Julia Marcum’s Rules

Half of the DIY duo Chris Loves Julia, this painter-turned-blogger shares her ideas for turning ho-hum spaces into art-filled retreats.


Source: Chris Loves Julia

Though Julia Marcum and her husband, Chris, have garnered attention for the DIY projects they chronicle on their home-decor blog–the aptly named Chris Loves Julia–the creative homeowner’s passion for paint goes far beyond color decks and samples.

“I started formally doing art my senior year of high school,” Marcum explains. “My family moved to a new town, and I didn’t have very many friends, so I created my own AP Art class.”

That early initiative led to a full-ride college art scholarship, and Marcum’s love affair with fine arts has only grown. Working from a home studio she and Chris built in their current home, she now creates custom paintings on canvas for clients across the country, many inspired by paintings readers have spotted on her site.

“The one in my dining room has gotten so much attention!” she says. “I do a lot of commissioned work, where people want something similar but in a certain palette.”

In addition, her monthly chalkboard drawings, posted on the pair’s site, often become prints that she sells on Etsy. “It’s just something I do for fun–it’s such a relaxing thing to do,” the humble blogger claims.

We asked Marcum, who along with her husband curated a collection for Joss & Main launching April 9, to share her thoughts on creating art-inspired spaces. Here’s what she had to say.

Start with the real stuff. 

“I always say a piece of art can make a room,” Marcum explains. “We try to have at least one piece of fine art in every space. We love typography and stuff like that, but there’s something so different about having something with real paint or ink on it,” she muses. In the Marcums’ living room, you’ll find prints Julia did in college, while a sketch of their house hangs in the family room. Their daughter Greta’s room features a wall gallery including a painting the toddler created for herself (more on that later).

Where does the pair browse for unique pieces? “I just love Etsy, of course. It features so many people with talent that don’t have the means to do a gallery show,” Marcum explains. Focus on finding pieces with a palette and imagery that speaks to you, she advises, and you’ll reap rewards regardless of your budget. “I feel so passionately that people should have art in their homes. People say ‘I can’t afford it,’ but the art doesn’t have to be expensive.”


Source: Chris Loves Julia

Fill in with prints, typography, and texture.

Layering in additional pieces of art, “fine” or otherwise, helps give depth to a space, Marcum notes. In her own home, you’ll find original paintings and sketches alongside vintage pieces and quirky, impromptu finds from sources like Joss & Main. She’s also a big fan of prints of paintings: “It’s like the real thing, but a lot more affordable.” The Marcums recently scored several prints on Etsy: “I love Linda Apple–I bought a couple of her prints,” Julia says. “One of my favorite artists is Clare Elsaesser–her shop is incredible. Her paintings go for hundreds, but we got a giclee print for $45 for our bedroom. We love it so much we’re starting to design around it!”

Every room deserves a little love.

Not even hallways or the laundry room are neglected in the Marcums’ home. Clusters of artwork hang in both spaces, giving guests a reason to pause and look around instead of simply passing through. In the laundry, which doubles as a small bathroom, you’ll find prints and sketches; a photo ledge holds family snapshots and prints along the stairs. Just a few key pieces work to elevate these oft-forgotten spaces.

Don’t take things too seriously.

Lest anyone think the Marcums are snobbish about the art their bring into their home, consider the painter they enlisted to create an original piece for their daughter Greta’s bedroom: The three-year-old toddler herself. “I thought it would be fun to have her work on a painting,” Julia says. “She absolutely loved it! I definitely guided her, and gave her the colors that she could work with, but I didn’t touch a paintbrush the whole time, and she did such a good job! She worked on it for, like, three weeks, for 15 minutes a day.”

Source: Joss & Main

“We can’t leave any room alone for too long,” Julia laughs. She’s not afraid to replace or remix paintings once they’ve lived in one location for a while, whether or not they “work” for the space. Of the giant painting that hangs above the dining area, she says, “I do use colors I like in my home, but when I get sick of it, I sell it and paint another one!”

As with the rest of the home, don’t expect your choices in art to be eternal commitments–it’s natural to want to mix things up, she says. “I know our tastes have changed… When we first moved in, Chris and I thought our style was super-modern. It turns out we’re actually more traditional, with a modern twist to it. It took us a while to get there and realize that’s OK. It’s OK if you want to repaint your room, or if you realize you’re not quite the style you thought you were.” A few things have remained consistent for the couple, however: “Our love for art, and our desire to keep things more sophisticated.” Her next mission?  “I’d love to add more quirk in our house,” she says. By adding accessories and one-of-a-kind furniture finds, she’ll only bring more life and personality to the space.