As a stylist it wasn’t hard to get excited about the process of making a designated room for our soon to be little cherub. I was immediately flooded with an array of ideas (too many really!) and spent a couple of months in early pregnancy slowly piecing together an initial design board (you can see it here) and seeking out details for the space that didn’t necessarily scream ‘baby!’ As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we knew we were gonna to be up against a space issue – our home only has one 10×10 bedroom on the main floor with our other two bedrooms on the lower level, so making a nursery posed some logistical challenges.
A couple folks suggested we just forgo having a nursery all together, but I was determined to prove that even in the most constricted spaces you can have a beautiful area for your baby to dwell in, which can not only be a direct reflection of your personal style, but also offer a fluid extension of your traditional space. We went back and forth over and over again about the possibilities of where we would put baby (all of us downstairs? all of us in our bedroom? him in our bedroom, us downstairs?) and finally settled on us all staying on the main level of our house. I loved the idea of converting our kitchen/breakfast nook to our “baby nursery” and although I knew it would be a tight fit, on the flip side the idea of being secluded in a room away from our main living space while breastfeeding him 40+ hours a week was a horribly unattractive idea.
Being that the space is super teeny (8×8) I started the design process knowing I wouldn’t be able to fit much. I therefore wanted to be really intentional about making a few investments that would offer a lasting and beautiful bang for our buck. The design of the space initially centered around this gorgeous cloud print by Megumi Shauna Arai (a local artist here in Seattle) and I could see myself happily gazing at it in the wee morning hours of exhaustion in the those early months of motherhood.
We had the artwork professionally framed and placed it above this vintage Drexel Kipp Stewart credenza which was a piece we had coveted in our home for a while but had been in storage for the past year and half during our remodel. It has offered such a great way to store all our baby clothes/supplies and paired really well with this Dwell Studio changing station which we secured to the back of the credenza. It took about six months for everything to come together and each day that a new box of goodies arrived on our porch or I spotted something that would be perfect for the space while out and about I got so immensely giddy. The entire process has been so much fun!
The baby nook sits all nice and cozy directly off our kitchen and it makes me so elated to peer in there while I’m making dinner or moving about our home. That chair was seriously worth EVERY last penny and is SO SO comfortable. Being that I’m nearly 6 ft tall I needed a chair with a high back so I could rest my head in the middle of the night and catch some extra zzz’s.
After sitting in nearly 20 nursery chairs, this West Elm Graham Glider in dove grey stole my heart and made my lower back super happy. I also love that it’s not a traditional nursery rocker and can transition to other areas of our home long after baby boy grows. The shaggy pouf ottoman is a Land of Nod find and pairs perfectly with the comfort of the chair.
I spent a lot of time considering lighting for the space and gleefully settled on this hand crocheted chandelier my Grammie made nearly 20 years ago. I love it so so much and until now had not found the perfect spot for it. It adds such a soft and inviting touch, and helps make the space extra special/feel very personal.
The gold sconce above the chair is from Schoolhouse Electric and I’m OBSESSED with it. Their lightning is such amazing quality and I love that they are PNW pals with their headquarters just down the road in Portland. It will be so nice to switch on the sconce in the middle of night for diaper changes without flooding the whole room with light.
Also, that Land of Nod bassinet…uhhhhh swoon right?! I love how snuggly it fits right in the room and offers additional storage space beneath it. ***A little sidenote : being that we live in an earthquake state, I have NO intention of having our babe sleep in the bassinet while under the shelving. During his nap times I will be pulling the bassinet away from the shelves or into our living room to keep him safe.*** But when it’s not in use, it fits perfectly under the white custom shelves Adam made and those West Elm antique brass prism brackets.
In conjunction with the nook, we are also planning on having our babe in our bedroom for the first few months after bringing him home. I wanted him to be visibly accessible in the middle of the night (new mama worries!) without having to leave our bed. We borrowed this sweet Babyletto origami mini crib from our friends Andie & Christian and it instantly became our solution for overnight sleep. The cozy vintage african mud cloth crib blanket was custom-made for us by One Fine Nest and the blue quilt was made by hand by Adam’s Aunt Sandy using fabrics from my friend Keli over at Drygoods Design. The cute polka dot mini crib sheet is from Land of Nod.
These GORGEOUS baskets are from The Citizenry and have been so ideal for storing toys and all of the beautiful blankets we were gifted by friends and family at our baby showers. The colors of the baskets are so dang pretty and vibrant, and I love that each one was handmade and is one-of-a-kind. The persian rug is a vintage find from an estate sale a few years back, and the macrame wall hanging was made by me and my mama about a year ago for an Anthropologie photo shoot. The mobile consists of drift wood and shells I picked up along my beach walks at Discovery Park here in Seattle. The vintage black and white african mud cloth pillow as well as the pillows in the bassinet in the baby nook are from The Mod Boho.
