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Hook, Line, and Bullseye

It’s been nearly three years in the making, so it’s hard to believe that the day is finally here that we can share our longest-stretching side-gig to date. We’ve been designing a collection of products… and a bunch of them are now being sold exclusively at Target (!!!). Cue the sound effect of a cat sprinting out of a bag.

We designed three or four dozen pieces before the final mix was chosen – and those designs, which are an assortment of wall storage and hooks, are available right now at Target.com and will be on endcaps in most US stores starting March 31st.

You’ll be able to find them in the Home Improvement section where they’ll be hanging out for 14 weeks. Did I mention that we’re freaking out like Clara next to a furry mascot that she “just wants to hug and squeeze”?

To say we never thought something like this would ever happen to us might be the biggest understatement of our blogging careers. And even when this process started rolling waaaaay back in July of 2011, we never expected that it would end up here.

When you look at the collection you’ll notice that we’ve adapted a lot of things that we love – from bees and old skeleton keys to a certain ridiculously handsome chihuahua. And everything’s priced at $14.99 or less.

We even included a bit of DIY customization in the mix, thanks to these raw wood hook rails (one with a picture ledge on top, and one without) that you can personalize with paint, stain, wallpaper, decoupage, or whatever else you have on hand. Then you can choose any of the four hardware styles in either oil-rubbed bronze or white and screw them into the predrilled rail holes.

But let’s rewind back to July of 2011, when this whole thing started. At that time, a company called Liberty Hardware was a sidebar blog sponsor of ours and they asked to come interview us for some research they were doing about the do-it-yourself trend. A few months later, that research turned into an invitation to explore the possibility of designing some products with them. When we said yes there was no part of us that ever envisioned them ending up in a store like Target.

The next two years were an exciting and sometimes intense process of design and development. Never again will we underestimate the work that goes into making those everyday products that we see on store shelves. We were primarily responsible for the creative direction, which involved providing everything from rough sketches to color/finish input along with design tweaks and feedback at every step of the design process. Liberty’s team was great to work with, and had things like manufacturing feasibility and sales analysis covered – which was a huge necessity to taking our ideas from paper (and visions in our heads) to real-life objects.

The development process was hugely interesting to us because it was like nothing we had ever seen. From the drawings & images that we provided, the Liberty design team would illustrate some options, the best of which then got modeled either on a computer or in clay by hand (sometimes both). Those then became 3D printed models that could get cast to become real production prototypes and eventually the final product was born. There was feedback, tweaking, and even a few “back to the drawing board” moments at each step in the process. Questions of scale, symmetry, functionality, finish, price, etc. were always being considered – as well as how everything would fit together as a collection. Heck, there was even a focus group held at one point! So all-in-all we probably designed forty or fifty pieces before they got narrowed down to the current mix.

While lots of the design work happened virtually (through email and conference calls), The Liberty team – which is primarily headquartered about 3.5 hours from us in Winston-Salem, NC – traveled to Richmond on several occasions. We also found ourselves traveling to see them in North Carolina, meeting with their design team in Chicago (that’s Adam pictured, who has been bringing our ideas to life from day one of the project), and even flying out to the Target headquarters in Minneapolis at one point. Despite that meeting happening in late April of last year, we still happened to catch a major snowstorm. We’re not sure how you Minnesotans do it.

That trip in Minneapolis was especially surreal, since it happened just a few months after we had been there for our book tour. It was weird to be secretly traveling there after so freely Instagramming our previous tour travels. We actually got recognized a couple of times while standing outside of the Target offices, so we were pretty freaked out that our cover was blown (to the folks who said hi to us, we can now apologize for being SO INSANELY AWKWARD). Secrets are no fun.

We shot the images you see in this post (and that appear on the packaging) in our house last November. It felt a lot like our book shoots when we were trying to create a diverse mix of backdrops in a house with very few painted walls, so we had to get a little creative. You can see in this photo that we used a remnant piece of grasscloth wallpaper to spice things up behind the Burger hook. And that’s our brother-in-law/pro-photographer Todd who did all of the shooting. Nothing like keeping it in the family.

Once it was cropped, you’d never know there was painters tape and blue trim lurking just out of frame.

After all those months, all those trips and meetings, all those designs and redesigns, and all of the shooting/writing for the packaging, it still feels completely unreal that this project is out in the world now. And we’re even more excited to hopefully roll out more products as the year goes on. Yup, we’re actively pitching new designs that go beyond wall hooks and storage (Target prefers the idea of tight collections, so we’re working on different home/DIY themes that could be switched out seasonally).

We owe a huge thanks to all of the people who’ve been a part of this, especially those who have put up with our silly questions or nit-picky changes. So a big virtual hug goes out to everyone who saw something in our ideas, and helped bring them to life.

And of course we have an insane amount of love for you guys for sharing this crazy journey with us (and for putting up with our “secret project” for so long – we really wished we could have told you, oh, 32 months ago). Never in our wildest dreams did we think that first post back in 2007 would lead us here. Oops, I think the orchestra is playing me out, but picture me waving my chihuahua hook in the air while Sherry gracefully trips over her gown on the way down the steps. She’s the J. Law to my J. Leto (I just have to work on my flowing man-mane).

You can browse and buy everything now over on Target.com, and then it’ll be in most stores beginning March 31st. Fingers crossed that the sight doesn’t send Sherry into labor!

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Paint, Light Fixtures, Doorknobs, & Green Vanities

I’m thinking we should post pictures of blue ceilings more often on Instagram, at least judging by the reaction we got to this pic from the Homearama Showhouse on Monday. Then again, it may have just been thanks to Sherry’s dancing girl emojis.

