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Editors are saying the farmhouse is over. They want color. The bolder the better.
Your clients, however, are clamoring for the farmhouse.
What’s a designer to do?
If you’re aware of the PR farmhouse dilemma, you feel frustrated. You’re stuck between a rock and a beige place.
But here is the good news. There is a way to keep clients happy and get noticed by editors at the big design bible publications.
As a former editor who has received more than 100,000 pitches over a 20-year magazine career, I have seen designers’ careers stagnate and I’ve also seen careers go stratospheric. The only difference between the two? Knowing exactly how to stand out in an editor’s inbox, regardless of the design trends du jour.
And right now, that means understanding how elevate yourself beyond the sea of vanilla farmhouses that are currently flooding editors’ inboxes.
Here are five very specific ways to get noticed — and published — in top design magazines, websites, podcasts and more.
1. Stage the rainbow
Plan for photography that will impress editors: Meet with your photographer and stylist (if you’re hiring one) and have scouting shots ready to reference. Collectively strategize which elements will move out of frame for photo day, and what will come in. Prepare your clients for this well in advance by letting them know that many of their possessions will move out of specific rooms for the day (or two days, depending on the shoot). In their place? Color. Pillows, blankets, rugs, art, books, accessories, flowers and more.
Use a stylist. Or not. Buy these items. Or not. “Shop” your own home or friends’ homes for pops of color. Just get the color in.
Pro tip: Do not repeat staging elements in different shots. For example, if you have a beautiful ceramic vase filled with pink peonies in the living room, don’t use it for the dining table shot as well. Editors want the styling elements unique to each space.
2. Create a zoo-m room
Bring an animal into your farmhouse project. A dog, cat, turtle, chicken, goat. Whatever your client will agree to. The species does not matter.
What does matter is how animals activate your farmhouse with a burst of unexpected joy and delight for the editor on the receiving end of the pitch.
A dog resting on a bed is great. A goat breezing through a courtyard is fabulous. A chicken strutting across a counter? Even better. These are the animal moments that will get your project noticed — and published.
Pro Tip: For every shot with an animal, repeat that exact same setup without it. This gives more options when it comes time for the magazine designer to layout your story.
3. Mine the PR gold of your project
Editors receive farmhouse pitches all day, every day. But they rarely receive a compelling backstory to go with it.
Backstories can come in many forms. Maybe it is the “why” the clients moved to this house or state. Maybe it is in the “when” the project was being designed (a global pandemic paused all construction, so clients lived in an onsite trailer for six months). Maybe a single object is the unsung hero of the home? A grandfather clock that went down generations, through wars and across oceans to now track time from the foyer?
Pro Tip: Start with the story. It is always the best way to unlock the PR potential of your work.
4. Put yourself in the farmhouse
One of the most important components to getting published? You. When you appear in a photo of your project, you give editors what they want.
Of those 100,000 pitches I received, the great majority of them — I’m talking more than 99,000 — failed to include the key component to a successful pitch: an image of the designer who created the project.
Editors want more than just the what. The who is critical to move from delete folder to published page. Nothing brings more joy to a design editor’s inbox than seeing you in the space that you created. Wear something colorful. Or not. Wear fancy shoes. Or not. It doesn’t matter. Here are the only rules: Look your best and get in frame.
Pro Tip: When setting up your portrait, make sure the photographer gets all of you. Editors do not want a headshot. They want a full-body portrait of you where they can also see the environment. Sit on a chaise. Stand next to a kitchen island. Lean onto the bottom half of a Dutch door.
5. Prepare for tomorrow’s farmhouse
It’s coming. Another design trend. Chip and Jo will eventually be dethroned. Another design style will take over. And then editors’ inboxes will be flooded with those projects.
Whatever the current trend du jour, you will always need the skill of standing out to get your work noticed — and published — by the media.