Behind the Scenes with BH&G

September 22, 2011

Greetings all, perhaps you’ve heard – the Christmas Ideas  issue by Better Homes & Gardens has finally hit newsstands, and yours truly is inside!  I’ve been purchasing this Special Interest Publication for so many years, and consider it one of the best sources of holiday inspiration, so to actually be a part of it this year is completely surreal. 

bhg christmas ideas cover

You might recall that week in late February when I was in a complete frenzy prepping the house for the crew and the shoot. They sent me a list of all the shots they wanted to take for the magazine and of course they all required greenery.  

Because all the fresh garland from Christmas was dried to a crisp in early January and I had disposed of it as a fire hazard, I called on Lynch Creek Farm who came to my rescue. They shipped yards of cedar garland and several fir wreaths too just two days before BH&G descended on my house. 

fresh greenery lynch creek farm


That same morning I was making more felt poinsettias in my kitchen with my morning coffee before the crew arrived.  I’d made several that season but gave them all away so at the last second was making more white versions. 

making poinsettias


I was also wrapping “presents” for under the tree.  Look how I’m such a cheater… didn’t cut a big enough piece but hey, who cares, ain’t nobody gonna see it!  Okay, well you gals and guys see the imperfection so the truth is out.

wrapped presents


Here are those poinsettias pinned on mere minutes before the shot . . .

poinsettias on stockings


From the furniture placement below you can see how the loveseat was moved closer to the mantel and fireplace, the chair was moved forward, closer to the sofa, and the Christmas tree wedged behind my velvet chair.  To get just the right shot, all the furniture was tweaked a few inches in one direction or another and a quick fire lit in the fireplace.

bhg christmas ideas living room shot cg

Inside the magazine, you can see the final image is not taken from this angle, this is my own image I snapped on that day.  All the close ups of the mantel you can see here.

Here’s a close up of another shot that didn’t make it into the magazine but is oh so pretty.  That’s the stenciled and painted ’noel’ pillow in the background. 

noel pillow and present cg


King Au was our professional photographer – he’s completely amazing. I wish I could follow him around for a month just to better my skills. He’s worked for BH&G for a long time and also works for Pottery Barn Kids.  We ended up tucking the fur trimmed tree skirt underneath because it was deemed a little too shmancy for the room shot.  Here is King snapping a close up of some of my handmade ornaments.

ornament closeup


All images were checked, double checked, and triple checked on King’s computer with his highly advanced software (wish I could recall which one, anyone know or care to tell me?)  It was so exciting to see the beautiful images as they were shot! 

capturing closeups


Also on hand to help was Gayle, a long time stylist for BH&G who traveled all the way from San Diego for the shoot (not pictured). 

In the dining room was pure chaos, because I had pulled out every single accessory I owned which we might possibly have wanted to work with.  We used maybe 10% of it, but it was smart to have it all available just in case and in a place that wasn’t getting photographed that day.

dining room accessories

After we styled and shot the living room, we moved into the foyer, with my little girl helping to add more greenery to the banister and patiently waiting to have her hair curled. She’s like me, her hair holds a curl for about 3 ½ minutes tops, so I waited till the last second to make it all fancy.

help decorate


After the entry, we shot the front door wreath with my daughter – there’s King making her smile, what a pro.  Notice how she’s standing on a stool and we’re using my Swiffer to keep the door propped open! 

front door scene


The last room we shot was the kitchen . . .

kitchen greenery

. . . but you’ll have to buy the mag to see it! 

The article tells more about our family and holiday traditions, with an emphasis on entertaining, which we do so much of in December.  Here’s a peek of the opening two page spread with my winter willow wreath and sweet girl ‘answering the front door’ like she would do at our annual party. 

first page spread

Funny, the front door isn’t white anymore and looking at this, I miss it. 

It was an amazing experience and such a professional crew, and even though we’re all thinking of fall right now, including me, I just couldn’t wait to share the experience of shooting the Christmas Ideas  issue with all of you. 

