Will Lockhart Steele Kill the Shelter Magazine?

Earlier today the Real Estate Desk talked to Mr. Steele about his plans for world domination, vis-a-vis the expansion of his Curbed Web sites from New York, L.A., and San Francisco to a national edition, as well as two more locals in Chicago and, fingers crossed, Miami. But isn’t the economy in the shitter? Especially the residential economy, which some are predicting is headed for a double dip?

Never mind. Mr. Steele is being frugal when it comes to the launch. “We’ve already got the sales team and the tech team and the infrastructure, so it’s really just the cost of a couple of editors,” he said. “Our cost structure–we spend in one year what some magazines spend on one feature.”

So all those old shelter mags, at least the ones that are left, they must be screwed, right? “God, no! I never talk that way,” Mr. Steele said. “There’s something to a shelter magazine, the unbelievable pleasure of flipping through a magazine of beautiful stories and beautiful spreads. I don’t think we’ll be able to do anything like that online, at least not for some time. We have no pretensions of killing anybody.”

What about all those other design blogs out there? Should the Apartment Therapies and Habitually Chics of the World Wide Web be quaking in their pajamas? “There will be very little, if any, DIY on the site. That’s great, but that’s not what we’re after. It’s much more a shelter look and feel, like what all these great interior designers are doing, as well as some real estate media coverage.” (The Desk thought the idea wasn’t to go after the big guys…)

There will also be none of that boring stuff: no Case-Shiller indices or stories of foreclosure doom and gloom. Mr. Steele points to the success of Eater National as a prime example, and is even predicting a “moment” for celebrity interior designers, not unlike the one currently being enjoyed (thanks in part to Mr. Steele) by celebrity chefs.

“It’ll be a lot of Martha Stewart and Nate Berkus.” Who? “Nate Berkus, Oprah’s designer. He just got his own show. We’ve got a post about it. I really think that’s where this whole thing is going, these people are going to be stars, and we’re going to be there to help chronicle it.”

mchaban [at] observer.com / @mc_nyo Will Lockhart Steele Kill the Shelter Magazine?