playing catch up


I didn’t really intend to take this little break from blogging, but these last few months have been busy. I know, that word is almost trite these days, but it’s true. Busy (really busy) with work, busy with life. Although we have a few post ideas in the hopper, the blog has been like that stack of magazines on my nightstand that I just can’t seem to get around to.

My thoughts on blogging have also changed a bit since I got back from the Alt conference and I’ve been trying to process what that means for chezerbey. Expecting to come back re-energized about the direction of the blog, I instead felt a bit underwhelmed and unmotivated. The conference itself was great – very well organized and orchestrated, especially considering how many people (I heard somewhere between 600-700) were there. I also finally got to meet Jaime, Nicole and Dana! Dana and I shared a room and stayed up way too late each night, mostly talking about things outside of our blogs.

That said, I was a little disappointed by the seminars and presentations. Perhaps it’s because ours is somewhat of a niche blog (in the greater “design blog” sphere at least) or because it’s one that isn’t monetized, but I felt like most of the topics didn’t really apply. It also made me realize how much blogging has changed in the last several years and maybe that wasn’t a direction I wanted to go. (I went to a seminar about how to monetize your Pinterest account and it left me so overwhelmed that I had a Pinterest nightmare a few days later and haven’t logged on since. Seriously, I had no idea what a juggernaut it had become for some people.)

So, here we are. Our blog has been personally and professionally valuable to us and we have no intention of stopping. But moving forward, we are going to reevaluate a few things. In the beginning, I mostly blogged about what I wanted to, when I wanted to. The last few years brought more of an agenda though, with intentions to blog twice a week, to do more quick posts, to go outside our normal focus…to do more. But here’s the thing, once a week is challenging as it is and even my “quick” posts take at least 2 hours to write. So I’m going to abandon my previous ideas of what I think I should be doing and instead focus on what I want to do (realizing that this is what got people reading in the first place). Without the pressure to make money off the blog (something I’d been considering off and on for a few years), I want to instead focus on the opportunities it can afford and the relationships we’ve made and can continue to make. Since we started our architectural firm, Studio Zerbey, almost every single remodel project (we do about 50% remodels, 50% new construction) or consultation has come to us through the blog. People have hired us not just for our design aesthetic but because we’ve gone through (and documented!) the experience first-hand. This has made us more relatable and approachable and guys, that feels pretty good. That’s where we want to be, the kind of architects we want to be.

So we’re going to keep pushing in that direction and maybe we won’t post as often as we’d like, but we hope each post is interesting and well-done. Also, we are still not done with this house! Although our DIY accomplishments this year have consisted of 1) fixing the bathtub drain, 2) lubing the door locks and 3) repairing the screen on our return grill, our to-do list is more ambitious. In fact, we have a few deadlines in the next several months (including a photo shoot and an expiring construction permit) that will mean some serious PROGRESS on the home front!

Finally, thank you to those who have stuck with us through the years, offering your continued support and encouragement. Even if the blogosphere feels a bit different these days, I continue to be inspired by so many of you – whether it’s the comments you leave or the posts you write.


57 Responses to “playing catch up”

  1. Katia says:

    I found you not too long ago, but I being searching your past post to find real inspiration to transform my old little house in NJ. Looking for doors, windows and sources to match your picks, even paint colors for the exterior. I am just a blog addict that found I. Your blog pure sincerity I like that you stick true to yourselves, and that you do this for documenting your house transformation.
    Thanks, and please keep sharing your projects.

  2. Lena says:

    I am really happy reading this entry because for the last few months I have become annoyed with many blogs I used to like precisely because of the things you mentioned- the pressure to make money of it and therefore post regularly even though there might nothing be to blog about or just increasingly sponsored blog entries. I also think that in the long term most of them will fail, there just won’t be enough ad money for a really big number of blogs. The blogs that I really continue to love are mostly those that don’t have a fixed schedule and instead blog when they do have something interesting to tell and actually want to share this and don’t just need something to blog about because of ads and sponsors. Looking forward to your further posts!

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Lena, we feel fortunate that we don’t *have* to make money off the blog. I’m definitely not against the concept in general, but have realized how much harder it’s become to make a blog profitable, especially if it hasn’t been around for a long time. I think the people who are making it work are diversifying their efforts (and working really hard!) and have the audience to support that.

  3. Jo in NZ says:

    Thanks for sharing this – I love the decision you’ve taken! Also love that you get so many referrals via the blog. Well deserved! Thanks, both.

  4. Audrey says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with our blog. It feels like it takes me too long to produce something I’m really proud of. At the same time, I don’t want to invest too much of my time because I’m not getting paid for the work. I met a NY Times travel writer when I first started blogging and her comment on blogging was “I don’t give it away for free.” That’s always stuck with me. I might feel different about blogging if I owned a business and my blog helped to attract customers. I have a soft goal of posting something on our blog at least once a month with the freedom to post more if I want to.