As those high-steppin’ cartoon ladies indicated, we’re pretty psyched about how things are shaping up over there. The bold “Skydive” color that we chose for the office ceiling (by Benjamin Moore) came out better than we imagined, and we even got to use one of our favorite lights that we designed last year. But although there has been TONS of progress since our last update two weeks ago, it’s unfortunately not the kind that makes showing the rest of that room any more exciting. Once you look down it’s still pretty empty.

Emptiness aside – the hardwood floors have all been sanded and stained/sealed (hence being covered for protection), most of the house’s painting is done, most of the lights and cabinets are installed, and even little details like doorknobs are getting checked off the list. Since we fell hard for the look of a backplate in our own house, we went that route as sort of a nod to what we’ve enjoyed here, but upgraded them with white porcelain knobs. Here’s a close up for you, and you can see two of them together in a more panned out shot of the doors above.

The glass pocket doors that lead to the dining room have also been installed. They still need to be painted, along with the front door, but we’re loving them. Especially that transom window at the top. Oh to have 10 foot ceilings…

Don’t mind the height or crookedness of any light fixtures. We walked through the house a while back to pinpoint all the lighting locations we’d need – not only for fixtures and sconces, but for can lights as well – so those junction boxes all had to be installed ahead of time (and we had to select all of our lights beforehand, so we could determine their placement). Now that the electrician has put everything in, it’s exciting to see things in place – but we still have to adjust them once the furniture is in (for example, our dining chandelier will hang a lot lower – it’s just lifted for now so people don’t walk into it).

As for fixture sources, the Loft Shade Chandelier is hanging in the foyer and the light in the dining room shot below is the Industrial Modern Island Chandelier, both generously donated by Shades of Light. We’re also excited to see the dark color on the walls (it’s Kendall Charcoal by Benjamin Moore) above the wainscoting we shared two weeks back. Although each room is only around 5-10% complete (they still need furniture, art, window treatments, and accessories – most of which we have selected, but some of which are still on our eight-page shopping list), it’s a lot easier to visualize things now that there are actually painted walls and light fixtures to reference.

The living room and kitchen are open to each other, and they’re both staying white (which will allow us to add a lot of color with furnishings, art, & accessories), but we also added a Hale Navy (by Benjamin Moore) accent wall to the fireplace, which is mostly complete. That same navy color will be on the kitchen island across the room, so we can’t wait for the space to come together more. You can also see a hint of the dark Jacobean floor color on the edge of the stairs in this photo.

We really like the white painted mantel and marble surround against that dark navy fireplace column. It’s a gas fireplace but the cool herringbone brick pattern in the back makes it feel little old and weathered. Our builder had it wired for a TV above the mantel, but for the show we’ll be hanging art there instead of one of those fake model-home flatscreens – and it just might be an oil painting of Burger The Wonder Dog.

The kitchen cabinets are installed, and shocker-for-us: none of them are white – although the ones in this picture aren’t really their final color. Everything’s still in a pretty unfinished state (some of the doors and drawers are missing, there are no counters or appliances, the backsplash still needs to be installed, etc) but we couldn’t resist sharing a shot of one of two lights that hang over the giant kitchen island. We’re really trying to step out of our comfort zone and take risks to keep the show fun – and we thought these Accordion Chandeliers, which were also donated by Shades of Light, fit the bill. They look kind of crazy right now, but we have a plan. At least we think we do.

They’re the very first fixtures that we selected for the house back in December, so it’s kind of a mindfreak to finally see them in place. The island below them is also Hale Navy (a nod to that fireplace on the other side of the room) so we can’t wait to see how they look when things come together more.

Upstairs is seeing similar progress. Many of the lights are in (there are three of these Glass Jug Pendants in the hallway), and the glass pocket doors were installed on the playroom / reading room / library. Meanwhile the stairs are still a death trap thanks to their lack of a railing. It’s a miracle I haven’t fallen over that yet while trying to take a picture. And I basically put a security detail around ol’ preggers every time she even looks in its direction.

The jack-and-jill shared bathroom between the kids’ rooms is shaping up nicely. Nearly everything is in except for the faucet, sink, and mirror. They were preparing to install the counters as we left to get Clara at preschool – so we can’t wait to see those in place. The main color in this room is in the vanity, which we had the cabinet company paint Courtyard Green (this is the one we matched to a side table that we saw in Target).

It’s not a great shot of the floor, especially because it’s dirty at the moment, but they’re white lantern tiles from the builder’s local supplier, Mosaic Tile (with gray grout so it’s more kid-friendly over time).

The last update we have for you guys is an area that we’re calling the “Master Atrium.” It’s a little spot between the master closet (to the left) and the master bathroom (to the right). We’ve ordered a big leaning mirror for that wall (which is painted Stonington Gray by Ben Moore), so that will go right under the Driftwood Pendant that we purchased. We loved it so much in person that we were almost tempted to get one for our nursery at home, but we worry it won’t give off enough light for a whole room (it just needs to illuminate that small nook in the showhouse).

The most exciting thing to report is that builder John and his crew are fast at work trying to wrap everything up in the next few weeks so that we can start moving furniture in before our early April deadline (the house is supposed to be finished so it can be photographed for press for the show during the first week of April – and of course we have our own mid-April due date to work around for finishing touches). We’re simultaneously thrilled and terrified to be moving from the construction phase to the furnish & accessorize phase. Just hopefully not in that way that makes anyone go into labor…

PS: For those asking about Homearama tickets, they’re usually $10 (children 18 & under are free) but you can get them for 20% off (and show some love to Habitat if you’re so inclined) here. The show is open Thurs-Sun, the first three weekends of May.

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