It has been such a treat to set out all of the amazing items and teeny shoes we have been gifted on these simple shelves. The little wooden toy cars were actually Adam’s from when he was a little boy, the maternity photograph was shot by pal Catherine Abegg when I was about 29 weeks pregnant, and those adorable wooden name blocks are made by Little Sapling Toys and were a gift from my friend Laura. The vintage painting was a treasure found during my travels in Berlin last year; the bear piggy bank was a sweet antique find from my sister Coli; and the stuffed knit raccoon doll from my Aunt Sue is from Blabla.
Everything about this space gives me a rush of happy mama feelings. I absolutely cannot wait to bring our little guy home to this loving space as it has quickly become my favorite spot in our home. I’ve already spent many an hour sitting in this space with our pup and am counting the minutes until I’m holding our babe in my arms.
images captured by : Belathee Photography (thank you Dorothee!!)
white changing station : Dwell Studio (similar here) | mixed media hanging mobile : Attalie Dexter | ‘hey babe’ framed art : Oh My Deer | brush/comb cup and cement plant pot : Anthropologie | chair : West Elm Graham Glider | ottoman : Land of Nod shaggy pouf in white | curtains : Land of Nod Tie Die curtains in blue | sconce : Schoolhouse Electric Isaac Plug-In Sconce in brass | custom shelving wood from Home Depot | shelf brackets : West Elm Prism Bracket in antique brass | bassinet : Land of Nod Norse bassinet | white & black crib blanket and blue chair pillow : One Fine Nest | white mini crib : Babyletto | white and black polka dot crib sheet : Land of Nod | baskets : The Citizenry Bombo Basket and Sauda Basket | black african mud cloth pillows and pillows in bassinet : The Mod Boho | side table, brass shelf and green triangle rug: Urban Outfitters | soft blue nook curtains : Anthropologie
The idea of taking professional photographs of yourself when you’re not feeling your most svelte can seem a bit daunting. What to wear? Where to do them? How to cover up my expanding thighs, my dimpled arms? When? But since becoming pregnant I knew that no matter what, this time in my life was something I wanted to (I MUST) capture, regardless of any developing body insecurities. For many of the women in my life, pregnancy had been something that they had fought years, even decades for. Some were given the sullen news that pregnancy would never be an option for them, others are still trying with all their might to start or continue their families.
So when we got pregnant relatively quickly (I went off birth control in May of 2014 and we got pregnant without consistent effort and a crazy travel schedule by February of 2015) I thanked all our lucky stars that we were able to conceive a baby naturally and without much trouble. Therefore, I’m intentionally appreciating every last-minute of this pregnancy with unwavering gratitude and even though I don’t always wake up feeling or looking my best, I couldn’t imagine not documenting this exciting event in our lives. There is something so incredibly empowering about seeing your female body transform throughout pregnancy, no matter what that pesky scale might say.
Here is where I tell you the story of how freaking fortunate I am to have the girlfriends I do. Each one is equally passionate about their life, their work, their families and each one provides something so unique and special to my life. Not only do I have a plethora of numbers to call or text when the going gets tough, but I know that each one of these women are over the moon for me and Adam and this little bebe we are about to bring into the world. So when I considered taking some traditional maternity photos not one, but FOUR friends offered their services. Seriously?? I could sob uncontrollably in a blanket in response to the generosity of these women. And honestly there is NOTHING more special than having someone you love capture your special moments…it’s priceless REALLY.
Julie and Catherine were kind enough to tag team a maternity shoot for me a few weeks back, and I cannot even begin to tell you how much fun it was, although I was pretty nervous from the get go. The dresses I had ordered for the occasion came late, our house was a total disaster the weekend before the shoot and my face/chest were in that lovely stage of pregnancy breakout (ick). But at 7 months pregnant I knew that I wanted to capture my body in all it’s expectant glory before I felt too tired, too bloated, or too stretched out to enjoy it.
With A LOT of help from Adam our house was cleaned, I picked up the dresses from UPS the morning of the shoot, I had my hair and makeup done by sweet Chelsey and Julie and Catherine came over in the afternoon sunlight and worked their magic. I felt comfortable, and beautiful and just so joyful and happy. Julie shot with her digital camera, Catherine with film. We spent about an hour going from room to room and even to our backyard to capture the light and my growing belly. I cried happy tears when Julie sent me the first images she had edited and I couldn’t resist sharing a few of my favorites here. I cannot wait for the day that my little guy is old enough to (maybe?) appreciate seeing these photos of when his mama was growing him in her belly. Regardless of his enthusiasm, I feel so thankful to have images like these ones to forever remember this fleeting time in our life.
If you are even considering getting pregnancy photos, DO IT. Even if it’s just a few photos taken by a loved one, don’t pass up the chance. I considered canceling the shoot a few days before after feeling overwhelmed by the idea of being behind the camera (and not feeling so great physically with non-stop contractions), but am SO glad I went through with it. I plan to have my belly captured one last time right before our due date (just to get it in all its fullest, roundest glory) and am counting the days until I can get some of these framed for our home.
