Better Homes & Gardens Field Editor

Apr 4

It’s unbelievable to me how opportunities arrive by simply making the decision to start a blog. Yep, I’ve dug in and did a hell of a lot of hard HARD work over the last 10 years – both on the blog and getting the business off the ground. But its foundation and core began the day I joined blogger and started writing about organization.

Who knew that honing my skills as a blogger / storyteller, organizer and photographer would eventually turn into a Field Editor position with Meredith…Better Homes & Gardens? I mean seriously. Is this even happening?

Take action on your passions and dreams, friends. Good things happen when you’re heads down, in your own lane and following your natural talents.

Not a day passes, I tell you, when I don’t count my blessings. Even on days I don’t feel like getting out of bed – I sit up and remind myself how lucky I am to be under the amount of stress I’m handling day in and day out. Between the divorce, the impending home sale, challenging / difficult client projects, company partnership deadlines and reporting requirements (not my strong suit), personal life stuff, motherhood…I could chose to focus on the hard aspects of this career/life…but why? The good – the amazing – far outweighs anything else I’m up against.


You’re probably wondering a few things – How did this happen? What does this mean? What is a Field Editor? I’m wondering how it happened too, to be honest! So excited and grateful and honestly, this isn’t a new development – I’ve been a Field Editor for over a year now and am just getting around to sharing the details / BTS with you guys.

Ha! So Sam, right?

Long story short…

In the Spring of 2017, an editorial apprentice from BH&G asked if I was up for contributing to an article about taming entryway clutter. We worked together on the article, it was successful and fun! Life went on…

In October 2017, Brian (Senior Editor – Home Division) sent an email asking if I was available to be a contributing expert in another article. He mentioned that Emily said I was easy to work with and she recommended he connect with me. *pinch me* He was working on a Weekend Clutter Cleanse story and it was fun to work together for that issue of Secrets of Getting Organized, Spring 2018. Article was a success. Life went on…

In December 2017, when the story was behind us I reached out to Brian and asked if the magazine would ever be interested in seeing real organizing spaces and solutions. “Absolutely!” was his response. We scheduled a call for January 2018, after the holidays. It was Brian and his co-editor…also named Samantha.

In January 2018, we had a call that spanned well over an hour. I had no idea what to expect, but was completely blown off my chair when they had basically nailed everything I do, had totally studied the blog content and the social media platforms AND the photography AND the storytelling. Nailed it. They knew the ins and outs and knowing all of that made the conversation that much more engaging. We spoke about who hires me, why they do, what types of projects we tackle…we got to the meat as opposed to explaining/discussing all the basics. They were so well prepared.

And while I hate repeating “I was blown away”…that sums it up. I couldn’t believe they spent that amount of time on the blog and the social platforms and was excited my goal of maybe sharing REAL life organizing issues / solutions in a magazine was inching its way closer.

During the call they mentioned a few roles within the magazine company that might be of interest to me…but I recall we mainly spoke about my work and how it would be a great fit their readership because of the organizing style, level of difficulty, and the sheer amount of ideas for the magazine brand.

Fast forward to a few weeks later – my phone is ringing…incoming call from Des Moines, which is where Meredith is headquartered. He was offering me a position as a Field Editor and gauging my interest.

Once again – blown away.

To answer the how?….not sure, to be honest. But I’ll take it and I’m grateful!


YES! I am still an organizer…and will be forevs.

When I shared the new role with family and friends they thought it was a full-time position. It’s not. I’ll share more below about the details of the role, but it’s freelance. After shooting the garage in October, for example, it’s been crickets…other than waiting for the issue to arrive in my mailbox and a few other odds / ends over email, it’s been quiet. I just wait until they have a few targeted spaces they are searching for or gaps they’d like to fill in certain issues and I can submit project ideas, photos and stories.

I’m still a professional organizer, business owner and blogger. Period. That doesn’t change. This is an additional role and the work depends on if I have a story / location they like or they have a location near me where they need help with organizing, staging and producing.


As a Field Editor, I’m able to pitch projects to the magazine or as mentioned above, Brian can ask me if I have a great playroom or a great mudroom to fill a need on their end. The projects I submit have a story to go along with them, as was the case with the garage we photographed. In addition to the photos, they want a story that is relatable to their readership.

If they have a shoot opportunity here in the Bay Area that wasn’t identified or submitted by me, they may contact me as well to see if I’m interested in producing / staging it for them. They have professional photographers within the Bay Area network as well – you’ll see one below, Paul, who was on my garage shoot. But they have used my photography in the magazine as well. Here’s a shot of a closet I DIY’d a couple years ago that made a recent issue…

Did I mention 99.9% of my photos are shot from an iPhone?? Seriously. So cool!

Anyway, a Field Editor role only makes an income when they choose your story / include your photography in the magazine / you’re working on a project. There’s obviously a lot more involved but probably can’t get into too many details here.

Bottom line is I’m having the best time working with Meredith / Brian and excited to see what happens next!


