Friday, April 1, 2016

Getting the shot: Stylist Photographer Teamwork

After years of working at New England Home with the most talented photographers in the country, I was really honored with this tribute from photographer Jim Westphalen in New England Home’s ten-year anniversary issue.
While I was touched by Jim’s words, I know it’s really the teamwork of photographer and stylist that makes it all come together. Here are some of my favorite photographs for the magazine, and each one has an interesting back-story.
I love styling breakfast scenes—stacks of plates, cut cantaloupe, a newspaper, coffee, and a dreamy bunch of hydrangeas. Little things like the arrangement of the chairs are important in the layout. You can’t believe how photographers and stylists play with chairs! With its dappled light and Jim Westphalen’s dream-like focus on the tabletop, this simply styled scene became an artful image.

Some room’s cause greater challenges than others like this room in a Lake Champlain VT house.  The vertical architecture of this room was so amazing but the furniture was pushed together awkwardly, and needed rearranging.

It took some quick thinking to rearrange the furniture and rug, then bring in the cool chairs with the British flag motif. The balance of light captures both the interior and exterior lakeside setting.

My favorite room to style in any house is the kitchen. I like to create the feeling of something culinary happening without it being messy and too distracting. It’s a balance that is hard to achieve. While photographer John Bessler was getting all technical lighting issues figured out, I ran around moving props, bowls, cutting boards, food, and flowers. The placement of everything is crucial to create a balance that feels right.
Once John and I agreed on all the props, John focused on the lighting. John made everything sparkle; the beautiful light and the reflection on the floor and ceiling are no accident. Styling does not go very far without beautiful lighting.

My favorite styled shots feel as if someone is in the middle of doing something and just walked out of the room. I worked with photographer Rob Benson on this gorgeous Vermont timber frame home. I knew from the scouting shots that we needed to dress-up this informal hang-out room, so I brought all the accessories along with me. Imagining myself reading magazines with my morning coffee, I created the organized chaos you see.

It was at the end of a perfect summer day when I styled this house with photographer Laura Moss. We were winding and not even sure shooting this simple porch was worth it. Though a charming space, the table and chairs alone were not as interesting compared to the rest of well decorated home. This is where styling really made a difference. 
For fun I started working on the table to make an impromptu setting. I cut the zinnias and gathered grape tomatoes from the immense vegetable garden to make a loose centerpiece. I grabbed plates from the kitchen with casually placed napkins and cutlery. 
The open screen door added a suggestive note (imagine how different it would be with the screen door closed).
When Laura put her camera on the scene it didn’t take long for us to all fall in love with the shot. Her beautiful inside outside lighting captured that quintessential summers eve!

Here I set out to create a unique idea for a garden inspired centerpiece: After an initial sketch was approved by my editors, I headed out to gather all the right props to style the idea. Photographer Michael Partenio and I have shot hundreds of floral projects together. I loved the way he romanced this project with luminous light that brings the project to the foreground, and the background fading away to soft focus. 

 Styling is about making art. For me it’s the push-and-pull of many object until it’s just right. The photographers lighting gives the room, and the props, their form and illumination, which is the real dealmaker.
I’m fortunate to be able to work with the many great photographers that work for New England Home. I'm already planning many of my summer assignments for 2016, and I look forward to all the challenges and beautiful images we will be creating.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Style a Festive Easter Table - KIds Only!

Easter candy, Easter eggs, bunnies and baskets: This holiday is one for kids. The Easter table is a special place you can have fun.

Below are some simple ideas I created for the kid's table that you can easily recreate to make a Happy and Festive Meal!

Use double stick tape to attach crepe-paper-daisy-petals to a dyed egg.  Cut a long strip of petals from a white crepe paper party roll then wrap around the egg.  Place the egg in a jellybean filled terra cotta pot that you can find in your local crafts store. Paint the pot a pastel color. 

There are so many fun cupcake liners available. Place them in an egg cup with an added pipe cleaner handle glued to the sides.  Fill with jelly beans.

This project takes time but you will get lots of praise for the hard work. The small terra cotta pots are filled with a baked brownie cake with a crumb topping. Yes, you can bake the pot right in the oven.  Remember to use Pam!

The stem is a wood shish-kabob spear (painted green) that is pushed into the bottom of the chocolate  egg.

I made the daffodil by wrapping the foiled chocolate easter egg with yellow crepe paper.  Wrap egg to make daffodil cup sqeezing paper at bottom around stem.   With small scissors cut a strip of 5 petals first and then wrap it around the stem at bottom of cup and tape it to hold in place.
Tape green crepe paper leaves to short wood sticks and push into cake.

Have a Happy Easter Celebration!

