Style at Home
Getting my house magazine ready.

My house is going to be in Style at Home magazine and I feel like a complete fraud.  I am NOT the sort of person whose house appears in a respected decorating magazine.  I don’t have a decorator or a cleaning woman or even properly matching bathroom towels.  And I don’t have a bowl of lemons in the middle of my kitchen table.  HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO BE IN A DECORATING MAGAZINE WITHOUT A BOWL OF LEMONS????!

People who have their homes in magazines have all of these things.  At least in my mind they do.  Isn’t that what you think?  Oh God, this is going to be a disaster.  A complete disaster I tell you.

Although I did a pretty darn good job of cleaning up my house during “The Great – I’ve Gone Crazy in the Head – House Purge of 2009“, I didn’t exactly get to every room in the house.  The kitchen would be a perfect example of one of the rooms I didn’t get to.  I did install a new window and managed to prime all of my walls.  Then I got distracted by all of the fine fall television programming and that was that.  The television in my living room looks like something my neighbour, Fred Flintstone dropped off,  by the way.  Definitely not magazine worthy.

So I compiled a list of things that I absolutely had to do before the gaggle of people from Style at Home magazine came to shoot my house for their September issue.  They’re all things that most people need to get to eventually, I’d just been given a little push.  A shove actually.  Well, it would probably be best to describe it as a gigantic, body rattling tackle by someone wearing grappling gloves.

A quick run through of my house confirmed my worst fears.  I’d actually been living in squalor.  And these were the things that needed to be done to make it magazine ready:

1. Paint all of my kitchen cupboards.

2. Remove and clean all of my kitchen cupboard handles.

3. Decide whether to paint or wallpaper my kitchen, and do as decided.

4. Paint kitchen china cabinet.

5. Clean my grease covered chandelier.

6. Take some sort of generic brand sedative.

7. Paint the grease covered faux brick wall behind my stove.

8. Find some kind of miraculous one piece flooring that I can lay down over my ugly, broken ceramic tile floor.

9. Get a new kitchen table. Thinkin' antique Carrera marble top on antique pine pedestal base. Or ya know, something from Ikea.

10. Finally decide between LCD and Plasma television for the living room. Also decide where to put it 'cause I refuse to put it over the fireplace.

11. Attempt to clean smoke marks on mantle in an effort to avoid re-painting.

12. At this point, I may or may not have the opportunity to bathe.


In 2 weeks.  Style at Home gave me a 2 week time frame to get my house in order.  So to speak.   2 weeks to complete all of this, plus the regular cleaning, dusting, vacuuming and spit shining.  I don’t think I have enough spit. I don’t think the NHL has enough spit.

Uh huh, that brought the eye twitch back in full force.  Oh dear.  Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.



  1. Mary says:

    I’m trying out your glowing orbs this year! (in order to make the birch pole urns I’ve done for the last three years in a row a bit different).

    I also still refuse to have any flat screen television over any of our fireplaces…and I am unanimous in that.

    • Karen says:

      Mary – Just *today* I was thinking I’m getting bored of my birch pole urns. I’m want to come up with something entirely different, but I’m not quite ready to chuck the birch logs in the fireplace yet. And good for you on the flat screen over the fire. Ug. Keep readin’ to see if I come up w/ something new for the urns, or resort to the beautiful birch again. :) ~karen

  2. nim says:

    I agree with Schmidty.

    This one time, at band camp, my neighbor’s house and yard was featured in BH&G. Anyway, the whole neighborhood basically came to our house with pitchforks, demanding we get our siding onto our house _yesterday_. We couldn’t get our contractor to work within their timetable, but through the magic of cropping and air-brushing, no one ever found out the neighbor’s dirty secret: us.

    Long story short: pick one or two spots you really wanna showcase and go for it. The rest? Blurred in the background anyway.

  3. Schmidty - Man Vs. Style says:

    congrats in being in the mag.

    hope it goes well.

    Just remember, should all else fail, they can use photo shop :-)



  4. quirkfarms says:

    don’t worry there’s always air brushing.

  5. Liz says:

    And when you’ve finished doing all of that, my flat is waiting. Mwaaahhhahahahahhhaaaaa.

  6. Kev says:

    Those cupboards are beautiful….think modern country…

  7. susie says:

    Karen, I have had my house photographed for a magazine, and here’s what I learned:

    1. They will take out all your stuff and put in their own. For example, the stylist brought a load of white pitchers which she displayed along my upper kitchen cabinets. That made the kitchen look like Martha’s instead of mine, but whatever. It photographed better than my dad’s pottery.

