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As one half of the eponymous, Insta-famous design and renovation blog Chris Loves Julia (which she runs along with husband Chris), Julia Marcum is nothing if not relatable. Whether she’s discussing how much her daughters’ bedroom decor cost or walking readers through the ups and downs of a DIY project, her honesty goes a long way in encouraging people to try renovating their homes. 

The DIY expert caught up with Domino’s editor-in-chief, Jessica Romm Perez, on this week’s episode of Design Time (out today on Spotify and Apple Podcasts) to discuss everything from making the most of IKEA kitchen upgrades (don’t miss CLJ’s new collab with Semihandmade) to squeezing every penny out of a tight reno budget. “When we first started Chris Loves Julia, our budget was $25 a month. That’s what I had to improve our apartment. We didn’t have a ton, but it was so freeing to use that $25,” says Marcum. “Maybe I was buying paint this month, or maybe I was saving it and rolling it over to next month, when I wanted to buy something more. Maybe I was thrifting a lot.”

During their conversation, Marcum opens up about some of her earliest inspirations, top trends of the moment, and a few potential future projects. Read on for a look into some of her favorite things in design today.

Go-To Source

I’ve been loving CB2 lately. I think it has some really unique pieces that don’t look mass-produced, which can bring so much character into your house for a really accessible price.

Favorite Color Pairing

I recently came across this image from back in the early 2000s when gray was the color. We kind of got burned out on gray, and now it’s the Pantone color of the year. I think it’s all about what fresh undertones we can bring out.

Material of the Moment

I have a lot of clay in my house, which I’m loving. Rug-wise—and this might be a little hint that I can’t say anything else about—I’m thinking a lot more about natural fibers like a jute and wool mix. It’s sustainable and feels so good. It’s soft but can elevate or ground any room.

Hotel Hitmaker

A couple of years ago, Chris and I went to New Orleans for our anniversary. We stayed at this hotel called Maison de la Luz. It was the most inspiring hotel I’ve ever stayed in. We came back from that and I had a whole new idea of what I wanted to incorporate in our home—beautiful black-and-white checkered floors—which we have now. There’s so much that I haven’t even discovered here in the U.S.

Go-To Design Object

I have been loving a freestanding cabinet. I put them in nearly every room of our house. I think they’re so versatile and create such a nice place for storage, with a beautiful little moment on top. They have a great purpose in that they’re functional and look really cute, too.

Personal Mantra

I don’t care as much what other people think. I think that is a superpower. A lot of people need approval. For me it’s so much easier to know what I like and try something without worrying about what other people might think about it.

Fave Film

I grew up watching Little Women. I gained so much inspiration from their home in the newest version, which came out a few years ago. I grew up with four sisters, and I love those classic films.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Plant Pick

We have some limelight hydrangeas in our backyard. At the end of summer I cut off all the flowers and put them in vases. That’s literally all I do. I let the water dry out by neglecting them. Then I have dried hydrangeas and keep them in our house throughout the year. There’s nothing quite like a dried flower from your own yard.

Current Craving

I love to watch a show. It can be 10 minutes before I go to sleep, but it is the easiest way for me to completely take my mind off something. I’m a big binge-watcher. I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from Bridgerton in many ways. I’m always looking for a good twist on a period piece.

Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Iconic Space

I don’t think there’s anything more iconic than a Nancy Meyers kitchen. I love to do kitchens, so it’s something I’m always studying. They’re so classic and livable, and just a constant resource for me.

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