Why You Shouldn’t Compare Your Home to Magazine Pictures

posted by Andrea | 08/18/2012

I’m sure at some point, we’ve all thumbed through home decore magazines and wished our homes looked even half as lovely as the stunning homes in those photographs.

Or maybe I’m the only one? 

I do realize that with a limited budget, it would be nearly impossible to achieve the exact same results… but it sure is fun to dream, isn’t it!

It’s also {at least in my experience} extremely easy to feel disheartened by the fact that our homes never seem to be as clean, as organized, as fun, as creative, or as impressive as the photos in those magazines.

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However, I was recently amazed to learn first-hand how those stunning magazine photos are actually “crafted” and “set up” to look so beautiful and perfect….

A blogging friend of mine {who I’m not going to name or link to} recently had an amazing opportunity to have her home photographed by a major magazine {which I’m also not going to name}.

This friend has a fabulous home, impeccable taste, and is probably one of the most creative and most organized people I’ve ever met. So naturally, I was not super surprised when she announced her exciting news.

But I WAS surprised that about a week before the big photo shoot, boxes and boxes of decorations, furniture, rugs, and other accessories started arriving at her home. Apparently her home wasn’t quite up to the “perfect” standards of this magazine, and they basically ended up redecorating and rearranging much of her home before they took any pictures.

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The magazine also shipped in loads of fresh flowers the morning of the photo shoot so every room was lavishly filled with exotic and colorful blooms.

Not only were many of the decorations, accessories, and furniture pieces added by the magazine, they also had to move a bunch of my friend’s furniture out — and the photographers even took the screens out of the windows so they could take pictures from outside (making the rooms look bigger).

After all of that, the magazine still spent a bunch of time editing the pictures so they were literally perfect.

Of course, the magazine spread was fabulous — but it wasn’t really HER house, and it certainly wasn’t practical or achievable for “normal” people.

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So the next time you catch yourself drooling over magazine photos or wondering why your house doesn’t ever look THAT nice… just remember that you actually live in your home!

And incase you’re wondering… this is what our living room looks like right now.

Definitely not magazine worthy — but Nora sure loves crawling up on the pillow and blanket “wall” we built so she wouldn’t bump into the piles of wood flooring :)

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16 comments

  1. Colleen

    08/18/2012

    Love this! Thanks for the insight into how they achieve those great pictures!

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  2. LP

    08/18/2012

    I imagine they also don’t have cats in magazines. You know, the ones who throw up EVERY DAY and leave half their fur on your carpet.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — no, I’m sure those magazine houses don’t have any animals that shed :)

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  3. Deni

    08/18/2012

    Thank you for your honesty! I think we all get caught up in making our homes look perfect like the magazines but then feel like we fall short of perfection because we have real working homes with families. I want our home to be beautiful but not to the point where guests feel like they can’t be comfortable and relax.

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  4. Mandi @ Life Your Way

    08/18/2012

    That’s nuts! When our home was photographed for WV Living (which is obviously a smaller publication), we didn’t do any of this, but we certainly did spend the week before cleaning like crazy and touching things up, so even that was a bit unrealistic!

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  5. Alana @ Domestic Bliss Diaries

    08/18/2012

    Wow! I knew they probably send fresh flowers and maybe did a little tweaking, but overhauling an already amazing house for a photo shoot is a bit ridiculous. If I were the homeowner, I think I’d be highly offended. Honestly, I had this goal of decorating my home to the point that it would one day be worthy of my favorite magazine (which, if I’m thinking of the same blogger/magazine situation you are, that one was my fav!). However, after learning how much her home was changed, I don’t think this is a goal of mine anymore! I’d rather decorate however I want and not worry about some silly magazine.

    Thank you for this honest look!

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  6. Five4FiveMeals

    08/18/2012

    That is reassuring. Although my house is barely even clean! Nora sounds like such a hoot!

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  7. Sandy

    08/18/2012

    I believe it. I rarely see any photograph that I believe to be ‘real’ or ‘natural’.
    I’ve seen food shoots to make the food look more appetizing (fast food burgers). The real food from those places never looks like the pic on the billboard, commercial or magazine.
    Even my best flowers have bugs, specks of dirt, torn petals, etc. Photographed ones rarely do.
    So why would it be any different with a home? A house is a structure, but a home is where you live.
    Thanks for keeping it real for us Andrea……organized, neat, lovely and REAL.

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  8. evelyn

    08/18/2012

    Great story! Thanks for the reminder that although real life is messy, it doesnt have to be staged to be beautiful. Lovin’ my home!

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  9. Doreen@househoneys

    08/18/2012

    Pretty much anything and everything we see in magazines has been tweaked to the
    point it squeals like a pig. That includes homes and more notably, models. Heck, even I can be made to look almost human given the right photographer and photoshop. Ahhhhh…the wonders of technology. Me likey ;).

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  10. Patrina

    08/18/2012

    Thanks for sharing this.I too had this realization after reading your friends blog about the shoot. I couldn’t believe it either as her home is beautiful in my opinion. It was def a reality check about those photos in magazines that are supposed to be of people’s homes. Now I know why I can never duplicate them. LOL

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  11. Teresa

    08/18/2012

    My Mother In Law had the same experience–her house has been shot a few times and they completely re-arranged things. It was upsetting to her and she will probably not have them back. Her home is gorgeous the way it is but not “enough” for magazine standards.

    Thanks for posting your living room :) Makes mine {with the lego mess} look not quite so crazy :):) Good luck on your kitchen project! It will be so fabulous when done!

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  12. Hilda @ From Overwhelmed To Organized

    08/19/2012

    I get frustrated sometimes even comparing my house to pics in blogs but I have to just keep reminding myself that even blog photos are staged to some degree and that I’m just seeing a snapshot of a moment of a person’s life. (I laugh when people think my house must be amazing based on blog pics… if they only say the mess I just shoved out of the way to take those pictures!). Thanks for the reminder to keep things in perspective and thanks for keeping things real on your blog!

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  13. thecleverspender

    08/23/2012

    I so needed this! Thank you! I have to remember that as long as my family and I are comfortable in our home, it’s good enough!

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  14. Enie

    11/19/2012

    Interesting post!.

    Wow that particular magazine really went to town with the staging!

    We had a photo shoot for a magazine in our house yesterday. It was really enjoyable and I especially liked to see how the stylist worked. I took a few pictures of the behind the scenes for my blog. I can’t wait to see how the photos look when they get published!

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  15. greenminimalism

    07/05/2013

    Another beautiful post Andrea. I think that lots of people shouldn’t even consider buying houses at all right now, it’s a bad market and magazines always over represent things as you point out. http://greenminimalism.com/2013/07/05/dont-buy-a-home-9-reasons-not-to/

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