Thank you again to Julie and Catherine for taking the time out of their busy mama/biz lady lives to make this shoot happen. You can see more from the shoot over on Julie’s blog.
photography by Julie Harmsen Fitts and Catherine Abegg (images 1, 9, 10, 13, and 14). hair and makeup by Chelsey Matley. dresses by Free People.
When we bought our house back in January 2014, we were so eager to have a home of our own that we overlooked many of the red flags and happily committed to buying a home that might not have been one of our finest choices. You can read more about our home buying experience in this post, but long story short…it has been a treacherous journey. In conjunction with the number of issues with the home, I quickly realized that even though our house was a generous 1600 square feet, the layout wasn’t so ideal. Our first floor only had one bedroom and with guests eager to visit we quickly had to get creative. Our basement was gutted (for reason’s I’m too exhausted to explain), so our only option was to either offer our guests slumber on an air mattress in our living room (complete with dog licks and smelly breath panting) or to convert our breakfast nook into a tiny guest bedroom sans doors.
Breakfast nook it was.
For over a year and a half, it worked! Friends and family came to visit and they resided in our kitchen right next to the dishwasher and sink. No one complained (if they wanted to they were too kind to say anything), but after decorating the 8×8 space with a few favorite heirloom pieces and a Jenny Vorwaller oil painting, the nook did well serving a purpose other than just an eating spot. You can spy a few images of the nook as a guest room in the last post.
When we made the decision in mid 2014 to stop ‘not trying’ for pregnancy it quickly became apparent that we needed another solution. Where would we put a baby? Would we all transition downstairs to the basement once we had it finally remodeled? Could we get it remodeled in time? How much would it cost? Would we move our bed into the guest “kitchen” room and give the baby our room as a nursery?? Would baby be in the kitchen? We went back and forth for what felt like months trying to decide how we would transition to a family of 3. Knowing full and well that many of our friends who lived in much smaller places or even studio apartments in NYC made life with a new baby work, we knew there was a solution…it was just a matter of picking one.
By May of this year, we finally settled on a plan : Guests go to the basement. We stay in our room. Baby gets the kitchen nook. Kitchen nook quickly became “baby nook” and the basement was quickly remodeled to accommodate our plan. Now with just 10 weeks to go until baby arrives, we have moved the guest bed downstairs and I’ve started setting a plan for baby boy’s space. I love that we are going to be in tight quarters as a family during his first few months and seeing my new glider already finding its spot in the nook has made me all the more excited for this new adventure. We plan to keep our babe in our room during nighttime sleeping hours for the first few months, but everything else (rocking, breastfeeding, changing, playing, napping etc.) will hopefully happen in that sweet little nook right next to the dishwasher and sink (ya know, what’s so bad about that?).
Much more to come on how we transitioned our breakfast nook into our new baby room, but for now a quick peek into some of my initial design inspiration for the teeny nook. I cannot wait to get everything set up and to rock that little guy in my arms come Thanksgiving!
It’s hard to imagine that I actually thought I was rocking a serious baby bump at 17 weeks when Talitha took these photos a couple of months ago (vs a whole lot of belly bloat!). At the time everything felt so new and exciting and I felt like my belly MUST BE showing. Now with less than 3 months to go, it feels as though these images could have been taken a lifetime ago. So much is changing in our lives (especially my waistline!) and this new teeny person we are about to bring into the world is certainly the most thrilling part of it all.
When Talitha spontaneously asked to take some photos in our home after a brunch date, I couldn’t have imagined at the time how much I would value them. Not only for documenting the beginning signs of my pregnancy, but for capturing our home before all the changes began to happen. Our breakfast nook, which served as our guest room for over a year and half while our basement was in disarray, is slowly being transformed into our baby nook.
We plan to co-sleep with our little guy in our room for the first few months (I’m so excited to use this cute mini crib), but things like my glider for feedings and his changing table will take permanent residence in the nook. I could not have imagined when we first bought this house that we would be utilizing this little space off our kitchen for a baby one day, but I’m so excited to keep us all in close quarters during the first months as a family of three (four if you count our precious Bailie-Bug). I’m sure I cannot even begin to anticipate the changes we will need to make to the arrangement as we figure out sleep/feeding schedules and the personality/temperament of our babe, but I’m eager for a fresh start in that tiny little space and it has been so fun to brainstorm colors, patterns and art for the room.
These days my bump is now loud and proud, and I’m spending nearly every waking minute “nesting” - driving Adam insane no doubt. I had always heard about the nesting urge, but it wasn’t until six months of pregnancy when I really realized how intense it can be. From scheduling every last yoga and childbirth class I can get my hands on, to frantically finishing our basement remodel, to closing out that decades old IRA account, to purging unnecessary items to make room for baby gear, to preparing two season’s ahead for the holidays just to ensure our nieces and nephews don’t go gift-less this year; I’m trying to dot my i’s and cross the t’s on anything and everything I can possibly think of. I’ve never felt more productive (or tired) in my life, but I know as each day passes I’m getting closer to focusing my time on what matters most which is this sweet bambino I’m growing in my belly.
