My First House Photoshoot

I am a house photoshoot rookie.  I’ve never seen one in person.  I have however lived vicariously through other bloggers who have hosted magazine folks, stylists, photographers, etc.  So needless to say…I was really nervous/excited/sweaty/insecure/giddy/overwhelmed when the folks at The Tile Shop asked to photograph our kitchen for a summer promotion.  My first reaction was What the what!? and then set in the drowning of emotions.   

Seriously…I think I went through the seven stages….denial, fear, fetal position, rocking in the corner….finally acceptance that yes, this would be awesome…and yes, I have a slim chance of not embarrassing myself…and yes, I would be weirdly euphoric afterwards.

So here’s how it all went down.  I got an email from Megan (she’s the hottie below with the awesome hair!) asking if they could come take photos of the kitchen, that it would take one day and they (and I!!!) would go shopping for props (for fruit and flowers and stylish stuff) in the morning and then come back, style it, and then photograph it.  Done and done.   I think I screamed YES! at my computer.  And then very cooly accepted.  Anyhoo…that was the plan.  Oh and also, this was before the island and shelves were done…so we were scrambling to get that done.     

I also got an email later that asked if there was anything that we would need to complete the kitchen that would need to be ordered.  Jer and I have a running list of things for each room so I said that we were planning on getting new stools, a new runner and a new light for over the kitchen table.  Megan told me to send her the links for each item and they would take care of it. 

Here’s where it became a little painful.  I love love love when people offer us stuff.  I do.  But I also realize how it can make others become jealous/awkward/critical of us.  I have to go through a million internal questions before accepting anything.  Do I need it?  Do I really want it?  And then there is the obvious…Do I deserve new stuff over other bloggers or other folks?  No.  I know that.  But I also think of things from the photoshoot side…as a company, it would probably be a whole lot cheaper to go into someone’s home that used their product and only style stuff vs. staging a complete scene where they would have to pay for cabinetry, countertops, fixtures AND still have to buy style stuff.  So it’s a weird place to be.  I love getting free stuff…as I am sure everyone does…but at the same time, I want to be sure that 1. I am not endorsing something I don’t love and 2. being respectful of the fact that this was free and that I don’t take it for granted and 3. that I am not cheating myself or my family either because this blog (which I am sooo blessed to have because of YOU!) does cost money, time and energy and 4.  I pay it forward….little or big I feel like being generous with others is really important too.     

Soooo….all that said….I decided to accept the freebies and go through the shopping experience just like I would if I were footing the bill.  First, barstools.  I wanted a counterheight french cafe inspired look to them…something with rounded edges and clean lines.  Also…I wanted black.  I found three options that fit that bill…

The Fashion Seating hairpin bar stool was the perfect price…but it only came in bar it was immediately eliminated.  The Restoration Hardware stool was the right height, was marked down, and came in black but it was a rustic looking black (they didn’t have a photo online so I put the dark walnut one in for reference), and it was just not right to mix that rustic look with my clean look I had going on.  So it got the axe.   Then came the Crate & Barrel barstool.  I loved it.  It was shiny black.  It came in counter height.  It was really expensive though.  SOoo originally I cut that one too.  Then I started hardcore shopping.  Nothing.   Everything was either priced $400+ for a stool (excuse me while I choke on my spit!) or was not what I was looking for. 

So I revisited my original three.  Jer thought the first one would be best…but I was adament that it was too tall and our legs would get squished under the countertop so we brought in two old barstools that were bar height and we immediately knew…Crate and Barrel was the winner.

Then came time for light shopping.  We didn’t know if they would use the entire kitchen for a shot, so we told the Tile Shop folks that and they said just send the link.  We were all over the board with this one.  Every light was different and had a different feel.  The Shades of Light Glass Tubes speaks to me on a test tube level.  That’s molecular.  And I love the price on the Barcelona chandy.  The Pottery Barn light and the Ballard Designs light are both pretty similar with it’s general aesthetic (one being a tad more price wise) and the Glass Orb light is just ultra-cool.  One by one I eliminated them.  The winner was the Ballard Designs light.  I just can’t stop thinking about it.  Really.  I even had a dream where I was carrying it through the store like a baby wrapped in a swaddling blanket.  And I would look down at it and smile.  Such a proud mama I was.  Weird, huh?!

