Casual Friday: What we’re looking for in our next house (it’s complicated)

March 12, 2021

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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My Outfit, Polly’s Sneakers

One of the questions we are asked repeatedly is, “What are you looking for in your next house?!” A lot of people have asked this and is it too obscure to say “a feeling?” All of our homes have been very different and I suspect our next home will be different as well, but I want to walk in and feel at home from the start! I’d love something smaller in an area where every house is unique. I don’t need sprawling acreage like we have now or sprawling square footage. Our youngest two have even expressed interest in sharing a room which could take our bedroom count down. I would love something that has some character to it and lots of mature trees surrounding it. Something traditional? It would be really nice to have a separate place for our team to work–whether that be a studio/guest house out back or a room that has its own entrance. We’d love a spot for a pool for the girls and close access to lots of natural grocery stores and restaurants with vegan/grain free options. I always love a house that we can improve and make our own, but to be honest, I’m worried about one thing. The other night, we were laying in bed and I told Chris, “I’m not sure I have it in me to start over with a new gut renovation.” It was and is a very scary and vulnerable thing to say out loud. Especially since our renovations are also a part of our livelihood. Every time I see a fixer upper I get so excited and my brain won’t stop thinking of the possibilities. But I don’t think I’m interested in tackling changing an entire floor plan or exterior again right away. Sometimes I daydream about an older home that is full of charm and updates already and we can just go in and put our own spin on it and I think that would be my ideal.  Occasionally, I even think about a new home. We’ve never bought/built a new home and that doesn’t excite me as much but maybe I just haven’t seen one that gives me that feeling. We’ve toyed with the idea of buying a house for us to live in and a house for us to work on which also sounds fun. I think ultimately, we’re looking for something liveable, that makes us feel at home from the start. A place where we can breathe and be calm and make it our own slowly (and a place where we can ABSOLUTELY renovate the kitchen–our favorite). So we’re starting there THIS WEEKEND! Wish us luck on the hunt.

Other fun things this week

• This house taught me that it’s WAY harder and WAY more expensive renovating the exterior of a house and so we’d love to prioritize the exterior being something we love. I find myself saving a lot more exteriors right now, including this one above via here. (this one also made my heart skip a beat.)

Therapists review Disney relationships.

• This, the cutest mirror!, is finally back in stock. Here are a few other new favorites from UO home. (They’re killing it!)

The outdoor chairs from the Oprah interview with Meghan and Harry are SO AFFORDABLE!

• This might be silly, but if you’re someone that has to take multiple medications throughout the day, this case is incredible!!! I haven’t stopped telling Chris how much I love it.

This new sourcing trick on Google is blowing my mind!


Weekend Sales!

Abercrombie: Up to 30% off! (loving this)

CB2: Up to 20% off organization and 25% off lighting (need this color too)

J.Crew: Up to 40% off Spring Essentials + extra 15% off with code extra (a classic)

Mango: Bye Bye Winter Sale up to 50% off! (*adds to cart*)

McGee & Co.: Extra 25% off sale items with code EXTRAEXTRA (one of my favorite pillows)

Modsy: 20% off design packages with code SUNSHINE

Old Navy: Up to 50% off + extra 30% off at checkout! (need this and these for the girls)

Rejuvenation: Up to 50% off living room sale! (yes and yes)

Serena & Lily: 20% off with code NEWLEAF (gorg)

Target: 15% off bed & bath, 20% off tops, shorts & shoes with Target Circle, it’s free to join! (cutie lumbar)

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What do you think?

  1. Emily E Lyons says:

    I’ve seen that you mentioned the interest in a pool, do all your kids know how to swim, if not do you have any ideas for how you plan to keep them safe with a body of water in the yard? I am curious because my husband really wants to invest in a pool and my younger three do not know how to swim yet. The thought makes me very anxious and
    I was wondering if you had any ideas.

  2. Ashly Roberson says:

    I thought this house was your forever home? Why are you all moving so quickly?

  3. Kathy Grant says:

    Dear Julia
    Last night, Sunday, March 14, you posted a Q & A on your channel, asking your viewers, “What feature about a house would keep you from buying it?” I thought it was a great question to ask and share with others, as I agreed with most of the responses sent to you.
    Unfortunately, I did not write the responses down, and when I went back on to your channel today to do so, the highlight was missing.
    By any chance did you make a list of the answers you received? If so, would you mind either posting them or sending me a copy of them all? I would really appreciate it.
    Like you, I am feeling that I have to leave the home in which I am living, and although not perfect, there are so many things about my home I love. And, in my next home, I would love to avoid some of the things I might not have thought about before signing on the dotted line.
    Thank you in advance for your assistance.
    May you be blessed with better health and access to great healthcare where you decide to live.
    I wish you and your family all the best.

