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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!


Apartment Therapy: The Homies 2013

The Homies

Thank you, everyone, for your votes during the nomination period of The Homies, Apartment Therapy’s awards for bloggers. I’ve moved on to the finalist round because of your support! I really appreciate it.

You can vote for your favorite now through Wednesday. I think Jenny’s going to take the prize (and good for her — I like her, and she deserves it), but I’m thrilled just to be in the company of so many other fantastic bloggers. Thanks.

The Homies

My Office in Ladies’ Home Journal

My office is in the July ’12 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal! It was great to see my space featured along with the offices of two fellow bloggers: The Nester and I Heart Organizing.

You can read portions the article online (Dress Up Your Desk), or pick up the July 2012 issue. You can also enter to win a design consultation from me, which will later be featured on Ladies’ Home Journal’s website. (Good luck!)

Making it Lovely's Office in Ladies' Home Journal

The magazine used my photographs (yikes), and they had me rearrange the furniture slightly so that it would work for their layout. I kept it that way for a good six months before finally changing it back yesterday. Now I’m not so sure which way I like it better. Here’s another shot of it arranged the way the magazine’s art director requested it.

Making it Lovely's Home Office

What do you think? It does free up some space for the kids’ easel, but I felt a little boxed in, having the storage at my back. Also? Whoops, there’s a bit of a functionality problem.

Hello, big secret gaping hole!

Yep. Let that be your friendly reminder that sometimes things in magazines look fantastic from certain angles. Trickery!

My office originally looked like this, and mostly does again, but maybe a little less photo-ready.

Thanks again, Ladies’ Home Journal! It’s an honor. Now, if only you hadn’t confused me about the best layout for the room…

My Office in Ladies’ Home Journal

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