Kitchen The Blog The Victorian House

Finding the Balance Between Sponsored and Not

I had something else planned to share today, but in light of recent comments (which were polite and respectful, thank you), I want to let you in on my thought process with a big upcoming project. And I would love your feedback.

Our home had more pressing issues to tend to before we got to the kitchen. We addressed the heating system, remodeled the second floor and turned a superfluous kitchen into a bedroom (Calvin’s nursery), consolidated the multiple gas lines and accounts into one and did the same with our electrical service (in addition to rewiring everything).

There is a room off the back of the kitchen, a former sleeping porch, that would be wonderful to open up and incorporate. Direct access to the yard! Breakfast for the kids in an eat-in kitchen! The ability to not have our stove right next to the fridge! It requires opening a load-bearing wall though, and new flooring, new cabinetry, the works. It’s a maybe someday type of project, and it’s not something that we’re looking to do right now. The kitchen works well for us overall as it is — we have plenty of storage, the cabinets have some quirks but they’re fine, and we do at least have the modern convenience of a dishwasher.

That antique gas/wood-burning stove, though! I’ve been hesitant to get rid of the it because I have a love/hate thing going on, but it’s time. We’re a family of five now, we cook dinner every night, and the stove makes it harder than it needs to be. We’ll be selling it eventually and I’m sure it will have many more useful years ahead of it, but we’re ready for something else.

Antique Stove

We’ve also had some electrical problems that are driving a redo. There is a sconce, a ceiling fan, and three pendant lights in the kitchen. The light above the stove sparked and burned a light bulb in Brandon’s hand as he was changing it out one day, which was more than a little scary. In an unrelated event (I think), we mysteriously lost power to a portion of the second floor. While our electricians were fixing that problem, they found active knob and tube that was missed during our initial house inspection, and thus began the rewiring of the entire place. The bulk of the job is done now, but it was suggested that we wait to finish the rest when we didn’t have a newborn. We agreed and then we were waiting until after we hosted my sister’s bridal shower in the house (which I will share next week), and now we’ll be able to get back to it as soon as we can get back on the electricians’ schedule. A ceiling is coming down, walls are being opened, and the house is going to be in a state of chaos for a while, but I’m looking forward to getting this work done because it has been holding other projects back.

In the meantime, we had the faulty kitchen pendant rewired and thought all was well, but then I was changing a bulb recently in the pendant above the sink and the same thing happened. The sparks were pretty spectacular! So now we aren’t sure if the problem lies in the house’s wiring (the kitchen has not been done yet), the vintage lighting fixtures, or both. The problem will be investigated, and I’m hoping it can be fixed without destroying the tin ceiling.

Tin Ceiling

So. New stove. Rewiring or replacing the lights. While we’re at it, I would also like to put in new counters, swap out the sink and faucet, remove the wallpaper, paint or put up new paper, and add ventilation with a range hood. Maybe paint the cabinets, bring in some tile, and revamp or replace the kitchen island too. I’m in the early stages of planning everything right now, but the crazy thing is that (to be perfectly honest) the blog puts me in a position to do much of the room for free.

The business of blogging is always changing and those of us that have been doing this for a long time are always adapting, and I’ve addressed the topic of sponsorship before. I teach, I write elsewhere, and I cobble together a living from other opportunities, but the primary source of my income is sponsor-driven and has been for many years. I’m not sure what our budget for the kitchen will be yet, but let’s say I can set aside $10,000. We will likely hire someone to put in the ventilation and there will be some repairs needed after the electricians do their thing (the extent of which will determine whether we DIY or hire out), so those costs are somewhat fixed. With the rest of our budget, I could buy a mid-priced range, save money by painting instead of adding tile or wallpaper, rewire and keep our existing lighting (assuming it can be deemed safe), reuse the sink and faucet that we took out from the kitchen on the second floor, and watch our pennies with all the rest.

Bloggers hold influence, and therefore companies are often eager to get product into our hands in exchange for coverage. Any goods that I accept, either those that have been proactively offered or that I seek out with proposals, would effectively increase our overall budget and allow us to allocate our cash differently. It could mean the difference in my design between a standard 30″ stove and a higher-end 36″ range (the added six inches comes with a huge price jump), or it could mean more beautiful lighting and a new sink. I wouldn’t accept something just because the (free) price is right, but if it was something I would have purchased anyway, I simply look at it as another form of income — one that allows us to accomplish more than we would have been able to do otherwise.

