Met Home Is Where the Heart Was

metropolitan home covers

Metropolitan Home is being put to bed for good.

I suffered reflux trying to digest the death of Gourmet, one of four Condé Nast publications closed recently. I didn’t sample the food bible much but felt nostalgic about it as an American institution. I only picked up Modern Bride a few times when plotting my wedding. (I had the main prop but needed flowers and a dress.)


Now, achy-breaky heartburn ensues from Hachette’s news about dumping Metropolitan Home.

Set to fold after its December issue, the loss of the treasured shelter guide is another casualty of the ad recession – in fact, the biggest casualty to date.

It has taken about 30 years, but the ultimate collapse is what my harshly prophetic broadcast journalism teachers at Northwestern predicted in the early 80s, proclaiming, “Print is dead!”

The grim forecast prompted many of us grad students to seek careers in television, only to make our way back to print eventually. Dying or not, it offered dignity. Print was where the rubber met the road in terms of writing acumen. The words didn’t always have to match the pictures. Imagine that.

I had a personal connection to Met Home, the uber source of swank urban nesting. I began as a fan, dovetailing pages challenging us to uplift our rooms with color, modern accessories, innovative gadgets and accessible art. It had a soft spot for small spaces urban dwellers could afford. Make puny pads bold, we were told.


Later, I became a contributor. When I first hooked up with Met I was a burned-out CNN writer and reporter, frustrated by the network’s ranting, mediocre producers, sensational live coverage and zero commitment to covering visual art.

I got up the nerve to phone Met one day from the Omni to pitch a few story ideas. I was merely a fan. A fan with a good resume: I worked at CNN. I had grown up in the housing design business. I desperately wanted in.

An erudite senior editor, John Sweeney, was happy to bite when I suggested a piece on world-famous pop artist, Kenny Scharf. The magazine was going through that we need hot celebs on the cover phase and my timing was excellent. God, I miss the 80s!

Nevermind that I hadn’t spoken to my college friend in years; that didn’t keep me from exploiting the connection. After all, Kenny and I had slow-danced together like Fred and Ginger in our dorm elevators, singing Cheek to Cheek. He owed me.

I called Kenny and boom, kismet! He graciously invited me to his upstate Hudson Valley Charles Addams-style manse which he had transmogrified into a graffiti palace with his signature cartoon aliens, atomic whirls and swirls. He was even producing ancient-future furniture that was an extension of his art. Right up Met Home’s alley. Lucky, lucky me.

I never turned back after that, and Met Home invited me to continue on as a Southeast editor, contributing cutting-edge articles on inner city housing projects and urban architecture.

I found Met was always on the cusp of all that is modern and functional, all that enhances our visual world, and that happened to include good green living.

The magazine should be proud of its April 2009 eco issue, which, like many of its best editions, entertained and informed while sharing valuable decor resources. This, in addition to consistent annual coverage of “the best little green houses,” and other examples of how the world of design is making strides in sustainable living.

But pride won’t keep you afloat when the dollars go down the drain. The biggest and most prestigious victim of the ad recession has fallen. Thirteen editorial staffers will join the growing list of unemployed journalists, including Donna Warner, the editor-in-chief for the past 17 years.

Warner, who replaced wonderful Dorothy Kalins, worked at Met Home for 26 years, joining shortly after it was founded at Meredith Corp, where it was introduced in 1974 as Apartment Life.


“I created this baby and loved it a lot,” said Warner. “It’s very sad. That’s what happens when you lose one of your children.”

My journalism instructors would boast “We told you so!” And now, I must admit, I  finally believe them. Print is dead.

While I know we will save paper, it just won’t be the same not being able to tear out pages of great sofas and chairs when I’m in the dentist waiting room or at the beauty salon. Saving them on the old Crackberry just isn’t the same kind of tactile experience.

This is the latest installment in Luanne’s column, Life in the Green Lane.

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.