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Cottages and Bungalows Christmas Issue

Cottages and Bungalows Christmas Magazine 2013I got word last December that a magazine was interested in featuring my house in their 2013 Christmas issue. A couple of weeks after the initial email, Cottages and Bungalows had arranged for a photographer to come and shoot my home, all decorated for the holidays. And now, one year later, the issue is out on newsstands!

I knew which rooms were being shot of course, but I had no idea they would use all of the photos in a ten-page spread. I was out to lunch with a friend when I saw it, and whoa, was I excited. It’s so fun to see the pink Christmas tree in print, and for the old house to get one last hurrah!
 
Cottages and Bungalows Magazine Christmas Issue

Cottages and Bungalows Magazine Christmas Issue 2

Cottages and Bungalows Magazine Christmas Issue 3

Cottages and Bungalows Magazine Christmas Issue 4

Cottages and Bungalows Magazine Christmas Issue 5

Thank you, Cottages and Bungalows!

p.s. If you’d like to see more details and get a little more information on those decorations, I wrote about it last year, here and here. It’s kind of cool to see how different it all looked in the magazine’s photos versus mine.

GOOOOAAAAL

In vlog form! Soon you will see why I don’t do vlogs. I ramble without the ability to edit text.

My Big Goal for the Upcoming Year from Nicole Balch on Vimeo.

If you can’t watch, surprise, I want to write a book. I went through an agent interviewing process and have started my proposal, then life got in the way when we decided to sell our house and buy the new one. Moving, blah blah blah, still working on the proposal.

If I put it out there, I’ll hold myself more accountable, so that’s what I’m doing. I want a book. I’m writing the proposal and making it the best lil’ proposal it can be before it gets shopped around to publishers. The book is my number one goal for this upcoming year, and I’m ready to devote a whole lot of time and energy to making it happen.

Thinkin' of a Master Plan

The Tote Bag I Designed for West Elm

I worked for west elm, briefly, when they opened their first retail location nearly ten years ago. I remember being so excited that my favorite catalog was finally opening a brick-and-mortar location, and that it was going to be right over in Oak Brook! I had left my full-time job at the bookstore that summer, so I applied to earn a little extra money there during the holiday season while I continued my other part-time job and tried to make a go of my stationery business. Now, as they were moving from their original Oak Brook location on 22nd, into a new space in Oakbrook Center, I was working for them again. This time, drawing and designing a tote bag to be given away for the grand opening.

Free West Elm Tote Bag, Drawn and Designed by Nicole Balch of Making it LovelyIMG_7539-Edit640

I sometimes think of the digital mood boards and room designs that I create in Photoshop as my version of window shopping. Way back though, before this blog, I used to sketch rooms, furniture, and clothes that I liked on paper. Doing this illustration project for west elm was a lot of fun, because it tapped into that old practice. I drew ten or so of my favorite products from west elm, and then another ten local landmarks, first in pencil and then outlined with a Micron pen. Then I scanned my drawings, cleaned them up in Photoshop and vectorized them in Illustrator, and then added color. I also played around with the layout, choosing my favorite illustrations and constraining them to the proper size.

Illustrations by Nicole Balch for West Elm

The people at west elm that I’d been speaking to as I worked on the project were not from the area. They had initially requested images that say “Oak Brook” so… the McDonald’s headquarters and Oakbrook Center? Right. If you’re wondering why the tote is more Illinois and Chicago-themed, there you go. We expanded the range.

West Elm Tote Bag Drawn and Designed by Nicole Balch of Making it Lovely

I visited the new store, which just opened today, and it’s gorgeous. I’m so honored to have had this opportunity to work with them again, in such a fun way! Thanks, west elm.

West Elm's Oakbrook Center Living Grow Wall Behind the Cash Wrap

p.s. Cookies, with my illustrations!

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