We’ll be buying up a dozen copies for the kids and grandkids. Be sure to pick up your copy where you’ll also find a ton of inspiration, even more blogger’s homes, including Layla’s too – so fabulous!  Our article is eight pages, starting on page 92.

I still can’t believe that’s us, right there, in Better Homes & Gardens Christmas Ideas magazine.  Somebody pinch me. 



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154 Responses to “Behind the Scenes with BH&G”

  1. Gina in S FL says:

    Kate, buy a bunch of copies, make a beautiful holiday bookmark and placed at your feature page, this could be an AMAZING holiday party favor for your CHRISTMAS party guests. The bookmark could say something like, “Thanks for bringing our home to life at Christmas” or something sweet like that!

  2. This is simply amazing!! I know my comment might get lost in the shuffle since there are so many, but I just had to tell you how beautiful this is! I was enjoying your post in my email and even had to call my hubby in to look at it!
    I’m SUPER excited to have you join us for Splendidly Homemade! Gina and I are really looking forward to it!
    Thanks so much for sharing and starting my morning off beautifully!

  3. Monique says:

    A big Congrats! How wonderful is it to see your beautiful home in a national magazine. Your daughter is a real cutie too. I’m so very happy for you!

  4. Linda R says:

    Wow, Your living room looks gorgeous…well everything does! And your daughter looks adorable. Can’t wait to pick up the magazine.

  5. Brenda j says:

    How incredibly exciting for you and your family, dear Kate.

    Your Relatives and Friends will be dying with envy; quite discreetly tucked-away behind grimaced congrats and very dramatic hand-gesturing while asking, (without any pretense of follow-up)….I hope you will teach us how to make some of those quaint decorations; followed quickly by: How ever did you get that daughter of yours to sit still long enough, for them to take any pictures.

    And for the record, I get to brag about this too…. as I receive your blog everyday and have a subscription to B.H.& G.; it just shows ta go ya, I got me some couth and caractor 2.

    I am teasing you of course. I think its outstanding and must be such a thrill for you and that lovely young lady aka hostess to be featured in an international magazine. Excitement like that doesn’t swing by every day ! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy….then look-up how to store oodles of magazines so they don’t get mildew. hahahaa

    Cheers Lady,
    Brenda in Oshawa, Ont.

  6. Dolores says:

    Congrats! You deserve the recognition from that article. You inspire so many of us daily with your blog, now you can inspire even more through the magazine! I hope this is the first of many magazine shoots for you, your home, and your family!

  7. Kate! Wowza! How incredibly exciting for you! I’m definitely going to go out and find a copy:) Congrats!

  8. diane says:

    Congratulations! That really is a dream come true and thanks for sharing. It is fun to see the behind the scenes methods they use to get those shots. and your little girl is adorable!

  9. Roeshel says:

    Thanks for sharing a little behind the scenes of your dream come true experience! I can’t wait to see the feature! So deserving – you do an amazing and inspiring job decorating your home! :)

  10. Stephanie says:

    Congrats on the big accomplishment! Due to remodeling we were unable to decorate for Christmas last year so I’m super excited to incorporate some of your ideas from the magazine this year!
    I’m not for sure, but the photog’s software looks similar to Adobe Lightroom just with different windows/toolbars open than the presets…but I would assume he has something fancier than that so hopefully someone else knows!

  11. Congratulations! I can’t wait to pick it up and feel like I “know” someone in the magazine. It has to be so fun to see your darling little girl featured!

  12. Wow, congratulations, that’s so awesome to be featured. And REALLY interesting to see how it’s done behind the scenes. And I’m delurking especially to say that these photos have done it: Now I can feel Christmas approaching! =)

  13. Annie says:

    This really speaks to the power of self publishing and to what an amazing designer you are. I love magazines but I would take your website over any publication out there – no joke! It’s so much more personal, helpful and a lot less expensive!
    (How fun for your family and especially your daugher :)

    The software being used by the photographer is Lightroom. It’s an Adobe product and let’s you customize editing and batch edit when you have a lot of images you’re working with.

