Archive - Business RSS Feed

Our Home, Featured in HGTV Magazine’s Christmas Issue

Someone from HGTV Magazine reached out to me back in December of last year. Would we be interested in having our home featured? Yes! Scouting shots were sent, the initial contact person passed them on to their editor, and by January we had signed an agreement. They wanted to feature our house “all dressed up for the holidays,” so they sent a wreath for the front door and arranged for an exterior shot to be taken while we still had snow.

Making it Lovely's Victorian Home in HGTV Magazine's Christmas 2015 Issue

There was an initial interview in March over the phone (how did you find your home, where did you get this, why did you decide on that, etc.), and then a date was set for the shoot in April. I spoke with Heather Bullard, the stylist, and she mentioned that boxes would start to arrive and I should just set them to the side. So many boxes! And rugs! (Because if there’s anything our house is lacking, surely it’s rugs.) I’m sure our delivery guy loved us — especially since he later picked it all up again when everything was being returned.

The Boxes Begin Arriving for Our HGTV Magazine Shoot

Four months and many phone calls, emails, and boxes later, it was time for the shoot. Our house was about to be filled with people from all over the country for a few days. The stylist and her assistants, the photographer, Kim Cornelison, and her team, and of course a team of people from the magazine. The Christmas trees (one large, one teeny) and all of the greenery was driven down from Wisconsin.

The stylists started with the tree and the brought bags of empty boxes wrapped in very cute paper. None of those ornaments on the tree were ours! That rug you can see peeking out isn’t ours either.

Bags of Fake Presents for a Christmas Photo Shoot

The library shot is my favorite. The brass coffee table is really a side table that’s usually tucked alongside the teal couch. The floral chair was swapped out for one stolen from the next room, and the pillows were mine except for the one trimmed in white ribbon.

Making it Lovely's Home Library in HGTV Magazine's Christmas 2015 Issue

The secretary got a bit of greenery, and the stylist grabbed a chair that’s usually in the dining room.

Making it Lovely's Secretary Desk in HGTV Magazine's Christmas 2015 Issue

And here’s where the floral chair ended up. This shot is the strangest one to see because while the shell is the same (only the rug, coffee table, and three of those pillows were brought in for the shoot), the overall effect is that it’s my house… but not.

Making it Lovely's Living Room in HGTV Magazine's Christmas 2015 Issue

The fireplace looked mostly like it did when I decorated it last year. Same vintage painting of Venice with my sparkly HAPPY HOLIDAYS banner and vintage deer. Those are our stockings too, though we usually put five out — one for each member of the family instead of just the three kids. This shot was in the table of contents.

Making it Lovely's Fireplace in HGTV Magazine's Christmas 2015 Issue

Our dining room is a chameleon. I change it up all the time with different tablecloths and settings, so while this room looks different too, it isn’t as jarring.

Making it Lovely's Dining Room in HGTV Magazine's Christmas 2015 Issue

Everything looks so pretty. And then behind the camera, you’ve got a whole lot of this going on.

Behind the Scenes at a Photo Shoot for HGTV Magazine

Photographing the House for a Magazine

Two more rooms were shot on the first floor, but didn’t make the magazine. One was the bathroom. The stylist brought in some flowers and a couple of pink towels — which led me to pick up a few pink towels of our own. I hadn’t shown the bathroom after doing that because I didn’t want to ‘scoop’ the magazine, but then the shots weren’t in there! And then the other room was the kitchen. It looked so cute the way it was set up. There was berry garland along the glass shelf in front of the windows, the counter was cleared and styled up with pancakes, and they brought in a colorful rug. I don’t know why the other shot was cut, but I heard that the kitchen didn’t make it “because it didn’t look kitchen-y enough.” Ha! Are hundred-year-old stoves not in these days?

Next is the entryway. That rug is one of two that I brought back with me from Morocco, but it isn’t practical to actually have it there — it would get trashed pretty quickly with muddy shoes and winter salt. They wanted to switch our usual runner for one of theirs though, and I suggested this one instead. That chair is mine too, picked up a couple of years ago at Divine Consign. It’s super cute but also super wobbly.

Making it Lovely's Victorian Stairway and Front Entryway in HGTV Magazine's Christmas 2015 Issue

Family shot! ↑ Calvin was just a little peanut! He was six months old when we shot everything. I put him in a union suit, and the little buttons on the butt flap kept opening up.

Six Month Old Baby in a Red Union Suit

Heading upstairs. The bedroom looks completely different now! The only thing that remains is the wall color, which isn’t nearly as green in real life as it looks in the photo here (it’s more of a soft gray/blue.) We have, since the shoot, sold the bed, rolled up the carpet, and changed everything around. Aside from the wreath though, there wasn’t anything changed just for the shoot.