I can’t wait to share with you my plans for our baby nook and of course some photos of our little guy once he arrives come November. The fall still seems so far off, as the PNW heat (it’s SO weird to say that!) has still refrained from letting up, but I know the leaves will begin to change color and begin their final decent in no time.
As a first time mom I would love to hear any tips or advice you have about pregnancy or those first few weeks as new parents. Everything feels so new and different and I’m trying to anticipate as much as I can as we jump into this new adventure.
photography by talitha bullock.
It has been quite some time since I checked in on this here blog of mine. I decided back in October after a very busy couple of months of work to take the early winter weeks off to travel and spend some good quality time with friends and family. This included time off from blogging, email answering and really anything that could be classified as “work”. As an entrepreneur you get in the practice of never really taking time off…EVER. Even on those days when an outsider looking into your life might say, “hey that chick ain’t working!” I would still beg to argue. And the argument would actually be a new one for me.
I too used to think on those days when I was home and not answering emails that I was in fact “taking a day off”, but what I quickly realized as a stylist is that even on those days when I feel like I’m prioritizing self-care and downtime, I’m still seeking out inspiration in mundane places, still fussing with our house and practicing my styling, still fretting over business practices and the future, still flipping through magazines and blogs and book to hone my creative eye, still taking photos of life while being overly cautious of composition and lighting and scale etc. So I decided that (minus my treasured instagram feed) I would attempt to refrain from REALLY working. I’d turn down jobs, put on an out of office on my email and for the first time in four years, really REALLY just rest, travel and enjoy the sweet joys of life. I was going to try to have a period of winter calm. So far, I’ve done…OK. There are days when I feel horribly guilty for not responding to emails straight away, or turning down jobs that could otherwise help us with our much-needed and anticipated home renovation, but I’m a work in progress and know soon enough, I’ll be back to the hard focused grind in the early new year.
For now, I wanted to pop in and share a couple of images my dear friend Dorothee captured of me during our time together in The Netherlands. We stumbled upon this beautiful little cafe/boutique in Amsterdam (I had forgotten how many of the spots double as a cafe and clothing shop) and the light was just so so stunning that afternooon. It was bitter cold outside, so we decided to lay low and sip coffee and tea while thumbing through the magazines they had on hand. I’ve visited so many amazing cities in the last few months that I’m dying to share with you – lots of shopping and where to eat tips and of course images too! My plan is to work them into a new feature of city guides that I’ll be working on over the next few weeks (see how that “work” word seems to always creep in there?!).
Until then, I’m off to Raleigh, London and Albuquerque over the next two weeks. I hope, like me, you are finding yourself enjoying this lovely holiday season (we got snow in Seattle while I was home for a few days last week…yahooo!) as well as some time of your own to relish in the simple beauties of life.
You can follow my current travel adventures here : @jelliottblake
photography : Dorothee Brand of Belathee
location : COTTONCAKE , 1e van der Helststraat 76-hs 1072NZ Amsterdam
A couple of months back I had the pleasure of collaborating with West Elm and my dear friend Aran of the world-renowned blog Cannelle et Vanille. When Aran initially reached out to me asking if I would style some images for some of her favorite summer time spanish recipes I absolutely couldn’t resist. I have admired Aran’s work for longer than I can remember, tasted the delightfulness of her amazing cooking during many get-togethers with girlfriends, and spent practically at least one afternoon a week scouring the props and decor of the local West Elm in downtown Seattle. Collaborating with not only Aran but a brand like West Elm was a no brainer.
I was like a kid in a candy store as I scoured West Elm’s site looking for the perfect summer season compliments to Aran’s planned dishes. I couldn’t wait to taste her paella (I’d actually never had paella before as seafood has always made my tummy churn a bit, but this shoot alone and the tastefulness of the dish convinced me that consuming it again on a recent trip to Barcelona was an absolute must). I loved West Elm’s gigantic paella pan so much that we now have two of them in our own kitchen. I’ve also gushed before in IG how much I love Aran’s spanish tortilla so seeing that on the list of recipes made me gleefully happy.
Be sure to head over to West Elm’s blog : here, here and here or Aran’s blog post to check out the full list of recipes and for more pretty pictures.
Photography & Food Styling : Aran Goyoaga | Prop Styling & Florals : Jenn Elliott Blake | Many of the items you see in this post are from West Elm’s summer collection
When BHLDN reached out a couple of months back and asked me to highlight some of their spring/summer decor collection in a bridal shower inspired shoot, I couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities! They sent along a product-board of the items they desired me to highlight and I got to work brainstorming potential ideas.
