Better Homes and Gardens Photo Shoot

Long story short, here’s how it happened.

My friend, Gretchen, a freelance food and wine writer,   pitched the story of our house fire and rebuild to several shelter magazines after our rebuild last year.  Several months later, we found out that BHG wanted to run the story.

WHATTTTTTTTT?  Y’allllll???!!!!  I have been beside myself with excitement.  It has been a little like birthing a baby.   A huge period of waiting, wondering, worrying, asking a lot of questions……….

My first encounter with them was a phone call with the Home Design editor.   She was completely adorable and gracious and charming.  And thus has been my experience every step of the way.  They have been so great to work with and so kind and complimentary—not to mention very thorough and professional.  This whole thing has been such a process.  So many emails, so many photos, so many questions, so many layers of people involved.  The shoot was originally gonna be in June, then July and finally September.  I’ve been feeling completely nervous and excited and  quite inadequate.  I don’t think I even realized what a big production this would all be.  But it was such a blast and I’m so glad I did it and so thankful that they gave us this opportunity.  And thank you, sweet Gretchen—-for making this all possible for us!

The day before the shoot, Elizabeth Beeler, the stylist came to get everything set up.  It was love at first sight.  She’s completely adorable and perfectly laid-back but has such an eye for design.  I think we’re gonna adopt her into our family because frankly, she loves to say Bean Station—in her best Alabama voice.  I’m SO MAD at myself for not getting a picture of the two of us.  She’s my new BFF and I’m so thankful for her talent but mostly for her kindness and approachability.  I stole this photo from her fb page because it’s so perfect for her.  She was running late one day and when she got here, her shoes were muddy from scaling down a ravine to get a picture of the fog rising over the lake.  She’s a jewel and I am SO glad our paths crossed.  I’m one of those quirky ones who thinks that things like that don’t happen by accident.  I LOVE YOU, Elizabeth!

And here’s how I knew we were separated at birth.  Her instructions from BHG were to make the laundry room look more laundrified with baskets and cute detergent, etc.

She came with baskets but they got lost in the cabinetry so she asked if I had any cute fabric.  Of course I do and in fact, I make a sport out of fabric hunting.

I produced this lovely David Hicks fabric and Grannie and I mistreated it into a basket liner—with safety pins.  Yes, we did.

I’ve been mistreating fabric my whole life and now my professional stylist friend not only approves but applauds it.  She and I?  Two peas in a pod.

I loved it so much I think I’m gonna make an honest to goodness liner to go in there and I’m gonna keep the clothespins idea.  Loved it all.

I also loved the pillows she brought for the sofa!  (from John Robshaw)   Good pillows are expensive but so worth it.

She borrowed a twin quilt from the Camp Room (which I haven’t shown you yet) to put over the sofa and I think I’m just gonna have to keep it there.  And her trick for getting things just right?  She takes pictures of the space and then studies it from there and decides what changes might make it better.

That’s Stevie in the background, trying to get the heck out of Dodge as fast as he could.  He’s not much of a photo shoot kinda of a guy, in case you were wondering.

Pretty quick after the crew arrived on Wednesday, I did the important things first.  I found out who’s in charge of the photoshopping and we had a little talk.  I said to Zane,  ”Zane, dear, I just want to be clear on something.  No matter what the photos look like, I weigh 120 pounds.  Are we both okay with that?”

And he said, “Yes ma’am”.   Like the good Southern boy he is.   I may or may not have offered him cash.

They took about 20 different shots, including the kitchen, the workroom, the master, the girls’ room, the living room and the guest room.   They came prepared with a shot list that described in detail what they were trying to capture with each one.  Nearly every shot was the same process: they would set it up, style it, shoot it and then tweak it after looking at the shot on the monitor.  It took a long time to get everything just right.  These people are serious business when it comes to everything being perfect.   They do not attend the school of ‘oh, everything looks fine wadsworth academy’.   They cipher and hem and haw and move things an inch and then another inch.  They are really good at what they do. I was so impressed.

