10 Projects On Our To-do List in 2021 (the last one—eeee!)

January 4, 2021

We believe we should all love where we live.

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Ahhh, it’s good to be back. Happy new year and hope you had a great holiday. I don’t think I ever took so many naps in my life. We relaxed and relaxed some more. I’ll share more about gifts and activities later this week, but today is all about our 2021 to-do list.

We talked so much about what we want to do in 2021 and what we don’t want to do. We want to work with significantly less contractors in 2021. There’s a post forthcoming about hiring a contractor vs. DIY, since we’ve been on both sides of it for the majority of the last 18 months. I’ve come to some interesting conclusions. But the good news is we worked really hard and really pushed it to get all the big structural renovations out of the way over the last 18 months and we are excited to manage less people, invoices and expectations this year and take on a lot more DIY.

Here’s what we have up our sleeve this year:

1. The Kitchen!! Chris has been dreaming up a new kitchen layout pretty much since we walked through this house for the first time. We’ve been planning it for the last couple months and we hope to start ordering everything in February for a March Demo! I’ll be sharing our inspiration images, layout, the WORKS soon.

2. The Mudroom. When we do the kitchen, we’ll be tackling our mudroom at the same time. Right now the two are separated by a walk-in pantry (that we’re removing) to give both the kitchen and mudroom more room. Right now our mudroom is more of a mud hall. And a pretty tight one at that. Living in Idaho, we definitely need more room for coats and boots and backpacks so we’re excited to really maximize that space!

3. Entry & Stairs. To be honest, I’ve already been working on this one a bit over the break and I can’t wait to share more. Our door is off-center in our entry and the arrangement became even more obvious once we got our new (old) front door in place with our exterior renovation. So there’s a big switch happening! I’d also love to add some paneling of some sort to the entry and up the stairs and add a stair runner to all of our stairs!

4. Replace all interior doors. I feel like my mind will be able to relax once I replace all of our knotty alder interior doors and door knobs. We have already picked the doors out (our bathroom got the new ones!) But installing and painting them all deserves its own line item on our to-do list this year!

5. Laundry Room. I showed our laundry room in stories a couple weeks ago and I was told by several dozen people I have never shown it. Oops! It’s a nice laundry room, just doesn’t go with our aesthetic so we’ll be reworking that this year!

6. Dining Room Storage. In March of 2020, we built a fauxdenza in the dining room for a commercial but we never finished it. The storage itself has been great, but we definitely need to revisit that project and maybe build it out a little bit more.

7. Exterior Landscaping. With the exterior of our home complete, I’m excited to tackle the landscaping when the weather warms up. I’m currently researching what works in our zone and cross-referencing that with what feels the most cottage-y. (ie. all of the tiger lilies have to go!)

8. Balcony. Oh how I can’t wait to furnish our balcony this year and install a trellis with a climbing vine!!!

9. There are also lot of nearly finished spaces we’ll be finishing up first– our Bathroom, Polly’s room and Faye’s Room. And a few areas that we’ve only done a simple phase 1 to that we’d like to level up. The family room, our bedroom, greta’s room, and pretty much every room needs vent covers. Sometimes I like going all in and doing a room from top to bottom the first time, and sometimes we’ll go in with paint first and then level it up over time.

10. This last one will hopefully answer your burning question “What are you going to do when you’re done with your house?!” I don’t anticipate us being “done” with our house for a while–there will always be areas we’re improving and sharing! However, we had a goal to be done with major renovations this year and the kitchen and mudroom are the last ones on that list. The truth is we’ve been doing this for 12 years now–living through renovations and sharing about it. And we’re not sick of the sharing about it and we’re not sick of the renovating, but living through it has been wearing away at us–especially over the last year. We don’t want our girls to spend their whole childhoods amid renovation dust and tarps, so we are hoping to…..purchase a small fixer upper this year!