There are a couple of remodels going on in the blog world right now that will be incorporating gifted items, some of which have been more clearly disclosed than others. The ongoing One Room Challenge series, is fun to follow, provides a ton of inspiration, and it is made possible in large part by sponsorships. Knowing this doesn’t diminish my interest as a reader, but perhaps my perception is different because I am on both sides of the issue.

Accepting sponsorships or free goods allows me to create a more beautiful finished product (I’m happy), offers coverage for the brands I partner with (they’re happy), and produces more original content for the blog (I want you to be happy, too). I get that it’s not easy to relate to a kitchen done entirely with free goods, but I think there is a balance to be struck and I can’t make the call in a vacuum or an echo-chamber. I can discuss these things with friends, family, and fellow bloggers, but then sometimes I’ll make a decision and it prompts a completely unexpected reaction. So let’s talk. Would you prefer to see a modest kitchen redone without the help of free goods? Or a more involved design with higher-end finishes and details that were made possible (either in part or entirely) by seeking out partnerships? Do you draw a distinction between accepting individual components (appliances, tile, etc.) or an overall sponsorship (brought to you by _____)?

I’ve always aimed to be transparent in these matters, so you tell me. What would you (ideally) like to see? I’m listening.

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  • Stacey
    July 30, 2015 at 6:45 pm


    Thank you so much for getting readers involved! I would be excited to follow along with a sponsored kitchen renovation if a) you were transparent about the sponsorship (as you always are, but it’s a point worth making), and b) you made suggestions for cutting and/or prioritizing costs for readers who are inspired by your renovations (as I always am) but are unable to do their own projects on a similarly large budget.

    As a longtime reader, I trust your judgement and your reviews of products, sponsored or otherwise. I am looking forward to whatever you do next!

  • Bridget
    July 30, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Bligging is your business, I don’t know how people expect to get your content for free without you doing sponsored posts. Rock on, can’t wait to see your kitchen refresh!

    • Bridget
      July 30, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      BLOGGING!!! (Autocorrect )

  • Mairi HS
    July 30, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    I think it is awesome that you are asking your readership for their input. I am currently redoing my home and considering budget I have to prioritize. I can’t imagine how fun it would be to do the whole thing and get everything you want for free or in exchange for your writing about it. I appreciate the transparency. As someone who loves to read blogs but doesn’t totally understand how the financing works, it can be frustrating to know the cost of some of the items used in blogs and wonder how that is supposed to be relatable/ realistically affordable to other middle class citizens. I think it would be cool if you went ahead with the higher end items (if they are options) but then did some comparisons of similar items that are less expensive( this may not be possible if the post is sponsored).
    EIther way I will read the blog with envy and take inspiration from it also! Enjoy it you deserve it.

  • Jo
    July 30, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    I am all for your having sponsorships fund your kitchen, you’re always clear about sponsored content so we’re not being deceived there.

    My problem comes from (as others have said) the fact that lately the content is all sponsored, and when it’s not, it’s lackluster.
    I used to visit your blog every day, sometimes more than once a day and the content was varied and interesting. And I can appreciate that generating the posts is time consuming and you have other things to worry about, like your family and work that we don’t see here, but there’s a distinct difference between the PR-like polished sponsored posts and current original content. I think if they were more even in terms of quality, the sponsorships would be an afterthought.

    That said, I’m going to keep coming back because I want to see how you’ll continue to develop one of my favorite blogs :)

  • Emily
    July 30, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    What about what you want? You have to live with it every day? Plus, it impacts the value of your home. Where do those factors come into your decision-making process?

  • Lilly
    July 30, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    Like others have said, I think it’s great you are asking for input.

    Since I have a tight budget, I like reading about renovations, decorations, etc with limited budget too. Right now, I pay more attention to that, than to great design. Although, your victorian house needs a big budget I would say.

    I am ok with sponsored posts. Sometimes when I am reading a blog, I can quickly tell if it’s a sponsored post right away. Even if they don’t mention it at the beginning. When I start seeing very nice pictures, nicer than normal. Polished scenes. I wished sponsored posts were same format and style than regular posts. That way I can truly feel they are talking about a product they would buy anyway. It wouldn’t seem artificial.

    I miss hearing about your family. But I guess you already addressed that topic. About cooking (not Blue Apron cooking), books you are reading, what about roller derby?

