Touring the Southern Living Offices

When I moved to Birmingham a few years ago, I ended up on a tour of one of my favorite magazines, Southern Living.  I had always heard that they were headquartered in Birmingham and that was my chance to see the magazine up close and personal, in 2006.  That was pre-blogging days and recently I got another invitation to tour the offices of Southern Progress, home of 4 major magazines, including Southern Living and Coastal Living.  Earlier this year, I met up with Nancy and Dana, two great ladies who work with Forest Home Media and they did all the PR for the HGTV Smart home in Nashville that several bloggers got to visit back in April.  They set up the Birmingham visit and I joined 3 other bloggers for a fun day of adventure touring the Southern Living offices and test kitchen.

It was fun to go back to where I lived for 5 years and I can finally go back and be happy about it, if you know what I mean.  Smile While I was there, I caught up with some of my church friends and it was fun seeing them again.  Fond memories of those girls will always be with me.

southern progress

The Southern Progress office is tucked away near Brookwood Mall in Birmingham off a busy corridor of wooded area, residences, and business.  You can see a stacked stone wall near the road and that’s the only giveaway that something special is up the winding driveway.   The façade itself is very modernish and reminded us of Frank Lloyd Wright designs.  This is the entry to the front door.

ivy stone walls

An ivy covered rock wall on the way to the front door.

ferns

One thing that struck me back when I first visited Southern Progress was the incredible outdoor spaces they created around the building.  Winding streams, water features, and lots of vegetation are right outside for viewing.  It feels like you are a world away when you look outside.

lobby at southern living

Inside the front door is this spacious foyer that’s very modern and pretty.

sculpture at southern living

I didn’t get the story behind this huge sculpture, but it takes up a lot of the entry of the 2 story foyer.

southern progress magazines

Four magazines are published at Southern Progress:  Cooking Light, Health, Southern Living and Coastal Living.

outdoor terrace

I love how tucked away terraces are all around the building, beckoning those who work there to sit outside awhile.

more outdoor terraces

atrium southern living

This huge atrium is a big part of the building design and is absolutely breathtaking.

atrium

Looking below at the courtyard and stone floor.

atrium and stream

Notice right outside is a meandering stream and pond that comes right inside the building.  It is gorgeous!

shelves at southern living
Back inside, we continued our tour of the offices, peeking here and there.  That’s my friend, Carmen, up on that center board, showing off Southern Living Plant Collection.  I know a little about that subject now!

props southern living

As you can imagine, with magazines going to press, there are lots of props around for photoshoots.  These tables were all over in one area, ready for styling and shooting.

accessories southern living

Wouldn’t you like to have all of this at your fingertips? That’s how they get those magazine quality shots.

waterfall

A beautiful waterfall is right outside one of the walkways that connects one building to another.

lucy heather rhoda beth

We decided this was a prime spot for a photo opportunity.  From left, Lucy, Heather, me and Beth, my blog friends.  These girls are always fun to hang out with.

group shot southern living

From Left to Right:  Meryll Rose (Nashville Talk of the Town News Anchor), Dana (Forest Home Media and Bella Tucker), Lucy (Lucysinspired), Heather (At the Picket Fence), Me, Beth (Unskinny Boppy), Nancy (Forest Home Media) and Nellah (our very sweet Southern Living tour guide).

Rhoda white outfit

Since I was all dressed up, I figured I’d take a few shots in this pretty location.  In case you want to know what I’m wearing (and someone always asks), those are Target white skinny jeans, sandals from Target, top from a boutique in Woodstock, GA called Branches.  The label is SGC, which I looked up online and can’t find any company by that name that resembles this clothing.  rhoda

Anyway, I love this top and it wasn’t expensive. You can see all the freckles I have, which I got from my dad. That necklace is a recent yardsale find for $1 and the earrings I’ve had for awhile, from a yardsale.

southern living test kitchen

Back inside, we got to tour the Southern Living test kitchens. This side wasn’t being used that day so they let us take pics of it.  We had to be careful about what we took photos of, because many things are top secret in the magazine world.

kitchen storage

More props along the way, which was amazing to see.

prop room

One whole prop room was filled with dishes of all colors.  Can you imagine having this at your fingertips to use in a photo styling session?

green bowls

Green bowls.  Yes, please!

linens

Napkins in shades of yellow.

more props

A whole wall of glass ware and linens.

sid evans

We finally made our way to meet the new editor of Southern Living, Sid Evans.  He’s from Memphis, TN and now at the helm of Southern Living, since Lindsay Bierman stepped down to be the new chancellor at the University of North Carolina.  We wish him the best, it was always a pleasure to chat with him along the way too.

nancy and sid

Nancy presented Sid with a  welcome back to the South basket, full of unique things of the region.

bottega birmingham

Our next stop was lunch and we feasted at Bottega, one of my fave restaurants in Birmingham.  I only went there a couple of times when I lived there, but this restaurant by world renowned chef Frank Stitt, is well  known and the food is fantastic.

digs designs

We also had time for a little shopping and stopped by Digs Designs, in a warehouse area of Birmingham.

digs

Filled with lots of old crusty vintage item, it’s a pickers paradise.

old stool

I love rustic stuff too, but a few pieces go a long ways for me.  I did think this rusty stool was cute.

old doors

If you are in the area, you might want to check them out.

chairs at digs

They have lots of chairs too and I’m sure plenty of DIY project material if you’re in the market.

