Thank goodness for “Young House Love.” The future of the home decor industry depends on the youth of our country; the energetic, creative minds of the young who will take the way our homes look into the 21st century and beyond.
At the forefront of the next generation of do-it-yourself’ers are Sherry and John from “Young House Love,” a blog and business that show just how much is possible when you put some effort into your home.
Sherry and John are a couple of twentysomething newlyweds from Virginia who took an old home and made it look new… without sacrificing its character and history. And they can do the same for you.
We love people like Sherry and John, and that’s why we’ve asked them to take some time to answer a few questions with us. There’s a lot to learn from these two, so please take the time to read all about them today.
1. Hi Sherry and John, thanks for sitting down with us today. Please take this opportunity to briefly introduce yourselves and tell us about your “Young House Love” blog and business.
Thanks for having us! We’re just two 27-year-olds with a 50-year-old house that we remodeled from the ground up. When we decided to document our progress by creating a blog for our family and friends, we had no idea that less than a year later it would be a full time job for me (and a pretty demanding part time job for my hubby John). With readers around the world, a shop full of original art and an online decorating service, we’re pretty busy these days. But we love what we do and we do what we love, so we wouldn’t have it any other way!
2. You two are the second people we’ve interviewed who have been featured on HGTV’s “Rate My Space.” You blogged about this in detail, and it was interesting to read about the behind the scenes details.
Looking back on it a few months later, what is your overall feeling about the experience, and what advice do you have for any readers who would like to be featured on that show?
It was such a fun experience, and everyone from the camera guy (who flew out to our house to tape us for the day) to the show’s host (we chatted with him via Skype) were nicer than we ever could have imagined.
Everyone was really laid back and friendly, so the entire taping experience was easy and fun. Sure we were nervous, but they definitely did their best to keep us relaxed and laughing- which really helped. And as for advice to those looking to get on the show- just get those pictures up on Rate My Space! We uploaded our photos in hopes of attracting a few blog readers and we ended up on HGTV, so anything’s possible…
3. You write for two well known publications (Do It Yourself Magazine and R. Home Magazine), which is quite an accomplishment for a young couple. How did you land these two gigs and how has the reaction been thus far to your columns?
It’s funny because the HGTV opportunity kind of popped up one day out of nowhere and that’s actually also what happened with our writing gigs at R. Home and Do It Yourself. We were contacted by the lead editors of each of the publications and they basically asked us to contribute and we jumped up and down with excitement. Having a blog means you have about 500 writing samples for all to see, so the great thing is that we didn’t even have to submit any stories. They saw our blog and liked what they saw.
And we couldn’t believe it was that easy, but it was! It’s really great to contribute to something local so you can reference nearby resources and spotlight great local shops and it’s also super fun to write for a national publication that our parents can pick up at any Barnes & Noble or Target. We’re still pinching ourselves about our “contributor” status at two fabulous glossy mags.
4. Your online decorating makeovers are a big hit, and people all over the world have paid you to give them expert advice on their various rooms.
Please explain the feeling you get when a happy client sends you before/after photos, ecstatic with how your help transformed their rooms into something beautiful.
We imagine this must make both of you feel very proud to have helped people decorate rooms that beautify their homes.
There’s nothing like a good before and after. And when you’ve worked hard to paint something yourself and rearrange a room on your own it’s super rewarding. But imagine how fun it is to open your inbox and see your vision for a space completely realized- even though you never had to pick up a paintbrush! It’s downright euphoric. It makes us giddy to see that we’ve helped someone turn a house into their dream home… and of course it’s fun to arrange the space in our mind and go shopping online to dig up all sorts of treasures and see it all come together a few weeks later.
Being DIYers at heart, we love that we get to help people makeover their homes with their own two hands. And we can see that it leaves them feeling completely accomplished and proud of themselves- which is totally the name of the game.
5. We get a lot of mail from people requesting information on outdoor weddings.
You two have posted several lovely photographs of your outdoor wedding, and to an outsider looking in, it looked like the perfect day.
Did you enjoy your outdoor wedding, and what quick advice would you give to people who are considering having one?
