Psst- Thanks SO MUCH for the love with our little announcement this morning guys. You rock our socks. For reals.
Well, we aren’t going to make 2,013 resolutions, but here are five of them. You guys know that every year we like to broadcast them to the world to light a fire under our arse in the hopes of accomplishing them (you can check out last year’s here, 2011′s here, and 2010′s here). So let’s get cracking…
#1. Hold On. Let’s just say that for anyone who worries we’ll run out of things to do or rooms to makeover or projects to tackle… this is going to be our busiest year yet. Chock fulla new DIY undertakings. We can’t reveal everything yet (there are some pretty big cats in some pretty big bags) but we can’t wait to free the kitties! So beyond having a ton of untouched spaces to tend to here (like Clara’s big girl room, the front porch, the carport, the guest bathroom, etc) let’s just say we’re not going to stop there. We have some other MAJOR things, and we can’t wait to over-share every detail with you guys. And no Mom, I’m not pregnant.
#2. Chat Things Up. Without a doubt, you guys put the “you” in Young House Love, and we’ve mentioned that we’d like to work more of “you” into our little DIY diary. We’ve actually heard from a lot of you who’d love to see forums over here as a friendly and helpful way to share photos, advice, ideas, inspiration, and all that good stuff. So we’ve been researching how to get those going without crashing our site or spending hours each day maintaining them. We’d really love to give it a try, so our goal is to focus even more on making that happen in the spring (after we’re done with book tour craziness). Cross your fingers and whisper “no crashies, no crashies, no crashies” (that’s our equivalent to “no whammies”).
#3. Be Realistic. As much as we like to avoid blog stage fright by pretending that we’re just talking to 10 readers, the truth is that there are a lot more people dropping in. And most sites with over 5 million hits a month tend to be coded, written, and run by a team of people. Meanwhile, we’re just a guy and a gal with a toddler running around who are juggling DIY projects, post writing, an in-progress book tour, site coding, and a bunch of secret-project balls (wait, that sounds wrong). So this resolution is just about reminding ourselves that we’re only two people. Two highly dedicated folks who love what we do, but two people who can’t do the work of ten people, no matter how hard we try. And this year we’re gonna stop beating ourselves up about it.
Since we like our grass roots approach (we have no desire to hire people to answer comments, write posts, or program the site) that means that we need to be as efficient and realistic as possible and stop pressuring ourselves. We’re not HGTV or BHG, we’re John and Sherry from the
block blog. And amazingly, you guys tell us that’s a big reason that you like YHL, so it’s about time we embraced it.
#4. Reclaim Our Lives. This sort of connects to resolution #3, but we’ve publicly struggled with finding balance for a few years now (here, here, here, and here) and answered “how do you do it all?” questions with “we just don’t sleep – maybe we’ll sleep next year.” Well, it’s officially next year, so it would be nice not to be up until 1am finishing projects and writing posts and juggling book stuff along with keeping up with normal things like laundry and cleaning and grocery shopping. We never aspired to be people who work on nights, weekends, and even on vacation (in fact we moved from NYC to Virginia back in 2005 to escape that lifestyle) so the irony isn’t lost on us.
But although many of you chimed in during our blogiversary to say that you’d be happy with one post a day, we aren’t quite ready to scale things back that much, so we’ve decided to go from 8 posts a week down to 7 posts a week (along with 2 more over on Young House Life as usual of course). At the end of the month whenever we glance back at our monthly roundups we’re always surprised at how much we’ve done, and this change shouldn’t affect that very much at all. It mostly means we’ll space out posts like Window Shoppings, House Crashings, Budget Blooms, or Reader Redesigns a bit more so there’s one less of those posts to write, photograph, edit, proofread, and answer questions about each week.
