House Crashing

House Crashing: Lovely At Last

We’re working on wrapping up a few projects for you today – pics and details to come! – plus we have a well overdue house crash to share. It feels kinda unnecessary in this case, but we’ll say it out of formality: Meet Nicole (and her smiley son August).

If that picture alone didn’t make you say “Wait, that’s Nicole from Making It Lovely!” then allow us to say “that’s Nicole from Making It Lovely.” You guys know we like to crash homes of all types (we’ve shared nearly fifty of them, from modern apartments and traditional homes to eclectic or retro spaces or crazy bright and colorful ones – each from big bloggers, small bloggers, and not-bloggers-at-all). And since we’ve been internet friends of Nicole’s since we started blogging five years ago (and that’s kind of a long relationship to have without ever having met in person) of course we were thrilled when she invited us over to crash her and her husband Brandon’s iconic Oak Park pad during our Chicago book tour stop last month.

I feel like her home requires little explanation because she has documented it so well herself, but we thought you guys would enjoy seeing some different angles of a house that so many of you already know and love. There’s definitely lots of inspiration for the taking. So, um, here’s her living room…

This room greets you on your left as soon as you step foot inside and the walls are Astor Pink by Benjamin Moore in case you’re wondering. I’ll admit that I was quite nervous about taking pictures of Nicole’s house. I’ve always greatly admired her camera skills so it was pretty intimidating to photograph such a well-photographed home in the presence of the photographer herself. But I survived… with only minor sweating. Nicole has collected so many awesome (I’m trying not to insert “lovely” as my default adjective here) items, it actually ended up being really fun. Oh and the white mirror was from Ballard Designs, the Eames rocker is by Modernica, the coffee table is vintage (picked up this summer at the Renegade Craft Fair) and the tables are vintage too – they were just $10 each.

One of the most interesting things about seeing Nicole’s house in person is how little pink there is. Nicole is a self-professed lover of the color and I feel like I’m always seeing it pop up in her projects. So I guess that created this all-pink all-the-time expectation in my head (despite having browsed her house tour plenty of times over the years). But in reality, many of her rooms are moody, earthy, and warm – including her dining room below, which is located right behind the living room. In fact, the next and only other room you’ll see with pink paint on the walls belongs to her 3-year-old daughter Eleanor.

I love so many things about this dining room. The metal chairs (from Industry West) mixed with the vintage wood table. The sleek light fixture mixed with the wood panel-backed china cabinet. The quirky guy + gal centerpieces (from Floral Art LA). And of course the wallpaper (which is Clacket Lane by Mibo).

We’ve seen Nicole re-imagine her china cabinet a few times over the years, and we were totally digging the fox theme she had going on when we arrived (she scored those guys on amazon). Sherry and Nicole even had discussions about what would be the next “it” animal. Put a fox on it perhaps? I think llamas were tossed out there too.

Right behind the dining room (through the door you can see in the first dining picture) is their kitchen. Nicole and Brandon said they’re working on some changes in there, so we didn’t go crazy with the camera in that particular room. But I thought I’d share this one surprise (to me at least) – there’s a full bathroom back there. Somehow I must’ve missed any mention of it on Making It Lovely (although it later came up in a post after we returned from the crash). Old school green tub = awesome sauce.

Off the other end of the dining room is Nicole’s office – although she doesn’t work at that toddler-sized table you see pictured. That’s just so her kiddos can keep her company while she’s blogging, web-designing, or otherwise putting her stamp on the interweb. The rug is Dash & Albert and the banner was from Catbird NYC (it was cheap so Nicole threw it into her cart to qualify for free shipping).

We loved checking out her monogrammed trophies in person (she’s got a tutorial for them on her blog here). And the yellow lamp is from Crate & Barrel.

Once upstairs, you arrive at their sitting room / library area that I’ve always said is my favorite room whenever browsing her photos online. It did not disappoint in person. Sherry and I kinda wanted to move in. That wouldn’t be awkward at all, right? The curtains are from Anthropologie, the fig tree is from Sprout Home right there in Chicago, and the deep chocolate paint on the walls is Afternoon Tea by Pittsburgh Paints.

