French styled gravel.  In France, the gravel keeps owners alerted to robbers – whose footsteps loudly crunch in the stones.  I can attest this is true!  I can always hear the gardener before I see him – his noisy, crunching steps give him away. 
 
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And here is how Kathryn’s real estate brochure captured the tower and fountain. Nice enough…
 
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But Reese’s photograph is the best – the tower and fountain are tightly cropped – the photographer shows the water in the pond and the lavender surrounding it.  The shot looks good enough to be in a magazine.  It is definitely a more pleasing shot than Kathryn’s.   Good real estate photographs are especially important in the internet age.  If the photographs aren’t appealing, you can lose hundreds of potential buyers.
 
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Kathryn’s real estate pix of her front door shows off lots of chipped paint.
 
Reese’s more tightly cropped shot shows the doors looking much more fitting for a $10 million ranch.  And the view of the courtyard is gorgeous!
 
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Inside the main room:  A rare look at how it all began.  The large medallion shape on the tall mantel was copied by Kristen Buckingham for Reese.  There appears to be a large area rug, and not much furniture except for a couch on the right wall and a few chairs.  A dinner table is set under the stairs.  Notice the chandelier is here – and remains at the estate today.  Technically, Reese could claim the chandelier as her property and not sell it with the ranch.   I do wonder if she will sell the property furnished. 
 
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And these two rare pictures, above and below, show the real estate brochure from before Kathryn Ireland’s time when the Ramis lived here.  Notice the same light fixture.  Also, the house looks like it was decorated in Mexican chic with lots of serapes, which is actually fitting for the ranch.   It seems very similar to Kathryn’s vibrant interiors.
 
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And here, facing the fireplace with a Spanish bench instead of a sofa. 
 
 
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Kathryn’s living room was styled several different times for magazines and her book.  But always, her room was bright and cheery and ethic looking.  Here, the stylist added flower pots to the rotunda room’s balcony.   There was always stacked wood on each side of the fireplace.  Fabrics were from her own new line and from Robert Kime, whose fabrics she once sold in her showroom. 
 
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A slightly different view, from the loft room.  Here she added an antique chair, a rug and different styling on the console. 
 
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And here, looking towards the dining area where her more formal meals were eaten – across from the front door.
 
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A closer view showing the large fireplace with its old screen.  Not sure why they didn’t light the fire?!  Fireplaces do look prettier when they are lit. 
 
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For the book, it was styled with red flowers and red candlesticks – on the cover of the book, the large painting was removed in order to leave room for the book’s title. Missing are the plants on the balcony.  Can you spot other styling differences between the photos?
 
 
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Now – look at this photograph for the real estate brochure.  Is it even the same room?  Yes, it is – and actually most of the furniture is still here, but the quality of the photograph is so bad compared to the book photographs – it looks like it’s been stripped bare.  There’s no welcoming fire, the plant is not in full bloom and the photo is taken from so far away – it’s hard to see details.   What a terrible photograph.  Why do the agents take such bad shots?  They should try to sell the house, not deter buyers!
 
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The book’s photo of the area under the living room’s stair shows a French bench with Fortuny pillows and a throw.  There’s also a blue pillow, along with colorful glasses on the sill – and an area rug is barely seen.  Simple styling additions can make a huge difference. 
 
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For the real estate brochure – all the pillows and throws, rug, and glasses are long gone.   Were they returned to the shop?   Why?  Look how empty the space looks without the benefit of the stylist’s extras.   Now, some real estate agents will edit a room to make it less personal, and therefore more inviting for a prospective home owner.  They want the buyer to be able to imagine themselves in the space.  But, when a house doesn’t really need editing or cleaning up – why change it, like they did in this photo?  It’s possible that this is how Kathryn really lived in this space – without all the extra accessories that were brought in for the photoshoot. I think that is probably the real truth here. 
 
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For Kathryn’s book, she filled up the upstairs loft with furniture and art and then lit the fire.  The rugs and pillows and exotic accessories add depth and texture to the room.  But this was all for show.  The furniture probably all went back to the shops the next day.
 
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For her real estate brochure – all that furniture in the loft is now long gone.  Again, returned to the shop?   When your house is placed on the market, you don’t know how long it will take to sell, so why remove all the furniture, unless it wasn’t there to begin with.  Bait and switch.   Now, let’s see how Reese’s living room fared under the lens of the real estate photographer:
 
 
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Here is Elle Décor’s photograph of Kristen Buckingham’s beautiful interior design. Looking at this room again – I am struck by how truly beautiful it all looks.  I love it.    A textured rug anchors the room – as does the back to back sofas with the two green lamps.   The lamps are so stunning- they become the focal point of the room.  I wasn’t crazy about these lamps at first, but on second look – I really like them now.   A tufted banquette sits by the curtains and a large coffee table anchors the setting.   I especially love the pedestal with the metal sculpture.   Ready????
 
And here is the same room in the real estate brochure.  The rug and  lamps and pillows remain, as do the two leather chairs.  But the coffee table is gone – back to the store?  And the pedestal and sculpture are also gone.  And it’s a wonder no one ever tripped on that exposed lamp cord and killed themselves.  How could such a beautiful room now look so….ordinary?
 
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The gorgeous photograph as seen in Elle Décor – with the round bust on the fireplace and the much maligned plant at the right of the fireplace.  There’s a handsome chest – and notice the beautiful trestle desk between the two sofas.   One thing lacking in the Elle Décor pictures is the sun.   It must have been overcast that day.  A bit more sun streaming through the windows would have been so beautiful.   But, still, this photograph is gorgeous (even with that stupid plant!)  Ready?
 
Ouch!  Really.  No medallion here – that is long gone, along with the coffee table.  The desk remains, thank God!  The tall French chair remains but this room looks nothing like it did in the magazine.  Photographer or Stylist?  What is missing?  And notice, in real life, Reese uses Kathryn’s firescreen, but in the Elle Décor pictures – there is no screen.  I guess they didn’t like it as much as I did.
 
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In Elle Décor, under the stairs, there is a beautiful desk with a lamp and accessories.  The photograph is perfectly cropped  - showing just the arch of the stairs. 
 
 
And here in the real estate picture you can see – the desk is gone, but the stool remains along with the two new urns.   Also, here you can see that the chest and the tufted banquette remain next to the fireplace, but the plant is long gone.  This view also shows the second sofa and arm chair with the large ottoman that you couldn’t see in the Elle Décor pictures.  This real estate photograph looks better than the others, probably because there are features that are closely cropped – like the beams and the wing chair. 
 
 
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And in this beautiful photograph in Elle Décor, you can see the center table with  two chairs, the controversial brass étagère and the leather club chair.   The black desk under the stairs is also visible.  This is such a pretty photograph.  Notice how the space where is étagère really needs a tall piece there.   Rather you like the brass or not, the proportions are perfect.  Ready?
 
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And in this real estate photograph, you can see the center table and beautiful chairs are long gone, as is the leather club chair.   And if you look very closely – you can actually see the black desk is there in the same space where the brass étagère was!!!!  You can just barely see it’s leg.  So, for the Elle Décor photoshoot the stylist or Buckingham – moved the black desk to make room for the brass étagère that Reese maybe owned or maybe didn’t.  This was a good decision because that area does need height in that corner.  You can also see how much the center table and chairs added to this room.  Without them, the space in front of the door looks empty.   Again, the talent of the Elle Décor photographer (William Wendon) is really evident when you compare his photos with these real estate photos. 
 
 
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And in the real estate brochure, we now have a chance to look at Reese’s room above the living room, which was missing from the Elle Décor layout.  Ikat pillows in blues and line greens mix with a moss green velvet sofa and blue sofa and club chairs.  Below is a textured rug.  At the window are blue curtains.  A great room for watching football games – right?  Just like what is on the TV!  And that’s a great tip for flatscreens.  Instead of having a big black empty box, turn the TV onto to something pretty,  if possible.  Or photoshop a painting onto the screen. 
 
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Now, this is where the questions begin.  This is the small rotunda room that overlooks the living room with its Juliet balcony.  Here is how Kathryn Ireland furnished it, with cane chairs and sconces and an ethnic rug. 
 
And here is how it looks in Reese’s real estate photographs.  No way that Kristen Buckingham touched this room.  It has the same cane chairs and sconce that Kathryn used.  And the curtains – you can see these same plaid curtains in the window in the photograph where Kathryn is with her horses. Even the same basket remains!    So what’s the problem?  I was under the impression that Reese had gotten rid of all Kathryn’s furniture – immediately.  But as this room show, and others will too, this isn’t the case at all.   UNLESS – certain rooms were photographed before Buckingham had finished decorating?   But why would that be done?  Also, I was under the impression that this room had been turned into a library by Reese.  Nope.   And notice that ceiling fixture – no wonder Kathryn didn’t ever photograph it!!  It’s scary!!   So, now begins the game of finding things that Kathryn left behind that Reese kept.   Want to play?
 
On to the right wing – where the kitchen and family room are:
 
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The kitchen, as Kathryn found it.  She removed the upper cabinets and added the large refrigerator and a desk to the left of the side door.   The island was made out of old doors, but wasn’t sturdy enough to house the range, so it was replaced.  I like the old island.    She also painted many of the beams white to make it brighter.  This wing used to be the old carriage house.  The fireplace was added when the wing was converted to the kitchen/family room.
 
 
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For the book and magazines, Kathryn styled the kitchen and breakfast area to look like a very colorful and lively place.  The sun outside was bright, as were the interiors inside.  She draped textiles over chairs and placed colorful dishes and pottery around.  Above is a classic iron fixture, probably antique.  Notice the original tiled floor.  Kathryn had to add new tiles in the kitchen area that didn’t match, but meshed instead.   This is a perfect photograph – inviting and fun!  You want to join in a grab a glass of juice or sit down at the laptop.
 
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Now, here is what the kitchen really looked like – when it wasn’t styled!  Wow.  So different!  Isn’t it amazing what a good photographer and stylist can do to a space!??!!  It looks like a different kitchen.  And here you can see the tiles that Kathryn laid in the  kitchen.  Should she have removed the old tiles to match the new ones?  Or put wood down here instead of trying to match old vs. new tiles?  I would have put wide planked, aged wood down, but no one asked me.
 
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And here is how Kathryn styled the family room at the other side of the kitchen. Long sofas with slips, club chairs, and an ethnic door made into a coffee table. Lots of pillows wearing her fabrics were added, as were colorful accessories like the two stools on the hearth.   Again, a perfect photograph – one where you would love to join in.
 
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And, the same space on the real estate brochure- without the attractive accessories or pillows or throws or rugs.  At least the fire is going.  I wonder if this how it really looked day by day – or not?  It looks positively depressing compared to the other photograph.
 
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Now, here is what the kitchen looks like in Reese’s real estate brochure.  It does seem  much more colorful and lively than Kathryn’s real estate kitchen.  But that may be due to the red stools.  At least they opened the windows and doors to look more welcoming.  Now, get ready:
 
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Remember this gorgeous photograph of the dining room from Elle Décor?  It featured two custom banquettes and an assortment of Swedish chairs and wing chairs – all antique.  The Swedish chairs were period antique.  I remarked this was the prettiest room – and it is, in this photograph at least.  And notice the lighting in this picture.  Not too bright – instead it’s rather moody with just a bit of sun streaming through the window.  You can’t really tell the color of the banquettes – or they green or gray or khaki?  The curtains look soft and full in this light.   Just perfection.   Now get ready for a huge, huge disappointment…
 
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The same room!!!  OK – it’s the same dining room table (I guess) and the same banquettes, but the period Swedish chairs – gone.  The gorgeous wing chairs?  Gone.  Probably the chest is gone too.  Instead she is using Kathryn’s old tacky breakfast room chairs with some ugly schmatte on the table.  Even the curtains look limp and boring.   I could CRY!!!!!!!!!   See what I mean about a talented photographer making a shack look like the Palace of Versailles?  No, I’m not saying this is a shack, but it certainly looks nothing like the photograph in Elle Décor.  Besides the bait and switch furniture, there is the lighting of the room that is so important.  I had no idea!   Notice how gorgeous the room is lit in the Elle Décor picture.   Oh, seriously, I could cry looking at this mess compared to that gorgeous Elle Décor photograph.   I’ll bet it took them hours to take that one picture.  Hours.   You know who else cries when she see this?  Buckingham.  Honey, I’m right there with you. 
 
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I barely want to continue on.  Well, this is cute.  Cute striped ottoman.  I like the chairs and the brown sofa.   I like this.  Of course they didn’t photograph this.   And those red bar stools in the kitchen?  They don’t go with anything.  At all.  Why are they there?  
 
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Well, it could look like this – this is how it looked when the Ramis lived here – Mexican sofas – actually this is cute.  My sister-in-law Shannon would love this!!
 
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And here, in Kathryn’s real estate brochure – you can see the back of the kitchen wing.  The large fireplace is covered in ivy.   To the right is the bedroom wing.   Let’s see how they really lived on the outside terrace:
 
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On the terrace outside the living room Kathryn Ireland styled this photograph for the book – how darling is this?  I love how she adds all the pillows and lanterns and textiles to her photographs.  Of course, I shouldn’t be fooled that she actually live this way.
 
 
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Here is how the terrace really looked when Kathryn live there.  Quite different. 
 
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I should have known it was all fake.  She schlepped the same arrangement all over the ranch – including here, out by the bedroom wing.  I even spied this sofa in the living room in one of the real estate photos!  See if you can spot it there too.  OY!  This is worse than the moving flower arrangement.   That happens when there is only one vase of flowers and the stylist will move it from room to room for a photoshoot.  It’s called Spot the Vase of Flowers.   Here, Kathryn plays the same game with furniture.  By the way, this sofa is for sale on her web site.  Don’t even ask how much.  AND, this gorgeous tree?  It’s gone now.  Looks healthy to me, but it must have died.
 
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Don’t think Reese didn’t fake us out with her terrace.  Remember this to-die-for photo from Elle Décor.   Those white covered teak lounges against the hot pink and purple flowers = gorgeous! At least the photographer got some sun for this photo.  Absolutely breathtaking!!!  GORGEOUS.
 
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And here is reality via Reese’s real estate photos.  Now, I’m not going to argue against Kooboo chairs, and this looks pretty cute, but it can’t compare to the styled photograph.  Even the flowers look dull compared to the Elle Décor photo. 
 
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Before it was a second home, the ranch was really a barn for animals.  Here is the back side of the rotunda – where later Kathryn would add an outdoor eating area. 
 
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And here is how she styled that area for the book.  Again, a perfect photograph.  Bright and cheery and most certainly an invitation to join in the meal.  Across the back terrace, you can see her master bedroom house. 
 
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And another view – you can see the arch of the rotunda.  She added the iron pergola to shade the table.  There is no photo to show how this really looked, when the photographers weren’t there.
 
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And how it looks under Reese’s ownership – she kept Kathryn’s table and added new chairs.  Again, a beautiful photograph.   Well, she added the wicker chairs.  Those metal chairs?   They are for sale on Buckingham’s web site.  Price wasn’t listed, but I can only imagine how precious they are. 
 
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In reality – here is how that space looks – taken at Reese’s wedding.  It looks like the table and chairs that are shown on the terrace are actually used here – with the wicker chairs.  The pergola isn’t quite nearly as full and lush, but it is still a pretty spot for an outdoor meal. 
 
