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What do you look for in a home and garden magazine?

Re-examining the concept behind Charleston Home has prompted quite a bit of thought about what we require from our precious home and garden magazines. We all have them, piles of back issues with a variety of titles, some with ripped-out pages—I even have some missing their covers. (For me, shelter magazines aren't items to be treated with reverence. Dismantling them is part of the fun.) And even though I'm reading these magazines both as a consumer and as an editor, my goals aren't that different. I read them to find usable ideas. Whether it's articles that inspire or how-tos or recipes, I'm looking for things that I can apply directly to my own life. And I ask my friends too: what magazines do they rely on and why? Everyone has a different inspiration portfolio, and while each can say so much about the individual reader, a look at the magazines we collect says a lot about what we, as a whole, need from them.

Again, everyone’s list is different, but here's a partial rundown of what has guided me both at both home and at work:

-Old issues of Blueprint are like friends to me. The information is absolutely accessible and relevant to my living spaces—they struck a good balance of inspiration and actionable info. From how to stock the bar to cell phone etiquette, I appreciated their vision. It was dead on.

-I've learned a lot from Elle Decor about room composition; particularly, the different ways furnishings and accessories come together to create a look. Simply training your eye through photographs is a great way to learn how to navigate your own spaces (I started my career editing blurbs about home and garden books, which left me with stacks of design books to page through. I think just soaking that up really helped to train my eye.) Also, the houses in this magazine take risks, which serve as a good gauge of my own tastes and affinities.

-Country Home taught me how to make the most of secondhand finds. Minimal cost, maximum creativity. I like that.

-Martha Stewart Living is fabulous for practical planting advice. If she shows you a gorgeous garden, she's going to give you all the elements that are at play. The last thing I want is to see a pretty space, but walk away without any more knowledge than I started with.

-I look to a number of sources for good recipes: Martha Stewart's Everyday Food is very good and I've used several recipes in Every Day with Rachael Ray. I think I favor both of those because you get a lot of recipes in just one issue. Good bang for your buck.

Those are just a few. In the meantime, what inspires you? We'd love to hear about your faves.

See how our staffers get inspired. Click on the photo gallery of employee bulletin boards.