My Better Homes & Gardens Do It Yourself Magazine Photo Shoot OH MY WORD!

Brie Williams : Photographer, Amanda: Photographer’s Assistant, Paula : Senior Associate Editor Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Media (because she is fancy like that), Andrea : Regional Editor (who just happens to live about 20 minutes away I hope I don’t stalk her), Me : Spastic Renter

I know I didn’t let on at all, but I was a nervous WRECK about having four professional housey women over to come photograph my home.  Somehow I will never learn that worry is a waste of time and that imperfection always puts people at ease.

How about some behind the scenes photos?

The rug from the playroom/guest room/bonus room whatever that room is got pulled down and paired with the stumps for an entry photo. (and Angela’s husband laughed all those months ago when I wanted those two stumps sitting outside their garage–we showed him!)

They also took pictures of our bedroom.  I ironed my sheets y’all (with the help of a surprisingly willing 12-year-old boy).  There’s nothing like knowing a camera is coming to make you go a little insane.  Also, if you are wondering, it’s easier to iron your sheets once they are on your bed.  The fact that they are featuring (hopefully?) this room kind of marks the end of an era. Because three years ago, this room was kind of a regret.  I hadn’t cared to put much time into our bedroom but I knew a time was coming when I could. I’m glad it’s serving us well now.

Here are some piles of stuff they didn’t use. Isn’t it fun to see the photos of the OTHER half of the room?  About half of that pile is stuff that I had or I bought, about half of it is stuff they brought. They came armed with a bunch of flowers, pillows, a few throws and bags and vases.

The photo taking part was a little anti climatic. I think I expected a loud “Quiet on the set! “ and a serious countdown “3…2…1…” CLICK, FLASH, insert fireworks and marching band playing, maybe some easy to clean confetti in colors that match my house… instead it was more like,  “wait, they already took the picture?” I missed it. The photographer stands behind the camera when she’s setting it up and then she grabs her little remote clicky thing and is standing by the computer watching pictures come up and the rest of us are all talking and then Andrea and Paula go adjust a few things and somehow make what you have look magazine worthy and before you know it they’ve taken the photos and are picking out the best ones to use and it is OVER.  These women are fast. And they did not once call my house a “set” although Andrea did say that I had good “props” which I took as a major compliment.

Also, they are skilled at Shopping The House. Andrea would come up the stairs with something I forgot I had and use it in a shot and I’d be all, oh my word I almost threw that AWAY yesterday and now I want to frame it in a glass box, boys don’t ever touch that again!  She was fantastic.

They were so accommodating and I expected them to move around a lot more stuff than they did.  Before they came I didn’t even have time to put thought into what was up on the mantle, I figured they’d want to play and tweak it anyway.  So I just threw a bunch of stuff up there and they put some flowers on it and started snapping photos and I was all slow motion waving my arms and yelling “um, WAIT, don’t y’all want to change that a little?”  Really I was hoping that they would come up with some life altering mantle set up because my mantle drives me insane and I can never get it right.  Unfortunately, they basically used what I had.  Maybe I should just be happy the way it is.

So if you are wondering what they took photos of, here’s the rundown::  the stumps in the foyer, our bedroom, the family room with the gallery wall, the mantle, the painted furniture in the dining room/breakfast area, and they took a family photo in the front room with us all sitting on the sofa and the plate wall behind us.

It was fun to watch and learn from these super talented amazingly down to earth women that I now adore.  And here are three quotes I want to pass along (I use the word quote lightly, I should have written them down immediately)

“Is that adding a layer of confusion?” –Paula

When you are taking photos if there’s something small that you can’t tell what it is, or a corner of something in the shot that is unrecognizable–remove it or else you are simply adding a “layer of confusion”.  I love that.  I also wonder if this can be applied to other areas of my life. Layers of confusion.  This is gold.

“A big part of what we look for is a good story, if there’s no story we can’t run it” –Andrea

Andrea asked a LOT of questions before they decided to come here.  I told her I hoped we had a story because if not I wasn’t sure what I’ve been writing about here for the past four and a half years. But I agree with her, no one wants to just see pretty pictures, we want a story to relate to and it applies to every industry.

“Most people are afraid to take risks”–Andrea

Amen.  Andrea was talking about how it’s sometimes hard to find people to feature in the magazines. She blamed fear and risk.  It’s stealing our dreams people, PLEASE, by all means take a risk, and there is no better place to start than in your home–it should be the safest place to take a risk.