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Here’s how Kathryn decorated the walkway outside the bedroom wing – lots of antique rugs and lanterns and even a cute dog!!!   Yeah, right.  Still, a beautiful photo even though it is nothing like the reality.
 
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Of course, this is how Kathryn really lived – with the bare necessities.  All the stylist’s tricks are gone, returned to their real home, in the shops.  You can see here how Kathryn planted vines around the columns – below you will see how full those vines are now. 
 
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Reese’s real estate brochure captured the main house, the back terrace and the bedroom wing where the children’s rooms are.  Reese’s and Kathryn’s bedroom is in the house on the left.    Notice the vines around the columns – so full.  And there are now vines crawling up the rock turret too. 
 
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The two children’s rooms in the bedroom wing behind the back terrace – were decorated for Kathryn’s three boys.  Here is one bedroom – with a trestle desk, a green chair and a cute mattress with red pillows – all dressed up in Kathryn’s fabrics.  Of course, this photograph taken for the book is highly appealing – bright and welcoming. 
 
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And here is how it really looked – on Kathryn’s real estate brochure.  While the bedding is the same, it just lacks that perfect styling.   You can even see the same globe in the mirror!  The photographer chose the worst angle from which to take his photograph.  So dreary.  Why would anyone want to sleep here?  Why would anyone want to buy this?  And the lighting – see how important it is in a photograph?  This room looks hospital drab instead of bright white.
 
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The very same room – decorated for Reese’s son.  People remarked on that chair – from Bunny Williams’ line – saying how expensive it was to be in a kid’s room.  Reese obviously agreed with you.   Such a wonderfully decorated room for a boy.  The colors are great – browns and blues with a hint of green.  The light fixture and sconces are darling, along with the saddle chair and cowboy boots.  What a lucky boy!  Too bad he never got to claim this as his own.   BTW, notice how the horse just happens to standing outside the window.  Hmm.  That must have been one really lucky photographer!   haha  Ready to see the truth?
 
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Here is how the room REALLY looks like - in the real estate brochure.  Reese kept the bedding left by Ireland and even used the same desk and green chair and rug and curtains and globe!!!  In the Elle Décor shoot – there isn’t one thing that is in this room – including the Bunny Williams chair.  They must have spent days styling this room for the photoshoot.  They even put up new lampshades on the sconces and a light fixture.  Well, they did a great job – the Elle Décor room is certainly cuter than the real one – thanks to Buckingham.  Notice too, again, how important lighting is.  Compare the lighting in this photograph with the Elle Décor one.  It makes a huge difference.  Again, the Elle Décor photographs are like works of art. 
 
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In the second bedroom – this is how Kathryn found the room, with dark beams and dark wood on the bunks and doors.
 
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And here is how she decorated it for the book – more reds and plaids and yellows. And notice that chair. It shows up again and again.
 
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And here is the same room – decorated for Reese’s daughter.  Well, this is how it looked in Elle Décor, decorated by Kristen Buckingham.  So cute – we all agreed. In fact, many of you felt this was the cutest room in the house!   The bedding, the chairs – the fabrics!  That light fixture, the rug – that table ---  soooo darling and soooo fake!  Even the wicker dog is fake.
 
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And here is how it REALLY looks – poor Reese’s daughter.  I mean it’s cute and all, but nothing like it looked like in Elle Décor.  Reese used the same light fixtures, the same pillows, the same and even the same yellow chest!  That rug even came out of one of the bathrooms.   BTW – that cute chandelier in the Elle Décor bedroom? It’s for sale on Buckingham’s web site. Yep.  Except it’s wearing the red shades found in the boy’s bedroom.  See:
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At first the kids bedrooms really confused me – and I thought that maybe these real estate pictures were taken before these bedrooms were remodeled.  But, the more I thought about it – I really think that no, those Elle Décor rooms were just styled for the magazine.   Why would you take real estate pictures and then remodel?  It just didn’t make any sense.  Now, if I am wrong, I’ll let you know.  But I really think that the Elle Décor shoot was done knowing the ranch was going to be put up for sale and they wanted it to look really good, hence all the extra styling to make the house look like it really doesn’t.  And here I thought that kind of entire house restyling didn’t go on anymore.  That’s what the editors and interior designers keep telling us on the Skirted Roundtable.   Snort.
 
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Here’s a bathroom, styled by Kathryn for her book – you can see the same bathmat that is now in Reese’s daughter’s bedroom.   I love how Kathryn uses the small wood stools as tables in her bathrooms.  And notice the cute shade on the sconce – it’s covered in her fabric. 
 
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The master bedroom is in this cute house – located at the end of the bedroom wing.  Kathryn expanded that window on the left and cleared out brush and trees so that she could see the distant mountains while lying in her bed!    While the main house looks Spanish and French inspired, this cottage looks like it belongs in the Cotswold's in the English countryside.  And you can see where she started the vine on the turret – that is now much fuller.
 
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Inside the room off the entrance rock turret, Kathryn used her fabric to make portieres.   Her master bedroom was styled several different ways for different photoshoots.  Here is one way with that French chair (remember that chair, it shows up later.)
 
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And the fireplace was styled more serenely for another photoshoot – using a different chair – that shows up later.
 
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Here is the bed in the master bedroom – styled one way – all with Kathryn’s own fabrics, of course.  I love the bedroom this way – so Kathryn!  Of course all these photographs are wonderful -  professional, and it shows. 
 
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And yet another way, with a suzani bedspread.
 
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The master bathroom was completely renovated – with an old mirror and that French chair – it really gets around.  Kathryn’s fabric on this chair is one of my favorites of hers.    Love this bathroom.
 
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The interior design great  Barry Dixon used the same Ireland paisley print in his own guest room – which he calls the Kathryn Ireland Bedroom – beautiful!  I love the plates around the gorgeous canopy.   And notice the headboard!  So wonderful!
 
OK, OK – let’s get back to the ranch and see what Kathryn’s bedroom REALLY looked like: 
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And here it is – that wonderful, full of life bedroom as it really looked like – without the styling and the fancy photographers.  As you can see, all the charming chairs and rugs are gone.  You can just make out the quilt in this picture.  And notice that windowseat.  Please – when you make a window seat – use down wrapped foam or pure down, NOT just a long piece of straight foam.  It looks awful.  A window seat should be inviting, it should be full and comfy looking – beckoning you to come and sit down on it.    This looks like a piece of plyboard.  Never, ever do this, please!!!!!     Terrible, terrible photograph.  Again, why would anyone be enticed to view this property as a potential home looking like this? 
 
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Reese’s bedroom was not shown in Elle Décor – but here it is.  A new bed, with all white linens, but she did keep Kathryn’s green curtains, the French chair and even her fireplace basket.  Again – notice the flatscreen.  It doesn’t look like a black hole, but instead it is reflecting the outdoors.  Wonder how he did that?    This is the only photograph of the bedroom that shows how the bed is flanked by two archways.  I hadn’t seen that before.  Very pretty.  And Reese added a rug from Morocco.  I will assume Kristen helped her with this, it’s very nice looking – using bits of Kathryn’s décor mixed with hers.   But, I could be wrong!  
 
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In this view, you can see that Reese kept Kathryn’s curtains and even the portieres!  Well, she must be a bit blind to have kept that window seat with a pillow that doesn’t even match!  On second thought, Buckingham would  have NEVER approved this!     And that rug?  It should be placed 3/4ths or 1/2 the way under the bed.  I remember worrying about where Reese would put the baby – even thinking she could put her in that room up the steps – until she or he is older, at least.  Guess they don’t have to worry about that now!
 
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And as seen in the real estate brochure – nothing was changed – not even the chairs or the wood stool.  There’s a new bathmat though. 
 
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And now, to the guest suite – located on the left wing.  We have even more new pictures, never seen before.  This entire section of the house was redone by Kathryn – it was formerly horse stalls and then storage.  This would be a great place to stay -  you could walk across the courtyard for meals or through the rotunda to enter the main living room or out back to the terrace and outdoor dining area.   OK, I’m ready – just invite me!
 
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And here is the left wing, which now houses the main guest room, as Kathryn found it – an unfinished room.  Here you can see all the dark brown trim that Kathryn painted what she calls “Ojai Green.”  I like the green so much more than the brown.  It reminds me of what is known as Messel Green – a paint that Oliver Messel used on all his houses on the island of Mustique.  If interested, read my extensive study of Messel HERE.
 
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Kathryn designed the main guest suite to function also as a master bedroom.  She said this was the most preferred guest room on the estate.   Her new fabric line looks great here.
 
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And here is the bathroom as redone by Kathryn.
 
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Here is the guest suite – now redecorated for Reese.  Not shown in Elle Décor – this probably was designed by Kristen Buckingham, but I have no way of knowing for sure.  It is all new though – and quite attractive.  Through the front door – you can see where the room enters the rotunda for quick access to either the main living room or the back terrace.  The outside eating area is also through the rotunda.  Very pretty!!
 

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And again, the guest suite’s bathroom.  Also, very nice!  I love the French windows here that open up to the courtyard.  And I love how Kathryn designed the open shower stall.  She certainly used wonderful fixtures here in both the shower and the tub.  
 
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The Caretaker’s House was built to house workers while they renovated the ranch, turning it from a place for farm animals into a place for humans.  On the other side of the house, you can see the huge tree that is still standing.
 
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And the Caretaker’s House as it looked while Kathryn lived here.  Here is the tree that predates the ranch.   The house is past the bedroom wing and is closer to the swimming pool and stables.  I believe this is also what is called the Guest Cottages.  Notice all the flowering bushes in front of the house and the plants around the tree.  This is all now gone for some reason.   This photograph taken from the book, shows the caretaker’s house at its best.
 
 
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And the reality – the same house as seen in Kathryn’s real estate brochure.  At the left you can see the Forge and at the right, you can see the massive ivy covered fireplace in the kitchen.   At least the photographer had a sunny day which captures the tree’s shadows. 
 
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 And, the same Caretaker’s House or Guest Cottages as seen on Reese’s real estate brochure.  Notice the empty beds where all the bushes were – and around the tree, where all the iris were.  I wonder why they were pulled out?   This photograph is not quite as appealing looking as the photograph in Kathryn’s book.
 
 
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Inside the caretaker’s house is the first of the guest cottages as decorated by Kathryn Ireland.  Here she again uses a mix of all her different fabrics.   The windows and ceiling are both so charming.   In her book Kathryn says the guest cottages are close enough to the main house to not feel like you are in Siberia, but far enough from the main house to have privacy.   I would gladly stay here!
   
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One of the bathrooms in the guest cottage – it has it own fireplace!  So romantic. 
 
 
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And, here the same guest room, as decorated for Reese, shown in her Real estate brochure.  It looks like she kept it exactly the same, even down to the pillows, although she did add one.  I love the windows here – it’s nice that the real estate photographer thought to open them up for the pictures. 
 
 
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The only picture of the second guest room in Kathryn’s book – shows how it was before.  She probably  dug the trench to make room for plumbing pipes.  Notice the Kiva fireplace in the corner.  There are several of these types of fireplaces in the different estate buildings. 
 
 
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And the same guest room as it looks today – under Reese, seen in her real estate brochure.  Not sure if that is the bedspread Kathryn used, but the curtains certainly are – those are from her fabric line.  And remember that chair in the children’s room, it turns up here.  This is another charming room with the beamed ceiling and French doors and windows. 
 
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For her book, Kathryn captured the tiny Gatekeeper’s house.  It looks so charming.  Inside is a small guest room – complete with a sleeping loft.
 
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The only photo of the tiny guest room – and oops, there’s that chair again!  This is how it looked under Kathryn.  There is no photo from Reese’s stay.
 
 
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Capturing all the buildings on the property in a good photograph is subject to the sun, the way the plants are blooming on that particular day, and the photographer’s skill.  This photograph taken before Kathryn – during the Ramis’ stay – shows the huge oak tree outside the bedroom wing and the main house that Reese had cute down.  You can see how the property wasn’t really landscaped.
 
 
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Here for the book, Kathryn shot the same area behind the main house and the bedroom wing.  She used this iron bed in several settings.  Notice how the photographer placed his camera to get both large trees in the picture.  
 
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And during Reese’s time – the huge tree is now gone!   What a shame!!!   Instead there is a large empty flowerbed and newly laid brick walkways that lead from one outbuilding to the next. 
 
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And from the paparazzi helicopter, during Reese’s wedding, you can see the tree is definitely gone and replaced by the beautiful brick sidewalk.
 
 
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For Kathryn’s book, she took a picture of the charming original Forge where much of the hardware, the nails, the doorknobs, sconces, etc. was fabricated.
 
 
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But, the Elle Décor photograph of the same Forge, is the winner.  The overflowing tubs of white flowers and the softening vines – add much to the photograph.  But it’s Reese’s two nieces who really steal the show.  Again, there’s nothing better than a professional photographer and his trusty stylist.
 
 
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A rare, original photograph of the carriage house and the gatekeeper’s house.  Even way back then they tried to grow vines to soften the wood doors. 
 
 
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Kathryn added a iron pergola for the vines over the garage doors.  And she painted the gatekeepers house Ojai green, along with putting in a charming light above the door.  This is where the secluded, tiny guest room loft is located.  But, this photograph – taken on an overcast day is lacking.  Plus, a professional photographer would never leave that hose laying on the ground like that!
 
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Kathryn’s real estate photographer took a better show – with the sun streaming, he captured the forge along with the carriage house and gatekeeper’s house.
 
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Reese’s real estate photographer took a poorer picture – he is so far back, you can barely see the gatekeeper’s house and the forge is hidden in shadow.  Not sure what he was doing here, but the picture can’t compete with Kathryn’s.  Notice though, how much the vines over the pergola have grown since Kathryn planted them!!  I wonder if she has ever visited the ranch again and seen how her landscaping looks now that it is all grown out.  I would think that she would love to see it. 
 
 
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For the magazine shoot, Kathryn styled the pool, using her sons as props.  Again, such a charming picture – it makes you want to jump in and join them, which is the power of the photographer who captured this particular moment in time.
 
 
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But, for her real estate photographs, the pool looks a little worn and boring and frankly unappealing.  Many of you commented on the wire fence and why it wasn’t replaced.  What you didn’t notice is that she had planted vines which hadn’t yet grown up over the fence.
 
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Now, in Reese’s pictures – the pool looks clean and blue, not green.  The furniture and umbrella soften the hard edges of the stone fence.   And notice the purple flowering vines that completely hide the wire fence now!  All gone.  The pool area looks very appealing now.  BTW, Reese also installed a white picket fence all along the back of the property. 
 
 
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At first I thought these benches might be the white chaises seen on the terrace of the Elle Décor photo, but these are completely different.  White arms and striped fabric – so charming.  The white chaises must have been borrowed for the photoshoot.   Here you can see how thick the vines truly are – and she has also added a few tubs of flowers.   Nearby there is also a trampoline and a ladder that leads to a tree house, all added by Reese for her children.   I wonder who will be enjoying them now?
 
 
 
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The stables are so cute, it would be hard to ruin a picture of them.  This photograph, professionally taken for Kathryn’s book shows the charming stables with the two horses perfectly placed.   Someone is probably standing off to the right offering them apples.  Luckily the sun is shining, dappled through the beautiful eucalyptus trees.   Must smell wonderful there with all the eucalyptus around.   And, notice the gorgeous  mountain range in the background.   What a beautiful piece of property this is!
 