I was mostly enamored with that space because of the bookcases (from Ikea, by the way). Nicole and Brandon met working at a bookstore – and the former library employee in me always has a soft spot for shelves upon shelves of books.

Sherry was enamored with this room for another reason. And it rhymes with schmold schmanimals. They were an ebay find. Though I gotta say the brown and white cabinets in this room (which you also saw in her office) are calling my name too. They’re the sadly discontinued Effektiv cabinets from Ikea.

Immediately to the right of those gold deer is Eleanor’s room. She’s about a year older than Clara and we were all sad that Clara couldn’t join us for this leg of the trip. Those two would’ve had a blast.

The bed and bedding were from Land Of Nod. Nicole has quite the knack for stylish arrangements, so the collection of art and objects above Eleanor’s bed was no exception. My favorite is the little banner that says “Just Be Cool.” I feel like our toddler could use that reminder every so often…

Brandon and Nicole’s bedroom is cozy and warm, and kinda made me want to lay down and read a book. Luckily for them I resisted and continued taking photos instead.

The star of this room is the light fixture, which I had been eager to see in person since I first saw it posted on her blog a couple of years ago. It’s the “Edison Light” from Pottery Barn. And the botanical print behind it on the wall is from

At the opposite end of the upstairs from Eleanor’s room is her brother August’s domain. He was actually playing in there, so I tried not to interrupt too much by shoving my lens in his face. After all, he had just met me about an hour before. So instead I captured some of the awesome details that make me want to shop where Nicole shops. How cool are those pixel fire flowers by a local crafter?

And this embroidered venn diagram clock by another local crafter rocked my socks (and reminded me that I ought to bone up on my marksmanship skills if I intend to survive the zombie apocalypse).

Continuing the theme of foxes, Sherry was drawn like a moth to a flame when it came to this animal-based lamp (she’s been known to obsess over them).

In fact, she even made me take a closer photo of it (it’s from Target in case you need one too). Put a fox on it is sounding more and more promising. What do you guys think? Is it official?

As fun as it was to see Nicole’s house in person, the most fun part was seeing Nicole herself. It was just so refreshing to finally all be in a room together to chat, catch up, talk shop, swap parenting stories, and otherwise enjoy a couple hours of being real life friends, not blogosphere colleagues. Oh and you can read her recap of our visit here on her blog too.

Plus, I confirmed my suspicions that their dog Murray is pretty much Burger in a larger body. I mean, c’mon – is that not a Burger face right there?

So a big thank you again to Nicole, Brandon, Eleanor, and August for inviting us over to their house and being kind enough to entertain my wannabe photographer skills. Now if we can just get Nicole to write a book and include Richmond on her tour we’ll be all set for a sequel to this fun…

 Psst- Do you dare to keep this house crashing party going? You can check out dozens more here.



House Crashing: A Happy Casual Farm House

You guys know Lesli, right? She’s a friend of ours who lives in out in the country (Greenwood, Virginia) and happens to be an amazing painter (you might remember our giveaway with her). She has an awesome blog and a sweet old house – complete with extra high ceilings that we covet and 100+ year old details that make “old farmhouse” the dream for so many people (us included). So we can’t wait to show you around. Let’s get to snooping…

Almost every item in Lesli’s home has been loved back to life. Like the old bench that sits in her entryway, which she got secondhand for $50 and painted a fresh new color. All of the mixed and matched art above it has such a fun and casual vibe – almost like it’s a beach house. The best thing about this house out in the country (with gorgeous views of the mountains) is that nothing feels too precious. Clara had a blast (and I didn’t have to have fifteen heart attacks worrying that she’d break something since the house was so kid friendly and fun). Oh and see that suitcase that Clara’s standing on? It can be seen in this Burger birthday video (Lesli’s daughter actually gave it to Clara to take home – how sweet is that?).

To the left of that entryway are two large rooms with awesome envy-inducing high ceilings. The room in the front is a living area, and the one in the back was once a formal dining room but Lesli realized that her family got more use out of making that another sitting area with a big couch for reading (you know, so Lesli can curl up and read in one space while the kids watch TV in the next room). So she moved the dining room to the other side of the house and made this side into one big casual chill-out area.