Before we purchased this house, we were looking for a flip and even put an offer in on one! It didn’t pan out because of a major issue found during inspection, but it all worked out because it brought us here and we really love this home. However, the idea of working on a “flip house” has stayed with us. Something smaller scale with loads of potential that would bring us back to our budget-friendly renovating roots while being able to come home to a put together house checks all the boxes for us right now.

I’m hesitant to call it a “flip” because it won’t be a very fast timeline and we aren’t going to use generic materials. It will be the Chris Loves Julia style in a small house on a budget! We want to breathe life back into a small home that needs it and we can’t wait to share that journey with all of you.

I’m not sure the order of this one–we’d love to find something sooner rather than later because people are moving to Idaho in droves right now and it’s definitely increasing housing prices–but we’ll be sure to share more when it happens!

So that’s what we think our 2021 will look like. We’re also hoping to be able to entertain more, go on a trip or two, and take more weekends off! What are you up to this year?

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What do you think?

  1. Amra says:

    Super excited about the list as so many of the projects are on my to do list for our house, and you will surely give me enough inspiration to tackle these finally!
    Happy New Year! You guys are awesome.

  2. angela says:

    Yay! Love the “flip” on the horizon!

  3. patricia says:

    I don’t think the Tiger lilies need to go away. You may choose to transplant them elsewhere in your giant garden. A cottage garden is more of a jumble of ornamental and edible plants anyway. Certainly daisies need to be there … along with lavender, and both should stand up to Idaho winters.
    This will be fun!

  4. Julia D says:

    Hi CLJ crew!
    What a list! The laundry & mud room excite me too- those are on our 2021 list in our own house. I live in Seacoast Maine and folks from metro Boston, NY, CT and beyond are gobbling up any little bit of paradise they can afford around here! Lake houses, mountain homes, wooded lots, beach houses- it’s a second home treasure trove around here. Just like Idaho, The mass migration of the pandemic is here.
    I cannot wait to see what a cottage aesthetic tools like on a smaller scale & modest budget. It will be nice to see items sourced from in stock or non custom sources as well as their high end inspirations. I do like that you’ve started the daily dupe!
    I agree with the poster that commented on having a cottage look for boys’ bedrooms & play rooms & common spaces in a more masculine leaning cottage aesthetic. I want to do our guest room/office like that.
    Keep up the good work! Happy New Year.

  5. Elizabeth says:


    Loved reading what your ten projects are going to be and number 10. Love that plan. Can’t wait to watch you do it all. Thanks for sharing so much, but also glad you will be able to live in your house as a home. Happy New Year.
    xo Elizabeth

  6. Paula Vaughan says:

    I discovered your corner of the internet in June 2019, but didn’t really start following you until February 2020.

    I can not stress enough how much I love and obsess over everything that you (Julia and Chris) accomplish. The warmth that you bring into spaces and the design choices you make are everything I ever wanted in my own home.
    Your ‘Modern Cottage’ design aesthetic is everything I love about interior design, and every time you post something new; my pinterest boards get more and more full of inspiration and ideas. I’m afraid that one day someone is going to walk into my home and say “Paula, you just copied CLJ’s home. find your own style.” I mean they wouldn’t be wrong, but please take it as a form of respect if it happens. Who am I kidding, lol, there is no “if” its obviously going to be a “when” it happens.

    This year my husband and I are moving to a new province (we live in Canada) and I am looking forward to buying a home, within the year, and becoming a full fledged ‘homebody’. I have always loved dark colours on walls but was never sure how to bring in the warmth and comfort and cottage feel.

    In fact the first apartment we ever lived in together had dark red walls, but all I paired it with was more dark colours. Lots of black or dark browns. Instead of the stylish home I pictured I soon found myself living in Dracula’s Castle. Much to my husband happiness, but not at all what I was going for and since then, I’ve never painted another wall dark. But thanks to you both, and your team, I finally understand it now, and I can’t wait to start on our temporary space and eventually our full time home.

