How to get your house into a magazine

Don’t imagine it’s as easy as listing some buttons to press! But I have experience in this field and below are a few thoughts that might help.  I source homes for myself, then sell the feature: it’s not easy to find suitable houses, and that’s partly because there’s so much misunderstanding about how the process works. A lot of people have the wrong idea about what makes a magazine feature home.

Cornwall church conversion

Steve is in his early forties, successful but not rich, and picked up a church for a mere £134k - then converted it beautifully...

Some think the whole thing’s a scam: they imagine a house is grabbed at random and made over, dressed, filled with cool stuff provided free by PRs, and shot as if it were the creation of the homeowners – who probably aren’t real people anyway… Seriously, I’ve met folks who believe this. In fact there is no way that could happen – the logistics of doing this to fill the pages of all those monthly magazines would be hugely challenging!

Cheshire apartment

Alexandra had an apartment south of Manchester and used imagination, style, and not huge amounts of money, to make it a home that caught the eye of Ideal Home for a feature.

Mention of all those magazines raises another issue: with such a constant demand from 20-40 titles for house interiors features, surely any half-decent home can make it? Nope, sorry – the competition for space is enormous. Home interest magazines and newspaper supplements are offered a great many houses from which to choose. Some years ago I had a detailed talk with one homes editor at an IPC title, who told me specifically that while they were running four interiors features monthly, she was seeing around forty submissions of good houses each month – from freelances like me, from homeowners, PRs, you name it. She could pick one house in ten, and fill each month’s issue. And recently I got together with a PR contact who also deals directly with the magazines; we decided that those very top titles (you know which those are…) are turning down 95% or more of the homes they’re offered…

Savoie mountain house

Deluxe chalet in the French Alps - but the owners are a young professional couple of average means who sold up in UK to renovate this old stone house up a mountain, and run a ski business...

I’ve had more features in IPC’s 25 Beautiful Homes than any other single title, over the past fourteen years. They are running literally twenty-five home interiors features each month – and that magazine has turned down far more of my submissions (smart, distinctive, stylish houses) than it has accepted…

suburban kitchen in Ideal Home

An ordinary 1960s bungalow - but the kitchen, modest, affordable, clean and stylish, made great feature material for Ideal Home.

So you have a super house and you’d love to get it featured in a cool magazine. So what does “super” mean? Must you have a palatial villa, a gee-whiz townhouse, or at least an imposing gaff in  commuter country? Nope: in broad terms, you can have a castle – or a local authority flat. It doesn’t matter. These features are about two things: décor, and the homeowners who created it. Sure, I’m oversimplifying a bit, but essentially this is what it’s about. Those very top titles tend to feature upmarket homes, but the mid-market titles require homes that are accessible, affordable, aspirational, the sort of places we look at in a magazine and think, Hmmm, that colour/furniture/lighting looks great, I’ll do the same myself in my rather similar living room…

Plymouth flat

A Plymouth tower block? Sure, but the owner's colourful, individual approach to décor made it a great feature for 25 Beautiful Homes.

It might sound odd to claim this is a difficulty, but I come across far more upmarket places than the sort of mid-market homes I’ve just mentioned! Too many people think incorrectly that their own homes are just not magazine material, because they’re not posh enough. You know what? Right now I would really like to get my hands on a bog-standard estate home by a developer, in which the owners had created genuinely interesting, individual décor. I could sell a feature like that several times over….

'60s house renovation + extension, kitchen, Twickenham

Twickenham extension & renovation of a 1960s townhouse. A young couple managed this with some help from dad.

So forget about where you live; I once saw a great feature on a house in the midst of a sprawling, grim Glasgow council estate, all pebbledash and grey drizzling skies. Forget about classy interior design – the mid-market titles often say they don’t want a place that looks like it’s had shedloads of money thrown at it. Think instead about the extent to which you, or homeowners you know, have exercised a degree of individual creativity, thought, care, awareness of style, good taste, originality (etc etc – combine any two or three of these) in creating coherent décor that stands out from the beige-coloured average. Not funky, not over the top, not opulent – just a bit different…

two Oxfordshire houses built by Rob

Rob isn't rich, he just received his inheritance early - a part of the family farmyard! He built two houses, one for himself, and one to rent - aged 28... It made The Sunday Times.

I’ve been offered many homes that are also run as a business – a guest house, events venue, or whatever – or which are on the market. It’s tricky, since the magazines want owner-occupied private homes, not businesses, and if it’s on the market they don’t really want it and will certainly not mention that it’s for sale. However, I’ve had many features published in which there was a mention (with contact details) for the owners’ business: editors know that many people offer their homes to be featured because the publicity could be useful to their business. This works well.

So if this encourages you to think your home might fit the bill – well, contact me. I’ll be shooting houses into early November according to my schedule, though after that the days get too short. And my list of houses to shoot next year is growing.

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