  14. william says:

    Congratulations on the publication-shots look amazing!

  15. boho chic says:

    I am all over it. Will be picking that issue up today.

  16. alicia says:

    Congratulations Kate! I’m in the market for a new sofa and rug. I love your tight back sofa. Would love to know where you bought your sofa (and the type of fabric) and your rug. Thank you!

  17. Amazing!! Oh you better believe I will be buying this mag! I love the behind the scenes!

  18. How exciting! It must be surreal to open one of your favorite magazines and find your house in it. Congratulations! I also can’t believe Christmas is just around the corner.

  19. mary says:

    I am so happy for you! I will buy this today and tell everyone I “know” you. Congrats, Kate.

  20. Shelly says:

    What beautiful images and an incredible opportunity for you. I’m headed to the bookstore today and can’t wait to see all the other photos. Love your blog and all the inspirational design ideas you share. Continued success.

  21. Jenny says:

    That is Adobe Lightroom. It is a great product. My hubby and I shoot weddings and edit our photos in that program, (now we do all our photos in it). You can turn them to black and white easily…adjust the color, the brightness, the temperature, etc. You can do batch file naming. And you can easily do watermarks for your photos when you export. Simple program to learn. If you are familiar with Photoshop…you will find it easy to learn. You can even edit and fix the photos in Lightroom. It is really handy comparing photos, e.g., two right next to each other to see which one you like better, or which one is more in focus. You might be able to find a trial version to try it out.
    Love your blog! A former Northern Californian.

  22. Sheela says:

    Congrats Kate! I’ll definitely have to pick up a copy of the magazine!

  23. Congratulations! And how special for your sweet girl to have such a highlight! Very exciting! Your home is so beautiful and a constant inspiration!

  24. Christi says:

    CONGRATS!! I could be mistaken but it looks like the software that they used was Lightroom (adobe)… A very cool program.

  25. Tilara says:

    Congratulations Kate! What a wonderful honor to have your home in a national magazine! This will be a keepsake for years to come. Your daughter is so beautiful, and yes she looks so sweet!
    Have a happy weekend, and have fun with your family!
    Your biggest fan in South Carolina!

  26. Jane says:

    Congratulations, Kate–how exciting your beautiful home and decorations were featured. I can’t wait to get my hands on an issue.

    Jane at
    Join us on Facebook!

  27. Cindy says:

    My favorite blog in my favorite magazine. Yea! Can’t wait until November to receive the December issue. All that stress and not getting out of your sweats was worth it. Way to go!

  28. Lindy says:

    Just beautiful! I am in Australia but will try and get a copy here.

  29. Leigh Anne says:

    WOW! What a great experience for you! The shots are beautiful! I can’t wait to get my hands on an issue!!!

  30. Edith says:

    Congratulations! It is easy to see why they chose to visit with you and photograph your ideas. I love the way that you put something together so fast that came out looking so amazing! It reminds me of myself. Congratulations again and I hope we see more of your work.

  31. Amy says:

    I was waiting in line at a drugstore today when the BHG Christmas Ideas magazine caught my eye. I thought, I know that house (like it belonged to someone I knew), and then I realized it was your oh so lovely home! Congrats on issue, the recognition is more than deserved! Thank you for inspiring us with your everyday Centsational style!

  32. I can’t wait to pick up an issue and see it for myself! I remember your February craziness, and that seems like it was such a long time ago! I am thrilled for you – so well deserved. :-)

  33. Yisenia says:

    So excited for u and excited to get my hands on a copy of my own. I’m going to pick up a few extra and give them to my girlfriends because I’m always telling them how great you are and how much I love your blog. Thanks for making everything you do look so lovely…… Now I can’t wait to start decorating for the holidays.

  34. Sharmin says:

    Congratulations! I am so happy for you and can’t wait to get a copy of the magazine. Your daughter is adorable – the sweet icing on the Christmas cake!!!