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Reese’s real estate photographer closed the gates to set the scene.  Another beautiful, sunny day for him.
 


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He captured the entire stables, but didn’t think to add the horses in with it.  And in another missed opportunity for him – by standing where he did, he didn’t get the mountains to their best advantage.   If a prospective buyer was looking for a good view of the mountains he wouldn’t think this ranch had one – but it does!   Compare this view with the photograph that Kathryn took of the stables.




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Kathryn’s real estate photographer took these pictures to highlight the mountain view on the property.  



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And here again, someone viewing Kathryn’s real estate brochure would know that the property came with beautiful mountain views.  These photographs probably are what enticed Reese to take a look at the ranch, and to buy it – just a few short weeks after Kathryn had listed it!  I wonder how long the property will stay for sale now.  The price may deter a quick sale, but for a celebrity who wants to hide out, this is the perfect place – as Rob Pattinson no doubt knows!  (had to get that one in!)
 
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Reese’s real estate photographer did capture the view in this photograph – although if he had stepped over to the right some, you might see more of the mountain range. 
 
And that’s it.   I have to say, I really had my eyes opened with this one.  The Elle Décor photoshoot seems so phony to me now.   Rooms styled just for the shoot, other rooms changed so much they aren’t recognizable anymore.   They shlepped so many props and furniture for the shoot – do they always do that?????   On the Skirted Roundtable, we’ve been told by magazine editors over and over again  that those days are over.  What they owner has is what you see – but that obviously isn’t true. 
 
I wonder, do you felt taken or used by Elle Décor?   You were shown a house that really doesn’t exist as they said it did.  Does that matter to you?   Would you rather see a beautifully styled room than what it really looks like?  Bringing flowers and accessories, maybe pillows and throws is one thing, but to totally remodel a room just for the shoot is something different altogether.   Are you surprised at how the house actually looks compared to how Elle Décor portrayed it?   I was.  Totally  shocked. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

189 comments:

  1. Looks like Reese may already have gone, putting back some of the remnants that came with the house for selling purposes? Personally, I was happy to have another excuse to see all views of this house, it has great bones whatever the decor :-)

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  2. Hi Joni,

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I have to say I was rather shocked too. When I look at magazines I also assume the interiors they photograph are really as is. Okay to change cushions and small items, but I think they go too far when whole rooms are changed. I thought the whole idea for showing us people's homes is for not only inspiration but to show how things are put together and to take the reader on a visual journey, with the reader imaging themselves living there.

    I thought the 'real' rooms were so sadly lacking, some of them were almost unrecognisable, dull. I, like you was really shocked with the dining room.....I could cry right along with you!!

    I also seen quite a few items re-used from Kathryn to Reese. Nothing wrong with that, quite interesting as it can change a room so easily. Am I the only one to think with Kathryn's talent, why wouldn't she live with the styled rooms like she did in the book...why? Does this mean her home featured on Million Dollar Decorators was staged too??? Please say it isn't so!

    As always I love when I see a new post of yours come through. Thank you for all the time it would take to research etc., I love your writing syle Joni, you make me laugh out loud. Hope you and your family are well.

    Take care
    Janine
    XXOO
    Tasmania, Australia

    p.s. I hope when your home is featured in a book you won't go making your rooms unrecognisable Joni!!!!

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  3. You can 'feel' this house when viewing the images no matter who styled it or lived in it. The house has a soul and she shines a little brighter at some times than others - like all homes.
    This is a house and property that makes me wish I could buy it and spend a few years working my own magic. Lovely property and the prettiest bones.

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  4. Hi Joni, Great and an amazing post! That is a lot of research.
    Personally...I do not mind. For me it is all about a nice image to take inspiration from. I think very few high end homes/interiors are photogenic as they are, eventho they might be done by the best of best designers. It needs styling to make it an attractive picture. When I take a picture of my own rooms, I schlep things around to make the image look better.Eventho the room by itself looks fine, in a photograph it might not. It is another dimension.
    To read about it in this post is very interesting, it reveals the mystery on how the design industry really works. It is about creating/ selling an ambiance, a dream, a lifestyle. Maybe the magazines do not style as much, because of lack of time and funds, but believe me.....it still happends, and they do a very good job!!
    Ron ( the Netherlands, Empel Collections)

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  5. I would say that my reaction is one of sadness, rather than shock...sad that the whole article in Elle Decor with Reese seems to be nothing more than a Hollywood publicist article about how the "star" lives and a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous....doesn't it all seem like a lie? How can anyone be quoted as saying that they feel as if they have created this perfect place for themselves and their children and then sell in the very same year? I could understand if the owner of such a property had fallen on hard times and had to sell...but I think that Reese's career is doing just fine, thank you....maybe her new husband hates the country? whatever the reason, I feel manipulated. Why can't they just say the truth? Here is this beautiful property and this is how one collaboration of owner and designer could do with it? We are under no illusions when we see a Designer Show House, we understand that it is a version that is possible with the right furniture and accessories, but we are not fed this false story about I'm making a place for my children to forge happy memories, etc, etc. At least Kathryn's version was more honest about how she wanted to "rescue" a beautiful property and bring it back to life, using her particular vision and quite frankly being completely honest about advertising her new fabrics and her skills as a designer! I do think the property is magical and gorgeous and I think I am responding quite a bit to the fact that the last two owners have not made a commitment to it, and I hope the next buyer loves it as a home and responds to its soul. I think it is the most beautiful place and it is crying out for someone to really bond with it!
    Meredith

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  6. Hi Joni, I'm with you... we were duped! The $10 million price tag seems crazy to me, the property itself is amazing but the actual living spaces are quite odd and not really user-friendly. It does make me laugh to know that even Reese and Kathryn couldn't afford to properly furnish this entire property. At least all of the items in my home (and yours) actually belong to us LOL!

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  7. While a feel a little duped, part of me feels good: it looks more like my house than I'd imagined! Gorgeous estate. Thanks for all of this work; your posts make me laugh out loud! Beth

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  8. Count me in as feeling totally duped. I am angry with the Elle Decor magazine to the point where I will not be buying another one. Reese planned on selling from the beginning, I'm sure. She lied to us all about how this ranch was now her "home". Not interested in watching another movie that Reese is in, either. What do these editors think we are, "stupid"?!!
    Kat

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    1. Kat, I'm sure Reece really gives a damn.

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  9. Wow! My eyes have been opened (and not just by my morning coffee!).

    It's really disheartening to see that the homes were so drastically changed for the photo shoots. Evidently you only have to have a "name" and not a beautiful home to appear in a magazine now. I liked Kathryn's home better and while a lot of it was staged, it seems it was more liveable. Reese's is truly a disappointment and feels like a shell game when you realize it was just to sell it. I don't think it will sell for that much, especially if the perspective buyer finds your blog! They'll be wondering exactly what they're paying all that money for! I don't think it shows Kristen Buckingham in the best light either. I gave Kristen (and Reese) much more credit than this.

    It's natural to reuse furniture from a property sale and fun to see the new owners take on an item but when the same pieces are moved all over the property it just looks like they can't afford to furnish it.

    I wonder if the real estate photographers were doing the bidding of the realtors and clearing all of the personal items before the pics. Realtors constantly tell everyone to edit down to the barest accessories and to remove all of the personal touches. Seeing these comparisons really makes you realize how sterile the rooms look under the realtors tutelage.

    The natural lighting examples you showed really make a difference in the feel of the property. You feel for the poor photographer who sits for hours waiting and hoping for the sun to shine in just the right way.

    Your research is always thought provoking. Thanks for sharing. It makes me appreciate the reader's homes highlighted on your blog more and makes me wonder about some of the other spreads I've seen in print!

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  10. I sort of understand how this all works, although I have noticed for several years that celebrities always do a photo spread in a magazine when they're about to sell a house. You see it all the time in Architectural Digest. Look back at every celebrity issue they've ever done and then try to find a house that it still owned by the celebrity in the magazine. You won't. Styling a home for a magazine or a book is meant to promote the designer and products and to inspire us mere mortals to want those ideas and products for our own home. However, realtors always tell us to remove as much as possible to make the rooms look bigger and less cluttered, so the potential buyers can imagine their own items, ideas and furniture on the property. Still, it really is interesting to see just how much tinkering they do for a magazine spread.

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  11. I found this post to be such an interesting study in the differences between staging for sale and styling for interior photo shoots. There is a clear difference and the strategy behind both are really evident in these photos. The real estate photos leave the viewer with much less visual noise, making the house seem larger,letting the features of the home outshine the decor. The Elle shoot is clearly targeting their own audience. It's all about that target market and certainly everyone is selling something. Thanks for this, I really enjoyed these photo comparisons.

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  12. Hello Joni, I wanted to thank you for the posts on the Libbey Ranch.I can tell it was a lot of research and time.I have a ranch just outside of Katy,Tx and really have enjoyed the pictures and information in your posts.Like Reese,I wanted my children to play in the dirt and grow up having horses,goats,cows.... I can't beleive Reese has put the Ranch on the market again!( it IS alot of upkeep..)Before moving to my ranch I sold a ranchburger in Briargrove and a house in Arizona in the mountains. I took out half the furniture in each house and moved everything around before marketing them to make the houses breathe and feel larger. I took out most personal items etc...and had success in selling the houses quickly.In real estate space sells. I have learned that in real estate ads a great photographer makes all the difference!I think a design magazine sells design,and real estate ads... well you know!Instead of trickery maybe its just a big business. Absolutely love your blog and your style.Thanks again,Audrey aka ChickenMama

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  13. Only got through about 1/8th of your post - gotta go to work! But, wondering if Reese moved all of her Buckingham decor to a new house and they used what was in storage or through a stager for the photos? Perhaps with a baby on the way, her nesting instincts lead her to another house and she wanted the furniture moved in asap? Just a thought! So glad someone is looking out for us readers though! thanks :-)

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  14. I'm cynically enough to think Legally Blonde bought the ranch for her wedding for privacy and guests, thought with her name attached to property she could get a giant flip. I like the think that's the subconscious reason we liked Kathryn's better. It had a soul not just a prop magnet.

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  15. Great review on a delightful property, thanks for all your tips on staging and photography. I personally don't care if the furniture and accessories were moved or added before publishing. I assume when I buy ANY magazine it is photoshopped and/or styled to the max! They are selling an image or product....a feeling. Which is why we continue to buy them. My takeaway: Photograph my own home to really "see" it. I am currently decorating our new home entirely different than the one we sold and these pics are great inspiration. Joni, you really should write a book on tips for homeowners!

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  16. It's all about marketing. Reese is trying to sell her home, Kristan wants to sell her design services and stuff, and Elle wants to sell magazines. Kathryn wants to sell her products, services and books. Nothing wrong with that. Just don't be naive enough to think that the magazine photos really indicate how people live. Especially people with kids and dogs who travel a lot. It's really no different than watching a show on television and realizing that the Chevy Malibu that the main character is driving is also being advertised during commercial breaks. It's viral.

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    1. Well put 'Anon'! I totally agree and I'm going to add, IMO it all really comes down to your personal perspective as to whether 'illusion' is good or bad.

      Great and informative Post, Joni.

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  17. You crack me up Joni! "Poor Reese's daughter." That's funny. I love love your blog. Each of your entries is so in-depth and informative. Thank you for the information each and every time. GREAT review of the home. I totally agree with you. It's all a set-up for a sale! Have a great Monday Joni.

    Denise

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  18. I agree wholeheartedly with you about the atrocious dining room. I just have one question though. What is schmatte?

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  19. As someone who is house-hunting and looking at millions of pictures of homes, I prefer the pared-down look of the real estate pics. They show more of the actual room and lay-out of the house. I dislike the cute vignettes in real estate pics that show one table but not a whole room. The agents are correct in telling clients to clear the space!
    Sue

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  20. Thought provoking....hmm seems like Elle decor is a real estate hawker. what a grand post. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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  21. What a sleuth you are, Joni. This took a lot of sifting and studying old and new photos, and we appreciate your efforts. When I saw that the ranch was up for sale again, I knew you'd have to have a post about it! It all leaves me wondering. First, why would Reese sell it? Secondly, is there an explanation why some of the furnishings, especially the children's rooms, were changed back to K. Ireland vintage? Have Reese's furnishings already been removed elsewhere? It doesn't make sense, unless, as you suggest, they were just totally staged for Elle Decor. Yeah, I feel used - a celebrity inviting us into her wonderful re-designed home and it's not really how she lives in it, and she's planning on selling it and getting some great advertising. Such a shame it's all a sham. I think this is the most magnificent property. Everything about it makes me swoon. It deserves to be someone's dream forever house and to be lovingly cared for. As for real estate photos, I don't really agree with the rule that you have to take everything out except the basic beige furniture and maybe a vase of flowers. Those pictures always look so dead and boring to me, and though they may show space, they don't depict the house in a flattering way at all. I'd much rather have a vision of a life that could be lived in a space, as long as it's a beautiful one, of course. They say buyers need to be able to envision themselves in the space, but my experience has been that the majority of buyers really don't have that kind of vision. That's why the ones who can afford to hire designers.

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  22. Joni, this post took tons of work so I most appreciate it! I do know that magazines restyle entire rooms for shoots. It is part of the way they work. I wrote a post recently about this that has since been removed for various reasons. I am sure there is a combination of things going on here at Libbey Ranch. Reese could have taken things she wanted to keep, but I am sure the designer brought in lots of things for the shoot to make the house look good. If a magazine finds a property they want to shoot done seemingly by a designer they want to feature they will make changes to the rooms to create "moments" to sell magazines such as you have shown.

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    1. the veranda editor Dara recently told us that wholesale staging never goes on anymore - at all. i'm just going by what she said. in fact, it must. but the staging may have been done by the decorator, but elle would have had to have seen the rooms before. who knows. it doest reallylmatter, but it's just all so fake and phony.

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    2. There is a lot of fake and phony in blogland as well. It doesn't seem to bother you as much because you identify with the medium.

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    3. Why do you presume to know what I feel about fake and phony in blogland. Though I know you are implying me. Not sure where I am being fake and phony. Fake and phony would be to just shut up and not say anything unpleasant about magazines or big named designers because we might be hurting ourselves.

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    4. "Why do you presume to know what I feel about fake and phony in blogland. Thought I know you are implying me."

      Your words, not mine.

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    5. (from another anonymous): Joni, please delete the troll's comments. We are all having a pleasant discussion here and the troll is interrupting by being rude.

      Delete
  23. Meh, it's all smoke and mirrors. For everything else there's Klieg lights (and Photoshop).

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  24. Not really too surprising, celebrities are all just smoke and mirrors. NO ONE has it all.

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  25. "Do you felt taken or used by Elle Decor?": Not at all. I'm sure I'm in the minority, but I buy decorating magazines for inspiration, so I really don't care if the owners live the way the magazine article portrays them or not. It doesn't matter to me whether a gorgeous vignette was created by the designer, the homeowner or a magazine stylist. As long as the magazine is showing me beautiful interiors, I don't care whether the home looks the same today as it did on the day of the photo shoot or not.