  4. Carrie says:

    I totally get the feeling thing. I looked at what felt like 5 million houses before I found mine and when I walked in the front door of my house I was like, “This is it. We belong together.”. It didn’t meet all my must haves, but that didn’t matter. The important things were in good shape, and it was just right. My realtor told me that I would just know, but I’m the most INDECISIVE person on the planet and I did not believe her. I’m glad she was right.

  5. Heather Stephenson says:

    I’m very interested to see if you go modern cottage again. I’m assuming that you plan on decorating in your style, but also let the style of the house you choose lead you in a more specific direction. Is that the plan? Or are you hoping to jump right back into modern cottage vibes?

  6. Eva says:

    Logistically, how will you be “house hunting”? Virtually and via video calls? Or will you also travel in person to check out the neighborhood and overall feel? Can you keep us posted in stories if you go in person… :D

    • Julia says:

      We will be traveling to look at houses. We’d like to keep the location private until after we find the house but then will definitely share some videos of our hunt!

  7. Marjorie says:


    What about the Raleigh, NC. area? We have a moderate climate and are close to good healthcare, like Duke in Durham and UNC-Chapel Hill, good schools, as well as many health food stores. I grew up in Pennsylvania too but have been down here since college, over 30 years. Raleigh is only 2 hours from the Wilmington area and beaches such as Wrightsville and Topsail.. To the west about 3.5 – 4 hours is Asheville, where they have beautiful mountains and many crafters. Best of luck to you and your family on your next adventure!

  8. Christina says:

    It took us 18 months of searching and probably 120+ house viewings and open houses in the mid Hudson valley in NY. We were thankful for a realtor who put up with us looking so long for a house “to speak to us”. We wanted a walkable neighborhood as well, so on weekends we would drive to different neighborhoods and walk our dog to get a feel. We kept walking in a neighborhood that we were priced out of but one fateful Sunday we walked into an open house for a 1925 tudor in our favorite neighborhood and just a moment in the foyer we looked at each other knowingly….the house spoke to us. 7 years later there is no where in our county we would rather live. Best wishes in finding your home.

  9. Natalie says:

    Hello Chris & Julia,

    Reading this post gave me a thought. Have you looked at a neighborhood like Serenbe (Georgia) before? I adore the community, but it’s out of our price range. You can buy existing or build new. Might be worth looking into, especially considering your health issues. It’s also super family friendly and safe. Out in nature but close enough to get what you need (or have it delivered). There are many other planned communities like this, such at ION, in Florida. Might be worth investigating further as you narrow down places to live. Also, check out Asheville as I know that is a super health conscious town with great Medicare care (it’s where doctors and natural health practitioners go to retire!). One thing to note, my Mother also has hashimotos, and other health issues, and cannot handle to much heat or to much cold. Both she, and a good friend of mine cannot sweat (Lupus), so hot places like Georgia and Florida are out of the question. We’ve found NC, VA, TN to be in the right band of temperatures for those with health issues/autoimmune. Hope this helps!

  10. Lacy Ellsworth says:

    I’ve been using the reverse image search on Google for several years, it’s amazingly helpful. But I also do it and screen capture things. Sometimes it will be to capture a picture of a room to find a wall color, it will help me find the original source so I can than find the color. But I also use it to screen shot products to find cheaper elsewhere or knock offs.

  11. Emily G Hedrick says:

    I can see you in an adobe home with beans and brick floors! You’d love the climate in Albuquerque I think! And guess what? I’m a realtor and a CLJ Fan! I’d love to help you find your home! XOXO

  12. Bridey says:

    I wouldn’t recommend California. So unfriendly to business and cost of living is outrageous—many of us are trying to get our. Hopefully you knew that already.

  13. Eileen Johnson says:

    Definitely rent or buy a place and then renovate a separate place. That way you don’t have to live through another renovation.

