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HOUSE BEAUTIFICATION: It’s the classic renovation story. Knock down a wall, and suddenly the wiring needs replacing. Tinker with the wiring, and next it’s the pipes.

Ever since Mark Mayfield took over as editor in chief of House Beautiful three years ago, the shelter title has been undergoing a succession of visual and editorial tweaks. Now it seems that scaffolding won’t be coming down anytime soon, not since Mayfield has retained former In Style design director Rip Georges to consult on a new round of changes.

A spokesman for the magazine downplayed the arrangement, saying, “At this time, there is no planned ‘redesign’… We have been making some changes over the past year and will continue to do so in order to better meet the needs of our readers.” A House Beautiful insider, though, said Georges has been given license to experiment with everything from the cover logo to the back of the book. Georges, who came aboard in January, will make his first formal presentation to Hearst this month, and then Mayfield will decide what to implement.

Thanks to the proliferation of lifestyle titles that cover the home market — from Real Simple to O to Shop Etc. — and new launches like Time Inc.’s Cottage Living, the shelter category is approaching saturation. Next up is Condé Nast’s shopping magazine, Domino, which launches later this spring. (Like WWD, Condé Nast and Domino are part of Advance Publications Inc.)

House Beautiful, meanwhile, has been feeling the pinch. Ad pages are down 21.61 percent through April, to 208.5, according to Media Industry Newsletter, though the magazine’s spokesman said they expect May and June to reverse that trend. In the second half of last year, the magazine also saw the end of a long newsstand slide. The title was flat for the second half, with an average of 100,087 single-copy sales. As recently as 2003, however, they were selling an average of 112,643 copies on the newsstand. — Sara James

BEST MAN FOR THE JOB: After casting a wide net in its search for an editor in chief for Best Life, Rodale Inc. elected to go with an internal candidate, naming Steve Perrine to the job Monday. Perrine has been with Men’s Health for four years, most recently as editorial creative director. In his new post, he’ll continue to report to Men’s Health editor in chief David Zinczenko, who’s also Best Life’s editorial director. A Rodale source said Perrine was chosen for his  service-heavy background, which includes stints as co-editor of Maxim and executive editor of Cosmopolitan. — Jeff Bercovici

ERIN GO BRAUGH: Everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and that goes double for the magazine industry. Martha Nelson, Janice Min, Bonnie Fuller, David Zinczenko, Atoosa Rubenstein, Susan Schulz, Brandon Holley and Steve LeGrice were among those who turned up at Michael’s restaurant on Thursday for a benefit held by the Kelly Gang, an informal club consisting of people named Kelly who work in the media. Keith Kelly of the New York Post, the gang’s de facto leader, said raising money for charity (in this case, to help an Army veteran wounded in Iraq) was a way to combat trite stereotypes surrounding the Emerald Isle. “I don’t think there’s a leprechaun in sight,” he said. 

This story first appeared in the March 22, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Bill Shapiro, Life’s managing editor, offered his own Borscht Belt-influenced take on ethnic stereotypes. “I know what you’re going to ask, and, yes, I’m scared of big, drunk Irish guys,” he said. “It’s like a pogrom. Or perhaps it’s completely different.”

At the other end of the room, Star creative director Kelli Delaney said she had convinced her boss, Fuller — a self-described “Jewish girl from Canada” — to don a green Versace skirt for the festivities. Yet Delaney, who is an honorary Kelly Gang member, was clad in all black. “When your blood runs green, you don’t have to wear it,” she explained. — J.B.

EXITING DEPARTURES: Departures is dealing with a few, well, departures.

Senior editor Kitty Morgan, whose last day was Friday, left to be the editor of a new magazine being developed by Reader’s Digest. According to a source, The Food Network is also involved, though Morgan and a spokeswoman for Reader’s Digest declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Departures’ executive editor Caroline Haberfeld is moving to Washington, D.C., to get married. And vice president of corporate communications at American Express Publishing, Elisa Shevitz, is also exiting the company to explore new career options. — S.J.

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