    Well, if you’ve gotten this far in my comment, you deserve a prize or a hug from someone. Thank you for always sharing your home and your opinions on design. I can’t wait to see what you complete in 2021 and all of the rooms you are planning on working on. Can’t wait to steal, ahem I mean become inspired even further by your home.

    Sincerely Paula (the crazy CLJ fan) fan name pending of course. :D

  7. Courtney says:

    Yesssssssss. The kitchen! Inspo and sneak peaks ASAP!! Also I’m super curious about you getting rid of your walk in pantry?! Can’t wait!
    Oh yeah, can you share some boy room ideas in modern cottage style?

  8. whattt a fixer upper!! Oooh I am excited

  9. Annie says:

    I’m already saving to buy your “flip” house when it’s done!!!! Can’t wait for everything one this list this year!

  10. patricia says:

    I’ve really enjoyed it when you did projects (surprise and otherwise) for your friends … and possibly family? Sister Andrea? I know she’s growing her decorating skills as well.

  11. Diane says:

    I welcome the ‘flip’ house additions, purely because of the financial aspect. I love your home and aesthetic, but my wallet won’t accomodate for most of the renovations you’ve done. It will be nice to see a ‘purse-friendly’ renov.

  12. Shirley Richey says:

    Reading this puts into perspective just how much you all have accomplished throughout the last year, which deserves a grand celebratory dance!

    Excited to watch you navigate these beautiful journeys you have lined up (looking at you, yet-to-be-discovered home ????).

    The market in Shelley and north is turning over quickly, which could mean Blackfoot/Pocatello are areas worth looking into with being less competitive and more reasonable in pricing! If ya’ll + Kaleb need info on those areas, I’d love to help!

    Cheers to ya’ll now having one heck of a sturdy home and being able to dive more into the details+fun projects this year!

  13. Brooke says:

    Can’t wait to follow allow with you for another year!

  14. Stacie says:

    This year we are going to be building our own house. Like literally. It’s going to be an intense year! One of the few things we won’t be doing ourselves is the stone work. Would you mind sharing the crew that did yours? We’re local and it looks like they did an amazing job. Thanks and best wishes for 2021!

  15. Stephanie says:

    So, so exciting! Cannot wait to continue following along.
    Blessings to you in 2021!

  16. KW says:

    I can’t wait to follow along for all of this!!

  17. Ashley says:

    I am so excited for all of this!!!

  18. Molly says:

    Can I just tell you how excited I am for your flip!?!? I love your style so much and your amazing ideas – but I have a hard time executing within my (much lower, ha!) price range. We are in the process of looking to buy a fixer upper this year or next and I can’t wait to see what you have in store to inspire me!

  19. Lisa Martin says:

    I love your style designs. Did you ever consider offering a consultation service – it would be great to be able to send you room pics and then get some decorating ideas from you/your team. You could offer minimal suggestions to an overall redo (and price it accordingly). I have decorated many rooms in my cottage and home but would love a second set of eyes for different ideas. Sometimes just need help with accessories or furniture placement, to a full blown redo of a space- or just a “freshen up” of a space. I think there’s a lot of folks looking for some “economical” design consults. If you made it reasonable enough price wise I think you would get a lot of interest. Plus you could support your partnerships.
    Just a suggestion- have a great 2021!

  20. whitney says:

    Hi I remember you were redoing the office! I hope you can share that space soon! :)

  21. Amber Wallace says:

    So exciting!! It’s going to be a big year. And the flip project sounds amazing! I hope you turn it into a rental someday ♥️

  22. Lynette says:

    I love this list! I’ve been missing seeing you tackle more DIY and “budget-friendly” projects. That is not to say your 2020 projects haven’t been extremely lovely to witness either!!! Thanks for taking us along for the ride!

  23. Kala says:

    Ahhhhh omg #10!!!!!! I can’t wait to have tangible inspo for my budget again!! I’m obsessed with your style, but I’m not sure how to accomplish it on a smaller scale. So excited!!!!

