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Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Well, hello there everyone, and Happy 2018!  I hope you all had a blessed Christmas season and that your new year is off to a wonderful start!  I've taken my sweet time easing back into blogging after the holidays.  I truly unplugged from any kind of work here through the break and enjoyed the season with my family.  It was really nice!  However, because of my slower posting schedule I have neglected to share the details of a huge event for us here with you... our Christmas feature in Better Homes and Gardens!  I've mentioned the shoot here and there on the blog through the past few months, but the time finally came and our feature really was in the December 2017 issue (even though we had the shoot, a little bit of me never fully believed it would be published until I saw it in print!).  Many of you saw the feature and have already sent me such kind messages, so thank you!

I've been blogging for over 6 years and have had the privilege to have several small features in a couple of other magazines, but deep deep down in my heart I always thought... some day I'll "make it" if I'm ever featured in BHG!!  For me, it was my ultimate dream feature.

We were thrilled to have a 4 page spread showcasing so many spaces in our home.

As I share the feature with you today, I thought you might like a glimpse of what it was like during the photo shoot.  I know I've always wondered what the process might be like, so maybe you've wondered too and now I can share my experience with you.  I tried to think of all the questions I've always wondered about and answer them here.  If there are other questions you're wondering about, feel free to ask in the comments and I'll do my best to answer.


I think that the editors probably found my images through Pinterest or Instagram.  They were wanting to do features on unexpected Christmas decor, and zeroed in on how I used party store fans throughout my home for Christmas.  From what I understand, Pinterest may be one resource used by magazine scouts to search for possible matches when they are looking for a particular story, and I often use several BHG hashtags when I post on Instagram, so you never know who is looking at those feeds!


All they asked was that I have my Christmas decorations accessible when they arrived.  The stylist and an assistant would be responsible for putting up all of the decorations, managing the shoot, and taking everything down and putting it away when the shoot was over.  They were interested in shooting the Porch, Entry, Dining Room, Living Room, Breakfast Nook, and Master Bedroom.  Whew!  That was a lot of spaces to have ready.  They also wanted to take some shots of me and my family, so we would all need to be available and prepared for that.


The last week in July.  In Oklahoma.  We were fully decked out for Christmas during one of the hottest weeks of the year.  My poor stylist and photographers coming in and out in the 100 degree heat... and who knows what the neighbors thought of my porch fully decorated for Christmas!


Busy!  Granted, everything we did was completely self-imposed... but BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS was coming to photograph MY house!!!  I felt like every nook and cranny had to be spotless and perfectly organized (didn't happen... but be tried our best!).  I hired a cleaning lady for the first time in my life to come a few days before they arrived.  It was heaven and worth every penny to have everything spotless all at once!

We (I) also created a huge to-do list that we worked on for the weeks leading up to the shoot.  Touching up baseboards and cabinet paint, organizing the garage, cleaning the brick on the front porch, washing windows, cleaning out the cabinet under the kitchen sink...

and a few chores that just never seemed to get done, like finally hemming my bedroom drapes after having the hem just pinned up for two years!  It was a lot of work, but GREAT motivation to take care of little jobs that always seem to slip through the cracks.

We also did a few things like having certain "props" ready, and made our usual Christmas trek out back to cut a load of cedar to use around the house.


The magazine sent a stylist, a photographer, and his assistant for the shoot.  The stylist arrived 2 days before the photography guys to begin prepping the house.  Come to find out, my stylist had been the home editor for HGTV magazine for several years before she began freelancing, so I was thrilled that she was assigned to our house when I saw her colorful style.  But let me tell you, knowing she was coming with that resume was intimidating!!  Our photographer was top notch too and has shot some of the most incredible locations and features, but they all couldn't have been nicer or more gracious.

She also hired a local assistant, and when the person she hired had to back out at the last minute, my sister was available to swoop in to save the day!  This is basically a good part of what she does for her job after all- style spaces for photos and videos- and she's very good at it so I was completely confident in recommending her for the job.  I was SO glad at that turn of events, it was nice to have a familiar face helping and I felt like she had an extra critical eye out to make sure everything looked it's best for her good ol' sis.  She and the stylist really hit it off too, and I think that everyone really enjoyed working together.


We were asked to schedule 5 days for the entire process.  The first 2 days would be for decorating, 2 days for shooting, and 1 day for clean-up.

As I mentioned, they requested that the entire family be available for some photos, so the first afternoon of shooting everyone was all ready for their close-ups.  There was a lot of hanging out in the bedroom waiting for their shot...  ;)

Sadly, none of the family photos made it into the magazine.  Honestly, that was a big disappointment for me.  I knew there were no guarantees and not everything they shot would be used, but the whole family worked so hard to prepare for this and I was excited for the kids to be in print and be able to show their friends.

We took a few of our own photos though while we were all dressed, and they sure did look cute!

The shoot was a definite process.  I guess I expected the entire house to be prepped and ready and looking beautiful all at once, but it actually worked in stages.  We would prep one area at a time, and generally the other areas that weren't being photographed at the time were a disaster!  Furniture was moved, screens were put up, equipment was everywhere... definitely not picture perfect just outside of the shot!  We really only had one or two spaces fully ready when the photographer arrived, and as they shot one space we'd be working behind the scenes to get the next space ready to shoot.  And usually, after one space was finished being photographed, we'd clean that area up.  So, I had hoped to take some of my own photos but there was never really time (or it was getting too dark by the time the crew left for the day).  I really just got more behind the scenes shots here and there on my phone. 

The stylist fixed my bedroom so pretty... it didn't make it in either but it looked great!


