Our Second House
Update: for anyone who’s reading in a reader and notices this post getting cut off before the video, we’re so sorry for the glitch! Hope to get to the bottom of it soon.
John and I have realized that our Florida road trip has somehow given us a little house perspective. As much as we’ve been loving the new house (nearly two months after our move I still find myself going up the stairs and whispering “duuuuude, we have a second floor”) and as much as we’ve been feeling more settled with every wall that we de-wallpaper and paint, leaving our second house was definitely bittersweet.
It’s kind of hard to explain, but somehow while traveling it’s more obvious to us that we still remember every nook and cranny of that place, and our new house still feels sort of unfamiliar and mysterious. We don’t quite remember every light switch location or which way each door swings yet. So on one hand our old house is sort of glorified in our mind as “the one we know so well” yet we have that early dating excitement for the new house. We’re smitten, even though there’s tons of work to do and we’re just getting to know each other.
I find myself sitting on the beach wondering what’s going on at our new house. Is it raining there? Are there deer playing poker in the sunroom? And then my thoughts jump to how a new family lives in our old house now, which also feels kind of strange yet sweet. I’m glad it’s not lonely. (I know that makes me sound crazy, but I’m ok with it)
That’s why I’m so glad that one of the last things that we did before we started packing up was to make a video for Clara to remember the house by – just like we did when we left our first house. And this time instead of being a little lump in our arms like she was for the first one, she could actually chat and run around and do three year old things. She loved the idea of making a video of the house so she could re-watch it whenever she wanted, but she started out a little shy… so it was especially cute to see her get really into it as we went (she started telling us what rooms to go to, what to look at in each space, and saying funny things like “we’re in New Jersey” when I asked her what room we were in).
Since I know not everyone can watch videos, here’s a bit of what’s covered: John and Clara play “airplane” in the office, there’s some dolly-doctoring in the sunroom, I get bossed around in the hallway (“we have to show this one!”), I get bossed around in Clara’s nursery (apparently it was the baby’s nap time), a bit of frog-dress-up goes on, there’s some jumping on the guest bed, and some Clara-throwing in our bed. Oh yeah, and we stand in the bathtub together. Totally normal stuff. There’s also some Gangnam Style dancing at one point. And it’s possibly the only video in the history of videos to features the sentence “that’s not your cousin, it’s a llama.”
So much happened in our second house, and it was an especially huge part of Clara’s life since she was just seven months old when we moved in.
It’s where she learned to crawl, walk, and talk. And it’s where she has celebrated all three of her birthdays as well as three Christmases…
We’re so glad to have a bunch of photos (along with a fair amount of video documentation) thanks to this little house diary of ours. My absolute favorite memory of that entire place was this odd little nook that we had in our living room where Clara loved to hide:
Thankfully, she has since declared that her new closet is her “favoritest hiding spot in the big wide world.”
Love that bean. Love that house. Love you guys for sharing in the sappy stuff. Now somebody get me a tissue so I don’t ugly-cry my sunscreen off.
*We would have posted this sooner, but John’s computer had a freak out while editing it a few weeks after we moved, and nearly wiped out all of our photos/videos. So here’s the obligatory “remember to back up your computer so you don’t find yourself screaming into a pillow for twenty hours!” warning (which is the only thing that saved this and countless other photos/vids from disappearing into the computer crash abyss forever). For those wondering, we use a combination of amazon.cloud and external hard drives to back up our would-cry-if-we-lost-them photos and videos.
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.