31.1.19

We were featured in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine!!! Here's the story...

by Robin




I was having a crummy time.  It was a normal June day - the weather was beautiful and the rest of our family was doing great and feeling fine.  But I was bummed out.  I was feeling like maybe I wasn't cut out for this blogging thing and I was wasting my, and everyone else's, time.  I can't even remember what brought this gloom on.


Then Ed appeared in the room.  He had a baffled sort of expression on his face. "Did you see the email from Better Homes and Gardens? Umm...I think they want to put us in their magazine."


I hadn't seen that. I think I'd remember seeing THAT!


I quickly pulled up the email and sat with my shock and awe.  I tapped out a reply and within a few days I was interviewed and there was a photo shoot scheduled for July.


I was nervous, excited and regretting the really bad haircut I got the day before this all started. Here's the full scoop on our BHG magazine experience...



BH&G has a monthly feature called "I did it!".  At the bottom of each article, there's an email you can send your project photos to for an opportunity to be featured.  I hadn't sent anything! I'd thought of doing it, but I didn't think our projects had a chance. Or I just let fear of rejection stop me.  Somehow, despite my low self-esteem, the editors found our projects anyways.


It was tricky to schedule the team to come for the photo shoot.  Kit Selzer, the BHG Editor we're now so grateful to, wanted to do it in early July.  But, between Canada Day, July the 4th, helping Ed's mom downsize and a family cottage we that we had booked - the available days were few.  After lots of back and forth, the 11th was booked.


Then the stress machine that is my brain started running on jet fuel.  I was amped and when that happens Ed, bless his heart, moves mountains to make things work.


You see, Kit sent me the name of the photographer who would be doing the shoot.  Stacey Brandford.  I know of exactly one photographer who does interiors - and he's it.  I've admired his work while I admired the work of one of my favourite designers, Sarah Richardson. He's her go-to photographer.


So, no stress there!!



Getting Photo Ready

Knowing that we were having such an established photographer shooting our home elevated my stress.  At the time, our basement had exactly one beautiful room in it.  The rest were like this:



Now, if you read our last post, you know this room is looking pretty spiffy now:

Our basement media room today.
(More about these projects here.)


But the BEFORE is what we were dealing with for our big shoot.  Sure, we picked up the Nerf guns and Pokeballs, but it was still a dropping ground of hand me down furniture, busted ceiling tiles and peachy patched walls.  Surely not the grand spaces Stacey was accustomed to.


I was just going to have to suck it up, buttercup. And just be real - which is my absolute comfort zone and goal in life normally - but this time felt really hard.


So we scrambled around for 3 weeks straight trying to make the space a little less humbling.



I'm NOT ready for my closeup

My homework was to find outfits that would be appropriate for the shoot.  I used my Texture app to download about a year's worth of back issues of BHG to get a feel for what they liked people to wear.  It seemed like they featured folks in simple, clean-lined tops with bold colours and dark jeans.


So I hit my favourite (budget-friendly) clothing shops and collected more clothes in a day than I'd bought all year.


And, of course, the clothes we ended up being featured in were at least 3 years old.  Ha.  I love my new things though, so I'm happy I was forced to shop.


And, like is true for most things in life, the men have it easy.  Ed just needed a button up shirt that co-ordinated with my top.  As a teacher he has a closet full - so his prep was: get a haircut, shave and iron.  That's it - I was bitterly jealous.


I'd hoped the BHG stylist would help with make-up.  Not sure why I thought that.  That's not what they do - I now know. So my normal makeup was what was featured. I worried that I'd look like a tired, blotchy man in the photos (I've got zero makeup skills). I ended up looking exactly normal though (a tired, blotchy woman 😉).


The usual pattern for the "I did it" feature is to show a head shot of the DIYer, plus a full shot of them in the room.  We ended up with two headshots.  The reason? Our closet turned basement bathroom is just too stinking small to have us both in there and not look absolutely ridiculous.  I joked that Ed could sit on the toilet and I could be handing him some paper.  THAT would be memorable, but not BHG's style.





The photo shoot team

My worries about Stacey weren't warranted.  He was real, funny and unpretentious.  His assistant, Cosmo, was kind and friendly and helped us feel really relaxed too.  Lindsay Berger was the stylist and she made us feel comfortable and like we were in good hands.


We shared a delicious takeout lunch together on our front porch, where we chatted and laughed. It was fun to get the insider-type photo shoot intel.


