Sherry and John Petersik, who attract an impressive following with their blog on home improvement, recently added a book to their repertoire. At book tour events — two of which are scheduled for South Florida this week — they’re greeted by enthusiastic throngs.
As do-it-yourselfers, Sherry and John are stars. And yet, they are like us. Those of us, at least, with no formal training in design and renovation.
“We’re just average Joes,” said Sherry, from her home in Richmond, Va.
The gung-ho DIYers, who both previously worked in the advertising field, launched their blog in 2007 just for fun. They were budget-minded newlyweds sharing tales of refurbishing their first home.
“We didn’t know what we were doing,” Sherry said. “We make the same mistakes everybody else does.”
As readership built, they transformed their blog, “Young House Love,” into a full-time business. Now their projects range in scope from simple homemade art and tabletop décor to refurbishing thrift store purchases, building a deck and ripping out and re-doing bathrooms. In November, they published a book named after their blog .
Fans are reading. And writing. The blog entries often receive thousands of comments, and Sherry and John answer about 200 questions a day.
Young House Love fandom stretches to South Florida. When John and Sherry posted information about their book tour, phones rang at Books & Books in Fort Lauderdale with inquiries about the event, said store manager Sally Glenn.
In blog and book, the Petersiks offer information and tips about home improvement, design, décor, entertaining and organizing. Among Sherry’s fast, easy and inexpensive project ideas are no-sew curtains and a framed art piece she made using house keys. Sherry gathered an assortment of keys from places they had lived, glued them into place, then added labels identifying each home.
Some projects are duds, like a string lantern that shriveled into what looked like a hairball, Sherry said. Even those get a respectable mention on the blog.
The blog is folksy and friendly. Their young daughter Clara is a popular feature. So is Burger, the Chihuahua.
Discussing DIY projects from the perspective of non-professionals is part of the appeal of the blog, Sherry said.
“It’s relatable and approachable. Those are words we hear a lot,” she said.
Sometimes blog readers want to replicate the Petersiks’ projects exactly and ask for detailed information, such as a specific hue of paint or the exact height of the top floor of a multilevel dollhouse they built for Clara.
“It’s like a conversation,” Sherry said.
At book signings, fans ask lots of questions too. Among topics they’re are interested in, Sherry said, are how to work smoothly with a spouse.
Sherry explains she and John adhere to what they refer to as their Full-Agreement Agreement. When selecting paint hues or making other design and buying decisions, both partners need to agree. The process may be slower and more deliberate, Sherry said, but it’s worth it because they wind up with something they both like.
As for divvying up the work, they each focus on job assignments they prefer, which tends to balance each other out. If there are tasks neither is fond of, like painting a ceiling, they do it together.
Sherry encourages novice DIYers is to go for it — but to be realistic about their potential, she said.
It’s a good idea to start with easier projects, she said. That builds know-how, momentum and confidence.
The results and the pride are well worth the effort, Sherry said.
“Even if only half the things you try are a success, that’s more things in your house that you love,” she said.
Instead of expensive designer home décor, it seems lots of home dwellers are refocusing their attention.
“They brag about things they did themselves,” Sherry said. “And how little they spent.”