  14. Nick says:

    If you decide to go crazy and build, my mother designed and sketched my first childhood home, once they’d bought the lot where it would go. She then found an awesome architect, who didn’t really want to take on another single family home, but was so charmed by mom, that he translated her initial design to a slightly scaled down version that maximized use of standard material sizes and brought it in under budget. Then the architect supervised the construction, with us visiting occasionally during the 4-6 months it took to build the house into the side of a sloping hill. That might be a very different challenge from what you’ve done to date….

  15. Courtney says:

    We love the simple! Doing the small updates can always feel a bit more manageable to me. I know this is your livelihood but we enjoy even your simplistic content. Some of us have only been through the last 2 house & cabin and not from the very beginning. We will still be here no matter what you tackle but understand we appreciate the in depth explanation of something as small as a sconce choice & why then a whole exterior update.

  16. Maia says:

    We’re currently looking for a house in the Seattle suburbs, and the best place to find homes with character and trees is Woodinville, or the city of Seattle itself (insanely expensive).

    We have been living in Northern CA for the last 10 years. If you’re looking for character in the West coast, close to large cities and not in the middle of nowhere, get ready to wait. and wait. In ALL the cities around us it’s either new construction or old, cookie cutter homes from the 70’s-90’s.

  17. Jennifer says:

    Come to Savannah! You get the Charleston feel without the traffic :). I identify with Chris, we moved 12 months after buying a home we thought would be our forever home. We did a lot of renovating to that house and I was burned out! It was hard, but we moved, and God gave us a house that was the perfect balance. I felt like I could move right in with only some paint and wallpaper. There are some things I’d love to update, but I feel like I can take my time! And I love this house even more than I thought I loved the last one, which has been a blessing!

  18. Laurielulu says:

    I need a hint about location??? State??? ????????❤️❤️

  19. Tara T says:

    So, who is running the pool for the Marcum’s destination? I’m in for New Orleans.

  20. Lindsay says:

    OHHH that’s so exciting and I am happy for you all!
    I am in a 1901 Craftsman and will still catch different angles of the trim work or picture-frame floors that make my heart so happy so I know exactly what you mean about that special charm that comes from an older home. We almost bought a mid 1700’s home with (gasp) no closets, basement, or storage in general, but ohhhh the charm and history of it all- I looked at my husband and said I would donate all my clothes this moment if it meant putting an offer in on this house!
    So I so so so selfishly want to see what beautiful work you would do to an older home!
    Good luck this weekend

  21. Cori says:

    Happy hunting! Hope you find one that checks all your boxes.

  22. Lisa J says:

    Love and totally agree with wanting a “feeling” in a new home! To me a feeling is so much more important than any other item on the “want” list. I have a fun question and maybe it is one you’ve already answered: If you could take one room with you (just one) from this house and place it in your new house (for the sake of argument, let’s say it would transfer perfectly and not look out of place) which room would it be?! It’s hard for even me to answer, so I am curious on what you think :)

  23. Teresa says:

    I also think building new may really be something to consider. My husband and I recently built our house, and we were able to design it ourselves. Like you and so many other people, I love old houses and their character, and always thought we would only buy old houses to fix up and live in (which was exactly what we did with our first house, prior to building). The great thing about building new is that you’ll know everything about what’s behind your walls and you can make it as safe and efficient as possible. And, as you already know, you can add moldings, features, etc, to give your new build character. Plus, if you build it well now, someone else in 100 years will get to enjoy your house and appreciate its character. :)

  24. Sandi says:

    I appreciate it so much that you seem like you have an open mind as to what your next house will be. I think you’ll be able to make content out of anything, you’re just good at what you do :)
    Hope you find something soon – so excited!

  25. Jenny says:

    I also like using google image search to source, but sometimes it’s a little wonky.

  26. Alley says:

    Your description of what you want in a community and home reminds me of the Young House Love couple living on 30A. Right down to the pool and studio…until, you mentioned options for grain free and vegan food…then it tells me you might be considering Austin, TX. Can’t wait to hear! The guessing is fun!

    • Leah says:

      As a native Texan, and living in Austin for 30 yrs., I can highly recommend the TX Hill Country! However, this would be such an extreme weather change from Idaho. So grateful we don’t have months of freezing temps and snow, but the heat/humidity can be unbearable for approximately 4-5 mos. out of the year! That’s why I cherish what Fall and Spring we do get to have. Can’t wait to see what they choose!

  27. Amy says:

    I just finished a bathroom refresh that exhausted me and I wondered how you did it! Living with the dust and mess is HARD. I would love to see you do a new build!!!!

