Our guitars could have been benchmates at HM as the timing was similar. I have to say, one of the best things about the HM deal is watching the daily progress in the form of photos. The anticipation of what might be coming next is strong. I bet they get a lot of hits on that smugmug photo site.
So funny, but I was looking at the pictures totally backward, thinking in my mind that you went from the darker cherry to lighter / faded I was like, wtf was he thinking, and wtf are people seeing that I'm not? Then I re-read your OP, and it clicked. You made the right choice, and it looks terrific!