10 Tips to Start Loving Your Home Right Now

February 20, 2020

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 




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Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.

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This month, I quietly celebrated 11 years of blogging. As part of that, last week, we watched the very first home tour video I ever did for this blog. It was of our first basement apartment that we were renting. The one we brought Greta home to and where I started the blog. Andi filmed our reactions while we were watching the whole heart-warming, very shaky, nothing-in-focus video. You can watch it (with our reactions!) below. It’s pretty entertaining.

I thought so much about apartment over the last decade +. And how it shaped me into the homebody, home-loving person I am today. Over the last 11 years, I made a career out of loving where you live and it started in that basement apartment. So no matter where you live, here are my 10 tips for how to start loving where you live right now. 


  1. Don’t wait. (Okay, you knew that was coming.) Don’t wait until you have the house of your dreams of the budget of your dreams to start improving where you live. It’s so easy to say “We’re moving in a year, I’m not doing anything.” But a year is a LONG time to not love where you live. Invest in things you can take with you (like art for the walls, furnishings!) and start now!
  2. Tastes change–thank goodness! I get a lot of messages telling me I’ve changed over the years and I take every one as a compliment. We’re supposed to change. We’re supposed to improve. We’re supposed to evolve. So it’s really natural to grow out of that wall color or candle color or textile or your decor in general. Making sure those pieces go to a home that will love it will make everyone a lot happier than disliking that patterned chair every time you see it.
  3. If you have an idea for your house that you can’t stop thinking about–do it and maybe you just love it or you might just need to get it out of your system. In our first house, I painted our living room purple! Me! Purple! I painted Greta’s room lime green. I painted our living room blue! I left no color un-turned and I tried it all. Now I’m much more reserved in my palette but I never wonder and if the color itch strikes again, I’m not afraid to go for it. It’s just paint.
  4. Your home should be a self-expression of YOU, your family and no one else. So if someone says, “It needs more color.” or “Less color!” or pushing a minimalist movement on you when you’re more of a maximalist or making you feel bad for your colorful cabinets when they prefer white kitchens–remember, it’s YOUR home to love. You’re not doing it wrong. There’s no wrong.
  5. Creativity is a muscle. The more involved you are in improving your home, the more comfortable and confident you will be in doing so. When I was in a graphic design class in art school, I had to make 50 logos a day. At first it was so hard. But when I got in the groove, I found I could even go beyond 50! If you’re wanting to be creative in your DIY endeavors in your home, start and don’t stop–the ideas will start flowing.
  6. You’re going to make mistakes–it’s okay, it’s just decorating. Oops I forgot to stir the paint and now the edges are a different color (guilty!). Oops, I didn’t measure and the couch is not fitting through the door. Oops, I hate it. Give yourself a break. You’re allowed to not like something you originally chose.
  7. Home is not a before and after. It takes time and money and more time and that evolving that we talked about in #2. A kitchen isn’t going to be renovated in 30 minutes like on TV and the lived-in, collected looked that makes a house a home, takes time and love. Don’t be afraid to take your time.
  8. Start making memories and invite people over! Nothing makes a home feel more like yours faster than hosting a game night, inviting some friends for dinner or just dessert! We hosted Thanksgiving dinner for Chris’s family in our first basement apartment. I guarantee it was the smallest living area of any of his siblings but they came and I’ll never forget it.
  9. Dedicate a budget to improving your home every month. When I first started this blog, we set aside $20 every month to spend on home improvements. (That’s separate from utilities or emergency home funds). I got creative. I thrifted. I used mistinted paint A LOT. Some months I rolled it over so I could buy that lamp. (bonus: Every living space could benefit from a lamp and window treatments). I made curtains. Obviously our budget now is larger, but the point is, give yourself the freedom to spend money on your house–no matter how big or small.
  10. Loving your home is a relationship. It takes work. There will be ups and downs. Sometimes a renovation isn’t going well or an appliance breaks and there’s water everywhere and you’re mad. At your house. (Just me?) And sometimes you look around and see all the imperfections and memories and uniqueness and declare yourself a certified homebody. You don’t have to love everything about your home to love where you live. I think that would be impossible. To me, it’s more about focusing on the good and going from there.

