Behind the Scenes with BH&G

By Kate Riley 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. 




  1. Oh wow! That must be such an amazing feeling to have yourself in print!
    Love the cheeky little shot of your daughter opening the door.

  2. Those are very, very pretty shots! Your home looks wonderfull, too bad I can’t seem to find the magazine in my part of the world.

    Could the software possibly be Adobe Lightroom? Some controls look like it.

  3. What fun you must have had! Love seeing what goes on behind a photo shoot. Your home looks just beautiful. Can’t wait to pick up the issue!

  4. Oh my gosh this is so exciting!! Congratulations!! You must be so excited! Will definitely go purchase the issue and check it out!

  5. Congratulations, Kate!! I can now brag that I work with someone who’s been Featured in BH&G. And I totally will. ;) I haven’t seen the issue yet, but that could also be b/c I’ve been distracted in the checkout lines. I’ll be picking up a copy as soon as I see it. I love BH&G, and their holiday issues are always a blast to read. Loved seeing behind-the-scenes shots. Your little girl looks so pretty, and what a fabulous shot of her! (Love the swiffer/stool combo-genius)

  6. I love that you kept it real! So many bloggers pretend everything is perfect all the time. This is the first Christmas blog post I have seen but it makes me SO excited to start on some decorating crafts!

  7. Kate, to say that I’m so thrilled and proud and all that jazz for y’all is the understatement of the year! Your home is beautiful, your creativity stunning and I just love you. Did that sound all sappy and gross? Sorry! I think you rock! And I’m super proud of Layla and Kev’s article too! I have the coolest friends! :)

  8. Congratulations! Beautiful shots and it was fun to see how some of it was put together. Love the photo of your daughter opening up the door. I’ll be picking up my copy today!

  9. #1 So I’ll be like your Mom and buy a copy for everyone I know.
    #2 I’M SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!
    #3 Congrats & relish in this accomplishment!

    Looks great my friend Kate! Sending you out “special Mommie hugs” right now :)♥

  10. WOW! congratulations to you! Your home is beautiful. What a treasure to have for years.
    May I say your daughter is adorable too! Thanks for the behind the scenes look. Just
    when you think life is perfect in a magazine, who knew children were standing on stools and
    doors being propped with a swiffer! :-)

  11. Kate – well deserved! All those years of hard work, learning, tweaking, styling do pay off! And you’re living proof. You must be over the moon excited, congratulations, I’m off to get my copy today. Thank you.

  12. Hi Kate –

    How exciting – can’t wait to go out and get a copy. Your daughter I think just steals the show – so cute in her pretty dress and curls in her hair. I can see a framing project in your near future. :)

    Fun seeing what happens behind the scenes.

    My best – Diane

  13. This is so awesome! I think I’ve been reading BH&G since I was about twelve and look forward to receiving it in my mailbox every month. I will be grabbing a copy when I’m out and about today.

    Congratulations and Merry Christmas ; )

  14. WOW! I am so excited for YOU and I’m so excited for ME ’cause I get to go out TODAY and buy the magazine with YOU in it. Your home is just beyond lovely with all your Christmas finery! Thanks so much for sharing your excitment with us.

  15. You still can’t believe it?! Girl you ROCK!!!! I can’t wait to pick mine up so I can say “I know this girl right here”!!! Your daughter is so cute, especially at the front door. And your wreath… sigh!

  16. Wow that is awesome! Everything looks beautiful! I can’t wait to get a copy. And now, I’m in the mood for Christmas! LOL:)

  17. Congrats on getting in BH&G. Your photo shoot looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing the “behind the scene” photos… my favorite part. Your daughter looks so sweet. I’ll be sure to get a copy….looks like a great issue.

  18. Congratulations Kate!
    Your home looks beautiful for the second time around Christmas! You really did it!
    I remember you were you so excited when they were coming, well you certainly pulled it off!! Good for you…your little girl looks ready for the holidays all dressed up!!

    Have a great Day… I will p/u a copy as soon as I see it on the shelves…
    All the Best,

  19. I excitedly buy this magazine every single year. I have them out year round in my mag basket. When I saw at twitter that the mag was out, I ran to walmart (not even stopping to make sure I was presentable) but alas, it was nowhere to be found. I’m in Canada, so I think it may take a few weeks longer to get waaaaay up north. I very much look forward to seeing your article. Your tree was fab (and has me on a quest for a flocked tree). Thanks for sharing some behind the scenes!

  20. I love it!! How tired are you of getting your Christmas stuff out before Christmas? Ha- but how amazing to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens! Wow!! I love all your ideas, your house is beautiful :)

  21. Ok, this is amazing. Congrats to you. Your decor is awesome. It’s so neat to be following you talented bloggers and then see you become famous in a magazine. So happy for you. Be blessed and enjoy the holidays. :)

  22. Congratulations, Kate! How exciting to see your home featured in print and you are most deserving of this! Your home is stunning and you’ve got exquisite taste. I will pick of a copy of the magazine when I’m out today. Your daughter looks beautiful and how fun for her to be featured as well!

