Julia Konya & Her Home
Boy, have we got a beautiful home tour for you today! In case you're just now making Julia Konya's acquaintance, she's the creative founder and designer behind Cuckoo4Design, a DIY blog, which is filled to the brim with real life do-it-yourself projects that seamlessly integrate into a home with both kids and pets.
As a mother of two and a cat lover to boot, Julia has had to find creative ways to design a home that can withstand all that her bustling brood throws at it. Yet, when you look around at all of the opulent details, luxurious layered fabrics and gorgeous vintage details, you'd never guess that Julia was faced with such challenges. The Konya household boasts comfort and style, all with the practicality that this busy family of four requires on a daily basis.
Today, Julia shares her take on blogging as a profession, plus exclusive insight into what it's like to be a brand-new German-born U.S. citizen and design-focused homemaker. Her thoughts and room-by-room home tour are below!
We’re big fans of your blog, Cuckoo4Design! When did you launch the site, and what made you decide to take the leap into blogging?
I’ve always looked for a creative outlet because it is my passion, and on March 22, 2012, I hit publish on my first post, which was about my old striped painted curtains. The second one was about my secretary desk makeover—the same desk I still have. I wanted to start a blog much earlier and wish I would have because it was so much easier to grow your blog a long time ago. But my kids required all my time, and I waited until they were in kindergarten to start my blog.
Where does the name Cuckoo4Design come from?
While growing up in Germany, I hated cuckoo clocks. They reminded me of old people in smelly, dusty homes. So, after I got married, my parents thought it would be very funny to send a cuckoo clock to me in the U.S. and guilt me into hanging it up. I was less than thrilled to display my brown-carved clock in the living room, especially because I hate being guilted and forced into any design decisions. But because I really miss my family (and I have to admit that it reminds me of Germany), I hung it up. My kids loved it and so did my cats.
One day, I returned home to find the clock lying on the floor. One of my cats had jumped at it at the 2 p.m. chirp (I know that because it was stopped at 2 p.m.). I figured it was broken, but no such luck. I wanted to paint the clock to modernize it, but my dad said "no" because it was too expensive, so I started buying cheap old cuckoo clocks on Craigslist and painted those instead. This was all before my blog, so when the question arose about what to name my blog, I felt like the cuckoo clock was really fitting and Cuckoo4Design was born.
Describe your decorating style.
I love mixing styles, for sure. I think it makes a home so much more interesting to have a great mix of styles, colors and textures. I like a touch of elegance, whimsy, boho, modern and history, all mixed with lots of black-and-white patterns.
What are some of your favorite DIY home projects?
One of my most recent favorite DIY projects was my graphic iron-on black-and-white curtains. They changed the look and feel of my home so much. I also love my DIY cat enclosure, reupholstered bedroom chaise, my daughter’s headboard and all of my paintings.
Do you have any advice for new bloggers who are just starting out?
That's a tough one because there are so many blogs already. It's a huge ocean full of blogs with great content, and most of the time I feel like I'm drowning in that ocean. It's hard to keep your head above the water of great content. My only advice is to be authentic and to not worry about what everyone else is doing or has achieved. Comparison is very bad and I know most bloggers struggle with that.
I've always loved to paint. For me, creating art is more about laying out your feelings in color.
Tell us about your transition from Germany to the U.S. How has it influenced your work as a designer and blogger?
I just became a citizen last year after living in the U.S. for 19 years. I only wanted to become a citizen if Germany would finally grant me permission to also keep my German citizenship, which both of our kids have. It's important for me to keep going back with them every year for five weeks, and to feel at home in both countries.
American design has influenced me greatly because you normally can’t find great, eclectic interiors in Germany. I have kept my love for light wooden floors and white furniture, which is very big in Europe. The Scandinavian look is everywhere.
Where's your favorite place to travel to? Where do you want to go, but have never been to before?
I want to go to the Caribbean. We spend all our money traveling to Europe every year to see my family and to take other small trips throughout Europe. It never leaves room to go anywhere else. But traveling to Europe has taught my kids so much and we all love it, so it was well worth going every year.
Who are your favorite people to follow on Instagram?
For a German blogger and Instagramer, I love following Lebenslustiger. I have also made so many great friends on Instagram that it would be unfair to pick favorites. Of course, I have my favorite inspirational designers whom probably everyone follows, like Jonathan Adler and Emily Henderson. I also love @fleamarketfab for great boho inspiration and animal love.
I love mixing styles, for sure. I think it makes a home so much more interesting to have a great mix of styles, colors and textures.
If you were to ask your kids and husband which rooms were their favorites, which do you think they'd choose and why?
They would definitely pick our living room and basement family room, which is currently undergoing a little overhaul. Those are the areas we hang out in the most.
How do you design your home around your cats? What concessions have you had to make, if any?
I will never get anything chenille again because claws get stuck in it easily. All of our cats have their claws and even though I keep them trimmed, you can't avoid the occasional snag or destructive behavior. I'm also afraid to buy vintage upholstery because I'm not sure if they'd like to mark any strange smells. The only vintage upholstery piece I have bought—which is in our dining room—has been fine though.
Tell us about your love for art. How did you get into it, and who are your artistic influences?
I've always loved to paint. I had many people who have influenced me, like my parents' neighbor who was my art teacher in high school and is an artist, my high school boyfriend's mother who loved to paint and then, of course, my friends and teachers when I went to art school. I've always loved impressionists and modern abstract art. For me, creating art is more about laying out your feelings in color.
What are your favorite things to do with your kids at their ages right now?
My kids are each at a great age. I love traveling with my son. He is very interested in different cultures, history and food. He is definitely a foodie and it's a joy to see. He's even written some travel blog posts for my blog. I love skiing with my kids in the winter and spending time on the beach in the summer—and watching them play soccer, which takes up a lot of time.
Do you have any secret spots around Northampton, Pa., to find great art or furniture?
Goodwill and Tom Hall Auctions are my favorites. It’s great when you have an auction house nearby that consistently sells good-quality items. A lot of the vintage pieces in our house are from Tom Hall, like the $25 glass dining table, the $175 antique silk velvet chaise and our $75 wrought iron and marble bistro table.
Where do you see yourself and your blog in five to 10 years?
I don’t really think about it that much. I’d like to take it day by day. Blogging has changed so much and is changing so quickly all the time that I feel like planning ahead isn’t the right thing to do. I still want my blog to remain my passion, my safe place and my escape from things that I worry about. I'd also love to do more local work in the future, and I’d love to get into family travel blogging. I mentioned that my son enjoys writing posts on my blog about our traveling escapades in Europe, and we’d all love to expand that to different areas.
How do you think blogging as a profession is going to evolve in the next decade?
I think you will see more and more video content from bloggers, which I'm not really liking for myself and can't see myself doing. I don't have the patience to watch videos front to back—I just like looking at pretty pictures and reading the content when I feel like it.
- Master bedroom bed
- Daughter's desk
- Acrylic ghost chair
- Brass Moravian star chandelier
- Print in bedroom
- Large living room rug
- Gray IKEA Strandmon chair
- Nesting tables
- Disco ball
- Jonathan Adler horse
- Gold kitchen faucet
- Plates on the kitchen wall
- Black and white plates
- Vinyl cross wall decals
- DIY room divider
- Made-over kitchen stools
- Daughter’s DIY headboard
- Vintage reupholstered chaise