All projects designed for Good Housekeeping Magazine. All photos by Michale Partenio.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Made with Love Valentine Vase

It's time to create something special for someone special! 
At the super market his past weekend I saw glorious miniature roses with Valentines Day written all over them.
This pint size vase is perfect for mini roses and easy to make from a deck of cards. A fun idea I designed and wanted to share for the special queen or king of hearts in your life!
To make this King of hearts vase you'll need:
7 cards of your choice
Clear tape
Hole punch
20" of 1/8 ribbon, twine or string
1 glass jigger to sit inside to hold water (hey, a jigger makes a nice gift too!)
Miniature rose plant from supermarket, cut rose stems to arrange in vase.
Fold card evenly accordion style as shown. First in half, them fold sides inward in half again. Make sure folds are as shown. Repeat with seven cards.  
* Crease folds well back and forth so they are sharp. You can also use an xacto knife to score.  It will work either way, but the xacto knife gives you a really sharp fold.
Use a hole punch to make one hole in the bottom center of each fold. 4 holes per card.
On back side of cards, starting right above the hole punch, tape all seven cards together attaching  edges.  Cut away the excess tape on the top edge.  When turned over it should look like the picture above right.
Now run the ribbon twine or string through the holes.
Tape the two end cards together on outside so you  have a finished circle!

Place the jigger inside and pull the ribbon to close bottom, knot and cut.
Voila! fill with flowers, candies or some little gift!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Crepe Paper Halloween, Back to Basics

A number of years ago, My friend, vintage Halloween collector Bruce Elsass, shared his Halloween decor books from the 1920's with me.  Looking through these books I was blown away by the creativity of earlier days. I decided crepe paper needed a revival.

With Crepe paper in mind I designed numerous Halloween projects betwen 2011 and 2013 for Good Housekeeping and Country Living magazine,  like this candy bowl elf.  Using a round piƱata as a form underneath, I made this lively creature and his hat from crepe paper rolls and folds.  Remove the hat to find the treats inside!
Then, with simple rolls of crepe paper creativley cut, I made shaped ribbons, and festooned doilys to make a fantastic table skirt to show off the candy bowl elf!  Double sided tape works wonders.

The mantle is an obvious place to play out some Halloween drama. Using Black crepe paper folds ( 2 packages for a bow this big), I fashioned a stylish funeralesque black bow.
It was time to rethink ways to hang crepe paper over the party table.  I taped the crepe paper swags to 2 long lattice strips adhered to the ceiling with sticky back velcro squares.  Gravestone slipcovers: roll of gray crepe paper, cut to chair back shape.  Staple sides and use a wide mouth magic marker for the tombstone engravings.
This adorable witches hat was taken right from the pages of a 1920's Halloween manuel. A fun new centerpiece that takes your purchased black witch hat to a new height.  Tape shredded crepe paper to inside of hat.  Use rolls of orange over a black table cloth to create a criss cross table runner.

You can buy crepe paper rolls and folds at any party store and also find larger rolls in different weights, and bigger quantities online. 

With weeks ahead to plan your Halloween event you might want to include some good old fshioned crepe paper ideas in your festivities.

All photography by Michael Partenio, projects designed amd styled by Karin Lidbeck for Good Housekeeping and Country Living magazines.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Bedroom Makeover - Between friends

I was so excited and happy when my good friend Pat Decker asked me to design the makeover of her bedroom.
Then...we were both really excited when Better Homes and Gardens magazine "REFRESH" decided they wanted to publish it.  What a great testimony to our venture!
Get the full story in this winter issue 2015

Here is how it went! When Pat called me, there were 2 major challenges with Pats bedroom:
1.  She wanted to keep all of her furniture for sentimental reasons but she also
     desperately wanted to change it.
2.  She wanted a new look, but had a small budget. Pat was uncertain about a style
     direction......except she really loved the color RED!

I set off to find a rug with a good punch of red!‎ served it up with this design we used as a bold design anchor.  The raspberry red from the rug was matched to a Rapberry red paint from www.benjaminmoore for the furniture.

It's amazing what can be transformed with Paint!
I painted all the dark wood furniture with 4 coats of gloss paint which totally transformed their look, making Pat fall back in love with them again. New Crystal knobs and nickel on everything perked up the finish.

I thought the old brass bed just had to go, but Pat could not part with it!  Why throw away something you can fix?  She was right!  I transformed the bed with Krylon paints, using a black flat finish with a dusted shimmer of nickel.  The bed now feels a bit modern industrial but the bedding brings it back to feminine!

The wall behind the bed needed something special and I liked the idea of softening the wall with fabric. After a trip to the flea market for glass knobs, I attached them to a painted pine board. This idea means Pat can change the fabric for a new seasonal backdrop anytime!

Personally, My favorite thing was finding the collection of vintage NYC subway maps. The graphics are wonderful.   They seemed prefect for Pat who's heart is usually half  in NYC and half in Ct.
                                   Subway maps from

Red can be an overwhelming color if it is not balanced with complimentary colors. Adding the gray wall quiets the red while letting it pop! The blue and black accents and mix of patterns makes the room bold and interesting.
Once we had our secondary palette, finding accessories in these colors was fun and everything just fell into place!
Lamps and Chairs from Target!