    "Now – look at this photograph for the real estate brochure ... What a terrible photograph.": Actually it's a very good photograph for a real estate listing. It shows the whole room - the stairs, the fireplace, the balcony, the door, the windows, the hardwood floor and the ceiling. It allows potential buyers to see what the room looks like so they can envision their own furniture in the room. The point of a real estate listing is to sell the house, not the current owner's possessions or decorating style.

    As long as decorating magazines insist on including or even featuring the soon-to-be-for-sale homes of "celebrities", I'm sure we'll be seeing more and more of what you call bait and switch. We'll just have to get used to it.

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  26. I care and this was a real eye opener Joni. If I had the money to purchase a property that is featured in Elle Decor;
    then saw the real estate photos which we can all agree are not THAT professional; and then went to tour the property and saw only the bare bones practically, I would be furious! Really duped.

    xoxo,
    Karena
    2012 Artist Series

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    Replies
    1. You would be furious??? At what? Would you be furious that all houses with the exception of some vacation property are sold unfurnished. What does a seller owe you Karena that you believe when you take a real estate tour you are entitled to see the home furnished to the nines by a prominent designer or else you are furious. You sound very inexperienced in buying and selling real estate.

      Delete
    2. Really? I think HGTV has messed with people's minds and distorted what the think they're entitled to. Not that long ago, a reasonably intelligent person could have gone into a house which was painted/wallpapered in colours/patters they didn't like, decorated unstylishly, perhaps had a bathroom or two which needed a bit of updating and not freak out. Perhaps they would have pointed out the need for some updating in their negotiations. That is it. These days, it seems people want some package without which they would not consider buying a home - "good" decor, "updated" everything - deperonalized, soulless, soon to be dated. You are buying a house. If you aren't able to imagine your own style and life in those walls then perhaps you aren't the "artist" you think you are? Don't mean to be horrible but this sense of entitlement and outrage just annoys me.

      Delete
    3. my point was - it was a personal piece about reese and her home yet it really wasn't what half the pictures looked like. we all looked at those photos and talked about that chair and how expensive it was to be in a kids room and thought, well, that's hw. they are so rich. yet, the reall photos show reese to be quite frugal with her money. totally different. we looked at that terrace and thought of her lounging around on those white chaises, yet she really has tables to feed her family there. so, elle decor told a story that was false. i get they aren't real journalists, but the story was a pack of bs. so why bother with the phony interviews.

      Delete
    4. You aren't a real journalist either as some have so crowned you.

      Delete
    5. Really? I'm not? I'm also not a real interior designer as you keep telling me.

      Delete
    6. "I'm also not a real interior designer as you keep telling me"

      Your words, not mine.

      Delete
    7. Again - quoting verbatem. Truly, it's getting a little scary. I hope you don't live anywhere near me.

      Delete
  27. Hi Joni! This was an awesome post! Thanks so much for all the pictures! I totally understand that at times a magazine needs to add a pillow or some flowers to make a shot just right but I totally agree with you on this one - we were duped! If I wanted to see fake I could look at a catalog. When I look at my favorite design magazine I want to see all of those amazing pieces and how someone has utilized them in their own home - regardless of who they are. The feature on Reece's home, although beautiful, is now not much more than a pretty catalog and one I paid for at that. Love your blog - you are the best :)

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  28. SHAME on Elle Decor! Does this mean all "celebrity" homes featured in various magazines are as fake as this one? I understand pillows and flowers but this photoshoot was a complete and utter sham. There are so many beautiful homes in the world with owners deeply devoted to creating fabulous spaces to live in...THOSE homes should be in design magazines. Not these phony celeb homes that take two semi's full of furniture to make them presentable enough for a spread.

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  29. Joni, I'm a little surprised that anyone could take this all so seriously. Do you really feel shocked and duped? Interior design, including the mags, sells a fantasy. Anyone who thinks that it's anything but is living in a fantasy world. I read them instead of watching TV, it's the same thing to me. That being, Not Real. So what if she didn't live in the house exactly how it was presented in Elle? It was nice to look at and compare with the KI version and that's it. Now she's moved on and so be it. That is all.

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    Replies
    1. I agree with you. Why spend the amount of time this post took to dissect each and every room down to the dust balls and why would anyone feel so duped as one commenter wrote to go so far as cancel a subscription to a magazine over. It's theater plain and simple. Buckingham clearly used the ranch as a stage to advertise her design work and Reece got the publicity and Elle Decor sold more magazines. It looks like and win/win/win to me. As to the post, however, it looks like manufactured outrage.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, I'm scratching my head over this post I have to say. She moved, her stuff isn't just like the photos in Elle, it's just not outrageous to me. Whatevs floats your boat I guess.

      Delete
    3. I have to agree with Anonymouses 11:12 and 1:52. I can't imagine feeling shocked, duped or disappointed (or any of the other words used by you or your readers) by a magazine! Who cares whose furniture and accessories were used in the photo shoot? As long as the end result is attractive and inspiring, I don't give a rat's derriere who made it attractive and inspiring. I don't care if it's real or fake. And if it's the home of a celebrity, I honestly don't expect it to be "real". Surely there are far more important things in life to be shocked by.

      Delete
    4. if you are a fan of reeses (im not) but if you were and you bought that magazine because she was on the cover, and i'll bet 1,000s of her fans did, to see how she really lives, well, it's jsut all bs. that's all. i have just never seen such wholesale restaging of a house. taht's all. and that was just part of the story, the other part was about how to get better photos if you are selling your house. that interested me just as much, the difference between how one photographer shot the ranch as compared to another. and i enjoyed seeing all the changes over the years. it's not life and death. just food for thought. i take it you aren't a big reese fan either?

      Delete
    5. Wrong again. You have no idea what furniture belonged to Reece and what did not. Everything in your original post may have all belonged to her. The real estate photos show something else entirely but it all could be that she moved out what she really loved to a different location. You are making some assumptions which you cannot substantiate. Look at who really has a lot to lose here. Certainly not Reece who may still own the furniture, but the decorator. If the real estate listing gives Buckingham credit for the design, then the agent may be in hot water at some point. You have made a lot of assumptions and accusations today that you can not back up. Poor journalism, indeed.

      Delete
    6. Oh please. quit being so dramatic. that is only MY opinion. period. it is MY opinion that the rooms - the two kids rooms were decorated for the magazine. sue me. ok? also, I believe the dining room was made to look like something that it really doesn't. the mark of a good stylist, decorator and photographer. the reality was nothing like the magazine. yes. i am sure that she took all that furinture out of the kids rooms and put back kathryns stuff. thats why the chandelier from one room and the shades from another are now for sale on the decorators web site. whatever. she must have had a huge storage closet to put all of kathryn's stuff in. and going by what you said, so she must really not like the fmaily room or the media room because those weren't stripped and replaced with kathryn's stuff either. just the 3 rooms that were in elle decor just happened to have been stripped. ok. whatever. go with it.

      Delete
    7. Get your butt off your shoulders and realize that every time you are caught in something that makes no sense and cannot be verified you say "sue me, ok?"

      How do you really think you will ever be taken seriously as a blogger or interior designer with the chip on your shoulder that is big and twice as ugly. There is nothing dramatic in the questions asked of you, only drama in your responses. It's time to learn more than a little photography.

      Delete
    8. I totally agree with Joni- now I'd like her to go into Martha's homes and see if she's really living the dream that is sold to us on a daily basis. I am not shocked though-all these people mentioned are into making as many mega bucks as possible-sometimes crossing boundaries.It is all a fakery...and leaves one feling slightly used?
      What is really shocking to me though is the crudeness of the response by the 'anonymous' poster.Also a sign of the times..very discouraging.

      Delete
    9. Whatever Martha show belongs to Martha. This is one of the most successful women in America and yes love her or hate her, she has the most refined taste and sense of style in the marketplace today. Do not begin to compare her properties to those shown in this post. Martha has the resources to design, restore and live the life of luxury she exudes in her magazine.

      Delete
    10. "she has the most refined taste and sense of style in the marketplace today"

      Hahahahahahaha. No.

      Delete
  30. Joni - Absolutely love your blog and I appreciate how much time you spend on creating the posts! I'm shocked that so many changes were made to the house - way beyond what a normal reader would have expected! Here is what really confuses me - Reese's home article mentioned the designer, but it seems she did very little to the house - except when it came time for the shoot! I don't see why she should get credit for her design work when apparently most of her work was done for the shoot and then taken back to the shop. As for the real estate photos - I do like that many of them were taken from farther back so that the full room could be seen. When I look at photos for the purpose of considering the property for purchase, I like to see the full room. However, I do think the real estate photog could have captured much more interesting pictures and still have gotten the complete room included. Love you rblog - thanks for your great work Joni!!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Joni, maybe we all feel sad and duped because it wasn't a movie, and Reese is adorable, and she and her adorable kids where to live this ideal life in a beautiful CA ranch....wonderfully decorated and documented by Kathryn and Elle. Maybe its the economy.. we just needed someone, somewhere to live the American Dream so we can dream. HUM... maybe it feels personal for so many of us; like my wonderful husband who after 20 years at the same company, he and everyone in his department nation wide will be let go... and required to reapply for fewer jobs with 2x the number of people...right before Christmas. And we are just one of thousands. HUM...Not real, duped, phony these are the words others used in comments, and they apply to a lot of what are nation is facing now. SO, bravo to you for being authentic, for great writing and research, for a blog I look forward to read each and every time. And to the Living God, who loves us and will be with us in times of need.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thank you for a great piece of journalism! I rarely read articles about celebrities in magazines - including Elle Decor, because I know they are pretty much BS or at least extremely sanitized versions of the truth. Yet, somehow I believed that celebrities and designers did live this way (tra la la la - that's me living in my little fantasy world.) Thanks for the heads up and now I will enjoy the pictures for what they are - gorgeous ads.

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  33. I think she took her things out so that she could maintain some privacy. Also, buyers get attached to what they see in a house and want it included in the sale - particularly in a second home. Obviously Reese did that with Kathryn. Maybe she is leaving just what she is willing to include in the sale. Actors don't seem to stay in houses long and now that she has a new baby and new movie commitments she may not have time to use the property. Why is is cynical to think she bought it for a short term use? She can afford it and mores the better that the California real estate market exploded in the interm. I dont think that qualifies as a bait and switch. btw - what is a 'schmatte' and where is it in the dining room?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Schmatte" is defined as "a ragged garment", but I think it is maybe originally Yiddish, referring to just "a rag" or "ragged". She's referring to the cloth mat on the table. As a veteran of MANY moves, I have been known to move only the things I am going to use in the new house, while leaving the rest in the old house until it sells, at which time I then sell that stuff or move it to storage. Not all pieces/styles of furnishings fit in all houses, so maybe that explains why a lot of Reese's things are gone, and some are left behind. And if a lot of Kathryn's things were purchased with the home, but then Reese decided not to use them, she may have thrown them into storage to be brought out again when she left. We will probably never know...

      Delete
    2. maybe. maybe that's right, but i kind of doubt it. i don't think those are the kids rooms. i think how they look in the real estate is how they really look. and she didnt' get rid of any of the furniture in the loft, or the family room. just the dining room. i don't even mind that staging. it looks so much better in the magazine with those chairs. it jsut shows you how a professional photographer is really a great artist. those pictures are gorgeous. the diningroomisn't.

      Delete
  34. What I appreciate about this post is your spirit of good journalism. You wrote the original long post on the Witherspoon/Buckingham house versus the Ireland house. When you subsequently discovered that there might be nuances to the story that might matter to your house-loving readers, you cared enough to publish an update. It shows that you have respect for your readers and I think that that is part of the reason that your blog is so successful. My overall opinion about the different versions of the house? I agree with the person who said that it is just a treat to look at it again. That house has soul. Why are some houses like that, what is it? France is full of them. It is fascinating. Like you, Joni, I prefer the Elle/Buckingham version for the interior decor. I am mad for nuetrals and prefer to add color with flowers/table settings. However, I think that some of the more lasting changes that Ireland made to the home, like re-landscaping the courtyard, were brilliant and really elevated the overall background/architecture that Buckingham/Elle had to work with. Joni, I discovered your blog a year and a half ago, you immediately became my favorite blogger and no one has come along to usurp your spot since then. I love your taste and I do literally laugh out loud at your droll comments nearly every post. Sincere thanks for brightening my life! You are epic. Judy Brown

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much! i sometimes really wonder if people even read the blog while i am writing it. Glad to know you did. thank you. i can't tell you much i appreciate you taking your time out to do so. I know i write too much. but i just have to get every detail out of my brain. sorry for that.

      Delete
    2. Joni, I read every word! Your's is the best blog around, and I thank you for devoting such time to it..
      You are always interesting, and I frequently will send your blog to friends who mighto like it as much.

      Delete
    3. Thanks Dolores, I really appreciate that - more than you know.

      Delete
  35. Joni, I totally agree with you. Next, we will probably be seeing a home interior created on a Hollywood sound stage, attributed to some celebrity that isn't even a real home. Frankly, I am sick/tired of seeing celebrities on covers of Architectural Digest and Elle Decor. That's why I favor the British and Canadian editions of House & Garden. These are supposed to be shelter magazines and NOT about celebrities. In addition, Architectural Digest has ALWAYS been notorious for showing a home and about 2-3 months later, you will see it in their real estate section as being for sale.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I worked in the film industry for many years. When a recognizable name sells a house, they tend to remove all personal items and move out. Often times this will be the only time they feel comfortable about having their homes exposed in magazines because they know they are leaving.

    First there is the stalking issue.. the public only hears about the ones who go too far.

    Furthermore, the real estate photos can be used as a catalog for thieves. Normally, in even the most humble home, the photographer is careful about NOT showing electronics. I was surprised to see TVs shown in the photos.

    Moreover, mega million homes tend to remain on the market for a year and sometimes years. Having to let strangers into your house for years is both impractical and frankly dangerous. No matter how much the realtor tries to screen potential buyers, she will get those coming out of curiosity including realtors and their friends. I know I have gone to non-celeb homes I had no intention of buying to just see the interior.

    Sometimes when a celebrity's home is shown in a mag they have to sign an exclusivity contract. When a friend of mine had done this, he had to have his home completely re-staged for the real estate photos due to the contract.

    I personally don't have a problem with rooms being styled for a shoot, it is eye candy, provides a wealth of ideas for inspiration as another mentioned above. Frankly, it is all about selling magazines. I don't care if she really lives with every single one of those accessories. Heck, when a magazine photographs a home of a brilliant DIY blogger for a mag, at times it seems as if their original makeover is a canvas -- a starting point for the stylist. No one I know would put a valuable antique or even a regular rug in direct sunlight -- it would be ruined in weeks. It made for a pretty picture though. I know there are patio rugs that are sun resistant but I don't think those were.

    Forgot to mention, I worked in the film industry for years and have had friends who have had to deal with these issues.

    Joni, I love your gorgeous blog. I am always impressed by how you handle criticism. When you get a regular basher, it means that you have arisen to celebrity status in your own right otherwise they wouldn't bother stalking your blog. So his/her constant bashing is both pitiful vis a vis them, but a compliment to you. Wishing you the best.

