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How to Style Your Home Like a Magazine Shoot

Danny Seo Shares His House Styling Secrets!

I'm excited to present a post from guest writer, eco lifestyle expert, and all-around awesome guy Danny Seo.

As a former magazine editor, I produced and styled dozens of decorating and entertaining stories for a number of publications including Country Home, Better Homes & Gardens, Elle, Everyday With Rachael Ray, and InStyle. Every shoot was different than the next one in terms of style and goal, but I still stuck to my bargain basement styling secrets to pull them off. For the first time ever, I'm sharing my Top 5 tips to get that magazine look for way less right here at CasaSugar.

Goodwill, Salvation Army and Thrift Shops! Tarnished silver-plated ornate trays, milky glass bottles and vases, and vintage style plates to adorn an entire wall can be very pricey if you shop at antique stores to source them. Thrift stores — especially those in small towns across America — can be a treasure trove of unusual home decor items at a fraction of the cost. One celebrity client whose home I styled for a magazine shoot was insistent nothing from Goodwill could enter her home, so I simply wrapped my thrift store finds in tissue paper and tossed it into an Anthropologie shopping bag. She loved it. Can you believe that half the items on the dining table came from Goodwill?

Brown Thumb? Rent Plants. One way to make a patio or garden look lush and gorgeous is to rent mature palm trees and flowering bushes. If you're planning to have an outdoor party but don't want the cost of expensive plants, ask your local nursery if they'll rent them to you. At about 10 -20 percent of cost, they'll deliver the plants, set them up, and take them away after the party (or in my case, the photo shoot).


Keep reading for the rest of Danny's tips for styling your house so it looks like it's in the pages of a magazine!

Edit Down. See three large things, take one away. See four small things, take one away. That's the rule of thumb when it comes to styling a photo shoot. If there are three countertop appliances in the kitchen, take one away. If there are four small trinkets on a bedroom side table, take one away since objects of three read better as a collection than four. Constantly editing your own personal objects and purging them (donate them to charity or sell them on Ebay) is an easy way to keep your home looking more magazine-worthy and less pre-Hoarders. My cottage house kitchen, seen below, was shot for Country Home magazine; we took away several small appliances to make the kitchen feel efficient, tidy and organized.

Group 'Em Together In my open kitchen cabinets at home, I grouped clear glass tableware into one section, white ceramic in another and metallic silver items in the last open set of cabinets. The effect is organized, dramatic and cohesive.And by painting the back of the cabinets black, all of the items popped even more against the soft gray painted cabinets. Big collections of books can also be organized this way (although bibliophiles may disagree) by arranging them in rows of colors, starting with the lightest (white) to the darkest (black).

(Seen above: Stripes of books in actress and client Kerry Washington's LA home make a collection cohesive and interesting.)

One Weird Thing I'm a big believer that every photo from a photo shoot needs to have one weird thing in the photo. Something unique, personal, collected, unusual, or curated. That can be draping jewelry around the neck of a wooden deer head mounted on the wall. Or a collection of vintage cowboy badges casually dropped into a silver metal bowl on the foyer table. Even framed break up letters found in a junk store arranged gallery style on a wall. That's the difference between Catalog Living and Magazine Living and keeps any home always interesting.

This chain store oriental rug was given some personality by making it into a bear "skin" rug. It's my one weird thing at my cottage house living room.

Thanks for the tips, Danny! I know I'll be incorporating them into my own home decor — will you?

Elka-Karl Elka-Karl 5 years
Edit down is such a great tip — and one I'm constantly working to embody at my house. These tips are so great, Danny! Thanks. 
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