    P.S. I love your use of the word juggernaut πŸ™‚

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Aud. πŸ™‚ I definitely get where you’re coming from and I think there tends to be a gray area when the blog starts as a personal one or is used as a “portfolio piece” of sorts. You have to do it for yourself for a while but as soon as someone asks you to write something for them…yeah, never for free (or extremely little pay). Ultimately, I think people (who aren’t getting paid) should blog because they want to and not because they feel pressured to hit a certain target. Then, your content will be something that you continue to be proud of years down the road. (And I do love your content! I need to read that book!)

  5. Katja from Berlin says:

    I am so glad your back blogging!
    I am not an architect, I am not remodeling a house, I am living on the other side of the planet, but I keep coming back to read your blog, because it is well thought and written, projects are always well documented and it reveals that what you do, you do with your heart… it shows the way you process things, how continuous you work and gives an impression of your personal style and all this is inspiring and worth to wait some extra time for the next post…

    (I am not a native speaker, so please don’t feel offended if I my englisch sounds strange or if I made mistakes…)

  6. It is nice to hear that you are going to focus on making your blog what you want it to be. I think that we all get caught up in what we “should” do, but it is not always the best for us. I struggle with this myself. I would love to have a super “successful” blog, but I do not want to be forced to worry about things like Pinterest and Instagram. In the end, I have also decided that my blog should make me happy and I am not going to worry about the rest.

    Your blog was one of the first that I started to read. In fact, you were the first blogger to ever respond to me, and I was so excited. The personal touch is really special. Keep up the great work.

    • Lauren says:

      Aww, thanks Jessica! Yes, I think part of it for me was not just getting bogged down with the blog, but also Instagram/Pinterest/Facebook/Twitter/etc. It just became too much! So, I’m taking a break from Pinterest and Twitter, but still use Instagram for mostly random photos of Avery and/or Bailey.

  7. Marlena says:

    I’ve always enjoyed reading your blog! Do what feels right for you and your family. I agree that some blogging has just become affiliate central, with posts only being about products. Thanks for the balance! And one day I’d love to work with you guys.

  8. Mariane says:

    Hi guys!
    I really love your blog and I am glad you still want to write posts. I missed your voice in the last month, you are down to earth and genius. If I ever need an architect (it is my dream to build a house with an architect!) I will call you! Also, how is miss Avery? I read your blog mainly for the design ideas and how to, but I always liked your posts on baby stuff and Avery, it actually gave me an itch to add to my family! All the best to the four of you!

    • Lauren says:

      Hi Mariane, Avery is great! (We still post a lot of photos of her on Instagram.) I have been meaning to do an updated post on “small space living with a baby” (especially after Christmas!), so that should be coming soon.

  9. Dusa says:

    Be true to your vision: THAT’S why we read your blog! (That, and for the Bailey photo bombs)

  10. Elle says:

    I hope we’ll still get to see Avery on occasion. I showed her nursery to lots of people. It was the first one I’d seen with “black” walls, and I loved it.

    • Lauren says:

      Yes, we have plans to do an updated “small space living with a toddler” post soon (and she still gets lots of love on my Instagram feed). As she continues to grow, her space keeps changing as does our baby-proofing efforts so I keep waiting for a good time to stop and take pictures but there probably won’t ever be one so I should just do it! πŸ™‚

  11. Heather says:

    Cheers to you and Kyle to not getting caught up in the blog rat race. Personally, I read your blog because it’s like catching up with a “friend”. I really enjoy experiencing your renovation projects, your family trips with Avery or just some gold old fashioned Bailey love. Do what feels right. I’ll be along for the ride.

  12. ANDEE says:

    “Also, we are still not done with this house!” <– this made me so excited!!! I love everything you guys have done to your house and I'm so excited to watch as your grow!

    • Lauren says:

      Oh yeah, we still have to finish the basement bathroom and laundry room and then there’s our bedroom and then our junky garage and carport…LOTS to do! πŸ™‚

  13. kayce says:

    I mostly lurk but I wanted to pop in to say how much I enjoy your blog and how glad I am that you are going to continue to post. I was a little bit worried there, for a second! Your remodel has been such an inspiration to me, one I keep coming back to for ideas and reference as I am now neck deep in a full gut reno. And as I just had my first child last year, it’s been fun to see how others are integrating a new baby into their lives too. So, I guess this was just my long winded way of saying YAY!

  14. Linda says:

    So glad that you are continuing to blog. I love the realness of your renos and the style you bring to a regular home:) With a family of 4 in a small bungalow, I love to see how you make your small space work and look beautiful at the same time, always inspiring!

  15. Maria says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful and sincere posts. I find them to be so refreshing. I much rather enjoy a quality and unique post every once in a while rather than scheduled posts because you “have” to. Your blog is so inspiring!!