  24. Amanda says:

    So excited about the potential for a smaller, more budget friendly house projects! We are a family of four living in 1300 square feet and it is often difficult for me to draw inspiration from the, much larger budget, of many designers homes I love!

  25. Sherry says:

    Thank you for sharing your project list for this year. I look forward to following along!

    My big project this year is to get our home organized and be able to film a video of each room including the closets similar to what you do in your home. It may not be completely decorated but want to be able to enjoy the home and not closing doors to rooms in chaos.

  26. Danna F says:

    Happy New Year Markums! I’m here for it all! Enjoy following along on all of your home projects. Excited about an upcoming flip too…love transformations!
    Your comment on leveling up a room has the song playing in my head non stop. Level up, level up! The phrase makes perfect sense. ;)

  27. Brittney says:

    I love following along! Every thing you two touch is ???????? Can’t wait for the kitchen!

  28. Ashley says:

    So exciting! I know you’re so happy to re-do your kitchen, but I’m gonna miss phase 1! I modeled my own simple Reno after it and I could not love it more. But on to bigger and better! Congratulations!!!

  29. So excited to see your kitchen and future flip house!

  30. Bre says:

    SOOOOO excited for all of these, but especially the kitchen / mudroom. I know it’s going to be amazing!

  31. Carrie says:

    First of all, congratulations on all you have accomplished since you bought this house! I’ve only worked with a contactor once, fixing my house after a tornado, and it was a complete nightmare. I’m really looking forward to your post about contractor vs DIY! I’m also really looking forward to seeing more pics of Faye’s room, because I’m obsessed!

    My goals in 2021 are to organize my house! Turn the room of shame into a library/office situation (study? Can’t decide how to label it!) instead of the virtual dumping ground it has become! And to refresh my guest room, which was my work from home office during lockdown. That was the first time I’d really spent any amount of time in that room in years. The light in there is glorious! I don’t have a lot of overnight guests even when there is not a pandemic, so I’m considering different ways it can be a room that can actually be used vs just gathering dust and folding laundry on that bed.
    Happy New Year!

  32. This list looks great and I can’t wait to follow along as you tackle all those items… hope you get a flip quickly before prices go too high. Glad you got a good, restful break!

  33. Lacey says:

    For finding plants for exterior landscaping check out Monrovia nursery’s website. They have a plant catalog you can filter by zone and style. They have a “cottage” category. Consider a climbing rose somewhere. Lady Banks is a mini, double ruffled thornless rose that I love. And the evergreen foliage makes long winters more bearable.

  34. I’m hoping to purchase a flip house this year too! Reading a book and learning more about it right now- it’s scary but so exciting! I can’t wait to see what you do with yours!

  35. MC says:

    Hi Julia! Sounds super exciting! I’m excited to follow along with you! You probably know this already with planning a kitchen reno but appliance lead times are insane right now. We’re planning a kitchen remodel to start late in February and ordered the appliances in November – they may arrive by April 1st(!).

    • Amanda says:

      Yes appliance lead times (along with every other building material) are ALL over the place. I work in construction and we are getting 4 month times for appliances. 2+ months for interior doors. We just got a 3 month lead time for a tub!

      So order NOW!

    • Erin says:

      Ditto! We have been waiting on our fridge for almost a year, plumbing fixtures from Kallista have been months out, our outdoor lighting has been 9 months and counting. Basically anything that is special order from a factory will take forever or until the end of the pandemic, try and order stock items or make sure you have back-ups selected if you can’t wait.

      Great work in 2020, Marcums! Thanks for taking us along for the ride.

  36. Heather says:

    I cannot wait to see what you come up with on a smaller scale and budget in a not-so-flippy flip house! You need to beat that wagon-train heading to Idaho, haha!

  37. beth keck says:

    Very exciting list! Anxiously awaiting the reveals!! Love all you’ve done. PS – thx for the recommendation on the gluten free items – Mary’s Gone Crackers – yum.

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