Julia Marcum: Making a Home Is Making Memories

On this episode of The Better Buy, Julia Marcum, the designer behind Chris Loves Julia, shares how to choose a fixer-upper home and where to splurge on home projects for the biggest impact.

The Better Buy Podcast featuring Julia Marcum of Chris Loves Julia
Photo: Courtesy of Chris Loves Julia

The Better Buy, a new podcast from Better Homes & Gardens, explores all things home—from decorating and DIY to renovating and budgeting. Each week, we'll talk with homeowners from around the country about the highs and lows of home ownership, and share stories, advice, and practical tips you can put to work in your own home. We're on a mission to inspire and empower you to create your dream home. New episodes every Wednesday!

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On This Episode

Host Mélanie Berliet talks to Julia Marcum, the designer behind the lifestyle blog Chris Loves Julia. Learn how she chooses a fixer-upper home, the story behind her nightmare moving experience—including the red flags you should look for when hiring movers—and the first DIY project she likes to tackle in a new house.

Meet Julia Marcum

Julia Marcum is the creator and designer behind the popular blog, Chris Loves Julia. Together with her husband, Chris, she details her family's renovation projects including ideas for home decor and DIY designs. The couple began blogging in 2009 after they moved into their first apartment and the site currently focuses on their latest home. In addition to her blog, Julia collaborates with brands like Semi-handmade and Loloi rugs. The creative pair recently moved across the country with their three daughters and are currently working to update a classic red brick home.

Advice from the Episode

Knowing where to spend your time and money during a renovation is key. Read on for Julia's best tips on tackling a fixer-upper.

Julia Marcum

If you're moving into a house with another person, you both have to be fixer-upper people. Otherwise, your relationship is doomed as much as the house. So Chris and I work really well together. We've been married for 14 years now, and we are just the kind of people that love to see the potential in something. We see the potential, we like to make it better. A lot of long nights and hard work—I'm not going to lie—go in on a fixer-upper, but the love and bond that you make with a home when you put blood, sweat, and tears into a fixer-upper is just something.

—Julia Marcum

What Goes Into a Fixer-Upper

  • When beginning a renovation project, it's important to be on the same page.

Julia Marcum

Don't wait to live in your houses until they're done. Don't wait to invite people over until you feel confident or until, you know, it's perfectly clean. We entertain all the time and I'm always like, 'Oh yeah, that room's getting renovated.' Or, there's sawdust and there's plastic taped up. I let guests wear shoes in our house because I'm like, 'It's a construction zone, still. Don't worry about it.' And, I don't care. I care more about the experiences than the carpet.

—Julia Marcum

Enjoy Your Home Throughout the Process

  • Don't wait to enjoy your home! Entertain during the construction process so your house feels more like home.
  • Julia doesn't worry about guests wearing shoes in her home during projects!

Julia Marcum

Paint is such an inexpensive way to give a room an entirely new life. I love paint. You can transform a whole room for like $50 bucks a can. Just get the nicer paint. There are different qualities when it comes to paint and the price difference isn't that much. And generally, those are the things that I always recommend splurging on if you are on a tight budget.

—Julia Marcum

Where to Save Versus Splurge on Home Renovation Projects

  • Invest in quality paint. You'll find it looks much nicer and won't break the budget.
  • If you're painting a room yourself, get our must-have painting tips.

Julia Marcum

In a kitchen, if you splurge on cabinets, well, that's a difference of tens of thousands of dollars. But if you splurge on the hardware on the cabinets, that's the difference of tens of dollars. Look at the difference there. I always say, splurge on the hardware because that's gonna make your cabinets, no matter how much they cost, look more expensive, and you're never gonna spend tens of thousands of dollars on it. Right now in my life, I really like splurging on lighting because I think lighting makes such a big difference in a room. I like to have at least two to three sources, and I think it brings so much personality to a space. And so that's something I'm currently splurging on, but I always recommend splurging on paint, hardware, anything you're gonna sit on, like your main couch.

—Julia Marcum

Invest in Hardware and Lighting

  • Splurge on items like hardware and lighting that make a big impact.
  • Julia recommends splurging on items that will get a lot of use, like the couch in the living room.

Links and Resources

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