Ep. 53: CLJ Q&A Character, Focal Points, Mini Renos and Wood!

January 8, 2018

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. 




We're Chris + Julia

read more

What we're                   right now


browse the shop

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.

browse all

browse all

browse all




Popular Posts




Top Categories

While our podcast usually airs every other Monday, this year, we are adding a special Q&A episode on the former off weeks–we’re calling…waiting for it…CLJ Q&A! It rhymes. These episodes are shorter (we’re shooting for under 30 minutes) and still have all the same fun and banter, but we answer YOUR questions! Although these are specific questions that come from real listeners, they are either questions we get a lot or we think can be applicable to many homes and situations. If you have a question you’d like us to answer, you can send it to

Listen to the latest episode on: iTunes, GooglePlayStitcher.

Here are the four we tackled this week:

1. How to add detail and interest to a blank slate.

Hey Chris and Julia and Preston,

I love your podcasts! I listen every week and you make me laugh every time!
My husband and I are in the process of buying our first home, and we are super excited! Not much needs to be done except paint and replace some flooring. The house is a rancher and really does not have a style of its own and no architectural detail except for a vaulted ceiling in the living room. Adding some character to it would be great. My husband builds/remodels for a living so the options are limitless. What are your tips for adding some detail to a blank slate?
We give several ideas in the episode for Gwen, including built-ins! Built-ins make an ordinary home or room feel extra-special and custom. Check out this post to see how we added built-ins to our playroom!
2. What to do when you have competing focal points.
I am so happy that I finally wrote down your email address this time! Love your podcast, your laughter is contagious!
So my dilemma is competing focal points in my living room.   We don’t want to put the tv over the fireplace, since its really high (and hubs put his foot down).   So we have the tv on an adjacent wall, with some bookcases and tv stand. We eventually want to mount the tv on the wall.   The room isn’t huge, and looks busy was all that noise goin’ on!  Any advice?   
Pic included (we are painting the room a white/off white in the near future, since it’s north-facing and dark)
Here’s the picture Catherine sent over:
We give a lot of tips and tricks in the episode, but here’s one example (from here) I found that would work great for the room:
3. Some things you can do to temporarily renovate your kitchen, or tips to make it look a lot better until your big reno!
Hi Julia,
Love your blog and the podcast.  Just wondering if you have any tips or advice on how to temporarily decorate a space that you know you’re going to renovate in the future, but are still saving up for now? We are planning to renovate our kitchen (open a wall up, change flooring/counters, paint cabinets, change lighting) but are in the process of saving up for the project, so I don’t want to invest too much $$ into decorating it now, but at the same time it needs some love/attention.  
Thanks in advance,
Katie from Maryland
We’ve done lots of pre-kitchen spruce ups before both of our big kitchen renovations.
Check out when we painted our countertops here.
When we took out a cabinet to put up open shelves here.
When we painted our cabinets here. 
And listen in for more ideas!
4. Tips for mixing wood types and stains. 
Hi Preston, Chris, and Julia,
I have recently binge listened to all the podcasts…and it has been the best :) Thank you for all your words of wisdom as well as keeping me laughing. I was hoping to get some advice on mixing wood stains and types. My husband and I recently bought a house (wahoo)! It has some cool architectural features like one wall in the living/dinning room is almost completely windows. The windows are the originally wood one from the 1950s and haven’t been stained. I want to enhance this unique feature, but need help making sure it doesn’t clash with the light oak hardwood and other wood furniture like our coffee table.  
One of the tips we gave here, was for starters, to focus on mixing values of wood. A dark shade, medium and light (like we have in our kitchen/dining area) will be a lot more fool proof than trying to match stains! Here, we have a medium toned “wood” floor, dark black walnut island and a light white oak table. (See more about this space here).
This episode is sponsored by Brooklinen
They sent us their Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle with a Window Pane Sheet and their Bedford Smoke Stripe Duvet cover back in April and we could not be happier. Our listeners get $20 off PLUS Free Shipping with code CLJ at checkout!
We’d love it so much if you could leave a rating and review for the podcast, and thank you for continuing to spread the word about our corner of the podcast world! We love hearing from new listeners every week! 
Have questions you’d like us to answer on the podcast? Email
Theme song Headphones by Preston Pugmire


What do you think?