They sent me an email a week before the shoot and said, “Hey, since you’re gonna be in January’s issue, do you have any good organization solutions that are pretty to share?”

“Um, no.  That’s not one of my spiritual gifts,” I replied.

But turns out, they did find a couple.

They shot my colorful shelves with all the fiesta ware and my glass canisters, labeled and all, full of flour, sugar, etc.

My poor sister slaved over the open shelves in the pantry for a good six hours the day before they got here.   “Should we put the tomatoes beside the chicken stock or the beans by the rice?”  we kept asking ourselves.   This is just like rocket surgery, people.  You gotta get it right.  Everybody knows that barley and wild rice should be stored in proximity.   We both just had a hunch they’d want to shoot the pantry.  And we were right.   I’m so glad she took her organizing skills to the next level and made the pantry beautiful.  I can promise you that it’s not always so.

Because she’s all kinds of sweet and amazing, she also baked pumpkin bread with pumpkin buttercream icing and it may very well be famous. They took several photos that included the pumpkin bread! It definitely won ‘best prop’ award. Unless you ask Stevie and he’ll say it was the glass of wine.

Here’s what I learned from the living room shoot.   Decorate the room how you think it looks best and then take out half the stuff.  EDIT.  I don’t edit.  I need to learn to edit.   Tzotche  hoarders don’t edit well.  See how cleared off my coffee table is? THere’s NOTHING on the bottom of it.  NOT. ONE. THING.

Stevie and I compromised when we rebuilt our house and I told him he could find any chair he loved as HIS chair. It wouldn’t have to match with the decor and I wouldn’t tell him what it had to look like. All I can tell you——it’s really comfortable. Not so photogenic, as it turns out. They made a note on their shot list to remove ‘the ugly leather chair in the corner.’  Okay, they didn’t say ugly but Stevie knew what they meant.  It’s a tiny notch above a lazy boy.  A very tiny notch.  It got sent to the kitchen for the shot, along with two other chairs and a stool.  Apparently, I hoard furniture too.

We all had a good laugh!

The other side of the room is where the camera was positioned on the tripod.  The shots came up on a large screen for everyone to analyze.  We all crowded around the computer to see Zane and Heather Anne work their magic.  They opened the front door for the living room shot to let as much natural light in as possible.

To make the day more soothing and enjoyable, Zane played some wonderful music for us.  I learned about the Lumineers and Old Crow Medicine Show.    Then around 4:30 when everyone was tired and jacked up on too much caffeine, Zane decided to show us a YouTube clip of Flight of the Conchords.  And in a twist of beautiful fate, he sang this whole little ditty for us, complete with all the beautiful facial expressions.  I laughed until I needed to change pants.  It was epic.  I’ll never forget.  Thank you, Zane.  So very much. I hope we end up in the same nursing home cause you’re funny.

The island looked like this most of the time.  I was far more worried about making sure everybody was fed and caffeinated than anything else.  I can’t even help myself.  The photographer was so gracious to have food catered but cooking is just what I do.  I’m happiest when I’m feeding people.

The girls room was scheduled to be shot, which is why they were relegated to the attic room for three days.  Grannie (my mother’s name to all who know her) ironed the sheets, pillowcases and duvets and then we forbid anyone in that room until the shoot.  I’ve added bedskirts and a couple pillows since you saw it last so I thought you might like a peek!  They are so glad to have their space back and I’m still trying to fumigate the attic room.

They weren’t originally gonna shoot the workroom—but they added it and I think I have finally located all my wayward books.  You’ve seen this room a thousand times but I thought you might like the green trellis monogrammed pillow I added.  It makes me smile every single day.  And those adorable yellow ranunculus?  My new favorite flower.

They didn’t shoot the side entry but this purse was hanging there this week and I instantly fell in love and had to know all about her.

I sent a text of this photo to JamieKnoxville today and under the text, I said, “Never mind the eggs.”

