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2023 in review: This year was so different

December 18, 2023

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In 2024, we are celebrating 15 years of Chris Loves Julia. It’s a huge milestone and, to be honest, there was a time this year when I didn’t know if we were going to make it to that bench mark. Not because there was anything at risk with our relationship, or our brand or opportunities were drying up. It was just a really personally heavy year. We found ourselves juggling so much behind the scenes, while trying to carry on as normal as we could with projects and renovations and new ideas, on the forefront. And there was definitely a point in early fall where we thought, “If something has to give, then we have had a wonderful run.” We were at a fork in the road. And after a long weekend away and a lot of thought, we came to the conclusion that we still loved what we did. And wanted to continue forward. We needed to adjust our expectations. We made big changes within the structure of our company and we realized, most of all, that accomplishments are not measured by how many projects and renovations we completed.

In the past, if we revealed our kitchen and our bathroom and our backyard and our living room (and more!) all in one year, it felt like we were on top of our game and we gave ourselves an A+ for the year. I see it differently now. At the beginning of the year, I slipped on a bracelet that said “balance” on it. And throughout the year, I really tried to prioritize that in my work, our company, my health, my relationships, and in our home.

We certainly did a lot of projects this year, but we did a lot so much more as well! Here’s a little diary of our year:

January

We did a one-day makeover on Becca’s dining room. I love these makeovers because the whole team rolls up our sleeves and grabs and paint roller, and it’s so inspiring to see what’s possible with a little planning and a little elbow grease :) At home, Chris and I organized the attic — a feat! (And, is it already time to do that again??) We also flew to San Francisco to shoot our Pottery Barn collection. And I had Cricket, our new puppy, on my hip at all times.

February

We did our air mattress test (and it was eye-opening). We started planning out our front yard. Our off-site office space got floors and wallpaper. I decided I wanted to repaint the study (I didn’t know that would become a theme this year). That lead to building out the study. And that lead to thinking about painting the trim on the outside of our house. Oh, and our 13-year-old had a pool party for her birthday. In February. So, we celebrated our mild-to-warm North Carolina winters.

March

The pocket doors and the built-ins went in in the study. We flew out to Idaho to makeover a nursery for our dear friends, the Fullmers. I organized some kitchen cabinets (that felt like big open boxes). We shot our Shades of Light collection. We did our self tanner test. We went to Mexico with our team as a rewards trip for all the work they do.

April

We gave my sister’s deck a mini makeover. We hosted a baby shower in the backyard for Brooke, who was on our team. We moved into our new office space. I spoke on the Loloi panel. We launched our Shades of Light collection. And, I went to the Taylor Swift concert in Atlanta (a life highlight, really).

May

We launched our collection of furniture and decor with Pottery Barn Kids — a career highlight. Faye chose a wallpaper. Chris and I demo’ed her closet. We posted a round-up on spring (faux) trees. I got new outdoor stools for the pool bar, and we hung string lights in the backyard. We had a lot of paint issues in the study (read this cautionary tale). Looking back, I wish I could put my arm around that Julia and tell her it all turns out okay :) We spent Memorial Day in Rodanthe with my family and it was rainy and romantic.

June

We swapped out the chandelier in our dining room to make room for one from our Shades of Light collection. I went to Idaho to help take care of my Dad. We furnished Faye’s room. We took the girls on a Disney Cruise where I realized our girls are the perfect ages (13, 9, 6) to travel with now and I want to do so much more with them.

July

Shop Faye’s Room

I went back to Idaho, spending time and taking care of family. We hosted a fun Color School for our audience — a topic I’m extremely passionate about. We hung the gallery wall in Faye’s room — and some controversial curtains — and revealed a room that our 7-year-old loves. A sour: All of our girls had swimmer’s ear :/

August

We started painting swatches on our windows outside. Chris and I went away for a night to plan our bathroom renovation. Chris’s brother moved to North Carolina, and we had a big pool party. We took the girls to see Wicked and started tile selections for our bathroom. And I discovered a cup that makes slushies like magic and quickly bought one for each member of our family.

September

We went to the beach for Labor Day weekend. We refinished the countertops. We shot our new Walli cases. I started my long Sunday walks. We filmed a house tour. We hosted the Lola Blanket crew for a photoshoot. We introduced plans for the mudroom. We went to Lancaster to consult on our giveaway winner’s room. My bestie, Meaghan, came to visit. We went to New York for my sister’s art show. We traveled so much this month that we promptly came home and cancelled our anniversary trip because we were so exhausted.

October

We celebrated Chris’s 40th birthday in Mexico. We put an offer in on a perfect house for my parents and coaxed them into moving to North Carolina. Chris started cold plunging. We all went to Hogwarts for Halloween (figuratively speaking).

November

We started measuring for a dining table so that we could host Thanksgiving. We got a leather sectional for the playroom. Chris and I celebrated our 15th anniversary at home with our kids, and I celebrated by 37th (IYKYK) birthday at home, too, where we sang all 10 minutes of All Too Well instead of Happy Birthday. We started renovating the upstairs powder bath. We hung a gallery wall in the dining, which started a ripple effect of moving art. And my parents moved to NORTH CAROLINA!!! We hosted 26 people for Thanksgiving!

