House Beautiful's July/August 2015 issue, the first issue fully overseen by Sophie Donelson, who was named editor in chief in January of this year, has hit newsstands. Donelson, who co-founded Editor at Large's "Editor TV" series and hosted 50-plus segments, has also earned extensive experience as founding editor of Curbed National, as an independent journalist with work appearing in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Departures and New York magazine, and as a lifestyle brand consultant. Donelson reflects on her first issue, and shares what's to come, with EAL.
How does this issue reflect your personal touch?
It's perfect that I began my tenure with the Small Spaces issue, a topic that so naturally explores the intersection of decorating and living, which I find terribly interesting. House Beautiful celebrates the art of decorating each issue but in Small Spaces there's an extra emphasis on function, which I believe is a terrific service to our readers. (I know I benefit from reading this issue!) The honesty in this month's features appeals to me so much: we make sacrifices to live in a small footprint and I love hearing designers talk candidly about that. You'll find that especially in the two "decorator's own" features (Janet Gregg's Charleston home and Max Sinsteden's in NYC). And it doesn't get more personal than my editor's letter!
Do you have plans to add new sections or features?
The July/August issue already reflects a handful of changes to the magazine architecture: Our kitchen and bath section has been moved to the front of book (i.e., before the feature well) and renamed The Essentials. House Beautiful has a history of extraordinary coverage in this category and I thought it deserved some limelight.My editor's letter is now at the very beginning of the magazine. Previously, it opened the feature well. Most traditional editors’ letters highlight moments from the feature stories, but mine focuses on the impact decorating makes on life. I strongly believe in our motto, “a beautiful life begins at home,” that the benefits of a considered home pay off in innumerable ways, from health to relationships to overall happiness and I'm hoping to explore those ideas each month.
We've chosen a single photograph and quote to open the feature well – a simple moment of beauty. Our brand-new back page is called "I Love My..." It's a portrait of a non-designer in the room that's most special to him or her. The subject shares a bit about what makes that room unique. The name is a throwback to "I Love My Bed," a beloved HB column. And coming soon, Charlotte Moss returns in the October issue with a semi-monthly (five times per a year) column that lets Charlotte be the inspired, elegant designer-photographer-writer that she is.
What is your favorite feature, insight or tidbit gleaned from this issue?
Max Sinsteden talks about how when he shops for chairs for his own space that he thinks about the friends who will sit there, and who likes what profile and what level of comfort. To me, using design to bring comfort and joy to yourself, your own family, and friends is both a high art and a wonderfully satisfying reason to decorate.