Julia Brenner

Julia is a writer and editor living in Chicago. She's also a big fan of old construction, new design, and people who can pull off a wink. She is not one of those people.
To Be Is To Do: 10 of Our Favorite Posts for Mindful Living
In my own life, it’s all the little choices I make each day—from how much sleep I get to how I’ve handled stress to personal interactions—that shape the feeling I have about my day when I turn out the lights each night.
Oct 3, 2023
Supply Checklist: Everything You Need to Paint a Room
I’ve painted many rooms in my day (I’m a little bit of a painting junkie), and like so many other things, once you get the hang of the process, it’s really quite fun. Throw on some old clothes, kick out the jams, and after a few hours of good old physical labor, you’ll have a wonderfully transformed space. But you won’t get very far painting a room successfully if you don’t have the correct supplies!
Oct 26, 2022
The Thrift Store Tipping Point: When to Buy & When to Walk Away
Part bargain seeking and part treasure hunting, shopping at your local thrift store is a great way to save money and find unique items that are otherwise unavailable in the current retail market. I’ve rounded up some tips for navigating the realm of thrifting and please leave your favorite tips in the comments!
Oct 13, 2022
The 11 Best Room Design Apps For Planning a Room Layout and Design
What a time to be alive (and planning room layouts)! Thanks to a treasure trove of user-friendly apps, it's never been easier to create floor plans and virtually design our rooms.
Apr 13, 2022
How to Make It Work When You Have No Room for a Home Office: A Round-Up of Ideas & Inspirations
We know that it’s not always easy to visualize the possibilities of adding more into a small home, so here are some of our favorite posts—from roundups to Maxwell’s pro tips to a collection of small space house tours—to help you carve out a home office space when you’re short on space in general. Yes, You Can Fit A Home Office Into Your Tiny Home Try a small desk next to the sofa in place of an end table, as seen on Design Sponge.
Jul 17, 2020
An Essential Shopping Guide for the Best (Stylish!) Sofa Slipcovers
I've rounded up some of the best options on the market today to help you find slipcovers that are high functioning in both style and practicality. No easy feat!
May 22, 2020
25 Places to Donate Your Stuff
We’ve featured some great articles recently on the value of downsizing our belongings. Yet even with the best intentions to pare down, it can be hard to part with certain things. If you have items you’re waffling over donating (the microwave you barely use, the business suit you wore once) here’s a list of 25 organizations that will happily take your stuff and put it to great use.
May 20, 2020
5 Apartment Therapy Tips I Use All the Time (and 5 I’ve Had Bookmarked for Years That I’m Just Never Going to Do)
I’m in my fourth year of writing for Apartment Therapy, and I’ve been an Apartment Therapy/The Kitchn reader for even longer. Like all of you longtime folks, I’ve definitely found many tips from our sites that have changed the way I operate, while others that I was so gung-ho on—projects and tips that I was sure I’d get right to work on—have been languishing on the island of I’m-never-going-to-actually-do-this for years.
Mar 11, 2020
Adding Color, Pattern and Variety:6 Inspirational Non-Minimalist House Tours
In the divide between minimalists and maximalists, I’ve always felt more drawn towards a less-is-more aesthetic, but after touring some wonderfully vibrant homes that are far from minimal, I find myself inspired to add more color, pattern and even some stuff into the mix. Whoa. If you’re thinking of trying out bolder colors or showcasing more of your trinkets or artwork, check out these gloriously non-minimalist house tours for inspiration.
Mar 11, 2020
10 Ways to Beat the Holiday Blues
We get it. As the holiday season rolls on, it can feel like we’re all supposed to be diving into a constant stream of parties, big happy family dinners, and loads of presents. Well, it’s been my experience that some years the holidays are busy and exciting, but some years they’re not. Some years they’re bittersweet and some years they’re incredibly difficult.
Mar 11, 2020
How to Cope with a Lack of Kitchen Storage: 10 of Our Best Posts
When you have a small kitchen (I do), creative problem solving stops becoming a resume catchphrase and starts becoming a way of life. Configuring cookware and food and utensils—while trying to keep it all from looking like a mad scientist’s lab—isn’t easy. Here are 10 great posts in one place to offer some tips, tricks and inspiration for all of us fighting the good I-dream-of-kitchen-storage fight. Don’t neglect the space above your cabinets.
Dec 16, 2019
A Photographer’s Sunny Pre-War Apartment in Chicago
When you're lucky enough to inherit good bones, less is always more. This beautiful rental is a love letter to vintage Chicago city living.
Nov 21, 2019
Terri & Adam’s Creatively Color-Coordinated Home
Name: Terri Falvey (Advertising copywriter, freelance graphic designer, daydream comedy writer) and Adam Penly (Software engineer, musician, amateur photographer) Location: Albany Park; Chicago, Illinois Size: 1,200+ square feet (townhouse w/ partially finished basement) Years lived in: 1.5 yearsYou know how some couples are simply fun to be around and some homes are simply happy homes?