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What do you think?

  1. What a GREAT POST! Loved every minute of that video. : ) You’ve come so far so quickly! Wow! Your honest look back will give so many young couples hope for the future! And I too, think so lovingly about our first house… even though my home is much bigger and more beautifully decorated now. Nothing can replace those memories.

  2. Vicki says:

    Thank you for sharing this! It brought back memories of my first apartment with gifted, used furniture, my own art on the walls, less than desirable tile in the bath and my bedroom furniture that from my 15th birthday, but it was mine and I made it pretty cute eventually. I went from there to my first house that I bought on my own. A mid-century modern split level that I furnished with Danish modern teak and a contemporary sectional sofa that had pieces that I could rearrange to my heart’s content. I remember having to save up for a piece of wall art that I loved or painting my own. Having to do a lot with a small budget is what taught me to love each of my homes. I learned what worked and what didn’t through my own sweat and tears. Your top 10 list is great and not waiting is absolutely the #1 thing to do!

  3. Stephanie says:

    I LOVED this!! watching and reading this made me feel at ease. I feel like I’m just at your starting point right now. We have a two-year-old daughter living in our first home and I’m slowly trying to invest money back into our house. So inspiring and I would love to hear more about the early years of blogging too.

    Stephanie | SPV Living

  4. Candace says:

    Sooooo, I agree with your list and all…. but I can’t stop thinking how a lob hair cut looks fabulous on you!

    Not the point?? Ok, I’ll see myself out…

  5. Kim-Pacific Northwest says:

    I can really relate to changing your style as your lifestyle changes. I have always thought that your home should grow and change with you. I will be 60 years old this year and my homes went through many style changes over the years with me. What surprises me most is the style I finally settled into. It is nothing my younger self ever would have considered. Yet it feels like what I had been searching for all along. My style is European country. My home currently reminds me very much of the European country home my grandfather lived in. I spent a lot of time there as a child and always felt unconditional love. The home and the people were like a warm hug.
    Perhaps I have finally matured to the point of offering unconditional love to all who visit my home? Or perhaps I have finally accepted myself and give myself unconditional love?
    Either way, I find myself feeling so much love and contentment in my European country home. It just feels so right.

  6. Jessica Dubbeld says:

    How fun to watch you guys watching the home tour!! What I took away from it is that art has obviously always been important to you. You have talked recently about how you guys are looking to investing into artwork currently and in your basement apartment you had artwork on almost every wall! I am hoping to up the artwork in our home. For some reason I feel like hanging up artwork is a big commitment and I’m afraid I will change my mind and not like it in 6 months – but I guess that is okay too! Also, I love the picture of you sitting on the stairs!

  7. I so enjoy your blog and the life experience that it incorporates.
    I started the same way 40 years ago- thrifting, making making my own stuff, painting anything I could get my hands on, and creating a lovely, loved space for myself and my family.
    Decades later we are building a home from scratch. Spending too much money and learning to forgive myself for some permanent decisions, and realizing it is all just about learning.
    Keep on going and making decisions ( perhaps unpopular sometimes ), but realizing that risk is always criticized and few people really get out there to do it. Congratulations and carry on!

  8. Joclyn says:

    So my living room could probably really use a set of curtains for two of it’s windows (2 windows on opposite sides of the wall with a big wall space in between where I plan to add art). One side has a couch leaned up against the window though so you would need to push the couch away from the wall a bit and allow for the curtain to hang to the floor. Will that look weird? The room already has three other long rounded windows behind the couch as well ???? so I guess the primary question is, does it look weird to have one curtain hanging behind the couch and one curtain not?

