Until about this time last year, Sherry and John Petersik’s lives were an open book.
The two had been blogging since 2007, and they’d gathered quite a following on their Young House Love blog. It was filled with DIY decorating tips and projects, many from the Petersiks’ own homes, but also details about the young couple’s lives as they went from newlyweds to new parents.
But then they stepped back in late 2014. In 2015, there has been a single entry, and it was only a few weeks ago. The couple says they didn’t burn out, as a September 2014 New York Times article asserted, but re-evaluated their priorities – and they wrote their second book.
In “Lovable Livable Home,” the Petersiks worked to present a variety of homes and lifestyles, from sizable houses with immaculate floor plans to efficiency apartments and condos occupied by larger-than-expected families. Some of these living arrangements didn’t even sound possible, John says, and the couple was fascinated to learn how people nationally (and internationally, in some cases) made their homes their own.
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We caught up with the Petersiks to talk about their new book and their move away from blogging.
Q: How do you find the people in your book and learn they have an interesting house?
John: Some of it was very straightforward, someone submitted something through an email to our blog, or some were really random, like an old college friend of mine said she nannied for this family a couple of years ago and they had this beautiful home.
Sherry: We tried to get people in the U.S. but also in Europe. We have a loft and we have a sprawling home and we have big budget and small budget and someone who moves with the military and is often making a new place home. ...One of the considerations definitely was “Is the space beautiful?” but also “Were there challenges?” and “Are there ideas other families can adapt to their own home?”
Q: In 2007, when you started blogging, there were a lot of shows about flipping houses and selling them. Has there been a movement away from that model toward more of what you do?
John: We got kind of lucky because we came from a mindset of being affordable at a time when the economy forced a lot of people to be affordable whether they wanted to or not. ...This made a lot of people think about how they could invest in making their homes a more permanent spot, because they weren’t in a position to sell it.
Sherry: There were lots of people who had this mindset like, real estate increases a certain percent every year. It is a sound investment to buy a house and then sell it in a couple of years, you will always get your money back. Then that wasn’t happening. I have friends who wound up stuck in an apartment they certainly didn’t plan on being in when they had children because the bubble burst.
Q: I read a New York Times article about the two of you burning out. How did you find a way to keep your private space private and reassert that?
Sherry: We were not quoted in that article.
John: Speaking to the article, I wouldn’t portray it as a horrible time, but the habits and the processes we had been doing for so long didn’t fit what we wanted any more. So what we wanted to do was take a pause and a step back and, rather than be always so focused outward, have some moments to ourselves. When the New York Times called, they said, “What do you want to say about that?” and we said, “We’re really just trying to be introspective, so this is not the time to go and be quoted in a national newspaper.” (laughs)
Sherry: We were 25, we had no kids, we lived in a tiny house, we had just gotten married in the backyard. We were different people than we were at 33, with two kids, living in our third home, authors working on our second book. There was a lot that had happened in seven years, so it is sort of a simplified evaluation to say “burnout,” which is not anything we ever said. Your values and what you want changes. Some people would want the spotlight and the Internet kudos, and what we were really trying to do was not chase things like that, when that should not be our priority – it should be our family and our children and not working insane hours. It’s funny, it’s more like trying to avoid burning out. Outwardly people perceived it however they perceived it.
Q: For people who do what you did when you started, people putting things out on Instagram or a Facebook fan page and seeking an audience, how would you recommend they balance public and private?
Sherry: What John and I learned that was valuable was that we’d like to think about why we share something now. It used to be “why not?” If we could think of a good reason not to, we wouldn’t. Now we’re more asking ourselves, “Why are we sharing this?”
John: I think when you’re trying to grow an audience or make money, there can become this sense of urgency that the more you give the more you’re going to reap rewards. The Internet is always going to ask for more, because there will always be someone out there sharing more than you. ... You need to think it through and think about what’s important for you. No one’s going to look out for your values except for you.
Meet the Authors
Sherry and John Petersik, Young House Love bloggers (on hiatus) and authors of “Lovable, Livable Home” and “Young House Love,” are doing a signing-only event at 7 p.m. Sept. 29 at Quail Ridge Books, 3522 Wade Ave., Raleigh.
Info: 919-828-1588, quailridgebooks.com
Win a book: Enter to win a copy of “Lovable Liveable Home” by going to The News & Observer Lifestyles Facebook, “Like” the page and leave a comment below our post about the giveaway. The deadline to enter is noon Sept. 29. Good luck!