Christmas at the Thompson’s

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After talking for quite some time about shooting our farmhouse for an upcoming issue of Country Living Magazine, we settled on shooting it for Christmas. Oftentimes in the magazine world, holidays are not actually shot during the holiday, just because of deadlines, etc. But knowing how much work would go into shooting our home during the holidays and not wanting to have to undecorate right after decorating, I begged and pleaded to have it shot in December and they agreed. Our story was shot last December (2012).

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A lot goes into a shoot. Once we decided on the date, we held our breath for snow and started making plans. Before any shoot, a team is assigned for the work that happens on location (or “on set”). A photographer, a stylist, and sometimes an editor from the Country Living offices, sometimes because there’s going to be a cover try. (A cover try is when an editor is going into a story with the hope that they can get a possible cover out of it). The photographer always has an assistant, and usually the stylist will bring in an assistant as well. In this case, Victoria Pearson was the photographer and my friend, Heather Bullard, was the stylist. A couple of my friends and our oldest son, Cody were on set as well to help with things like picking up lunch for the crew, gathering greenery from the property, cleaning between shots, etc. Fun fact: You can look at the bottom of the first page (or sometimes on the center or far side of the first page) of any story in the magazine to see who the photographer and stylist were.

This was our cover try. I wish it had made it onto the cover because I think it would have been fun and different. Although it didn’t make the cover, it did make it into the story:

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I always do something fun with this bookcase during the holidays and kicked around some different ideas. Originally I was thinking of covering my cookbooks in white paper with a few plaid ones thrown in, but once I started buying the plaid paper, I began thinking how fun it would be to go plaid crazy. My editors really liked the idea as well, so I went with it. I love how it turned out and it was just so warm and cozy and happy feeling to me. I spread out the covering of the books over about a week, working on it when I was in the kitchen, or the boys were snacking at the island, which sits directly in front of the bookcase. We decorated pre-made gingerbread houses very simply for bookends.

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Before the shoot takes place, the editors mull over all of the scouting shots of a home, deciding what rooms they want to capture, and from what angle. They work a lot with the stylist ahead of time so that it’s planned out really well. Since each shot can take many hours to get just right, it’s very important to have a plan. A “Shot List” is created, identifying which shots will be happening and to set a schedule, identifying how many days we’ll be shooting. If you wonder why sometimes you don’t see multiple shots of a room from different angles, or don’t see some rooms at all, it’s because there just wasn’t enough room in the magazine,  the editors didn’t think the rooms would fit with the story, or, once the story is being laid out, some rooms that were shot for the story get cut for one reason or another.

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Our living room didn’t make it into the story, but it was fun, nonetheless. We didn’t have any gifts wrapped yet for Christmas, so Heather, her assistant, and Natalie Warady (Country Living Magazine Style and Market Director), spent several hours sitting in front of the fireplace in the lobby of the Davenport Hotel one evening after we had stopped shooting for the day, wrapping boxes with my wrapping paper.

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I wanted to do something fun and creative for the ornaments for the shoot and decided to use junked paint-by-numbers paintings from the thrift store. After trying to cut them out with an exacto knife, I found it was much easier to actually use heavy-duty scissors.

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We had the timing for shooting my family down to the minute because Colin had a brief window where he could break away from work for just a bit, and the younger boys were coming home, off the bus. Bongo (lower left) didn’t love his Christmas sweater I had purchased for him that Christmas. Can you tell?

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Our dining room table is really long, so they decided to shoot it from the side, showing the dining room built-in as well.

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The entryway, just inside the front door. If you have my Christmas book, you may remember the story of the children’s skis we found under an old barn we had been invited to dig through. The star on the shelf is actually Heather’s. She had found it at a little flea market we were at in New York City (it’s from the 1930′s!) but didn’t have room for it in her suitcase. So I had packed it in my suitcase and brought it to my house, knowing she was going to be there for the shoot.  When she was styling, she added it in. I loved it. I purchased the vintage painting from my friends at the Silver Suitcase.

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Master bathroom. (You can see the master bedroom in the magazine). The large soap jar is from Dustin and Christian at Uber Chic Home.

