I have very exciting news: my kitchen is in this month’s (February 2020) issue of Better Homes & Gardens!
I shared the news on Instagram (along with a couple of pictures during the photo shoot) in the fall, and I was asked a lot of questions about the experience. Now that the issue is out, I’m excited to share some stories from behind the scenes, for anyone who is interested. But first I have to say that I’m so grateful to the magazine (and the editor who reached out to me) for including my kitchen in the I Did It! Section. Seeing my kitchen in the magazine is such a motivating and uplifting start to the year for me. I am a HUGE fan of Better Homes & Gardens (who isn’t?) and this is still a pinch-me-am-I-dreaming-moment.
P.S. almost all of the photos of my kitchen are from a few days ago! But the two photos below I took the day of the photo shoot, so you can grab an issue of the magazine and see what was changed!
How Did This Happen?
This was the #1 question I was asked: did I reach out? Did they reach out? How did this happen? Well, I use the Better Homes & Gardens hashtags on Instagram and my kitchen had been shared before in the BH&G Instagram feed (when it was all aqua).
Then the kitchen was shared on the Better Homes & Gardens website. I’m also a pinner for two group Better Homes & Gardens Pinterest Boards (see here and here). So I was already kind of on their radar, I suppose. But when one of the editors reached out, I was still totally shocked and surprised.
Did I Get Paid?
This was the second most-asked question, lol. Yes, and no. So, for just appearing in the pages, I was not paid for that part. Like any blogger featured in a magazine, I am super grateful for the experience and the press – being in Better Homes & Gardens is a really big deal (and also incredibly flattering). A feature like this does end up generating income for me, in a round about way: I can parlay it into collaborations (brands love to see this kind of past press), plus this feature will likely bring some new folks to my website (hi!) and I earn money from display ads and affiliate links on the website. After the photo shoot, the magazine asked to use my progress photos from my DIY Kitchen Cubbies tutorial, for which I was paid a small fee. Oh, how I wish I hadn’t snapped those in poor lighting on my cell phone. Ugh – I do not style those progress shots and it came back to haunt me this time!
Is This the First Time My Home is in a Magazine?
Sort of. I have had other publications ask to print my own photos, so there’s been a DIY here or a corner of a room there, in print. There are lots more online features, again using my own photos (you can see my Press Page here). Because of my location, no other publication has been willing to send a team here to photograph my space. I’m in the middle of exactly no where, lol, and I’ve had to turn down (or been turned down) for so many opportunities because of it: TV shows (yup), magazine features, home tours, sponsored posts, freelance work, DIY contests – you name it! This is why I’m extra thrilled that Better Homes & Gardens was willing to send a (Canadian, freelance) team here. It means a lot to me! I’m so appreciative because it’s a logistical hurdle not many people want to deal with.
How Long Did it Take?
The shoot took two days, but there was travel in there for the team, so it was two very short, very fast paced days. One funny thing: after the first day, the team asked where I’d recommend they eat and I shared all of my favorite spots. After they left, Hubby and I decided to drive into town to eat too, because I didn’t want to make a mess in the kitchen. But we had no idea where to eat because I’d recommended all of my favorite places and I didn’t want to bump into them, like a Stage 5 Clinger, haha.
Was the Experience Stressful?
The photo shoot was a little bit stressful, but also a lot of fun. It wasn’t as stressful as the Canadian Tire shoot (from ages ago), because this was shorter, focused on the kitchen, and only three people showed up. The shoot with Canadian Tire involved a LOT of people in my house and every inch was available to use for the videos and photos (which have long since disappeared because it was a seasonal promotion). This felt way more chill and the styling/photography team that Better Homes & Gardens hired were so kind to me and really put me at ease. But I will admit that I am not a huge fan of having my photo taken. Actually, this is super embarrassing, but I almost said no because I had gained a lot of weight recently. A few years back I lost 50 pounds and I felt amazing (that link isn’t a weight loss post, but a photo of me after I hit my “goal” – for comparison, this photo is me at my heaviest). The last few years have been so stressful for Hubby and I, and I was so proud of myself for getting a handle on my stress eating and getting healthy and fit. But lately I back slid and I gained back a LOT of weight. Because of it, I just didn’t want to be photographed. I knew that I wouldn’t love how I looked in the photos, but I was also embarrassed because to me the weight gain symbolizes how I stopped being kind to myself and started eating to cope with stress. But I pushed myself to not care – when I’m 80, I’ll regret saying no to ANY experiences because of something ridiculous like weight gain. So I powered through, forced myself to say yes, and encouraged myself to relax. I’m a little embarrassed to mention how I feel about this, but I wanted to be super honest because I know other woman struggle with their weight and image too. The lesson here: I’m happy I said yes and put myself out there, even though I didn’t feel confident about how I look. I’m happy I didn’t let my insecurity ruin a really cool experience for me.