  16. Yvonne P says:

    I’m glad that you are sticking around! I’m also kind of glad that you are sticking to writing when you choose and about what you choose. I follow your blog because I love your design aesthetic and your ideas for your home are inspiring. Frankly, and I realize I am probably crazy with this one, some bloggers post too much and I get completely overwhelmed with the amount of content that I don’t end up reading any of it. I’d rather just ‘mark as read’ on my blog reader so that I don’t freak out over the amount of unread posts I have. Anyways- continue doing what you love and I’ll continue to read and look forward to your posts whenever they appear. πŸ™‚

    • Lauren says:

      Yes! I do that too! In fact, just last night I went and “marked as read” to about 600 posts from various things on my reader! (It’s not just my blog that I’ve been neglecting lately.) Part of me worries that I’m missing out, but it did feel really good. I’ve also unsubscribed from some blogs because it was just too much to keep up with.

  17. Brandon says:

    As always, looking forward to reading and seeing more.

  18. Emily says:

    Part of what makes Chezerbey so amazing, for me, is that it’s you. You and Kyle and this little old house. Living small when so many people choose to have huge homes. It’s not sponsored posts. It’s not ads. It’s just about your reno. Your choices. I’ve been really disenchanted lately by finding so many sponsored posts on many of the blogs I frequent. I’d rather see less content that was more authentic (which, yeah, I know, totally not optimal for SEO, I struggle with that one myself) than mindless drivel.

    Sidenote #1: Did you ever blog your bathroom and bedroom renos? I went through the archives looking for them, and I didn’t find anything and I wanted to know about renovating a bathroom when you only have one. Because gosh, we’re going to have to tackle that some day.
    Sidenote #2: I’m glad that I’m not the only one who takes 2+ hours to write a post. It’s a big time commitment to make them sound and look good.
    Sidenote #3: As we now have a house, emailing you has been on my to do list. πŸ™‚

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Emily! Technically we did the bedroom and bathroom before we started the blog, but tried to summarize those on the “process” pages on our house tour. We definitely went through a very unglamorous phase with the bathroom where we were showering with black plastic on all four sides. Fortunately, because we were moving the bathroom slightly, we were able to keep the old toilet in place while we installed the new one. But y’know, we still had running water to there was that. πŸ™‚

      You should definitely email me, congrats on the new house! πŸ™‚

  19. Liz says:

    I am in agreement with many of your followers. As someone who has been following you fairly religiously for the past year and a half, I’d so much rather see posts that really matter to you and Kyle, and to your family, than a shoutout to your sponsors. Not that I didn’t enjoy reading about the products you use! But at least I know that comes from a place of real love for a product, advice from a friend, so to speak, then being a corporate puppet.

    Thank you for your passion, thank you for your insight, and thank you for staying true to the format. It’s what sets you apart.

    • Lauren says:

      Thank *you* Liz! I know what you mean though, we figured that we would be so picky about what products/manufacturers we would even be willing to work with (and most of the ones I’ve been contacted by are not on that list) that it seemed like way too much hassle. Still, doesn’t mean we can’t continue to share what we like or don’t like and we plan to keep doing that.

  20. jen says:

    Yep! Ditto to all above! Glad you’re going to keep at it because you enjoy it and not trying to force a blogger-career. I am sad at how many of the blogs I started reading 10 years ago have really gone done in quality
    (but greatly increased the quantity) of posts. I’m still blogging but I’ve never had a larger motive than keeping family and friends in the loop while we travel, renovate, and raise our daughter. Looking forward to continue reading your lovely blog!

    • Lauren says:

      Thanks Jen, I definitely understand the dilemma bloggers have. Mostly I think it’s really hard for people to start monetizing their blogs *now*, but those that did it years ago are established enough to keep going or they already have the readership to explore additional options. I also don’t think our blog is diverse enough to really be able to make money (there’s a reason you don’t see me crafting, trust me!). I guess for a while it just seemed like the logical next step since I was already putting all this time and effort into something, but finally realized that we are “profiting” from the blog, just not in the way of getting paid for content, etc. I’m glad to hear that people will still follow us even if we aren’t on a regular posting schedule. πŸ™‚

  21. Steph Nelson says:

    I recently “re-found” your blog and I spent quite a few nights reading backwards, pretty far back. Perhaps to when you bought your house (????,not sure). But anyway, I love your blog and the way it is and is written. That’s all.

  22. LauraC says:

    YEAH!!!! Oh, I’ve been checking and rechecking, missing you guys. Guess what?! Saturday we bought our IKEA kitchen and it was delivered today!!! Yeah, yeah, so excited! Anyway, we’re still raiding your brain, most recently, checking out your posts on under cabinet lighting. Thanks. πŸ˜‰ Glad you’re back, but no pressure, I want you to enjoy blogging.

