Media Darling: Karl Lohnes

Karl Lohnes is a design
journalist of all good things related to the home. He reached millions of
viewers for eight years while appearing on America’s This Small Space on HGTV and was one of the founding editors of
Style At Home magazine, with which he was associated for almost 15 years. 
He is currently the
on-air home decor expert for CTV’s Canada AM and The Marilyn Denis Show, offers
up a monthly style report on CHUM FM’s
All About Style with Marilyn Denis and is the weekly home columnist to Metro
News
in Canada and the United States. He is a popular speaker at consumer/
trade design shows and is an avid shopper. Lohnes also runs a private design and
décor consulting business and loves to cook, bake and entertain.



Twitter: @KarlLohnes

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon? 
The world of media fascinated me from a very early age, especially magazines; those names on the mastheads were like gods to me. I thought editors of a magazine were the ultimate in media power, then I started to work for some only to realize they are everyday people making a living. I studied  marketing and advertising in college and fell in love with design/decor in my mid-twenties. I worked at advertising agencies, for a major bank and the phone company before realizing that wearing a tie was not for me. I started my career in design by working at furnishings store Urban Mode on Queen St. in downtown Toronto. 
Where would you like to be five years from now?
In five years from now I hope to have expanded my media reach through newspapers, television, radio and magazines. Truly, the only worth that a media personality has is how many people they can speak to. 
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
In the design world, the best thing you can do is look and listen…It’s the only way to predict trends and absorb the vibe on the street. In media, the best thing you can do is be humble and not expect everything to happen overnight.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
My favourite media outlets are airplane magazines; they incorporate culture, city buzz, travel, food, fashion but rarely decor…They tend to be nice monthly capsules of what’s happening out there. 

Best interview you’ve ever had?
About me: The Washington Post. They coined me ‘The Dr. Phil of Decorating’. I lived off that nickname for personal appearance booking for about ten years. Best interview I’ve conducted? My interview with Diane Von Furstenburg when she launched her home decor line. I realized that the more famous someone is, the less they actually have to say publicly. 
Worst?
The very first time I appeared on Canada AM. I was promoting Thanksgiving turkeys and the interview segment went horribly wrong. Its one of my biggest career lessons; stick to what you are best at and don’t try to be something you are not (like a turkey expert!).

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Stay focused on your passions and incorporate them into your work. All of a sudden, work becomes a good reason to wake up to each day. 
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
If you want respect, you need to treat everyone the same…Whether you are nice or an ass; just be consistent. 

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Your media contacts will always outlive your client contracts.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Getting follow up after I’ve publicised your client’s product. Its a very rare thing to get a thank  you these days. 

I hate?
Having to deal with three different PR contacts for the same media opportunity; the senior account director who secures the opportunity, then an associate account manager that sends the information, then the intern who tries to communicate with me

I love?
Having a weekend brunch or coffee with one of my PR contacts. It shows they go far beyond 9-to-5 role in their career.

Reading?
Hopefully my own book really soon…Until then, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It’s 782 pages long so wish me luck.

Best place on earth?
The Jasper Park Lodge Resort. A magical place where time stopped in the mid-1950s.
Dinner guest?
Martha Stewart; although we have dined in the past, I have never cooked for her at my house.
Hero?
Any and all of my editors for making sense of the messages I write.


Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Olson Recipe Maker…Helps me with my cooking, baking, food prep etc. Couldn’t live without it when at the grocery store.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean; peeing in the water becomes less guilty.