    Blogs change, and so do their audience. I stopped following some blogs, I follow some new ones now. My life has changed, my taste has modified a little.

    I think you are great at what you do. I think you will have plenty of followers either way. Whether you keep your kitchen modest or higher end style.

    (I prefer the modest, though)

  • Rae
    July 30, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    I am a long time reader but rare commenter (sorry!) I think you should be proud of your blogging success and should feel free to get sponsorships. That being said, I applaud and appreciate your transparency about the issue. What bothers me about many other bloggers is that it seems like it became all about sponsorships and the blog’s integrity and feel changed. I think with open and honest discussion like this, most readers will be more than happy for you to benefit from your years of work and effort.

  • Victoria
    July 30, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    I am also a longtime reader and the blue apron, and coffee mate posts were not ones I would expect from you. I like your style, but I like your get things done attitude. I know you just had another baby, and therefore posts are harder to write and edit, but rather skip a day or two rather than the coffee mate post.

    Yes, get help with paying for your kitchen, but show a little more of the dust and debris and choices.

  • Heather
    July 30, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    You have a beautiful home and a beautiful family. I am of the “go big or fo home” idea. Get your sponsors, have your grand kitchen. It’s a perk of your job that any of us reading your blog would be grateful to have and would absolutely take advantage of. I love your style and your ideas and takes bits of ideas from you and spin them in a way that works for me and i can do. As long as you are using peoducts you stand behind i am happy to see you use sponsored products! Lucky you! Now go forth and show us your top of the line kitchen!

  • Jen
    July 30, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    It’s your house, your kitchen, your business. I am a long time reader and have always appreciated the efforts you make to connect with your readers and to ask for feedback, but at the end of the day this is the center of your house and has a lot of potential impact on your resale value if you were to decide to sell. Your kitchen and mine are completely different from one another, but I can glean inspiration from yours just as easily with or without sponsored products. That being said, if you want to show your readers what it would look like if you didn’t have sponsored products vs. a finished room that does have them, what about a high/low column to accompany the project? Either way, I will continue to read along.

  • erica
    July 30, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    my problem with sponsored posts is they paint an unrealistic outcome for the everyday reader. Not all of us have the means to obtain such amazing realist bc we are so limited in resources and budget. I get a lot of inspiration from these blogs and then when it comes time to redo projects in my end I begin to feel inadequate or frustrated bc I can’t achieve something nearly as lovely. If you want to relate to your readers more then think of the average reader and what they can achieve realistically.

  • JessiBee
    July 30, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    I started reading quite awhile before you had Eleanor. You were the first design blog I discovered and I’ve been a daily reader all that time. It’s been strange to watch how lightening fast the blog world changed and I commend you for navigating it while juggling a growing family, I couldn’t have done it! I loved your first house and it was where “our” style was at the time but times change! People that are into design just aren’t the people who have the same exact house and style 10, 20, 30 years later. You’ve evolved and I love the way you are going with the Victorian. I’m not really looking for the same DIY approach from you as I was in the “old days”. If you made this new house in the same style as the old house it would be ridiculous and I don’t know why some people seem to be expecting that. Anyway, you are damed if you do and damed if you don’t.
    Get that free kitchen. Post the hell out of every stage and decision and mishap. Do a Giveaway. Give us the “High/Low” so those of us with less bank can get your look for less. This is the perfect sponsored fit for you. If you can, try to part ways with the food related sponsored content. You try hard ( ex. the DIY painted tray) but it’s not working.

  • Erin
    July 30, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Get free stuff! Period! Every job has perks–embrace the perks of your job, stop apologizing for this great perk, and build yourself a beautiful kitchen for as little $$ as possible. Emily Henderson handles this well. Also, some of your readers have comparable or higher design budgets. After a decade of buying the cheapest sofa, I can finally afford to buy the perfect sofa–and that’s paralyzing! I don’t want to choose the wrong thing–the stakes feel higher as the budget goes higher. This is just one of many issues that lots of readers may relate to. A high budget doesn’t neglect readers. Go get your dream kitchen!!

  • Valerie
    July 30, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Blogging is your job. If there are perks that come with it, I say take full advantage. As you said, all parties are happy. As long as you fully disclose what items are sponsored (which you always do well), there’s nothing wrong with getting more out of your budget.