Oct 21, 2019
20 Popular Korean Beauty Skin Care Products To Try in 2017
Oil cleansers, water cleansers, essence, ampoules, and sheet masks for lips (true story!), there is a bit of a learning curve with Korean skincare products. But there’s also a reason why these products are superstars in the global skincare industry: they are good. Like really good. If you don’t already have your own K Beauty skincare favorites, I’ve rounded up 20 products that are receiving heaps of praise from Soko Glam to Sephora. Check them out.
Sep 6, 2019
Stop Doing These 10 Things That Are Dragging Your Home’s Sophistication Down
Because we’re not living Pinterest boards and no one gets it right 100 percent of the time, I think we all have certain aspects of home decor and housekeeping that we ace, and other aspects that we struggle to get a handle on. I know I do. Here are 10 common issues that may be diminishing your home’s sophistication along with some easy tweaks to help you self-correct. Rumpled sheets look, well, rumpled.
Jun 16, 2019
Club Soda + Salt = Non-Toxic Stain Remover
A few years ago I was hosting some friends when the spill of all spills happened. The one you nervously laugh about when purchasing anything white. Yep, the dreaded red wine spill, on a white wool rug, because really, what fun is a red wine spill unless it happens on something white? But my friend was quick on the draw. She ran to the kitchen and returned with salt, club soda, and a dish towel. By the next morning the stain was gone.
May 6, 2019
Before & After: Salvaged Stool to Colorful Plant Stand
This before & after project is a great example of how a good imagination is often the key to a great makeover. Kind of makes me feel better about all that daydreaming I did during algebra class.This makeover was featured on Sunset, and I love that this plant stand wound up costing $3.19, the cost of the Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch spray paint in Sun Yellow. If you needed to buy a pot, the project would cost a bit more, but still far less than a wrought iron planter.
May 6, 2019
Before & After: Laundry Area Goes from Messy to Fab
This before & after renovation stars a once messy, chaotic laundry area in the home of four small children and their busy, creative parents. What’s truly wonderful is that they took an area that’s usually an afterthought, the laundry room, and turned it into a well-organized, cheerfully stylish space.According to Katie from Potluck Love, her old laundry room wasn’t a proper room, but a “hot mess of laundry” crammed into a hallway in the back of their home.
May 6, 2019
Before & After: Mismatched Thrift Store Lamps Get a Hip New Look
The 80 degree weather we’re having here in Chicago (in March?!) is making me feel a little Alice-in-Wonderland, like suddenly, oddly neat things are possible, like say, Mandi from Vintage Revivals turning old, mismatched thrift store lamps into something utterly modern and so very cool.
May 6, 2019
Before & After: Old Dresser Becomes a Garden of Succulents
In this before & after project, one clever couple in Los Angeles upcycles an old, abandoned dresser, turning it into a garden of succulents. I think you’ll agree it’s a huge improvement.Curt and Jessica of the blog Grizzly Bear Modern took advantage of an old dresser left behind in the garage of their new home by drilling a few drainage holes in the drawers to create a sturdy vessel for a garden of succulents.
May 5, 2019
Before & After: A Dull Deck’s Flower Power Makeover
I like this makeover because the “before” deck looks like many decks extending from city apartments. In fact, cut it in half and take out the hot tub (or, take out the very best parts), and it looks a lot like my own back deck. But all hot tubs aside, I’m inspired to see how some very doable changes totally transform this flat space into a lush outdoor living area.What strikes me about the “after” is how homey it looks.
May 5, 2019
Before & After: Vintage Airstream Trailer “Runaround Sue” Gets an Eco-Rehab
This is the story of Runaround Sue, the name given to a 1961 Airstream Safari that was lovingly renovated by Prairie Construction. The vintage trailer’s original beauty was carefully restored while making it leaner (more efficient) and greener. This time of year already makes me long to head out for the open roads, and now I’m filled with daydreams of spending the summer traversing the country in Runaround Sue.
May 5, 2019
Before & After: “Audree” Gets a Makeover
Audree was always pretty. She definitely has good bones, but over time Audree’s looks had, well, faded a bit. It happens. Life on the road takes a toll on a girl. But then in walked Tiffany, Audree’s new owner. She knew that with a fresh coat of pink and a hip new look, Audree could still turn heads. And she was right. What a bombshell Audree’s become!
May 5, 2019
Before & After: Plain Jane Nightstand Gets a Reclaimed Wood Makeover
I found this before and after and loved not just the transformation, but the use of reclaimed wood pieces to create an entirely new tabletop. Take a look!Using wood pieces from a discarded trellis found in her garden, Taryn from Design, Dining and Diapers created a fresh, stylish table that showcases the beautiful colors and textures running through the found wood scraps.