Hopefully you won’t notice the shift very much (we think we’ll post twice on Monday, once on Tuesday, twice on Wednesday, once on Thursday, and once on Friday along with two more posts each week over on Young House Life). And that pace will allow us to spend more time brainstorming ideas, actually doing projects, and recharging with the family – three things that add up to happier bloggers, which will hopefully lead to even more thought-out projects and creative ideas. It also means we’re less likely to throw in the blogging towel. We definitely want to play the long game and not burn out since we truly love this strange little career we’ve built, especially when we’re balanced and smart about how we run this little two person ship of ours.
#5. Be Free. You guys never fail to surprise us by responding to the most random of posts (like this one I wrote about breast feeding and this one John wrote about running). They both got hundreds of comments more than any other DIY related post around it, and they remind us that sharing more than just painting and sawing and gluing and sanding is as fun for you guys as it is for us. Heck, even a random Friday post like this one about five weird things about me elicited over 1,000 comments – and they’re without a doubt the funniest comments on our entire site. Seriously, take ten minutes to scroll through a page or two and I guarantee you’ll be giggling. This blog is our happy place and these spontaneous posts keep it light and fun. And we think blogs that are more stream-of-consciousness than polished-and-perfect are the most fun to read anyway.
So those are our five putting-them-out-there resolutions for the coming year. What are you guys resolving? Any personal ones? Personally I’m resolving to simplify things like crazy (something I’ve said before, but I’m feeling even more determined to master it this year). I have too many gadgets and decorative objects and pillows and gift bags and pens and about a million other things that add up to a whole lotta clutter, so I can’t wait to pare down and attempt to live as simply as John and I did back in NYC when we each had tiny studios without attics and basements to hoard clutter. Less really is more, in so many ways.
You know the $herdog in me wanted to make that title a Slim Shady reference, right? Anyway, we’ve actually been working on a secret project for over 14 months and we finally get to spill the beans. Jazz hands don’t even begin to cover it. See, back in October 2011 Shades of Light asked us to help them design a lighting collection. And we said “who, us?” quickly followed by a “yes please!”
When it came to our goals, we really wanted to keep things casual, playful, happy, and – the biggest challenge – within our budget. Which broke down to keeping the entire collection under $99. There are even $3 add-on items to spice up the lamps that you already have (you know we love using what you’ve got). But keeping prices under that $99 mark (especially on larger lights, like chandeliers that are 2 feet wide) was a tall order. Shades of Light sells a ton of fancy $400+ designs, but they were amazingly willing to get all hands on deck to inch prices as low as possible without compromising quality, and we LOVE them for that. It was hard to mash all of
the lights our bundles of joy into this post, so you can click here to browse our full collection of shades, pendant lights, and decorative add-ons.
Not only do side gigs like this help us provide for our family, they’re some of the most exciting work that we get to do (you know when we’re not juggling house projects, blog posts, book stuff, and playing with The Bean and The Burgs). Switching gears keeps us creative and it’s always fun to try something new, so projects like this are the icing on the DIY cake. Well, playing with Clara & Burger land in that category too. Which is fitting because these lights are sort of like our babies.
Here are a few “studio shots” of some of our kiddos. The apples of our eye. Picture us grinning like proud parents watching their child play “Tree #2″ in the elementary school play.
That’s not all of them, so here’s the whole collection for ya. The coolest thing about this collaboration is that Shades of Light is based right here in Richmond, so it was a local affair. They came over to our house and we dropped by their headquarters a bunch of times over the course of the last year to draw sketches, look at prototypes, sample paint colors, see the products in action, and even shoot them in our own home for their online shop and their catalog.
Which means many of the lights are made/wired/painted right here in good ol’ Virginia! But of course they ship ‘em nationally on their site in case you’re not a local (you can even call them for overseas shipping rates). So… woot! It’s pretty exciting to think that our babies are going to be making little pilgrimages to other cities across the country. Well, assuming people buy them. Haha.
As for Clara’s job, she played the role of quality control. When we asked her to pick her favorite one of the guys in the photo above, she kept changing her mind. She’s like her momma. She wants to rub her face on all of them.