Did Better Homes & Gardens Ask Me to Paint the Kitchen Teal?
Interesting question! I got this a LOT because I had been waffling between keeping the kitchen two-tone or going all teal and then once I announced the photo shoot, the kitchen was suddenly painted teal. When the magazine approached me, I asked if I could paint it teal because I had decided to go for it. I was asked to wait on that. Then they came back and sad, “YES! Paint it,” and I was like, “oh no, how many days do I have?” The turn around was tight, but doable! So I had already decided to paint, but Better Homes & Gardens impacted the deadline a bit. They liked it both ways, but ultimately preferred the all-teal a bit more. Interestingly, they were really adamant that I could not change out the turquoise stools (I never would).
Did the Stylist Change a Lot of Things?
This surprised me a lot. I kind of pictured we’d take everything down from the shelves and then the stylist would work her magic and everything would be totally different. In preparation I washed all the shelves and everything on them, and did my own preliminary de-cluttering. But then she came in and said it all looked nice. There was no big reorganization, but some things were removed or added for the photos. The magazine had asked for some warmth for photos: so some terracotta planters were added but, strangely, my walnut salad plates were removed (they looked too dark in photos). My Keurig and kettle were removed, as was one of the Krenit bowls. A few reflective things were removed as well, so my glass kitchen utensils container was switched for a grey one and my acrylic spice shelves were taken down. My ancient turquoise kitchen utensils were also removed – thankfully, because they were SO stained and burned, lol. My snake plant also got the boot because he crowded into the photo too much like a total lurker. A new grey toaster, stainless stock pot, terracotta planters, fresh plants, and cook book were all that were added of items that weren’t mine. But those changes made all the difference because it looked much less cluttered and you could see individual pieces more clearly – I LOVED the changes and watched in awe.
After that tiny bit of tweaking, a set of test photos was taken and sent to the magazine editors and some things didn’t photograph well, so a few more little switches were made. I welcomed the stylist to “shop the house,” and that’s how my Strawberry Hill owl ended up in the kitchen (along with some vintage Pyrex from my credenza that I don’t keep on the shelves anymore). But really, overall, the kitchen is very “me” and representative of how the DIY kitchen cubbies look and function daily. The tweaks were all about how things would show up on camera, which makes sense. I had really expected someone to come in with all contrasting reds and yellows (people are allllwaaayyyys telling me to add reds and yellows, lol) but nope, BH&G liked my cool as ice color palette 😉
Did I Get to Keep the Props?
Yes! That was awesome. I loved the utensil holder that the stylist picked out so much more than my own, so I kept it. She even motivated me to upgrade my kitchen utensils when I saw how pretty it looked without the turquoise. So I bought this set from Amazon and I LOVE the mid-century vibe and solid walnut pieces. I also kept the cookbook and the planters, but I returned the stock pot and toaster because I already have those. Luckily it was all bought from HomeSense so I could return without a receipt and I bought myself a cashmere sweater with the gift card (shhhh). I was actually unreasonably thrilled about this “free” little treat.
Did I have to Wear Something Special?