    • Chris Loves Julia says:

      Hi! As a good rule of thumb, always pull your couch out from the wall (or window) 3.5 to 5 inches. This gives the whole space room to breathe. And I think it’s perfectly normal for curtains to drop behind a couch! In the end, go with your gut. Play around with what looks good to YOU.

    • Wilma says:

      If you place some sort of block behind the back legs of the couch you’ll never inadvertently push the couch back against the wall.

  9. Julie S says:

    Thanks for this post. I loved your last home which is comparable to the one I live in right now and is a closer match to my own style, and have felt more and more distant as you do huge architectural changes to a very different sort of house! Still very interested in it, but not as relatable. I watched the video and had flashbacks to my own broke early marriage new baby years! Oh I remember. I too did great efforts with paint and fabric, ingenuity, and no budget to speak of, and had similar good-for-a-beginner results. I have learned quite a lot more about home style from 10 years of reading design blogs on a daily basis and practicing!
    I just wish my husband could read #6 about mistakes – he is dubious about my spending what he considers extra money on stuff that has to look a certain way and not just function, so I feel a lot of pressure to get it right the first time! And of course sometimes things don’t work in your home the way you thought they would.

  10. Jenny says:

    1) what are those shoes?, and 2) your hair would look too cute like that all the time, like Louise Roe.

  11. I smiled the whole way through that video! But I must know… what happened to that penguin? BECAUSE I AM A PENGUIN PERSON.

  12. MWilliams says:

    Nice post, great video, but I’m really here for all comments on Chris’ wolf tee. ????

  13. Kristie Yesilonis says:

    Thank you! This was exactly what I needed to read today ❤️

  14. Catherine says:

    This was so sweet to watch! Thank you for sharing. ❤️ We all grow and morph over the span of our lives. It’s really cool you have a video to mark that stage of life!

  15. Kaylie says:

    I love this so much! One thing I think you do wonderfully is keeping a consistent feeling throughout each room of your house and it makes it feel so collected and unified. I would love to know more about how you use the same “color tones” to make it feel put together. I watched you color story highlight and I saw your tip about this but would LOVE to know more about that. Or even any books/articles/posts you could recommend! Thank you for sharing your progress and home with us!

  16. Venita says:

    Probably the sweetest, most important post I’ve ever needed to read. Thanks for sharing and for the advice.

  17. Sarah says:

    Loved this so much!! I can relate to so many of your decorating choices in your apartment. Made me think back to our first apartment and how I changed things up. I LOVED it at the time, and that’s all that mattered! I even had tissue pom-poms in my daughters nursery, lol

  18. Beatrice (@gertrudeandabigail) says:

    That.Was..Awesome!!!!!! I wish I had video of our first place ! You two are the best. O

  19. Carrie says:

    This is great!
    Also, I’m so glad someone else gets mad at their house! I thought I was alone there. :)

  20. Megan says:

    I not only adore this post, but I’m loving your awareness and openness regarding your (and everyone’s!) personal choices in design lately. You inspire with your fresh, sophisticated ideas but also for readers to go with their own hearts. I, for one, will be embracing where our home currently is but making a more concerted effort to be willing to make mistakes (or just-right choices!) moving forward.

  21. Colleen says:

    As someone who’s favorite animal is a penguin – that penguin on the shelf and your comments on it in the video made me crack up laughing. Even I, a person who loves penguins, would choose not to decorate with penguins. Also, as a follower since your Utah house studio room feature on YHL, love the look back and having watched the changes over the years! Keep up the great work and thank you for this post today!

  22. Chelsey says:

    I love this post! Couldn’t be more true. And I also love your beautiful cardigan! Would you please be so kind as to let me know where it is from?? The gold/tan one from the last photo :) Thank you!

  23. Tara C says:

    I love this post! It made me all teary remembering how far you’ve come, and how far I’ve come, too, in the last ten years. Hurray for loving our homes. And congratulations on your many beautiful spaces and evolution!