Voicemail or email?
Email; it means I can respond any time of the day or night. 
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Media, Darling: Tara Ballantyne

Tara Ballantyne joined Style at Home last February as its resident style and food editor. Tara began her
styling career in Norway and worked for publications like Norwegian ELLE and
French ELLE along with various other European publications. She has had
numerous television appearances on the Marilyn Denis Show, Breakfast Television
and CityLine.



photo credit: Transcontinental Media 

Did
you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
horizon? 
There are so many things you can do in a
lifetime, and I’m guilty of wanting to do anything to satisfy my creativity. My
schooling is in interior design and I worked in architecture for three years
before I switched to magazines. It was the best decision I have ever made and I
love what I get to do and how creative I can be each day at Style at Home.
Where
would you like to be five years from now?
In a studio with a totally inspired
photographer, great light, lots of beautiful food, great models and a hundred
baby bunnies shooting some wild Tim Walker-inspired images.
Any
advice for people getting started in your industry?
Don’t be afraid to sweep floors, pour endless
amounts of coffee, or even pick up someone else’s dry cleaning (seriously I had
to do this once). I’ve had to learn countless coffee orders by heart and had
design proposals ripped up right in front of my face. It can be a long road of
being humble, but you watch and learn and in the end, it’s completely worth it.
What
are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
Having spent so much time in Norway, I really
developed an affection for swedish RUM magazine, ELLE Norway and Sweden, and I
love emmas designblogg –
design and style from a scandinavian perspective
. I also adore Canadian blog Bijou and Boheme, and spend entirely too much time selecting fashion
ensembles from the The
Sartorialist
, that my husband and I
should definitely purchase. Fortunately, he is a kind and patient person who
politely nods and says “uh huh” while I involuntarily involve him
in selecting my favourite looks to wear on a vespa, and for braving the
cobblestone streets. 
Best
interview you’ve ever had?
My interview for ELLE Norwegian… it ended up
landing me my first cover, and I was so insanely excited to be part of the
magazine in another country – it was pretty amazing. There is always something
very special about your first.
Worst?
I’ve been super lucky so far, in that I’ve only ever had great interviews. Fingers crossed this continues!
Best
advice you’ve ever been given?
Avoid horizontal stripes and don’t eat a full
meal before you go swimming.
What
rule(s) do you live your life by?
If you truly love something, it’s worth
fighting for. And edit to clarity – fashion, interiors, your words…
What’s
the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Open and honest communication I guess. I’ve
worked with great PR people and I’ve always appreciated when they tell me what
I need to hear, not necessarily what I want to hear. Also I am always super
impressed when they remember names!
Best
experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Being convinced that the $250 sweater I
bought for a television appearance was not a bad decision and in fact a
worthwhile investment piece for my wardrobe. Cashmere really is timeless, lol.
I
hate?
Subway delays.
I
love?
Butter tarts, and the way Instagram always
makes you instantly look amazing.
Reading?
International design books (magazines); I
love seeing what’s going on in other countries and get a lot of inspiration
from that. Right now I am also re-reading Rebecca for the second time, and am
guilty of choosing my knitting project over my half-finished copy of Infidel
Best
place on earth?
Any place where I’m surrounded by family and
friends, a great glass of wine, and good food and conversation.
Dinner
guest?
Brother and sister, Sibella Court
and Chris Court. I am so astounded with the creativity that they both exhibit
in the work they do with styling, development and photography. 
Hero?
Coco Chanel. 
Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Instagram, and that
new Christmas app that helps you with shopping and wrapping.
Pool
or ocean?
Definitely Ocean.
Voicemail
or email?
Definitely email.

Media, Darling: Brett Walther

As Canadian Living’s Home & Garden
Director, Brett Walther shares simply chic décor strategies with the magazine’s
3.9 million readers. With an emphasis on getting high-end style for less, his
do-it-yourself approach stretches decorating dollars, and translates the
hottest design trends into easy, breezy, weekend updates.

Before joining the Canadian Living family,
Brett previously served as the features editor at Style at Home magazine, where
he became a familiar face across the country as a regular guest on CityTV’s CityLine.
After hours, Brett can usually be found at
his Toronto Cityplace condo (where you can “almost, but not quite” watch the
Jays on the Rogers Centre field), making the slow – and expensive – transition
from minimalism to maximalism.


