Want To Get Published?????

I have to tell you there is nothing more empowering than having your design work published.  Today, I have an interview with Lisa Mowry, who is an editor for Better Homes and Gardens, Traditional Home, Renovation Style,and Southern Living to name a few.  She has been producing articles for Shelter magazines for  20 years and has the privilege of working with a talented team of Atlanta photographers and stylists.  She has some great  articles out now which include: November's Atlanta magazine, two in BH&G, a Marietta house in January issue of Remodel and a couple of features in Southern Living.

I met Lisa in 1995 when she wrote an article for  Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles on a small guest bath in my home. I had just started in the design business.  Since then we have worked together on at least 8 projects of mine and this summer BH&G came to shoot my family room.  I posted here.

I get asked all the time how to get published and I thought you would like to hear from Lisa herself how and why certain projects are chosen.

Sherry:  How did you end up being a magazine editor or what brought you into this industry.

Lisa: I’ve always been a magazine-aholic, so this is a perfect job for me. When I was in my 20s and reading magazines like Better Homes & Gardens and Metropolitan Home for fun, I would’ve never believed it if anybody had told me I’d one day be on their mastheads as Atlanta editor. How I got here: I was working for an Atlanta public relations firm and given the account for Southern Homes magazine, where I eventually went to work on staff. That magazine became Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, and I was there for about six years before I went freelance and Better Homes & Gardens approached me to be their local editor. I’ve worked with that magazine, as well as all its special interest publications (such as Kitchen & Bath Ideas) and Traditional Home, for about 13 years. I’m also a contributing editor for Atlanta magazine and do projects for Southern Living and Woman’s Day, too.

Sherry:  How do you find projects for the magazines?

Lisa: I would say that about 80% of the time houses come to me through designers and architects I’ve built relationships with over the years. But a lot of my favorite projects are directly through talented homeowners who have done their own remodeling or decorating. I’ve worked on several articles for Do-it-Yourself magazine in the past year, and those are some of my favorites because the homeowners put a lot of creativity and hard work into their houses rather than write a big check to a designer. The DIY-type projects I often find by word of mouth or from neighborhood home & garden tours. 

Sherry:  How can someone submit a project to you?

Lisa: The best way to start the process is by sending me low-res (small) photos of your house by email: lmowry@hotmail.com…10-12 is a good number to start with. I love seeing “before” shots if the story is about redoing a room or the whole house. I might request more shots or come see it in person. I also need a small write-up to know what the good ideas are from your project. It’s good to think like a magazine editor: what could readers learn from your own house?  Bullet points are perfect; definitely no more than one paragraph of background at this early stage of the process.

Sherry:  Does the story of the homeowner affect the selection of the project?

Lisa: Usually, yes. All magazines enjoy a project with a good story behind it, but some magazines are more people-oriented than others. BH&G and Traditional Home both require that homeowners are interviewed and photographed as part of the friendly factor those magazines really like. Other publications like Beautiful Kitchens aren’t as concerned with that sort of thing, and in fact, a homeowner can be anonymous.

Sherry:What are magazines looking for these days?

Lisa: Not surprisingly, budget projects are particularly popular. Two of my favorite articles this year were kitchens for Kitchens & Bath Makeovers; one was a whole room done for under $20,000 and the other for under $9,000—both so inspirational. Anytime a homeowner has furnished a house in a clever way by saving money—whether through flea-market shopping or repurposing old things—that makes for a good story.  But I still need upscale projects for Traditional Home, Decor and Beautiful Kitchens & Baths, so I look at a large range of things.
Magazine editors really respond to color, by the way. There’s just nothing like a room with colors that pop to get someone’s attention.  We all love those kitchens with cream-colored cabinets and marble countertops, for instance, but magazines need to show ideas beyond that.
Individual rooms that are special can work, too. A master bath renovation, screened porch addition, maybe even an art studio…it’s fine to send me just one-room that shows a lot of ideas. Kids’s rooms aren’t as much in demand, though, unfortunately; they are usually shown only in the context of a whole house.

Sherry:  Do you have a certain decorating style that you favor?

Lisa: It’s fun to see houses that reflect an owner’s personality, more than 
anything. I also  like “the mix”: rooms that are maybe 75% traditional, and 25% modern, or half and half. It’s great to see a house successfully mix all different styles, eras and price points—which is really hard, I know! The interior design world is so comparable to fashion these days, where you can choose trendy accessories like funky jewelry or cool boots to spice things up, but other parts of your wardrobe can be classic, even sort of plain.