When it comes to styling events, bridal showers are absolutely one of the most thrilling and fun ones to plan. There are SO many potential possibilities with all sorts of themes, color palettes and places to look for inspiration, especially ones that will make the bride smile and reflect her style. For this particular shoot, I knew that BHLDN was eager for me to showcase their rustic/garden inspired products in a refined and polished way. I’ve really been itching for summer to turn the corner as well, so I wanted the shoot to be full of bold pops of color and perfect for a backyard or indoor affair.
After sorting through the items they sent I was immediately inspired by the rustic charm of BHLDN’s wooden box planters. I spent the morning before the day of the shoot at the local growers market picking out the most stunning and seasonal florals I could find. Peonies, tulips, anemones, poppies, and a whole plethora of other pretties helped to create really robust and bountiful arrangements. Floral design is quickly becoming my new favorite thing to do in my spare time and while styling, and these arrangements made me happy from start to finish. Flowers are always such a simple and natural way to create texture and dimension at parties and are perfect for bridal showers! I love how the flowers bold colors play off the bohemian vibe of all of the rugs and additional decor elements.
No party and certainly no bridal shower is complete without something sweet, right?! Thankfully Jenny over at Jenny Cookies created the most wonderful desserts complete with a pretty single tall tiered cake topped with BHLDN’s “love grows here” cake topper, homemade cranberry oat cookies, coconut brownie bites and the most darling cupcakes with Simple and Crisp dried fruits on top. The fruit was an absolutely genius way to play into the color palette of the shoot and the organic garden vibe of the day.
All of the desserts were labeled using mulberry bark place cards and chalkboard paint thanks to Sally of La Happy. I loved how Sally painted the stark white tags to play off of the other chalkboard elements from BHLDN’s line including the chalkboard cake stand, and the wooden chalkboard pennants. Sally even hand painted floral garland on the cake stand, pennants and the chalkboard napkin rings!! SO SO gorgeous and such a great way to bring bohemian style into the shoot!
I loved these bamboo chairs from ABC Rentals by Cort and had so much fun creating the custom macrame hangers for each chair. The pretty rugs and pillows were sourced from Leslie over at Anima Mundi in Ballard and Turabi Rug Gallery in Pioneer Square. If you ever have a chance to visit Seattle, you MUST stop into these shops! Such an amazing selection of beautiful textiles to choose from and I’m certainly headed back to both during the process of our house remodel. All day throughout the shoot everyone on set kept saying how much they wished they could “live here”. I’m seriously considering the rug layering I did for this shoot to become an absolute staple in our new house! I was like a kid in a candy store the day I went to hand-pick the selection for this shoot – love all the fun patterns of the rugs!
The gorgeous rustic tables were sourced from Beckie over at Vintage Ambiance - she has the most wonderful selection of vintage pieces and her collection was the perfect way to showcase all of the desserts & sweets. This turquoise patina table worked so well paired with the pretty floral paintings by Sally on BHLDN’s chalkboard pennants.
I’ve been on a serious boho kick lately and haven’t stopped thinking about how fun macrame is. I’ve always been inspired by its 70′s retro charm even using it as inspiration for a shoot I directed and styled a couple years back. I definitely wanted it to be a main focal point for this shower theme. BUT : one teensy-itsy-bitsy tiny problem. I didn’t know how to macrame my vision to life. Thankfully my mom is a full fledged hippie at heart and a wizard at whipping up pretty much any project she puts her mind to. I told her my idea for the macrame backdrop which could include BHLDN’S pretty hanging bud vases from it, and my ideas for incorporating macrame throughout the shoot including chair hangings and sleeves for the cake stands. Not two days later I was flying out to Denver, and we spent 24 hours straight crafting the macrame backdrop you see here. I stuffed the entire thing into a small carry on suitcase and brought it straight back to Seattle a few days before the shoot. I’m so so thankful to my Mom for being such an amazing assistant and even more thrilled that I now know how to whip up one of these macrame beauties in no time!
The dessert table was overflowing with pretty decor from BHLDN including the beech wood cake serving set, revelry cake stands, their flower tag holders and more. I also pulled in some pretty details from Anthropologie including their cumulus glassware, majorelle teacups and saucers, and netted fringe table runner to help accentuate the style.
I feel so blessed to have had Dorothee by my side throughout the day to capture all of the details. She is such a joy to work with and she always does the best job in bringing a story or concept to life. I can’t speak enough to the importance and value in working with people you love and who love you back. Dorothee made what could have been a stressful day of setup, something fun and exciting – hallelujah! Also, a big hug to my friend Jess for all her help in sourcing some of the Anthropologie products you see here. She was invaluable in getting those smoke ring plates sourced from NYC when I couldn’t find them anywhere else.