  24. Rebecca Staines says:

    Such timely reminders for me personally. We are in our fourth year in a house that needs work (cosmetically & functionally), and it is REALLY hard not to get frustrated and want to start over. I have been trying to work on budgeting in general, and it feels very validating to hear someone telling me to allocate money for the house. No matter what others may think, investing money in the place you call home is NOT frivolous or a waste of income. Thank you for this post!!

  25. Christine says:

    Gosh I just LOVE you guys!! #5 and #10 resonate with me so well. What really made me want to leave a comment was the tour video. It’s so encouraging for others who are just getting started in decorating or renovating. It takes time but.. LOOK! It’s worth it if you make the effort, spend time learning and trying, give yourself grace and freedom, and love your home and what you do. I just ate lunch and I’m not going to lie some of the lighting and focus changing made me feel a little queasy HAHA. But I watched the full tour in awe at how much you guys have evolved in your style and how much you’ve grown. It’s so amazing and I feel so happy for you!

  26. Amanda says:

    After reading your love letter yesterday, I want to say that I appreciate how you tackle projects and make changes to your home when the inspiration strikes. As a creative, it’s hard to think of your home as being “done” and I love seeing all of the options you guys explore. I know you receive a lot of negative feedback which is rude and unfortunate, but know there are plenty of us who love seeing what you’re doing next and appreciate that your home truly reflects you and your family. Sending you hugs (and renovation patience and sanity!! as someone who is also going through it currently…)

  27. Jessica N. says:

    I love #4: it’s a self expression of you! As I’m in the middle of painting my daughter room teal blue, pink, and purple for a bright and fun unicorn theme! It’s just paint, but the joy her bedroom will bring her is so worth it!! ????

  28. Jessica says:

    Another addition to your list for me would be that it might seem like you dislike your house but sometimes all it takes is to look for greener pastures to realize that there are parts of it you really love! My husband and I have lived in our house for ten years and now that our kids are 6 and 2 we are looking for something a little bit bigger and with a different footprint. Every time we go look at a new house we find faults or find ourselves comparing it to things that are actually better with our current house. So a good idea might be to go visit some strange houses every time you’re feeling bad about your own!

  29. Janie C says:

    Something everyone needs to hear. Love this.

  30. Koko says:

    I love this post. As a renter right now, sometimes friends ask me why I invest a lot of money in making my house look good—because I want to enjoy my home no matter what. I’m careful about investing money into furniture that I think will work for future spaces too, and saving on items that truly just work for my current space. While I often like to fantasize about my future dream home ideas, I also try to enjoy my current home, because home is a feeling. And someday, I know I’ll look back on my current home with nostalgia.

  31. Rodden Turner says:

    I decided over a year ago that I wanted to fall in love with my house again (rather than move). So I changed things- paint, added wallpaper, reduced the number of ‘things’, let go of large furniture, let go of some family pieces that no longer made sense or made me happy. It wasn’t a simple process, and it took time and lots of effort. But I really really love my home. It brings me joy and deep contentment and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

  32. Adelyn says:

    Julia, I love this post! We’re about to move into apartment #3 of our marriage while so many of our friends are buying houses (we still love apartment living and aren’t sure which city we want to settle in), and this was such a good reminder to keep making each new place home! Before I read your post, I was actually making a pile of things to pass along from my more MCM style past that I just don’t love. So thanks for that extra push to let things go and continue evolving and creating spaces that are a haven of home!

    PS your last love letter was truly incredible. I wanted to give you a hug after reading only the first paragraph! It’s such an honor to be the audience to your own creative process.

  33. I love this! Thanks for the encouragement <3
    I can't believe I've been reading you for 9 years now and still not tried wainscoting (the post that i first found on Pinterest)! I think it's time!

  34. Michelle says:

    I love this!! One of my favorite posts. You grow into your home. Your likes and dislikes evolve with life. And not having everything to start with fosters creativity and appreciation for sure!
    I would say the only time you can go really wrong is super drastic, dramatic, out of the ordinary touches when you are going to sell in the very near future.