She texted back, “Hmmm, love it but the basket of eggs throws me off.  At least there’s not a live chicken coming out of the purse.”  Truer words have nary been spoken.

The purse belonged to Jessica, the very talented art director from BHG.  She was very inspiring to be around and was the cause of all my Amazon dollars being spent—-in books and one very cool purse.  She is quite the creative lady with a VERY colorful house!  Her house was featured in BHG a few years back and she showed us the pics.  Her house makes mine look like a snoozer. Great inspiration for us all.

I’ve already received the purse and I can testify that it is in fact the most wonderful purse I’ve ever owned.  It’s falls the perfect length off the shoulder and the leather is like buttah.

As a side note, I feel like such a fraud when I say purse.  I grew up in a family where the women carried pocket books.  It just seems wrong to call this beautiful thing anything so wrong as a pocket book.   I know what pocket books look like and this is not one of them.  Whatever this is, it is not a pocket book.  Tell me I’m right on this?!

The volume and beauty of the flowers they bring is amazing. I wish I had access to fresh flowers like this everyday. Life is better with beautiful flowers!

Here’s what might surprise you about a big magazine photo shoot.

1.  They turn off all the lights in the house, including the lamps.   I’m so stealing this idea for my own home shooting.

2.  They use a tripod on every shot.   I never bother to get out my tripod but when you’re shooting with the lights off, the shutter speed will inevitably be longer and noone can hold that still.   Stealing that idea too.

3.  They’re all so darn nice and gracious.  You feel intimidated and out of their league.  I  was gonna start apologizing for all the things in my house that weren’t done.  But they’re all people too—with homes in various stages of progress.  We’re all the same, really.  I shouldn’t have been so nervous.

4.  They shop the house and rearrange things like crazy.  They moved chairs, tables, rugs, etc to other rooms and for other purposes.  They also brought a host of things that might help including pillows, rugs and lots and lots of flowers. AND…..beside and all around the beautiful shot they’re creating??? Utter chaos. Crap laying everywhere, stuff pushed into corners. But that one spot is perfect. It’s really kinda cool.

5. You need your people with you. My mom and my sister stayed with me nearly the whole time. It was so comforting to have their help and to have someone to enjoy the process with. Thank you, a million times thank you for all your sacrifice of time.

6. It was a wonderful, life-enriching experience and I feel SO BLESSED to have been a part of it. What a way to end a story!

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  • jesszwo says:

    So so so so incredibly awesome! I just can’t wait to see this shoot in the magazine!! Much love to you and the fam, Edie! :)

  • Indeed! How lovely, from start to finish — I’ll be waiting breathlessly for my BH & G January issue. :) Now put your feet up, appreciate yourself, and finish The Odyssey!

  • love it! what an awesome thing to happen to a sweet family. can’t wait to see the magazine!

  • Adriane says:

    Your house is gorgeous, but your humility and charm really make it a home. BHG couldn’t have picked a better subject!

  • sharee says:

    Wow, that is so much fun! It was interesting learning how they prep for the photo shoot and labor over every detail. I can’t believe they were not going to shoot the workroom, that is my favorite out of them all!

  • I’m still chuckling over this part:

    “They sent me an email a week before the shoot and said, “Hey, since you’re gonna be in January’s issue, do you have any good organization solutions that are pretty to share?”

    “Um, no. That’s not one of my spiritual gifts,” I replied.”

    Love it. Love you. xoxo

  • Barbara says:

    Livin’ the dream, baby! You know we’re all just sitting here, with drool dripping off our chins. (I start talking with a southern accent, in my mind, even when leaving a comment, after reading one of your posts!) Congrat’s on scoring this great spread!