With all that said, let’s get to the really fun part of this post – the garage shoot we did back in October 2018. Since this was my first time producing a story, Brian flew in from Iowa to spend a week with me. Not only did we re-organize & photograph the garage over a 2 day period, I also spent a full day driving him around to see some of my projects, spaces and families in person. We had the BEST time – started with coffee at one of my favorites, meeting with people, talking about all things organizing, stopping for lunch at one of my favorite local Danville spots…really fun day. He was also able to see the garage in advance of the shoot.

I organized this garage back in November 2017 and it never hit the blog. During that time I was busy preparing for my keynote in Canada and when I returned I went heads down on with with a vengeance. You guys know I had taken a lot of time off beginning that summer to prep for the speech. I was missing the work so much and couldn’t wait to have the speech behind me so I could finally get back to my passion.

My calendar was booked most of 2018 and you saw that dip in blog posts because of it. So this garage never made the blog. But of the 15+ projects I submitted to Meredith, this was the space they fell in love with and wanted to photograph. So awesome!

This blog post is already getting long and I have more to share and a TON of photos to add in, so I’ll post the garage before and after in its own post very soon. You won’t want to miss that one!

But our shoot day started early and it was SO LONG and tiring. The organizing came easy…it was the photography that was so draining. Not sure how a photographer like Paul Dyer, who was the photographer on this project, does this….but again, he didn’t know how I did my job either. 🙂

When we first arrived I snapped a few shots of them walking around and taking in the space…

Then we set a game plan for the photo order. We started on this wall and worked our way around to the other 2. This is Brian and I organizing and staging some of the garage contents…

Is he not the cutest thing ever?…

With wall one completed and ready to shoot, Paul worked his magic. I loved being able to see the photos in real time…

After a few hours spent on just one wall, the shots were done and we moved on to the shoe wall. One of my dear friends Jeff, owner of The Coffee Shop, stopped by to bring us coffee. We needed it by this point!…

(Jeff is also the creator of Vidsig, the platform I am using for virtual sessions with clients. He’s incredible!…and recently got engaged. So happy for them!)

The shoe wall took a little finessing but turned out beautifully!!!…

There was a lot to learn from Brian. Next time, he won’t be here to help direct me or the shoot. Was a lot to take in!

While they were photographing the shoe wall, my assistant Kim and I were getting the final wall ready for its moment…

Love this woman so much and can’t wait to share a post about her and others who are on board with me now. Her help this day was invaluable and we were both exhausted / had body aches at the end…

With all 3 walls photographed, including close up detail shots, we wrapped it up with one final shot of this scooter stand…

It’s a product the magazine had never seen or shared before, so they wanted it to have its own moment. Rightfully so, it’s one of my favorites…

It was easily a 12-14 hour day…can’t totally remember. It was long, tiring but fun!


Once the shoot was complete, it was a slow process. Photos were edited by Paul and shared with the group. The writer of the magazine article interviewed me and then interviewed my client. I saw a preliminary layout and was asked to provide some of my professional details. But then it was a waiting game until the magazine finally arrived this Spring.

Seeing is my mailbox will definitely go down as a high point of 2019!


I did scream, not gonna lie.

Seeing my name as “producer”…????….

What I love the most about this article – and this partnership with Meredith – is that it’s showcasing the REAL. This is a real garage where a family of 5 lives. My dream is to share the real behind these types of spaces and how we can contain everything simply.

Nothing gets more real than this wall of random items…every garage has it…

If you want to read the article or buy the magazine, it’s the Secrets of Getting Organized Spring 2019 issue.

Still on newsstands and will be for a while. This publication has quarterly issues.

Of course, I could not end this post without sharing the actual images from the magazine. These again were shot by the incredible Paul Dyer

( mesh rolling bin )

( scooter stand )

I’m truly grateful for this opportunity to work with Meredith and look forward to sharing more REAL spaces and stories with their readers. Such a great time hosting Brian and my clients who met him all fell in love with him. And they fell in love with all of them. We saw so many homes and each time we met with a homeowner it was a walk down memory lane for me…so lucky to have such great clients and thank them for trusting me in their home. It’s an intimate job – we see it all – and it means everything to have their trust in my work / eye for space.

Thanks for reading you guys – this was a long one but had to be shared!

Back soon with more!



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comments +

  1. Marianne says:

    Happy for you. All the best????????

  2. lbtomlin says:

    Wow, wow, wow!!! This is so awesome and you should be so proud! Our lives take crazy turns and we’re often faced with trials, but taking the high road and doing the right things in life truly pay off! I have followed your blog a long time and love all of these new adventures that you share. I’m so impressed with all that you juggle. Once your house is sold and you’re on to the next, I can’t WAIT all that the next one holds. I have a feeling it will be one awesome project after another. Best of luck to you and congrats!

    • Samantha says:

      Awe, such a sweet comment!! Thank you for following for so long and for your words of encouragement – it means so much!!

      Thank you!


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