  35. Kristen says:

    I love the tree shower curtain! Haha! It was the first one we had in our house – in 2011. We’ve since had many different ones :)

    I often take pictures of the spaces I live in and looking back, can’t even believe I loved it so much. But at the time I was SO proud.

    Great message! Love where you live!

  36. Lara says:

    I would add to that list to clean and declutter. While I still find myself fairly frequently in the “down” part of the “up and down” relationship I have with my house, I have discovered that freshening up a space gives it new life and can renew my appreciation for it.

  37. Mary says:

    Totally have that shower curtain ???? so exciting to watch the changes in your style! Thanks for taking us along and teaching me so much!

  38. Haggi says:

    I don’t know which point you make I like the most…well said!
    Over the years I’ve changed out furniture (mostly thrifted) and paint colors fairly often. I like new art too. If I spend more $$ on a quality piece or order a sofa, I do really take my time to choose a long-wearing fabric or art I know I’ll love for a decade. I once had a $25 estate sale chair reupholstered in a rich tapestry fabric (was trendy at the time!) 20 years ago and regretted it within a couple of years. Learned that lesson—for bigger pieces or pricy alterations know your style and go for longevity. But paint shades? I do my own painting, so if a rich deep color floated my boat in 2010, it may be repainted in a softer neutral in 2013…
    But as you said very well in point number 4– your home should be an expression of You! If I make new drapes or repaint my master bedroom, there’s always a well-meaning friend who tells me they really adored the old drapes or wonder why I changed that gorgeous paint shade. It does trip me up for a moment if the comment is sincere and not harsh. But, some people love to keep their homes the same for a decade. It’s THEIR comfort zone. And that’s not wrong either. But remember always that it’s not really our job to tell someone else that their choice doesn’t please us.

  39. Kristen says:

    I needed this. Just hating our rental right now and counting down the days/weeks/months until the lease is up. But I’ve been trying to focus on gratitude – we have a roof over our head and warm bed for our baby girl. Maybe with some of these tips I can work on a little more than that and find a way to love the first home she ever had.

  40. Liz says:

    Great reminders Julia. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. And litttle Greta! Don’t you wish you could go back and visit that time period for a day? Just for a day.

  41. Sara says:

    This post gives me so much confidence! As a new young mom living in a 500 sqft apartment with my husband and baby, i can really relate to that first tour and feel the hope and excitement you felt at the time.

  42. ls says:

    Making it a “cozy” place is my #1. And speaking of cozy, where is your mustard/tan cardigan from?

  43. Cici Haus says:

    This was the most inspiring post. Thank you, both. Thank you for blogging, for evolving, for owning up to mistakes and learning from them, for encouraging us every day. Thank you for all you do!

  44. jana says:

    1. you look so beautiful julia! you always have been but i think as you’ve aged and gotten more confident, your beauty has just shone brighter!
    2. i am mad at my house almost all of the time but i also love and cherish and am grateful for it at the same time. you can have both! people don’t seem to always realize this! we live in an old home that really loves throwing us curve balls that really suck sometimes but i also wouldn’t trade it for the world.
    3. another piece of advice that i’ve just come to learn recently is that it’s also okay to feel okay about where you are and that the idea we have in our heads in america about how you’re supposed to start in a starter home and work your way up to a bigger house, is a lie. i’ve owned 1, 1200 sq foot house for 10 years and for some reason i had it in my head that we were somehow failing because we hadn’t moved on yet… and there are still so many projects to do. i know it might sound silly to feel insecure about that but even our families seemed to expect us to have moved on by now. the truth is, our home is HOME to us. there is no reason for us to move on yet. we don’t need more space. we love our neighborhood and there’s no where else i’d rather move to right now! plus, i really don’t want to until i can see our house through to the end and make her a star! that might take us 10 more years but who cares?! we make our own rules and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for that! anyway, i’ve read from the very beginning and i love watching you all evolve! you guys have taught me so much over the years and inspired me even more!

