Baby Boom Is Our Aesthetic

If Baby Boom (1987) isn’t on your pre-Valentine’s Day rom-com lineup, it should be. It is the romantic comedy for cozy, wintery-but-not-Christmas vibes. First of all, it’s a Nancy Meyers flick so you know the kitchen’s gonna be on point. Second, it’s from 1987 and lovingly skewers the aspirational yuppies of the era – including a wholesome, organic baby food business that would STILL draw the devotion of upper-class yummy mummies today. Third, it has all of the romcom features you’ve come to know and love: a career woman who doesn’t have time for love! Unexpectedly becoming the custodian of a baby! A handsome man with a romcom job! A charming old farmhouse with problems! I am the same age as Baby Elizabeth, so the sweet pastel baby clothes are like looking into an old family album. For some reason Baby Boom seldom comes up in conversation about ’80s romcoms, but give it a watch or rewatch … it just might be your February romcom aesthetic, too.

The opening new segment

Women have jobs! They’re doctors AND lawyers! Ladies having it all! It’s SO ’80s. The higher the shoulder pads, the more cushion busting through the glass ceiling?

J.C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) works 70-80 hours a week. I’d rather be middle-class.

J.C.’s menswear-y satin robe and tortoiseshell glasses

It’s like she might get called to a board meeting pajama party and she dressed for it just in case.

Spoiler: her robe gets more cozy when she inherits a baby and moves to New England

Elizabeth’s  and J.C.’s “Inheriting A Baby Outfits”

J.C. inherits a baby, which is truly my dream scenario – not having to be pregnant, go through all the steps of fostering or adoption, or make an affirmative decision about whether or not I want a baby. Elizabeth (Kristina and Michelle Kennedy) wears a classic baby coat and hat and J.C. wears my favorite of her businesswear outfits, with a floppy bow, Peter Pan collar and oversized belted jacket that has almost Edwardian vibes. The shoulderpad/belt combo makes her waist look tiny, so that’s why people used to do that. She changes back into it at the end to turn down the offer to buy her baby food company, because it’s her main outfit to do important things in.

Another great one. When did we stop wearing brooches?

P.S., I get that J.C. has never held a baby before, but she has presumably held an object before and this isn’t how you do that, either.

By the way, J.C. name-drops two local-for-me companies, reminding me of how awesome my city was doing in the ’80s, comparatively.

Elizabeth …. MUDGE?!

Elizabeth almost gets adopted by two dustbowl people who come straight out of the Fake Annie’s Parents lineup in the Warbucks mansion. J.C. can’t do it. Guess she has time for love after all.

These Spiky Moms

These moms are all live-action versions of Angelica’s mom from Rugrats. They go on at length about all of the activities their toddlers are enrolled in and the extensive intellectual standards their 3-year-olds have met. Hey baby boomers, if you don’t like millennials just remember that you made us this way.

Hadleyville, In General

J.C. and Elizabeth arrive in town during the fall because Nancy Meyers knows what’s up. There’s a general store and a church, and it looks like a living history museum.

I love that J.C.’s plan for what they’ll do in New England is “get into quilts,” which should be timeless but feels very 80s Businesswoman Who Has Had It.

J.C.’s Yellow Farmhouse, Exterior

J.C. buys a dollhouse-looking yellow clapboard farmhouse. I want it. It’s cheerful and sweet with tasteful landscaping. There are window boxes and real shutters! However, the plumbing is shot and will cost $7,000-8,000 which feels steep for 30 years ago? For reference I recently repiped only my basement (copper, because go big or go home) and it was maybe like $1,500. Oh, and she also needs a new roof and well. But it looks so nicely-maintained?

It’s even cuter in spring because this house was made to have tulips and rabbits around.

As usual, our __ Is Our Aesthetic posts feature movies with absolutely delightful houses. That’s why images of the Baby Boom house will take you to the Hooked On Houses post for this film. It’s one of my favorite blogs and they do a great job highlighting some of the most charming homes in TV and film.

