A Look Back at 2015

2015: Year. Of. Many. Rugs. (Kidding! Sort of.)

Living Room with Blue Loloi RugMoroccan Pink and White Beni Ourain Rug

It was also the year my sister got married, I taught at Columbia college, and I did a few TV spots for WGN and WCIU (Chicago stations). I also worked with two publications — first, when I styled the coffee table three different ways for Make it Better Magazine, and then when the house was featured in the Christmas issue of HGTV Magazine.

Making it Lovely's Home Featured in the Christmas issue of HGTV MagazineMaking-it-Lovely-Make-it-Better-Magazine

Around the house, we’ve been in maintenance and repair mode. Rewiring is underway now. The carpeting in the bedroom closet was removed and replaced with solid oak, and I haven’t written a post about it yet but the hallway flooring was just finished this week too. Outside, we dealt with a few issues: removing wood rot from the railing, addressing the peeling paint near the furnace vent, and having a few window sills and plinths replaced. I also wrote about our attempts at pruning, and growing grass in the shade of our “beautiful mature ash tree.” I loved that tree. Sadly, the village removed it last month because of emerald ash borer.

Repairing Subfloor and Replacing Wood FlooringMature Ash Tree, Lost to Emerald Ash Borer

We finished Calvin’s nursery earlier this year when he was just a couple of months old. It took a while because we had to knock down walls and reconfigure the hallway to turn the second floor’s former kitchen into a bedroom. Doors were moved, plumbing was taken out, walls were added, wallpaper was stripped, walls were painted. Big changes! I also continued my monthly photo project with Calvin, but instead of sharing them here every month I switched to quarterly updates. Of course the most fun ones are when there’s a full year to look back at.

Calvin's NurseryCalvin's Monthly Baby Pictures Series

We got a new bed, a new-to-us table, and swapped out the lighting in the double parlor. Plus there were all of those aforementioned rugs (not all of which were mine to keep). Two steps forward, two steps back. But mostly forward! Hey, sometimes done is better than perfect. (I need to remind myself of this often.)

Vintage Red Console TableDouble Parlor Pendant Lights

I had fun adding drawing and painting into my posts, putting together some tips on designing with tile, and continuing to add to my Making it Yours series. I still love all of these clothes from a few months ago when all the fall collections came out (I wore that tie back trapeze dress yesterday and felt cute), but 2015 is also the year I accidentally dressed like Velma. Jinkies!

Sketching DesignsAccidental Velma

And with that, I’m signing off until the new year. Brandon is taking Eleanor and August to see Star Wars today, we’ll be preparing to host family for Christmas, and then the plan is to enjoy a little time off. Just the five of us, plus a rotating crew of electricians. (I’m just glad the work is moving along.)

Thank you for being here, and happy holidays, everyone! Can’t wait to see you again in January!

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

New Lighting in the Library

The tassel sconces are here! I feel like they’re a love ’em or hate ’em kind of choice, and I don’t care because I happen to love ’em.

Pink and Brass Tassel Sconce

New pendants, too!

New Lights in the Double Parlor

I had always intended to replace the pair of Victorian cranberry glass fixtures in the double parlor. They weren’t awful, but I prefer modern lighting to period in old homes. I let the lights fall on my priority list, but two years in, it was time for them to go.

I showed you some of the replacements I had been considering a few weeks ago. The library and living room are open to each other and I wanted their lighting to still match, but I think I was getting a little carried away with some of my options! I was looking at definite statement lights, but once I decided to order the tassel sconces it would have all been too much. The Modern Globe Pendant from Circa Lighting was still a contender, but pricey at $2100 — especially considering that I needed two. A reader recommended Restoration Hardware’s Circa 1900 Gaslight Pendant as an alternative, and I’d also been thinking about Rejuvenation’s Hood Classic Globe Pendant.

Globe Pendant Lighting

The Gaslight and Hood Pendants both come in several sizes and finishes, and depending on configuration, are only about 1/4 the cost of the Modern Globe. I was leaning toward a pair of Hood Pendants because I had seen and admired them in person at Yearbook. I knew Kim had one in her dining room too, so I asked her opinion about size since my space was similar in scale to hers. She said that her 14″ globe felt substantial, and also that she “read somewhere online once – a tip on a blog – that hanging a balloon in the right size can help you visualize. I always thought that was such a great idea!” And it is! After talking to her, adjusting my mockups, and yes, hanging something in the right size, I went with the 14″ opal globe shade and ordered a 42″ fixture in unlacquered polished brass.

I hung the new lights right away when they arrived.

Changing out a Lighting Fixture

Hanging a New Lighting Fixture

Replacing the Old Lights

Why did I wait so long? The size is great, the style complements everything without distracting, and they fit the home while still updating it. The brass will age naturally, though I like the shiny newness too.

New Lighting in the Library

Philips sent over a package with their new LED bulbs with a dimmable warm glow effect, so I was excited to try them out with the library’s new lights. The color temperature is similar to daylight when the lights are all the way on (which is my preference when I need bright lighting), but these are amazing because they get warmer as you dim them, looking more like traditional incandescent bulbs as the lights go down. So when we’re Eleanor’s doing her homework at the table or I’m doing an art project with the kids, we have brighter, cooler light to work by. Then when we have friends over and we’re relaxing, we can lower the lights to a warmer glow and the library feels more cozy.

Philips' LED Bulbs Warm When Dimmed

The Hood Pendants are open at the top and I tried two different styles of Philips’ bulbs — same lumens and color temperature range, but one was clear and the other frosted. The clear one gave off a more crisp, defined light, but I preferred the softness of the frosted bulbs for general lighting. Clear bulbs are better suited to task lighting, and I put them in the floor lamp by the striped sofa.

Clear vs. Frosted Light Bulb

The Double Parlor at Night

I love, love, love the new lighting. Such an improvement!

Brass Globe Pendant and Tassel Sconces

New Lighting in the Library and Living Room (Double Parlor)

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