In short: that day was the bee’s knees. We loved every minute of it, and we adored that it was completely DIY (we even did the food ourselves) so we got to personalize every last detail (from the homemade table runners to the hydrangea bouquet I created that morning from grocery store blooms). We certainly stuck to a strict budget (and saved a lot of money by getting a bit creative) but we were determined not to sacrifice an ounce of style.
And when that day finally came (after 14 months of planning) we couldn’t even believe that we pulled it off. The entire day we had permasmiles plastered on our faces and we just kept looking at each other and mouthing “I can’t believe we did it.”
As for the outdoor weather factor, that was more than a bit nerve wracking. I’m not gonna lie. Had it rained that day all 70+ guests would have been stuffed into our small rancher and the photobooth would have been nixed, but Mother Nature threw us a bone and gave us a lovely summer day. Thank. Goodness.
6. Something that many of us in new communities cannot appreciate is the sense of history their homes and neighborhoods bring.
Not only is your home well aged, but you live in a region that is very important to the history of this country. In hindsight, would you have still purchased a home over 50 years old and fixed it up, or would you have bought a brand new home in an up and coming community with no history?
Without a doubt, this is the house for us.
It’s so funny because we always say that this is our home for life, but if we ever did move we would definitely go for an old house again.
There’s just so much character in an old home, and we love that we got to peel back the layers (faux brick linoleum and ratty matted carpet) to discover vintage basketweave tile and gorgeous hardwood flooring. The journey is just way too intriguing and rewarding.
7. “Young House Love” has taken on a life of its own and has become Sherry’s full time job. When we’ve spoken to other full-time decorators, they’ve said that turning their passion into their career sometimes ruins their passion. That is, if it’s work, then it isn’t fun anymore. What about you two? Has turning your hobby into a job been a blessing, or does the challenge make you wish it was just a hobby and not your job anymore?
We’re not gonna sugar coat it. Taking the plunge from hobby to full time job was one of the most anxiety-inducing choices that we ever made- but we just had to go for it. And it was totally the right decision. I think you’re rewarded when you go out on a limb and take a risk- and you certainly have to work hard to make it, but it’s something you love so it almost doesn’t feel like work.
We definitely both put in a lot more hours than we ever did when we were both mild mannered advertising professionals. The good news is that the passion is absolutely still there! More than ever actually. We’re so inspired by our readers and the design community that we have an endless list of things that we can’t wait to dive into. Sleep can wait. We just gotta do what we love.
8. For each of you, whom did you learn most of your DIY skills from?
I got my DIY knowledge courtesy of HGTV. Hours and hours of couch potatoing allowed me to learn just about all there is to know about fixing up a house- and I was just a lowly New York City renter back then!
Talk about a foreign interest. Everyone else in New York was shoe shopping and I was dreaming of the day I could use my collection of Stanley screwdrivers.
You can imagine that moving from a tiny studio apartment in Manhattan to a bona fide house in Richmond was just about the coolest thing that ever happened to me.
And I was fortunate enough to have an equally enthusiastic husband. He credits his DIY knowledge to his dad, the internet, and happy accidents. He certainly learned a lot from watching his father build a deck and tile a bathroom but he also absorbed a fair amount from online tutorials (usually viewed right before we picked up the hammer or the saw). And since there’s nothing quite like learning by doing, he’s right to credit actual projects as learning experiences. We definitely love to learn as we go.
9. Sherry and John, thanks so much for doing this interview with us. For this last question, please briefly discuss what first got you interested in DIY projects? Both of you used to work for an advertising agency, so your interest must have been sparked at an early age for both of you.
I think we’ve definitely always been right brained, artistic people (John wanted to be a music video director when he was young, and I always dreamed of becoming a fine artist) and our house became the ultimate canvas.
It’s not the most obvious solution to turn blinds into cabinet door fronts, or to repurpose a CD storage box into open shelving, but it’s so fun to look at something and see beyond the suggested function to create something unexpected and aesthetically pleasing. And of course saving money along the way is always a thrill.
And speaking of thrills, thanks so much for the interview! We loved taking a step back and analyzing what makes us tick, and we hope it helps anyone else out there who’s dying to tackle a home improvement project of their very own. If we can do it anyone can!!
What an excellent interview. If these folks don’t impress and inspire you, then I don’t know what will.
Best of luck to Sherry and John, and thank you so much for giving us such great answers.
Please make sure to check out “Young House Love” today!