December

Lawrence Floorpops

Renovation started in the mudroom! We removed all the floors in the back hallway in preparation for tile and new drywall and a new pocket door are in place. My parents moved out of our guest house and into their new home 10 minutes from us! We finished the powder room off the playroom (More on that coming soon!).

2023 was a real-life year. They’re ups and downs and successes and failures and lots of change and heartache and huge wins and milestones, as well. I hope when you look back at your year, you can see your whole, as well.

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What do you think?

  1. Sandra says:

    What an amazing / exhausting year! Thank you for sharing. Looong time follower here. Selfishly so happy that you will still hang around the blog world. Love everything you and Chris do.
    Take are of yourself and your beautiful family. If you need time off, take it. If you need to slow down with content, do it. If the internet is sucking to much of your precious time, step back.
    Hope you had a wonderful and restful Christmas and best wishes for the new year!

  2. You guys are amazing! Such a fun wrap up of the year!

  3. Christine says:

    So many of us hard-working families have felt the same this year, so know you are not alone!

    It’s a great time to reevaluate, spend more time in prayer, set personal boundaries, and hire more help!?!?! (At least that is my goal;))

    Cheers (!!!) to a new fresh mindset in 2024!

  4. Cfbetcher says:

    What a year!! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Erin says:

    Balance is a beautiful word. I’ve loved following along for years and so sorry to hear what a challenge this year has been behind the scenes. Keep finding your balance, we will all be here cheering for you

  6. Patricia says:

    I love your quick (to us) mini (again, to us) makeovers for family or team members. I know a lot of work goes into making this look easy.

  7. Jen C says:

    The year that you, Chris, and your family had sounds very productive but exhausting. Hopefully you will all be able to have a relaxing holiday. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog. Thank you. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  8. Linda says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful homes, your design process, and all the “extras” with us over the years. My 2023 personal favorites were Color School (beautiful eye-candy and so inspiring) and watching the study develope – what a stunner!! Wishing you a peaceful, joyful and lovely Christmas. Much love to everyone at Chris Loves Julia!

  9. Mai says:

    Long time follower here from Malaysia. I hope you still hold on to this. ‘Be open to what comes next’. You, your family and CLJ team have been a true inspiration for all of us. Adjust your expectations and I think you’ll do great in 2024, as you always have. We will still be here cheering for you ❤️

  10. Leah Michelle Kinney says:

    God bless you and family. Hope every year is the same happiness or even better.

  11. Jessica says:

    Not me over here crying about this journey we’ve all been on together. Continually inspired by your navigating of life’s ups and downs and commitment to loving where you live.

  12. Tommie says:

    Thank you for sharing and being open/vulnerable about the hard things. For me, you offer an escape from the hard things with your wonderful content. I love ending a stressful day by watching your stories and daydreaming about spaces. Sending you wishes for a happy, healthy, restful new year!

  13. beth says:

    I LOVE your blog and have followed you for years. Love all the house content and personal content as well. The interesting part is you appeal to all ages. I introduced my daughter in law to you and she loves you too and there’s 30 years between us. Go at your own pace, your audience will be happy.

  14. Jacqueline Webb-Dempsey says:

    What a year! And these were just the amazing highlights, your daily posts are useful, interesting and inspirational. The most admirable aspect is how you carefully and generously share your work and your life and family with followers. Take care of yourselves as you as you create new opportunities and show us how to pursue beauty and function in our surroundings and lives! Best wishes for the new year!

  15. Andrea says:

    What a beautiful share. Thank you for all you do. Wishing you a New Year filled with as much energy, inspiration and courage as you give your audience. Keep doing you XO

  16. Annika says:

    I’ve been reading for 10 years and hope for many more! Thank you for allowing us all to be along for the ride. Hugs to your family.

  17. Nancy Williams says:

    Best of luck in 2024!
    Merry Christmas !!!!

  18. Lucy says:

    I just discovered you this year, you popped up on my Facebook feed and I started following you in the summertime. I really enjoy your daily posts and look forward to them all the time you’re always doing something interesting in your house, or making a yummy dish or taking a trip somewhere it seems. You have a beautiful home. I love the windows, and I guess my favorite room would be the kitchen followed by the dining room, I really love that wallpaper. I think it’s from McGee and Co?

    I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas, and another successful new year!!

  19. Julie says:

    I was exhausted reading about all that you have gone through and accomplished. Blessings on your future in work and play. Hopefully lots of play.

  20. Aggie Breski says:

    Thank you Julia for being such an inspiration. We were renovating guest room along with guest bedroom at the end of the year . We were pressed with deadline as our guests were arcing from Europe early December. Only thank to your support through your videos we felt like we could do it. Your innovative ideas are always so bold and at the same time very personal and unique. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to be there for us .