J.C.’s House During The Snowstorm

Living in a snowy city, sometimes it takes seeing it onscreen to remember how pretty it is.

The Richies From NY

Some rich people go to the local general store and can’t get enough of the authentic boots, plaid shirts, and baby food that J.C. made. They’re exactly like the 2018 version of yuppies, honestly.

The whole movie feels really modern because the home business is so familiar today — but in a time before Pinterest/Etsy moms and Whole Foods in every city, J.C. was seriously cutting edge. When I was watching I was reminded of a later Nancy Meyers film, The Intern, and apparently that was no mistake. The kitchen from The Intern even echoes the muted blue cabinets from Baby Boom!

The Hadleyville maple festival

This small-town maple festival is exactly how I want my parties. All the ladies wear big Sloane Ranger dresses, there are twinkling lights, and everyone just kind of talks and has snacks. There’s a mural with a barn and some geese on it. Nobody’s suit fits right. Get into it.

J.C.’s Nancy Meyers Kitchen

Nancy was still new to the charming romcom kitchen game in 1987, but all her talent was there from the start. Vintage-style fridge, exposed ceiling beams, baskets, fireplace and clapboard. The cabinets are painted the exact powdery blue I keep seeing in chalk paint now. Windows everywhere. There’s enough space for a work table, an eating table, a couch, hutch and a rocking chair, plus space to tap dance around all of them if you’re so inclined.  The cabinet fronts are fitted with gingham. J.C. and the handsome vet have their first kiss in the kitchen because all any woman wants is to have a first kiss in a Nancy Meyers kitchen.

The Yellow Farmhouse, Interior

First of all, I love how the woodwork isn’t perfectly freshly painted, so it looks like someone actually has lived there a long time. Second, check out these wood floors, comfy Laura Ashley-looking furniture, natural light, and worn-in looking antiques.

 

 

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The Holiday Is Our Aesthetic

Christmas movies, in general, are aesthetically dreamy. Those technicolor classics like White Christmas bring the Old Hollywood glamor, cozy houses in movies like The Family Stone make me dream of joyfully chaotic decor, and Christmas rom-coms are the sparkliest and dreamiest of all rom-coms. That’s why this month, our aesthetic goals come from 2007 Christmas classic (ahem… modern classic), The Holiday.

Kate and Cameron’s Hair

Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz’s hair look perfectly normal, but that’s the thing. In 2007, Kate’s loose, beachy waves were actually at the very start of the loose, beachy waves trend, and I think it says something that it still looks current 9 years later – in contrast, imagine trying to sport, say, 1994 hair in 2003. I’ve also always been envious of straight, fine hair like Cameron’s that can looks fun yet professional in a short, croppy ‘do, as opposed to … floofy. I think a lot of us would look floofy with that haircut.

Rosehill Cottage, Exterior

Forget the likelihood that Iris, a young columnist who’s not at the top of her publication, could afford this. Holiday films are about wish-fulfillment, after all. It makes me happy just to think that SOMEONE gets to live in a gorgeous, quaint stone cottage with wildflower gardens, a rustic fence and a winding road in front of it. (Note: As a real estate addict, I did look up some houses for sale in Surrey. It is as expensive as you’d expect a picturesque London-accessible area to be; I assume the less-expensive ones are also secretly falling down inside. Maybe Iris inherited it from a relative. Whatever, it’s a movie and I’d much prefer to look at this cottage than a tiny, cookie-cutter terraced house from the 1970s).