  • Patty says:

    After spending more than half of my life fretting about my home not coming close to those I saw in magazines, I am so relieved to know the truth. Deep down, I suspected that those BHG homes were too beautiful for real life. Everybody knows that real families don’t iron their sheets! Thanks for putting things into perspective.
    Your home is spectacular, but the people inhabiting it are more so :)

  • Kathryn says:

    Cannot wait until January. Your home looks wonderful, so I can imagine it will look absolutely stunning in the spread. Congrats! You deserve it :)

  • Amber B. says:

    So happy for you. Your style and your heart are wonderful–can’t wait to see your home in the magazine!!!

  • Southern Gal says:

    Such interesting bits of information on what goes on in a house shoot. I can’t wait to see it in the magazine.

    I love that purse. And thank you for clearing up the pocketbook/purse problem. I grew up with pocketbooks, too. It’s so hard for me to say purse (unless it’s my granddaughter, Nora, toting it around – then it’s definitely a purse #prisspot) I’ve gotten where I call them all “handbags” or “bags”. Not very elegant.

  • Stacy says:

    “What a way to end a story.” Edie, I think your story is just beginning. Your home–beauty for ashes. You are such an inspiration. Oh, what a blessing you are!

  • Ruth says:

    Edie-it sounds like a truly exciting experience. I can imagine you were stressed but felt relief as it all came together. Your story is an amazing one, and I think it is far from over.
    Looking forward to the January issue!!

  • What a wonderful happy memory to be created in celebration of this new chapter in your life. I can’t wait ’til the January issue arrives in my mailbox!!! And thank you soooo much for letting us in, behind the scenes!!! Love you Eddie!

  • Kelley says:

    I had to laugh at the girls the other night. They told me all about being kicked out of their room and the ironed sheets. They were mortified that someone leaned onto the bed to retrieve a pillow (?) thus causing the sheets to require ironing again! I am sure they loved their time in squalor, too.

  • Tiffany @ The Domestic Fox says:

    Edie – just about every week I go back and re-read your posts during those months after the fire. I am finding strength in your words as we rebuild from the tornado that destroyed our home this year. My loss wasn’t a fire and we weren’t there to witness the loss of our house…our home…but I know how your heart ached during the recovery period. And even now…as we are starting our rebuild…some days the emotions just take me away and the tears just don’t stop. Your story has turned into a fairy tale…and gives me hope. My words to you in March of 2011…”it’s going to be okay…” I have to remember to tell myself that every day – it’s going to be okay.

    I love the way your story ends….but I don’t think it’s the end at all – it’s only the beginning for you and your family. And I am looking forward to a glimpse into that journey through your posts and pictures…

  • Christy says:! It’s all just so very exciting! I can’t WAIT to see the magazine. You are so adorable. I love reading your posts. You have such a sweet spirit.

  • Nicole Scott says:

    Wow! That is so cool. You house looks amazing. What a great way to capture it forever! Congratulations!

  • SO excited for you, sweet Edie! Your home is drool worthy and absolutely gorgeous. So excited for you!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE it. ;}

  • Awe, I love that your mom and sis are always there helping you and supporting you. Good women they are. Congrats on such an opportunity.

  • Becky says:

    Loved this post!!!!! Your home is amazing and so inspirational. I can’t wait for the article to come out!!

  • chrissi says:

    Edie, this all sounds so fun and exciting. Thanks for sharing the adventure. I can’t wait to buy the magazine.

  • You are famous now, girl! Your house is amazing. Loved seeing all the happy chaos behind the scenes. And, the missing chair? Too funny.

  • Comeca says:

    Everything looks beautiful I know it was a great experience!

  • KimS says:

    Love the post, And the video was hilarious! Had to send a link to Zak, and told him I can totally see him doing that. LOL

  • Maureen says:

    What an entertaining story! Cannot wait until this issue comes out!!

  • Sarah says:

    Can’t wait to see it in the magazine! I’m so glad y’all got this opportunity. The world needs to hear about God’s provision for you, and about the beauty that rose from the ashes. I can’t wait especially to hear about how they portray that. If they convey your story anything like your blog, they won’t be able to avoid the Irresistable Grace.

