As some of you guys have already discovered, we had the great pleasure of having our house photographed for the latest issue of HGTV Magazine. Well, our last house (we’d probably bat someone away with a stick if they tried to snap pictures of our new place just yet). And since a bunch of you have been asking for the behind the scenes scoop, here it is.

That day was such a blur that we weren’t even sure that we had any behind the scenes photos to share, but when we looked back in iPhoto, it turns out we remembered to snap a few photos. This is Clara the editor. She’s telling us what we need to fix for the shot to work better (“you need to see more of my toys”).

The HGTV Magazine crew (which included a photographer, his assistant, a stylist, and an editor from the mag) spent two days in our house. They were lots of fun and very gracious guests… even as our dining room became a makeshift office for 48 hours.

Well, except for when it had to be tidied up and photographed. Notice how there are only 4 chairs instead of 6? It was their trick to make it feel open and show off the pedestal a bit more. All part of the fun of seeing your house through someone else’s eyes.

And of course there were moments when the room had to be almost entirely cleared to get the perfect angle. This was the set up they used to photograph us in our office for the opening spread.

Sherry and I are quite comfortable with the chaos that comes along with a whole-house photo session (nothing can compare to the three straight weeks of book shoots). And by now I’d say our kids are getting pretty cool with it too.

Rachael, the photo stylist, was awesome with flower arrangements, pillow fluffing, and Clara. They even developed a secret handshake to help her feel at ease with all of the strangers around. Although I fear this photo gives away the whole secret (it was just pressing their thumbs together). Simple or not, we love Rachel for thinking of that.

We also love that she and Jen (the editor) brought some fun props with them. You may have caught this Instagram shot of our kitchen doused with pretty food and accessories. It was eye candy and literal candy all at once.

You can see some of those styling props hard at work in this picture of our kitchen, which we think is just about the prettiest shot of it ever taken. But even as photo-styling goes, we loved the balance the HGTV Magazine crew struck. In our opinion, it wasn’t too over-styled (it still looked like our kitchen) but it was fluffed enough to make it look interesting on the page and to give us some new ideas about what we might want to tweak ourselves (more on that later).

Perhaps the only bummer about the feature was that some of our favorite shots didn’t make the cut. We knew they were taking more pictures than they’d have room for, but we saw some along the way that we had our fingers crossed for – like this one of the recently-completed fireplace.

That shot also featured our new favorite term: “an aggressive sandwich.” Someone deemed the prop sandwich too big at one point, dubbing it too “aggressive” for the shot. I think they eventually tamed it by removing a tomato slice. We all had a good laugh about what goes into these shoots, and Sherry still trades emails with our new HGTV friends by signing them with “xoxo, Aggressive Sandwich”

Here’s a peek at what could’ve been, had these shots ended up in the spread.

The frame wall never looked better. Here’s one of our over-their-shoulder shots of the hallway styled up with some pretty flowers by Rachael.

I wonder if the photographer feels a little sad when certain shots don’t make it. He took a ton of time setting each one up, but he’s probably used to it. Oh and you’ll notice that we had to take down the basket light in the kitchen because it was casting weird shadows during the fireplace shot, so down it came.

Fortunately, we got to enjoy the fresh flowers, even if the photos didn’t make the final cut.

Oh, and they also cut a shot of the two of us prepping food in the kitchen (when we took this Instagram picture). But we’re 100% sure that we looked far from natural in it, so we’re forever grateful (us + cameras aimed at us = especially awkward). The funny thing is that we thought this might be a 2-3 page spread and it ended up being 10 pages long! Completely mind-blowing, and way more than we expected.

Speaking of abundance, there were lots of flowers. Which of course means that Sherry was in some state of flower-induced euphoria the whole time. They had a box shipped directly from the flower market in New York City and, thanks to our cooler, the sunroom became a makeshift florist shop for the two days they spent with us. Seriously, the room smelled like one giant flower for like two weeks afterwards. Sherry loved it. I thought it was kind of spooky once the flowers were gone (“where is that smell coming from?!”).

You should have seen Sherry creeping around the house whispering “If only they would last foreverrrrrrr.”

At least we have pictures to remember them by.

Besides tempting us to blow our life savings on fresh flowers (don’t worry, I’ll rein Sherry back in), one tip that we picked up and were inspired to put into action by watching the pros involved the pillows on our sectional. Rachel loaded it up with a bunch more pillows than we’d ever used… and Sherry was in heaven. Picture her doing one of Oprah’s over-the-top “a-ha moment” faces. You can’t really see them in the final magazine shot, since they used a picture of the living room with us in it, but Sherry may or may not have bought some of the pillows directly from Rachel when they were done (they were $20 from HomeGoods) to fill out her already robust pillow collection. Just picture me rolling my eyes in the background.

Oh, and you can’t tell from our picture above, but this little table was deemed too short for their shot so they borrowed some scrap wood from the basement to give it a lift. Also note how our usual desk and mirror got the boot so that our chalkboard could take its spot (see the picture above).

Wardrobe tricks were also employed – namely for one of Sherry’s loose shirts that was deemed “too maternity looking” for the way it draped in the shot of us in the office. She ultimately swapped this outfit out for something less breezy (which is why she’s in a different shirt in the other shots) but lo and behold, the original test photo with the pre-clipped shirt ended up in the magazine on the first page of the spread.

