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Met Home Gets the Hatchet

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It feels like déjà vu. Metropolitan Home is the latest decorating magazine to go under the guillotine.

Only yesterday Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. announced the closure of the magazine fondly known as Met Home to the urban, sophisticated home decor cognoscenti.

December 2009 will be the last issue of a surprisingly stable publication that has been under the leadership of Editor-in-Chief Donna Warner for 17 years.

Metropolitan Home was not the first shelter magazine closure for the parent company. Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. shuttered Home magazine in 2008, and is in the throes of an open house for increasing ad revenues and maintaining stable readership for its' remaining luxury title Elle Décor.

Mediafinder.com, an online database of North American periodicals, has reported the loss of more than 300 magazine titles this year. In 2007 and 2008, around 1,200 publications folded.

Time Inc.'s Southern Accents, Cottage Style and InStyle Home; Hearst Corporation's O at Home; Conde Nast's House & Garden and Domino; Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.'s Blueprint; and Meredith Corporation's Country Home are some of the better-known decorating magazines that have bit the bullet.

If style-icons Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey cannot make it in the home decorating marketplace, there is little chance for style-specific chic magazines like Metropolitan Home.

Problem is people buy décor-based magazines -- as opposed to lifestyle magazines that cover home design, like Real Simple -- when they really want to decorate.

Then they buy individual copies at a premium and/or subscribe to monthly issues for a bargain in exchange for decorating ideas. Unlike with other print media hurt by the Web, people who decorate their homes love to flip through the pages of magazines, and clip 'favorite room' photos and paste them in 'design scrapbooks' to serve as personal inspiration or to show their interior designers. They relish scouring the magazine stands.

Internet sites with imagery also provide creative input, but because color and print quality varies, it is more useful, not to mention more easily portable, to have an actual magazine when shopping for interiors.

The bottom line is people are not seriously decorating much right now. The precursors to decorating -- remodeling existing spaces, moving to bigger homes and having disposable incomes -- are at a low. Recession hurts. The housing market does not help.

Take me. I love home design magazines, I write and style for them, and I like to think I have decent taste. But I am not in the decorating mode.

These days my mindset is to freshen up an old sofa with inexpensive store-bought slipcovers or throw pillows, not to purchase a new pricey custom-made sofa. I shop for accessories with economy in mind -- table lamps at Target or flower vases at Crate & Barrel. Lest I get too generic, I have also taken to regularly hitting flea markets and estate sales; I picked up a beautiful, slightly damaged 1930's iron statue for $45 this past weekend.

Truth is I am truly sorry to see Met Home go, but for now, until the economy recovers, that is just the way it is.