I took a quick snap of the pillows they used on the sofa, before they styled it up.  WHY don’t I have fun pillows on my sofa?  I’m getting the black and white one and the blue ones ASAP.  I think I’ve been a little afraid to commiting to such color but it’s GLORIOUS–why haven’t I taken more of a pillow risk?  I love pillows?!


  • start small and pick a project that won’t take much time
  • don’t invest too much money
  • don’t force perfection
  • be open to changes and new ideas during the process

I’m still in shock that this House of Imperfection, this rented home, this motley crew of lived in, loved on thrifted, painted furniture is going to be featured in a magazine. It’s pretty much my childhood dream.  I hope it inspires risk taking and hope and motivates people.  I hope people everywhere believe that really it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.  I hope you and I start to believe it.

Better Homes and Gardens Do It Yourself Magazine

Coming to newsstands near you, hopefully in February of 2013.  Don’t worry, I’ll remind you.


Special thanks to : Karrie, for slaving away all last week for and with me, Angela for painting, wood gathering and fried pickle eating with me,  Greta and Angela’s Neighbors for the lovely hydrangeas, Nate Felton from Felton Design Studio for inspiring my husband to rip out all our shrubs 4 days before cameras get here and then creating a lovely new front landscape, Dash from 3 Angels Bakery in Davidson for the delicious muffins and cupcakes and salted caramel brownies, (in)courage girls and my heart friends and Thursday morning group for getting excited with me.  Mom for shopping with me and reminding me to use this as motivation to get things done, Dad for offering to be a model in every photo and Emily for laughing with me and encouraging me and helping me stage that hutch and everyone for putting up with me and pretending like they are not tired of hearing me talk about this.  Three boys who have had a mom in Africa who came back a crazy person because cameras are coming and I need to make just one more trip to Home Goods–we are so staying at the pool all day on Saturday.  My long suffering husband who was nothing but encouraging and willing to do whatever crazy thing I thought needed to be done, I owe you one, honey.


  1. I will definitely be looking forward to seeing the magazine shoot when it comes out. I think you are living the dream that we all dream of living. You are so down to earth and I think that is what makes your blog so readable. It’s like talking to an old friend even though we have never met. Yeah for you! :)

  2. I just love you.

  3. Karen Newton says

    I caught your post on FB yesterday and called Hayley immediately to get the scoop! I love the DYI magazine and I am crazy excited to see your fantastic layout!

  4. Congratulations on the honor of the photo shoot. You deserve it. I cried my way through Africa with every one of your posts. You are amazing. Enjoy.

  5. How exciting! Your home is stunning and I’m sure it will show beautifully. I LOVE all the behind-the-scenes, especially “the other side of the room!”

  6. What a great adventure for you — and the kids! Made me smile to see that last shot…a neat day for all, for sure. Congrats! I know you’ll sleep well tonight!

  7. Ah, sound like tons of fun.

  8. What a great honor to be featured in a magazine! It’s always been one of my dreams as well. How did you get this opportunity? I’d love to know! Your home is lovely & I have no doubt it will look amazing in print :)

  9. How fun! I love seeing the production shots. I think everyone can benefit from having someone else come in their home and see things with different eyes and perspectives. Sometimes we get so used to the place we forget to see or we over think or whatever. When Renae (Moore) and Sherry (Hart) have visited, they both have just casually moved things just passing by that I like so much better and it has stayed that way. :) Can’t wait to see the pics…gosh, you’re telling me I have to wait until February!?! Will wait patiently. :)

  10. Jennifer S says

    Would you tell us about that great monogrammed piece on your wall in the bedroom??? Love it!!!!

  11. Congratulations! This is incredible. Can’t wait to read the mag and see your home in it!

  12. Congratulations Nester! I can’t wait to see the magazine next winter. Also, great post! It’s so cool to see how these shoots actually happen! ~Kerri, A Pop of Pretty

  13. Oh this is the post I’ve been looking forward to and it so did not disappoint. Just so fun and fascinating and behind-the-scenesy. LOVED it. But, OK, here’s a question I’ve been wondering for ages —– do your home owners just feel like THE luckiest people in the WORLD to have you renting their house, eh??

  14. i think they need to make it just the way you have it or it is not your home and all the other homes to. i like to see home the way people live not made up. your home is just fine the way it is it did not need to be made over.

    • I like to think of it like a wedding portrait for your home, it’s once in a lifetime, everyday has it’s own special beauty like when we wear jeans and t shirts, but there’s nothing wrong with getting all gussied up and holding a fresh bouquet of flowers for a special occasion–that’s what a magazine photo is.

