From Pillow Shams to Kitchen Tiles: Shelter Magazine Markets By Kristine Hansen

If you haven’t noticed, “shelter” (home design) magazines have grabbed a strong seat in the magazine-publishing arena, offering writers many opportunities to report on the latest in, for example, pillow shams, kitchen tiles or lawn furniture.

Here’s a snapshot of what the newest titles gracing newsstands are: New York Spaces, Cottage Living, Natural Home, Dwell, Backyard Living and Inspired Home. Long-standing glossies like InStyle and O launched a “homes” version of their magazine this year, too. Even magazines like Organic Style, Coastal Living and Budget Living include a couple of features in each issue about a family or couple with a unique, beautiful home.

There is a magazine devoted to just about every kind of living space, from Victorians to cabins to solar homes. Just look around your neighborhood – there’s certain to be a story on your block, or even buried in the mental sketches of your dream home. Take a look at television shows, too, like Trading Spaces, Home Makeover and anything on Home & Garden Television. Americans are increasingly more concerned about staying at home, and creating a safe, cozy haven to raise their families and relax on the weekends.

The publication I edit, Milwaukee Home, looks for queries from writers who have a passion for architecture or design, and know when a home has personality. You don’t have to be an architect or designer, but you should be able to walk into a house and tell a story about its mood and fashion, using words that captivate. The style of writing is intimate (and often includes quotes from homeowners about the nest they tried to build). A site visit is always necessary for a feature about a home.

There are two ways to approach getting published in a home-design title. The cover stories, which are longer than department articles, often feature a family or individual in their home environment. Or, if you are skilled at how-to articles, business profiles or critical pieces, consider pitching a shorter article that, for example, introduces readers to an innovative furniture designer or gives them 10 quick tips in handling a project.

When creating your queries, here are some pointers. Pictures tell a thousand words, especially when it comes to art or furnishings. If you have a digital camera, attach “scouting shots” to your e-mail query, or if you are mailing your proposal, enclose some photos. Not only does it tell the story, but it lets the editor know you have spoken with the homeowner or subject and they are likely going to go along with the article’s production, and work with the magazine’s staff in either arranging a photo shoot or submitting professional-quality images.

How can you find subjects? Is there a home or garden tour in your community? If so, buy a ticket and bring your notepad and camera with you. Contact local architects, or those you know possess a specialty (such as “green” design or Victorian-inspired living environments). And, don’t forget your friendly roster of friends, family, co-workers and community acquaintances. What kind of homes have they made for themselves?

Another market for home-design articles are daily newspapers and regional glossy magazines. Check your local paper; chances are, there is a weekly section celebrating food or homes. Send the editor of that section a few article pitches and you may have an assignment!

And, finally, don’t forget about the lush green surrounding a home. Many shelter magazines devote a significant portion of their pages to articles on seeding, planting and designing a garden. Don’t forget to keep your eyes and ears opens for those trends, too.

American Northwest Vintage Homes
Pays $25-$150
Market Listing:

Cabin Life
Pays on acceptance. Amount depends on experience/effort required.

Chesapeake Home
Pay rates not published in guidelines.

Coastal Living
Pays $1/word.

Decor & Style
Pays $100-$250
Market Listing:

Guidelines not online. Contact info. at:

Natural Home
Pays $0.33-$0.50/word

Midwest Living
Pays $0.80-$1.00/word

Mountain Living
Pay rates not published in guidelines. Offers 15% kill fee.

Seattle Homes and Lifestyles Magazine
Pays $125-$375
Market Listing:

Kristine Hansen is the assistant editor of Milwaukee Home, which won a Gold award from Folio in the Consumer Shelter category in 2004 and began publishing in January of 2004. A freelance writer since 1999, she has published articles in Organic Style, Bark, Milwaukee Magazine and LowCarb Energy, and in building-industry magazines like Wisconsin Builder, Colorado Construction Review and Energy Decisions.