Making it Lovely's Bedroom in HGTV Magazine's Christmas 2015 Issue

Eleanor’s room looks pretty much like it always looks, with the addition of three DIY Christmas trees that I made a few years back. And the ‘e’ is balanced on her headboard but is usually on the wall.

Making it Lovely's Daughter's Bedroom in HGTV Magazine's Christmas 2015 Issue

The other bedrooms weren’t photographed, but the playroom on the third floor was. The play kitchen was moved and a little Christmas tree was setup in its place. The kids liked those bean bags and the magazine copy states that they’re their favorite spots for reading, but they were only on loan for the shoot and the magazine had them sent back along with everything else. The kids really did like them though, so I went out after the shoot and bought a kid-sized chair.

Making it Lovely's Playroom in HGTV Magazine's Christmas 2015 Issue

The issue is out now and the whole thing is fantastic, so please do pick it up and see it in person. Thank you to the team at HGTV Magazine for featuring our house! It’s an honor to be in the Christmas issue, and so fun to see our house in print, all decked out in its holiday splendor.

Making it Lovely (Nicole Balch) featured in HGTV Magazine's Christmas 2015 Issue

Finding the Balance Between Sponsored and Not

I had something else planned to share today, but in light of recent comments (which were polite and respectful, thank you), I want to let you in on my thought process with a big upcoming project. And I would love your feedback.

Our home had more pressing issues to tend to before we got to the kitchen. We addressed the heating system, remodeled the second floor and turned a superfluous kitchen into a bedroom (Calvin’s nursery), consolidated the multiple gas lines and accounts into one and did the same with our electrical service (in addition to rewiring everything).

There is a room off the back of the kitchen, a former sleeping porch, that would be wonderful to open up and incorporate. Direct access to the yard! Breakfast for the kids in an eat-in kitchen! The ability to not have our stove right next to the fridge! It requires opening a load-bearing wall though, and new flooring, new cabinetry, the works. It’s a maybe someday type of project, and it’s not something that we’re looking to do right now. The kitchen works well for us overall as it is — we have plenty of storage, the cabinets have some quirks but they’re fine, and we do at least have the modern convenience of a dishwasher.

That antique gas/wood-burning stove, though! I’ve been hesitant to get rid of the it because I have a love/hate thing going on, but it’s time. We’re a family of five now, we cook dinner every night, and the stove makes it harder than it needs to be. We’ll be selling it eventually and I’m sure it will have many more useful years ahead of it, but we’re ready for something else.

Antique Stove

We’ve also had some electrical problems that are driving a redo. There is a sconce, a ceiling fan, and three pendant lights in the kitchen. The light above the stove sparked and burned a light bulb in Brandon’s hand as he was changing it out one day, which was more than a little scary. In an unrelated event (I think), we mysteriously lost power to a portion of the second floor. While our electricians were fixing that problem, they found active knob and tube that was missed during our initial house inspection, and thus began the rewiring of the entire place. The bulk of the job is done now, but it was suggested that we wait to finish the rest when we didn’t have a newborn. We agreed and then we were waiting until after we hosted my sister’s bridal shower in the house (which I will share next week), and now we’ll be able to get back to it as soon as we can get back on the electricians’ schedule. A ceiling is coming down, walls are being opened, and the house is going to be in a state of chaos for a while, but I’m looking forward to getting this work done because it has been holding other projects back.

In the meantime, we had the faulty kitchen pendant rewired and thought all was well, but then I was changing a bulb recently in the pendant above the sink and the same thing happened. The sparks were pretty spectacular! So now we aren’t sure if the problem lies in the house’s wiring (the kitchen has not been done yet), the vintage lighting fixtures, or both. The problem will be investigated, and I’m hoping it can be fixed without destroying the tin ceiling.

Tin Ceiling

So. New stove. Rewiring or replacing the lights. While we’re at it, I would also like to put in new counters, swap out the sink and faucet, remove the wallpaper, paint or put up new paper, and add ventilation with a range hood. Maybe paint the cabinets, bring in some tile, and revamp or replace the kitchen island too. I’m in the early stages of planning everything right now, but the crazy thing is that (to be perfectly honest) the blog puts me in a position to do much of the room for free.

