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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

Bringing Joy

The Bright Friday holiday lights are up at Lillstreet Art Center!

"Bright Friday" Installation by Glade at Lillstreet Art Center

It was fun to work with Glade® to choose a Chicago location for the “Bright Friday” light installation. Chicago was just one of five cities chosen by Glade® in their effort to spready joy and bring much needed holiday cheer. A survey that they conducted found that 73% of Americans wish they had more time to enjoy the little things that make the season great. I hope it’s bringing a little extra joy to the people that visit Lillstreet Art Center for art programs and to shop in the gallery, along with all of the people that walk or drive by, or see the spot from the train.

Putting Up the "Bright Friday" Installation by Glade at Lillstreet Art Center

The lights going up! ↑


"Bright Friday" Installation by Glade at Lillstreet Art Center

We’ve been celebrating the season with little moments of joy at home, too. Making cookies and hot chocolate, heading out to play in the first snow of the season (which promptly melted), and doing holiday craft projects. The kids love making paper snowflakes and they’ve been experimenting with different shapes, cutting each one a little higher/lower/more/less to see how they turn out. Our snowflakes are far from perfect, but we love them. We’ve been hanging them up and taping them to the windows.

Kids' Paper Snowflakes, Ornaments, Glade Holiday Candle

I’ve been trying out the different fragrances in the Glade® Limited Edition Winter Collection while we’re crafting or just hanging out at home. We’ll have the Glade® Be at Peace™ Jar Candle lit one night (it makes the house smell like it’s filled with balsam), and the next it’s the Glade ® Cherish the Present™ Jar Candle (a scent that smells like we’re baking apple pie!). Small touches that add to the season and bring a little more joy.

The holiday lights will be up at Lillstreet Art Center now through January 15, so be sure to check them out if you’ll be in the Ravenswood neighborhood this holiday season. And if you take any pictures, you can share them with the #FeelJoy hashtag. Be sure to check out too!

Our Holiday Table

We host brunch each year on Christmas Eve, and then we have family over for Christmas dinner the next night. Menu planning is not my strong suit — we manage all right, but the part I get excited about is figuring out the decor and setting the table. (Time to break out the gold flatware!)

Dinner Party Table Setting | Making it Lovely

I like the table to be a little different each year, mixing in a few new finds with the dinnerware and linens we already own. It’s set here with our everyday glasses and plates, along with our gold chargers, mercury glass vases (really votive holders, lined with a glass inside), the aforementioned gold flatware, and a patterned tablecloth. The flowers are simple grocery store blooms, and I made a couple of bouquets out of Christmas tree picks for more sparkle. The cute salad plates from Pier 1 are new, and I picked up those green napkins too. I like that they add Christmas color, but can be used year-round with other settings.

Holiday Table Setting | Making it Lovely

Holiday Plates | Making it Lovely

I’ve made the mistake of going too tall with centerpieces in the past, so I aimed to keep them lower this year. No craning our necks to talk to one another across the table! I’ve learned!

Dining Room Table, Set for Holiday Dinner | Making it Lovely

Those plates are so cute, right? I can’t wait to break them out when everyone’s over. If you’re looking for a few new additions for your table, you can get the look with the items below.

Pier 1 Christmas Table Settings | Making it Lovely

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