As far as working with friends, It was so great working with Pat who's enthusiasm and mind was open to all the possibilities!
I'm ready for our next project PAT! xxoo

All Photography by the talented Michael Partenio!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Outdoor Spaces, Winter lights, Snow!

What a difference some snow can make to a shoot!

During two days of shooting last week designing Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Entry's and wreaths (with photographer Kritsada and assistant Caitlin) in very, cold, rainy weather, we settled for fake snow for some winter effects.  Just one week later the Blizzard of 2015 arrives, timing is everything, reminding me of last years photo shoot, where we had more snow than we could handle.  We actually had to hire a pick up truck to take 4 loads of snow away to get the following photos that appeared in the Holiday issue of Better Homes and Gardens holiday Issue Dec 2014.

 Dressing up the Winter landscape

Hired by the Better Homes and Gardens magazine Garden group I designed lighting ideas for gracing outdoor spaces to cheer up the bleak winter months.  Working at the beautiful Connecticut home of style Blogger Amy Cupp Dragoo as our backdrop, Amy worked with me to fill her snow laden spaces with lighting ideas of all kinds. 

These ice globe lanterns are easy to make and lasting, adding magic to Amy's entry!  Find out more at

 Using solar powered paper lanterns takes away the mess and maze of extension cords, you can create whimsy and impact with large groupings in garden spaces, like this arbor Amy designed to sit center stage in her back yard.

Light the way from winter into spring. Amy's pretty fence was a great backdrop for a garland I made from rope festooning small battery powered lanterns and pine cones stars.  Buy yardage of heavy Rope at Home Depot or Lowes and swag away.

I bought the yardage of heavy Rope at Home Depot or Lowes.  Swag away!  Pine cone Stars made by Greta Ribb of Thefloralfactory

I love the way Amy designed this small courtyard with her Adirondack chairs center stage.
The big pictures window was a perfect invitation for hanging stands of vertical battery powered  lights. 

 No matter how frosty Amy designed this space to feel warm and cozy! 
The best part of this week long shoot was all the yummy food Amy made to sustain us.
Amy has great ideas for food and entertaining on her blog.
Thanks Amy for all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Past- The Seasons Best

Christmas comes and goes with the month of Dec.  For me, styling Christmas for magazines, it starts in Dec and often just keeps on going.......

As this years long awaited December issues started to to arrive I was quickly reminded of what a long holiday season last year was, as well as a very cold white one!

It started with the first snowfall of the season.  I shared in the excitement of working with Interior Designer Lisa Hilderbrand at her home for Traditional Home Magazine.  Lisa's holiday is a Christmas, deep in tradition with layer upon layer of elegant holiday finery.

The living room, the heart of the home, was a styling dream come true. So many beautiful things to play with.

Lisa's tree has over 5000 ornaments! 

Every inch of her home is decked out with beautiful trims,  ornaments, and greenery,....


 and touches of Amaryllis in every room.

Working with photographer John Bessler is always a delight.
To see the full story, go to Traditional Home magazine. Winter 2015  

Then there was this quintessential country cabin, A perfect retreat for a snow laden Christmas in the woods.

This wooded cozy cabin offered a different kind of holiday magic with faux furs, and plaids.

 I made this wreath from scraps of faux furs wrapped around a Styrofoam form!

           Multiple scrabble boards and jars of scrabble letters makes a crowd pleasing runner for the holiday table. 

Birds and snowy owls, pine cones and bells draped the tree!

I can smell the Holiday breads baking in this charming kitchen! 
Rhododendrons leaves brought in from the frozen tundra perk up in warm water and make gorgeous bouquets!

Thanks to Interior designer Claudia Farias Kalur of A Room for Frances for sharing this magical spot with me!

And thanks to assistants Monica and Shelly for wrangling with that tree!

Another great shoot with photographer Michael Partenio.
To see the full story, beautiful Christmas Ideas and images go to Christmas Ideas magazine. Winter 2015

As the winter progressed the snow got deeper and deeper!  In three feet of snow I set out to find another Christmas tree. A feat in itself! With a snowmobile, shovels and a big pick up truck I found the perfect 9 ft tree.  That was the beginning of the Country Living magazine project, showcasing this beautiful renovation of a classic New England Home. 

It was a memorable week working with Country living Editor Jamie Supsic.

The end result was very Merry!

 and filled with festive ideas!

     jingle bells and boughs of holly!

The behind the scenes action can be quite a mess! Thanks Monica and Marilyn your back breaking work!

Thanks to photographer Max Kim Bee for his hard work!
See the full story in the "Country Living" Magazine, Dec 2014 issue 

I still had one more Winter feature where snow was crucial for Better Homes and Gardens magazine! 
Shot at the charming Country Home of Amy Cupp Dragoo, we created some inspirational outdoor lighting ideas for keeping the lights glowing throughout the Winter months.

Stay tuned in my next post for images from that memorable shoot!