How Chic Is Your Zoom Background? Room Rater Has Thoughts

Staring into famous people’s homes as they Zoom and Skype onto television has become a favorite pastime during the days of COVID-19. I have alternately marveled at the clean lines of CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s white kitchen as he gave a makeshift mask tutorial, and squinted at the Sopranos print in Pete Davidson’s mom’s Staten Island basement on Saturday Night Live at Home. But this casual voyeurism is becoming a semi-competitive sport with the rise of Room Rater, a new Twitter account with almost 100,000 followers that critiques the home-decor choices of celebrities and news anchors—from bookshelf design to lighting motifs and plant placement—and gives them a score out of 10.

Room Rater praised Andy Cohen’s colorful study in a CBS This Morning screenshot, adding of the Bravolebrity who beat coronavirus, “Keep up your fight! 7/10.” Seated before her piano in a sun-filled room, Alicia Keys was deemed “elegant and zen, with perfect lighting—9/10.” (Room Rater has declared itself a “sucker for a well-placed piano.”)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus got props for the Shepard Fairey print of President Obama framed behind her desk, as did Mandy Patinkin for his rustic setup in a remote interview—“Light. Beams. Depth. Buttercup approves. 9/10.” DJ Khaled’s bold artwork was a hit; so were Billie Jean King’s built-in shelves, thoughtfully stocked with sculptures and glassware. “Do you keep Bobby Riggs[’s] balls in a jar?” Room Rater quipped.

Yes, the breakout Twitter account has a healthy sense of humor, even giving Elmo’s fictional bedroom and the staged office of Brad Pitt as Dr. Anthony Fauci on SNL its own assessments.

“It was really just meant to be lighthearted quarantine content,” Room Rater creator Claude Taylor, a former travel photographer and Bill Clinton White House staffer, told Medium in an unmasking interview. (Taylor runs the account with girlfriend Jessie Bahrey.) Suddenly seeing inside political pundits and celebrities’ kitchens and living rooms, Taylor said, is “an unexpected intimacy”—and one that’s inviting plenty of analysis.

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