    AnonA

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    Replies
    1. You actually told us two times that you worked in the film industry and once that you went to see a home you could not afford because of your curiosity. You explanation of what probably occurred here is far more intelligent, however, than that which is postured by the author of this blog. The chances are that Reece has long ago abandoned this property so it does not matter whether the furniture is hers, on loan or rented. For security reasons, it would not be wise for a celebrity to be living in a home and have every square inch of it photographed for a magazine. For all we know, the house may be leased at the moment and Reece may not have spent more than a couple of week-ends a year there.

      Delete
    2. interesting, maybe it is rented. i was thinking how strange it would be to allow all those photos out all over the internet like it was. it may be rented out. but what about the renters? how secure would they feel? and it's not just celebrities. all these houses in theh upper crust neighborhoods are on the internet and those people still do live in them. nothing is private anymore in the real estate business. as for her taking the "real furniture" and bringing out the old furniture i dont think that is what happened. i think those kids rooms were staged for the magazine, along with the dining room. does it matter? no. kristen got to show off what she is capable of, but i thought the story was about reese and how she lives. obviously it wasnt. i was actually more impressed by how talented the photographer was. i always used to kind of think, well anyone can take a photograph of a room. but i think this really shows how much they can do to a room just with lighting and angles. this photographer is wonderful. i would love to see how he could make my own house look!!!

      Delete
    3. Joni, you had your kitchen photographed and you experienced the encampment in your living room for an entire day just to get a few good shots. In addition, look at how much of your own life you removed from your kitchen to satisfy the publisher. No one blamed you and frankly I think no one should blame Reece for this nor for the magazine in having their own interest in mind. The bottom line is you not as well educated in the ways of publication as you may have thought.

      Delete
    4. Joni- Yes, it was fascinating to see how the photographers presented the estate and how the difference in framing the shot impacted the entire look of the house vis a vis that tree and the look of so many rooms. I agree the photographer was brilliant.

      The stalking issue is such a serious problem. You have reason to be concerned about renters -- there was a situation where a celeb was being stalked, owned a house as an investment and rented it out. The stalker broke into the house with a weapon. There is way too much information available to the public.

      Yeah, it is truly a dilemma -- to sell a house, an expensive house, the more pix the better. They want people to come, there are so many million dollar plus homes on the market and not enough buyers who can afford them, so much competition...

      Most people I know who have expensive homes tended to move out at a certain point, it takes so long to sell them.

      When I was living in my house and it was on the market, I only let agents in who called ahead and they had to prove they were legit by using the computer gizmo that unlocked the lock box. It records who they are personally, when they came, how long they stayed. If their gizmo is stolen, it is immediately rendered unusable when reported. So it provides some level of security but still.... BTW, not suggesting my house was a million dollar house. Just remarking on security.

      Regards AnonA

      Delete
    5. To eagle-eyed anonymous -- Mea culpa, I messed up.

      It was my second comment ever any where on line. I hit publish and was informed by blogspot that it was too long. So I copied it, started over, pasted it into the little box to edit it.

      So when I rewrote it, it seemed to make sense to put the part of where my perspective came from up front. I eliminated sentences, rewrote some, and somehow missed that I had not eliminated the after thought about providing context. I am ever so sorry that you were so troubled and distressed that I mentioned where I worked twice. I am just not used to writing in this small box where I can only see a small part of the text at a time. Not sure I will try this again.

      BTW, anonymous, I NEVER said I was looking at houses I could not afford. Granted, I made a mistake which opened the door to your remark. I eliminated too many sentences and the part about the homes that I looked at were "open houses" was eliminated.

      Whole boring story -- I was going to put my house on the market, was building another which would take 6 to 8 months. I wanted to see comps over several months, track the market before hiring a realtor. I wanted to see what upgrades they had, their condition, and did enjoy seeing how they were decorated. All the houses in my particular area were custom homes which made figuring out comps a challenge. It was a necessity. I only went to open houses. I continued to look at open houses after getting a realtor because they would never take clients to For Sale by Owners. Those houses were boycotted by realtors.

      When I was interviewing realtors, they took me around to more comps which were not open houses to determine the asking price. Most were empty. I would never use a realtor pretending to be a buyer just to view a home just to look see. But it is customary here to look at comps with a realtor in determining asking price when homes are custom-built. It was a curiosity born of need at that time. BTW, open houses are falling out of favor because of fear of theft. There are very few now.

      We are blessed with a lot of builders with model homes that are a million plus and open to the public. They sometimes bring designers from out of state to decorate. They sometimes will gut the model every two years and remodel to keep up with trends and feature new upgrades and proclaim a new "grand opening" of their development.

      We also have Street of Dreams, Parade of Homes, in which builders and decorators show case their talents as well as Christmas home tours where decorators come in, decorate several owner's homes for Christmas and the charity sells tickets. I much rather see these homes, much more convenient.

      Sorry for the misunderstanding due to having trouble mastering how to comment on a blog and my over-zealousness in deleting which resulted in a sentence being misinterpreted. So for the record I have never looked at a house that I could not afford with a realtor. I have looked at ridiculously expensive showcase homes and developments on my own but never privately owned homes.

      Joni, please feel free to delete this in a week. Too bad there is no way we can delete our replies or edit them after the fact.

      AnonA

      Delete
    6. your comment was fine. don't worry about what the anon said. he was just picking on you. your second comment was fine too. no need to delete at all.

      Delete
  37. Wow, that was educational to say the least. Thank you for your insights into the differences. I feel like anything I see in a magazine is probably fake. It's disheartening.

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  38. Years ago (the very early 80's), I had a friend whose husband was just beginning to "flip" houses. It was unheard of then. Their own home had been redone by him and they were thrilled to learn they would be featured in a MAJOR shelter magazine. Imagine her shock when a large truck pulled up on the day the photographers were scheduled. It was full of furniture and accessories. Her house was beautiful in the photographs...but unrecognizable as their actual home. It doesn't bother me. Did any of us really believe that people lived these perfectly styled lives? I am too busy trying to figure out how Reese got Ireland's stuff if it is rumored that Ireland never actually owned the property. It's one thing to buy furniture with the property, but entirely different to purchase furniture separate from the real estate transaction...especially if it isn't your taste.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. if the trust brought the furniture, which they probably did, it was theirs to sell with the house, which they did.

      Delete
  39. I don't see what all the brouhaha is about. First, I don't like Kathryn Ireland's style and Reese is just a country gal from Tennessee so what do you expect? The Elle Decor photos were wonderful both in your blog and in the magazine itself and who of us don't spend time styling, cropping and enhancing our own photos for our blogs?

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    1. I completely agree with you Teddee.

      Delete
    2. Teddee, "Reese is just a country gal from Tennessee? Teddee have you been to Tennessee. Have you even seen some of the luxury homes many of the recording artists and music executives live in in Tennessee. I didn't think so.

      Just because someone comes from a state about which you don't know anything, but about which you feel you can make ignorant assumptions, doesn't mean they don't have innate good taste nor the money to buy it. What a complete ignorant nobody you sound like. Get your heavy butt out of your recliner and do some traveling. You may actually learn something even if by accident.

      Delete
    3. Interesting, what country western stars and recording artists and executives have beautiful homes you could share with us? I'm so used to seeing these huge mansions outside of nashville, I would love to see some tastefully done without the bloated square footage. do you have any urls to share?

      Delete
    4. Class envy is raising its ugly head once more. In order to be lovely in your world, a home must be 3,000 sq. feet or less except the Ireland ranch which was far larger and which you were swooning over in several of your posts. "Bloated square footage" is something that grates on you as you mention quite often how offensive "Mcmansions" are and yet when given the opportunity to feature one on your blog, you can't get your post up fast enough. Remember that dog from Mississippi with the large elephant in the courtyard? Before someone decides that based on location a home cannot be tasteful and large at the same time as Teddee bear did upstream, it's best to have seen a bit more of the country. That advice would bode well for you considering that you can't go to the High Point market because you don't like to walk that much, you have no clothes, you are over weight and all of the other excuses you made about not attending. It must be really difficult being the design maven version of the Dali Lama and living your remote existence thumbing magazines hoping for inspiration for another story.

      Delete
    5. So, now it's class envy? how many more insults in one day do you want to hurl at me? Silly, naive, poor journalist, fat, badly dressed, design maven - and now....class envy. yep, that's me. i have class envy. And i show all houses that i think have something interesting in them, big or small.

      you know, you say you hate me so much. you hate my blog, you hate everything i stand for - but you sure don't forget a word i say. it's very strange to me that you can quote something i said two or three years ago? are you that obsessed with me? i think you doth protest too much. admit it, you really love me. who else gives you so much fodder for humor? and i will have you know, i have a lot of nice clothes, its just they are either black or white depending on the season. throw in a few green sweaters and colorful scarves and that's it. i have clothes. and i am almost 60. i really dont have to go to high point and be a hostage of their publicity team and ride their buses around and listen to their lectures to know what is out there or what i like or don't like. i'm not a huge customer of big furniture companies. and those aren't excuses. they are reasons. that is a big difference. don't you have something good to watch on tv tonight? i'm trying to figure out the aidan grey contest winner and you keep interrupting me.

      Delete
    6. "So, now it's class envy? how many more insults in one day do you want to hurl at me? Silly, naive, poor journalist, fat, badly dressed, design maven - and now....class envy. yep, that's me. i have class envy. And i show all houses that i think have something interesting in them, big or small.

      These aren't insults. More than a year ago you were asked by several readers in the comment section why you did not go to the spring market in High Point. I remembered your responses because they were so lame, including the one about being over weight (your own words) to which someone responded that being over weight didn't stop Linda Merrill. You also said you didn't want to do all of the walking required and last, but not least, it was too hot. These are your words - not mine. Downloading umpteen pictures and eyeballing that someone took out or added furniture and accessories is not journalism.

      Delete
    7. Like I said, I can barely remember writing that, but you quote it verbatim. Strange. very strange. I'm beginning to think you are obsessed with me. You must like older, overweight, lazy women without enough clothes to attend a nice event. Chubby chaser? I guess I should be flattered. My own husband doesn't read the blog, much less is able to quote from it from years past. Very interesting.

      Delete
    8. "I'm trying to figure out the Aidan Gray contest winner" Umm, let's see we thought that was going to be a collaboration between you and Aidan Gray. May I suggest Holly Street at Things that Inspire. At least she may get a dining room chandelier out of it.

      Delete
    9. Haha. That's funny. She does need a new fixture, but she didn't submit her house unfortunately. Wish she did. I'm not choosing the winner, I am just choosing the nominations. That's the difference. There were a lot of people who sent in their houses and it's better for me to submit a top ten to him. Since you wanted to know and seem so interested. Did you submit your house? Let me guess, you wouldn't want any Aidan Gray furniture, right? I thought so. Your taste is too rarefied. Don't you love me giving you such great opportunities to come back with a zinger?

      Delete

      Delete
    10. Well I for one am crazy about you, Joni. I don't like your taste, but you're pretty funny to read. Sometimes intentionally.

      Delete
    11. "I remembered your responses because they were so lame, including the one about being over weight (your own words) to which someone responded that being over weight didn't stop Linda Merrill."

      Not just Linda Merrill but Heather Clawson of Habitually Chic--also overweight but also willing to take a free High Point swag trip and then pay for it by gushing obediently on her blog.

      Delete
    12. excuse me, Heather is overweight? i don't think so. she might not be rail thin like a model but overweight, not at all. and i am not THAT fat. i need to lose 25 pounds. it's not like a million. I gained the weight when i started taking a medicine, within 1 month, i gained like 10 pounds without changing what i eat. it was scary.

      Delete
  40. Pleeze. You act like you just found out Santa isn't real or the Easter Bunny didn't dye the eggs. If I wanted to see "real" I wouldn't look at a magazine. I love your blog and don't mean to be harsh but grow up. I love to see beautiful interiors so I can learn from them---who cares who owns them!? FYI maybe Reese already moved out and took her favorite pieces with her and what you see is whats left behind. You buy the house not the furnishings. My house has been on an HGTV/FineLiving program and in our local newspaper but will look different when we move to the home we are currently remodeling since we will leave some pieces behind to style it but not all of it. Now the Tooth Fairy, she's real.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i'm jewish, we dont believe in santa or the easter bunny! ok, i'll grow up.
      you can look at the article two different ways - and i tried to present it like that. you can look at it that what elle decor presented as reese's house was bs. it wasn't. it was a furniture showroom. they didn't show rooms that were furnished - like the loft or the family room. but instead showed the terrace amd the two kids rooms that were total fabrications. they obviously doesn't bother you. but they are ones that put reese on the cover and sold the magazine as a look at her life. it really wasn't.
      the other pont of the story, which i tried to be clear about, was how amazing the professional professional photographers truly are. that was a huge eye opener for me. that started recently with another house in houston - where one magazine showed the hosue and it looked ethereal. gorgeous. another magazine, another photographer - and the house looked ordinary. so this is a journey for me.

      Delete
    2. Rock on Joni! I sometimes think people just selectively read your text and don't consider your posting in its totality. I personally thoroughly enjoyed this look at Kathryn vs Kristen (I don't consider Reese the designer) and real estate photos versus magazine photos, and I agree that there's a degree of marketing sleight of hand that gives one pause. If the Elle Decor layout was only to showcase Kristen Buckingham's work, there should have been no mention of Reese Witherspoon in the article.

      On another note, wasn't Ms. Buckingham being slammed as a dilettante a few years ago when her own house was published (I think in Elle Decor as well)?

      Delete
    3. yes, the blog story was about more than the three rooms in elle decor. a lot more. but no one seems to ocare much about the other things. haha! and i'm not really even faulting elle decor at all. im not faulting anyone, just showing what the reality appears to be. and i don't know, maybe she did move the kids stuff out and back in - but i doubt that. i think this was a chance to highlight some great decorating and the chance was taken.

      as for my poor assed kitchen, yes, they brought in props, like bottles of water and flowers and yes, they moved out a lot of my own stuff, like the water bottle and the junk i keep on the island. and yes they brought out my old kitchen chairs and mixed them in the new, there is nothing wrong with styling. no one is saying that. but this wasn't styling. this was decorating for a magazine. i just read phony to me. that's my opinion and i'm sticking to it.

