Julia Marcum was one of the first bloggers to come to prominence before being a creator was considered a career. Her blog Chris Loves Julia features her and husband Chris’ adventures in design, DIY, and lifestyle. More than a decade and many posts, projects, and even homes later, the blog turned brand has become a preeminent source for home design inspiration and information.
After working with many top brands, Marcum and her husband are excited to announce they’re partnering one of the biggest names in home improvement, Lowe’s, for their Fall Refresh campaign
I recently spoke with Marcum about working with the big box giant, the evolution of her brand, moving to North Carolina, and DIY projects. She generously opened up and shared some of her most helpful tips and stories.
You started your design blog over a decade ago. How did you start it and did you ever imagine you’d be a full-time content creator?
I started back in early 2009. We were actually living in an apartment at the time and I needed a creative outlet. I started kind of treating our home like a canvas and sharing about it. We had moved away from our family and friends for the first time in our post married life. At first, it was kind of just a way to keep our families updated on what we were doing. Then I found this whole community of people that were sharing what they were doing, and I connected with them.
At the time, blogging, content creation, and even Instagram didn’t even exist. So that wasn’t on our radar as something that was going to pay any sort of bills. But the more I did it, the more I was captivated by it.
What was your day job when you started blogging?
I worked for an OB-GYN in the billing department. I studied art in school. So, it was not the creative job that I was definitely seeking. And I didn’t treat [blogging] as my full-time job at the beginning. Although I did make sure I posted every day. It might have been 200 words, and a picture that was way too small and grainy.
Then it kind of just grew until we came to a point where I [thought], people want to pay me to show their product. It was the beginning of content creation as a career. I was on the cusp of that.
Now you’re one of the biggest names in home design blogs and you’ve partnered with Lowe’s, which is one of the biggest names in home improvement. Can you tell me more about this partnership?
Lowe’s has been one of our most cherished longtime partnerships and that’s something that we really pride ourselves on is creating those connections with not only our audience but with brands that make sense. Lowe’s has always been that from the very beginning. As consumers, we enjoyed going into the store. We felt like we were getting the help that we wanted.
What are your favorite things to buy from Lowe’s?
I’ve always loved their lighting collection. It’s off the charts. For our fall refresh, [we focused on outdoor lighting]. Lighting doesn’t only affect the inside of your home. It affects the outside too.
Speaking of things you love, I want to know how you feel about the name “Chris Loves Julia?” In retrospect, would you have chosen the same name?
I feel like over the past twelve years, the answer has definitely changed. In the beginning, we had no idea. We just put our names together. We were newlyweds. It worked. I think it’s relatable. I’m coming up with all of these ideas and designs that I want to do to my house and Chris loves me so much that we do it together. It works in that sense.
Do I wish at times that there was a home element worked in? Yes. However, every single person knows my name. It’s not like, oh, The Homebody Crew. What’s their names? It’s Chris and Julia.
And so that has worked for us. There have definitely been times where I wish it was a little more telling of what we were about. But in the end, home is a love story and our blog is a story about how we fall in love with our homes and how we help other people do the same.
What are some design trends you love right now?
With fall weather upon us, I’m definitely thinking about outside spaces, and how I can make them an extension of our inside spaces. [I’m looking forward to] cozy fall weather in North Carolina [because] it’s kind of hot to hang outside in the summer. We just moved here, but from what I’ve heard, it’s amazing in the fall, and so we’re already thinking about how we can make our outdoor areas an extension of our indoor areas. That’s been a big thing.
Speaking of moving, how has your move been and what is it like to start over in a different part of the country?
It’s incredibly foreign and it feels a little bit scary at times. It’s also really exciting. We have been loving the new pace of things, having access to a lot of great restaurants, and furniture. Tons of furniture is made in North Carolina. And so Facebook marketplace has been off the hook.
There are definitely things that we miss. We’re in our 30’s. Our oldest daughter is about to start middle school. If not now, then when? We were kind of ready for a new chapter of our lives.
I grew up in Pittsburgh and I lived in Pittsburgh for eighteen years. I lived in Idaho for seventeen years. And so that might be my max of how long I can live here. And so maybe we’ll be here for the next fifteen years.
What are your least favorite home design trends right now?
I have this problem where I have so much love and appreciation for so many different design trends. And I just stick with one lane that I feel most represents me. And but if there was one that I would say that I’m not loving— I’ve never been a huge boho fan. That’s something that probably doesn’t resonate with me. I hate to say it, but mid-century modern has never been my [thing] either. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it. It’s just that I can’t bring it into my home.
Last year wrote on your blog about how you spray painted your faucets with Rust-Oleum paint. Are you still happy with that choice?[It’s been] over a year and the paint is still looking really good. I painted an oil-rubbed bronze faucet. And so the contrast wasn’t as if I went from silver to black. I bet if it was silver, you know, I might have been able to see a little bit more wear and tear on that. But honestly, it was the biggest bang for our buck. Matte black really modernized it all. I have no regrets on that project. I would do it again.
Do you think anyone can DIY?
Yes, but it does require an element of patience and passion. You have to be excited about what you’re going to do. Especially at the very beginning, every project that Chris and I tried— we were eager to learn how to do it. We were on a strict budget, [but] we had this “make it work mentality.”
What are DIY projects good for beginners or that anyone can do?
The easiest projects to DIY are changing the hardware on a dresser, vanity, or even your kitchen cabinets. That’s such an easy DIY and going to make a drastic difference for a little amount of money.
Even painting a room is a form of DIY. Everyone should try painting a room at least once in their life, and then move on to adding some simple trim. But I think things that don’t require a lot of power tools are probably the best DIY to get your feet wet with first.