I have subscribed to both these magazines for decades now, since early motherhood at least. So this week when I tried to decide which one I wanted to feature, mindful of the fact that it’s nearly time for the Christmas editions to hit the shops and I really want to share my favourite hygge pages from all of them, it struck me that I didn’t need to decide and that, for the first time ever I think, I would do a head-to-head.
Country Living Magazine (CL) is the older of the two, with a history stretching back 40 years in the USA, while Country Homes and Interiors (CHI) is slightly younger, having first been published in 1986. Both have sharing the experience and joy of country life at their heart, although both take subtly different approaches.
CL is far more interested in sharing the people of the countryside and their lives. It has features on workers, farmers, towns and places in rural UK. Its content is divided into Houses & Gardens, Features, Wellbeing, Food & Drink and News, Views & Events. There’s a heavy emphasis on nature, with lots of features about how wildlife can be impacted by human action and steps we can take to help.
CHI has a major focus on the aesthetic of country living as seen in homes and housing. It’s separated into Country Homes, Interiors & Inspiration, Seasonal Food, Lifestyle and Gardens. Nature is included, but CHI is more about the inside of country homes than the surrounding area.
That’s no bad thing, because it does mean that a passionate magazine enthusiast (like me) can take both and enjoy them for slightly different reasons. No need to decide which one has a better approach to conservation, or which helps me decide on the right bath for my bathroom. These two magazines don’t compete for the same articles.
That said, of course there is a crossover. Both have cookery sections, this month focused on warming autumn food, and both have last page articles that showcase the beauty and importance of the country even to a townie like myself.
But, as I said, there are some major differences between the meat of the magazine.
This month, Country Living has an interview with Simon King, the wildlife photographer, an article on dealing with household pests and a fantastic article with a willow weaver who creates dream sculptures in woods… how I want either to own one, or to be able to make one!
Country Homes and Interiors is far more focused on the houses and creating homes. It has several features on actual homes, and usually I walk away with a hint, tip or just a room that I want to recreate wholesale.
Both have a very eco-aware approach to life, which you’d hope for and expect from magazines that have countryside and nature at the heart of what they do. They also focus on artisan products, rather than chain store purchases. I find it remarkable how varied craftspeople across the country are: leather, ceramics, fabric workers…. artists create in every media.
And both encourage their readers to create as part of a healthy life as well. This month, both are focused on getting readers out into nature to create, CHI with author Kari Herbert sharing her sketchbook secrets and CL with Emma Mitchell using foraged materials to inspire her crafting.
You could not ask me to choose between these two magazines. I love them both, in slightly different ways for slightly different reasons. Most of all, though, I love that they both see the countryside and nature as integral to a modern life, whether we live in a small market town or the suburbs of a busy city. I think, in terms of hygge and recognising and naming it, Country Homes and Interiors has the edge: so often they recognise that cosiness, happiness at home, is vital for mental health and wellbeing, and I always enjoy the Editor’s post. This month: how would you answer the sentence: “You know you’ve hit peak cosy when….” ???
Ready to Cosy Up with a Book? Or planning ahead for Christmas?
My books are available on Amazon, including my new book, Celebrating a Contagious Christmas. It’s a handbook to having a Christmas that spreads hope and love rather than germs in a year that has been crazy so far. Available for pre-order now and out on 16th October in ebook and (hopefully) paperback version.
Since finding hygge in the everyday has carried many people through 2020 so far, having a Happy Hygge Christmas might be just the end the year needs. You can find advice on that in several of my previous books, as well as more specifically in Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas and Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas.
You can read more about my books on the If You’d Like to Support Me…. page. Otherwise, have a happy week, keep cosy and stay safe and well in these uncertain times.