  1. ERIKA HIEBERT says:

    Hey guys- I LOVE your podcast. So funny and so casual, I always feel like you’re just chatting with your listeners in such a real way. I just had to share a compromise my husband and I came to in our small living room with competing focal points. We have a high fireplace mantel that would have made TV watching a chiropractor appt necessary experience. I typically hate TV’s above a fireplace because I like it to be a lovely focal feature- but our house only having one living room left us with literally zero other wall options due to an open floor plan and narrow “living room” area. Our solution was to invest in a “Mantle Mount” for our TV. It allows us to have the tv mounted on the wall above the fireplace but pull it down and out in front of the mantel when actually watching the TV. It also pivots left and right which is great. As much as I would love to have nothing but art or decor above my mantle- this is real life with a small home and we aren’t going to skip a TV for the sake of design (at least my hubby won’t ha!).

    Anyway, just thought I would share.

    Here’s the link if anyone is interested :

  2. Lisa says:

    Love this podcast!!!!! Please keep answering questions!!!!

  3. Alison S. says:

    Hi Chris and Julia! I also have a gray duvet cover and the windowpane sheets from Brooklinen (thanks for your code!) and I am wondering what duvet insert you use because I have a non-down duvet insert so we don’t get too warm and I feel it doesn’t feel up our duvet enough. Not sure if that makes sense but we bought a king insert and a king duvet cover but it doesn’t look very nice because it doesn’t fill up the whole duvet. Thanks!

  4. Allison says:

    Just listened and loved it! “Eggs of knowledge,” as Preston would say. Definitely tucking some ideas away for my own home- thank you. I think “compatible wood tones” would make an excellent blog post since it’s such a visual concept. (And I haven’t come across it anywhere else. I would really love to learn more design concepts like that.) Also, you should watermark all your photos, “Benjamin Moore Hazy Skies.” Haha.

  5. Kacey says:

    #2 makes me think of that TV Emily Henderson has been pitching – the Frame (?) TV. Man, if I had 4 grand to drop on a TV…. especially a TV that looks like an art piece and not a black hole of box drawing in your focus.

  6. Katie says:

    #2 is LITERALLY our living room! Love the suggestions! But I know for my house, we want to beef up the fireplace(builder basic small mantel and kind of gross red brick), and then SOMEHOW convince the husband to move our massive oversized TV to what I’d like to be our future basement media room! Listening to the podcast, I thought that the room sounded familiar.

    Major plans were to remove fireplace, add a window(so think wall of windows) and install a ventless fireplace on the far wall, but I’d call that our 5-10 year plan(if ever). Wondering if anyone had ever done that? I always thought the better floor plan would be the fireplace on the far wall

  7. Liz says:

    I loved this format! Great addition to the podcast.

  8. Carly says:

    I enjoyed this episode!

  9. Julie says:

    Love this episode. Def sending a question (with pic!) in for next week. Thank you!

  10. Lu says:

    What happened to Preston’s bathroom renovation?

all the latest

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. 

HI! We're Chris + Julia

read more

Load More

Reader Faves

SHop all

What We're                     Right Now

What We're                 Right Now

Looking for our favorite things? A place to shop our home room by room, or just catch up on what Julia's wearing / loving right now? Browse the CLJ shop. 


looking for inspiration? 

We recently painted our study a dark, moody green color. This is after we first painted it a muddy green, then repainted it a blue-gray. I guess what they say is true; third time’s a charm! The journey was worth it, though, because I’m so in love with this glossy green in contrast with the […]

Can We Send You Our Love Letter?

Another way for us to stay in touch! Joining our weekly newsletter gives you access to exclusive content, never-before-seen photos, your questions answered, and our favorite DIYs. Sign up below!

Follow Along on Instagram

Welcome to our online community where we've posted home, DIY, style, renovations, and family since '09. Renovating our #cljmoderncottage in Idaho and headed for new adventures in Raleigh, NC. #cljfam #cljtransformations