Only posh homes make it into print? Really?

In January I posted a blog piece here entitled “Mr BIG and the Kitchen Of Doom”, which attracted many visitors and sparked some interesting comment. The story was about some friends who shopped around for a smart new kitchen on a limited budget; the theme essentially turned out to be the pros & cons of obtaining a kitchen from a local independent, or a large multiple. They chose the latter, with some subsequent regrets. Read that piece first if you like – it’s still here.

Ideal Home, August 2012

Ideal Home, August 2012

Then in February I posted a piece on “What makes a feature home,” centred on the misconception that the kind of homes appearing in the glossies are super-duper places that have been reworked by interior designers.

Now that the “Kitchen of Doom” has appeared in print (Ideal Home, August, p128) I’d like to expand on my February suggestion that the sort of homes featured in the monthly glossy home-interest titles really do not have to be expensive, upmarket, decorated with no expense spared. And say a bit more about the kitchen.

I know that most of those involved even peripherally with home-interest titles are aware that modest everyday homes are featured all the time, but in the wider world there remains this idea that a house or kitchen has to be interior designed, or have had shedloads of money chucked at it, to be considered for a feature. Absolutely untrue! Ideal Home magazine is an excellent illustration of the opportunities for the home of Mr & Mrs Average in suburbia to be featured. As a former editor of that title explained to me, “We look for comfortable family homes that have been decorated with imagination rather than money; we cater for a middle market audience – the Waitrose and Marks & Spencer woman…”

Ideal Home feature on the Gledhills' kitchen, by Anthony Harrison

Ideal Home feature on the Gledhills' kitchen, by Anthony Harrison

It’s a winning formula: Ideal Home is one of the most solidly established titles in its sector, selling over 200,000 copies a month in the UK – and for people like me, it is tough to get into! (I’m delighted that they’ve taken two features from me within a few months.) The factor I mentioned works against me: my wide circle of contacts produce leads to some lovely upmarket homes, but they tend to pass over the more modest – yet still stylish – homes that many magazines actually prefer.

Yorkshire farmhouse kitchen featured in EKBB

Yorkshire farmhouse kitchen featured in EKBB: this sold to a specialist kitchen title with its bold colour, and old/new contrast - it wouldn't do for the middle market...

As a sidenote, for ages I’ve been seeking a bog-standard developer home on an estate, in which the owners have done unusually tasteful things with the décor, going beyond magnolia paint, DFS furniture, and swirly-patterned pelmets from B&Q. Still looking…

Back to the Gledhills’ kitchenin this month’s Ideal Home. As I write, I have several kitchen-feature proposals out with magazines, after viewing some super places from Barnes to Dulwich in June; these are custom built hardwood kitchens, wholly individual with resin worktops and all the trimmings. They cost a lot more than the kitchen in Ideal Home, and I shall be surprised if a couple don’t make it into print. If they do, it will be in one of the specialist kitchen titles, not Ideal Home. The Gledhills’ kitchen, spread across three pages, is largely sourced from mass-market suppliers; there are some moderately expensive custom touches such as glass splashbacks; but it’s a kitchen that is affordable & aspirational for most people – characteristics that tick the boxes for a number of mid-market home interest magazines.

Ibiza villa

Really, I just love to shoot cool Mediterranean villas, the more the merrier... But I recall clearly one editor saying she had top-end Spanish villas "coming out of her ears" - and while this Ibiza beauty was snapped up by KBB, it's too stylish, too upmarket, too different, for mid-market titles.

And to refer to another blog piece this year, I wrote in February about covering a Huf Haus kitchen – that too was way out of the ordinary and not at all the sort of thing to be found in mid-market titles such as Ideal Home…

Huf Haus custom kitchen

I'm a Huf Haus fan and I covered this one for Build It and KBB - the latter took the kitchen only, of course. Really super - but not realistically aspirational for mid-market home interest title readers...

There is a place for every sort of home in the home-interest glossies – and I wish I could get my hands on more that were of modest cost, in perfectly ordinary homes, as long as they reflected better than average taste, style, and attention to detail.

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