Hands down one of the most important parts of creating a really beautiful party setting is the location. Location, location, location! A space that provides a beautiful, yet non-competing foundation for your party design is always ideal. I was SO in love with the location of our shoot : 95 Yesler. The space is located in the Pioneer Square area of Seattle and also houses the workspaces of some of my dearest Seattle friends. Good news is the space is available for rent for events and parties, so if you’re looking for a great space to celebrate in and are local to Seattle, be sure to check out their killer space! Aren’t those windows unbelievable?!!
One of the largest fallacies in event or party planning is that great experiences and beautiful images are made possible by the ideas and workings of one single person. I often sit down with clients who have the expectation that they are going to recreate an image they found online with little regard or understanding that it likely took 5-10-13+ people to make that image happen especially on a wedding day. This bridal shower would never have come to life without the amazing help of so many people I admire. The creative community here in Seattle is always so giving and the talent is phenomenal – each of the folks that contributed to this shoot are so passionate about what they do and their kindness and hard work are evident throughout all of the details. Thank you to Sally, Jenny, Dorothee, Beckie, Jess, Cass, Leslie, and the kind folks at Simple & Crisp and Turabi Rug Gallery for helping bring my vision to life. Couldn’t have done it without you!
Tomorrow I’ll be announcing a giveaway of some of the fun BHLDN products you see in this shoot! Head back to the blog tomorrow for details! You can also see this shoot as well as other’s to inspire your upcoming event highlighted on BHLDN’s blog here today!
Photography : Dorothee of Belathee Photography | Art Direction, Styling and Floral Design : Jenn Elliott Blake | Calligraphy and hand painted details : Sally Balt of La Happy | Venue : 95 Yesler | Desserts : Jenny Keller of Jenny Cookies| Dried Fruits on Cupcakes : Simple and Crisp | Rugs & Pillows : Leslie of Anima Mundi and Turabi Rug Gallery | Rustic Tables : Vintage Ambiance| Bamboo Chairs : ABC Rentals by Cort
BHLDN products used in this shoot : chalkboard napkin rings | birdcage holder | wooden box planters | hanging bud vases | love grows here cake topper | chalkboard cake stand | revelry cake stands | beech wood cake serving set | mulberry bark place cards | amorous flatware | ivory string lights | wooden chalkboard pennants | silk flower tag holders
This post was created in partnership with BHLDN. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Three. The number of pairs of shoes I soaked through on the day I sourced for this dinner. The rain was blowing side-ways, up-ways, all-ways and the city seemed to swallow me up whole. I kept gazing up to the sky wondering when it was going to surrender, its gray hue creating a grid amongst the skyscrapers. I was well aware before leaving for NYC that although my job is typically ridden with challenges, this time around would be different. Very different.
I landed in NYC on Monday morning that week and we immediately hit the ground running. This particular event had been in the works for months. And when I say months, I mean MONTHS. The delay merely caused by a challenge in coordinating schedules, not at all from a lack of enthusiasm. Anna and I initially discussed the possibility for this dinner party last fall (nearly 8 months before it happened) and our excitement the week of the event was palpable. Working together we knew was fun (we’d already done so here and here), but this felt different. It was different. This week was monumental. Not only to me (my first big gig in NYC), but especially to Anna. This week marked the official launch of her long journey and The Yellow Table Cookbook.
Anna set out last year with one plan. To create her own cookbook. She would recipe test, cook, style, execute and self publish the entire thing in her tiny Manhattan studio apartment – an apartment I might add which has no elevator access and is a 6th floor walk-up! Day after day, she hikes with bags and bags of groceries & props up her narrow staircase and cooks until the sun goes down. I know this, because I’ve seen it. The girl works.her.tail.off! All for the love of what she does. The love of good food. Of good friendship. Of community. And a desire to share her passion for all of these things in written and visual form. And how blessed I felt to not only witness her journey, but to also be a part of it that week. Seriously – even writing this post, I’m still in complete shock that I had the opportunity to be a part of something so so special.
During the planning and design process, one thing kept coming to mind for me. Kindness. Anna is absolutely hands down the kindest person I have EVER met. When she speaks to you, you feel like the only person in the room. When she sends you a card, you know it wasn’t simply a formality, but rather a well thought out expression of love. When she cooks for you, you savor every last bite not only because it tastes damn good, but because you know the process of executing the dish came right from her heart. Everything this woman does is from a place of good. A place of connection, of something real. I wanted everything about this dinner to feel approachable, sweet, organic, and reflective of the spring season. But mostly I wanted it to reflect the woman with which we were all celebrating that night. Kind, passionate and determined Anna.
