It’s always exciting when we get to feature the home or career a friend on the site, so it was an extra-special pleasure to chat with the stellar photographer, woman, and mom, Katie Kett, about her nursery for her son, Liam. Katie’s decor style is so bright and airy – we just love her clean, calming, and timeless decor choices for Liam’s space. Bonus: she had her entire family contribute in some way to making the nursery a place just brimming with love and memories in anticipation of Liam’s life there. We sat down with Katie to hear about her definitely-not-planned birth story, how she’s growing her photography business, and her favorite moments with Liam after one year together.
Name: Katie Kett, Owner of Katie Kett Photography
Square Footage: 1,350 sq. ft.
Rent or Own: Own
City/State: Suburb of Chicago
Children: 1-year-old son Liam
What was your first job and how did you land it?
During college I interned at CareerBuilder, a position I landed through a family connection. Upon graduating I worked as an executive assistant to the CSO there and eventually moved into a role as an event planner. I learned a lot and had some wonderful experiences throughout my time at the company. I developed skills that helped me tremendously in the wedding world later.
When and why did you decide to pursue wedding photography as a career? Have you always wanted to be a photographer?
I have always loved photography but never had any intention of making it a career. However, because it was such a passion of mine, I majored in photojournalism and minored in entrepreneurship. I chose both because I had no idea what I wanted to do and they seemed broad enough to apply to different career paths, yet still aligned with my interests. I had no idea how closely they would end up correlating my future career!
After college, photography was something I did on the side for fun, and eventually, people started asking me to photograph their families, then a wedding. I quickly saw that this was something I could make into a full-time job so I put a lot of time and work into building the business while working full time in event planning. Once I had a full year of weddings booked, I took the leap into just focusing on my business.
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What day-to-day challenges do you face in your career?
Right now it’s finding the right balance between weddings, lifestyle sessions, and my personal life. Since having my son, I have had to cut back a ton on lifestyle sessions, which has worked well, but I miss them! I’m constantly evaluating how I can make things more efficient, what I can outsource (mostly at home, like cleaning!), and adjust what I’m taking on to ensure I’m focusing on what I love most and am best at.
Tell us about the process from when you first meet a client to when you photograph their wedding or other milestone events, like births or engagements. What’s the key to personalizing each experience while remaining true to your brand?
Once the initial emails are exchanged with a wedding client, the next step is a meeting. For me, the entire process is personal and not a business exchange. Of course, there are items like pricing, timelines, etc., that need to be discussed, but my focus is always learning about the couple, their day, what is important to them, connecting with them, and doing my best to capture all the special moments. Building that connection is SO important. Once I have that trust, they let their guard down and allow me to do my best work. Over the years I have realized how important engagement sessions are in developing that relationship. It really helps me to walk into a wedding day feeling like we are friends rather than vendors.
What’s next for you and your photography business?
This is something I am thinking a lot about lately. Right now, I really love where we are at capturing weddings and lifestyle sessions, but am starting to look more at 10 years down the road. Also, considering whether my husband (who second-shoots all weddings with me) would transition into running the business with me full time. So many possibilities, which makes this job so exciting and unique.
How would you describe your design style?
Neutral, light, bright, uncluttered — and I like things organized.
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You’ve created such a sweet space for Liam. What inspired you when designing the nursery?
My husband and I love the outdoors. When we were dating we spent as much time as possible road tripping and camping. We are both so excited to share those experiences with Liam, so I wanted to tie that into his nursery design. It is a very small space so it was also important to me that it feels bright, clean, minimal, and uncluttered. Oh, and not overly babyish.
We heard that designing and building out the nursery was a whole family affair! Who helped out with what, and what do you think including multiple family members brings to the space and what it represents?
It was! My husband, Pat, is very handy, so he worked the hardest on the nursery. He painted, built out the closet, built a shelf based off one I found on RH, and built a window seat that is just outside the nursery and acts as an extension of the room. My mom made the window treatments, and my aunt (who is an interior designer) helped us choose fabrics. The throw on the rocking chair was a gift from my brother that he bought when he was living in Germany a few years ago. It makes the room that much more special that family helped create the sweet space.
Do you have a favorite nook in the nursery? Why?
Yes, well two. I love the little corner with the rocking chair because in one short year we have created so many special memories there — from nursing my newborn to rocking my sick baby to reading books. I also love the window seat. We use it as a play area, reading nook, and it’s the perfect spot to watch the garbage trucks on garbage day.
Is [or will] everywhere a place for Liam to play? Or do you have designated areas for him?
We have three areas in the house that are designated play areas: the window seat — which has a lot of great storage for toys and books — a corner of our family room, and our basement which is currently just a mess of toys, but I am about to start creating a playroom there. Each area serves a different purpose and is really nice to have.
Every home has its own quirks and challenges – what were yours? How did you overcome them?
Well, we had a lot of challenges when we first bought the house — like a bee infestation that happened to be just outside the nursery. Luckily, we got to the bottom of that the day my water broke! Other than that, we have small 2nd and 3rd bedrooms and just a smaller house in general. I don’t really see it as an issue as we really try to live more minimally for a lot of reasons. It definitely forces us to be more mindful of what we purchase and how we use every last bit of space. A few ways we have helped our space go further are building out Liam’s closet, creating the window seat; and adding a corner built into the family room that gave us more storage, opened up floor space, and kept bigger baby items to a minimum. We’re trying to be more minimal with toys, but are finding that’s easier said than done!
Where are your go-to places for big-ticket furniture and decor? What items are worth investing in? Are there any pieces that will transition well into a big-kid room?