  • Lori H says:

    So exciting! Can’t wait to see the story. And definately, that purse is NOT a pocketbook. :)

  • My goodness!!
    a) I love that you may or may not have paid that man cash to remember your true weight. I believe you wholly.
    b) If organization is a spiritual gift, then I am sorely lacking in that too. But I crave it.
    c) How adorable that you ed the crew. I think food as a love language ranks well above organization as a spiritual gift. LOL I bet they’ll never forget you.
    d) Conchords, Old Crow, and Mumford & Sons… excellent combo.
    e) Thanks so much for sharing the styling advice!! Editing is hard. Please say, though, that you returned our bookshelves to their former PACKED glory. They look and feel so good that way! xoxo
    Congrats on such a cool experience, cannot wait to pick up the January issue!

  • Wendy says:

    So beautiful! I aspire to have a house one day that is 1/10th of the beauty that you have created! And yes, pocket book is what I was raised to say as well, but I’ll agree – that’s a purse!

  • Lisa Graves says:

    So happy for you, Edie. I am so excited to see the January issue. I love your style of writing…you make it fun and comfortable for those of us reading. I pray many more blessings for you and your family and thank you so much for giving us a glimpse of your life.

    Lisa Graves

  • Susan says:

    Wow! The happest ending indeed! I can’t wait for January!

  • Kris says:

    I dont’ read BHG normally, but will definitely be picking up the January issue. So happy for you! It looks amazing!!

  • Wendy says:

    Must have the recipe for your sister’s pumpkin bread w/pumpkin buttercream icing! Love everything about the house but I’m focused on the food at the moment :)

  • Carol says:

    Wonderful to see all of your efforts in creating such a beautiful, loving and comfortable home for your family recognized in BHG. Already looking forward to the January issue.

  • Gina says:

    How exciting to have your home photographed and yes it is the perfect ending to your story!! Looking forward to seeing it. :) I had to laugh over the pocket book/purse thing because my husband says pocket book and I always say, “your mom carried a pocket book, I carry a purse!” Now it is a joke in our house. ;)

  • I’m so glad you shared this! I’ve often thought it would be fun to have a good stage/decorator come in and rearrange my house (as much as I love it and love to decorate it). I’d like to see it through someone else’s eyes and see if it would be liveable or make sense for our family. Can’t wait for your BHG issue to come out! Congrats on making the absolute most of a horrifying situation!

  • Nicki says:

    This is just fantastic! And the fact that your home will be in the January issue, which is by far my favorite issue all year, is just icing on the cake. Can’t wait to see it. Oh, and the pocket book vs purse thing made me laugh out loud.

  • Edie,
    Well, you’ve done it again! WOW’d me :)
    A few comments:
    -Can’t believe they did not include the porch. Shame on them!
    -My pantry is in CONSTANT state of redoing, rearranging, cleaning out, resorting….
    -Loved the pic of the “away room” the girls were exiled to. Too funny ;)
    -Edie, that is not a purse, or a pocket book. It is a piece of luggage! And a pretty darn
    good looking one, at that. The boots on the floor were awesome!
    -I am still voting your kitchen the best I have EVER seen. (BTW, still thinking of painting
    my island black. The girls do not have to ask anymore who I am referring to when I say,
    “Look at Edie’s blog….” :)
    -All the pics were fun, and beautiful. Can’t wait until the magazine comes out!
    -You will always amaze me and inspire me. Wonder how many BFFs you have out there?
    (secretly I am one of many…..)

  • Lolo says:

    You and your home are so inspiring !! Love, love your story of faith and family…what fun to share it with the whole world! Cannot wait to see your spread in BHG :) You guys are truly amazing <3 <3 XOX

  • Stacey says:

    Edie, your home is just beautiful and totally deserves to be in a magazines…or several. I wanted to ask you, how and where did you acquire all of your artwork so quickly and beautifully? I am stumped to even find one thing that I can’t live without or that doesn’t seem reproduced a million times.

