Conversations with Critics: Deciding Whether a Home is 'Plum' Or Not

Here our home critics decide what exactly it is that makes a home 'Plum' and part of our world-class collection.

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Plum Guide home critic

In the final part of our conversation, we discuss what we look for in home when testing them, and how we can sense whether a home is 'Plum' or not when we pay a visit.

Shira: My brother and sister had an argument recently about our home in Aspen. My brother had bought a big reindeer or animal head in the thrift shop. The sort of thing that would normally be in a hunting lodge, but it wasn’t real and it was painted gold leaf. He put it up on the staircase, so it’s very visible. My sister saw it and said ‘how could you buy something so tacky and put it in this place?!’. When I went out there and saw it I thought, you know what, this is exactly what people like. It’s got character. It’s an ‘Instagram moment’. It’s fine. It’s tacky but it adds interest.

Loreli: It’s a conversation starter. 

Charlotte: I went to this home. It was a family home, they converted it. They lived on two of the floors and they had two apartments on the top floors. They had been in there for generations. On top of the wardrobe in this otherwise really serene, calm, mature bedroom they had kids plastic dinosaurs climbing along. And in another of the bedrooms, they had one of those old, massive, colourful Apple computers instead of a sculpture. There was something so fun about it. Rather than throw stuff out, they’d thought why can’t this be the decor and the sculpture of this home? It was so charming and so personal. 

Loreli: That’s inspired. That’s the sort of thing it’s difficult to categorise and it’s also in the eye of the beholder too. It’s the toughest thing to teach or provide boundaries for when we’re training new Home Critics. One guy called me and said ‘the refrigerator is out in the sun room, it’s not in the kitchen’. And I said, ‘you’ve got a case of quirky!’ Quirky is the most difficult thing you’ll encounter.

Shira: Another emotional word there. 

Loreli: Quirky can be the least cool thing there is. It can be kitschy and terrible and just sort of old. Or it can be so cool you can’t even describe it. 

Shira: It’s true.

Loreli: How do you define it? I don’t know that quirky is Plum, and yet I’ve seen quirky places that are Plum. 

Calathea, Plum Guide home in Kent, UK

Calathea, Plum Guide home in Kent, UK

Charlotte: It’s back to that, you know it when you see it. And even when you see it you can’t explain why, you just know it. Because you’re just going ‘Ah!’. And you do want to tell people about it. Or it sticks with you and you remember it in a positive way.

Loreli: It’s like crazy, wild, cool. You can’t really explain it. 

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Charlotte: I’m obsessed with books. But how to order books. I’m always looking for new ideas.  

Home library in Maillol & Rodin, Plum Guide home in Paris

Home library in Maillol & Rodin, Plum Guide home in Paris

Shira: I’m trying to get rid of all my books!

Loreli: I had a home that I visited. The host was an artist and it went across several floors of a very old place that used to be a printing press I think, in Tribeca. The headboard for her bedroom was all paperback books with just the paper side out. Not the spine. It looked phenomenal.

Shira: Were they just sitting on the wall?

Loreli: They were arranged in shelves all the way up.

Shira: Oh I see.

Loreli: The paper side, they were all aged to this beautiful orangey, peachy colour. It was wonderful. 

Shira: That’s clever. 

Loreli: It was not a home that was particularly well finished or anything, it was just amazingly inspired like that. It had rooms curtained off with mess behind them. It was not quite Plum. Those sort of places… I was in another place where they used to do all the moulding sculpture for New York buildings - they still had most of the moulds there. Giant hoists and stuff. And the host had built a home in there. She was part of the film industry and holds events there and things. These are too unusual to even categorise.

Charlotte: That’s a category in itself. It’s back to those things that could be really tacky or they could work, but they’re just so subjective.  

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