Sherry:What do you think every room needs?

Lisa: Every room needs some sort of art to make it more alive, I believe. I love the energy that a great painting can add to a room. There’s nothing like a modern painting in a formal dining room, or conversely, I love the juxtaposition of an oil landscape in an ornate gold frame next to an acrylic “ghost” chair.  Art doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, either. It’s so cool when people frame something inexpensive in multiples—what a great look. I was in a house recently where the homeowners converted dozens of family photos to black and white, then put them in green frames from Ikea and hung in the stairwell.

Sherry:  Who/What inspires you to run and make a change in your own home?

Lisa: I’m more of a “crawler” than a runner when it comes to my own house, I must admit. I was in the Yves Delorme outlet store in Chattanooga last week and told them that the bed linens I bought there 12 years ago (for a bargain) are still on my bed and I can’t see changing them anytime soon—which I know sounds boring for someone in the business. The fun I have in my job is seeing what other people do with their vision, but I’m OK with my house only being a B+. 
I did recently redo my living room to make it less stuffy, though: out came an Oriental rug and I replaced it with a seagrass one, and on one wall I have an oversized distressed mirror leaning casually to bring in a little height, while next to it is a real hodgepodge of art—different sizes of paintings and items I’ve collected over the years, but even stuff from Ballard’s Back Room—that my husband was patient enough to hang, gallery-style.
My house is very much “real life,” though; last night my 13-year-old son and five of his friends were plopped down in our family room watching football, complete with tennis shoes on the ottoman, so there’s nothing prissy in my house—out of necessity.

Sherry:  What design trends do you think are too saturated?

Lisa: That’s such an interesting question, because these days, with everyone having access to design websites and blogs, we all see hundreds more images than we ever did before. The life cycle of a trend is a lot shorter because of it, so almost everything good is subject to over-saturation. For example: about seven or eight years ago I first noticed “rustic chic” and it seemed so fresh: the chandeliers made out of wine barrel staves, or the coffee tables made from old carts with reclaimed wood and wheels—you and I talked about this. I love all that, but now I see it everywhere and all the catalogs and stores have so much of it—so like other things, rustic chic is over-saturated, unfortunately.
When people ask me what the “hot” colors are that they should use in their house, I tell them to stick with whatever colors make them happy. Because whatever is hot right this minute—whether its coral or turquoise or greige—will most likely be over-saturated in two years (although I’m old enough to know that it will come back in style at some point.)

Lisa sent me some pictures with comments as to why these were chosen.

Lisa:  This is Jane Armour's own house; she owns Armour Home in Virginia Highlands, a fabulous store to check out, if you haven't already.  What editors liked:  Her style is all about what she loves and has collected over the years, not some "set" decorating rules.  In fact she breaks a few rules: layering the art on top of each other on the fireplace mantel, and placing a zebra rug on top of the sisal.  Jayme's got a lot of fun color in her house too; everything is unexpected.

Lisa:  Editors loved this bathroom done on a budget by Sherry Hart [hee hee...plug for me! Thanks, Lisa!]  The wallpaper is like giant art to make the room cozy and interesting, plus each of the bathroom elements is just right size-wise.  In this case, Sherry told me the budget right away, which totally helped sell the project.

Lisa:  Here is a  Jill Van Tosh project that was interesting because it was a garage apartment that she turned into a teen hangout.  She captured what a teenage boy would like, and included some interesting features:  the revolving TV/media stand, salvaged wood used for beams and closets for character.  The orange kitchenette is Italian-cool. 

 Lisa:  Here is a DIY kitchen:  Lots of fun colors and ideas galore [the countertops are from an old bowling alley in Tucker!] for a Grant Park kitchen that was renovated for under a thousand.

Lisa:   A Suzanne Kasler/Spitzmiller & Norris kitchen that ran in Beautiful Kitchens. What gives this cream kitchen real style: the beautiful window treatment and an antique table as island, for starters. It also helps that it's not a huge room; we all respond to cozy spaces.

Thanks to Lisa for giving us this insight on getting published and what they are looking for. I know you all can use this valuable information because  I have seen so many talented people  out in "blogland"!  I will tell you this:  Take the best pictures you can.  Look in magazines for inspiration on how to stage the area a little.  Flowers...duh!  Take pictures of areas.  When you try to take the whole room, it looks busy and cluttered sometimes.  If you can afford it [or do a trade out!] hire a professional photographer.  Remember, you have that one opportunity to grab their attention.