      Delete
    4. Well, well, well...
      I don't get it! English is my second language, learned kind late, not as a child, teenager or young adult, but going towards starting to get old, what means that I don't know that much english, just enough to get by. Sometimes simple, everyday words, I have not heard, never. Like today a small child joking at a clinic said he as going to play hooky since he was not in school but at the doctors office, and the lady attending the family could not stop laughing. I had no idea what playing hooky was and had to find out the meaning and the spelling. Because everybody who heard laughed but me. Made me curious to find out the meaning. learned one more thing today with that little child.
      What does it have to do with your post?
      Even with my ESL I was able to understand your point.How come english speaking since the cradle, do not get it?
      You are exposing deceit, a lie. If she moved out and took all the things missing, like some said here, just makes it even worse, because it was portrayed as her place, the one she lives and love for the children. Now, does it matter in the decorating world? No! Not a bit! I love to see beautiful interiors for inspiration, in magazines and blogs.
      But it is a very bad sign , a sad chapter in the history of a society, when people do not care about being deceived. Not all, but some who do not care about being sold lies, would not mind selling lies to others too?
      Not a good thing looking into the future of a society.
      It does not matter if it is a decorated house in the cover of a magazine, a car at the dealer, fruit at the grocery store, clothes or dishes at a department store.
      Honesty, good morals is the base of a healthy, blessed society. Deceit is the the opposite. Wait and see the results of this in 30 years.
      Congratulations for your courage and standing up for what made the USA a great place . Love your country, wish mine was like yours in terms of moral. See, I know where lack of honesty can do to a country as a whole. Grew up in one, and can guarantee you all that it means destruction. Too bad people can not see the big picture. It is not about decorating, it is about values.
      While I'm at it. America was great because the values people cared about in this beautiful land, are God given values.
      ESL anyone?
      Maria , the foreigner

      Delete
  41. very interesting article, I enjoyed it and enjoyed seeing the differences in photography as well as styling. I had a stager come in to do my house to put it on the market and she stripped it so bare we were uncomfortable. Supposedly buyers want to see the architecture and not my stuff. After seeing these photos I think a house styled would be so much more appealing. I resally wonder about all this gimmicky stuff. I would rather see a styled photo than a staged one when buying a house. Thanks again for the insight. Kathy D

    ReplyDelete
  42. WOW, what a difference. It is sad to see the difference in the Elle Decor and real life photos of the house. It's basically a fallacy. Not sure how I'd feel about the magazine shots if I were the designer then. Showing the Elle Decor shots and the real shots doesn't make the designer look great either. It makes you second guess her work, which is sad. I'm not surprised in the styling of shoots, because sometimes we do add flowers, a chair here and there and place them in the room where it's not supposed to be in real life, but these spaces are completely different from the real.

    www.donnaviningblog.com

    ReplyDelete
  43. It looks like you have run out of material. I thought the plush pumpkins was the low point, but the hours you have spent doing a hatchet job on Elle Decor is really pathetic. Since your own designs get little or no publicity or recognition except when you post them on your own blog, you now have to go after the editors of Elle Decor to show them that little Joni Webb in Houston has their number and is going to expose their lack of journalistic candor. You look sillier by the day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. well, now that you have insulted the pumpkins- which btw are all over the internet and over 600 people want to win them, but that's ok. i'm glad you hate the blog so much- so...you'll be leaving i take it? This will be your last comment here? Since I am so silly and getting sillier by the day - I wouldn't want you to waste anymore of your time of little, silly moi. actually it wasn't such a hatchet job on elle decor. there are things you don't know, ok? things i couldn't say, ok? just leave it at that.
      it was nice knowing you - so sorry you find the blog so beneath you. but run along now and found another one without the pumpkins, since you have such rarefied tastes.

      Delete
    2. Oh so now in order to save your face you need to create some eastern european intrigue. This is really getting so pathetic I think I will just have to stop and weep. There were so many things we don't know that you could say, but being the extraordinary journalist that you are, you are bound to protect your sources. Time out, I needed a good laugh and this one is the best of all. For what it's worth, 600 people will line up every day of the week for anything that's free regardless of how tacky it might be. With respect to bean bag pumpkins, my taste is rarefied. Sorry that irks you. You have been caught with your journalistic pants down on this one and you can't take the scrutiny of people who know better so you have now stooped to "you don't know what I know". Wow, that is truly an all time low for you. You should be working for the National Enquirer. At least then we would know you have no sources.

      Delete
    3. yeah it's actually funny and making me laugh too. but it's TRUE! if you only knew what i knew but can't say. ok. that's true. hey, call me and i'll be glad to tell you!!!! no kidding. there's no big eastern intrique. it's just a few things that i know. ok? no big deal. believe me. i wish i could say i would LOVE to.

      has anyone ever called you and lied to you? that's all i can say.

      about the freaking bean bag pumpkins. over 600 is a huge number for a giveaway. on this blog at least. it's usually 1/2 of that. the truth is people went nuts over those pumpkins. i was surprised myself how many people wanted them. they really are beautiful though. i was surprised how pretty they were in person. and i don't have awful taste though you think i do. i know what a schmatte is when i see it.

      Delete
    4. I am assuming your "schmatte" was a freebie and some people will take anything they don't have to pay for. You don't have to convince me. Maybe next summer you can have a plush watermellon give away. Now that makes me really laugh.

      Delete
    5. Actually they did send me those pumpkins so I could take pictures of them in my house for the blog. But they don't really go, so I BOUGHT the white ones and gave my sister the colorful ones since they look good in her colorful house. Is that ok with you? And Loi who DOES have excellent taste wanted the white ones too. I know you appreciate Loi. He has a beautiful blog, maybe u would enjoy his so much more than mine? You should start going there instead of here.

      Delete
  44. So many things to comment upon and so little time. I will therefore, stick to just two pet peeves which no one has yet touched upon. First, the maniacal need for RE Agents to "de-personalizie' a home. Second, those stupid "fish eye" lenses that RE photographers use to "capture a bigger picture" and to make the rooms look bigger and longer than they areally are. They did this with Reese's house which is big enough already!

    Yes, yes, take down the refridgerator magnets, overtly religious pictures, lock up your guns and Sterling Silver and clean up the kitchen. However, why remove the table and chairs for 12 in favor of a table that seats 6? If the room can handle a table that big, why use smaller furniture to make the room look bigger. It makes the house look like there is wasted space. If a bedroom can comfortably handle a queen bed, a night stand, a dresser AND a reading chair, why take away the reading chair? It makes the room look comfortable and suggests multiple uses.

    Those ghastly fish-eye lenses! UGH! Anyone with any sense can see when a room has been distorted. Talk about bait and switch. If the photo makes the room look like it is 15 x 15 when in reality it is only 10 x 10, that is bait and switch. We have bought and sold 7 homes over the course of our marriage and I have learned many important things about buying a house. One of the most important is that it is not the total square footage that counts. Rather it is how that space is used.

    Don't know why Reese is moving on. Perhaps she is moving out of California. Several ideas: 1. As of Jan. 1st, 2013, there is a new 3% RE Tax on homes or property sold by people who make $250K or more (for a single) or $500K or more for a married couple. This will go to help fund Obama-Care. Sell now before the tax goes into effect! 2. As of Jan. 1st, California will be the only state to have a Cap and Trade program. This will significantly raise the cost of fuel and everything that requires fuel to be produced and / or transported. Reese's Ojai property has to be a real water and energy guzzler. 3. California "needs" to raise income taxes to support the overpaid government union workers AND to cover the costs of school, healthcare, and social services for the "dependent class". California has only 12% of the US's population but nearly 36% of the US's welfare cases. The proposed new Income tax rate will be 13% if you make more than $250K. California will then have the highest income taxes in the nation.

    Finally, it is just possible that Reese and Hubby got tired of trapsing out to their little Master Bedroom House. Ojai is hot as Hades in the summer and cool and drizzly in the winter.

    I love California, but it is not surprising that many productive people who have the money are moving out of state. It will be interesting to see where Reese ends up. With her money, she could buy a very nice home in a nearby state and commute to wherever her films are being made. It's only a 2 1/2 hour flight from DWF to LAX. Trust me, the commute from Ojai to LA is just as long! California regulations have made it nearly impossible for films to be made within the state, so chances are most of her work is out of state anyway.

    Wishing Reese, her new hubby and her little family well.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Here in California most real estate valued over $1 million is staged for sale. Looks like they staged Reese's place, keeping some of her things but removing anything personal or at all cluttering. Don't blame Elle Decor for that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. actually, no did blame elle decor for that. and i dont think the real estate people staged the house by remvoing personal items. the kids rooms in elle decor had no personal items, yet in the real estate pictures - they were filled with personal items, books, school bags, toys etc, they were absolutely not decluttered for the real estate pics. not sure if you saw the same pictures i did.

      Delete
  46. I agree with those commenters who say If I wanted to see "real" I wouldn't look at magazines. I enjoy seeing beautiful interiors so I can learn from them---who cares who owns them! Reese probably has already moved out....ages ago. Most celebs in her income bracket have several homes and don't live full time in the ones they allow magazines to photograph. Especially here in California --my gawd - we have all kinds of dangerous crack-pot stalkers who follow movie stars around.

    ReplyDelete
  47. I have personally done work for a construction company that worked with the Stars in Miami. Stars have always used Real Estate to make money as well as their acting (sometimes a job does not come along for a while). The Donald made his comeback buying up real estate on the coast of Florida in West Palm Beach and area. We saw the crews feverishly renovating and moving on. Staging and styling is a different business than real estate, and those people do us a great favor by giving us the potential of the home. Ordinary apartment or small house 4 walls and 8' ceilings with run of the mill carpet cannot become what a house like this for SURE! So, we can dream, and in case our dreams do not go that high, the stylists and great photographers are showing us how!

    I know also that there are businesses who source beautiful collections and rare items to be added to photos as accessories. Martha Stewart is very good at collecting, tagging and saving for such events in her magazines. She self-sources a lot of things. We can't copy her 'look' because it is all locked up in a warehouse somewhere tagged and locked up tight.

    I had a chance to work near a few AD photographers, and back in early 90's it was $45,000 for a one page ad in AD magazine. So, the competition is stiff and very cut throat, so you have to BE GOOD, very good to get the work. Just like any other creative job, there are people willing to outbid you and steal your work. Same world out there now, so I am sure it not any different in the creative fields.

    I read online that the creative jobs are increasing and will be around and important in the next 10 yrs or so. So, with everyone grabbing or our $dollar, the cream rises to the top, and the best are there because they ARE the best.

    Interesting article you wrote, I read it eagerly because of the first article I read on your blog was very interesting. I thought I was the only one who noticed a chair moved around or the same painting and flowers in other shots, sometimes in another home in another magazine! So, unique it had to be the same article. And you know that snarky writing is so much more interesting than straight facts and opinions, or rattling off design rules and 'you should do this' or that in a room. LOL, said in jest. Enjoyed the read!

    ReplyDelete
  48. I forgot to ad that most of those real estate investments are found for them by a broker, and they are not really lived in the way you and I would live in our home. They might also buy a home to house their family while a movie is being made nearby then when finished, they have the salary of the movie and proceeds from the sale of the house. A star's name attached always sells better than a regular house. Antiques with a story always are more interesting for example!

    ReplyDelete
  49. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I also thought the pumpkins were delightful, and the person who has to publicly insult the blog hostess for some unknown hateful reason looks worse than silly.

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  50. I just wrote a post a few days ago about "Magazine Perfect". I think the photography and staging is what inspires us all. As I illustrated, I tried with all of my might to achieve that look in my own home. What did I get? Well, I showed my dining room. I designed it (just love design, no real expertise) and I took the photos. It looks pretty but I don't really think it would make you want to buy a magazine.

    As for Elle Decor, Reese, Kathryn and the real estate professional, I feel they all did what they needed to for themselves. I like bits and pieces of each. I will say even the photos from the real estate professional still make me want to see more. Very true that the professional magazine shots were so much better.

    So my answer to Joni's question, No I do not feel duped. As long as the magazine (or book) inspires me and has great ideas, I am a happy viewer.

    It is very interesting to see this home with two (or more as the case sometimes is) different styles. There are days when I want my entire house to be white and clean of clutter and other days I want color and "stuff".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i am going to go read your story.
      my other big point was how absolutely talented those photographers really are. i never used to appreciate them and thought they were overrated but i am finally seeing the light. their photographs are like works of art. and no, not just anybody can take a picture of a house and make it look lkke something's it's not. amazing. i told this story in another comment but there was a house in houston tht was photographed for a magazine and it was sooo gorgeous. gorgeous. drop dead gorgeous. it showed up recently in a bhg magazine with new photographs and it looks so ordinary. the difference was striking. that was when i really stared realizing just how gifted those pro photographers truly are.

      Delete
    2. Wow again. Not only is the blog post interesting ( and takes a careful reading) but the comments are a hoot. There's a reason it's called staging...it's make believe/theatre/fantasy. No wonder they like actors homes. Where's all the stuff of living in these rooms? Most folks looking at houses ( or reading plans) have zero imagination. Just watch house hunters! Clueless. But the mags are good for ideas, as are blogs. The photographers work hard. Folks don't realize the time pre and post production photo or video shoots require. As to kids rooms....I guess mine aren't civilized, they needed to have stripped down bedrooms!

      Delete
  51. I can't get over how SKINNY Kathryn Ireland used to be. What happened? It's like her actual skeleton changed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it's called menopause? she has always had skinny hips and very long legs with big bosoms. she says so herself. i don't think she if fat now = is she? she looks the same to me, jsut a little more filled out which usually happens to women of a certain age. i certainly know that to be true.

      Delete
    2. "... she has always had skinny hips"

      No longer.

      Delete
  52. Maybe the dynamic trio of the SRT can convince the editor of Elle Decor to visit the round table for an inquisition or better still, see if Reece will show up and explain her part in the overall conspiracy to out wit those bored and under inspired homemakers across the land who drooled at her decor only to be told later by Joni Webb that it was all just like a movie set. I'm thinking damages, punitive and compensatory. There must be some syndrome associated with this. Maybe repressed envy syndrome is a good start.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Well, we already had Margaret Russell on the SRT but I guess we could get new editor if we want. And i didn't tell anybody anything that they couldn't see for themselves when those pictures were splashed all over huffington post and every other celebrity blog.

    you know we could do a class action and make a commercial -

    Have you or anyone else in your family suffered from flatulence after reading Elle Decor. We are here to help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    1. Have you or anyone else in your family suffered from flatulence after reading Elle Decor. We are here to help.

      You are beginning to sound and act like the Paula Deen of design blogging. Own up to the fact that this post makes you look naive and silly. Stop blaming your readers.

      Delete
    2. naive and silly about what ??????
      that the rooms were totally designed for the layout and had no basis in truth that it was reese's? how is that silly? and how am i blaming the readers? paula deen? ok, yeah right.

      i spent more time talking about interior and exterior photography than the rooms. I showed how ugly a real estate brochure can make a house look when it actually is much prettier. I talked about the importance between taking pictures with good lighting instead of overcast skies. and yeah, i talked about the difference between reality of reese's house and the magazine. but anyone could see that once they saw the pictures. how is that silly?

      Delete
    3. Silly because you are taking these two publications of the interior and exterior pictures so personally and you want your readers to as well. Why should I feel duped. What stake do I have in these rooms or any others that Elle Decor may publish and frankly what stake do you have?

      Delete
  54. Thanks again for another interesting post. Alot to ponder. It is fun to look at all the photos and see the differences. I read another blog last week (can't remember which, I think 'Hooked on Houses" but not sure) and she let on that Reese never really lived here. Maybe like someone else commented above that it was for her wedding. Only people with LOTS of money can do something like that, if that's the case. Anyway, it is a beautiful place and I personally love the way Buckingham (for Reese, supposedly) styled it. Kathryn Ireland's look is wonderful, just not my look.
    I don't know if I feel 'duped'. I love looking through magazines for inspiration and ideas that I can transfer to my home on my budget. If it all looked too ordinary, I wouldn't be waiting for each new issue to arrive.
    You are right about the importance of the photograph. That was really the most dramatic part of this post....the comparison of the photos.
    Thanks again for all your hard work each week. I really enjoy your blog and look forward to each and every post.
    Jenifer

    ReplyDelete
  55. Yeah, I feel kind of duped by all these styling "tricks". A bowl of lemons, flowers, a throw, move a piece around a bit...OK, but this is too much. Total sham. But,Reese W is an actor after all, so I guess it is no big deal to her to pose for the cover of Elle Decor and pretend this is how she lives. Just another photo shoot. Thanks for the post, Joni!

