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Adding To Our Week Of Crazy…

To everyone who has said “go rest!” or “we understand if you have to catch your breath after this showhouse marathon and before this baby comes” we are SO APPRECIATIVE of the encouragement. We’re still over there every day shooting each remaining room for afters/source lists and are also hoping to record a video tour for you guys, but we fully intend to cash in on that whole sit-down-and-breathe-for-a-second thing as soon as we finish documenting everything.

But amongst the last crazy week of showhouse stuff, another crazy thing happened that we just had to talk about for a second. We can’t begin to tell you how awesomely surreal it has been to see our line of hooks and rails out there in the real world (on Target shelves, in your hands, on your walls, and next to your dogs and babies).

We’d been in our own little bubble with it for so long that it was amazing to see Instagrams, tweets, and Facebook photos from you guys. So we couldn’t let another day go by without saying: THANK YOU for being a part of this latest adventure of ours. We are so grateful.

Everything started rolling out in Target stores throughout last week (it’ll be carried in most US stores for 14 weeks) and you can see the full store list here for which ones will carry it. We actually saw your pictures of the end cap before seeing it in person ourselves, which was pretty crazy. And when we saw it with our own eyes? Kinda made our brains explode.

The home improvement department also got a few other new DIY items like paint and removable wallpaper. Plus they’re carrying our book in stores for the first time as an exclusive paperback version.

Along with taking a moment to send out a giant thank you to you guys, we wanted to bring you behind the scenes to touch on a part of this whole process that was kind of a surprise to us: packaging design. For so long we had been focused on how the products looked, that when Liberty asked for input on the packaging we were sort of caught off guard. But it ended up being a fun assignment.

The graphic designers at Liberty were the brains behind it all – taking inspiration from the colors and themes that they saw frequently on our blog. Together we made little tweaks, like ditching a version of our blog backdrop (the small gray heart pattern) behind the products in favor of a cleaner, less busy solid gray. And we loved their suggestion to put a wood grain detail on the sides of the packaging to bring in some texture.

The funny thing is that it was originally supposed to just be some generic wood texture from an image library somewhere, but when we were doing the product photography here last November someone suggested that we just shoot our kitchen table and use that real wood-grain shot instead. It had already become the de facto backdrop for the other photos, so it was a no brainer decision. So yeah, that’s our real kitchen table on the side of each box.

We were also tasked with choosing the visuals that we’d shoot for the back of the packaging as well as writing the copy for it – which ended up being a fun opportunity to share our inspiration for each item (like an octopus painting made by Clara along with a ceramic octopus that I got Sherry a few years back – or Burger himself, our four-legged muse).

This copy is also the text that appears in the “Overview” section of each item on the Target website, if you’re so inclined to read each one.

Now that we can freely use the hooks without fear of blowing our cover, we’ve put them to good use in a few places in the showhouse (since it’s about the only house getting attention from us lately). We put this wood hook rail in the girl’s bedroom after painting it blue and adding some mix-and-match ORB hooks (the color is Blue Lake by Benjamin Moore). This is obviously the version with the ledge, which was nice for extra storage.

We went sans-ledge for the one in the boy’s room and painted it with a random diagonal of yellow at the bottom (Citron by Benjamin Moore) using painters tape across the rail, while leaving the raw wood up top.

We also used a trio of doorknob hooks in the master bedroom closet (two of the larger beaded knobs flanking the smaller hex knob in the middle) but we still have to shoot that room. We’re working on getting more after pictures documented today so we can share them tomorrow if all goes well.

Ok, now I’ll shut up about it. Sherry and I are still kind of reeling that this stuff is out there in the world after nearly three years of development, and we’re both so grateful to you guys for supporting us. In other Wednesday news, if all goes well and we have our son on Wednesday the 16th (that’s Sherry’s scheduled date), that makes this the very last Wednesday of our lives as parents of one (well, two if you count Burger) so that’s kind of blowing our minds too. Happy Wednesday, guys!

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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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