Did you always want to be in the media?
Remember that TVO show from the early ’80s
where the three kids inherited the clubhouse filled with robots, and started a
newspaper as a cover for fighting aliens? That pretty much cemented my career
path, and I’ve never strayed far from those dreams of making it as a real-life boy
reporter. I’d toyed with the idea of playing it safe as an in-the-trenches foreign
correspondent in my late teens, but the danger of the design beat ultimately won me over.
Where would you like to be five years from
now?
I’d love to be where I am now, having spent
the past five years elevating the profile of Canadian Living’s Home &
Garden section to rival our Food content. That’s right – watch out, Test
Kitchen.
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
Make yourself indispensible. Your greatest
achievement as an intern is to make your editor wonder how anything got
accomplished before you came on the scene.
What are your favourite media outlets, not
including your own?
I adore House Beautiful and Country Living.
Even if a particular story isn’t appealing to me from a style standpoint, their
savvy packaging pulls me right in. I’m tempted to add CBC to come off all highbrow,
but it’s only on for Coronation Street.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Sherri Donghia, the design director of the Donghia home textiles empire. The interview was a marathon three-hour stroll through her
impossibly inspiring fabric showroom, which ended with her offering me a job in
her Manhattan HQ. I’m sure she was thinking “swatch-room stock boy,” but I was
still rather flattered.
Worst?
Interviewing other journos is rarely any
fun. We tend to be a terribly guarded bunch in the presence of recording
devices. Worse than that are interviews with pseudo-celebs who suddenly decide
they’re designers because a bed-in-a-bag has their face plastered on the
packaging. Barf.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Products on-page should never appear
larger than they do in real life,” “Anniversaries aren’t real news pegs,” “Every
planter pot needs spillers, thrillers and fillers,” “Know your reader,” and “A
person who is nice to you but is not nice to your server is not a nice person.”
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Dorothy Draper wrote the seminal DIY
decorating guide, Decorating is Fun! back in 1939, and it’s basically my
manifesto – even beyond the confines of design. If something stops being fun, I
know that it’s time for a change.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?
Be as transparent as possible. If access to
a junket or interview opportunity is dependent on specific conditions and
expectations of coverage, I need full disclosure in advance. Is the client
going to push for a specific platform for publication? Are they hoping for release
by a certain deadline? Although I’m obviously not going to accept a seven-night
stay at the new Knightsbridge Bulgari without covering it in some capacity,
I’ll graciously decline the invitation if I know in advance I can’t deliver
anything near what you’re hoping for. It’s common courtesy. My momma taught me
that.

And please – for the love of all that is
holy – enough with those silly supplied hashtags at press events.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro?
We love to hear about #wins.
There’s that gorgeous Helen Mirren line
from Gosford Park when she goes on about how she’s good at her job because
she knows what her ladyship wants before she knows she wants it herself… It’s
always lovely to be furnished with the full complement of high-res images,
product specs, Canadian retails and sourcing deets before you actually have to
request a thing. Jennifer Thompson from Elevator, for example, is a master at
that sort of intuitive approach to PR, and I love her to bits.
I hate?
Karate-chopped cushions, pot light chandeliers,
bun feet, flocked wallpapers and windows without drapes.
I love?
Cabriole legs, grey-washed wood, horizontal
stripes, camelback sofas, button tufting, and blue-and-white transferware.
Reading?
Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.
Best place on earth?
My family’s farm in southwestern Ontario.
Dinner guest?
Madonna on one side, and her
would-be-decorator brother Christopher on the other. I’d referee.
Hero?
Jose Bautista. Even if you’re not a Jays
fan (and shame on you if you’re not), the beard is worthy of worship.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?
I have a full-on, Zak Morris Saved by the
Bell
phone. It’s a miracle I can even text.
Pool or ocean?
Lake.
Voicemail or email?

Email. It’s very possible that phone of mine isn’t voicemail-capable.