    2. They bring their own lemons, or, as in my case, bunches of long-stem purple cabbages. Then they drape them casually next to the sink, like you just waltzed in after your farmer’s market visit and are preparing to do something with those cabbages.

    3. In order to photograph my pantry, they brought in their own food! Most of this was stuff I would never buy, like lots of San Pellegrino, and inexplicably, a jar of instant coffee. Where in real life those two things can be found in the same pantry, I don’t know, but the stylist said the instant coffee would appeal to “our midwestern readers.”

    On another note, the first spread came out about 3 months after the shoot of my kitchen. The second spread, of my master bath, came out over a year later! Crazy.

    In terms of all the stuff you wanted to take care of in two weeks, wow. It would take me at least a year to do that. It took me 5 years to find a carpet for my living room.

    • Karen says:

      Most of this was stuff I would never buy, like lots of San Pellegrino, and inexplicably, a jar of instant coffee. Where in real life those two things can be found in the same pantry, I don’t know,” That made me laugh out LOUD. Excellent point. I’m not really all that worried about the propping. I have a lot of friends who are magazine editors and I know how it works.

      However … I should also say that Style at Home is NOT that kind of magazine. They’re an accessible magazine for real people. Where other magazines want your house to look like a showroom that no one lives in, Style at Home wants your house to look GREAT, but like your actual, house. So, there won’t be much different about my house in a magazine compared to my house in real life. And I can GUARANTEE there won’t be any instant coffee stuck in my cupboards for the shoot! LOL.

  8. karen n says:

    OMG Karen!
    I sorta feel your pain!
    I decided to have a real estate agent over and discovered that, I too, am living in squalor!!
    I decided this 6 months ago and I still haven’t been able to get the place in shape for a real estate agent
    You only had 2 weeks for magazine shoot? I shudder at the thought

  9. Jane says:

    You are funny.
    Chandelier cleaning is easy, I read it on the inter-web.

    Get a bunch on newspaper and spread it under the chandelier. Get big bottle of 409 or windex or grease cutter. Spray the sh-t out of the chandelier (make sure the power is off, duh) and let it drip. repeat until clean.

    You can get it all done no problem just stay away from the sedatives and think stimulants.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane! Thanks for the chandelier cleaning tip! However, see, the thing about the Internet, is it lies. That’s part of the reason I created this site here. For instance, the Windex and newspaper trick? It doesn’t work. People SAY it works, but it doesn’t. To really clean a really dirty chandelier, you need to take it apart and clean it. There’s no other way to do a good job on a really greasy, dirty hunk of crystal. Sad, but true! I’d best get to work. :)

      • Zina says:

        I did find this, though:

        I don’t know if you could get this on time, but it sure LOOKS like it works. The picture that they show of that chandelier with over 33,000 pieces is pretty impressive, and so is the thought of the breakdown I would have over the time and effort it would take to take it apart and clean it…

  10. I can’t even imagine painting my kitchen cabinets in two weeks, much less all that other crap.

  11. Zina says:

    Which month will the story be in?

    Old style manual way: a few drops of dishwashing liquid and a dollop of white vinegar in a bucket of hot water should get the crystals of your chandelier clean in a jiffy — dip, soak, then rinse off, let air dry a bit on a towel, and dry with newspaper. (Use gloves or your hands will be black from the newspaper. I don’t know how it works that newspaper cleans so well when all the ink comes off on your hands. It’s, like, physics or something.)

    The chandeliers were my job when I was growing up. Our new place has a truly gorgeous, enormous chandelier, so I feel your pain. Of even less anticipated fun is going to be polishing and de-tarnishing the brass chandeliers in the living room and dining room.

    Apparently there is now a spray on, let drip off chandelier cleaner. If you use it, let me know how it works, k?

  12. Maggie says:

    I have no advice to give other than to say we went LCD with the TV. Good luck getting it all done, there’s nothing like imagining your house through a magazine photographers lense to open your eyes to the stuff you know is there but just don’t ‘see’ anymore. But they are good at cropping and focusing on the good stuff too, so don’t worry too much, and of course you have a beautiful garden.

