Enter Julie Carlson, editor-in-chief of Remodelista, the wickedly addictive home and design site, and author of the new coffee-table book Remodelista, A Manual for the Considered Home.
Yes, it's the home-remodeling bible we've been waiting for. Filled with exquisite kitchens, Swedish-inspired living rooms, and clean palettes, it's quite the visual home-feast. But, unlike decorator tomes, it's actually a manual with pro tips on the process (whether you're redoing your whole pad or just painting a room) — plus, all the resources the editors at Remodelista swear by. We hopped on the phone with the California-based editor to discuss the difference between East and West Coast remodeling, her favorite things to collect, and thoughts on the DIY movement.
The subtitle of the book is "A Manual for the Considered Home." What does that mean? "We always talk in the office about how in the design world now there are so many online shopping opportunities. It's a challenge to be disciplined and not rush out and redo your house every time you see a trend. Everything you bring into your house should be a carefully thought-out purchase. When we started the site, we kept in mind William Morris' quote "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” The 'considered home' comes from that place — a definition of thoughtful and the carefully chosen. Your home shouldn't be filled with ill-advised purchases you regret. So, we try to avoid cheap knockoffs."
Are there any ways West and East Coasters differ in remodeling?
"I own my family home in Cape Cod, and one giant difference my husband and I have dealt with is the climate makes all the difference. We have all these issues with weather-proofing the place, upgrading the insulation, all these structural things to bring it up to standards. With our place in Mill Valley, it's all about designing it to be an indoor-meets-outdoor space — because we have so many windows, the palette inside is very influenced by the green colors outside."
What are people's greatest remodeling fears?
"I think it's the money: It's so expensive. People are afraid of budget overrun — rightly so — and afraid of overspending. The more planning you can do up front and [how you] approach the project, the more disciplined it will be. Make your decisions early — the more clearly defined [strategies] prevent overruns. People get in trouble when they change their mind in the middle of a project. That's why there's that dreaded term 'change order.'"
The book is an extension of the site, but was there anything you learned in the process?
"I think the biggest kind of new territory that we haven't and always wanted to [do] was the last chapter on 'Remodeling Reality.' It's the nuts-and-bolts guide to approaching a remodel. What to expect when you're expecting, like the book — actually, our publisher is the same one that produced that book."
That's really funny.
"We really wanted it to be that, and it's certainly something we want to do more on Remodelista. The thing about working on a site, what can be weirdly frustrating is when something falls off the homepage, it disappears. A book, in contrast, is so easy to navigate versus a website that's almost counterintuitive."
Whose home do you really idolize?
"One of my favorites in the book is Dagmar Daley's kitchen. I've had so many fantastic meals there; she's such a design genius. Another favorite was Julianne Moore's — I just loved how she turned it into this art-gallery-type feel. We were so lucky to have her write the intro to the book."
For the holidays, do you have any party-hosting secrets?
"I'm totally into using drop cloths as tablecloths. First of all, it's fine if red wine gets spilled, and then you can also layer things on top of it. You throw them in the wash, and they become this soft linen. Especially if we are having a bigger dinner and pushing small tables together, I can just throw three on. I also really like putting branches of pines in clear vases with water — bringing that subtle and natural holiday decor in — taking a big branch, propping it in the corner, and wrapping Christmas lights around it."
Do you have any thoughts on where the DIY movement is headed?
"It's such a great movement because I remember when I was living in an apartment in New York, it would never have occurred to me to do all these projects. I think painting my room was the biggest project I ever did. There are all these projects now, like building shelves from plumbing parts. I hope it's here to stay. It's so important to live in an environment that you love and very liberating to be able to do it yourself."
What do you love to collect?
"White ceramic vases, pitchers, and bowls. I'm always trying to move them around to create little tableaux, little installations inspired by the artist Giorgio Morandi."