The most exciting part of the entire process was when we finally got to shoot some of the finished lights in our house back in November (right between two book tour stops) to see how they looked “in situation” and to use some of those images for the Shades Of Light catalog. This is a farmhouse pendant that comes in a bunch of happy colors. Doesn’t the pink one look sweet when it’s fake-hanging over our the sink?
How did we fake it? Well, see the green-shirted guy on the stool in our kitchen? He actually held the mercury glass pendant that hangs over our sink out of the shot while they snagged a picture of the pink one that you see in the photo above (clamped to a rod above the sink so it appeared to be hard-wired there). It was our kinda shoot. Grass roots and lots of laughing.
Here’s another shot to show the magic of in-house photoshoots. See that giant reflector in the foreground and those three lights all clamped up to a rod that was later cropped out of picture? It’s so funny how we look at catalogs like Pottery Barn and think “oh man those rooms are so amazing and clean” – but in reality they must look at least this crazy from afar, thanks to all of the magical behind-the-scenes gear.
Here’s how those drum pendants actually looked in the photographer’s final shot. Oh and spoiler alert, we bought the scallop pendant in the middle. We couldn’t resist. We’re actually planning to hang it right in the window that you see here.
And remember the chandelier that we gave you a sneak peek of in Monday’s holiday post? Yup, it’s part of our collection. He’s one of our favorites.
We bought it as soon as the catalog shoot wrapped up in our house. At $89 for such a large chandelier (it’s two feet wide!) we thought it was a great deal, and it looks awesome with the oil-rubbed bronze glass pendants over our nearby peninsula. It also comes in a bunch of other colors beyond the rusty bronze finish that we went with (they’re painted locally in colors like plum, dark teal, white, black, gray, and red by an awesome lighting artisan).
One of the coolest “special effects” from it are the shadows that it casts on the ceiling if you use a clear bulb (if you don’t love them you can use a frosted bulb for a softer look).
And you know Burger is our muse, so… this happened. Yup, dude has his own chihuahua-riddled shades in a bunch of colors. We wanted things to be flexible for someone who might just want a shade for a table lamp or floor lamp that they already have, so we asked Shades of Light to sell the shades alone as well as with a finished pendant kit for hanging them (the full pendant kit even comes with a ceiling canopy, so it’s all ready to hang). People gotta have options. And chihuahua shades.
And see those sculptural white metal diffusers under each of these geometric-ish ikat shades? Those were another add-on that we thought could spice up someone’s
life light. Say you already have a pendant light at home but want a little more flair – one of these (in either the hex pattern or the quatrefoil pattern) can definitely up the ol’ lighting ante.
We loved adding small (and inexpensive) DIY options, like these $3 add-ons. They’re basically decals (fancy word: appliques) that we thought would be fun on a lamp base that you might already own (or one you could score at a thrift store and spray paint in a solid color). So whether you’re into a white, black, or yellow bee shape; a favorite number in black or white; or even scalloped patterns that you can use alone or layer like crazy, you’re covered. Can’t you see a big white #7 on a navy lamp base? Or a white bee on a cheery yellow gourd lamp?
And now for a Burger story. Remember way baaack when we posted this picture of Burger for Thanksgiving in 2011? Well, that half-loaf of Panera bread that he snuck off with was actually from one of our first meetings for this project. The Shades of Light team was over at our house and we were excitedly talking about colors, fabrics, and shapes when Burger snuck ONTO THE DINING TABLE and grabbed it without any of us seeing him until it was way too late. Sneaky little bugger. It was the first and last time he had such brazen food-stealing confidence. Thank goodness. Just look at the regret in those big brown eyes…
So that ends our little 14-months-in-the-making collection o’ lights, shades, & add-ons. Oh and to anyone who isn’t currently shopping for lighting or doesn’t have any money to spend, we also hoped this collection would inspire the DIYers out there – perhaps just to paint a metal pendant or lamp base that you already have – or even to make little personalized decals to spice up a lamp base in some personal way.
