Julia Marcum is the name behind the wildly popular DIY home design blog, ChrisLovesJulia, which she began in 2009 as a way to document her family's renovation projects for loved ones. As one of the first DIY home design bloggers that still dominates the space today, Marcum has seen the world of home renovations change significantly with the impact of TV, social media, and flux of design trends. Just as kitchen trends have changed from dark to all-white to colorful cabinets, our appetites for home renovations have changed and continues to grow, with 90 percent of homeowners planning on remodeling or renovating at some point.
Renovating has seen an even bigger boom in 2020 than it has in the last few years, with a58 percent increase in project leads for home professionals in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Thinking about taking on the challenge in your own home? Here, the Idaho-based blogger and entrepreneur shares her best advice for those considering renovating their home or purchasing a fixer-upper to transform into their dream dwelling.
Marcum says ever since home design renovation shows gained instant popularity in 2008, the public's view of renovation has been distorted regarding how long it takes to complete a project—and how much these projects cost.
"We’ve completely lost track of the time it takes to renovate," she says. "Even if a show spent an entire season renovating one room, it would be too fast, and we’re seeing this in 30-minute episodes."
Marcum says it's also important for people to find their sanctuary while renovating their home—whether this is a wing in their home or renting a place for a few months. Renovations often take longer than anticipated, and a comfortable refuge will help reduce stress throughout the process.
While design shows make renovating look easy and glamorous, it's not for everyone. If you have the budget and have fallen in love with a new, turn-key property, it's probably not worth all the time, money, and energy required to renovate your current space.
Furthermore, Marcum says that it's important to remember fixer-uppers come with maintenance even after the biggest of renovations, and you should buy a new house if you're not willing to undertake those. She also points out that one advantage of buying a new build is seeing your dream dwelling realized instead of having to create it from the ground up.
Sourcing the best people for home renovations, especially if you're doing this for the first time or embarking on a brand-new project, is always the million-dollar question, says Marcum. She advises asking anyone and everyone for referrals and interviewing at least three people before hiring one for the job.
"See what your pro thinks about the job. Can they carry out your specific vision?" she says. "Don’t change your design ideas to fit someone else’s skill set."
Marcum says one of the best things about renovating is that it can be done over time as your budget permits, so there's no need to create financial discomfort for the sake of creating your dream home. However, she advises being conservative when it comes to choosing which projects to take on. Such an approach has allowed her family to transform their home into a more functional, beautiful place over time.
It's worth sitting down with your significant other, family members, or even a trusted financial advisor to figure how much you can allot toward renovating your home, and then make a specific list of priorities to tackle in phases. Just like decorating your home, renovating your home slowly will ensure you've created the space you've always dreamed of that also best fits your household's specific needs.
Even if you're in the midst of a two-year renovation process, Marcum finds it essential to enjoy the process and celebrate the little victories along the way, even if it's just completing the demo in a bathroom or retiling the kitchen floor.
If you can, she says it's important to preserve at least one room in your house—even if you're renting somewhere—that is clean, well-styled, and comfortable for when y0u need to spend some time meeting with a contractor, or to simply retreat to at the end of the day. Especially in a world where we are still spending so much of our days at home, creating a beautiful haven in the midst of chaos is essential for one's mental health and well-being.