Better Homes & Gardens {I Did it} Feature

If you had asked me a year ago if I thought Brent and I would be standing in the checkout line of the grocery store looking at ourselves and one of our favorite Gray House Studio projects, our industrial shelves, in an issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine I would have asked you, “What the heck is Gray House Studio?” Yes, it is true but hard to believe that this time last year our home renovation blog did not even exist.

But since we started in December we have poured so much of our energy and free time into our DIY projects and our blog so to see our hard work in such a well known and loved magazine this week has been incredibly surreal and overwhelming (in the best of ways).

So much so that we totally played it uncool and when we heard the issue was out, we rushed to the grocery store and had my brother take lots of photos of us posing with it in front of the magazine rack while shoppers looked at us like we were total goofballs. But we were just so happy and excited to see our Better Homes and Gardens {I Did It} Feature! There was no way you could wipe the smiles off our faces that day.

Behind the Scenes of our Photo Shoot

It is crazy to believe but this awesome adventure started all the way back in February of this year. A few weeks after finishing and posting our industrial shelves we received an email from Kit Selzer saying she thought our industrial shelves looked amazing.

To hear that kind of encouraging feedback felt outstanding. I mean sure our parents tell us our projects look great all the time but they also said that about the macaroni art we did in Kindergarten so their biased positive response doesn’t hold quite the same weight as an unbiased opinion that comes from a senior editor at Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Sorry Mom and Dad. We are still appreciative you are our biggest fans.

That wasn’t even the best part. She wanted to feature the shelves in an upcoming issue of the magazine in the I Did It! section and send a team to our house to photograph them and us. After reading the e-mail I immediately called Brent at work and started talking in my “super excited, high pitch voice” that somehow only my easygoing husband and dogs can comprehend. He was equally as enthusiastic.

Better Homes & Gardens {I Did it} Feature
The photo shoot was scheduled for the last week of April and when two large boxes filled with the magazine files and stationery boxes ordered for the shoot were delivered two weeks prior, it started to sink in that this was really happening. And then panic set in that while our shelves might be ready for BHG, the rest of our house…umm not so much. I’m just going to keep it real and say we needed to do some MAJOR cleaning.

But what did we do first? Create an even bigger mess as we built our entire coffee bar in a week. It was an insane idea but how often do you have Better Homes & Gardens come to your house? We wanted to impress.

We managed to get our whole house looking cleaner than it has ever been since we moved in because of all our renovation projects just in time for Monday morning when Shelley, the art director and Janna, the photo stylist arrived to preview our space and our wardrobe for Thursday’s shoot.

Once we got talking about outfits and I admitted to having pretty much zero fashion sense outside of shorts and solid colored tank tops (my uniform of choice in Houston for spring, summer and fall) they asked to see our closet to get a sense of my style. While I was more than happy to show them my wardrobe, I cringed at the thought of them seeing our less than organized closet.

Because what do you do when visitors are on their way and you are in a hurry to clean up? You shove random junk you don’t know what to do with in the closet, right? Am I right? Anyone? Our closet is normally pretty straightened because Brent and I don’t have enough clothes to fill it up but at the last minute I stuck a bunch of random things in there to clean up some areas of our house. I was slightly embarrassed by the mess which we worked so hard to clean, get rid of and then at the last minute “hide”. But they were the sweetest ladies who were kind enough to focus on the clothes and not the environment where they were located.

Then at the last minute there was talk of a ladder and how great a ladder would look in our library and Brent suggested he could build one in two days. We surprised them when they came back on the day of the shoot with a brand new custom built ladder that turned out to be essential to the day because they were able to use it to reach the top shelves to style and we could stand on it for the actual photo.

Better Homes & Gardens {I Did it} Feature
Better Homes & Gardens {I Did it} Feature
Thursday morning Shelley and Janna returned and brought lots of fun items for our shelves. They also brought some really cool plants that sadly are not still around because I can’t keep a plant alive to save my life. The first thing they did was to start pulling items off our shelves so they could rearrange things to look best for the camera.

Better Homes & Gardens {I Did it} Feature
Better Homes & Gardens {I Did it} Feature
It was so much fun to watch Janna and her assistant Becki style our shelves. She is an expert in this field and obviously has way more experience then me so while I probably should have been spending more time taming my hair, I couldn’t help but want to watch the entire time and take mental notes of how she arranged and styled items.

Better Homes & Gardens {I Did it} Feature
Better Homes & Gardens {I Did it} Feature

A little while later the photographer Brian McWeeney and his assistant/wife, Carolyn came and set up their equipment. They made the lighting in the room look incredible. They were a hilarious couple and always kept us laughing. Brian was kind enough to answer all of Brent’s photography questions and Carolyn was a lifesaver in helping me control my “super fine” baby hair that refused to lay down and became a running joke of the day.

Better Homes & Gardens {I Did it} Feature

Since we are used to being behind the camera, I found the process of how these magazine pages come together fascinating. Shelley definitely had the eye for noticing every little aspect that might look off in the photo or make it feel unbalanced. I really learned from her how to pay more attention to the tiny details when photographing our projects.

Better Homes & Gardens {I Did it} Feature

^^^ Thanks so much to Brian for taking this awesome group shot! ^^^

We couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with. We enjoyed getting to know each and every one of them. They were all so personable, encouraging and funny. We had a lot of laughs that day. I’m sure it was a lot of work on their part because those are some big shelves but they made the whole process feel effortless. We are so thankful for them for making this an amazing and unforgettable experience.

Better Homes & Gardens {I Did it} Feature
The best part of all is Jake (the cat) made it into the photo too! Which is pretty spectacular. I was planning on taking him over to my parents’ house for the day so he would be out of the way but when it was brought up that they might try and work him into the photo I wasn’t sure how it would go. On the first attempt he wouldn’t sit still and proceeded to very slowly walk out of frame. The key words here are very slowly. It was as if he was stalking prey or moving in slow motion. Everyone thought it was so humorous because they had never seen a cat move so slow before. The second time around he just plopped himself down and didn’t move one bit but just looked like a big ball of white fur laying on the ground. He eventually had to be removed from the scene because he refused to leave.

We are so appreciative of this opportunity because when you put yourself out there it can be a scary feeling but to have positive feedback like this gives us the drive to keep dreaming, keep making and keep creating. This just shows us that even our wildest dreams are possible. You never know what is around the corner when you take that leap and put yourself and your work out there.

Your kind e-mails, words of encouragement on social media and in our comment section mean the world to us as well, so thank you for supporting Gray House Studio.

The October 2015 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine is on stands now! Check out our I Did It! feature on the last page.

You can view our original Industrial Shelves Project post here.