Martha Looks Back on 30 Years of 'Living' and Shares Her Favorite Magazine Covers

martha holding first martha stewart living cover
Douglas Friedman

From day one, the mission of this magazine has been to teach and inspire. I named it Living to express that living is limitless—an ever-expanding subject with the home, and the art of home-making, at its center. Within that realm, we focused on eight key content areas: cooking, entertaining, gardening, decorating, celebrating holidays, housekeeping, crafting, and collecting.

Together with a group of extraordinarily talented and creative people, I concentrated as much on the visuals—producing arresting images of everything from desserts to handmade ornaments—as I did on the words. Each story was finely crafted, and all of the recipes and instructions were carefully researched and tested. Within a few years, our reach broadened into television shows and book publishing, and then, later, digital storytelling. We rapidly expanded our coverage to include family, pets, healthy living, and weddings, which filled an additional magazine that became successful in its own right.

I will be forever proud of the abundance of ideas in our pages, of the many thousands of recipes and projects our readers have used and enjoyed. We created this magazine for everyone, because good living can be learned, honed, and enjoyed by all. I want to thank you for taking pleasure in what we've accomplished, and for staying with us, whether you have been a reader from the beginning or discovered the magazine more recently. And to my cherished employees and colleagues, who shared my long-ago vision that beautiful how-to information could transform your life for the better, another thank-you. This anniversary is a collective dream come true.

01 of 20

Celebrate Something Different

women holding martha stewart living first cover
Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Martha, founding creative director Gael Towey, and founding editor Isolde Motley hold the first issue, hot off the press.

02 of 20

A Creative Environment, the Right Tools

martha stewart living prop shelves with cover supplies
Karl Juengel

A creative environment and the right tools are essential. The prop library—a dream collection of new and vintage housewares—helped stylists shape Living's aesthetic. Test kitchens, photo studios, and a craft room let staffers experiment.

03 of 20

Let It Grow

martha stewart living cover with eric pike
Matthew Williams

Eric Pike started as an art director, and rose to creative director and editor in chief during his 23‑year tenure. Just as Martha did, Eric mentored many art directors, editors, and stylists over the years.

04 of 20

Always Surround Yourself with Talent

martha stewart living cover editors group photo
Courtesy of Gael Towey

In the offices at Time Inc., where the magazine launched, Martha stands with staffers in front of a wall displaying the pages of the debut issue.

05 of 20

A Passionate Life

daffodil bulbs in the morning
John Dolan

"One fall morning, I photographed Martha planting vast beds of daffodil bulbs," says photographer John Dolan. "When the shoot was over, the gardening was not—soon we were all helping. I realized that this was not a random idea to fill the magazine. It was a record of her passionate life."

06 of 20

Summer 1991

martha stewart living cover summer 1991
William Waldron

"Light, bright, and airy, this image shows me arranging garden roses," says Martha. "We shot it in my East Hampton bedroom."

07 of 20

April/May 1993

martha stewart living cover may 1993
William Waldron

"As we increased our annual issues, we added more DIY decorating stories, like painting ideas for the home," Martha says.

08 of 20

October 1994

martha stewart living cover october 1994
Victor Schrager

Martha says, "Here I am in front of my chicken coop at Turkey Hill. I'm proud that we encouraged backyard husbandry early on."

09 of 20

December 1995

martha stewart living cover december 1995 january 1996
William Abranowicz

"This amazing cranberry wreath inspired a book of wreaths for every state in the country," our founder explains.

10 of 20

May 1996

martha stewart living cover may 1996
Don Freeman

"I remember snipping these lilacs from a towering shrub in Clyde, New York," says Martha. "Their fragrance was intoxicating!"

11 of 20

April 1997

martha stewart living cover april 1997
Gentl and Hyers

Martha says, "This sugared egg decorated with violets is a charming, old-fashioned Easter idea we brought to life on our cover."

12 of 20

December 1999

martha stewart living cover december 1998 january 1999
Gentl and Hyers

"We captured my sweet nephew Charlie fast asleep on Christmas Eve. (He really was sleeping!)," Martha explains.

13 of 20

December 2000

martha stewart living cover december 2000
Gentl and Hyers

"This adorable ice cream-coconut snowman was the best-selling cover in our first 10 years of publishing," our founder says.

14 of 20

July 2002

martha stewart living cover july 2002
Gentl And Hyers

"We put together two pans to create this beautiful and delicious berry-flag tart, to commemorate July 4," Martha shares.

15 of 20

October 2003

martha stewart living cover october 2003
William Abranowicz

"These little pumpkin creatures are whimsical examples of the many different ways we've celebrated Halloween," says our founder.

16 of 20

November 2006

martha stewart living cover november 2006
Earl Carter

Martha says, "For a Thanksgiving feast, we decorated a table in my Bedford stable with Staffordshire turkey dishes and fall fruit."

17 of 20

September 2012

martha stewart living cover september 2012
Francois Dischinger

"One of my favorites!" says Martha. "My granddaughter, Jude, standing with me in her playroom at my daughter's home."

18 of 20

March 2018

martha stewart living cover march 2018
José Picayo

"We filled this iron-tree stand at my home with a vibrant array of spring tulips that we grew on the farm," Martha explains.

19 of 20

April 2019

martha stewart living cover april 2019
Marcus Nilsson

Says our founder, "Baked, dipped, and decorated, these fun cookies are always part of my annual Easter egg hunt."

20 of 20

September 2020

martha stewart living cover september 2020
Noe Dewitt

"Collecting is an important part of the magazine, and this cover shows my passion for McCoy pottery," Martha shares.

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