  23. Congrats! You are probably still beaming from ear to ear. I can’t wait to pick up my copy now. I love all the behind the scenes photo’s. Your little girl is so cute. Love the decorating ideas I see already and I can’t wait to see the kitchen photo’s. I have a similar window in my LR and now you have inspired me for this Christmas. Thanks for sharing!!!! :D

  24. Congrats – 8 pages, WOW!!! You must be soooo proud, that is awesome!!!! You should probably be prepared for your site crashing with all of the traffic! Can’t wait to buy it.

  25. Congratulations Kate! You totally deserve this! You’ve worked hard on your home and it has turned out fabulous! I’m so happy for you!!!

  26. Congrats! I’m going to buy the magazine! Your home decorated for Christmas is just magical! I think my favorite photo though is the one of your precious little girl at the front door. What a cutie pie!

  27. How exciting! Congrats! I will have to grab a copy and see the rest! Thank you for bringing us behind the scenes. Your house looks amazing and yes, I wish it was Christmas already so I can decorate for home!


  28. You continue to amazing me. My day isn’t complete without spending some time–OK a lot of time–seeing what Centsational Girl is doing now.

  29. Oh my goodness~ I am buying one tonight!
    I’m so excited for you. Thanks for the behind the scenes look! I love all your ideas :)

  30. On the “to-Do” list…. grab this magazine quick! What a prize! Congratulations and you deserve these pages…. and now I’ll have your kitchen in my hands to carry around when I’m shopping for “copies” of your great ideas!

    Enjoy your time with Rhoda this weekend… I know it will be a blast…. you two are the creme de la creme!

  31. Beautiful………. you are so talented….. I wish my house look one tenth the way yours does!!!!

  32. That’s so exciting!! I can’t wait to see it. Glad I happened to check your blog before I ran out the door today because now I can look for the mag while I’m at the store. Congratulations! :)

  33. So modern and fresh. The picture of your daughter opening the front door is so cute. It should have made the cover of the magazine! Congratulations!

  34. I was waiting for you to mention it! I picked up my copy last week and immediately turned to your feature because I could tell it was your “style”. I called my boyfriend over and said, “Look! I know her!” I was so excited for you. Funny, I do feel like I know you although I’ve only been reading your blog a few short months. You deserve this feature, it was a beautiful spread.

  35. Congratulations, this is so cool! I’ll have to try to pick up a copy and see everything! I love the silver/blue/white look for Christmas – it’s so pretty and elegant!

  36. Wow…I am so excited for you! It will be fun to see someone I “know” featured in BHG – congratulations!

  37. wow! how exciting, so happy and jealous of you all at once! lol your home is beautiful and so is yor daughter, i will def be buying this!

  38. Your daughter is absolutely precious!

    I’ve been waiting all year for this issue to come out, can’t wait to see all the photos~and I cannot wait to see what you have up your sleeve {s?} for this year!!!


  39. WOW WOW WOW!! I didn’t know of your blog back in February so this is all new news to me. HOW FANTASTIC! I can’t wait to get a copy and see every gorgeous detail. You must be beyond thrilled. Congratulations :)

  40. Hi Kate…I got the magazine the other day and as I was going through it I was like hey wait a minute, this is Kate’s house!! So pretty, and I am so proud of you, and so happy for you!!! You deserve this and more! You are such an inspiration to so many, including me!!!! May God continue to open every door you ever dreamed of and more!!!! xoxo

  41. Ok, I’m sure you get a million emails like this everyday, and it may be just another but let me be the millionth and one email telling you that I want to replicate everything you do and make my house like just like everything you touch! The color pallet you use is so classically stunning. Every accessory is so beautiful and the furniture is so beautiful. Thank you for being very inspirational for me and I’m sure so many others. Congratulations on the magazine article feature, you so deserve the spotlight because you are so talented!

    Thanks again,
    Camilla (my measly blog that is nowhere as creative and beautiful as yours :)

  42. That is one of my favorite magazines! Your pictures are stunning. I can’t wait to pick up my copy! It does seem wrong to me that you don’t get your copies free since your home was featured. ;o) Too bad they didn’t ask my opinion, huh?

  43. Wow! Your place looks beautiful and it’s fascinating to see the “behind the scenes” aspect of a shoot like that.

    I can’t imagine re-decorating for Christmas in February. But it was so worth it in this case.



  44. Oh, my gosh, just fantastic is all I can say. I’ll have to check our news stands tomorrow and pick up a copy. I want to drool some more! You are fabulous and so is your blog!

  45. Congratulations! The photos are beautiful and your daughter is adorable. It was fun to see the behind the scene shots. I’ll have to pick up a copy soon!

  46. So very cool to be a part of! Thanks so much for the behind the scenes. I find that the most fascinating part! Oh, of course actually being IN the magazine is super cool, too! How very much fun you must have had!

  47. Congrats, it all looks beautiful! The software he is using might be Lightroom, which is an awesome editing program.

  48. 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!

  49. 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!

  50. 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!

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

  52. 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.

  53. 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!

  54. 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!

  55. 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! :)

  56. 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!

  57. 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! =)

  58. Congratulations!!!
    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.

  59. 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!

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

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

  63. 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!

  64. 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!

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

  66. 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.

  67. 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!

  68. 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. :-)

  69. 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.

  70. 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!!!

  71. 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

  72. 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!

  73. 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.

  74. 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!!!!

  75. 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!

  76. 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?

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


  78. 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!!

  79. 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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