  35. Allison A says:

    Oh. My. Dasies! I am so happy it’s finally out. AND, that I’m a subscriber to this mag!!!! I can not wait to see the full spread and show my Hubs your talents. It’s easier to shove a mag in his face than a computer. hahaha

  36. Looks like he might be using Abode Lightroom

  37. Jamie says:

    Congratulations, Kate! What a wonderful photo shoot. Your house looks amazing. You must be so proud!

  38. Jamie says:

    Congratulations, Kate! What a wonderful photo shoot.

  39. Kristy Swain says:

    Yep, looks like Lightroom. How fun to see some of the behind the scenes. Very interesting.

  40. mary says:

    Bought it today and just read it. Fabulous article. Centsational Hubby too!

  41. Valerie says:

    Congratulations!! I can’t wait to get my issue! :)

  42. How wonderful and exciting! I’m really impressed…you have a beautiful home and little girl, I can’t wait to see the magazine!

  43. Just picked up a copy today! Beautiful article! Congrats!

  44. Holly says:

    I have loved your blog for a long time, have spay painted anyting that would stand still because of you, have cans and cans of heirloom white, and am getting ready to paint my front door grey. Seeing you in BHG, my favorite magazine, seems surreal to me too, although I can’t figure out why! You deserve it!! So happy for you, and can’t wait to get my hands on that magazine! Congratulations! I hope it’s the first of many!

  45. Gina says:

    Wow! I’m buying it today!

  46. Charlene says:

    Congratulations, Kate! What a well-deserved honor! Your home looks amazing and your beautiful little lady is just darling! Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to see the magazine in person.

  47. Betty Holland says:

    Beautiful decor! I especially love the way you decorated the packages and the door reef too. By the way, your door looks so modern, sleek, and clean with the new grey paint! Forget the white door!!!!

  48. Congrats!!!! I was sooooo excited when I saw BH&G on newstands last week and the grocery store. I knew you’d been featured but seeing the article in person was such a big surprise! How exciting and what an honor! You deserve all you talents to be showcased! I LOVED everything and was so impressed with how “fancy schmancy” it all looks :) THANKS for the behind the scenes tour, how fun!

  49. Sarah says:

    I know this sounds really picky, but are you sure you have the photographer’s name correct? I don’t know how popular the name King is, but I’ve heard of a fabulous photographer named King Au, but not King Wu. Maybe check on that?

  50. Jen says:

    Oh Kate, this is so amazing and inspiring! Congrats on such a great spread. Everything you touch turns to gold!


  51. Sherry says:

    Just got my copy today at Barnes & Noble, can’t wait to read it!!

  52. Hi Kate,

    Kudos on appearing in this year’s BHG Christmas Ideas magazine. I picked it up on the day of our first snowstorm of the 2011 season… 8″ worth. I call it being sucker-punched into winter! :) I planned to have it with a warm cup of hot chocolate while I waited out the storm.

    Anyway, the next day – yesterday – I was doing up a blog post focusing on photos of my doves in the snow (White on White) and referred back to the mag, as there were several white / off-white themes in there (of which yours was one). I went looking for a link to this issue and the ONLY direct link to this particular issue I could find was yours… so I included a link to it in my post:

    What was cool though, is that it let me know about your blog and all of the great Christmas decorating tips / how-to’s that you have in there. LOVED it. Particularly loved the ‘thrift-store-spray-painted-candlesticks’ and the ‘noel-pillow’. Kudos

    Merry (almost) Christmas!!

  53. Saundra says:

    I was a little slow in picking up my BH&G Christmas magazine. I guess I was not thinking “Christmas” very early this year! Picked it up while doing some Thanksgiving shopping, thinking it would be great to read over the long holiday week. I don’t go out on Black Friday! So it was much more fun to read Christmas magazines and think about decorating and putting up the tree.
    Congratulations on being included in this issue. Your entertaining ideas mentioned Meatballs with your homemade strognoff sauce. Would you like to share your recipe?

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