My job is always made a whole heck of a lot easier by two things. Location and great stuff. And by location I mean Drift Studio (okay seriously, what party wouldn’t look amazing in THIS perfect blank space?!), and by stuff I mean ABC – the interior mecca of all things good and awesome and beautiful. If you’ve never had the chance to visit ABC Carpet and Home in NYC, please please PLEASE do so if you are ever in town. It’s pretty much a prop stylists version of heaven. Floors and floors full of the best loot you’ve ever seen! When I initially found out I’d be sourcing all of the items for the night from ABC, I actually had to re-read Anna’s email four times. Say what?!! I couldn’t believe it, let alone imagine the beauty that was to ensue. From the antique european wood tables (the one on the right is actually an archived piece of the CEO’s!), to the fresh white bistro chairs, to the olive wood bread bowls, to that runner….OH that runner!, to the lovely Jane Burtz ceramics, to a plethora of stunning vases to hold fresh florals…everything about this dinner and the potential for a beautiful tabletop made me grin from ear to ear from start to finish.
Not only did I have beautiful products to style the dinner with, but I wanted the dinner to feel personal as well. I wanted it to be reflective of the reason we were there. Here’s where I thank Sally. Sally brought my vision for the menu to life in the best possible way. I was struggling for a few weeks to come up with a way to bring the actual yellow table – the table Anna grew up with and for her represents community & family; the table that currently sits in her own NYC apartment; the table that symbolizes and inspired her entire journey as a food writer & chef; and the table that was also unfortunately a logistical nightmare to actually get to the studio space for the dinner party itself. Uh-oh.
No yellow table, meant I had to bring the yellow table to dinner some other way. I just HAD to. A week before I left for NYC, I sat straight up in bed at 2am. Yep, I had it. The menu. Of course! I sent Anna a text super early that morning after barely sleeping another wink, crossing my fingers my idea could actually come to life. Would she have a photo? Would it scan okay? Would Sally be able to print it on such short notice? I asked Anna to scan me some of her favorite images of the yellow table from her childhood and after 3 visits to Kinko’s (bless her heart!) I was able to get a copy from Anna and on to Sally. The photo I chose to use was actually from the year Anna was born and created the perfect backdrop to Sally’s gorgeous calligraphy. I also asked Sally to calligraphy each guests name on a stark white piece of cardstock. I used an exacto knife to cut a two-inch slice near the bottom of each card and then slid them onto each fork the day of the event.
The week of the dinner was non-stop. Although ABC was providing all of the decor and furniture for the event there was still so much to do! After spending all day Monday and Tuesday errand running and finalizing details with Anna, I woke Wednesday morning at 5am to hit the flower markets early and had already soaked through my first pair of shoes by 5:07. The market was crazy. Busy. Frantic actually. And EXPENSIVE. Overwhelmingly expensive.
As with any design related task, you have a vision. And once you have set your sights on that vision it can often be hard to compromise. And I’m not good at compromise. I really like to get my way. So what I had meant to be one single trip to the flower market that day turned into 5 separate trips, including one to the local farmer’s market to get the best deals. Determined as I was to make arrangements that were bountiful, beautiful and reflected the spring vision I had for the dinner party, the weather made it nearly an impossible task. No taxis in sight, subway platforms that had inches of water on them, nowhere near enough clothing layers…I was freezing, slightly overwhelmed by a gigantic bustling city, and exhausted.
BUT through it all, I was exhilarated and SO SO SO happy. Happy to be doing what I loved. Happy to be creating in a city like New York. Happy to be spending such quality time with a friend. Happy to be working with a company I had admired and respected so long. Happy to be creating in such a gorgeous space. H-A-P-P-Y overtook all the challenges and by Thursday, the sun was out, and all the hiccups of the week turned into laughter, great conversations, and a tabletop I was proud of.
This special night also would have NEVER come to life without the immense help and support of an amazing group of people. To Annie at ABC Carpet and Home who worked endlessly to ensure we got everything we needed for the night – even rushing over a pretty pink vintage table in a cab with her when it didn’t make it on the delivery truck. To Nathan who lent his beautiful space for the evening and who never once complained or even questioned lending a helping hand – he was there through it all and I’m so grateful!; to Dorothee who without her this event would not have been photographed so fully – I called her merely hours before the event in an emergency and she dropped everything she was doing to be there to capture it – what I friend I’ve found in that lady wow!; to Sally whose gorgeous calligraphy and efficiency brought my vision for the menu to life; to Jean-Luc Le Du whose wines were the cherry on top of a perfect evening – those gigantic rose bottles will forever remain one of the best moments of the night!; and mostly to Anna – your friendship, support and trust mean everything in the end. Congratulations sweet lady. So excited to follow you on the rest of your journey!
Photography : Dorothee of Belathee Photography | Art Direction, Styling & Flowers : Jenn Elliott Blake | Menu & Food : Anna Watson Carl & Linda Sarris | Furniture, Settings and Chairs : ABC Carpet & Home | Venue : Drift Studio | Calligraphy : Sally Balt | Wines : Le Du’s Wines
The dust has finally settled a bit on our initial remodel of the new house (our full electrical and plumbing overhaul are 95% done) and as the kitchen and bathroom slowly come to life this place is starting to feel more like “home” everyday. Although we have a VERY long way to go until this place really sings, we are focusing the majority of our energies right now on getting the kitchen and bathroom as livable as possible. There will be many photos to come soon of our slow, but steady progress, but for now a few kitchen items that have caught my eye and will gradually be making their way into our space, if they haven’t already.
