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Christmas Decorations (Part 1: Upstairs)

I know — it’s a little late in the game to finally be sharing our Christmas decorations! The house was photographed this year for the Christmas issue of a magazine (to come out next year, obviously), so I was focused on getting the little details right. Today I’ll share the upstairs decorations, and tomorrow the living and dining rooms.

First, here’s Eleanor’s room.

Eleanor's Bedroom, Decorated for Chrismas

She picked out her little white tree last year, and she was happy to see its return. She decorated it herself (she really likes those spiky glitter ornaments), and was adamant about there being a star on top. We didn’t have one, so I bought a glittery star-shaped ornament to use and all was well. I probably wouldn’t have draped her bed with garland, but we had the magazine shoot and I was feeling a little extra pressure to really Christmas it up. E likes it, because “now her bed looks like a sleigh.”

Eleanor's Room, Decorated for Christmas

(And I stand by my love for all the weird deer in my house.)

August’s room was decorated too. The little Christmas tree is usually on top of his dresser, but his room is so small and hard to photograph that I moved it over to the table (temporarily) to fit it all in one shot with the wreath and reindeer in the window. It looks really nice there — it just wouldn’t survive very long!

Christmas Decorations in August's Room

The library has had the silver tree for the last few years — mostly because we already own it and I figure we might as well use it. We already had the birds, and the red yarn balls are new (from IKEA). I was slightly freaking out (oh, just slightly) about there needing to be something else up there, so I invited Kathryn over for a second opinion. She suggested the white feather wreaths from west elm, and I like how they tie in to the white feather birds on the tree.

Christmas Decorations in the Library

The other side of the library has had those brass deer up all year. I guess that’s strange? I added some garland and ornaments, white Christmas lights, and my giant sequin disco ball ornament things.

Christmas Decorations Upstairs in the Library

I think of these as the ancillary decorations. The pink tree is the real star of the house, and no doubt why we were chosen for the magazine. I’ll share the downstairs photos tomorrow!

Photo Skillz

I often see my old photos pop up on Pinterest, and I’m amazed at how much my photography has improved. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m pretty comfortable with my camera now — manual settings and all.

Here’s a shot of my library from 2007, about six months after I started this blog, and then a recent shot of the same space.

I remember having trouble with that first photo way back then, but I did my best and I thought it looked all right. I still see some problems with the newer one, but it’s clearly an improvement. The first one needed a lot of help from Photoshop to even get it to an acceptable level, and the second had just a little tweak for brightness and contrast.

I’d love to learn more about lighting. There was a professional photographer here yesterday (shooting my house for a magazine’s Christmas issue to come out next year), and the contrast between myself and him was stark. He took his time, perfecting every shot and getting the lighting just right. I usually come in, set up my tripod, take a few shots, and move on. I was easily five times faster than him, but I’m sure his photos will be five times better than mine.

This was a quick snap — one that isn’t very good — but look at all that gear. I wouldn’t know how to use a lighting umbrella, or where to shine a spotlight at the ceiling to better illuminate the area behind it.

Library Photo Shoot

Having a blog for the last five years has pushed me to better my photography, and the constant practice has paid off, but I’m curious about what my photos will look like in another five years.

Ombré Nesting Tables (With a How-to Video)

Vintage Nesting Tables at the Renegade Craft Fair, Chicago

I found these vintage wooden nesting tables at the Renegade Craft Fair, here in Chicago, a couple of months ago. I loved the shape of them, and that they nested together, but they looked a little plain in my library.

I decided to paint them in an ever-trendy ombré/gradient effect, figuring that when the trend moves on I can always repaint them again later. As I was preparing to paint, I look more closely at the tables and realized that someone had already painted them at some point, in a faux-bois effect. At least I didn’t have to feel guilty about being the first one to take a paintbrush to them!

I gathered everything I needed to get started: a lead test, sandpaper (150 and 180 grit), a mask, painter’s tape, paint and primer, a drop cloth, paint stirring sticks, and a good 2″ angled paintbrush. Below is a video showing the whole process.

I didn’t know how old that painted surface was, so I used a simple lead test to be sure that the tables were safe to work with. Then I sanded the tops with the rougher sandpaper, wiped them down, and taped off the edges. It would have been ideal to disassemble the tables and just work on the tops, but they were held together with a combination of dowels, glue, and magic. Prying them apart would have been difficult — possibly disastrous — so tape it was. Next I primed them, painted, sanded again with fine sandpaper, and applied a final coat of paint.

Painted Vintage Nesting Tables in Making it Lovely's Library

The three colors are Benjamin Moore’s Coral Gables and Petal Rose, and the third was a 50/50 combination of the two. I was careful to do a thorough job of sanding, and I made sure to abide by the recommended paint drying times (16 hours between coats because it was oil-based). I think that’s going to make all the difference when it comes to durability.

Ombré Painted Nesting Tables

I love the way the tables play off of the new red pot of the fiddle-leaf fig tree, and the whole area feels a whole lot happier. Bringing that pillow up from the living room certainly helped too! It feels right to add a little more color to the area, since the kids play there a lot. August has already taken to using the nesting tables as stairs for his little animal figures.

Making it Lovely's Library


This post is a collaboration with 3M DIY.
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