    As a marketer, I can appreciate the value of a well-read and trusted blogger endorsing my products by placing them in her home. If they’re things that you would purchase anyway, and you can get them for free, why not?

  • Julia at Home on 129 Acres
    July 30, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    I’ll echo what the others have said. Good for you for asking. Good for you for what you’ve accomplished with your blog. Good for you for supporting your family. Good for you for building a beautiful home. I recognize blogs change and evolve over time. As a longtime reader, I have to say I don’t love the sponsored cooking/food posts and even sometimes some of the decor ones. At times they seem a bit random or not connected to what I associate with your brand. It appears like you’ve just written the posts for the money–a legitimate need, but not always the most genuine content. In terms of a kitchen, this is totally in line with what I expect from you. Stylish thoughtful choices–whether free or purchased–are your signature. I would just say be open, DIY or thrift when you can, and be true to you.

  • Brooke
    July 30, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Hi there,

    Good work on getting the conversation started. It’s an important one! I don’t mind sponsored content in theory, but I do mind when it seems out of place amid a blog’s other content. For example, Cup of Jo does a great job of choosing sponsors that mesh with their content. I like and respect the bloggers whose posts I read and am naturally interested in products/stuff they recommend… so I can see the appeal of sponsored content to advertisers, and to bloggers, who use the sponsored posts as a source of income. What’s a shame is that 85% of the sponsored content I read here and on other blogs sticks out like a sore thumb. You can tell the difference between something a blogger likes and wants to share (while receiving compensation, which is cool), and something they are getting paid to produce (e.g., Coffee Mate). Not only is it not interesting or relevant to me (and not what I come to your blog for), I feel that it undermines the credibility of the other awesome work you do by “diluting” your voice.

    That said, finding sponsors for your reno seems very relevant to your work and potentially interesting. If you decorate a room and mention the paint was provided by Ben Moore, it feels like a good fit. But not an entire post sponsored by BM about their latest product, if that makes sense.

    As for the Blue Apron stuff, it’s just that EVERYONE is doing BA posts to the point of saturation. If I am going to consume sponsored content, it’s nice to at least see a product/service I haven’t seen 100 times in 20 other places. I like to feel like you pick and choose your content with the same care as the items you use to decorate (content “styling”). Unrelated posts are like an ugly plastic lawn chair in the middle of your gorgeous living room ;)

    Best of luck at this crossroads. And please don’t lose sight of the many, many things you’re already doing so well!

    • Nicole
      July 30, 2015 at 9:12 pm

      Well said.

    • Alice
      July 30, 2015 at 9:31 pm

      Yes this! I’m all for taking sponsorships for a projects that actually relate meaningfully to where you want your home to go. Please do it for the kitchen! But I’m a lot less into the more bits that feel much less related to your house/life/family.

      I have a house that is similar in many ways (same era, lots of unpainted woodwork, etc.) and we need to redo the kitchen. I really want to see what your dream renovation would look like! Because I’m in the market for things like a sink and a stove, I’m really fine with seeing ads/sponsorships for these things…but I place a lot of value on them being filtered through your taste and your vision for your house! Your choices of which sponsorships to accept are meaningful to me as a reader, and I want to feel like you’re being discerning enough that these endorsements/recommendations actually mean something, if that makes sense.

      Anyway, I appreciate the transparency, and look forward to seeing the remodel!

  • amy
    July 30, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Quite frankly, when I see a sponsorship post of any kind, I don’t look at it with the same level of interest as I would a non-sponsored post.
    I think it leaves an especially bad taste when the sponsorships are crow-barred in. The Coffeemates post seemingly came out of nowhere. When I see something like that, to be honest, I believe it is underestimating your readers’ intelligence.
    The main problem is with some blogs, including this one — it seems every other post is sponsored. Sometimes several posts in a row are sponsored. And the in-between posts are littered with affiliate links. And if there happens to be a rare post with no sponsors and no affiliate links, it’s probably a photo of your kid. I usually speed right past your posts, just because I feel there is nothing there except a commercial. no matter how great a commercial is, you always know they’re trying to sell you something.
    If you were to use a sponsor to re-do your kitchen I would implore you to also add kitchen posts that are not sponsored and are not filled with affiliate links. It would be refreshing to hear a blogger’s true voice once in a while.