1. Marble Kitchen Slab : As much as I would have loved for all of our countertops to be marble it just wasn’t in the budget. I’m still thrilled with the butcher block countertops we went with, and as a means of keeping them looking pretty and fresh we are using this pretty marble slab on top of the counter for all of our meal prep.
2. White Subway Tile : This is hands down the thing I’m most excited about when it comes to our kitchen remodel. I plan to do ceiling to floor subway tiling throughout the entire kitchen. Currently looking to this Melbourne home and this San Francisco coffee shop for inspiration.
3. Glass Jars for Pantry : We have really limited storage space in this kitchen so I want to do an open pantry with reclaimed wood shelving and have all of our storables in glass jars. I’ve already purchased a variety of these Ikea jars in the small, medium and large sizes.
4. Turkish Kars Rug : I’m on the hunt for the perfect rug to sit underneath the sink. I want something with fun bright colors to juxtapose the neutral foundation of the white cabinets and appliances and butcher block countertops.
5. Wood Utensils : I’ve collected wood kitchen tools all over the world during my travels and can’t wait to finally have a place to display my collection in pretty canisters on our countertop. I especially love these pretty jobillo wood spoons and these ones too!
6. Copper Pots and Pans : With the majority of our decor budget going down the drain with the plumbing and electrical overhaul (ha! get it!), purchasing these gorgeous copper beauties is a long ways off, but a girl can have a bit of wishful thinking right?
7. Enamel Dishware : I’ve had just a teeny obsession with enamel for a while now, especially this amazing collection at Merci in Paris. I bought one of these pretty almond green bowls last time I was there and am wishing I could have the entire collection for entertaining.
8. Leather Cabinet Pulls : I’ve always been drawn towards kitchens that offers a little something untraditional. I tend to get bored easily with interior decor, and all of the cabinet pulls and nobs I’ve found online never spark much interest for me. For longer than I can remember I’ve envisioned having leather cabinet pulls if we ever got a chance to remodel a kitchen. Now that the cabinets are installed (thank you Adam and Jason!), I’ll be spending next weekend looking for the perfect leather hide to create our new pulls. I like these ones, but feel like for the price I can easily make my own and be just as happy with them. I’ll keep you posted on how they turn out!
9. Apron Sink : At least 10 people told me it wasn’t possible. To give up the idea, it just wasn’t gonna work with our cabinet choice. Well, guess what? It worked and looks damn good. A BIG thank you to my sweet hubby for not giving up and making that apron farm house sink a reality for us after cutting into the cabinets for the perfect fit. And although we had to wait months to get the darn thing, I’m so grateful this one was a reasonable price!
10. Scented Soy Candle : I love having candles burning throughout the day especially in the kitchen. I fell head over heels in love with these Apotheke soy candles while we were in Brooklyn a few weeks back. They have so many fun scents, including the basil sage mint, tomato and the green tea ginger, all perfect compliments to a kitchen. I brought home the jasmine scent for our living room too!
11. GE Artistry Series Appliances : When we initially started our hunt for new appliances (the house had none in it when we purchased it) I thought we would head in the direction of stainless steel, but none of the appliances we could afford really made me happy. When I randomly stumbled across this white retro looking line from GE, Adam and I both fell madly in love. At the end of the day, we wanted our kitchen to be really clean and neutral in color and these appliances fit right in. We purchased the fridge (my favorite of all of the appliances), the stove, microwave and dishwasher too (hallelujah for that last one!). I couldn’t be more thrilled with how they look.
I’ve been meaning to post these photos for a long while, but am so excited I refrained from sharing them until now. As we are attempting to make our new house into something we can be excited and proud of, I’ve been on the hunt for kitchen inspiration for a long while (I talked about our initial thoughts here) and this kitchen really falls in line with what we have in mind for our own space.
I’ve been really struck by minimal lines and neutral colors lately, and an all white kitchen with butcher block countertops & white subway tiles is really all I can think about. I love how fresh and clean it looks – makes me inspired to cook dinners at home…yay finally! I had the pleasure of assisting the ever so talented Chelsea Fuss during this shoot for HGTV over a year back, even brining along some of my own props for the shoot, and Lisa Warninger did such a fantastic job (she’s so amazing!) of capturing the beauty of this kitchen remodel. Working with these two ladies was such a pleasure and I remember feeling so warm and happy in this kitchen while we were working. It felt so perfectly simple to me.
For more details of this shoot be sure to head to HGTV for the before and after photos of the remodel – I mean how cute is that little window?!
images by lisa warninger. styling by chelsea fuss. styling assistance jenn elliott blake.