The Art of Having Your House Photographed for a Magazine

If a magazine editor ever says they’re coming to shoot your house for an issue.  Don’t vacuum. There’s no need to vacuum.

There’s also no need to paint the outside of your back door, lay stick down tile on the inside of your cupboards or  fix your leaky taps. Just a little heads up.

You do need to hide things.  Like the hideous fireplace tools you found at the side of the road.  Or the multitude of rolling pins (one of which you actually use).  Hide the Head & Shoulders, the embarrassing medications and your collection of mismatched pens that don’t work.   Hide em.  Same goes for anything you own but hate.  Just hide it wherever you can because if you don’t, sure as shootin’ it’s gonna end up in a picture.

Come to think of it, even if you do hide it, it may still end up in a picture.

You’ve seen how in a completely relaxed and calm manner I got ready for the big day.  Other than the constant eye twitch and pop up stomach rashes, everything was smooth sailin’.  (cough, cough)

The day of the actual shoot?  Picture perfect if I do say so myself.

If your house ends being shot for a magazine, here’s how you can expect the day to go:

8:00 a.m. Photographer, Stylist and Assistant show up and start taking pictures of your yard.

Notice the professional manner in which Donna Griffith, the photographer, mimics a photographer.

10:30 a.m. Everyone and everything moves inside the house.  Set up bounce sheets.  Bounce as in “bouncing the light”, not Bounce as in smells “fresh” in a way only chemicals simulating nature can smell.

Leave everyone alone to shoot your kitchen while you run upstairs to put the new sheets and pillow forms on the bed.  And then iron the bits of the sheets you can see.  I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t do it in real life (iron my sheets and pillowcases).  But I do.  On occasion. Sometimes.  So sue me.

12:00 p.m. Arrival of Style at Home, Editor-in-Chief, Erin McLaughlin, otherwise known as “The Boss”.    Lunch of sushi.  Now keep in mind, your particular crew may eat something different.  Be ready to roll with the lunches.

You can only see her from the back (the one with the blonde ponytail) but stylist Lara McGraw has an impressive pedigree.  She’s really well known for her food styling in particular.  AND,  she’s blindish in one eye.  I got the one eyed prop stylist.  Lara rocks.

1:00 p.m. Back in the house to shoot more interiors.  Did I mention there’s really no use in vacuuming before something like this?  Because there isn’t.  Or tidying even.  Do not tidy.

I had frequent drop in guests during the shoot.  At this moment it’s my niece who is 62 years younger than me, has 3 children already and always has clean, fresh smelling hair.  I hate her.  No, really.  I do.

2:30 p.m. As the homeowner you may be made to risk life and limb, by being forced to balance on the tiny edge of your couch to hang a 4,000 lb.  mirror.  The mirror was originally in the other corner of the living room, where it couldn’t be seen.  They liked the mirror.  I moved the mirror.  How easy is hanging a mirror?  Check here.

2:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. A bunch of other stuff might happen but by this point you’ll be so delirious and tired you won’t think to record, photograph or even remember any it.  You’ll just rub your eyes, your house will be back to normal and everyone will be gone.

7:00 p.m. Fall down asleep, somewhere in the vicinity of your bedroom, possibly on top of your fireplace tools.  You’ll wake up with a really sore neck but your ironed sheets won’t be wrinkled!

I have 10 Style at Home Magazine subscriptions to give away!   Details tomorrow.



  1. Nicole says:

    I love your site, thank you for all the great ideas, tips, etc. Your home looks lovely and well put together and I love your Peonies! I grow them too, and I don’t know a lot of people who have them growing, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that shot with the Peonies outside your house. In magazines I usually see them in a vase but not growing in the ground. I want to do a lot more home projects now thanks to you. I’m nearing 30, I work, I’m married, no kids yet, so I want to do as many cool projects as possible before we have kids and less time for that kind of thing. Anyways, I am telling all my family and friends about your great site! Thanks Karen! You Rock!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Nicole! I’m glad you found my site. And thanks for taking the time to comment and tell your friends and family. ~ karen

  2. Jennifer says:

    I loved this post, I love looking at how interior photographs are taken, mostly because in my next life I will come back as a stylist…at least that’s what $60 gets you at the fortune teller…I posted about you on my blog today because your Frozen Yogourt tampon post made me fall off my work chair, don’t worry I was just perched on the edge while being totally engaged with a subject I don’t normally like to talk about it. Well done..

  3. Brittney says:

    How exciting! Congrats on the photo shoot. I’m sure the pictures will be gorgeous!

  4. Squawkfox says:

    Love your saarinen table(s). Swoon.

  5. Lori says:

    Great pics! Looks overwhelming, nerve wracking and tons of fun.

  6. Pam'a says:

    Well, I wasted all but 1 of my zooms (ZOOM rationing?! Is that what it’s come to? Really?!) on trying to find the right page, so I couldn’t read all the witty repartee, but your house looks grand and you do, too, Karen!

    The only thing better than that neat-o shoot would be having a blog where your adoring fans could rave about it afterwards… And lookit! You’ve got one of those too! For sure, you’re doing something very, very right. ;)

  7. Alyssa says:

    ha! I *suppose* if one was going to watch for a certain important magazine coming out soon, one would keep the correct magazine in mind… say, Style at Home, versus… Better Homes and Gardens. It was the Home part, I swear. I’ve been watching for weeks, and been so confused. I should have known better and written it down, since lately I haven’t been able to remember anything. >.< I guess I'll just have to win a copy. :D

  8. AftonJanelle says:

    I loathe ironing with a passion. My husband almost equally detests the task so with some of our wedding gift cards we RAN to the store to purchase a steamer. It’s AWESOME! Seriously – best thing EVER!