Courtney said...

Wow. What great advice. Thanks for doing this interview and sharing it with all of us.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! I loved reading it all and just discovered your blog . Love it!

Julie Holloway said...

What a post, Sherry! So fun to read....and of course I love the subject. Great information from Lisa and I loved getting to know her better (and seeing your awesome bathroom)

My Interior Life said...

It's always good to know what goes on behind the scenes. I too am a magazine-a-holic (maybe I need a 12-step program) so this is right up my alley. Thanks, Sherry!

L.Duncan@Home23DuncanBoys said...

Thanks Sherry and Lisa for this post! I'm going to bookmark this:-)

Emily A. Clark said...

Sherry--Loved reading this. The whole process fascinates me. I feel like my house will never be "ready" enough to submit. . . Maybe in another 15 years or so :)

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

Very interesting. I have always wondered how homes get picked for magazine spreads.

Dwellings by DeVore said...

Thanks for sharing! Great Post!

Karena said...

Sherry very smart and a wonderful interview!!

Be sure to come and enter my fabulous Giveaway from Metis Linens!

Art by Karena

Deserae said...

Very informative! Thanks for sharing :o)

Unknown said...

Wow Sherry...great interview! And, I am in love with Jane's house!

Unknown said...

Thank you for the amazing interview! What an inspiration.

René said...

Great post Sherry! Very interesting how this whole thing works.


Unknown said...

I just found your blog through Julie at Milk and Honey home. She suggested I might try getting my house pictures published and that you had just done a post on how to go about it. I'm not sure if my house is magazine ready or not but loved reading your interview and feel more confident in how to go about getting pictures submitted- thanks so much- will definitely be following your blog!

Privet and Holly said...

Sherry, you put SO much
hard work into this post
and it absolutely shines!
I've SEEN that bathroom
of yours in a magazine and
it is awesome. In fact, this
whole article was really
amazing....LOVED hearing what
Lisa had to say! I have
a friend locally who scouts
for BH&G and she asked me
if I had any friends who had
homes that might be right for
them and now I have a better
idea of what they are looking
for...and a friend in mind : )
Thanks, Sherry!
xx Suzanne

Joan W. Page said...

HI Sherry,
Lisa is a friend of mine here in the Marietta area and it was so fun and informative to see this career side of Lisa's life...Both you and Lisa are incredibly creative and talented and I will share your blog with everyone I know.

Velvet and Linen said...

This is a great interview! Thank you so much for sharing the link on my blog :)


ABC Dragoo said...

Wow, such valuable information! You should tweet this with the #GetPublished hashtag - I know a lot of interior designers would love to read it!

I just RT'd it in my stream, but there were not enough characters to add the hashtag :(

Vanessa@decor happy said...

Sherry, how did I miss this post last year? This was just tweeted and I'm so glad it was. Great interview with solid advice. Thanks for sharing this. By the way, are you on twitter?

becky said...

So happy I found this post (somehow, the rabbit hole went from Annette Joseph on facebook, to bloglovin', then here). Armour and Co. is one of my very favorite shops (about 2 blocks from my home) and I remember seeing that bowling alley counter kitchen back on flickr way back when, and then losing track of them - wow, so much fun to see the results. Thanks for this post, great interview :)

AJ @ Happy Misadventures said...

I was doing a little research on freelance writing and stumbled on this interview. So helpful, and how lucky that you were able to snag the interview! Can I ask how it came about?

After doing a bit more reading on your blog I became a follower. I'm looking forward to reading more from you!

A Perfect Gray said...

awesome piece, sherry. thanks for helping lisa share all this great info. donna

sixteen fourteen said...

This is such great information for a newbie like me...I'm nowhere near ready to be published, but I love to see the process laid out so completely. Thank you so much!

Abby M. Interiors said...

Just re-reading this interview. Thank you for taking the time to put this together. I know it was a lot of work. Well done!

Mike said...

I can imagine how gratifying it most be. I'm happy for you. You should try to get featured in another magazine. You do great work.

Unknown said...

Very good blog post Sherry! Highly important the correct way it whole entire item runs.Thanks for sharing your informative and amazing post, I hope everyone will be benefited if they read all of your post. Please write more for us as we learn more. Thanks again,
Take Care

Sharon Barrett Interiors said...

I have been a longtime reader of your blog and Instagram follower and somehow I missed this post. I have been trying to find emails of editors about having my own home published and I sent Lisa an email. Thank you so much for the information and time you took to compile it!!


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