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Design Direction: Find balance between beauty, function

| Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, 8:55 p.m.
Sherry and John Petersik
Todd Wright
Sherry and John Petersik
'Lovable Livable Home' (Artisan Books, $27.50) by Sherry Petersik and John Petersik
'Lovable Livable Home' (Artisan Books, $27.50) by Sherry Petersik and John Petersik

Sherry and John Petersik are firm believers that pretty doesn't have to mean pristine.

The Petersiks, the couple behind popular home-improvement blog YoungHouseLove.com, are authors of “Lovable Livable Home” ($27.50, Artisan Books), giving readers ideas and advice on how to create a comfortable and charming home for any family to enjoy — and actually live in. That means finding the perfect blend of form, function and, most importantly, meaning to create a space that feels like home.

In addition to their latest title, the Petersiks are authors of a best-selling book by the same name as their blog and have created product lines that are sold at Target and Home Depot. They live in Richmond, Va., with their two children and chihuahua, Burger.

Question: Many families with young children have homes that are either functional or beautiful. What's the secret to finding a balance and creating a home that is both?

Sherry: A lot of people do think it's mutually exclusive and say, “When the kids go to college, I'll have something I like looking at.” And in the meantime, their home looks like a day care. No, you shouldn't buy the amazing white couch in velvet, but there are things that look beautiful and are very durable.

For the book, we got to go into people's real homes and see what works and why. We saw people with acrylic coffee tables and consoles that are beautiful and super kid-friendly. We saw a lot of leather — the more beat up it is, the better it looks. It grows with the family, and it ages well. We saw many Persian rugs that, even if you spilled wine on them, they're so busy, you can't really tell. We saw a lot of antiques. If you go to auctions, you can get something at a good price that has stood the test of time and is already weathered. That's the charm.

John: Give yourself permission to find a middle ground — it does exist — between beautiful and functional. It doesn't have to be less beautiful if it looks lived in.

Q: What's your advice for someone thinking about taking on a few DIY projects, but who might be a little hesitant because they've never tried something like that before?

Sherry: When our daughter was born, John was just learning to do small things. He made shelves, which, on a scale of DIY difficulty, is a 1. When our son was born four years later, he made built-ins for either side of his crib. It happened over four years, not overnight, but the key is to start small. Had he never built those shelves, that trajectory never would have begun.

John: Start with a low-risk project that doesn't take a lot of time and money. Don't demo your whole bathroom. Start with a project that doesn't require a lot of tools.

Q: In your book, you talk a lot about the importance of bringing meaning into your decor. Give an example of a favorite way you've done this in your own home.

John: Doing things the DIY way almost always inherently injects meaning into your home. You can look around any room and see the projects you've done together. Adding personal touches are what make your home look like it can't be anyone else's.

Sherry: We're very sentimental. When our children were born, we took photos of them every week for the first year of life. We wanted to see how they grew. We're so grateful we took the time to do it. We have those memories forever. We printed all the photos in a grid that now hangs in our guest room. In general, we're not big fans of putting things in boxes because then, they can't be enjoyed. Even when we go on vacation and bring back shells, we want to be able to display and appreciate them.

Q: When creating a lovable, livable home for a family, are you ever really done? Or, is the decor and design constantly evolving as the family grows?

Sherry: Some spaces can reach a point where you're happy and won't change much. But most of the home naturally progresses just like a family, which is never stagnant. When a room becomes stagnant, it's working against you. Never freeze anything in time. Be open to making a room function best as the family grows and changes.

Rachel Weaver is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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