Back in the 1980s, when those photo-filled home publications that came in the mail were called shelter magazines, hip, urban baby boomers relied on Metropolitan Home for their design intelligence.
From slouchy sofas to rusty finishes, Met Home, as the insiders called it, had a good run, starting in the 1970s as Apartment Life and renamed in 1981. But the magazine ceased publication in December 2009 after the real estate market crashed, furniture sales tanked and money for decorating dried up. But this week, Metropolitan Home is back, retooled for the city-dwelling children of the boomers who are coming into their nesting and spending years.
Hearst Magazines created a spring/summer pilot issue that became available this week in 14 cities nationwide (Washington included) at places such as Whole Foods and Barnes & Noble; issues are being sent to 45,000 selected consumers between the ages of 28 and 40 from Hearst databases.
The new magazine is targeting millennials. “It was time for a contemporary, urban magazine, since so many magazines have kind of passed away and there is a lot on the Internet and not in print,” says Newell Turner, editorial director of the Hearst Design Group, which publishes Elle Decor, House Beautiful and Veranda. “We think print readership is still very strong.”
Turner, who is also editor of the Met Home pilot, says the magazine’s website will be rich in content. But editors are convinced that people still want to read a printed magazine with glossy layouts. The first-wave millennials and younger Generation Xers who have been spending on dining out, clothes and entertaining have now begun to invest in apartments and condos. “People are reaching the age of late 30s and early 40s and it’s time to make a place called home. We felt this was an opportunity to start building a relationship with the next generation of homeowners,” says Turner, who worked at the original Met Home from 1985 to 1996.
Patricia Dane Rogers was the city scout for Metropolitan Home in the Washington area from 1982 to 1985, feeding them all the hot tips on the best architects, designers and shops that were bubbling up in the formerly sleepy capital. “In New York, they didn’t know much about Washington, but I told them it was a hot spot,” says Rogers, who was later a Washington Post reporter and lives in Alexandria. “They were looking for great design and had people in key cities. It was modern and fresh and different from the other magazines. It was not the English country look that was sweeping the nation. There was no chintz. It was Italian furniture and sleek restaurants — spare, pretty and avant-garde.”
The pilot Met Home issue ($9.99) includes a roundup of urban loft rentals around the country (see what $3,000 will get you in Arlington) and favorite white paints from 14 cities, including Bancroft White by Benjamin Moore selected by Washingtonian Darryl Carter. There are the small and beautiful homes of tastemakers such as a cookbook author who lives in a London “baby flat” and a design editor’s art-filled one-bedroom condo in a Philip Johnson building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
A feature called “The New Urban Tribe” identifies visionaries and makers including the designer of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Chicago pop-up shop and the Los Angeles hat maker to Pharrell.
Although not its target audience, boomers who love design, are downsizing to smaller urban spaces, or who want to get a window into what their offspring’s design aspirations might be would enjoy the new Met Home as much as they did the original.
Turner says things are already looking good for a second issue, and he is hoping Met Home might become a quarterly publication.
“I think of this as a lifestyle magazine, not a shelter magazine,” Turner says. “It captures the initial spirit of Met Home, which was always a bit of a rebel in the decorating world.”