  21. Sherri says:

    Wow! That’s alot to do and alot to keep up with. But you handle it all with grace and humility! Just as God wants! You appreciate the most important things in life- God, family, and friends. Because in the end, our treasures are not on earth. Those we love are the treasures, and that’s what is expressed when I read your account. All of the other wonderful reveals are icing on the cake!

  22. Katy says:

    You mentioned Brooke used to work for you- do her and her husband no longer work for CLJ?

    Glad you all are moving forward- by far my favorite account. 🤍

    • Brooke had a sweet baby this year and has chosen to stay home with him (and we’re all obsessed with him) and her husband, Tristan, got an incredible offer from a Construction firm. We’re happy for them and remain close.

  23. Suzanne says:

    Glad you have decided to keep going. It would have been difficult news for the 9 people you employ if you decided to stop with your content!

  24. Julia, here Carolina from Argentina. You need to know that you are to some of us our guiding queen in the IG world. You are the one we follow. So please stick around. Not only for the obvious shellfish reason of having the chance to learn from you everyday , but because it es so OBVIOUS that you absolutely love what you do.
    I own a wallpaper company, and one of my dreams would be for us having a project together. Cause I also LOVE my job. Hope you and your family have a great holiday! All my love and admiration from Argentina.

  25. Nicole says:

    Hi 👋🏼
    Are you going to talk about Andi leaving?

  26. MD says:

    I think that in our toughest moments we find out who we really are. It takes guts to Stop, and reevaluate. Because in so doing, we might have to change. And change is really hard.

  27. Dotti says:

    I’m so happy to know chrislovesjulia will be sticking around! I would happily follow you all even if you posted only once a week. I marvel at your energy and persistence. I have heard that highly creative people must have an outlet and I want to thank you for sharing yours. I gain as much insight from watching you hang cutting boards or style a tabletop as I do seeing you makeover an entire room. And I’m more apt to go hang cutting boards than repaint a room! Lol! You are my favorite account on IG.

  28. Suzanne Dunford says:

    Such a great update! I think I need to do this too. Mine may have a lot of worries in it! Thanks for sharing!

  29. Kimberly Barbee says:

    I love you Sagittarius queen. You are one of my top two accounts I follow and I would be deviated if you ever left. It’s funny I feel so close to CLJ that I find myself being critical sometimes without remembering that you are a real human with a family and so much going on. Praying the next year is easy and everything you hope it to be!

  30. Kelly Cosentino says:

    Love your content, big and small. I would love more small tweaks/improvements too as budgets get tighter. More on how can paint, peel and stick tile, and updated decor elevate the space? Soo helpful
    Also, all the life hacks or health hacks. I love that content and your health discipline is a great launch for others looking to address their own challenges.
    Love all you do and appreciate you continuing to share!

  31. Ally says:

    When you said you “slipped on a bracelet that says ‘balance'” I thought that must’ve been a bad omen for the year hahaha I thought you slipped on it like while walking! Such a funny mixup.

  32. Angela Nimer says:

    I agree, family comes first but very happy you are going to stick around. You guys are definitely my favorite blog and would be happy even if you only posted once a week, if it meant you would stick around. Thank you for all of your hard work and great content. Wishing you all many blessings and good health.

  33. Michele Higgins says:

    Love this year’s reflection. I have to admit, I love when you guys do the “little” tweeks to your home. It’s very relatable to my budget and where I’m at with my house. Thank you for all your knowledge and insights. Happy new year 🎊

  34. Julie says:

    If it makes you feel better, as a long time reader/follower I never felt like you stepped back, or did less. I’ve loved seeing your content adapt and change with your life. Thanks for taking us along, and I hope you’ll always find that right work/life/fun balance.

  35. Ginger Bradley says:

    My parents moved TO Idaho??

  36. Tara Brown says:

    Congratulations on a fantastic year. I love your posts and you are inspiring! Ups and downs make you human and authentic. Please give yourselves grace and space to take your time with things. Blessings to you and your family this holiday season and cheers to an exciting 2024!

    • Mai says:

      Long time follower here from Malaysia. I hope you still hold on to this. ‘Be open to what comes next’. You, your family and CLJ team have been a true inspiration for all of us. Adjust your expectations and I think you’ll do great in 2024, as you always have. We will still be here cheering for you ❤️

  37. Lynne says:

    You are my favorite blog, and the only one I would truly miss if it went away! I’m so glad you decided to stay! Of course I support your well being most of all! I completely support slowing down if that is what it takes to stay healthy and happy! I’m here for all versions of Chris Loves Julia!

  38. Jen says:

    Such a beautiful post. Makes me miss your blogging more. I don’t use Instagram and I realize how much of CLJ I miss because of it. All the best in 2024

  39. Annie says:

    You must be exhausted! I hope you take at least a week off between Xmas and New Year. We all spend too much time on social media, so a break will do us good. And you can recharge your batteries and return with a fresh look at life and decor.

    Meanwhile the CJL 2023 highlights for me were Faye’s bedroom, the study with darker gloss and your parents’ move and new home. A good year on all fronts!

    Wishing you and your team a merry Christmas and a wonderful 2024.

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