Behind the Scenes of a Design*Sponge Home Tour

Last week was an exciting one for RHW — a tour of my house was on the mega-blog Design*Sponge!  We are devoted admirers of Design*Sponge, so seeing my house on its venerated pages was a thrill.  We knew it was going to happen but not precisely when, so when Katie called me early in the morning (I can neither confirm nor deny that I was, *ahem,* in the bathroom when she called) I knew the day had arrived.

The first thing I asked Katie was whether I had “gushed.”  Once upon a time a homeowner was described on Design*Sponge as “gushing” about something she loved about her home.  Katie and I hate the word gush.  For us it’s in the same category as “moist” — words that induce nausea and a desperate need to shower.  We were nervous that my effusiveness about my home would be described as a sudden rapid flow of liquid, but luckily, thankfully, I did no “gushing” on Design*Sponge.

House tours are a funny thing.  You look at them, and it’s like you’re just walking around the house on any given day and it looks fantastic and clean.  The truth about my house tour is that it took two months to put together.  Between work, Opal, animals, and our regular posting schedule here, it was tough to eke out the time to clean, style, and photograph the house.  I tried to do one room per weekend, but in the meantime I was changing things around in the house, and there are some tells in the D*S photos.

For example, here is a half-room shot of the living from that was included in the tour:

Red House West || Behind the Home Tour

And here is a pulled back shot of the living room that was in the tour:

Red House West || Behind the House Tour

I took the half-room shot first, and the full room shot a few weeks later.  Can you spot the differences?

(In the second picture there is a mirror on the wall next to the column, different flowers on the table, five candlesticks instead of four on the credenza, and the pink sunset painting has been moved and another painting is in its place (now that I look at it, I like the pink painting better where it was originally)).

It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine in house tours when there is, say, a brass elephant on a bookshelf in a beautifully styled shot, and then the same brass elephant shows up on the artfully set dining room table.  It just kind of kills the magic for me, and I worried that seeing these differences in the living room would have a similar effect.  I really agonized about these differences, but ultimately I just had to get over it and declare it good enough.

While Katie and I don’t generally style our spaces to within an inch of their lives for the sake of a photo, there’s always some cleaning up and editing that happens.  For example this is what Opal’s room looked like on Design*Sponge:

Red House West || Behind the Home Tour 12Opal

And here is what the hallway outside her room looked like while I was taking the photos:

Red House West || Behind the House Tour

Of course the hallway looked a little different when I got around to photographing it for the tour:

Red House West || Behind the Home Tour

Along with pictures of the house, Design*Sponge also requests a picture of the occupants of the home.  Here is the picture of me, the devoted and fun-loving mom, Wolsey, the merry milliner, and Opal, the cherubic, delighted child, that was included with the tour:

Red House West || Behind the Home TourIn reality Opal had just woken up from her nap and had a 1000-yard stare.  This is the frame from just before the picture we used, before Opal had seen Wolsey in the hat.

Red House West || Behind the Home Tour

Chester brought out Opal’s beloved but not photogenic monkey to try to make her smile, and I was like “thanks Chester, now the entire design world is going to know that our daughter doesn’t just play with hand-made toys that I knitted from hair lovingly culled from Wolsey and Cora with a boar-bristle brush.”  I tried to convince Opal to put the monkey down by doing the same thing with Wolsey: One, two, three, drop!  It didn’t work, but at least Wolsey loved it.

Red House West || Behind the Home Tour

Katie’s house tour is close to ready for submission, and I’m looking forward to interrupting her morning ablutions with exciting news soon.  For those of you who found us through Design*Sponge welcome!  I hope you’ll stick around despite seeing how the sausage is made!  And to our long-time readers who gave RHW a nice plug in the comments on Design*Sponge, thank you, it means a lot.  She gushed.

27 responses on “Behind the Scenes of a Design*Sponge Home Tour

  1. Emily

    So excited for you that you were on Design Sponge, it’s one of my favourites (besides RHW of course) (oh no, am I gushing?)

    It’s really fascinating to see these “behind the scenes” shots. The main thing I was struck by was just how much the photos were edited (in terms of colour, lighting, exposure etc) before they appeared on Design Sponge – which would explain why my house never looks like the houses on blogs! I much prefer seeing the “real” photos like the ones shown here, it’s far less intimidating, much more inspiring, and still totally gorgeous. I have learnt a valuable lesson today.

    1. Mera Post author

      Thank you, Emily! You have a keen eye, the folks at D*S definitely upped the exposure of my photos (which were sent to them RAW and unedited). Also, please feel free to be effusive, unrestrained, and fulsome in your praise–we promise to never use the G word to describe you! 🙂

  2. Nina

    Oh, I know what you mean about the brass elephant showing up in every shot. That bugs me, too!