The business of blogging is always changing and those of us that have been doing this for a long time are always adapting, and I’ve addressed the topic of sponsorship before. I teach, I write elsewhere, and I cobble together a living from other opportunities, but the primary source of my income is sponsor-driven and has been for many years. I’m not sure what our budget for the kitchen will be yet, but let’s say I can set aside $10,000. We will likely hire someone to put in the ventilation and there will be some repairs needed after the electricians do their thing (the extent of which will determine whether we DIY or hire out), so those costs are somewhat fixed. With the rest of our budget, I could buy a mid-priced range, save money by painting instead of adding tile or wallpaper, rewire and keep our existing lighting (assuming it can be deemed safe), reuse the sink and faucet that we took out from the kitchen on the second floor, and watch our pennies with all the rest.

Bloggers hold influence, and therefore companies are often eager to get product into our hands in exchange for coverage. Any goods that I accept, either those that have been proactively offered or that I seek out with proposals, would effectively increase our overall budget and allow us to allocate our cash differently. It could mean the difference in my design between a standard 30″ stove and a higher-end 36″ range (the added six inches comes with a huge price jump), or it could mean more beautiful lighting and a new sink. I wouldn’t accept something just because the (free) price is right, but if it was something I would have purchased anyway, I simply look at it as another form of income — one that allows us to accomplish more than we would have been able to do otherwise.

There are a couple of remodels going on in the blog world right now that will be incorporating gifted items, some of which have been more clearly disclosed than others. The ongoing One Room Challenge series, is fun to follow, provides a ton of inspiration, and it is made possible in large part by sponsorships. Knowing this doesn’t diminish my interest as a reader, but perhaps my perception is different because I am on both sides of the issue.

Accepting sponsorships or free goods allows me to create a more beautiful finished product (I’m happy), offers coverage for the brands I partner with (they’re happy), and produces more original content for the blog (I want you to be happy, too). I get that it’s not easy to relate to a kitchen done entirely with free goods, but I think there is a balance to be struck and I can’t make the call in a vacuum or an echo-chamber. I can discuss these things with friends, family, and fellow bloggers, but then sometimes I’ll make a decision and it prompts a completely unexpected reaction. So let’s talk. Would you prefer to see a modest kitchen redone without the help of free goods? Or a more involved design with higher-end finishes and details that were made possible (either in part or entirely) by seeking out partnerships? Do you draw a distinction between accepting individual components (appliances, tile, etc.) or an overall sponsorship (brought to you by _____)?

I’ve always aimed to be transparent in these matters, so you tell me. What would you (ideally) like to see? I’m listening.

One Coffee Table, Styled Three Ways

I recently worked with Make it Better to create three different looks around one coffee table. The main elements stayed the same (obviously the table itself, but also the rug, the sofa, and even the main photo angle), while the items on the table changed, along with the pillows on the couch in the background.

The piece was written by Rachel Brown Kulp and all of the photographs were taken by Kelly Allison. We shot in my home using many of my own pieces, mixed with additional props brought in by both Rachel and myself.

Masculine Glamour

One Coffee Table, Styled Three Ways

The idea for this one came together around a palette of black and brass, and I knew I wanted to style around that articulated horse (an artist’s model, borrowed from CarefulPeach for the shoot).

Masculine Glamour Coffee Table Styling

It’s pretty fantastic, right? Definitely the star of this group.

Articulated Horse Artist's Model

Gaff’s unicorn, under the bell jar, references the larger articulated horse. It’s also a good way to work in the nerd objects your husband may collect (*ahem*).

Gaff's Origami Unicorn from Blade Runner

hr 644

Feminine and Fun

One Coffee Table, Styled Three Ways

Unofficially, we referred to this one as “our Kate Spade table.” Some black and white stripes or gold polka dots (or pink flamingos!) would have really driven that theme home, but we were just pulling inspiration — not going for a blatant copy.

Hello

“Hello!” This was definitely a fun look. And isn’t that red clock great? I found it on clearance for under $20. Sometimes props are borrowed, or items are bought and returned for shoots, but the clock is a keeper.

Feminine and Fun Coffee Table

hr 644

Rustic Elegance

One Coffee Table, Styled Three Ways

We wanted to work in more natural elements for this look. Rachel brought in the rocks and the wooden bowl, and I liked playing them off of the shine of my brass pieces and the lovely blue glaze of the vase.

Brass Apothecary Bottles

Blue Glazed Vase with Hydrangeas

Styling is funny. Always match your books to your decor when setting up your vignettes, kids.

Wood and Brass

hr 644

You can visit Make it Better for my “three steps to a stylish coffee table,” and for more tips and information about each look. And I’d love to know: do you have a favorite?

One Coffee Table, Styled Three Ways

Page 2 of 54«12345»...Last »