  9. Kev says:

    Nice smile…doing anything yourself fills you with a sense of achievement….what would we do without cordless drills :-)

    • Pat Parker says:

      Great and insightful look at a photo session. I did a lobster food on a wharf shoot. It was minus 1 and we were all dressed in shorts and t’s…food was secondary to how pleased we were supposed to look on the ocean.

  10. Anj says:

    It is out in the stores in Canada now! I saw it in Longos on Tuesday when I was checking out.
    I prefer the above picture of you with the drill than the one they took of you during the photo shoot. The one above is so much more YOU!

    • Karen says:

      I must say … I’m partial to the drill picture myself. The photographer’s assistant (whose name I rudely forget) took it for me on my camera). Thanks assistant!

  11. Karen says:

    Yes everyone it is true. You can buy a digital copy of the September issue of Style at Home here
    However, I should let you know I may, perhaps … quite possibly have a few issues to give away in the future – karen

  12. It’s frightening how much your niece looks EXACTLY like you. Freaky.

    Is Style at Home available for us peons in the U.S.? I know somebody already asked that, but I’m to lazy to search through the comments on all your posts and find the answer. :)

    • Karen says:

      We are slightly similar looking. I get very annoyed when people ask if she’s my daughter. Do I LOOK like I have a 30 year old daughter and 3 grandchildren??!! Well, since they’re asking … apparently so, LOL. In case you missed it in the 12 other mentions in this section … I think it costs $5.50 Canadian. So around $5 US maybe.

  13. How super exciting is this!! I love the ‘behind the scenes’ look.

  14. Beth says:

    This could be old news but you can see a digital copy of the September issue here…
    Beginning at Page 100.
    You only get a couple of free “zooms” so don’t waste them!! Go straight to Karen’s house!

  15. Emilija says:

    Sounds like a fabulous adventure! Can’t wait to see what the photos turn out like!! What issue will they be in?

    • Karen says:

      September issue … on stands soon! Maybe even now! I haven’t seen it yet, but … it could be out there! – karen

  16. Kelly says:

    haha! I love this. There is so much work behind all the magazine shots.

    (ps. I just found your blog and i love it!!!)

  17. Zina says:

    Wow, that looks like an awesome day. Even with you teetering on the edge of your couch with a mirror. Well, actually, especially with you teetering on the edge of your couch with mirror and power tool.

    I wish I could see the article! :( I wish they had an e-format of their mag.

    So, has your eye twitch gone away? I had one while waiting on my visa. It’s almost all gone now…although moving into the new place is possibly going to bring it back.

  18. amy says:

    Perfecto! Looking forward to picking up the Mag. Congratulations, Karen and thanks (as always) for the laughs…

  19. Kelley says:

    I am having problems moving past the part where you iron your sheets. I have a huge aversion to irons. Or clothes that necessitate ironing. I don’t even know where my iron is hiding. I remember the last time I used it was 11 years ago when the boyfriend (now the husband) asked if I could turn the hangers in the opposite direction after ironing his shirts. And that is when the honeymoon ended.

    • Karen says:

      Hah! Yup. I’m … that way. Hence the title of the blog “The Art of Doing Stuff”. As opposed to “The Art of Not Doing Stuff”. :) So, yeah, I iron my sheets. Not all the time, but I have been known to do it. I also iron my clothes. Not all of them, but you know … the ones that need ironing. If you hate ironing, but need to do it sometimes, I’d recommend a steamer. You just hang your tee shirt or sweater up on a hanger and blast it with the steamer! Same goes for the sheets. Make the bed, steam the sheets, done. I realize you’ll never believe me, but it’s kindda fun. :)- karen!

  20. mimi says:

    Karen, if i could look that good, balancing on the edge of a couch while hanging a mirror, I wouldn’t care what (untidy, unhoovered, unpainted) part of my house they photographed. I hope their version of this photo will be in the shoot!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Mimi! That’s very nice of you to say. :) The magazine featured a couple of pics of me. I’m not holding a power tool in either of them, so I’m barely recognizable.

  21. Susan says:

    Okay, this was way too much vicarious fun! Look forward to seeing the spread (can I get this mag in the US?) while having some back story on hand. At least you got the tiles down, the outer door painted, and … what was the other thing not to bother – oh right, vacuum. That’ll be my newest excuse! Bet you’re deliriously happy this is over and done. And thanks for the tutorial – I’m one of the flustered, perhaps this will get me over the hump.

    • Jeanne says:

      I should have warned you. My house was photographed for Early American Life, Country Living, I had a 1740 farmhouse with a walk in kitchen fireplace that I frequently cooked in. On the morning of, I stoked and renewed the fire at 4 a.m. (colonial housewives started the day before or week before)to have the proper coals. I made Veteran Soldier’s Stew (Valley Forge just down the road) cornbread, ham, cheese soufle, apple pies, ALL steaming on the table when the crew arrived. It was MAGNIFICENT with vapors rising, the aromas. My timing was inpecable. They started filming on the second floor and by 8p.m. got to the kitchen. The pies and soufle had sunk in the middle, the stew had stuck to the iron pot and coals burned out. Never even showed in the final picture. Oh, forgot to mention the empty wine bottles hidden under the pie safe. It took 2 weeks before my eye twitch went away.

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