    I enjoyed the “can you spot the differences” exercise, which I totally didn’t notice on D*S. That was fun. Like a “Highlights for Children” puzzle. Except now I am flashing back to my childhood dentist’s waiting room. Gulp.

    1. Mera Post author

      Ha! Highlights is totally synesthetic for me too. Whenever I see one I instantly smell that universal dentist office smell.
      Thank you Nina!

  3. MC859

    I’m one of the newbies that found you from the DS post. I have to say that your home being in Alaska was the draw – I’m a big fan of the author Dana Stabenow and am hoping to come visit your state next year. I’ve enjoyed browsing thru your archives and love both of your styles!

    1. Mera Post author

      Thank you, and we’re so glad you found us! If you’re a fan of Alaska authors, you might be interested in local author Eowyn Ivey’s book “The Snow Child.” I think of it as equal parts creepy and moving, and very Alaska. Worth a read! 🙂

  4. Carol Bryner

    Love the monkey photo. And it’s always fun to see “behind the scenes.” But the actual scenes are important too. They’re the moments when the furniture and rooms we live with become what we always wished they would be. If I didn’t have these idealist house-staging goals in my own life, all my photos would have a vacuum cleaner in them – always sitting there waiting to be used.

    1. Mera Post author

      Thank you, Michelle! You have lived the behind-the-scenes in my house–thanks for not telling the world what it usually looks like!

  5. zandra zuraw

    Hi Mera,
    Just drooled over all of your photos over on DS! Congrats! Love the comment in your post above about worry over whether or not changing stuff from one photo to the next. We can totally relate. But in your case, the only thing I saw that was different was the artwork on the wall. And only because you challenged us to find the differences! But even so, I think making these kinds of changes speaks to how your style evolves from day to day. Which is different than having someone move one trinket from room to room to fill up a photo! Anyway, lovely home and I’m so glad we got a chance to see it!

  6. Susan Glassow

    Love your honesty and your humor! Ah, Wolsey, you keep showing up for the family, don’t you?

    And, love those dreamy about to be lived in rooms…I still feel this when no one is home but me, a room is cleaned or tidied up and all the possibilities of family theater await, but for now, serenity and beauty reign.

    1. Mera Post author

      I love your description Susan; I often wish the serenity and beauty part would last just a little longer, but no matter. We can always count on Wolsey for family theater! xo

  7. Susanna-Cole King

    Mera, I loved this post! I always appreciate when people break down that fourth wall and let people have a look behind the scenes. It can get a bit disillusioning looking at people’s meticulously styled homes and lives through the Internet, without seeing any of the messiness. This was also particularly interesting to me as I’ve been contemplating submitting my apartment to Design*Sponge, and luckily I’ve had some photographers who have been asking to shoot my place, meaning less leg work for me (although I probably will obsessively rearrange and tweak which I do even when my apartment isn’t being photographed), and have one coming next weekend. I am wondering though, as another commenter noted, the photos are edited from the raw image, did you do the editing or does Design*Sponge?

    1. Mera Post author

      Lucky you to have photographers who want to shoot your home! I submitted my images to D*S as you see them here, and they did the editing. I think all they did was up the exposure, and I suspect that they would not edit the photos of a professional, but I’m not sure.
      Hope to see your apartment on Design Sponge soon! Thanks!

  8. Shavonda@SGStyle

    Hi there! New fan here!! I absolutely LOVED your house tour on DS. Its honestly one of my absolute favs. My brother and his family recently moved to AK so I was intrigued by that fact. Then I started scrolling through the images and couldn’t stop smiling. I love love love the boho eclectic vibe you’ve created in your home. Its so fabulous. Cant wait to dive into your blog more!

    1. Mera Post author

      Shavonda! I’m glad you found us, and grateful to you for this sweet comment. I can’t wait to spend time mining your blog for inspiration–you’re my style doppelgänger! 🙂

  9. Gillianne

    Seeing your house on D*S, and this peek at some reality behind the pretty pictures, made me smile. Your blog is smart and entertaining — a unique Ginkgo in the blogosphere’s plentiful sameness. It deserves a wider audience, imho; may the D*S features help make that happen. Congrats to you both!

    1. Mera Post author

      Thank you for this wonderful comment, Gillianne! We’re making a go of it, and would love to expand our readership. Tell your friends! 🙂

  10. Margot

    Ha! Loved the photo of the hallway while you we’re photographing your daughter’s bedroom. And the photo of your daughter with the ‘thousand yard stare’. Your house is lovely by the way. I too came to you blog via Design Sponge.

  11. Christina Noe

    I found you through Design*Sponge, and added you to my feed based on that alone. But now that you’ve made me actually laugh out loud I’m even more excited to keep reading! 🙂 That last photo… lol.

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