KBB: is print dead?

open kitchen in a revamped Cambridge terrace house - part of a feature appearing shortly in a major Time Inc title

open kitchen in a revamped Cambridge terrace house – part of a feature appearing shortly in a major Time Inc title

So, why kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms? Why do some titles cover just these spaces, grouping them together? Actually it’s not arbitrary: those rooms, especially the “wet” ones, require special outfitting, and are serviced by dedicated retailers, a standalone part of the home outfitting industry. I still find it a little unusual that any titles cover the KBB trio, though. The somewhat dusty (and sometimes downmarket) world of High Street bedroom retailing doesn’t seem to fit with the brighter, glossier world of kitchen & bathroom showrooms.

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Cheshire, cottage blue bedroom – pretty, feminine, traditional. Published as part of a feature in 25 Beautiful Homes.

However, Kitchens Bedrooms & Bathrooms magazine from Taylist Media has managed this successfully for 22 years, describing itself as “the UK’s biggest-selling kitchen, bedroom and bathroom title”, the brand leader in its field. KBB claims 100% of its readership are ABC1, with (unsurprisingly) 78% female – probably par for the course across the home-interest spectrum, indeed most titles are edited and staffed by women for women. Taylist say their flagship title sells nearly 28,000 copies monthly – a respectable figure in this niche, though outsold considerably by the less specialised home-interest titles: Good Housekeeping*, from Hearst, is Britain’s biggest-selling lifestyle magazine with a print circulation of over 416,000. I like KBB and have done a number of features for it. It’s big, very glossy, prestigious, run by good people. They want features that cover a couple of rooms, so any home I come across with a super kitchen needs (say) a really super bedroom or two to go with it.

Super kitchen by Wren, in a purpose built extension. Shot summer 2015 for a kitchen-only feature in Ideal Home.

Super kitchen by Wren, in a purpose built extension. Shot summer 2015 for a kitchen-only feature in Ideal Home.

Beautiful Kitchens – they dropped the “25” seven years ago – is the equivalent from Time Inc (formerly IPC Media) and another very solid title, published since 1999. It used to share the same offices as companion title 25 Beautiful Homes, not sure if this is still the case. BK claims credibly to be the UK’s specialist kitchen magazine, since its competitors embrace other types of room… Time Inc says of BK readers that they are “passionate about great modern design and eager for creative innovative ideas for their favorite project.” The title claims to use “more original photography than other UK kitchen magazines with 10 case studies per issue” – which occasionally include features from me. The latest ABC figures show sales of around 13,600 every month.

London SW: ensuite bath, part of a feature published in 25 Beautiful Homes, November 2015.

London SW: ensuite bath, part of a feature published in 25 Beautiful Homes, November 2015.

Essential Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom (EKBB) has undergone changes but is now part of the (German) Burda International’s UK arm based in Colchester. It’s over 20 years old (founded by Essential Publishing) so can claim justifiably to be “one of the longest standing specialist homes titles in the country”. Burda claim a detailed reader profile: “intelligent, informed discerning professional, well-educated, prosperous, design aware, mainly 35-55 female, mean age 44, mostly residential, keen home entertainers and cooks, uncompromising on style, functionality and performance, passionate about their homes, environmentally conscious, 88% Strong AB Profile, 20% design professionals involved in the industry…” Wow. I don’t know its circulation but I’ve seen a suggestion of over 30,000, not unreasonable. I’ve done kitchen features for this title as well – though it’s tricky keeping up with the editorial changes, and one never knows exactly how many (or how few) people actually produce the magazine.

Sometimes it's good to see into a kitchen from the outside: this is a feature for a major self-building title, appearing shortly. Super home on the Essex/Herts border.

Sometimes it’s good to see into a kitchen from the outside: this is a feature for a major self-building title, appearing shortly. Super home on the Essex/Herts border.

Utopia Kitchen & Bathroom is a title I know little about – but it’s out there, it looks very smart, and clearly appeals. Published by a small privately owned company in Colchester, it’s been going for eight years. Again, I don’t know its circulation.
I’ve never sold freelance features to Utopia, mainly because when I approached them they didn’t seem to have a budget for paying people like me… Still, they can always obtain material free from PRs. In fact a couple of years ago a picture of mine was on its front cover, supplied by the PRs for Nicholas Anthony after I did an advertising shoot for them.

Just out in ovember's 25 Beautiful Homes is my feature on this lovely Arts & Crafts house in Putney. Super kitchen in a super home.

Just out in November’s 25 Beautiful Homes is my feature on this lovely Arts & Crafts house in Putney. Super kitchen in a super home.

Let’s not forget that general home-interest titles also publish kitchen-only features: soon Ideal Home** (describes its readers as “affluent, time-rich and focused on home and family”) will publish my feature on a lovely Berkshire kitchen shot this summer. It boasts a combined ABC readership pushing 188,000, 67% of that ABC1 – and a total adult readership of 915,000 per issue on average… Those sort of figures mean serious advertising power.

Loved shooting this modernist, cuboid Essex home - inside the M25 but secluded. Covered it for a feature in Real Homes, and separately for the architect who restyled it.

Loved shooting this modernist, cuboid Essex home – inside the M25 but secluded. Covered it for a feature in Real Homes, and separately for the architect who restyled it.

Early this year, Media Week summarised the Consumer Magazines Report by the Audit Bureau of Circulations for the second half of 2014. On the one hand print magazine sales in general are falling, with total circulations in the marketplace tumbling by more than 15 million copies in 2014. Nevertheless, the 447 magazines analysed had a combined average circulation of 33.4 million. And evidence suggests that the home-interest sector is holding up better than most. Publishers are producing on-line coverage of the home, and mobile apps for their readers. But print is still a very powerful force.

Sometimes details stand out: part of a whole-house feature.

Sometimes details stand out: part of a whole-house feature.

Good Housekeeping* was ranked 7th overall for magazine success. The next home-interest title in the list was Ideal Home**, in 32nd place. Food for thought.
Errors and omissions excepted! I don’t claim this short piece as anything more than a personal skate through the titles I know best that include KBB features. It’s an interesting subject. I love photographing shiny modern kitchens and bathrooms. I write about them too. Talk to me anytime.

Working with a top stylist is rewarding: Claire's work here complements the shoot I did for advertising, commissioned by a top kitchen supplier's PR company.

Working with a top stylist is rewarding: Claire’s work here complements the shoot I did for advertising, commissioned by a top kitchen supplier’s PR company.

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