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. 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.
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.
An ivy covered rock wall on the way to the front door.
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.
Inside the front door is this spacious foyer that’s very modern and pretty.
I didn’t get the story behind this huge sculpture, but it takes up a lot of the entry of the 2 story foyer.
Four magazines are published at Southern Progress: Cooking Light, Health, Southern Living and Coastal Living.
I love how tucked away terraces are all around the building, beckoning those who work there to sit outside awhile.
This huge atrium is a big part of the building design and is absolutely breathtaking.
Looking below at the courtyard and stone floor.
Notice right outside is a meandering stream and pond that comes right inside the building. It is gorgeous!
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!
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.
Wouldn’t you like to have all of this at your fingertips? That’s how they get those magazine quality shots.
A beautiful waterfall is right outside one of the walkways that connects one building to another.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
More props along the way, which was amazing to see.
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. Yes, please!
Napkins in shades of yellow.
A whole wall of glass ware and linens.
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 presented Sid with a welcome back to the South basket, full of unique things of the region.
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.
We also had time for a little shopping and stopped by Digs Designs, in a warehouse area of Birmingham.
Filled with lots of old crusty vintage item, it’s a pickers paradise.
I love rustic stuff too, but a few pieces go a long ways for me. I did think this rusty stool was cute.
If you are in the area, you might want to check them out.
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.