Anyhoo…that was my final pick.  

Then came time for a rug.  Jer wanted a runner that was neutral and washable.  So I went to the place that I know carries neutral and washable rugs….Dash&Albert.  They had this platinum and ivory striped rug that I thought would lend itself to a good kitchen rug (because it’s bleachable!!!).  um.  wrong. 

Megan ordered our stuff and it all arrived that week before the shoot.  I immediately opened the barstools…LOVED.  I opened the light…OBSESSED.  I opened the rug…IT’S PINK! 

Yes.  ::passingoutonthefloor::  I don’t know if it was the way the mid afternoon sun hits our kitchen or if the bright white cabinets are to blame…but that ivory is more like blush.  It was the color of my face when I dove off the high dive in highschool while wearing an untied swimsuit bottom.  Wish I were kidding.  on both accounts.  I immediately texted Megan and told her the problem.  We were out of time to order a new one so I told Jer that we would just have to find something in the house.  

The big day arrived and our light was installed, the chairs were dust free and the kitchen was cleaned (as much as you can do with two little ones…which meant, all the matchbox cars were outta there and the Cheerios were broomed into another room!). 

Megan & Brian arrived after their LONG drive from the hotel in the city and we immediately loved them.  They are so genuine and sweet and are really passionate about their company and jobs.  I love that.  Will thought they were there for him.  Not kidding. 

After we showed them the very bare kitchen, they made a list of things that we could buy and told them our limited stores of shopping….Target & Pier 1 & TJMaxx.  That’s all we have in this area.  Well…technically it’s thirty minutes away…but still, it’s better than buying home decor at Citgo and the Boss Brothers Country Store.     

We hit up Pier 1 first….at which point I realized something.  I am a horrible shopper.  I am so picky.  And scatterbrained.  I had no idea what I was looking for but I knew that they said I needed to like it.  So I was attracted to the minty green bins for the back corner.  That’s when we decided to go with blues and greens. 

Then we went to Target….where apparently blues and greens are extinct.  They did however have a large selection of reds, yellows, and corally orange.  So we bought the rainbow.  Megan found a flowery dishtowel that had a slew of colors, so we just crossed our fingers and hoped that everything would work together.  

Then we hit up TJMaxx….again…rainbow.  This was just about the point where my sweat glands started getting a workout.  I seriously thought “Oh my gosh.  This is gonna look like a hot mess.  Like a box of crayons exploded on my kitchen.  Such a weird color scheme.  What the heck is wrong with me.”

After lunch (they bought it!) and me getting Megan to try fried okra (it was hilarious.)…we went back to the house and worked on prepping the kitchen.  Megan did most of the styling…she’s such a pro….and I went back through and added some stuff that I had in my stash.  Then came the shooting…

They turned on all the lights and the softbox lights they packed with them and started setting up all the shots.  It was so interesting from a photographers standpoint to watch her work. 

 I also thought it was interesting because it wasn’t like how I would do it…this is to appeal to the masses to promote tile.  So they wanted to show off the tile whenever possible and make it look the best it could possible look.   

I have no experience with softboxes or external lighting when taking photos…so it was especially cool to me to see how they made it work. 

I know this sounds crazy but I love that grouping of random stuff on the island.  Who in the world would need that many limes!?  It looks like we are serving a lime picnic.   

I ended up giving all but two to my mother.  She makes key lime pies with regular limes…waste not want not, right?!

After they took a bunch of photos of the kitchen tile, we took a bunch of our family (we don’t know what those look like yet but I guarantee there was some crying/drooling/weird posture.  Speaking of weird posture…apparently anytime I stand next to people in photos, I feel the need to either squat or get up on my toes.  This was a squatter… 

Don’t ask why I decided to wear the world’s brightest outfit.  Apparently I thought that it was Florida fan club day. 