  • Lisa Coen
    July 30, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    If your kitchen remodel is sponsored, it isn’t actually “free” as you are providing the audience, space and coverage required to implement and advertise those materials. Your time is valuable and it’s no surprise to your longtime readers that you are making a living for your said family of five by creating this blog along with your other projects. You are working your ass off and let’s face it, a kitchen project is going to be expensive. Take advantage of any sponsorships you can get your hands on.

    Side thought: I’m sure it’s been said, but I feel like a part of the reason Young House Love shuttered is because they got so much negative feedback regarding sponsorships prompting them to stopped blogging altogether. That was a bummer.

  • CPeter
    July 30, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    I rarely post on blogs. I am posting now because I really enjoy your blog, and I can hear concern in your tone of this post.

    I would much rather see you remodel a kitchen (or bathroom, or house, or even cook a meal) with all the resources at your disposal. Your resources include your money, your time, your tools, furniture or items given to you by family, sponsorships that work for your family, etc. etc. etc. It would be disingenuous to me if you did not fully utilize your resources to get the most out of any project. Attempting to restrict yourself to projects that all your readers are interested in or are capable of doing in their own home will make you crazy.

    I appreciate your transparency in writing sponsored posts. When I come across a sponsored post I am not interested in, I don’t read it. It is staggeringly simple for me to just move on with my day. Seriously, it’s not a problem. Good for you for making some extra money for your family, working on your photography skills, and trying out new products. I may eventually stop reading a blog if all the content is not relevant to me, but that occurs regardless of if the content is sponsored or not. I have stopped reading remodel blogs that became parenting blogs, and I have stopped reading DIY blogs that became shopping blogs. Real people are writing the content for blogs, and their resources, interests, and life are likely to change as time goes on. Sometimes the change in their life doesn’t coincide with my interests. That’s not really a problem for me, and I think I would be more suspect if bloggers I read for years are posting the same type of content for years. Change is natural.

    The last thing I would add, is about BLUE APRON. Geez. I never would have heard of this company and lately pretty much every blogger I read is cooking their food. I am not a member, but I did take a look at their site. They post a ton of their recipes online, and you can change it to suit two to four people. They are healthier recipes than I generally cook, and have calorie information included. I like to cook, and the recipes are easy to follow and use interesting techniques and flavor. The recipes are not overly time consuming, but sometimes require an extra trip to a specialty grocery store because the ingredients aren’t always ones I have on hand. If I could afford a membership, I would get one. Every recipe I have made from their site has been a win.

    Cheers to you. I look forward to seeing more of your journey in your home. Thanks for sharing your life with the world, I am sure it is not always easy.

  • Catherine
    July 30, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Honestly, I have no problem with sponsorships for things like projects as long as the blogger is open about it. It’s when they sort of make this grand post and then slip in something that is SUSPICIOUSLY like an advertisement, that it feels sort of cutting and sneaky. And to be honest, I’d much rather see, “hey we got these nice things comped by the company and we are owning that” instead of, “Look, we just bought this 4K dollar stove, tee hee, isn’t it pretty, too bad 99.9% of you will never be able to afford one” and never own up that it was gifted or majorly discounted. Does that make sense? I don’t begrudge people who work, like you, and are open about your partnerships and get great things! That’s awesome! I’d do it too! Now when EVERY post is sponsored, I just stop reading altogether. But your blog is a great mix of personal, fun, inspirational and sheesh, the guinea pigs, that’ll keep me here for years. xo

  • Kelly
    July 30, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    I think the answer to your question would most accurately be analyzed by whether your audience is A) people who have a lot of money to spend (on a Viking range for example) or B) people who are DIY ers looking for creative ideas to do in their own homes. I’m not sure if your data shows you this or not. I can answer for myself though as being the latter. I look at blogs for ideas that I can use that are affordable, creative, and beautiful because I really have no choice with my tight budget. I can imagine the struggle you must be having – either getting the kitchen of your dreams (and perhaps ticked off readers) or doing it all on your own budget with creativity and maybe a bit of elbow grease. Because I live on a tight budget, I totally understand you needing to make a living from your blog. On the other hand, my understanding doesn’t go so far as to read your posts on Blue Apron or anything else that is advertise-y. You may get my click but it’s a non-reading click and to be honest because of that I have been checking in less frequently. Is it wrong for you to accept a totally sponsored kitchen? Heck no. But you may not get my enthusiastic interest as you would had you been doing it in a more relate-able way. I can go to HGTV for something like that. Which I don’t.

