We’ve been shot—by BH & G

Stylists extraordinaire Annette and Natalie

Tom explains blue crab wrangling to Annette

The Breeze Inn has never looked better than it did this weekend–thanks to the genius of the the team shooting our house for Better Homes & Gardens magazine; freelance stylist Annette Joseph and her gorgeous assistant Natalie, and brilliant photographer Rob Brinson.

Rob, our shooting star

After spending a couple days last week slumming at the Cloister on St. Simons Island with my junking buddy Beth, I motored up to Tybee on Friday to meet Annette and Natalie for the much-anticipated shoot for Better Homes and Gardens magazine. They pulled into our driveway Friday at 10 a.m., and I swear, they did not slow down until they’d finished shooting me, Katie and baby Molly on Sunday at noon at our favorite shopping haunt, Seaside Sisters.
Annette had told me they’d be bringing stuff to style the house for the shoot, but schnikeys! They’d brought down a whole SUV-full of pretties. Within five minutes of arrival, Annette and Natalie started hauling most of the furniture off the screened porch, moving it out to the carport, where it served as the display area for all the props for the shoot. Annette had carefully studied scouting photos of our house to see our style (junky) and color scheme–mostly blues and greens with some shots of coral. They bought tons of accessories from Home Goods and World Market, sprinkled in with some vintagey things like a great 1950s aluminum Schlitznik beer cooler, and some items culled from Annette’s personal prop stash, like a stack of delicious turquoise glazed fluted plates from Anthropologie. Did I mention that we got to keep lots of the loot? Yay!

Pretty loot, er, props

First to get photographed was the master bedroom and bathroom. It was amazing to watch how with just a few switched around pieces of furniture and some added accessories, the rooms took on a new zing. Boomerang Boy’s room got shot next, all propped up with fishing poles, a vintage tackle box and a duffle bag full of clothes–not his own–because in real life Boomerang Boy usually arrives at the beach with luggage consisting of his high school football equipment bag stuffed full of dirty laundry. On Saturday morning, Rob and Brian met Tom and Andy at the marina where we keep our boat, and they got some great “lifestyle” shots of the guys fishing. Even a pod of cooperative dolphins showed up for the shoot. In the meantime, back at the house, the girls were styling up our living and dining room. I learned that in the world of magazine photography, more is less. Annette gently diagnosed me as someone with “shopping issues.” Duh. Our rattan armchairs were annexed to the far side of the room to give the living room “breathing room”, and one of the slipcovered armchairs I bought last weekend was moved from the dining room to the living area. Then the girls added shots of hot pink accessories–a soft pink plaid throw went over the arm of the sofa, pink striped pillows from Home Goods were added to the slipcovered armchairs, a white vase of pink roses was artfully posed on an end table, and yes, a stack of Mary Kay Andrews novels was added to the mix. Wasn’t it smart of my publisher to give my books jackets that fit my beach house color scheme? The kitchen and dining room got fluffed up too–down to having each plate and wine glass in the glass-front kitchen cabinets carefully lined up, and the countertops accessorized with a vintage bread box, copper utensil jugs and a row of designer jams and jellies. Not even the tiniest detail got overlooked. Our kitchen sink got glammed up with grapefruit dish soap, a pretty pink sponge, and an array of Home Goods aqua dish towels. Since it was my husband’s birthday weekend–and our whole extended family was down for the celebration, I’d mentioned that we’d probably serve a birthday dinner with Tom’s famous crab cakes, corn on the cob and a chocolate birthday cake. Off went Natalie–to Bowie’s Seafood on Tybee for the aforementioned blue crabs, and to Davis Produce on Wilmington Island, for a crate of fresh corn, ripe tomatoes, and mango for the mango salsa.

Glamour shot of the kitchen sink–even the pink sponge was color coordinated

My newlywed niece Corry helpfully baked the birthday cake layers, and then I made the frosting–using a spazzed-out hand-mixer which left me and the kitchen counter covered head-to-toe in chocolate . Good thing the stylist made me change out of my “picture clothes” before hand! Then Annette stepped in and made my homemade chocolate frosting look waaaay prettier than I could ever have done. Finally, Tom was brought in to wrangle the blue crabs into the pretty blue stockpot. I kept thinking of the lobster-cooking scene from Annie Hall. Thankfully, none of our crabs escaped. Funny thing, after all those carefully staged food shots, we were too tired to actually make the crab cakes, so we ended up sending out for pizza! On Sunday morning, we managed to get the whole family–including Tom’s sister Jeanne, brother Bob, who was the contractor for the house remodel, his wife Laurie, his three sons, daughter-in-law and grandson, rounded up for family beach photos. At one point, Annette spotted a couple surfers down the beach, and decided Rob should take photos of Andy surfing. Thus, Natalie, the smoking hot assistant, was dispatched to persuade the surfers that they should loan us their boards. Obviously, they could not have been more pleased to help out. Once the photos were finished, the BH&G team headed back to Atlanta, and all the family members headed home too. Now, lest you think our house always looks this photo-ready, let me let you in on a secret–it takes a village to get a house ready for a national magazine shoot. Mr. Mary Kay and I went down to Tybee last weekend to do some fluffing, and then The Mermaid Cottages housekeepers worked feverishly between guests last week to make sure every inch of the house was sparkling. Our amazing landscape wizard Kelly Lockamy even worked through a couple of torrential downpours to get the front garden spiffed up with blooming posies. Sunday night, to celebrate a sucessful shoot, we invited Susan from Seaside Sisters, and Diane from Mermaid Cottages to join us for the kind of occasion we love–an impromptu Sunday night supper. Beth and husband Richard drove up from the Cloister, so we had a dinner for six–crab cakes, cold asparagus with lemon-herb mayonnaise, a fresh corn salad made with tomatoes, basil, red pepper and a buttermilk vinaigrette dressing. Topped off with Susan’s peach crisp. Perfect ending to a great weekend. P.S.–Look for the BH&G story next summer–probably July.

Susan and Diane toast to Sunday suppers

5 thoughts on “We’ve been shot—by BH & G”

  1. Sounds spectacular! Glad it all went so well–and that you got some swag out of the deal! Can't wait to see the magazine!

  2. so exciting! you probably know that our mutual friend, liz demos, owner of @home on broughton street, has freelanced with BH&G. was she involved in this project?

  3. Great behind-the-scenes stories…and you may recall I've been bugging you for 20 years to make one of your novelist heroines a home & garden editor (or stylist?)…just imagine the possibilities based on what you saw this weekend!* Thanks for letting BHG shoot your house…and great job by Annette, Natalie and Rob. Can't wait to see it next summer.

    * Annette and I can fill your ears with more stories, needless to say.

  4. The cottage looked absolutely incredible ( and it already looked fabulous!) The entire family looked beautiful and hanesome for the photo shoot and best of all was the delicious Sunday night dinner . thank you for sharing your family's adventures with us!

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