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Sara Peterson, editor in chief of HGTV Magazine, took time out of her hectic, making-a-brand-new-magazine schedule to talk to me about what it was like to see this project come to life.

Sara Peterson

Sara Peterson at home. Photo by: Squire Fox

LZ: Can you tell our readers in a nutshell what it’s like to create a magazine from scratch?
SP: It’s exhilarating, but also a lot of work! We spent months thinking about and discussing all the reasons people love HGTV, and then how to translate this hugely popular TV network into a fun, fresh, new kind of home/lifestyle magazine that was unlike anything else out there. Some days, I watch so many HGTV shows that I’m surprised my DVR hasn’t exploded.

LZ: What was your biggest accomplishment?
Getting the magazine out with a cover that I’m proud of—it says fun, fast makeovers in big colorful letters. I love that cover line, and I’m hoping that will speak to a lot of HGTV fans.

LZ: In one word, how would you describe HGTV Magazine?
SP: Happy.

LZ: Is there any particular story that’s your absolute favorite from the inaugural issue?
SP: That’s like trying to name your favorite child! I can’t do it. We put 100% effort into every single story. That I can tell you!

LZ: Tell us a little bit about your staff: Where do they come to the magazine from?
SP: One day the whole staff talked about where we grew up and all the places we’ve lived. We hit on every part of the country—the South, the Midwest, the East Coast, and the West. We’re a very diverse staff, which is so important when you’re creating a national magazine that needs to speak to homeowners and renters everywhere.

LZ: What’s the best part about your new digs in the eco-friendly Hearst Tower?
SP: The views are incredible. We’re on the 35th floor (the Hearst Tower is in Midtown Manhattan, at 57th Street and 8th Avenue), and we face south, so on a clear day, we can see all the way downtown and a long stretch of the Hudson River. I also like that we have an open floor plan in our office, and the offices all have glass walls. It’s a team effort to create a magazine, and this openness makes constant collaboration even easier. We talk face-to-face with one another more than we email. I appreciate that.

LZ: Any sneak peeks or secrets from the magazine you can share with our readers?
SP: We photographed Sarah Richardson’s farmhouse in Canada—but not just the rooms. We sneaked around and took photos inside her closets, inside her kitchen cabinets, in her medicine cabinets. Sarah has such amazing style, so it’s great to get her tips for making a family home extra comfy—but it’s also really fun to find out what’s in her pantry, what’s in her coat closet, even what’s under her kitchen sink! Also: David’s Bromstad’s current paint color obsessions. Who doesn’t want to know those?!

67 Responses

  1. Lisa says:

    I have been searching around to see where I can get a copy of the debut magazine (I just ordered online), but to no avail. That would be a great benefit to fans – to be able to search distribution by zip.

    • Lili@HGTV says:

      Hi Lisa. I just checked out the Hearst website (who publishes the magazine) to see if I could find something like you're looking for. This is their FAQ for the magazine. If the answer isn't here, you might be able to find out where they're distributing by calling their customer service number: https://w1.buysub.com/pubs/HR/HGT/FAQ.jsp?lsid=12

      Hope that helps!

      • Lisa says:

        Thanks, I had looked at that page but still didn't find the info. I ended up calling my local Barnes & Noble, and although they were suppose to have it, had yet to receive it. I will keep checking. Appreciate the reply!

  2. Ronique Gibson says:

    Sarah, I commend you and the HGTV magazine staff for such a remarkable undertaking! The magazine is beautiful and I just looked through it last week. Being a home interiors professional blogger myself, I marvel at being able to make articles and images come alive for the readers. I interviewed Carole King from Heart Home magazine for Freshome.com this week, and she shared similar thoughts as yours. Congrats Sarah for the fruition of a great product. Thanks for embarking on a quest, that all of us are excited to enjoy regularly! :)

  3. r4i card says:

    I just checked out the Hearst website (who publishes the magazine) to see if I could find something like you're looking for.
    r4i card

  4. Sue Edwards says:

    Hi…Got my copy of HGTV magazine yesterday … wantedto share my thoughts by completing survey …. BUT …. survey.hgtv.com/magazine … doesn't exist !!! Can't find " the survey" anywhere???

  5. Suzy says:

    I am trying to find the colored wooden hangers Sara Peterson uses in her closet. Did she paint them or buy them? I bought my Premiere issue at Publix Grocery in the Atlanta area.

  6. V. Filipasic says:

    Hello Sara, I'd like to send you a few suggestions that would make the HGTV Magazine even more inviting to open in the first few pages…. The beautiful flower house-frame from page 14 would have made the perfect border for the yellow Front Door from your online photo contributions- and the "COME ON IN!" banner would be the perfect title as the entrance to invite your future subscribers to HGTV Magazine on page 2! The "Cover Star" alternate couch photos from page 10 would have made a greater impact by including it on page 5, right after the Table of Contents. Also, one more editing suggestion for your Magazine Design Team is to include your Editorial Staff Column next to your "Five HGTV Magazine Mottos" and condense your own Editor's Notes and Makeover photos- all onto one page…page 6!

  7. V. Filipasic says:

    Hello again Sara,
    David Bromstad had a great spread on his "Color Splash" TV show and behind -the -scenes photos. However, there was only a minor helping of Genevieve Gorder's design tips in different areas. A major article on her show was very much lacking since she was featured on your magazine cover. I hope to see more of her and Miss Sabrina Soto in future editions ( I love her in the Target commercials!)
    I hope your magazine continues to do well after your Premiere Issue! I look forward to seeing more in-depth design content along with the colorful presentations. Thank you.

  8. Pat Hollenbeck says:

    Loved the magazine!!! I would really like to see a few more in-depth articles, maybe Cari Cucksey and her 'do's & don'ts' of estate shopping–I know what I like, but I need lots more information! I thought the article about Scooter, Hank, Bob and Schmoos' house was very good–nicely decorated home. From what I could see, Verns' house, however, needs a little work. (You might have him check with Hank and the guys to see who their decorator was.) Seriously, what you're doing is quite refreshing. I would love to see a renovation that you (perhaps) follow month to month?–that covers more than one room?–and maybe find a couple who financially and physically just can't do it themselves?–maybe an older couple? (Might be fun to watch them enjoying their later years with some new, more 'accessible' rooms.) Just a thought. . . I enjoyed seeing the properties for sale in other parts of the country. Hope this will be a regular feature. I do think the variety of short articles is perfect for those who don't have the time to read the entire magazine in one sitting. My opinion? Premier Issue? Well done!! Thank you!

  9. kathy semrau says:

    I received my first copy of HGTV Magazine. Love it, love it! I did try to enter the Magazine Survey online
    to no avail. Any clues as to how I might gain access to that. The magazine is everything & more of
    what I hoped for.

  10. Doris K. Silas/Lewis says:

    I loved everything about this informative magazine. The front cover was so colorful and bright, also two of my favorite things to do was on the cover, Fantasy House Hunter & Fast Makeovers 83 super-easy ways to perk up A room. I really liked (Just One Question) it gave insight to what my favorite host's think about something that could happen to anyone at any time. It just show's me their other side not a T.V. Superstar, but an ordinary person just like me. Also I really loved Sabrina Soto's High/Low List it actually showed me both of the high/low items & gives me the information where I can go and purchase either item, I really love that fact. I really do like the size of the magazine it's larger than a regular magazine and all of the photos inside are just clear, colorful and marvelous!!!

Lili ZarghamiLili is Editorial Director of HGTV.com. Her personal obsessions include looking for just the right sofa, ogling real estate listings, and reading floor-plans. She has an admitted "chair problem," collecting...


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