Names: Sherry, John, Clara (1) & Burger (ageless)
Location: Richmond, VA
Blog: Young House Love
Introducing Sherry & John of Young House Love feels a bit like taking Bill Clinton to a cocktail party - I kinda assume you know who they are. But they're actually perfect cocktail party guests - fun, bubbly and probably slipping shims under the legs of shaky tables without anyone noticing. Their wildly popular blog, Young House Love, chronicles the projects and purchases (not to mention the blood, sweat, tears and laughs) that they've invested into their homes. They're like the boy and girl next door who happen to be really good with jig saws and spackle.
Young House Love is for anyone looking for home improvement, diy, and decorating inspiration and information. Between the two homes they have owned, Sherry and John have tackled it all and documented it for their readers. What keeps readers coming back is their witty writing and refreshing never-take-themselves-too-seriously personalities. Do they screw things up sometimes? Oh yeah. But they always figure it out in the end and even seem to enjoy the process - you know, that middle part of the project where many of us get discouraged and consider turning back.
Since YHL began almost four years ago it has become a deep and rich resource for anyone looking to improve their home. Check out this index of projects - from whole room makeovers to projects you can pull off in an hour or an afternoon, from building to painting to organizing - it's in there. YHL is truly a love story - between John and Sherry (and their love for Clara and their pooch Burger) and the love they pour into their home. All homes should be this lucky.
Sherry and John put down the paintbrushes and hedge clippers for a moment to tell us more about YHL:
How would you describe Young House Love to someone who has never visited?
Random ramblings about our home improvement adventures with some photos of the baby and the dog thrown in there.
Unlike a lot of blogs where you may see a big "reveal" of a newly revamped room and then never see the room again, your whole house is always evolving. You get new ideas, you decide an old idea isn't working for you anymore - what's your thinking on a space being "done"?
I guess we just learned from our experience with our first house (where we lived for 4.5 years) that for us, a room is never really done. It seems to evolve as our needs/family change. So things are always a work in progress - which is kind of exciting. At least for two people who like to putter along and tackle new things pretty regularly. The finality of the word "done" is kind of scary- like things are in danger of getting stagnant or something.
You moved into your current home last year. It's bigger, but the exterior looks a lot like your first home. It's like Skipper and Barbie. Are you drawn to this type of house or is it just coincidence?
Ah yes, we loved our little 1300 square foot ranch (aka Skipper) just as much as we love Barbie (who's bigger but just as ranchy). There's just something about a stair-free house with the potential to create a nice open layout with lots of easy flow. The transformation of those small boxy personality-free rooms is so much more challenging than a gorgeous farm house that already has 12 foot ceilings and gorgeous old molding. And for some strange reason we love a challenge - maybe because it feels so rewarding when you widen doorways and make something great out of such a modest starting point?
What's one thing you think a potential homeowner should look at when they tour a house on the market that they might not have thought of?
Everyone always says it but it's true: wallpaper and paint colors don't matter. Neither do ugly furnishings or window treatments or overgrown lawns. Layout and location are things that are harder to change. So try to focus on those.
It seems like you two have a pretty similar aesthetic. What advice would you give to two people moving in together who may not share the same taste?
I think our tastes have grown to work better together over time, but it definitely didn't happen overnight. Our method is to never buy a single thing that we both don't agree on. That way there's not a chair that I hate and a piece of art that makes him grumpy. It takes longer to decorate, but no one harbors any hard feelings about purchases, which is key. We call it our Mutual Agreement Agreement.
What design trend are you hoping will end soon?
We've never really understood the karate-chopped pillow thing. You know when designers make throw pillows look like little M's? With that big divot in the middle thanks to a good firm chop? We just let our pillows go rogue. No chopping or shaping necessary.
You two tackle so many projects that many of us would hire professionals for - what project or area of your house won't you tackle without professional help?
We think anything having to do with serious electrical rewiring or the removal of load bearing walls is best left to the pros. I guess we use that "what's the worst that could happen" question before taking on a project. And if the answer is "the house could burn down" or "the roof could collapse" we're down with consulting an expert. Haha.
How did your daughter Clara's arrival change the way you think about or use your home? Are you big babyproofers, for example?
Clara actually came into the world in a pretty dramatic way (we had some serious complications, more on that here), so I think we were kind of in a fog when she came home. We just felt so blessed to have her around, and quickly learned that with a baby comes chaos. Not everything would be in its place anymore. But that's ok. It's all about really living in our house anyway. So since Clara has come home we have a lot more baskets and ottomans. They make nice easy drop spots for toys and baby clutter (when they're not in use and spread all over the house of course, haha).
We love Clara's room - what one thing in the nursery do you think you should splurge on and what one thing should you do budget or diy?
That's a toughie. We spent a lot of time researching a reasonably green mattress and crib for Clara (she spent about 18 hours a day in her crib those first few months - so we're glad we took our time with those choices). We DIY'd pretty much everything else (from the crib skirt and a Craigslist dresser that we refinished to the curtains, the hanging shelves, the mobile, and the frame wall). It's fun to "create" a space for your wee one as opposed to just buying and assembling stuff. It feels like a special handmade gift when you make things, you know?
You share a lot about yourselves online. Do you have different boundaries about what you'll share when it comes to Clara and do you think these will change over time?
We're pretty protective when it comes to our house (we have a Fort Knox-like alarm system) and we don't share things like our address or mention if we're going on vacation - or even if we're going out for the evening and leaving Clara with a babysitter. We also don't anticipate sharing things like where she'll go to school or anything personal like that. Gotta keep our girl safe. And if Clara grows up and doesn't want certain photos on the blog (or even to be mentioned at all) we'll definitely respect her requests. Kids first. Then blogging.
In an article in the Washington Post Nate Berkus said he could see your blog transitioning into a tv show? What do you think of that idea? Are you ready for prime time? (Okay, probably day time?)
We've actually been approached by a few networks to do a show but it just doesn't feel like us. We're happy to hide behind our computer screens. I think we're really actually pretty shy folks, so being on TV sounds really nerve-racking and not fun at all. We're wimps.
Even if a tv show isn't in the near future, I hear there's a book in the works. What can you tell us about that?
We're so excited! It's coming out in the fall of 2012 and it's going to be full of hundreds of DIY ideas to help anyone fall more in love with their house (with photos, tutorials, and tips to help execute everything). Exciting stuff.
You're known for being pretty frugal, but if you were handed a chunk of change and you had to spend it at a higher-end store where would that be?
Oh man that's hard. Maybe on something amazing and one of a kind from a local shop? A huge cabinet that used to be in a library might be cool as a kitchen island... something along those lines.
John, the shelter/diy blog world seems to be mostly produced and consumed by women. Do you think we're on the brink of seeing more men and dads getting in on this action?
I definitely hope so. I don't know a single man who doesn't care about his surroundings - even if just a little bit. But I think guys (very generally speaking) tend to be less vocal about our "style" - which could be why some men aren't inclined to blog about their homes. But I think as the shelter and design world embraces DIY more and more, it becomes a more inviting place to those of us who like to build stuff, demo stuff, and just get our hands dirty.
Sherry, you're currently ranked as Pinterest's #1 Tastemaker. Are you going to have this made up into a bumper sticker?
Oh man, don't tell them I'm completely not fancy enough for that title. I'm flattered but also a wee bit blushy about it - just because it sounds like I should be fabulous and I hate to burst anyone's bubble but... yeah, I'm not. Haha.
Thanks Sherry and John! Readers, feel the love for yourself at Young House Love.
(Images: Young House Love)