I think some of the most noteworthy choices that Lesli made in the room had to do with color. Look at those bold patterned curtains! That awesome kid-art with bright pink mats! Even the colorful Uglydoll on the couch is inspired! Too many exclamation points? Sorry, this room just gets me excited. And the coolest thing is that Lesli actually designed the fabric for those curtains herself (it’s a horse painting that she did, which she uploaded to Spoonflower and duplicated a bunch of times to create an abstract ikat-ish effect). I got woozy when she told me that. Seriously, it was horse-print-induced hysteria.

Here’s that room behind the one we shared above (which used to be the formal dining room until she moved that to the other side of the house). I love that Lesli made things work for her family instead of being locked into using the same layout that the previous owners did. And see that round coffee table? It was actually a kitchen table from Lesli’s old house, but she cut the stand down to make it coffee-table height. Isn’t that a smart use-whatcha-got trick?

Check out that big mirror over the mantel. It’s original to the 100+ year old house. Gorgeous, right? Lesli was so humble about everything but I was totally standing there drooling. The cool thing about this house is that it’s a great example of how you can fill an awesome old farmhouse with inexpensive items and reinvent old thrift store pieces. And nothing feels like you’re going to break it or ruin it… it’s approachable and comfortable.

Here’s a secondhand cabinet that she rescued with some fresh paint. I love the pops of yellow and the wooden fish on the wall with the name of her city painted on it. And see that bolt of fabric leaning casually in the corner? I love it there. The whole house is so refreshingly unfussy and easy.

Here’s her upstairs bathroom complete with a few more pops of color in the art and the textiles. It’s cool to see how Lesli mixes old (the ornate antique mirror) with new (the geometric bath mat – which is actually a TJ Maxx find) along with a whole lotta fresh white.

Lesli’s master bedroom was having some drywall work done in a few areas, but we were able to sneak this shot of the corner of the room complete with a fun graphic chair, a non-working fireplace that she filled with books, and a window cornice that she actually made out of fabric and foam core (seriously! she took one down and showed me and it looked so legit – I never would have guessed it was foam core under there and not wood). And as for a little more info on that chair, she got it cheaply because it was a floor model and then recovered it with $9.99 Dwell Studio fabric from U-Fab (she found a great upholstery guy out there who only charged $100 to recover the chair!).

Now on to my favorite room in the house! You may have seen her daughter Phoebe’s room since it actually won in a recent Washington Post kids room contest, but even if you have, it’s totally worth a second look. Everything from that awesome colorful chandelier (from Urban Outfitters!) to the bold blue wall with the fun pink border and some more patterned fabric cornices (plus that great geometric rug that she got on clearance from PB Teen for $150!) was completely fun and charming.

Without a doubt my favorite thing in the room were the beds. Can you believe that Lesli got them at a thrift store for super cheap and then painted and upholstered the back herself? It looked complicated (how do you curve the fabric like that?) but the curved panel actually just pops out so she added some batting and some fabric, pulled it taut and stapled it in the back, and then just screwed the panel back on. Easy peasy. The fabric is Premier Suzani Slub in Corn. Don’t they look like a million bucks?

The room that her sons share was just as sweet with fun orange accents (the over-sized ceiling shade and the curtains that she made with this fabric were awesome)…

… but my favorite things in that room were these crazy.awesome.lamps. They were just cheap glass lamps that she got from Target, but they were fillable – so she decided to fill one of them with a bunch of tiny toys that her son had collected when he was younger but no longer plays with. And the other one got filled with old cars that used to be enjoyed all the time. I thought it was such a cool way to keep something sentimental around that your child might not actively play with anymore. Imagine the possibilities: legos, polly pockets, colored pencils, rubber erasers, the list goes on! Now I can expand my shadowbox obsession to fillable lamps…

So there you have Lesli’s awesome house. Thanks so much to her and the family for so graciously inviting us over to crash! We had the best time, and couldn’t wait to share all of her creativity with you guys. I mean, from those spoonflower curtains that Lesli designed herself to the lamps full of kid paraphernalia, we definitely left feeling super inspired! Now let’s play the what’s-your-favorite-part game. I gotta stick with those genius thrift store beds that she completely redid for Phoebe’s room. Amazing.

Psst- Don’t wanna stop snooping around? You can check out dozens of House Crashing adventures right here.