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Once the story has been shot, the editorial team at Country Living begins work on the layout. Once the layout is complete, a writer is assigned. The writer interviews the homeowner and creates the story. Once the story is complete, a fact checker will go through and check specific details such as sources for the items seen throughout the story.

You can find the full story, as written by Jourdan Fairchild, as well as more pictures from our home, in this month’s (December/January 2014) issue of Country Living Magazine, on newsstands now.

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All images by Victoria Pearson

Note: You can read more about my farmhouse, from the building of it, to everyday life in it, here.

Sources:

Our home was designed by Nancy McKennon.

Our builder was Craig Powell of Powell Custom Homes. (509) 994-2831 (He doesn’t have a website).

Kitchen Bookcase:

The plaid wrapping paper used for covering the books on the bookcase is from Fred Meyer, Target, and Wal-Mart.

The pre-made gingerbread houses are from Cost Plus World Market.

The garland is from Costco.

I found the tiny oil painting above the table at a flea market in New York City.

The small table next to the bookcase was found at Roost in Spokane.

The green enamel vintage toolbox on the table came from Cedar House Soaps, a vendor at The Farm Chicks Antiques Show.

Kitchen:

My cabinets were custom made by a local cabinet maker.

The lights over the island were made from salvaged old schoolhouse globes and new arms. I obtained all of the materials from Revival Lighting in Spokane and they built the lighting as well.

The lights over the sink are from Lowe’s.

The flooring is tile that looks like wood. It is manufactured by Daltile. I talked about it here and here. I have received many inquiries regarding the exact wood pattern and the exact name of the Daltile line. Unfortunately, Daltile changes their offerings frequently and although I have contacted the company numerous times, trying to pin down exact information to offer to readers, they have never responded to my requests. My recommendation if you like the look: choose the wood tile that you like best, and find a grout that as closely matches your tile color choice as possible.

My countertops are quartz, manufactured by Zodiaq and the pattern is Bianco Carrara. I talked about it here and here.

The wall tile is all from Dirk Elliot Tile. I talk more about it here and here.

The windows in our home are made by our friends at VPI windows. They are manufactured in Spokane and are the BEST! I talked all about the windows here and here.

The cabinet hardware is from Spokane Hardware, who also have an amazing website (The Hardware Hut) where you can order just about anything your heart desires.

The large glass pantry jar in the background in the kitchen can be found at Target and Wal-Mart.

The footed bowl holding the apples in the background in the kitchen is from Martha Stewart for Macy’s.

The antique pitchers and bowls are from the Silver Suitcase in Spokane.

My appliances are all Thermador, with the exception of the freezer column which is Bosch.

The stools are from Pink Salvage Gallery in Spokane.

If you’re interested in reading more about my kitchen, you can do so here.

Living Room:

The sofa is from Tin Roof Furniture in Spokane.

The Merry & Bright pillow and plaid pillow on the sofa are from Pottery Barn.

The vintage plaid throw on the sofa was found at a Sister’s Sale in Spokane.

The chairs are from Ikea.

The red striped pillow on the chair is from Uber Chic Home.

The plaid wrapping paper is from Fred Meyer, Target, and Wal-Mart.

The Christmas tree is from Dietz Christmas Tree Farm, Greenbluff, Washington.

The pinecone lights on the tree are from Kurt Adler.

You can find the template and directions for the ornaments I made for our tree here.

The treetop star was handmade.

Dining Room:

My built-in was custom made by a local cabinet maker.

My glassware is a combination of antique, vintage, thrifted, and some new from CB2, specifically their Marta line.

The plaid tray is from Target.

The wooden cake stand in from William Sonoma.

The cake was made by the magical bakers at Sweet Frostings Blissful Bakeshop in Spokane. I’ll post a tutorial on how we topped it soon.

The dining room table was custom made by Antico.

The dining room chairs are from Cost Plus World Market.

The table runner is from Uber Chic Home.

The plaid napkins are from Pottery Barn.

Entryway:

The stocking is from West Elm.

Master Bathroom:

The tile is from Dirk Elliott Tile.

The counter is marble, Bianco Cararra.

The soap jar is from Uber Chic Home.

The baskets are from Pottery Barn.

The towels are from Target.

Paint:

You can find the paint colors used throughout our home and barn in the story in Country Living Magazine.

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