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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

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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!” 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

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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

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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

That’s a Wrap

This has been an excellent week for Calvin to go through sleep regression! You’d think a baby could get his act together by now, am I right?

Anyway, we’re on the other side of our big photo shoot. The house looked amazing, and I can’t wait to share the details and show everything to you! The photos are for a Christmas issue, so the good stuff will have to wait until it’s out, but here’s the tiniest of sneak peeks.

Christmas Wreath

There was garland everywhere, wreaths in the windows, a fresh tree in the library (complete with tons and tons of wrapped empty boxes beneath), and a cute little tree in the play room. Christmas just seems to come earlier and earlier each year, doesn’t it? Right after Easter, in this case.


Things are a little crazy here, in the best way. I’m styling a photo shoot here for a magazine on Thursday, which should be a fun feature that we can knock out in a day. Then in two weeks, our house is being taken over for a few days for a much bigger whole-house shoot for another magazine. Good stuff! Our last house had been photographed over the years, but each publication always relied on my styling. This upcoming shoot will be for a holiday issue, so they’ll be bringing in props and holiday decorations that a stylist will mix with our own things. (The neighbors should enjoy the Christmas tree that will be visible from the front window. The kids are going to be so excited though! Excited, and confused!)

Besides the frenzied rush of trying to get the house photo-ready and keep it that way with the kids about, I’ve been gathering props for this week’s shoot. We’re doing three looks which will be fun, but it’s three times the work and running around. I’ve also been working on three big posts that will be published elsewhere soon (and I can’t wait to share them with you because they were so much fun to work on!), an in-person event or two, and then I’ve got my workload for the class I’m teaching at Columbia. Add in a baby that is still nursing every 2-3 hours, a blog (this blog!) that I love writing but that takes more work than it seems on the surface, and email that seems to multiply as I answer it, and it starts to feel a little nutso. Lucky for me I kinda like that energy, but I am looking forward to it letting up a little.

Plus I was all excited about it finally being spring, and then we got another layer of snow. Dammit, Chicago. Although it worked out for the upcoming holiday feature — they needed a good snowy exterior shot!

So hey, here’s a random picture of me and Calvin from a few days ago because it’s weird to have a post without a picture. And scene.

Nicole Balch and Calvin

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