We didn’t go too crazy on Liam’s nursery. We got a nicer crib that I liked the look of and that could transition into a toddler bed if we choose to do that. The dresser is Ikea fancied up with Rejuvenation hardware and a rug I’ve had for years. The rocker I consider a bit more of an investment, although they can be much more expensive than the one I got! I really wanted something that matched the aesthetic I was after and that was still comfy enough for late-night feedings. There really isn’t a ton in his nursery, but everything except the rocker and mobile could transition into a big-kid room. If we have another, though, we may just keep the nursery and create a new space for Liam. We’ll see what happens!
Your dog Riley is adorable. Did you consider pet-friendly pieces when putting the nursery together?
Yes, everything we purchased for this house we considered whether it would hold up with children and a dog! Sometimes I’m OK with taking a risk if it’s something that’s not too expensive, but for the most part, I try to look for pieces that are more durable/washable.
Would you share a brief version of your birth story?
Well, my water broke a few days after my due date when I squatted down to check out the eight-layer yellow jacket hive my husband had just discovered in our house outside the nursery door. I labored for 24 hours, which was actually pretty easy thanks to the magic of epidurals, but eventually ended up with a C-section. It was a bit scary as after I heard Liam’s first cry (an incredible moment I will never forget) I got so emotional I thought I couldn’t breathe and had to be given a drug to calm me down, which made me black out for a bit.
It ended up being a blessing, though, because right after that Liam stopped breathing and had to be rushed to the NICU. By the time I finished in recovery, I had a clearer head and Liam was doing much better. I got to hold and nurse him, which was one of the most special moments of my life, even if it was in the NICU with Liam hooked up to a bunch of machines.
While I didn’t have a birth plan, my delivery was far from what I expected. However, I am so grateful for a healthy baby (he was out of the NICU within 36 hours) and a wonderful team of doctors and nurses.
What are some lessons you’ve learned during your first year of motherhood? What advice do you have for other first-time moms?
There is honestly no greater joy than what a baby brings to your family. They make everything more fun and special. Liam has deepened my love for Pat and our parents and brought our focus to the things that really matter in life. When times are tough, remind yourself that it WILL pass. Each stage brings its own challenges, but in so many ways it just gets more and more fun. Remember to slow down and enjoy where you’re at because it goes SO fast. Oh, and try not to focus too much on what others are doing because every family and every baby is different.
When it comes to motherhood, what are you most confident in? What are you still insecure about?
I’m confident in knowing my baby. I feel like by now I can read his needs and be there for him, which makes it more fun and less stressful.
On the other hand, I’m always insecure in my parenting when we have a new obstacle like an illness Liam hasn’t had yet. When he is sick with something for the first time, I’m always second guessing what I’m doing for him and worrying about what I’m missing.
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How do you and your husband divide parenting roles? How has parenthood changed your marriage?
We both do anything and everything. We both work full time, but my schedule is more flexible so I play the role of a stay-at-home mom a lot of the time. There are realities of parenting that aren’t so glamorous and can take a toll on a marriage, like snapping at your spouse during late-night feedings in the early days, fewer date nights, etc. Overall I have found that parenthood has brought us so much closer. Seeing Pat as a dad is honestly the greatest gift. It makes me love and appreciate him 1,000 times more. He is the best dad and is my rock.
How does your son inspire you, in your career or otherwise?
While I still have a long way to go, he has shifted my focus to the things that really matter in life. I have less tolerance for bullshit and a deeper appreciation for my family and friends. He makes me want to find balance, be present, and live my life to the fullest.
In photography, he has brought so much more meaning to what I do. I’m a sap, so going into a wedding with the perspective of a parent makes me realize just how incredibly special these moments are. Same with a lifestyle session. I value the realness (even if it’s not perfect) so much more because that is what is going to be the most meaningful to look back on.
What does a day in your life look like?
My days are SO different so it’s hard to just look at a day. I’ll do a quick week overview!
Saturdays: Pat and I usually photograph a wedding and Liam is with his nanny.
Sundays: I try to reserve as a family day with as little to get done as possible.
Mondays: I am with Liam, and we usually grocery shop and run other errands/play.
Tuesdays: Our nanny comes at 8:30am, and I am focused on work and anything I can’t do with Liam. Our nanny leaves at 5:30pm, but Pat often takes over then and I work late. If I can, I pause work for bath and bedtime.
Wednesday: Same as Tuesday, but my mom comes to be with Liam.
Thursday & Friday: I’m with Liam and work as much as I can during naptime and often after he goes to bed.
If you have to choose just one, what’s been your favorite moment from motherhood so far?
Ugh this is hard. I might be cheating, but I love watching Liam learn and grow. Every time he develops a new skill I am so excited and proud of him.
Katie Kett is The Everymom…
Favorite wedding you’ve photographed? This is TOUGH because every wedding is so unique and I fall in love with each couple and their families for different reasons. One of our favorites was definitely that of our good friends Danielle (The Everymom cofounder!) and Conor in Paris. Capturing your best friend’s intimate wedding in Paris… it doesn’t get much better!
Song playing on repeat when you’re in the car? I’ve been enjoying an excuse to re-visit Disney classics!
Best way to start your morning? Slow mornings at home with my boys and coffee are my favorite.
A woman who inspires you? My mom. She is loving, selfless, driven, and the best mom and grandma I could ask for.
Food you craved while pregnant? Bagels. Well, really all the carbs.
Guilty pleasure? Netflix, wine, my robe, and slippers. I really want to get back to reading more to unwind though.
You can’t leave the house without? My diaper bag, which I love so much I use it as my everyday bag too.