    • Lauren says:

      That’s awesome Laura, definitely let us know how it turns out! You should check some of the big box stores for under cabinet LED lighting. It wasn’t as widely available when we bought ours and has come down in price quite a bit (yay!).

  23. Ms. Tweetley says:

    So glad to hear from you on the blog Missed you and the family adventures.

  24. Word to everything you are saying.

    I’m in a totally different situation (my blog has nothing to do with my professional life – if anything, I totally live a double life in some ways) but I feel like what was once a fun thing to do on the side is now becoming a chore. Primarily b/c of the expectations I put on myself so Im trying to just lighten up a little.

    All that to say, glad to see you back and I’ll be happy to read whatever you want to share.

    • Lauren says:

      I think some of the “charm” of blogging has gone away…it’s just too big and there so many blogs and auxiliary applications that it gets overwhelming. I also think when we started years ago there wasn’t that expectation to post as frequently. And yes, I’m totally the one putting expectations on myself too! It’s kinda silly and I laughed out loud thinking about how stressing over a blog post is pretty ridiculous in the bigger scheme of things (as in, can you imagine someone in a third world country fretting over their blog?). I think in a way it’s just one more thing we’ve added to our weekly “to do” list and we feel guilty if we’re not getting it done.

      At any rate, I still love reading your blog too!

  25. Shauna says:

    You just take your time. I like what you have to say, whenever you choose to say it. Thanks for persuing the blog!

  26. hjc says:

    Love how you write, about whatever you write, whenever you write. Glad you’re keeping it up on your terms – I’ll be following no matter what! :-).

  27. Michelle says:

    I’m glad to see you post again, no matter the schedule. I much prefer authentic posts irregularly than weeding through fluff content posted on a frequent basis.

  28. June says:

    Ditto to all the above. It has been so fascinating seeing and reading about your renovation and adaptation to small space living. If I ever need an architect, I will totally call your firm first! πŸ™‚

  29. luminous nw says:

    Bravo! Nothing to say that hasn’t been said above. Do what gives you life!

  30. Jeff Layman says:

    Welcome back! Nice to see I’m not the only one hoping for a Chezerbey update… My RSS feed was starting to wonder where you went! Question for you; do you have any tips for photographing spaces for before & after shots? Me and a colleague will be helping some students redesign the space in their senior lounge and we want to document the process for our school. Any suggestions?

    • Lauren says:

      Hi Jeff, well – most of the time “before” photos are taken quickly and without a nice camera or a lot of thought. I’d say the best advice I have is try to have good lighting and use a tripod. Also mark (if possible) where you shot from so you can replicate the same view for the “after” photo. Also, a wide-angle lens can really help! Good luck!

  31. Steph says:

    It’s worth it to have an archive of good posts rather than a bunch of filler. There’s a lot of good info in the chezerbey archives; I can tell that the consideration that goes into your design also goes into your posts.

    (Question, if you don’t mind: I’m considering a similar slate-grey for our exterior – it looks so modern and fresh on weatherboard! – and I’m curious if it’s affected the house temperature much? Sorry if this has already been answered!)

    • Lauren says:

      Hi Steph, we haven’t noticed a difference in the paint color affecting the temperature, but we also live in a pretty temperate climate that never gets that hot. Also, we insulated the walls and replaced all the windows around the same time so hard to say if those moves offset any heat gain.

  32. PAppel says:

    Yippee to you being back. Your posts are a joy to read. I’d rather read less often than every day menu of sponsored posts.

  33. Anthony says:

    Thanks for this post! We feel similar to you in that blogging has taken on a whole new level and the advertising and sponsoring has gotten crazy. We’re in the same boat as you (young architects/designers/photographers) who are trying to balance professional life, personal life (our daughter just turned 2 in Jan.), additional career asperations/fostering our fledgling business, and keeping a blog rolling. Formerly, after moving into our new home, we started fresh with to reflect our new life and have been struggling with ‘being like everyone else’s blog’ in terms of posting and content. It’s nice to see that we’re not alone in NOT being able to do it all, all the time! We love your work (blog, house, architecture practice) and look forward to see updates along the way!

  34. LD says:

    So glad to find a new posting. I check in since I found you only right before your last post and I was kind of disappointed that now that I have found you, you were gone. Glad you are not. Your blog has introduced me to the whole modern style and a whole new level of DIY. DIY that I will never take part in, but love to read about. Thanks so much for sharing!

  35. Sarah says:

    The fact that you are not monetized and that every 2nd post isn’t sponsored is one reason (of many) that I keep checking in. I have given up on most “design” blogs and am happy to read anything you produce, even if it is on a less frequent schedule. I really enjoy your posts.

  36. becky says:

    Be you. That’s why I read.

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