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  56. And, I also agree with some other comments - this beautiful place is crying out for a owner who will care enough to stick around for a while! It is rather sad, really.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This beautiful place is crying out . . . .

      Give us a break. It's a damn house. Crying out - only a woman could make that crap up.

      Delete
    2. yep. I always knew you were a man. always. so how was work today? glad you're back home relaxing and trolling the blogs? which other blogs besides mine do you hate?

      Delete
    3. Men don't use phrases like "this beautiful place is crying out" unless of course that man is William Faulkner. Men would more likely say "the place sucks". Now try a little harder at your gender identification. You are losing it at every turn tonight, Joni.

      Delete
    4. "Men don't use phrases like "this beautiful place is crying out" unless of course that man is William Faulkner."

      I've read a ton of Faulkner, and he would never use a phrase as tired and sentimental as that.

      Delete
  57. I honestly can't understand what all the fuss is about.
    All the exterior and interior shots are depressing, the Kathryn Ireland version and the Reese Witherspoon re-make.
    I am a realtor specializing in high net worth clients in the North East and of course
    The book and magazine article were done in anticipation of listing the house for sale.
    Sorry to burst your bubble. It's all about hype and marketing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. Aren't you fun. Have a great day!

      Delete
    2. "I am a realtor specializing in high net worth clients"

      No you're not.

      Delete
  58. I love your blog and look forward to every entry. You have such a great eye for picking up details and making comparisons. Although I'm more of an "Ireland style" with lots of color and pattern, I've learned to appreciate "Houston style" from you. Recently, I unsubscribed from all other design blogs except yours. It's such a learning experience and your research and experience are evident in your blog. Thank you.

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  59. I thought this post was interesting. I do wonder if Reese has gone and taken things with her, I can't see her living with most of the decor from the real estate photos. Doesn't matter to me, it is still fun to look at all the different photos, I think that home is beautiful. Reading some of the comments above, there are some unhappy people out there, wow.

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  60. I loved seeing all the iterations of this house which is truly wonderful!

    And while I love looking at shelter magazines, sometimes you have to scratch your head. I recently saw a room done by one of the top Houston designers - there were four floor lamps in the center of the room but not an electrical cord in sight!

    I appreciate all the very high end homes you show us but I always enjoy your work (which is great!) and readers' homes more because it seems more genuine to me.

    ReplyDelete
  61. This was an amazing post. I loved looking at the different versions, and I am so thankful that you sleuthed out the truth. I do not feel very betrayed though because I feel most of these photo spreads are more fiction than fact.

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  62. It's a damn house...

    Give us a break. Damn house - only a man would say that crap.

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  63. Its a business - to the buyers, the decorators, the magazines... its all a way to make money. Evidently that world isn't "into" it like we are (your readers). Frankly, I'm kind of over this house. Its been overexposed and I really have seen enough. I don't like being taken in by a magazine - just show us what you have, don't make stuff up. I guess there isn't any integrity anywhere in journalism anymore. Keep up the good work, Joni!

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  64. I know they style room for photo shoots, so I expect flowers brought in or pillows changed out but I have to say I'm kind of shocked by this. Both Ireland and Reese have the money to keep their homes all decked in accessories. I know when I show my house on the blog...it is with all the accessories I have....things don't change around here. If you see a photo of one of my rooms...if you come by my house a month or even a year later...it's going to be styled....it will have all it's accessories. I'm shocked that people that have all the money in the world to make their homes look their best....don't do it. I do think it looks like Ireland just used the house to write a book and to sell it for whomever she was doing it for. Because...if she really lived there....why wouldn't she have kept all that great stuff there?

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  65. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work.

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  66. I am so wonder after visit your post, looking so fantastic design. Thanks a lot for sharing these awesome post with us. I'll visit your blog again.

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  67. I love Reese, but her interview was a misrepresentation (i.e., a lie). On the other hand, somebody at Elle could have just made it up. Still - what was the point? Elle could have just presented the pictures without the interview or the interview could have just been about the rooms in the house or something that was true.

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  68. The reason this bothers me and others is because we compare our own home/work we do for others, to the mags. We always fall short and then it's like finding out that they are cheating! I always tell myself if only I had the same budget to work with ect. It is very much like the teenage girl looking at the fashion mags and feeling ugly. She needs to remember those models don't look like that either.

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  69. Joni - I think your analysis of this article was brilliant and the reason I love your blog. I totally agree with you that it was a bait and switch to sell magazines and also the ranch. So sad that we can't even have truth in decorating!

    As for Anonymous and al the snarky comments here - he/she should get a life! It's so easy to criticize the work of others and then hide behind being anonymous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    1. As for Anonymous and al the snarky comments here - he/she should get a life! It's so easy to criticize the work of others and then hide behind being anonymous"

      JoAnn, that is precisely what Joni has done. She has chosen to criticize Elle Decor, Kristin Buckingham and Reese Witherspoon without a SHRED OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT WHAT THE REAL FACTS ARE.

      Delete
    2. No!!!! It's totally different. They know my name and can confront me and say what ever they want about me, expose me, whatever. You are anon. You hide behind your anonymity. No one can confront you about what you say or judge you or hold you accountable because we don't know who you are! I thought you were smart? You seriously do not see the difference? I have a lot to lose by this, you have nothing because u are anonymous. If they want to they can say, don't send her anymore houses to show on her blog, don't go on the srt, don't send her any press releases, etc. It's taking a risk because they know my name. If I could be anon, I could say whatever and not even think about the consequences, as it is, even this is probably over the line, but I don't care. It's what I feel. And I stand behind my opinions. You don't. So don't you dare compare it.

      Delete

      Delete
    3. WITHOUT A SHRED OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT WHAT THE REAL FACTS ARE:
      I stand by that reasoning. You have used assumptions to get reader traffic and without one shred of evidence that Elle Decor duped you, you have attempted to influence your readers that not only you, but your unsuspecting readers have bought into a false narrative. I would suggest you prove it, or shut up!

      You have not one modicum of evidence or a clue as to why the decor was changed even though many of your readers have opined that under the circumstances a seller would opt to take out their possessions and replace it with things they don't have any attachment to.

      You continue to need to prop up your original thesis and it no longer holds water.

      Delete
    4. hi!!! go to the last comment, i talk about this.

      one thing though - those two kids rooms in the magazine had no personal effects. the rooms as shown in the real estate pictures were full of personal effects - so that theory doesn't make sense or hold water. if they were trying to depersonalize the rooms, the would have left them as shown in the magazine. instead, they chose to show those rooms filled with the kid's stuff. makes no sense what you are saying.

      nor does it make sense that the living room was changed to get ride of personal effects. the things missing and the things left have nothing to do with personal effects. it was just an etergere and coffee table and a few chairs. how is that personal effects? they had no problem showing all the expensive tvs that weren't featured in the magazine. they show her desk with personal mementos on it and next to it in the real estate pictures. so no, that theory isn't right. but it could be something else.

      Delete
    5. You stand by your opinions until you are proven wrong or when the majority do not agree with you. I suppose shooting from the hip has consequences. Don't blame anons for this nor any of your other readers. The ultimate person for the responsibility of the veracity of the claims set forth in this blog is yours and yours alone - not your readers. Trying to look too clever in this instance was your waterloo. So what if designers/publishers don't come to the skirted round table or send you pictures - so what. Go out and make news for yourself. The SRT has become boring anyway - the same old questions over and over again. It's not likely that any of the guests take you, Megan or Linda very seriously in the first place.

      Delete
    6. CDT 5:15pm "don't you dare compare it" Whoa mama!

      So let me see if I understand this correctly. Only opinions in your name count and those by others who are not blog authors mean nothing. You have one serious ego problem, Joni. You are beginning to take yourself way too seriously.

      Delete
    7. "The SRT has become boring anyway - the same old questions over and over again. It's not likely that any of the guests take you, Megan or Linda very seriously in the first place."

      The only thing I like about the SRT is Joni. She blurts out the questions I want answered, and says the things I'm thinking. I cannot take Megan and Linda pretending they're professionally equal to the people they interview. Joni never fakes that stuff.

      Delete
    8. Anon. 12:08, I agree especially as it relates to Megan. She is a Henrietta Homemaker Designer wannabe without much of a portfolio to show of her work. I will say Linda on the other hand seems to have a good client base, publishes an on-line design mag. and does have a portfolio on her website by which she can be judged. Joni does blurt out a bit and her questions often come across as inexperienced and naive, but you are correct, she doesn't deal in the BS that Megan does. The podcast use to be interesting, but now it has become so formulae that you could probably google the guests and find out most of what the authors are asking. The last one with Alexa Hampton was so disappointing because listening for an hour I came to the conclusion that Alexa had not really told us much about herself nor her work.

      Delete
    9. "I agree especially as it relates to Megan. She is a Henrietta Homemaker Designer wannabe without much of a portfolio to show of her work."

      Has Megan ever shown ANY portfolio? I think her dodge is "None of the clients want their houses shown." Riiiiight.

      Delete
    10. wow, i thought alexa told us a lot of her personal life. like about her mother and the company. and her husband. there were a lot personal off hands. i think linda and megan ask great questions. i will admit i ask the worst ones, or the more personal ones. i don't have much of a filter, it's always be a problem for me, since i was little and it comes out on the srt. i hear it. we've been doing it for years now, maybe its hard to keep it fresh? i don't know. we have two people right now that we are talkng with that are huge, huge. so hoepfully you will enjoy them if they do it. both scare me to death though. i will be very nervous that day.

      Delete
  70. Hi Joni,

    Just wanted to thank you for another marvelous post. I read it yesterday and only got back today for a comment. Sounds like lots of opinions here, but I just loved your entry. Your passion comes through in your post and THAT is why I come to read your entries. Thought provoking for sure. But, this is YOUR blog and I am a guest here and thus have manners. A sad footnote in these times for sure, that something so simple can be so lost.

    I appreciate your efforts in presenting the "magic" of a truly gorgeous photograph and the eye of that photogragher to capture the allure of what can be created with such talent. So, thank you for that Joni.

    I strive to live with what I love surrounding me. It is not a mansion, but it is home.

    Looking forward to your next post.

    Sarah :)

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  71. Another point about changing *reality* in photographs is the use of Photoshop. Tweaking lighting is just standard. Did you notice in the real estate picture of the dining/family room, one of Ireland's old dining chairs in front of the window has the end of the back rail, the part outlined by the window, in a darker stain? It looks like it doesn't quite line up. What was going on there? Looks to me like the photographer was tweaking the landscaping outside, probably darkening it because it was overexposed or filling it in, and caught the edge of the chair, and forgot to correct that. And most fires in fireplaces in magazines are Photoshopped in. Hard to know what's real anymore!

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  72. I'm so glad they fooled us. I just finished reading that issue of Elle Decor last weekend and loved the whole article, pictures, decor and all. And if the house was shown as Reese really lives, I'm not sure I would've been as moved. But honestly, in my opinion, Kathryn's decor and book are my favorite pictures. They just pop and say beauty and comfort to me!

    Olivia

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  73. It's really no different than when Jennifer Aniston's house was in Architectural Digest then when up for sale a couple of months later. I suppose it's like the Emperor's clothes tale. It's all what they want you to see.

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    1. That was another one. There are so many of them. I wonder if her rooms were decorated just for the layout. I didn't personally like her house so I wasn't interested to see what it really looked like. For some reason. I am obsessed with the Ojai estate. I love everything about it. The outbuildings, the history, the landscaping, the interiors. Everything. I would love to live there if only... No, seriously, it's like a dream to me. It seems like a bit of heaven on earth.

      Delete
  74. what post it's great I am just finished the post and it's simply great I am now in my beautiful office uniform

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  75. Great article Joni and it really was an eye opener for me as I thought that I knew that of course there would be some 'tweaking' by the shoot team to capture the best image of a shot but this seems to be an over the top misrepresentation. When I shell out money for a magazine specifically to read about an actor, designer, etc. I would expect that what I'm reading is truthful and that I'm getting a peak into their homes and how such folks actually live. If this is just made up stories then just call it what it is. A home owned by an actor was decorated by a known designer in preparation for an upcoming sale. No problem, I then understand what I'm really buying.

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  76. Thanks Joni... it was an eye opener for sure. Still like the styled Kathryn's take on the place.. so warm and cozy. Great ideas to bring into a home. The real estate brochure took out anything that was too much of style to not appeal to all. So sad. So bare. Happy Wednesday.. xo marlis

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  77. Many thanks, Joni. I'm not sure how I feel. To be honest, I do feel as though the readership of Elle Decor has been manipulated and played. When the owner, celebrity or not, talks about the joys of raising their children there when in fact they're just "flipping" the property, there is a certain dishonesty. On the other hand, a beautiful room is a beautiful room and that's what we're all looking for. But I will say this -- if David Hicks' design credo was "When in doubt, paint it white," Kathryn Ireland's credo is "When in doubt, throw a loud bedspread on it." I mean no disrespect. It's just that I've always viewed her as an immensely talented stylist rather than a designer. Anyway, Joni, thanks again.

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  78. Joni, I'm surprised and a little shocked but it doesn't really bother me. When I read your wonderful post on Reese's version of the house a few weeks ago I was very surprised that you could prefer Reese's version of the house to Kathryn Ireland's. It was so obvious to me that Reese's version was beautiful but very bland, like a show-home. In retrospect I can see that it was styled in a bland (but beautiful) way to sell.

    Look on the bright side - we might see a new incarnation of the house in a few years although it will be hard to ever match Kathryn Ireland's version.

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  79. If you could pick one designer to decorate the ranch, who would you pick????? Tell me! Who would do it the most justice?

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    1. You didn't pose your question to me, but it's an interesting question and needs to be answered. I look at California ranches in a totally different way than I would look at any suburban area of a larger metro area of the U.S. I think the Spanish influence you see in many of the ranch designs calls for a decor that reflects the spirit of the design. Kathryn Ireland actually understood this. Kristin Buckingham missed the point.

      Just because it's California doesn't mean that it needs to embrace the bohemian/ethnic decor Ireland is know for, but in this instance the entire estate actually called for it. There are many California homes for which this decor would have been totally wrong and we have seen them posted on the blog.

      It would be interesting to see what John Saladino (sp) design this space for a family.

      Delete
    2. The question was posed to everyone! I wish i had thought to put it on the blog! funny, i thought john saladino too, but he already has a similar ranch or estate so we saw what he would do. i wonder what someone like miles redd would do here? i would love to see him style the house just to see what he would choose. who else? if i lived here, bunny would be a perfect choice, or charlotte, i would probably choose charlotte personally- i love her style. i would love to see what pam pierce who do. she's another personal favorite. or ginger. or carol. but carol has her own house nearby and hopefully we'll be seeing that soon. dying to see it. michael smith would be a great one. so would bobby mcalpine. he would want to remodeling all the buildings though!! not just decorate them!! so maybe Michael would be a top choice. Or Suzanne Rheinstein, her style would be a good mesh. So many!!! Maybe Elle Decor could redo it year after year. i wish. what a dream. I want to stay here so badly. and i would love to visit saladino's home, if he still owns it. i wonder if it is still for sale or who bought it and what it looks like now? it made me sad that he was selling because he poured his heart and soul into that house. it must be so hard to do. to sell after such a commitment.