Yes and no.  The editors and stylist working on my feature worked closely together and had a plan before they even arrived as to what areas would be photographed.  For the most part, they referred to my photos from last year's (2016) Christmas decorations and had in mind tweaks that needed to be made to make each area more magazine-layout friendly.

In the week leading up to the shoot, the stylist sent boxes of supplies and possible props to add in.

For the most part we used my own things, but she did add in some textiles/pillows/accessories here and there.  The garage was our staging area where everything was set up to pick and choose from, it was like a mini decor shop in there!  There were 3 more tables set up too that I didn't get a photo of-

Since we were working from my photos for the most part to recreate the spaces, things were pretty true to what I had done with the exception of some of those different accessories being added in.  Sometimes the stylist would ask what I would normally do in a certain space, and sometimes she would arrange a space how she knew it would look best for the page spread.  What might look pleasing to the eye in real life doesn't always translate the same way on camera, so she and the photographer knew how to arrange things to make the best final shot.


None at all!  Once the shoot wrapped up and we put the house back in order, my part was done.  I was contacted some time later and interviewed by the writer for a few more details, but other than that I didn't see any photos or know what would be included and how the layout would look until the magazine came out.  I was so nervous!  Since I was always busy working on another area to shoot while they were photographing a space, I really hadn't even seen more than a photo or two as they were being taken so I had no idea what things were looking like on camera.


No.  It was such an honor to be invited to do this photo shoot, I didn't even ask about payment in initial discussions about the shoot.  I wanted the experience of having a professional photo shoot in my home and to me that experience and everything I learned by doing it was worth it, payment or not.  That being said, since I knew nothing about the process I did take the opportunity to talk to my stylist while she was here (who has also been an editor in the past) about routine procedures, and she confirmed that in her experience it is very rare for the homeowner to be paid for a feature.


So much!  First of all, a photo shoot is a LOT of hard work!  It was interesting to see what goes in to a home feature in a magazine, and what it takes to get the shot.  Mostly, I learned that people are professional and gracious.  Even though my home is all over the internet, I control what I put out there.  As I mentioned earlier, to have professionals who have decorated and shot the most gorgeous  locations working in my home was intimidating for me, but they couldn't have been kinder, more down to earth, or more professional!  They didn't seem to really care if I had cleaned out the cabinet under my kitchen sink or not.  ;)

And, leftovers from a photo shoot are pretty great.

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Would you like to comment?

  1. I saw it, I am so thrilled for you. Everything looked totally amazing and I loved it all. Congratulations!!!!!!

  2. What an accomplishment! This was fun to see! One question, did they bring in the rug?

    1. Yes they did. It's a Pottery Barn rug that's still available if you like it!

  3. I remember when you said this was happening, and then I saw the December issue at my library. Yes, as your other readers, I was so happy and thrilled for you because I 'know' you! ha I wondered why there were pictures that didn't have items out as I've seen in your past posts and guess I now understand why. Personally, I liked the way you were decorated before the shoot! Either way, congratulations on the accomplishment and an item to check off that 'bucket list'! =) Julie

    1. Thank you Julie! It was fun to see another direction in decorating some of the spaces, even if a little different than I would normally do!

      I think in an earlier comment you asked about commenting other than as "Anonymous".
      You can do that through using a google account, which I believe only requires an email address. If you already have one set up you just need to be logged in. Where it says "comment as" below, select Google Account. I believe it will lead you from there when you try to publish a comment. Hope that helps!

  4. Jennifer, You are one of my favorites and you truly deserve a feature! Thank you for sharing the process..I assumed it was a lot of work, but the behinds the scenes details were very interesting!

  5. So fun and congrats again. Did you ever ask if you could have some of the family photos for personal use? I asked my stylist and photographer and was able to get my favorite one for our family album ;) It never hurts to ask.

  6. I can't wait to find a copy of Better Homes and Garden to see your beautiful home. How special to have your home featured in a magazine. Congratulations!!

  7. What a delightful well deserved accomplishment! Thanks for sharing your artistic talents and all the behind the scene details! Joyce:)

  8. I had to smile when I saw your layout in BHG~everything was so beautiful in print....however, I personally (like the above reader) think your own photos and decorating are so amazing, that I would not have tweaked anything for the magazine photos. What a great experience for you! You are always so helpful and share so much...glad you dream came true!

  9. Congratulations. I always thought your home would look great on magazine pages. I love all the color especially your blue and white pieces.

  10. I read it too! And, I have been snatching up ornaments to display like the ones in your lanterns for next year! Love it! I don't think I put you and the photos together... thanks for the behind the scenes. Laura

  11. OMG how friggin cool ! That was my fav part of the issue too! But seriously, this was so awesome to see what goes into all that. I always wondered how they got the windows so white. Thanks for this behind the scenes look!

  12. ABSOLUTELY AWESOME! And your house and family looked absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing this behind the scenes post! Waasssaay cool to see what really goes on from the insider perspective!

  13. Thanks for sharing this blog post. I knew it was involved and lots of work but oh my! Beyond proud of you and your amazing family!

  14. So happy for you, Jennifer! They did a great job of capturing your look. I'm so glad they didn't do something wildly different - I have always wondered if the owner's tastes are really reflected in the final staging. Also, your children have grown up SO MUCH. Gosh, they look like clones of you and your husband. They're adorable!

  15. I have a question. I haven't seen the magazine yet but how did they deal with the landscape outside the windows since it obviously was not winter?

    1. Hi Marie, the windows were all lightened up enough in the photos that the landscaping outside wasn't visible.

  16. What an experience Jennifer! It was only a matter of time before BHG came calling. I loved the feature, it was beautiful and seemed to really represent your unique, colorful, happy style. So happy for you to have been featured!


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