  • paige says:

    lord have mercy my friend
    you are amazing
    can NOT wait to see it in print!!!!
    & the purse. well of course you purchased it based soley on the fact that it feels like butter ;) love that brand!

  • Patty Palmer says:

    Ooohhh!!! What a treat for BH & G fans! I adore your house! How fun, fun, fun!

  • Becky @ Farmgirl paints says:

    So excited for you girl. Much deserved. Your house is breathtaking. I loved that you said gonna all throughout this post. Made me smile. I could feel your excited energy.

  • Thanks for sharing this fun and unusual experience. I enjoyed every word.


  • Gina in Louisville says:

    I am pretty sure that is not a purse but actually a piece of luggage perfect for a 3-day trip. : )

  • Kim B. says:

    LOVED every bit of this!! Sooo much to “escape” in the beauty of your home :) It seizes to amaze me how God continues to bless you & your family for perservering through those dark days. God may have taken away, but He truly has given back & then some! Sooo happy for you Edie!!

  • How awesome of an ending to your story, edie! My younger two kids and a couple families we know have dealt with a few Meredith shoots, and yes, they are great to work with. Can’t wait for January’s issue!

  • This is such a great post, Edie and I can think of no one that deserves this more than you! Congrats!

  • Thanks so much for sharing your BHG story! It is a dream of mine to have my home featured in their magazine and I love hearing the stories of those who have. I think I would have to send my family away to get everything prepped, as I would probably have an anxiety attack amid the anticipation! :-). Can’t wait to see your home featured in January!! Congrats!

  • edie! this is so exciting! i can’t wait to pick up an issue….so happy you had such a grand time. :) you’re house is truly a home…..

  • Ahhhh, Edie! So happy for you, I loved reading all about it. What fun we had at the cottage hearing about your upcoming photo shoot with BHG. So stinkin happy for you, can’t wait to see your feature. I’m hoping it will happen to me one day. Your house is so gorgeous, it deserves to be shown off!!

  • Marnita says:

    When my oldest daughter (24yo) was little she called them “pocket purses”. To this day, whether it is a Coach, a Big Buddah or nothing special from a big box store, it is still a pocket purse and brings a smile to my face.

  • Morgan says:

    What a fantastic overview of a fantastic opportunity!! Congrats!

  • Found a link to this post from Centsational Girl. What a neat opportunity to get featured in BHG. I’ve always wanted see how a stylist would change my house for a photo. Love all the color and funkiness you’ve incorporated in your home, just from what I’ve seen in this one post. Now I’m off to poke around the rest of your blog for more!

  • Ok, I read this post before but didn’t watch the video, thanks for the good laugh/cry… going to change my clothes!

  • LLH Designs says:

    I just got the chance to read this post and was cracking up almost the entire time! I bet this one of the most fun photo shoots in the the history of photo shoots! You are a hoot! Love your sense of humor and candid spirit.

    One of my favorite things about photography is that I can block out the clutter and focus on the beauty. I love the way you described the chaos. It puts the perfection we see in magazines into perspective.


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  • Carlene Gordon says:

    I just love the chairs in the kitchen. Where can I find them?

  • Mary Beth says:

    Thank you for sharing your backstory with us. When I got my January issue of Better Homes and Gardens and started reading about you all rebuilding after a fire, I realized that I had been on your blog before. I love that you are so down to earth. Your home is so warm and inviting. I really got a lot of good ideas for decorating my home. Thank you again and best wishes.

  • Suzette says:

    Nevermind the purse (and it is very pretty). I want to know about the blue and green hanging in the back. Is that an apron? I must have it in my life. Where did you get it?

  • cwest says:

    where is the girl’s bedding from?

  • Susan says:

    I would like to know where the curtains in the living room from, the green and white ones with the brown shade behind it? Thanks.

  • Leonard says:

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand.

    It seems too complicated and very broad for me.
    I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to
    get the hang of it!

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