Rosehill Cottage, Interior

I know that saying “I like the cottage better than Cameron Diaz’s mansion” makes me sound like one of those guys who think it’s a revelation that they find, like, Emma Stone more attractive than Angelina Jolie. The cottage is doing pretty well for itself, thanks. That said, yeah, I would 1000% rather live in Iris’s cottage than Amanda’s SmartHouse. (I bought a cute little 1909 house a few years ago so it’s not just talk. Also I couldn’t afford anything even approaching Amanda’s SmartHouse even if I wanted it, let’s be clear.) Rosehill Cottage really holds up on rewatch. There are layers of cosy decor, lots of overstuffed chintz chairs and a great vintage iron bed, but if you look really closely nothing is sloppy or haphazard. Also: fireplaces everywhere! Stone and stucco walls! A stainless steel tub and a painted wood bathroom floor! Do yourself a favor and go gawk at the Hooked On Houses page for it.

PS, I think “it has a fireplace in the bedroom” is the house version of “and it has pockets!” in a cute dress.

Iris’s Nancy Meyers Kitchen

Ain’t no kitchen like a Nancy Meyers kitchen cause a Nancy Meyers kitchen is very, very charming. Echoing the old-country charm of one of my other favorite Nancy Meyers kitchens (the vastly underrated Baby Boom), this one comes complete with a stucco fireplace, open shelving with blue and white earthenware pottery, flush-mounted cabinet doors in a chalky robins egg blue, and a cosy vintage table. Yes, I did make note of all of those elements for reference when I remodel my kitchen.

Sweaters

Second to the late 90s WB show Felicity, Christmas movies are the best visual source of people in comfy sweaters. If people feeling warm and comfortable is your aesthetic, may I present Jude Law in a blue sweater?

Sophie and Olivia’s Fort

Why is it that you can be a full-grown adult with a home or apartment of your own, but you’d still move into a soft blanket fort with fairy lights any day? Sophie and Olivia, come decorate for me.

Arthur’s Old Hollywood Vibe

Modern Hollywood culture – not much aesthetic appeal. But anything that smacks of the old studio system? Now we’re talking. Arthur, a funny and sweet relic from the days when people only knew about celebrities’ personal lives through fake ‘dates’ they’d go to at the studio commissary, is the real romantic hero of this movie.

This New Year’s Party

Low key decorations, snacks, champagne, and only like 6 people, two of whom are small children. Now THAT’S what a call a no-fuss holiday gathering. But the best part is everyone dresses way the heck up anyway because it’s the holidays, and the best aesthetic of all is “fancier than is strictly necessary, just because it’s fun sometimes.”

 

Previously In Our Aesthetic:

It’s 1994: Let’s All Decorate Your Grandma’s House!

In this edition of Let’s All Decorate, we are delving into one of my personal fascinations: grandparents. For the design-obsessed, there’s something even more fascinating about grandparents than their stories about the Great Depression: their houses. It’s almost like irrespective of income or geography, everyone’s grandmas and grandpas were decorating from the same catalog.

The best thing about your grandma’s house – other than your grandma, naturally – was that it was sort of a time capsule. After a certain point, your grandma probably decided that she was done redecorating, so visits to her house were like going to the Happy Days set. Even my more modern, design-minded grandma had these amazing artifacts of my mom’s 1950s childhood in her basement and closets. Visiting your grandma was a bit like time-traveling or visiting a living history museum.

Like all of our Let’s All Decorate installments, we are focusing on a time in the near past – roughly 1994, during our peak childhood years. In 1994, the relatively hip baby boomers weren’t yet grandparents (my boomer parents have 8 grandkids, but they don’t have a “grandma” house). No, grandparents of 90s kids were members of the “greatest generation” – which did not stand for “greatest generation of decorators.”

Let’s all decorate in 1994: when your grandparents’ house was full of love. Love, and probably a wooden television case.

Candy You Weren’t Allowed To Eat

“Eat me!”, the candy said.

“Eat some candy!”, your grandma said.

“Don’t eat that!”, Your mom said.

Everyone’s grandma seemed to have glass jars of candy – gumdrops and Werther’s Originals were popular choices. And your mom never let you eat it. Was it old? Dusty? Merely decorative? Who would keep jars of candy that children weren’t allowed to eat? Old people, is who.

