Decorating & Design

September 13, 2013

House & Home at IDSwest 2013

Ever wondered how a narrow townhouse becomes a stunning eight-page feature in House & Home magazine?

Join Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Dimma and VP Communications Mark Challen at the IDSwest stage on Saturday, September 21 at 4 p.m., where they’ll take you behind the scenes of Canada’s magazine of home and style.

From big international photo shoots to intricate prop styling, there’s an incredible amount of work that goes into Canada’s top design magazine and website. Suzanne and Mark will talk about what makes a home truly memorable, and will share their styling secrets and favourite go-to pieces. Plus, they’ll tell you how to submit photos of your own home to the H&H team for editorial consideration.

I recently sat down with Mark and asked him three questions to get a sneak peek into some of the highlights from his upcoming presentation with Suzanne.

EMILY:You’ve spoken at IDSwest with Suzanne before. Why did you choose to give a talk about what it’s like behind-the-scenes at H&H this year?

MARK: This is Suzanne’s third year at IDSwest and it’ll be my fourth. We love Vancouver! When we spoke at the show in past years, we found that there were always so many enthusiastic designers and homeowners who approached us afterwards, asking us how to get their homes published in House & Home. So this year, instead of giving a talk about decorating or trends or design lessons, we thought it’d be fun for people to hear about how Suzanne and her team of editors go about in selecting homes for the magazine, and what kinds of things they specifically look for.

Click here to see Suzanne and Mark’s favourite finds from IDSwest last year.

EMILY: Sounds like valuable info! Can you give me a hint of what the H&H editors look for when browsing through piles of photo submissions?

MARK: Obviously they’re not looking for sterile homes with no signs of life! Suzanne and I always talk about the idea of “personality decorating,” and we agree that the best homes have to be real reflections of their owners. Sometimes, the quirkier the better! I know that Suzanne loves it when she finds a home that has a really strong point of view.

A colourful doorway painted golden yellow is filled with personality. See the whole home in the October 2013 issue of House & Home.

EMILY: At IDSwest, will you talk about how finished or complete a home has to be in order for the editors to consider it for publication in H&H?

MARK: Absolutely! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Suzanne and her team didn’t have to do any extra propping before a photo shoot? Usually, of course, this isn’t the case. People who come to hear our talk at IDSwest will get a better understanding of how much extra decorating or styling our editors do to get a home ready for its close up. It’s a fascinating process, really — a total collaboration between the homeowner or the designer, and our amazing design editors. We’ve got some fun split-screen images that we’ll show, featuring a room before our H&H editors propped it for the magazine, and after.

This camera-ready Toronto home of Philip Mitchell (featured in the August 2009 issue of House & Home) was styled to perfection by the designer himself.

EMILY: Aside from your “Behind-The-Scenes With H&H” discussion at IDSwest, will you be talking about any general design tips or advice?

MARK: Definitely! Even though our readers and fans of H&H seem to know their design basics these days thanks to their insatiable appetite for design, Suzanne always has great new advice to give. She sees so many homes over the course of a year — she’s got lots of cool things to share with the crowd at IDSwest since we were last there! I don’t want to give too much more away, but I can tell you that Suzanne is going to be giving a quick lesson on how to achieve great flow in a home. Flow represents a successful marriage of smart spatial planning with thoughtful materials. But you’ll have to come to our talk at IDSwest to hear more!

The indoor/outdoor flow is a marvel in the stunning basement of H&H editor Sally Armstrong. See the whole makeover in the September 2013 issue of House & Home.

Suzanne Dimma and Mark Challen’s presentation, “Behind the Scenes with House & Home” is at IDSwest on Saturday, September 21 at 4 p.m.

For show times and tickets, please visit