BY VELMA SOUTHERLAND
Even in "Better Homes and Gardens," things are not as they appear, as Suzanne Flohr of Mount Pleasant, S.C., can attest.
She is married to former Greenevillian Todd Flohr, a 1995 graduate of Greeneville High School and the son of local residents Dr. Steve and Judith Flohr.
Todd, Suzanne and their two little daughters, Rowan and Olivia, live in a historic cottage just outside Charleston.
Their delightfully renovated cottage and the three women of the family are featured in the October issue of the national magazine, "Better Homes and Gardens."
The man of the house is missing because he was on a business trip.
"They really wanted him in the photos, but we could not get the dates to work out," Suzanne Flohr explained during a telephone interview with The Greeneville Sun.
The eight-page spread originated with a visit from one of Suzanne's friends "four or five years ago," just after the couple -- before any children had arrived -- had purchased and renovated the historic cottage in what is known locally as "The Old Village."
Suzanne is currently employed as production director for "Garden & Gun" magazine. But, at the time the article was conceived, she was working at "Gardening Guide" magazine with the article's writer, Haskell Harris, who was Style Editor.
When Harris saw what her friends the Flohrs had done with the cottage, her freelancer persona emerged, and she decided she wanted to develop a magazine article about the cottage.
"Better Homes" liked the idea, and the process began.
Photo shooting for the October 2013 article actually took place a year ago, in October 2012.
THE HOUSE, ITS HISTORY
In the interview, Suzanne discussed the charming cottage in which she and her family are living.
Its former owner had wanted to raze it, she said, but "the board that oversees the historic area would not allow that."
She also noted that "My husband and I had been renting for awhile in the neighborhood," which is on Charleston Harbor, but "we're a few blocks from the harbor."
In Mt. Pleasant's early days, she explained, the community was a "pretty booming town, and this was the original part of the town."
No wonder the local historic board did not want the little house destroyed.
So, when the owner was not permitted to "knock it down," the property was put on the market, and the Flohrs purchased the 2,300-square-foot home.
To make the house comfortable for them and their soon-to-grow family, the Flohrs decided to combine the living room, dining room and kitchen into one space with flow, so that Mom in the kitchen could talk to Dad and children in the living room.
"It's the perfect layout for family living," the article quotes Suzanne on Page 40 of the glossy magazine.
Other added attractions are the screened porch and the white picket fence that make it a perfect model for easy Southern living.
Despite being in the magazine business herself, Suzanne found surprising some things about the process of bringing the article about her home to publication.
The full year between the photo shoot and publication was one of those surprising things. She acknowledges that "not all magazines have the luxury of working a year ahead."
Perhaps it is already apparent that Suzanne has decorating talents and design abilities. However, that did not mean that a photographer came into her home, snapped a few pictures, and left.
Not even close.
"Props" were actually shipped to the Flohr home, she said.
"A week before the photo shoot, I started getting shipments from the stylists. They didn't even use them all," Suzanne said.
But the items were shipped so that everything that might possibly be wanted was there when the "Better Homes" staff arrived at the Flohrs' Low Country home.
"They came in for a full two days," she said.
DAY ONE: LOTS OF ACTIVITY
The first day of any project, Suzanne continued, the staff members assess "which rooms they are going to photograph, and what needs to be moved around, and what props are needed in order to get 'the perfect shot.'"
She continued, "They turn your house upside down for a couple of days, then put it back together."
That meant, for instance, completely re-arranging the bedroom of daughter Rowan, now three-and-a-half, "so that everything they wanted would fit into one frame for a photograph."
The magazine folks "brought in food, set it up, blankets, flowers and plates."
They even "repotted my urns with camellias -- to kind of give it the fall look," Suzanne said.
That inviting shot is the lead photograph in the story, which is titled "Classic Charm," on Page 38 of October's "Better Homes and Gardens."
In that photograph, the large, camellia-filled urns flank an adorable Rowan, wearing magenta shoes and holding open a screen door. She is backed by an open wooden, transomed door that reveals a tall flight of stairs.
The remaining seven pages of the lengthy magazine spread are mostly photographs of a bright, homey house and a good-looking mother and daughters.
Even the family dog is featured, on the foot of the bed in the master bedroom.
"The dog was traumatized by" the people and equipment in his house, Suzanne said.
In fact, the dog, an English springer spaniel named Bailey, preferred to sit in the car while his home was in an uproar. He has died since the shoot.
Others of the household needed looking after as well, so Suzanne's mother was in town to help with the two little girls.
"The baby (now 16 months) was napping while we were doing a portion [of the shoot], the other was running around with excitement.
"Two stylists brought kiddie gear to keep her occupied. One stylist adored my baby, and that was entertaining for [the baby]," Suzanne said.
DAY TWO: SURPRISES
On day two of the event, she continued, the photographer "comes in and gets the lighting just perfect with all of her equipment.
"Each photograph took an hour-and-a-half."
As the production director for a magazine herself, Suzanne focuses her time and attention on getting all the magazine files ready for press. She is not personally involved with the stories, and the photographs that accompany them.
So, despite being in the business herself, she "was amazed at how much time it took for each photograph, and the amount of work getting the lighting just right."
A second surprise came after the magazine was published.
Suzanne received a call from GDC Home Interiors in Charleston, where she had purchased numerous bedroom items: bedspreads, skirts, a quilt, and a basket, which are shown in photographs of Rowan's room and the master bedroom.
For the "Better Homes" shoot, Suzanne had listed the store as a source for the items.
In the phone call from GDC, Suzanne was told that the firm's telephone "had been ringing off the hook from people all over the country asking how to purchase" what the Flohrs had in their home.
That's one reason stylists send props into homes about which they're doing stories, since "they appeal to the readers as knowing where they can get the items."
Initially, the Flohrs had been a little hesitant to let someone come into their home, Suzanne said.
But once it was over, their concern dissolved. "It was a neat experience," Suzanne summed up in the interview a few days ago. "Rowan was thrilled to see herself in a magazine!"