I have to say that when Brian and Megan left to go to the airport, I walked around and it was exactly what I had imagined.  I was totally on cloud nine.  I felt so proud and special and just…so…happy.  Like I had just bought an hour of applause.  Or a day of hugs.  Or an endless supply of dark chocolate peanut m&m’s.  It sounds weird but it’s one of those moments in this ridiculous job that is something I’ll probably talk about till I’m gray haired and wearing Depends.

Oh and I would be remiss to not mention a very heartfelt thank you to Dana & Dusty & Sherry.  These are three of the sweetest girls in the whole blog world and they put up with my endless questioning emails and texts and phone calls on what to expect when it comes to photoshoots.  I would have probably spontaneous combusted without their help :)



  1. Maureen Wildauer says

    I just went out and bought that vase at Pier One. I got the last one. A little pricey but stinkin’ adorable and worth every penny. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Jessica K says

    I saw “Will’s not-so-little book” when I got on today to put a photo book together today.

    The Bower’s are famous!

  3. says

    Damn, that looks so cool! I think you need to think of the freebies as payment – you’re good at what you do, and these people wouldn’t have asked you to model the kitchen if you weren’t.

  4. says

    It sucks that a few party poopers made you feel like you had to justify getting free stuff. :-( You were presented with a great opportunity and took advantage of it! I feel like it’s the obvious thing to do. Everything turned out great, and really, I think the haters are just jealous that they aren’t the ones getting freebies.

  5. Addie says

    I am in love with your kitchen, Katie! And I am shocked people are even commenting on the freebie part? Who cares. I’m sure most of these people have received a freebie or a gift sometime in their life. I say take ‘em guilt free because you definitely deserve it!

  6. says

    I am a new blogger and I have just discovered your beautiful and inspiring blog!
    I hope it would be ok to link to a seriously RETRO post of yours about the ladder in your garden with pastel plant pots for a post which I am planning?

    Thank you for all of the inspiration!
    Snowdrop Sew

  7. Jenn says

    i am so cool. oh yes i am because you chose the same canister set at Pier 1 that i got. ;-)
    i love mine, except the seals fell of the lids. and i really do NOT like that considering how much they cost.

  8. Kathy says

    Morning, Katie,
    I’m about to re-do my kitchen. Paint my cabinets white and I’ve always wanted black countertops. Aren’t yours black? how do you like them? do they show everything? is it worth it? I LOVE the look with white cabines.

    thanks for your help,

    • says

      Yes…ours are black…and they do show more than our previous black galaxy countertops but I do love the contrast. I think that it’s one of those things that forces you to wipe your countertops…which could be a bad thing if you have messy hands everywhere or it could be a good thing if you like clean counters :)
      xo – kb

  9. Lauren says

    Katie – it looks awesome! I have been looking everywhere for the perfect light fixture over my dining table and was so excited when I read through your post and saw the Bailard Design one you chose! I just bought it today and can’t wait until it arrives!

  10. Christy says

    Your kitchen is drop dead gorgeous! I know I am late commenting here, but I pinned a few pics of your kitchen and just keep coming back to them. Just perfect!!! I just got a 20% off code from Ballard and am ordering that Eldridge Chandelier RIGHT.NOW. I can’t stop thinking about it! And woo to the hoo for you getting freebies!

  11. Ashley says

    I tried to skim the comments to see if you mentioned where you got the clam shell bowl on your counter, but I didn’t see anything…Can you tell me where you got that bowl? It’s awesome!!

  12. says

    Hi Katie! I was just looking back at this post and noticed that the link for the Crate and Barrel bar stools takes me to a 24″ stool. Are your island cabinets 30″ high? We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel ourselves ( at 37 weeks pregnant! What is it with pregnant women and kitchen remodels?) and I wonder if the 30″ counter/ 24″ stool is a standard set up and do you feel like that leaves you plenty of room for your thighs when you sit there?

    • says

      Hmm…I don’t know if the link is changed but our stools are not bar height…just counter height and they fit great with the countertops. Much more room than the bar height!
      xo – kb

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