It’s like every trip to grandma’s kitchen was a visit to one of those wedding candy bar tables and nobody gave you a gift bag.

A TV In A Giant Wooden Box

 

In the 1950s, there was an unfortunate collision of home decor forces: the rise of the television, coupled with the rise of suburban Colonial Revival. The result: the television set they would have watched in Colonial Williamsburg, complete with spindles and a drawer that didn’t open.

Fun fact: I remember my grandma searching for a new TV in the mid or late 90s. She complained about how hard it was to find TV sets in the giant wooden box, which she preferred because she said it looked nicer and warmer. Grandparents found naked televisions sort of stark and electronic-looking.

Grammy eventually found the wooden 13 Colonies Television, by the way. I imagine it was in a special basement stockroom marked “Grandma TVs.”

Paneling, Somewhere

When the grandparents of the 90s were the parents of the 1950s – 1970s, somebody convinced all of them that wood paneling was easy to clean and maintain, and could look either stately or rustic depending on how you styled it. My dad’s parents proudly proclaimed that they would never have to paint their living and dining room again!

Yeah. Because it looks like Pa Ingalls’ cabin, instead.

By the 1990s, nobody was installing wood paneling, but most grandparents still had it somewhere in their home, even if only in a basement lounge.

These Bowls

You know why everyone’s grandma had these bowls – often in way less appealing colors? Because she bought them in 1961 and Pyrex is indestructible. My mom has a set too, and I wish I did as well, because these bowls are the best.

Carpeting Where There Shouldn’t Be

And it was always gold or brown for some reason? And just a little bit too long.

When my parents bought their house from some older people in 2000, the entire house was full of gleaming original hardwoods – except the kitchen and the bathroom. The two very worst places to have carpeting.

Possibly Some Clear Runners On The Hardwoods Or Carpeting

Why even have hardwoods? Or carpeting? It really added to the “this is a museum of American life in 1976” vibe.

Toilet Paper And Kleenex Receptacles

Where grandma’s glue gun chops really had a chance to shine. Grandparents loved keeping a spare role on top of the toilet, and covering it in either a floral and lace-trimmed box, or maybe a hand-knitted cozy. Sometimes the toilet paper cover looked like like a human woman from the past, to go with the misguided colonial motif.

Weirdly Dark Lamps

They’re lamps. Yet they’re somehow making everything look darker.

This one kind of chair

Both sets of grandparents had these. I scoffed, but now I kind of which I had them for some of those hard-to-fill corners of my house.

Drapes. Not Curtains. Drapes.

That you’d draw, not open or close. These were usually heavy, light-blocking, and in some kind of a gold  or mustard color.

A tweed couch

Not always the primary couch, it may have been a pullout in the family room for grandkid sleepovers. It wasn’t necessarily plaid.

Knick Knacks From The Land Of Their Ancestors

Whether your grandparents were right off the boat or daughters and sons of the American Revolution, they probably displayed their pride in their ancestral homeland through figurines, dolls, and plaques.

[Aside: in my weird family, my grandpas were both those Irish-American guys for whom “being Irish” is like their number one hobby, so ancestral knick-knacks abounded. I don’t even think I knew until mid-childhood that my grandmothers weren’t at all Irish. Go figure.]

Maybe some religious stuff, too

This varied. I had one of those Catholic grandmas who had all of the merch, so there were statues, portraits and rosaries all over that joint. At the very least, your grandparents probably had a church or synagogue directory with their photo in it, and phone numbers of all the other old people.

There were other things some grandparents’ houses had, like absurdly old photos of you, old people smell, and plates full of baked goods that were foisted on you as soon as you walked in the door. But without the heart and soul of the 1994 grandparents’ house – their total love for and obsession with their grandkids – it would have just been a collection of decorating mistakes and DIY disasters.