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New Year’s resolutions often include a list of home improvements. One of my favorite sources for inspiration has always been shelter magazines.

I’ve been a devoted fan of Homestyle and other design publications for years and while I understand how hard it can be to stray from the familiar favorites, it can be fun to step outside your comfort zone when searching for new ideas.

For instance, I enjoy my subscription to Country Living despite the fact that the overall style is quite different from my own home environment. I still appreciate the visuals along with the insightful tips.

HGTV magazine also arrives in my mailbox on a regular basis and it does not disappoint. Bursting with color from cover to cover, this newer title is filled with creative takes on everything from home and garden products and projects to real estate and more. My daughter goes straight to “How Bad Is It?” (a clever section that rates our daily habits) before I can even get my hands on the latest issue.

Publications from other countries open up a whole new world of possibilities as do national publications that have the occasional global focus. I’ve always felt a strong connection to European culture and I am fascinated by the interiors I’ve seen in person and in magazines.

The realness of the relaxed settings resonates with me more than the spaces often seen in national publications that have been styled to perfection.

Livingetc was my sister’s all-time favorite magazine. The last time I went to see her in California before she passed away, I unknowingly bought a copy of the UK publication before she recommended it to me the next day.

Though the selection in her local bookstore was vast, that was the only magazine purchase I made and I have since inherited her collection featuring interiors that remain classic and timeless long after their debut.

The same can be said for Elle Decoration, another UK title that my sister passed down to me.

Relying on an assortment of shelter magazines can help prevent us from getting stuck on one style, like many do after perusing a particular catalog. Instead of letting your home be guided by a single source, it’s more interesting when it reflects a variety of looks, especially those discovered on the pages of a publication that we didn’t expect to like.

Design publications make great gifts for you and your loved ones. I like to buy a bunch for someone who is recovering from surgery. A friend once presented me with a fine selection for my birthday that provided a visual feast.

The images and insight offer a great escape from life’s more serious moments.

I also treat myself to special interest publications when traveling, whether the focus is flea markets, organization or anything else that piques my interest. While there’s no need to abandon your regular reading materials, the next time you visit a store where magazines are sold, you might want to broaden your horizons.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at jeaninematlow@earthlink.net.

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