As for some literal “behind” the scenes dirt, when they took the picture of Clara playing in her big girl room, I hid behind the wall in the closet so that one of us was nearby while they snapped away. The toughest challenge was getting her not to run in there with me.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle for them was shooting the outside of our house, since late March in Richmond wasn’t looking as spring-y this year as it usually does. Not to mention we had yet to begin lots of our recent improvements out there…

So now you know why the pictures of our outside are pretty small or just limited to close-ups of us on the porch. Although they did a great job of cheering things up by moving our red adirondack chairs (swiped from the patio) to bring in some semblance of color.

Oh and although the article mentions our moving plans, we actually didn’t share them with HGTV until we shared them with you guys on April 30th (via an email that Sherry most likely signed “Aggressive Sandwich”) – so they added that right at the end before the issue shipped. It really was locked deep in our brains until our alarm system was in and we were ready to tell the world at large, so I think only our parents, siblings, best friends, and the realtor knew before that. It was especially fun to finally tell the HGTV crew though, because we were able to explain how meaningful it was to us to see our house captured in such a major way before we said goodbye. It was a nice last hurrah, and they were psyched to have been the ones to document it all.

So we’re incredibly grateful that they thought our home was worthy of their magazine, and we’ll end this little behind the scenes spiel by sending out a big thanks to all of you who have stumbled upon it and said such kind things via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog comments, email, and carrier pigeon. Just kidding about the carrier pigeon – you guys know we only accept ravens.


  1. betty says

    have you ever hit up fresh market (across from chesterfield town center) for fresh flowers?? they have THE MOST gorgeous flowers, and I always find them to be reasonably priced :)

    • Annie says

      Fresh Market is so expensive! I once bought a $9 chocolate bar there by accident. Trader Joes is a cheaper flower option. I planted lots of good greenage shrubs in my garden and buy a mixed TJs bouquet then split it up to make two or three vases along with my homegrown greens.

      Sherry, I’ve been wondering this ever since I saw your dining room chairs. I used to have IKEA wicker chairs in our living room ($30 arm chair, wooot!) and we’d use them when we had guests for dinner. They were so low that we’d have to pile them with couch cushions to get our elbows high enough to eat. Eventually we switched to using my yoga ball and a storage box. In these pics I can see you have the same problem. Do you have dense foam cushions or something when you eat at that table? I imagine you’re normally at the kitchen bench for dinner?

    • says

      The chairs are actually a nice dining height (with the cushion that comes with them at the base) but we learned that our table is a smidge higher than is standard (no idea why, but we got it at an outlet so maybe that’s why it was so marked down). We can put bigger cushions on the chairs to help, but we were hoping to somehow adjust the base of the table to get it to be standard height. Not sure how we’ll do that yet, but it’s floating around as an option – haha!


    • annie says

      Crap, so every chair you try will have the same problem? And of course it’s not just a simple pillar needing a trim. Can you dig a hole in the center of the room for the table?

    • says

      Haha, exactly! We’re hoping we can figure something out. Like removing the top lip of trim if that comes off and re-bolting the top down.


  2. Alissa says

    Awesome! Maybe I missed it, but is there a link where we can look at the full magazine spread of your pics?

  3. says

    What an amazing way to remember your house with. While the styling is nice and I like the fresh flowers honestly if you were to mix up photos you two have personally taken and the ones the professionals took I don’t think I could tell the difference. I have serious photo taking envy of you!

  4. Faith says

    Congratulations! I just got home from a long business trip and was flipping through the magazine just the other night – what a great surprise! And I remembered the blog posts for almost all of the projects they mentioned in the spread. What a great memory for you! I hope they’ll do a follow-up article in a couple years with your new house (maybe a before and after?? – I LOVE those!)

    • says

      It’s been out for a couple of weeks, so you should be able to find it at places like Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, or anyone else who sells magazines.


  5. Alice says

    I thoroughly enjoyed seeing your last home in HGTV magazine. What caught my eye was your dining room table base. I loved the detail! And now I know why I hadn’t noticed before … you had it covered by the six chairs. It is beautiful. What a neat thing to happen before your move to the new house.

  6. rebecca says

    How amazing! I love the behind-the-scenes tricks! And those peonies are to die for…love!

    There was comments chatter on Apartment Therapy that you two should have your own HGTV show! The commenters suggested you as an alternative to uninspiring, non-real reality decorating shows.

    • says

      Aw, that’s so sweet! We have actually been asked by a few networks but we’re honestly just not TV show people. I mean, we love watching TV, we just don’t dream of having our own show. Ack, that makes us all itchy and freaked out. Haha! It’s fun to do a five minute chat with someone like Nate Berkus once every few years (you know, so we have time to recover) but we don’t think we’ll ever have our own show, since we’re happy to hide behind our computer screens and share our lives with you guys this way :)


  7. Christine says

    I was so excited when I saw the pictures in the magazines, you had a beautiful house, and I can’t wait to see the developments in the new one.

  8. Pat S says

    Wow!! Now I have to go find the HGTV magazine. I’m a huge fan of HGTV but have never picked up their magazine – this is a great reason to do so.

  9. Kim says

    I love the spread! I just looked at it again after reading your post and it really is beautiful. Is it bad, though, that I take a secret pleasure in the fact that your art in the green matting in the office is SLIGHTLY off-kilter? It makes me happy that even in magazines, you guys are rocking the “we’re not perfect, and this is all attainable!” status. :)

    • says

      Haha! You know what’s funny about that? I fixed that for showings. And when I did it took two seconds and I was like “why didn’t I do that sooner?!” But I guess I can’t be too Type A if I lived with crooked art for a few years and it ended up in a magazine right? At least that’s what I’m telling myself…


    • Angela says


      I love the “I can’t be too Type A…” Type As unite, in an orderly and punctual fashion! :)

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