  15. SOOOO excited to see you featured in BH&G!!! What a DREAM!! Your home is just perfect for that mag. Congrats!

  16. Oh, how awesome!!! Can’t wait to see it hit the stands!

  17. The pictures are great! I love that they look for stories in homes. That’s a great goal to have – to create good stories in our den and kitchen and bedrooms … Looking forward to the issue coming out!

  18. It’s me – Paula, the editor. Thanks again to you and your family for letting us into your home and allowing us to mess up your home. I hope we cleaned up pretty thoroughly after ourselves! ‘Fancy like that’– haha! More trying to be corporate proper!

  19. fantastic fun post. Can’t wait to see…. !!!!!

    you love fried pickles? oh, goodness, me too!!!

    let’s find some in ATL, k?

  20. THIS is a great story, in and of itself! Here’s to an outstanding support system AND enjoy the pool!

  21. Wow this is awesome! Good for you! I can’t wait to see the magazine!

  22. Congratulations! I am so happy for you and can’t wait to see this magazine! You are awesome!

  23. Can I just tell you how inspiring you are to me in so many areas of your life?? It started out with your fabulous ideas for decorating, then it was realizing how much you love God too, then your ‘son’ from Tanzania, and now this??? I have only ‘known’ you for a few months (since that very first time I found a pin from your blog), but the more I know, the more I like.

    Congrats on this. What an honor! And I hope the many blessings keep on coming to you and your family.

  24. This is so exciting! what a dream come true for any decorator! I am so happy for you , and what to hear more about the experience. I can imagine you pulling out all stops to clean and prep for them to come, then they just mess it all up and redo everything –it sounds like! Congratulations on your success. Happy weekend.

  25. What an exciting experience! Your home is beautiful and I can’t wait to see you featured. Love your casual, yet beautiful sofa…where did you get it? Congrats, Lori

  26. Woo-hooooooo!!! You did it! I’m so pumped to buy this magazine when it comes out. So, so pumped. Because you DO have a great story and you inspire the rest of us with it. I should know. I’m one of those who’s been reading almost since you started and I have the moved-a-bazillion-times-furniture, window mistreatments, hot-glued everything, and various colors painted all over my walls (as I type this) to prove it. Now you get to inspire even more of us.

    Nation of imperfect-but-beautiful homes, unite! : )

  27. Hey there. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for a while now and really have resonated as a fellow renter. Just wanted to say that I’m so happy for you that you had this day and dream come true! How cool is that!?! I really like the vibe of your house and it’s inspired me to reach out in my own a little more. 2 things: 1. I love “layers of confusion”. So much to think about here especially in life. 2. Totally get the blue pillows. That colour has been my new found love. It’s beautiful, fresh and cheery! =)

  28. I’m believing it! Girl, like I’ve said it a hundred times already, you are my inspiration! The fact that you are down to earth, “normal,” and thrifty just like me proves to me that I can reach my own childhood dreams as well.

    I am so very excited that you have been featured! I cannot wait to see how it turns out!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  29. At the risk of being redundant and sounding like I only have one word in my vocabulary — AWESOME! lol, it just happens to be the word that comes to mind when I read your posts.

  30. The best part of this “story” to me was in the “credits” at the end. Really who are we and where are we without those special people in our lives? It is sooo evident that you are much loved. And that is what we see when we see your home….the living out of your REAL “loved” story.

  31. This is one of your most profound posts. The ideas: a layer of confusion, look for a good story, and take risks. Wow. Applications on every level. “A layer of confusion,” helps me sort out what is clutter, what is simplicity, what is extraneous in my life. The “good story,” elements of character and plot and conflict resolution in our home. “Taking risks.” Coming out of my cave and doing something beyond my insecurities. Not limited by fear. I’ve been thinking about this post for a couple of days -the ideas keep coming back, adding new layers. Great post! Thank you.

  32. AMAZING POST:) Your blog is so wonderful and I will happily follow.

    If you want some décor inspiration from Sweden, check out my blog:)
    Have an awesome week.

    LOVE Maria at

  33. I’ve tried looking through a bunch of older posts but I can’t find anything about your amazing wood chandelier in the dining room! How can something that amazing not have its own post!? :) Can you share any of the deets on it please?! Congrats on the magazine feature too. The behind the scene photos are completely wetting my appetite. February where art thou!?

  34. I am so happy for you! God uses you to stir my heart to give to those less fortunate and to make my home more lovely for my family.