    • Julia says:

      What a wonderful reminder and addition to this list! Be happy where you are is 100% what it’s about. I was just as happy in our basement apartment as I am a decade later in this house.

    • KC says:

      I can’t shout “YES!” loud enough at your #3, Jana! Our family lives in a great 1300sq ft “starter home” that is our home and we truly don’t plan to move!

  45. Elizabeth says:

    Aw I love this! My partner and I just recently (like, a few days ago!) moved into a new townhouse that we’re planning to rent for the next year before we buy our first place. I forgot how tough adjusting to a new place can be. New smells, noises ect. and it just doesn’t feel like home. I keep thinking back on your posts from a few months ago about how to make a home a ‘home’. So we invited friends over our first night for pizza because we want to start making new memories. And even though we’re not planning to be here long we’re still gonna make an effort to make it cozy! We can’t paint so we’re gonna get creative with rugs and wall art.

  46. Mel says:

    YES to all of this. I personally love your changing tastes. I’ve been following you guys for years and never really talked about you before but I talk about what you guys are doing to my husband (who could care less) ALL THE TIME. I recently met up with an old coworker who I know reads all the same blogs and hadn’t seen in half a year and the 3rd thing out of my mouth after hey we moved and im pregnant is ‘what do you think of CJL’s new house?!’ That might sound nutty but I love the direction you guys are going in. I love that your tastes are changing. I expect that. You used to be amateurs/new in your field and now you’re near the top of your game, if your tastes and budget were the same it would almost be disappointing. I can’t afford alot of what you buy but you guys inspire me all the time. I just painted my night stands (literally yesterday) an almost black inspired by your bedroom and I LOVE THEM. I decided hey, i’m not waiting for it, it’s not usually what I go for but what have I got to lose? Anyway, thanks for being you and for putting what you put out into the world.

    • Michelle says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one with a husband who can’t understand why I talk and care about this blog. I showed him the cabin and got misty eyed talking about the fire and the insurance struggle and the amazing new house decision. And how much I love the fireplace and windows and had no idea you could close up weird open spaces like that. Well. He just listens with the patient look that says I love you even if I don’t understand you. Haha. Anyway another thoughtful and inspiring post.

  47. Katie says:

    This may be one of my favourite posts you have ever written. It is lovely, and encouraging and beautiful.

  48. Nicole from Montreal says:

    I love this post so much! Your first home tour is so endearing. It goes to show that everyone starts somewhere and that there is always room to grow.

  49. Jen says:

    I think I finally figured out the disconnect for me on your blog, and quite honestly some other blogs as well. I mean this to come from a genuine place. It is the way in which you make your money! Because the formula is now to make money with everyone linking to and purchasing what you purchased, everything we see is new. Even if you “love it” it is always new and something you hope to appeal to the masses so they will then go buy it. Even your stories show you doing something, and then right after, a link to your sweater or glasses. It is so hard to know if you actually like something, or if you just like the swipe up money. The story is now gone. It’s not about content, but how many things you can sell.

    The rooms in your home show this as well. Decisions are made on what you like, but also on whAt you can link to and make money off of. I can’t tell anything about you based on your home and what you show . There are know fun family photos, or personal family hand me downs, even your kids rooms are based on free items sent to you that you can advertise. They don’t get a Giant wall in their room to plaster their art and photos of them and friends in that makes them feel proud. Houses on blogs have become faint digital show rooms in hopes that readers swipe up and buy. That is how bloggers make money, and I don’t begrudge you doing that, but it’s interesting that you do it at the expense of living in a show room. Now that I realize that is why I feel so disconnected I will reevaluate why and if I read blogs anymore. I used to read because it was inspiring to see how I can make home feel like home. It isn’t about that anymore .

  50. Jennifer I says:

    Two years ago, my backyard slid down the hillside. It is only now being repaired. The cost of repair is a third of the value of my home, paid oop because there is no help for homeowners and landslides. When it is done, we will not see a reward for it. I feel trapped in this house I once loved. Like the American dream turned on me.

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