How NOT to get your home featured in a magazine…

The pictures show a lovely Essex house that did make it – I shot it recently for the architects who renovated & redesigned it, and for a magazine feature – it’s in the January issue of Real Homes. No problem at all getting this one into a magazine! The homeowners were delightful, and extremely helpful.

Last year I blogged on the how-to’s of getting your home featured in a magazine, and it proved popular: seems a lot of people wonder if their home might make it.
If you’re interested and want to know what it takes, see “How to get your house into a magazine,” September 2013 – I just checked, and it covers most of the bases.
It’s easier all round if you don’t want your home in a magazine…

Essex modernist home

Classically modernist structures like this are my favourite material: I love clean rectilinearity, bold statements, cuboid spaciousness, and this 1960s house has been redesigned and improved.

1. Rule #1 is, if you really want to give yourself almost zero chance of getting your home into a magazine, insist that only a posh title is good enough…. Occasionally, I meet homeowners with a super house – and at some point they say, “Of course, we’ll only do this if we can be in one of the top titles…” They mean Homes & Gardens, House & Garden, Elle Deco, World of Interiors, maybe one or two others.
My heart sinks – especially if it’s at a late stage and I’ve already spent time on the project, perhaps on the other side of the country. I always tell people how hard it is to get into a magazine, because there are a lot of super homes out there: the magazines get offered far more than they can use. I have lost count of the number of lovely places I’ve offered to magazines, which got turned down.

Essex modernist home

architect Ralph Hill-King, from Gregory Phillips Architects (London W1) radically improved & extended the spaces here

This applies in spades at the top. A leading mid-market title such as, say, 25 Beautiful Homes is running literally twenty-five complete home-interiors case studies each month, and that title (although many of my features have appeared in its pages) has rejected at least 60-70% of the homes I’ve put forward. Other magazines that use far fewer home-interiors features are rejecting 90% of homes they’re offered – I base this on long experience, talking to editors, and networking with other people in the industry. My assessment of the very top titles is that they are turning down maybe 95-99% of homes they are offered…
2. Have unrealistic expectations about your skill with décor. Nobody expects you to have the skills of a professional interior designer, just an eye for what looks right, plus a desire to stand out a little from the crowd by using colour & furnishings that are somewhat above average.

Essex modernist home

part of first floor acts as a carport and shields the front entrance

Recently I dealt with two homeowners whose homes wouldn’t have made it.
A lady in London showed me pictures of her modest home, an apartment she’d done up rather nicely. It looked comfortable, quite colourful, a little bit different – but it was crumpled around the edges, with oldish bits of furniture that had seen better days, uncared for. Creases, rumples and general untidiness are big no-no’s: cutting-edge cool isn’t necessary, but total smartness & tidiness are…
A lady in the USA emailed me: she didn’t realise I’m in England, but offered me several quite good snaps of her home in West Virginia, saying friends had suggested it should be in a magazine. On the plus side, it was huge, quite new, very smart in a kind of rustic-palatial style, down the end of a long driveway in what looked like a plot the size of Middlesex… But the décor… I’ve visited the States only a few times but over the years I’ve been shown (and have otherwise seen) pictures of very many US home interiors. My impression is that ideas about décor are different there… I’m sure there are a great many beautiful & stylish US homes, it’s just that too many of those I’ve seen shared many of the qualities of this latest place. It was smart and clearly loads of money had been spent, but curiously old fashioned, with a random approach to furnishing – and call me conservative, but buffalo horns adorning a giant stone chimney-breast are kind of whimsical… It was just a weird collection of good stuff, mediocre stuff, and plain kitsch, huge spaces crammed full of gew-gaws and nick-nacks. Sorry.

Essex modernist home

hardwood walkway separates the living area from the kitchen

3. Ask for money in exchange for allowing your home to be featured. This comes up quite rarely, so I forget some people imagine they should be paid for allowing their home to be photographed and published in a smart magazine. It led to an unfortunate misunderstanding recently. I was approached by a Midlands homeowner who emailed pictures of her super house. I managed to visit the place fairly quickly, since I was shooting a house not too far away. It was fully as good as I’d hoped, very stylish and individual, all done by a motivated homeowner with imagination and vision – on a budget too. I pitched it to a few of my regular editors, and secured a commission in record time. Homeowner was delighted, and we agreed a date for the shoot. Two days before, she emailed me: “Nearly forgot to ask, how much am I being paid for this?” Ah. She said a friend had assured her payment was usual. I argued politely that this was nonsense, since the magazines can pick & choose from the large number of homes offered them, and absolutely do not need to offer payment. No dice. Her loss.
There are other ways to avoid seeing your home in the pages of a glossy magazine, but these are the standouts. Numbers 1 & 3 are the worst, having cost me real time and money in the past. I’m sure you won’t do these things when you show your home to me. Always seeking super homes to cover in 2015. And do read my other new blog post, published here at around the same time. Have a good Christmas.

Essex modernist home

because it’s on a slope, the rear has a far lower profile – but still striking


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2 thoughts on “How NOT to get your home featured in a magazine…

  1. This is all really good, useful stuff, Anthony, and absolutely right. As a homes editor, I am always on the look out for suitable houses, however the parameters that restrict what we can and can’t publish can sometimes mean we have to turn down beautiful – and beautifully photographed – properties, usually because they don’t fit the market closely enough. I do understand that this must be a difficult message to pass on to homeowners who understandably can take it quite personally. Personally, I find it easier if we have recces in the first instance and there is an opportunity to art direct. Every magazine is different.

    • Jill, thanks for your input – I visited your site, you’re established in the industry, and you know what you’re talking about! Interesting that you pitch homes to one title at a time: I gave that up years ago, since some editors can be incredibly slow to respond, and I actually lost homes that fell off the perch (various reasons) during the too-slow process of finding a taker.
      We should work together some time – if I had a home to cover in your area, would you do the styling? And if your regular photographer couldn’t make it anytime, call on me…
      Best, Anthony