May 5, 2019
It’s the Little Things: 5 Ways to Spend Less & Reduce Clutter
I was at Target the other day, and standing in front of me in line was a gentleman buying a plunger. That’s it. A plunger. While I really should have been feeling bad for him, because after all, the poor guy was out on a plunger run, I found myself staring at him in wonder, dazzled by his ability to get out of Target with only one darn thing.
May 5, 2019
What Not To Compost or Recycle: 30 Items to Avoid
I found this list on Mother Nature Network and thought it was a nice refresher for those of us who’ve ever stood over a recycling bin with an item and wondered if we were helping the process or muddling it up, since not all paper, glass, and plastic can be recycled equally. Here are a few non-compostable/non-recyclable items to be aware of. Head on over to Mother Nature Network for the full list. Non-Compostable Items: Bread products, as they will attract pests.
May 5, 2019
Before & After: Boy’s Nautical Room Makeover on a Budget
This is a great makeover and a cool story because it involves a mom and son working collaboratively to create a completely new room for a budget of only $150! Take a dip into Levi’s newly nautical bedroom (puns = not my strong suit). I know, wonderful, isn’t it?
May 4, 2019
Before & After: Catch-All Basement Corner to Cool Kids’ Craft Corner
I think many of us can relate to those catch-all corners of our rooms that we know can be improved in both form and function. Melissa from 5 foot 12 Creations had a vision for her catch-all basement corner: a special space where her children could access art and craft supplies, a charming space where the markers are many and the paper is plentiful. The perfect pint-sized craft corner! I can only imagine the hours of creating that are now spent here.
May 4, 2019
Team USA: 10 All-American Textile Manufacturers
I recently read an article in USA Today about the resurgence of the US textile industry, which is encouraging news in a culture of seemingly outsourced everything. Both small- and large-scale textile companies are turning out stylish, high-quality, competitively priced goods, offering consumers viable means to support US manufacturing. Check it out.
May 4, 2019
Pro Florist Tips for Making Your Own Beautiful DIY Flower Arrangements
It’s so easy to push a button and order flowers online (and a wonderful option for those far apart) but imagine delivering a handmade bouquet filled with vibrant, fragrant, seasonal flowers. Too expensive? Not more expensive than the internet. Too complicated? Nope. We can do it! I decided to write this post because I’m making handmade Valentine’s bouquets this year. The only problem? I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to flower arranging.
May 4, 2019
Before & After: Bright & Beautiful Nashville Kitchen Renovation
When Brian and Greg purchased a 1,500 sq. ft., 1960’s-era ranch house that had been on the market for over 500 days, they knew they could turn it into something special. A first priority was turning an 11 x 12 kitchen that comfortably fit one person into a bright, open space that met their needs as a growing family and frequent hosts. I would say they achieved their goal…a thousand times over.
May 4, 2019
Secrets of Secondhand Shopping: The Good, The Bad, and the (not so Ugly) of 5 Popular Resale Sites & Apps
Oh, the weird and wonderful business of buying and selling secondhand goods online. A market once cornered by Ebay and Craigslist, virtual resale sites and apps are a booming business, some as virtual garage sales and others as niche marketplaces. Here’s the lowdown on five popular sites and apps and please jump in with your favorites (and not-so-favorites) in the comments! The lowdown: The cPro+ Craigslist Mobile Client is a well-reviewed app that lets you take Craigslist on the road.
May 3, 2019
Lean In to Your Crabbiness: 10 Things to Do When You’re Home Alone and Feeling Grumpy
Maybe I’m being a curmudgeon here, but the current cultural pressure to be happy and mindful and Mindfully Happy all. the time. —it’s too much. It seems like feeling any other way is culturally unacceptable, something to feel guilty about. Yet we’re emotional beings and life can be tough. Feeling sad, crabby, or even (gasp) angry is OK sometimes! No, it’s more than OK, it’s necessary. Right?
May 3, 2019
How to Get Your Best Sleep—Even When You’re Away from Home
Whether you’re traveling for work, vacation, or even when staying with good friends or family, sleeping in an unfamiliar bed—away from the comforting surroundings of our own bedroom—can be challenging.
May 3, 2019
Frugal Framing: 10 Ways to Display Artwork Without Spending a Fortune
I adore custom framing but it can be quite expensive, which got me thinking about some alternatives. After all, necessity is the mother of invention, is it not?Turns out a lot of people have had this same thought and have created some lovely options to display artwork sans framing. Check them out! Above: This option from Deko employs wooden trouser hangers to display art. That’s it! And I love it. I found this elegant display idea on Freshome.
May 3, 2019
The Cool Friend We All Want: A Fashion Stylist Shares Her Secrets
Personal and fashion stylist Elim Chu is the cool, nice friend you hope to have because not only is she smart and hip and has amazing style—she will happily share her knowledge and secrets to help everyone around her look and feel great. She’s genuine and warm and approaches styling with the belief that everyone can build a simple and beautiful less-is-more wardrobe.
May 3, 2019