Yes! I was asked to wear something solid colored, not a print. But it couldn’t be white, black, or any shade in my kitchen. It also couldn’t be anything super seasonal, like a bulky sweater or summer dress, and had to be kind of a business casual vibe – what you’d wear to brunch. Sooooo, my whole closet is prints or white, black, and blue solids (and bulky sweaters). I had to go shopping, with very little notice in my tiny rural city. Ugh, that was the most stressful part of all – until I ripped the crotch of my favorite jeans while at the hairdressers, lol. Then that became the most stressful part because I had to buy jeans at the last minute! In the end, I found a really cute navy blouse but it was vetoed and I ended up wearing my second choice: a pink tank and cardigan combo – not really my style or color, but it was the best I could do. There were no other rules, but I did go get my hair trimmed and the blond toned a bit (file that under “business expenses,” haha). I’m wearing a teal necklace from my Mom’s sweet cousin and my gold charm bracelet (which is my good luck charm).
Was it Awkward to Pose/Be in Front of the Camera?
Oh my gosh, YES! There’s a reason I am not a YouTuber! I prefer to be taking the photos, although I’ve tried, over the years, to show up more and more in photos. But I’m normally doing something comfy, like holding a chicken. For this, I had to pose very specifically – “turn a foot out, put your hand on the counter, lift your chin”. I think I look a little deer in headlights in the photos – I’m not my usual relaxed self. It was kind of funny because, at one point I was positioned against the back cabinets and I heard the photographer say, “no, she looks too small back there” and in my head I said, “that’s GOOD!“. I was comfortable hiding behind the cabinetry, so I’m glad the photo chosen was of me semi-hiding (there were ones of me in front of the kitchen taken). But I never complained because I would have balanced that bowl of fruit on my head if they thought it would make the shot. It’s Better Homes & Gardens, did I mention that?!?
Favorite Part of the Experience?
Good question! Obviously, seeing the magazine come out was rewarding. But I also really enjoyed watching the professionals at work! I’m so isolated in what I do, I never see other creatives at work. I definitely picked up some styling tips (less is more)! And I also tried to soak up some photography tips but honestly I’m eons behind. No tips will really help until I stop using my old camera and use the NEW camera I bought, which is professional grade but I am afraid of it. That’s one of my goals for 2020: awesome blog photos.
On a person level, I had such a great time chatting with the stylist. She was SO kind to me and complimented my home, which really made me feel good. She used to work for Style at Home Magazine, doing the high/low and other styling features and I honestly feel like she shaped my design aesthetic so having her like my home was a huge confidence boost. The editor who reached out to me from Better Homes & Gardens was also so kind and understanding. She made the whole process so easy for me, and now it’s fun when I see her photos in the magazine – I got the chance to talk with her! So people really made this experience great!
Have I Changed the Kitchen Since?
It’s always changing, lol! I’m always moving little things around, based on what I’m really using or loving at the moment. I added a small lamp. My Mom always has a lamp in the kitchen and I thought it was weird but I added a little vintage Lotte lamp and it’s so cozy at night! I have also added chicken stuff, removed chicken stuff (resist, Tanya, resist!) – and I replaced the vase mentioned in the magazine! I used to have a mint green vase that belonged the my grandmother in the upper right cubby, but I just recently moved it to the left side and added that grey/green vase because my Mom gave it to me as a gift in December. We don’t exchange gifts really, but I had seen it at a pottery show we went to together but I walked away because I am flat broke. She secretly went back and bought it for me the next day and that really touched my heart. She’s broke too, lol, so it made me cry that she would still buy me something when I know she could use the money for something she needs.
I wish my chickens had started laying a bit earlier, because their eggs are SO pretty. I would have loved a basket of eggs on the counter! But no such luck. Those lazy ladies didn’t start laying until after the photo shoot. There was brief talk of me grabbing a chicken to hold for photos (I was SO game) but sadly they stayed in the coop.
I hope that answers all the questions? Feel free to ask me anything in the comments if you’re curious about something I didn’t discuss. I have always been curious about what happens behind the scenes at design/decor magazines.
Thanks for letting me share this experience with you – and for all of the support on social media when the photo shoot happened. This experience was really, really rewarding and exciting, and I’m so grateful to Better Homes & Gardens for making one of my dreams come true.