  13. Sherry (BTLover2) says:

    You poor, pitiful thing, you. How can you live in such conditions? Puuuuleeeze! This is the way of the world, friend. Those of us who do not have millions or billions, decorators or house cleaners, designers or chefs, live this way. Frankly, I can live like that without problem until “company” comes (or in your case, a magazine entourage). Sometimes having photographers show up (or “company”) is a good reason to get in gear and do the things we put off (because who cares as long as you’re happy?). If it makes you feel any better, I have lived in my home for nearly 3 years and have no furniture in my dining room (not even a light fixture) and it has carpet which is stained with any number of pet accidents, paint spills, etc. And that, my dear, is just the beginning, trust me. Now take a deep breath, focus on the most important thing, grab that drug of choice, and FIX IT!

  14. Phyllis says:

    I second the suggestion to use a magic eraser (Mr. Clean!) to remove the smoke stains. I’ve used one on stone and on painted brick and it worked both times. Don’t you love it when a product really works like it’s advertised to?

    Can you put a cool rug down on your kitchen floor? Something like a simple easy to clean woven, or even a painted canvas rug? I’ve seen painted rugs made on the back side of vinyl flooring – you don’t even have to worry about hemming the edges so it’s quick and easy.

    • Karen says:

      I am in LOVE with the Magic Eraser. I was just thinking yesterday about how great it is when something does exactly what advertisers claim it will do.

  15. Lilikins says:

    Can you provide the URL for the on line version that Erin mentions (pretty please!)

  16. Sara says:

    Have to agree with Jan. Would love to see a “real, lived-in” home in any magazine! But, just to relieve some of the stress….generally for house shoots, they show up with a “dresser” who puts out the bowls of lemons, and throws pretty area rugs over ugly, broken tile, and helps to light things in a way that makes it look great. So cleaning and general sprucing up, yes, developing a twitch, no.

    And just remember…they were the ones who asked to take photos of your house!

  17. Jan says:

    I for one would love to see a *real* home–your real home, in this case–in House and Home or Style at Home any other home decor mag. I am sure I am not the only one left sagging after flipping through the articles on interiors that are impossible to replicate without plundering my retirement funds and hiring a “team” of some description to get “the look”.

    I say keep it real, please. The grease won’t show, a magic eraser will probably get the smoke, and borrow a tv from a buddy. I love the instant stuff you do that makes your place funky and fun.
    Do the clever stuff you always do with and don’t make it phony.

    And if in doubt, I vote for a G&T and the shower.

    • amy says:

      I second Jan’s missive! Enough of starched whites and lemon decor. This isn’t Martha’s (no problem with that – that’s her thing) – but this is YOURS, and all the stuff that is a little different or perfectly imperfect is why we come here and enjoy you and the site. Serve them mid day vodka, put on the music and enjoy…

    • Alissa says:

      Here here! Go ahead and do some cleaning, but let’s see a REAL and – dare I say – imperfect home!

      • Karen says:

        O.K. everyone. Let’s get something straight here! Trust me … my house is imperfect. No worries there. It is not your cookie cutter house. But trust me on this too … I refuse to NOT clean and tidy prior to a magazine coming to shoot! Are you people all hopped up on Froot Loops or something???

  18. Karen says:

    Hi Oreo. I know. My floor scares me. Exorcist-style.

  19. Erin says:

    I subscribe to Style at Home and though my print copy hasn’t arrived in the mail yet, I checked out your article in the digital version. Your place looks amazing!

    I love that they mentioned your deep clean of your kitchen cupboard hardware. Haha!

  20. Debbie Wroe says:

    Okay — Oreo woman here again, and I swear I’m not stalking you. I just happen to have nothing I’d rather do than surf Facebook tonight. Anyhoo — I can totally relate to your predicament. Not because I have magazines clamoring to photograph my house, but because I went through a similar “updating” exercise in my recent past as part of a house selling adventure. I actually tore out a tile floor that looks very similar to yours. I will have nightmares tonight just recalling the experience. I highly recommend covering the tile if at all possible (as you suggested). Tearing up a tile floor was one of the most time consuming and awful jobs I’ve ever undertaken. There is a very good reason that floating floors were invented. Good luck to you. Can’t wait to see the pictures.

  21. Shannon says:

    greasy chandeliers are a total bitch to clean. I did most of mine in the dishwasher a few years back though! That saved me a few hours.

    I kind of like to keep a bowl of corn in the kitchen when it is in season..just to fly in the face of all that is good & decent.

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