      Delete
  80. I don't feel duped. These high high high end homes owned by stars (or the extremely wealthy) all seem to be sold fairly regularly. Also, I am not shocked by how different the real estate ads are from the magazine. First of all don't real estate people always stress to eliminate "clutter" and make a home look more generic anyway (I don't know that I have EVER agreed with that advice, I think it is best to make a place look NICE, but maybe I can see past clutter or personal things and picture myself and my stuff just about anywhere, visually I can see past the stuff and pictre the bare bones in my mind, perhaps not everyone can do that?) and also, I have never thought any magazine article is REALLY totally true to life. Not since I first learned that they BRING IN STYLISTS, and CHANGE OUT ACCESSORIES etc!!! They don't seem to do that so much in European mags, and I like the European way of not making everything perfect more, on the whole. Yes, the PERFECT images in US mags are beautiful in their own way, but they ALWAYS strike me as a bit "fake" or TOO perfect, a little imperfection is actaully more perfect to me. So no, I don't feel duped about how perfect the home appeared in the magazine, all homes appear perfect in the mags. Your kitchen is lovely, but remember how the stylists totally changed things up when it was photographed. I remember when I first learned JUST HOW MUCH stylists change things for magazine features I did feel duped then, I want to know how THE HOMEOWNER decorates, I don't NEED PERFCETION, but that was a few years ago. I just accept it now.

    Louise

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    1. i know what you are saying, but why would editors, the last one being Dara who works for Veranda and used to be a domino - all say that kind of wholesale styling does not go on anymore. dara emphatically said this to us. she said it was too expensive to do and not as appealing. i should go back and listen again because i don't want to put words in her mouth. so, that is why i think that elle decor didn't pay for this styling or do it, that it was either how the ranch really looks or the decorator chose to do what she WANTED to do, but maybe ran out of time before they decided to sell. that might be case. i don't know. i am just speculating. some people said that she probably already moved it and is renting it with that furniture. ok. by why leave all the good furniture in the media room and family room, why just the kids rooms? whatever. i said that if i ever find out the truth i would let you know.

      Delete
  81. " if you only knew what i knew but can't say. ok. that's true. hey, call me and i'll be glad to tell you!!!! no kidding. there's no big eastern intrique. it's just a few things that i know. ok? no big deal. believe me. i wish i could say i would LOVE to.

    has anyone ever called you and lied to you? that's all i can say"

    So Joni, these are your words. Stand behind them and if you have been lied to and misguided, your readers will stand behind you. This is a vague and worthless argument. It's almost elementary for one to say "if you just knew". Cough it up if there is more to the story.

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  82. wow - you are home early tonight! ok, i wish i could. it's not that big of a deal, just a few things i was told that's all. by several people. it's no big deal, but it does make me believe what i am saying might be true. if not, i will do a mea culpa like i had to do about the white house when soemone called me with a hot tip that michael smith had been fired. yeah. we know how false that was! and the source was sooooooo goood too. yeah. so maybe these other sources are fos too. that's one reason why i don't want to say. i don't know what is true anymore. i'm just saying, i was told a few things that leads me to believe that the rooms were redone for the shoot. why is that such a big deal anyway, that i say that i think that is what happened? who am i? i am just giving my opinion. i'm not in a courtroom. i am not swearing what i said about those rooms is fact. i said, i don't know for sure, but it is what i believe, given the circumstances. nothing else makes sense otherwise. if those two rooms were how they really looked, why would they pick just those two rooms to strip out and replace all the furniture, including the light fixtures? why not all the rooms? why just those two? that's why it makes me think they were redone solely for the shoot. OR maybe they were redone in hopes reese would love it and say, i'll take it all. that could be it. but maybe then she decided to sell and said - no. that could be a very reasonable explanation. like i said, if i ever learn the truth i'll be the first to admit it. the apology to michael smith was much harder and truthfully very very embarrassing. honestly, it was. i got all caught up in that bs story i was told and talk about european intrique, that was. i was such a fool. i am admitting it and did admit it. have at it. at least i will be honest and tell you when i am a fool and wrong. even when it is very embarrassing and humbling. i still can't think about it without getting upset.

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    1. Two rooms - the living room, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom, kids rooms. All were changed That's more than two rooms.

      Delete
  83. and one last thought, many, probably the majority of commentors weren't surprised or felt duped or taken or anything at all. i asked that question - and most didn't agree with my take on the story. i think overall it was a balanced and unbiased commentary by the readers.

    i went back and reread the story tonight - and so little was really said about the two rooms compared to everything else. most of the story had to do with the photography and the comparison between professional and real estate photography. and i couldn't have lavished more praise on the magazine for their gorgeous pictures.
    But, the commentary on the rooms is mine and mine only. I've stated that. If Elle has a problem with my opinion, I'm sure they will let me know. As would the designer. So far, I haven't heard from either nor do i think i will. With all the millions of blogs out there, my voice is pretty tiny. Still, it is my voice and I take responsibility for it. If I was so powerful I certainly would have swayed my readers - instead the majority were not with me and stated as such. That should make Elle Decor feel good.

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  84. Surprised? Yes and no....it seems that with each blog that is involved with a shoot for a magazine....we see pictures of the props brought with the crew and hear of some left behind as a thank you... Also, seeing the blog homes pictured in magazines...you know (if you have been following the blog) what is the owners and what is likely brought in...you even see the same props or pieces used from room to room....just as you noticed in this home. I would also venture a guess that if you have the ability....like Kathy Ireland and Reese.... you are long gone before the realtors photographers arrive.....I can't imagine either of them residing in a home that is listed and must be open for viewing.....can you imagine that phone call...um Reese...could you leave the house I have a potential buyer at 3 who wants a tour, yeah thanks! With that being said....when I read an article as the one with Reese...I did believe that to be authentic and then to hear it was for sale immediately made me think....she always had the intention of selling before she did that article...just as the osbournes did with their malibu and latest house.......it's very disappointing. Just shoot the darn things and add some flowers...... Thanks Joni.....I felt this way too and was glad to hear that someone else did also

    Andrea
    AndeM1@hotmail.com

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  85. I don't think there is a problem with your post, you are just sharing your opinion. What I take away from it is that you want to point out how much difference photography and styling can make. You do seem to be slightly offended by how different things look in the magazine as opposed to the real estate ads, where as I (and probaly some other readers) don't really care so much, but then I am not a designer, this is not all quite so serious to me.

    What does surprise me is that you seem to be a little shocked and surprised by what seems a lack of authenticity. You mention a few times how a photo looks spectacular but then say, but oh no, that is not how they really live, look at the next photo . .. As I say, you sound to me like you find it a bit offensive. Please know I do not mean this in an unkind way at all. You are no less authentic than myself or anyone else, but how authentic is YOUR decorating? You have a great looking kitchen but don't cook, you love French design and your blog is even called COTE DE Texas, but how much time have you actually spent in France? Design and decorating is often about image, often lacks some authenticity. I EXPECT magazines and even blogs to present an IMAGE to either a greater or larger degree, am not surprised nor offended by it. I don't think there is anything wrong at all with this post, and as always I am really, reaslly impressed with your research and how in depth it is, but I am surprised that you feel duped.


    Louise

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  86. http://www.lifeingraceblog.com/2012/09/better-homes-and-gardens-photo-shoot/

    As perfect as this house is....and it is lovely....BHG added to it....check it out....

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  87. I guess it's kind of like airbrushing with models-- we all knew it wasn't real, but then to find out the extent of what goes on with that, it does kind of make you mad. I'm not saying we should see her toothbrush on the sink or anything, but if Buckingham had some deal with the magazine or Reese or something, it'd be nice to have some kind of reference to it. Obviously she doesn't live with lamps that have no cords and I get that it's not really my concern what she does with her house, but don't present it quite so differently than what it is. I know all those home magazines aren't completely real, but this wasn't even in the spirit of what we saw.
    And to the nasty, mean commenters who look down on people who like to discuss the ins and outs of design, how do you manage to suffer through these articles of Joni's? You make it sound like you are having this stuff forced down your throat. Just move on to another blog that better suits your taste and interest.

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  88. I am thrilled that you spent so much time and effort on this story. I have truly enjoyed the complete, entire story with all the pictures, comparison and commentary. I have been inspired and day dreamed about this ranch, both as Katherine had it and as Reese had it and I don't intend to give up those dreams. I don't care if it was "staged", staging shows you possibilities, like looking at model homes. Perhaps we were duped by both women, but if they hadn't duped us, we wouldn't have had ALL this inspiration. I don't think they would have had the "press" if they had done it any other way. Does anyone really know when either one decided to sell? Maybe Reese was trying to help out her designer friend and afterwards decided to sell. I'm not going to worry about what they did, I'm just going to keep looking at the pictures and dreaming and coming up with more ideas for the horse ranch I live on.

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  89. I must commend you on a fantastic post! This was truly the best blog post I've ever read. I would have never guessed that the actual home was so bland...and bare compared to the magazine photos. I do think that's really bad and misleading. I expect some flowers and extra accessories but completely different? No way. It's too phony. I have been in plenty of beautiful, accessorized homes that could be in a magazine because they look great and are real. There's no question that the ranch is a beautiful property but it is disappointing that the decor is so so different than what was portrayed in the Elle Decor. THANK YOU AGAIN for the interesting post!!!!

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  90. So..... it was all a scam and a lie - the way she 'lived' and the interview. Pathetic.

    I guess we shouldn't really be surprised with all that seems to be going on in the US and world. No integrity, no truth.

    It's all 'make a buck, make a buck'. A bit disheartening.

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  91. Loved this post..... it must have taken you ages. Loved your commentary and agree with your perspective. Never were words so true.... "everything is not always how it seems"

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  92. Interesting post. Loved comparing the photos. However, I have to disagree with your thoughts on this. First, I cannot imagine a star living in a house while it is on the market. My guess (and it truly is only a guess) is she took out what she wanted/needed for her current home, put back some of the items left by Kathryn Ireland and left a few of her own pieces so the house wouldn't be empty. I would bet she took most of the items from her children's room so they would have that in their current rooms. Even I packed up most of my personal items when my home was on the market, (and I put back the previous owners curtains as I wanted to keep mine) -- first to declutter, but secondly because I didn't want things to "disappear" during showings, etc.

    If I were a star, I would be very wary of showing my home in a magazine unless I was planning on moving out soon. Too many crazies out there. And I'm sure there was some staging done during the magazine shoot, but I would not presume that the children's rooms were entirely done for the magazine. I personally have no issue with seeing a home tweaked or changed for a photo shoot.

    As for the photography, of course the magazine shows the house itself, but is more focused on showing the interior design work. Real estate agents are showcasing the home details, which is why, although much more beautiful, many of the magazine shots would not be appropriate for selling the house. I agree that some agents have quite a lot of room to improve on their photography. However, I actually appreciated the listing photos as I could see the entire room or larger expanse of property, etc., and get a better perspective on the layout.

    But as one of the commenters inferred, she may not have ever actually lived in the house, so we could all be wrong in our presumptions!

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  93. Have to say that I love CDT and Joni, and rarely, if ever, comment but I don't get this one at all. I'm actually feeling a little "duped" by this post because it kinda feels like a cry for attention from a national publication by stirring up comments/traffic/controversy over a non-issue. I thought we were done with this house; who cares if it was staged or sold or whatever....IMHO.

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  94. I love the detective work. If you want to figure out which photos were taken first, check out the plants. The centennial jasmine is blooming in only one.

    I think the issue here is that the story and photos made you feel like she made an effort to make her children feel special and all that was reversed after a day of shooting.

    I loved the breakdown of it all.

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  95. I, too, am annoyed that Elle Decor tried to dupe us. Perhaps, more annoyed at myself because I should have caught on sooner. The title of the spread was "Reese Witherspoon's Ravishing Private Oasis". We were lead to believe that the "ravishing" decor was actually part of Reese's life style. As we now know, probably not so.

    The first tip off should have been when they featured Reese with her two cute, little blonde neices. They don't live there! Acccording to the article that is where Reese lives with HER children. The second tip-off should have been when Elle Decor said that Ojai was "just 30 minutes from Los Angeles". On a light traffic day, Ojai may be 30 minutes from the Los Angeles County line, but it is MUCH farther away from the City of Los Angeles. Perhaps Elle Decor meant to say that Ojai is just 30 minutes by helicopter from Los Angeles.

    Finally, my own experience with Shelter Magazines... My Interior Designer cousin and her Restoration Architect husband buy, refurbish, redecorate and "flip" high-end homes. They are not celebs so their homes have not made it into AD, Veranda or Elle Decor. However, their homes have been featured numerous times in Romantic Homes and several other Shelter-Mags-for-the-less-famous. This is always a tip off that the home will soon be on the market and their sales brochure will be able to say "Featured in Romantic Homes."

    On more than one occasion, decorative items were given attributions that were completely untrue. My two favorites are "this antique cream and sugar set came across the plains with the husband's Grandmother", and "world travelers, the homeowners decorate their home with architectural fragments collected on their trips abroad". The "antique" cream and sugar set was from the 1960's. I know because I had given it to my cousin for Christmas the previous year. The "architectural fragement" featured in the picture was actually a reproduction made from resin and marble dust, probably bought on-line. Don't know if my cousin is the teller of tales, but I do know that Shelter Mags don't seem to care if what they print is true or true. If it looks good, print it.

    Still, I DID get one good thing from the article on Reese's little oasis, the pots on top of the short pillars in her front courtyard. The photos reminded me that I had planned to put pots on top of the 6 pillars that flank my 3 wrought iron garden gates. As luck would have it, Lowes had some beautiful, classically styled concrete urns on clearance. Since Agave Attentuata (the variety that Reese had in her pots) gets too large for a 24" diameter pot, I was forced to research alternatives. I now have seen the beauty of Agave Attentuata "Blue Boutin" and Agave "Blue Flame". In the end, I decided to plant my pots with Limonium "Perrizii" and English Ivy. For less than $50 per gate, my gates received a MAJOR decorative upgrade. Thank you Elle Decor for this, at least.

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  96. Thank you! I, too, appreciate your time to do the detective work. And I, too, feel duped. Those magazine & books are meant to inspire us. In this fast paced world I'd like to be inspired to add beauty in simple attainable ways. I don't want to be slave to my house. Houses are for people. I don't want to edit the pillow arrangement on the couch each time somebody rises of it or the foyer table vignette each time kids come home and hurl their backpacks on it.

    I stopped my subscription to Elle Decor a while ago but now I won't not even curious to pick up one at the dentist office.

    I learned a lot from your post - thank you. The interior lighting, interior styling, curb appeal and the fact that our real homes often look actually so much better & soulful than the celebrity homes by celebrity designers. Mine does :)

    Diane

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  97. Even Margaret Russell hated this practice--realtors and sellers using Elle Decor and other magazines as essentially a venue for real estate ads. She complained about it in an editor's letter once, and added at the end, something like "Oh great, I just learned that one of the houses in this very issue is now for sale."

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  98. Some really beautiful pictures here, the ranch looks absolutely amazing. Why would she want to sell? I love the original wood burning fires in almost every room, my gas fire is nice but an old rustic looking fireplace really does make a room look lovely.

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