A magazine inspired by a poet…why did the poet imagine his house so bleak?

House Beautiful, January 1934

Vintage magazine “House Beautiful” combined with “Home & Field” published in January 1934.



A magazine patterned after a poem…and thank goodness for that! The original title of “House Beautiful” magazine was inspired by the following poem written by Robert Louis Stevenson:


“The House Beautiful”

A naked house, a naked door,

A shivering pool before its door,

A garden bare of flowers and fruit,

And poplars at the garden foot;

Such is the place I live in,

Bleak without and bare within.

Stevenson's den in Samoa

Robert Louis Stevenson’s house in Samoa seemed far from bleak! Perhaps Stevenson’s imagination changed the vision that he insisted was his home. 


And so…House Beautiful magazine was created. Eugene Klapp was a civil engineer in Chicago who had an eye for home design and home improvement. He was an early DIY devotee long before the term DIY was even created.  In December of 1896, Klapp created House Beautiful, a women’s magazine dedicated to interior design, architecture and gardening. For financial help in beginning the magazine, Klapp sought the help of his friend Henry Blodgett Harvey.



HB #8

And bleak and bare houses became an impetus to imagine and create pleasant and pleasing home environments. We send our gratitude to Robert Louis Stevenson for his influence!



House Beautiful #1


During the subsequent years, House Beautiful changed publishers several times and changed editors multiple times. With each change, the magazine adapted to the varied interests of the readers. House Beautiful began as an architectural and decorative magazine, but soon added sections for furniture styles,  emerging home design, housekeeping and the inevitable do-it-yourself projects. Starting in 1904, House Beautiful became a bit controversial with a series of articles titled:


“The Poor Taste of the Rich: A Series of Articles Which Show that Wealth Is Not Essential to the Decoration of a House, and That the Homes of Many of Our Richest Citizens are Furnished in Exerable Taste”


opulent style

This room could be an opulent style candidate!


The articles included multiple pictures of the “poor taste” houses that the editors had in mind and even named the owners of the houses. The decor of such houses was blatantly called “ostentatious”!  Most of the readership liked the articles and the circulation of House Beautiful grew!

HB #7


HB #5

By the time the January of 1934 issue of House Beautiful was published, the magazine was owned by the New York based International Company…a division of the Hearst Corporation. The magazine continued to be a formidable competition for similar magazines through World War II and beyond. By 1964, House Beautiful was said to be…

“Fat with advertising,  used color lavishly , and maintained its original principle of sensible spending for good construction and furnishings”.


HB #9


House Beautiful strives to maintain their dynamic and original philosophy: “to always be warm and welcoming, to inspire, to surprise and delight, and always be engaging and fun”…according to Hearst Integrated Media.




Robert Louis Stevenson inspired a magazine to bring a sense of peaceful  sanctuary into the home environment.






HB #3


*****After 118 years of publication, House Beautiful must be doing something really right!*****











9 thoughts on “A magazine inspired by a poet…why did the poet imagine his house so bleak?

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