Media, Darling: Arren Williams

As a stylist, designer, editor and leading trend consultant, Arren Williams’ work has popped up over the last decade in many of Canada’s top style mags and newspapers, including Canadian House & Home, Wish, Style at Home, Flare, Chatelaine, Canadian Family and the National Post

He also pops up occasionally on HGTV, and appears as a guest expert covering style and design for Citytv’s CityLine. Online, you can catch him blogging at www.arrenwilliams.com, as well as writing for SweetHome and the National Post’s home and design blog, Posted Homes.

What was your favourite class in high school? 
Art class. I went to a sports and science focused boy’s grammar school and it was the one place I felt like I actually fitted in.

How did you get your start as an editor?
That was with Style at Home a gazillion years ago. They needed someone to take on their upfront news section ‘Home & Style’ and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

If you weren’t a Media, Darling, what would you be doing right now?
Making jam in Provence. Seriously.


Pitching or follow up: Phone or email?
Email, definitely. Nice short and concise, info and low-resolution-image-filled e-mails! 

We know irrelevant pitches, calling you the wrong name and eight follow-ups are no-no’s; what else should publicists avoid doing?
Please check the sex of who you’re contacting. I am a bloke (obviously!) and you’d be amazed the number of times I get an e-mail addressed to Ms. Williams. And getting my ‘feedback’ i.e. mining for ideas on how to pitch/launch/promote their products or services.

Sunrise or sunset?
Sunrise in Palm Springs. Sunset in Hawaii.

Scent?
None. It gives me a headache.

Cookie?
Dangerous. I’d hafta say Garibaldi, a.k.a. ‘Flies’ Graveyard’ – It’s a raisin cookie from the U.K. that’s hard to find here that I loved as a kid.

Flower?
I’m more on the greens side of things, really.

Ticklish?
Absolutely.

Shower or bath?
Shower.

Film?
Digital. 😉

Crush?
Orange. 😉

First job?
‘Bottling up’ at the age of 12. In other words, filling the shelves with bottles of beer at a local pub.

Inspiration?
Pattern and colour, and anyone who can actually pull their finger out and create something beautiful.
 

Media, Darling: Erin McLaughlin

Erin McLaughlin is the editor-in-chief of Style at Home, Canada’s largest decorating and style magazine. She is also the editor-in-chief of Canadian Gardening, Canada’s most popular gardening magazine. For more than 15 years, Erin has been defining style for Canadians, as she has held positions as editor of Canadian Home & Country, and as features editor of Canadian House and Home. She has also written numerous freelance design columns over the years.


Erin grew up in a household of design aesthetes, informing the notion that surrounding yourself with items you love is the best – and easiest – way to decorate. Erin’s energetic approach to decorating encompasses mixing trends and styles, bright colours with classic neutrals and, more than anything else, making style simple and accessible in every area of the home. 

Erin has shared her design expertise on programs including CityLine, Breakfast Television, Global TV, Rogers Cable and CFRB 1010.



What was your favourite class in high school? Why?
Home Economics. My late mother was a fabulous sewer and I aspired to sew like her. Alas, it was not to be – I didn’t have the patience!

How did you get your start as an editor?
Since my first stint as the editor of my high school yearbook, I have never not been “editing” something.

If you weren’t a Media, Darling, what would you be doing right now?
Horse breeder.

Pitching or follow up: Phone or email?
Absolutely email.

We know irrelevant pitches, calling you the wrong name and eight follow-ups are no-no’s; what else should publicists avoid doing?
Sending samples in giant and complicated layers of witty packaging. The products should be strong enough on their own without the accompanying recycling disaster.

Sunrise or sunset? Can I say both?
Scent? Not for me, but I love the smell of my husband’s Mennen Speedstick. Who knew?
Cookie? Peanut butter Larabar.
Flower? Peony.
Ticklish? Sometimes during a pedicure.
Shower or bath? Bath.
Crush? Mark Darcy.
First job? Editorial assistant at TV Guide magazine.
Inspiration? Every time I open my eyes.