And now for some gushy love for you all. We’d never be “here” without you, and for that we’re eternally grateful. To think that this all started with one little blog post back in 2007 is crazytown, and we’re so grateful to you guys for making it possible. Oh heck, you guys are like our babies too. Come to momma, I feel a hug coming on…
**Psst- We know most Fridays we just post once, but every month on sponsor shout out day we double up. So we’ll be back in a few hours with a post that involves holiday crafting, bouncers, and beauty queens (really). Oh and it has new tour stops that were added too.
It’s time for our monthly showing of thanks to our sponsors (the folks who help make the other 30-plus posts a reality). And with Christmas being just over a week away (!) – and while there’s still some time to do a little shopping – we thought we’d share a few things that make us feel pretty jolly. We haven’t been gifted any of these items (here’s our no-swag policy) but there are plenty that would make good gifts. And be sure to peruse the round-up of discounts at the end to save some loot. And PS – you’ll find a hint for Monday’s $500 giveaway plus a sneak peek of our holiday card at the bottom (which we’ll share in full view as soon as the ones we sent out are received).
- Bicycles & bike-related gear, art, and clothing (like this quirky shirt) from Public Bikes.
- This dreamy photo from Sherri Conley, the artist behind the photos in our living room.
- This loving wall decal from WallQuotes, which are part of their new winter collection.
- Recipe cards from 1 Canoe 2 to keep all of your holiday dishes organized stylishly.
- Joss & Main‘s sale event filled with colorful graphic poufs, pillows, and ottomans.
- This frosted glass mosaic from The Tile Shop (love that it’s called “Crushed Ice”).
- Shades of Light‘s dhurrie rugs, especially this candy-cane-ish one.
- The high-larious blogger behind Nice Girl Notes who now offers nice girl notebooks.
- This fiery blossom print from Freshline Illustration (it comes in customizable colors).
- Liberty Hardware‘s installation tutorials and tools, like this handy drilling template.
- Silhouette Blue holiday cards, like this one that sends bright berries and warm wishes.
- This pearlescent bathroom frame from Mirror Mate for an easy update.
- Smock Paper‘s eco letterpress gift tags (and their matching double-sided gift wrap too).
- Charming gifts from Heart & Stone Jewelry, like these customizable necklaces.
- Rentini’s iPad Mini giveaway and the option to rent a Brazilian house shown in Twilight!
- Embracing X-”mess” (and winning $2500?) with Oreck‘s Merry Mess-making giveaway.
- FLOR‘s bold grillwork patterned rug that comes in six colors from hot red to cool gray.
- Clean & streak-free windows with the help of Fish Foam. You know, for Santa-watching.
- These big eco-friendly puppies from Naked Binders that hold 11 x 17″ paper. Wowza.
- This colorful and quote-tastic “Words To Live By” calendar from Nella Designs.
- This stencil from Royal Design Studio that totally looks like an awesome tile pattern.
- Paying homage to the company that made Santa red & white thanks to Ruby Lane.
- Speaking of St. Nick, here’s a peek at our holiday card (we’ll share it all next week).
- And about next week… here’s a clue for Monday’s $500 shopping spree giveaway!
And here are the deets on those DISCOUNTS:
- Shades of Light: 10% off using code YHL0811
- WallQuotes.com: 15% off with the code YHL15
- The Tile Shop: 10% off when you use the code YHL10
- One Canoe Two: 10% off with code YHL10
- Heart & Stone Jewelry: 10% off with the code YHL10
- Royal Design Studio: 10% off stencils with code YHL10
- Silhouette Blue: 15% off with code YHL15
- Nella Designs: 10% off with code YHL10
- Freshline Illustration: 25% off with code YHL25
- Sherri Conley Photography: 15% with code YHL15