By Nikhita Mahtani

Published on December 4, 2017

Photography by CHRIS LOVES JULIA

Chris Loves Julia was named the Best Renovation Blog in the 2017 Domino Design Blog Awards.

When Julia Marcum of the renovation and design blog Chris Loves Julia first started blogging nine years ago, the online world was very different: No Instagram, no Snapchat, and Facebook was still just for friends.

“It was sort of like live-journaling, in a way,” muses Marcum, who describes her journey as an “evolution” of sorts. “I look at some old posts, and the pictures were so small. So much has evolved—my style, the photography, the scheme of projects. Back in the day, we were just trying to showcase our projects on a small budget. We still try to do budget-friendly projects that don’t look budget-friendly, but that isn’t the focus. We just got a lot of error out of the way.”

Photography by CHRIS LOVES JULIA

Initially, Marcum started writing about the renovation project she’d undertaken for her family’s first apartment in Idaho. A few kids and a move later, Marcum has been in her current home for four years—and has been renovating it slowly ever since, depending on her budget, inspiration, and what’s been going on in her life.

For instance, a recent project was developing a nursery for her newborn, Polly, while the reading room renovation was the result of a sponsored post. Marcum says of those sponsorships, “We actually get about 100 [opportunities] a month, and of those, we choose four. We want to create the content ourselves, and a lot of companies aren’t okay with that. But we never want to introduce a project to our readers we wouldn’t use ourselves; we take it as a huge responsibility.”

Photography by CHRIS LOVES JULIA

The “we” Marcum is referring to is her husband, Chris, who works on the blog with her. The responsibility is divided equally between the two, with Marcum handling more of the design aspect, while her husband works on the renovation and building. “He can build anything,” says Marcum. “There are seven boys and one sister in his family, and in the summers, his family would build their own house and live in it—it was his parents’ way of keeping them out of trouble. If I draw a picture of what I want, he can build it.”

As for disagreements between the two, Marcum insists that doesn’t really happen, although it was more common right in the beginning of their marriage. “Our style has evolved,” she explains. “Earlier on, I was into the form of things, while he was into the function of things; but over the years, we realized it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Everything should look and feel good. So even if that requires spending a little more money on a piece of furniture, that is something we both agree on together.”

Their home is evident of this useful, yet chic aesthetic, with crisp, clean lines intertwined with gorgeous patterns and bright colors. For instance, the rich hardwood kitchen juxtaposes brilliantly with the plush carpeting in the master bedroom and family room, and the deep hues all play together. “I would say my style is casual, comfortable, sophisticated, and family-friendly,” says Marcum. “I lean traditional modern, and I like the traditional elements to come through, but I’m not overly modern either. It’s a happy medium.”

Photography by CHRIS LOVES JULIA

It’s interesting to note, however, that despite her chic, creative home, Marcum has no formal design training. “I studied art, and Chris studied architecture and marketing in college,” she says. “But I’ve always loved design. I remember when I was a little girl, about 10 or 11, we had these built-in shelves in my bedroom—which was in the attic—and every month I decorated my shelves in different themes. That was my first experience decorating, and when I studied art, our first house became my canvas.”

Not to say that Marcum’s initial foray into design didn’t come with its own share of problems—and they were more personal than practical. “When I first started on our house, I was heavily influenced by what other people were doing. So I tried to copy it exactly, whether that was an object I loved but couldn’t afford, or a photo on Pinterest,” says Marcum. “But now, it’s more casual, and just a calm, serene, put-together environment. I’m not copying anyone anymore, and we are so happy where we are.”

Photography by CHRIS LOVES JULIA

However, now that the house is pretty much complete, Marcum has a new project in mind. “After working on our house for so many years, we want to take the time to enjoy it, and not sell it right away. So, we just closed on an A-frame cabin in Idaho, which will be my next renovation,” she says.

With gorgeous views of the mountains, it’ll be the ideal getaway for the family to escape to together… even though Marcum knows it will require a ton of work. “I love rescuing spaces, and I find it so satisfying to create something from scratch,” she says. “I don’t think I’ll never stop looking for fixer uppers.”