For example, did you know there's a month in the summer that magazine headquarters constantly smell like turkey?  All month long they cook and photograph turkeys for the Thanksgiving issue.  And it's literally Christmas in July for the magazine world - that's when they're shooting for Christmas.  How disorienting! Would you even have the energy for the actual holiday once it was here?


Stacey, Lindsay and Cosmo working hard to make us look good.





No, I don't have a soap fetish

After the first set of photos went to BHG it was determined that the soap we had on the dish was too dark.  They wanted something lighter in colour.  Now, we are soap pump people, so the only other bars we had in the house were tiny ones we picked up at hotels (frugal tip! ha!).  We needed some emergency shopping done.

Now, if anyone knows our town they know that the downtown area has great little shops. But, they'd also know it's laid out to keep out visitors - nothing runs parallel, several one-way streets - you will never find anything.  (Rumour is our downtown was designed based on the veins in our founders hands - it's not out of the question.)  Plus, on this day, there was construction. There was no way Lindsay would be able to efficiently navigate the streets to get the soap we needed.  So I offered.


After texting my downtown friends I had a list of potential soap shops.  I sped there, fought for parking and ran from store to store like a deranged soap fetishizer.


"Do you have a soap THIS EXACT SIZE, but LIGHTER IN COLOUR?!?" I panted after bursting into the store.


"Well, ma'am, we have these lovely soaps in boxes here..."


"Are they SMOOTH?! It can't be smooth! It HAS to be handcrafted looking!" I demanded.  Then realizing what a weirdo I looked like, I explained about the photo shoot.  Staff at the stores then perked up (and looked relieved that they wouldn't need to subdue me until the police arrived after all.)


At the fourth store - another 2 blocks away - I found some appropriate soaps.  By this time my hair had wilted and my makeup had slid down to my neck.  Did I mention it was a really hot and humid day?  I further worried about how I was going to look for our headshots, but we had our soap!




Hurry up and wait

There was a lot more waiting in the day than I'd expected.  The room was carefully styled and lit - and then photos were sent to BHG head office. There the team assembled and gave feedback and fine tuning advice.  I think this cycle happened twice for the room and then twice for our headshots.


I always look this serene when I wait. 😉



My favourite feedback from head office of the day: "We like Robin's smile, but we'd like her to show her teeth but have her mouth closed."  Ha!  After scratching my head a bit I figured it out: don't have your mouth so wide open, Robin, you're not at the dentist. 😂

Photo shoot done! Can you see the relief on our faces?
(And my toothy smile...)


It was a surreal and amazing day. The hardest part since then has been waiting to actually see the article in print. It was 6 months later before it hit newsstands. Torture!


Now that it is out, we are happy to experience the excitement all over again when we walk into a store, open up the issue and see our projects and smiling faces.


Many thanks to Kit, Better Homes and Gardens, Stacey, Lindsay and Cosmo for the coolest blogger experience we've had (so far...)!



All the details for our Basement Closet to Powder Room Makeover...

  • We did a reclaimed wood stain finish on our vanity - with things from around the house - for pennies!


In case you've missed them, here are the projects that were featured in our magazine spread!



7 comments

  1. Hi! I so loved the way you did your walls that I just have to write you! Do you have an even more basic step by step than the one on BHG? If so, please share it with me. I've tried stenciling eons ago and I all remember was that you have to tap the paint and it was messy! BTW, I love your close up shot!
    Aloha,
    Amor
    Provo, UT

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    1. Hi Amor! I’m so thrilled you love our work! We do have a tutorial for each one of the powder room projects. This like should take you there: https://www.frugalfamilytimes.com/search/label/Closet%20to%20Powder%20Room%20DIY?max-results=9

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    2. So it appears that link won’t work. Not sure why! Frustrating! If you scroll up to the very last line of the post you’ll find a link that works. Sorry for he hassle!

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  2. Wow, you both were great and "survived" the experience! How fun and wonderful....what's next?

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    1. Yes! We survived! 🤣 As for what’s next, Mary - lots more projects! I have a billion ideas.

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  3. I had an experience where my music lesson business was going to be featured in a local newspaper at my open house. Hubby was handling the food and drinks for visitors, cooking hotdogs and keeping the ice tea and lemonade jugs filled while I was the star getting photographed and on video. It was summer and my wardrobe was shorts and a t-shirt with my business name on it. I wore a little makeup and I had hubby french braid my hair. We had about 15 cars of visitors all arrive at once, I was overwhelmed. And yes I survived the experience.

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    Replies
    1. Sounds like you had a great experience too, Keri! Was it helpful for your business? :)

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