  28. Pamela Fajardo says:

    I feel you every step of the way. We bought our first house (say that bc my husband is settled into getting another one) back in 2016. We have yet to finish it. We were renting at first and we’re fixing it after kids school and after work. We got out of our rental and moved in with my sister and then mother in law. Took even longer. We decided that if we weren’t inside the house we will never finish. So we moved in. We were doing the work ourselves. Fast forward to now- we are still working on it. I understand the home takes time but in the middle of everything going on- I almost died 3 times right after my 4th kid. Seemed like I was in the hospital the whole half of the year of 2020 following delivery. Thankfully I’m all better now but it was tough. So I completely understand you. It all comes down to that- how you feel and being with your loved ones and enjoying them so much more. If you are looking for warmer weather- may I suggest New Orleans. You’d find cottage houses that I’m sure you’ll make beautiful, historic and you will live close to everything. Magazine street in known for having everything in close proximity. You could literally walk from your place to where you decide to dine and/or shop. Just a thought for you.

  29. Julie says:

    We recently moved into a house that doesn’t need any work and that was a refreshing feeling coming from our last home which was a total rehab. But we still do projects, and we are about to break ground on a duplex that is right in our backyard. So we will be close to the construction action, but we don’t have to live within it. It’s a good balance.

  30. Nicole c says:

    Think you should look into Santa Barbara can. Lots of charm, warm weather year-round, beaches and for sure grain free vegan options for stores and restaurants!

    • Kristy says:

      Yup! Or Ojai, CA (this place is dry, warm, vegan/hippie with a cute downtown and lots of charm – perfect) This is coming from a SoCal neighbor here in Ventura, CA. Prices are insane but you can’t beat the everyday vacation lifestyle.

  31. Lindsay says:

    Ohhh that house exterior makes me second guess where I thought you were headed… I’m definitely thinking southern east coast… maybe South Carolina!!

  32. Mary says:

    You may want to consider building new just to get the air quality management with insulation and moisture barriers correctly done. Look for someone with “building science” expertise.

  33. Katy says:

    Just coming here to encourage you to look in to building new. :) :) :) We moved in to our home I designed right before Christmas and it is the thing I’m most proud of in my entire life (besides my child, I mean come on. Ha!). And we just got our Earthcraft Certification that shows how healthy our home is, both for us (indoor air quality, no potential for critters getting in) and for the earth (super energy efficient, sustainable/renewable resources used). You just can’t get that in an older home. And being involved in the day to day of building allowed me to make such special details that make it feel like a home I will never want to leave. It really is such a special feeling being here and I pinch myself every day that I get to live here. Maybe you buy a home that’s ready to move in, build a house, then move when it’s done. Or maybe you do that and when it’s done, decide you want to stay and then sell the newly built home. Just saying….think about it. Ask Shea McGee for her thoughts since she just did the same. Whatever you do though, I am cheering you on and can’t wait to follow along!

    • Laurie says:

      Katy, we are going to start building our forever home and all I ever hear is negativity about how much work and stress it will be….it was so refreshing to hear the positive side of it! Thank you!!

  34. Bethany says:

    I can’t imagine living through such a big reno and then turning around and doing it again. So exhausting, in all the ways. I hope you find that feeling in a house that doesn’t need SO much work. Good luck!

  35. Lauren says:

    Thank you for taking us with you on this journey! I hope you can find something so wonderful for your health and your family! I do wonder how much renovations, dust, debris, new products off-gassing impact our health. Perhaps it’s wise to not live in that kind of stuff for awhile. All the best ❤️

  36. Marjorie says:

    You guys are awesome, you do such amazing work! I love your content.
    Good luck on house hunting it’s so exciting! I can’t wait to see what is up next for your family!

    Best wishes!

  37. Karen says:

    You’re not alone in feeling that (maybe) when it comes to living through a major reno, you’re “one and done”. We did a five month reno a few years ago (no kitchen for three month/cookin’ in the laundry room), which also lead to other projects for another 6 months or so. While it was one of the most amazing things I’ve done in life and of course totally worth it, if I ever do it again we won’t be living in the house and if my husband ever does it again – wait, my husband won’t ever do it again. HA! Even with my “we won’t be living in it…” I’m getting shot down by him. Maybe the scars are still too fresh? Living in / through a major reno is brutal, on so many levels.

    The pictures (online) will lead you to the door, but then yes – it’s all about how you feel once you’re inside. When you know, you know.

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