We also hit up one of my favorite Homewood shops, At Home and I’ll be back in another post to share that inspiring place.

It was fun to be back in Birmingham for a short visit, but I was ready to get back to my sweet home in Atlanta too!

This week will be a busy one for me.  Haven is this weekend and things officially get started Thursday night, but we  have lots of things to do starting Wednesday, so it will be a little crazy this week.  I’ve got posts all ready to go through the weekend, but I’ll be sure and share all about Haven again once it is over.  We are so excited that this is our 3rd year of doing the Haven Conference and we know it will be a big success once again.

If you want to see what’s happening live at Haven, follow me on Instagram and Facebook starting Thursday evening.

- Rhoda

Comments

  1. Beautiful post…you look beautiful. the building and landscaping look beautiful. and oh my gosh at the prop room. I would have thought I had died and gone to Heaven. And then you top it off with a fabulous restaurant!! Oh my….

  2. Rhoda, that looks like so much fun and a wonderful opportunity. Isn’t it neat that such a beautiful place is where so many people work and create? Great ideas from the way they stored the platters and napkins too.

  3. Love Southern Living, and am so excited to see what Sid Evans has in store! Wouldn’t it be fun to be a buyer of all the props they use? Shop – shop – shop!

    • As a former employee, we used to have regular prop sales from all the old magazine photo shoots, idea houses, etc. I still have tons of designer throw pillows and home accents that I picked up from prop sales for cheap, cheap.

  4. You look fantastic! Also, I’m already getting excited for Southern Living fall issues and Christmas issue…it’s the little things!

  5. What a great day!!! I’ll cherish it always. Your pics turned out great! Best of luck at Haven. xoxoxo

  6. How wonderful to be able to tour the offices of Southern Living….you all look like you had such a great time!….gorgeous offices and beautiful grounds!

  7. Nice post. It’s a beautiful place, but, unfortunately with all the shuttered magazines and layoffs, it’s not what it used to be. Still, the most beautiful place in the world to work/have worked. 🙂

  8. Rhoda, you look like a million bucks in your pretty outfit! You are truly an inspiration to so many and I enjoyed seeing the Southern Living spaces. Like so many southern women like myself, I have cooked, decorated, and gardened along with that magazine since its inception. I would never let a month go by without reading my SL magazine!

  9. You look as beautiful as ever. How many years has it been since you’ve moved from there anyway? Your life has completely changed, in a good way.

    The rusty stool doesn’t do anything for me. lol All I can think of is someone better get a tetanus shot before sitting on it.

    • Nancy, it’s been a little over 3 years ago and yes, my life has completely changed for the better.

    • Cheryl Ann says:

      Congratulations…you are a strong woman and a great example of what prayer and hard work can do. Cheryl Ann

  10. Mary Alice Kenley says:

    Rhoda, thank you for posting this! It brings back wonderful memories of Birmingham, where I spent most of my career. As a matter of fact, the design firm from which I retired designed the wonderful Southern Progress facility. I am not a designer, just the firm PR goob, that worked to bring attention to the great work of the firm. We are now happily settled into life at Logan Martin Lake, but love spending fun days in Birmingham for shopping and checking out the cuisine. When you are making the trek some day, you are more than welcome to stop at the lake to check out what we lovingly call Kenley Cove!

  11. Meburkeetoes@gmail.com says:

    I have always fantasized about having a room like THAT prop room,all colors,shades of ,bowls,linens flatware etc… Oh Thank You for showing that…

  12. What a fun visit that must have been, the prop room is amazing, I hadn’t even thought about that but of course every magazine would need a huge prop area. I greatly lack props for photos for my blog. You look fabulous in the photo, I love your hair and am tempted to get mine cut similar. I had it cut in the same shape but longer a few weeks ago but now feeling braver at getting it cut even shorter as it makes you look so young.

    Oh, and I am starting to get Media invites now :)..finally bloggers are being accepted as influential in New Zealand. I met Annie Sloan on a flying visit to Auckland last week which was exciting.

    Keep up the great work Rhoda.

    Lee 🙂

  13. Beautiful post Rhoda! You look beautiful!!
    Have a great day!
    Hugs,
    Vesna

  14. Have always thought you were a pretty lady, but the new picture of you is “really” pretty and your hair style is so cute on you.

    • Brenda Pestinger says:

      I loved the tour of Sl since I am a former employee of SL at Home..I walked the trails around the buildings many days at lunch and sat by the waterfall during lunch..I hate to hear that these buildings are being sold..I have some very good mem0ries , especially the Test kitchens which had some wonderful smells everyday coming down the hall..It was a happy , fun, environment and I will cherish the memories.

  15. Good morning,
    I hope this site i still valid. I found your post while trying to get info on touring the Southern Living headquarters. Somewhere, a while back, I saw an article about the touring the test kitchens and gardens, but I can’t find anything now. I’m going to be in Birmingham for a few days in June and would love to see it. Can you give me any direction in this quest?

    Thank you, Linda Lee

    • HI, Linda, sorry but I don’t have specific information on that. They used to be open to touring but it was years ago when I lived in Birmingham and the tour I went on was planned in advance, so they might not be open to the public. See if you can call Southern Progress and ask them that question.

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