  35. You certainly have a fabulous story!! Thanks for taking a risk and showing us how imperfect is the new black! Now, go out and buy some fabulous, fun, colorful pillows and get rid of those areas of confusion on the sofa right now!!

    Congrats on such an incredible day – I’m sure you did a little happy dance before they got there and after they left (and maybe while they were there)!

  36. Kristin R says

    Love the behind the scenes look at your photo shoot and I can’t wait to see the magazine in February 2013! Where is 3 Angels Bakery in Davidson?

  37. Polly Stratton says

    Your site and home are AMAZING. Love it all. Can you tell me where you got the monogram on the wall in your bedroom?

  38. That was an awesome post. So proud of you. Looking forward to the issue.

  39. I am sooo excited for you!!! How fun that must have been!!
    I wish I could rent all of you for a for a few hours :)
    PS I like the little colored shades that were added behind the sofa
    and those pillows!!!

  40. How exciting to be in DIY magazine. My house would be in the lost cause feature. LOL. Not really but it does need some help. I have a hard time deciding where and what to decorate with. Thank goodness my hubby and daughter come up with some good ideas.

  41. I do wish they had left your home exactly as it was. What is the point of having someone come and style it all? I mean, I know that they do that and it must have been fun, but if they brought stuff and moved it around and stuff, it wasn’t you.

    Just my preference. Of course, they are free to come to my home with shopping bags full of stuff, move things around and leave all behind when they are done.

    • Honestly, I thought they would move and replace SO much more! I was kind of sad that they didn’t. I think of it like a wedding portrait, it’s special, it’s tweaked it’s a glamour shot for my house. But really all they did was add flowers and some colored pillows. They barely even moved anything but a few rugs (that I had in other places to be incorporated into the shots) and angled a few chairs and then they put the white stump in our room. The only other tweaking was adding color with some books I had and vases and such.

  42. I can’t wait to get the magazine!! Congratulations :-0

  43. I just let my subscription lapse because everything looked like spray paint city sounds like they have taken a new direction. I will defiantly take at look at this publication again to see the nesters house!

    • They actually mentioned something about the fact that my home was more muted colors and how they liked that they could include that in their magazine, so yes, maybe you are right!

  44. I’m so bummed I didn’t get to meet you at Haven. I’m such a huge believer in taking risks in your home and your motto – it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful is what first led me to your blog way back when. Wish I could have said – hey thanks for the inspiration- in person!

  45. Absolute perfection. The imperfect kind, though. Man, we need to hang out. I’m truly looking forward to seeing that C-C-Crazy pic we took. Especially since I looked SCARY. Can’t wait for that to float around the blogosphere. Congrats to you on the shoot–can’t wait to see it in print!

  46. How exciting for you! I will anxiously, but not patiently, await the publication. :-) You are so real and your home is amazingly beautiful ~ you totally deserve this recognition!


  47. It’s always fun to hear about what goes on behind-the-scenes at a photo shoot. When I look at home photos in magazines, I always wonder how much of it was brought in and/or rearranged by the stylist, and how much was done by the homeowner. Styling is actually the part I have the hardest time with. I feel like I’ve got the big stuff/overall look down, but if I could just have a stylist come in and get all the finishing touches right, I’d be golden!

    Looking forward to seeing the spread next February!

  48. I will likely forget this — and I’m glad because I always buy that DIY edition and when I’m flipping through and I’m like — oh I know THAT house!!! I will get to do one of those incredulous girly shrieks that makes my cowboy glance sideways. And throw pillows are NOT a risk…it’s the easiest (although not cheapest) way to fix a room! In fact…I need to look in my archives I think I wrote about this once. Anyway…my favorite trick is to look for throw pillows at the Goodwill. Before you think “nasty.” I look for the ones with zip on/off covers or that have quality feather pillows inside. It’s much cheaper and they turn out better to ‘steal’ that great pillow and recover it with your favorite fab than too use stuffing. Anyway I’ll stop blogging in your comment section. Can’t wait for the mag and to see your new pillows :)

  49. Ditto to the max. Your blog is so inviting! Whenever I tell my pals about home decor blogging, I always tell them to start here. And oh yea, that quote layer of confusion Is gold. Thanks :)

  50. I always buy that magazine so now I will be on the lookout for it. This was a great behind the scenes look at a shoot. Amazing that your home is a rental. I can just imagine what you will come up with when you have your own home!

    Any tips on getting your home featured in a magazine? I would love to get my home or one of my clients homes featured.

    Great job and great blog!


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