  • Ashley @ Spite or Flight
    July 30, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    If you’re in a position to get freebies for your remodel, I say go for it. What frustrates me is when bloggers don’t really acknowledge sponsored items, beyond, oh btw this was sponsored. Like, how much would it cost if a normal person wanted to buy it, you know? I followed the One Room Challenge pretty closely, and while the rooms were really impressive, I thought a lot of the actual costs of things were glossed over by some of the bloggers.

  • Becky
    July 30, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Since you asked, I think you should go ahead and get the best kitchen you can: for your house, your family and your needs. I’ve lived in several historic homes, and they are EXPENSIVE to live in and maintain. Much, much more expensive than other homes. I’m glad that your job gives you the opportunity to really take care of the one you’ve got, rather than let it fall into ruin like so many great old homes have. I think as long as sponsored posts are a good fit for the blog, they can be as useful as any other post, especially if the companies that sponsor you are willing to let you adapt the content for your audience. For example, an appliance company might install a top of the line oven in your kitchen and also suggest other products from their line to suit other budgets. And if they allow a giveaway — even better! Who among your audience wouldn’t like the chance to win something for their own kitchen? However you decide to handle it, remember this: every job has perks, and this is one of the perks of yours. I know if I had a way to make my own kitchen remodel more affordable I would take it, and I bet your other readers would, too.

    As far as other sponsored posts go, I hate to add to the chorus, but the Blue Apron posts are driving me nuts. I am seeing them on every blog, and all the bloggers keep trying to convince us that their meal plans are affordable. Plain talk from middle-class America: they aren’t. I think those kinds of sponsored posts make readers wary and maybe feel like bloggers are being a little disingenuous. I always think that if bloggers could make the posts about products and services like that a little more honest, they could still use the sponsorships and not lose their audience. For example, for Blue Apron you could say something like: “I realize Blue Apron is more expensive than your everyday spaghetti and meatballs, but for us it is a good alternative to going out on Friday nights. We are all together as a family, we have a built-in activity (cooking!), we avoid long waits for seating, and the kids can eat in their jammies. Blue Apron is our new family date night.” Or something like that.

  • Ericka
    July 30, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Hi Nicole!

    As a reader that’s been around from almost the very start, I’ve been mulling this conundrum over in my head for some time. For me, I don’t feel led to comment about whether you should or shouldn’t have sponsors, seek sponsors, or whatever you want to call it. Perhaps its just the shift in writing styles and presentation. Sometimes its hard for us to step outside our comfort zone and try something new. Your blog has always felt comfy which was what attracted me to it in the first place. Like a really great book, I could imagine myself stepping into your world and experiencing all your mishaps, adventures, indecision, brainstorms, successes, failures, and quirks. Advertising can be in-your-face or a little more on the subtle side. While I know it exists out there, I’d prefer it to appear organically. That lets me live the fantasy a little bit longer. And really, isn’t that why we’re all here? :)

  • Shaina
    July 30, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    I appreciate your transparency!

    In your shoes, I would absolutely take the freebies because as you know with any renovation there could be some fun electrical or plumbing surprises once you get going. In fact given the age of your house, it is almost a guarantee.

    You live in this home with your family and I’d rather see the best renovation you can do than what you can do on a tighter budget.

  • Carrie
    July 30, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    My opinion isn’t original, but I’ll share it anyway. Sponsorship for a kitchen remodel wouldn’t bother me in the least if you are upfront about the sponsorship. A kitchen remodel is content that I expect from you.

    The Blue Apron stuff does not seem consistent with your brand and like others have said – I’m sick of them being everywhere. When I open Feedly and see multiple BA post headlines on a single day I usually just close right back out again.

  • elizabeth
    July 30, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    I’m a daily reader, and the past umpteenth posts have left much to be desired. The sponsored ads don’t make any sense to me (coffeemate?!), and the personal posts are a bit..empty..and end so abruptly. I understand you are good at your blogging job, so I’m sure you’ll end up with a very nice kitchen, but this is where our seemingly one sided relationship ends. Our styles have parted ways, and now I must go with mine while you look for yours. Best wishes for whatever you choose! (Honestly!:))

  • Bari
    July 30, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Long time reader here too. I am echoing many of the comments here, but here is what I like on design/decor blogs; current floor plan – future floor plan. The fact I am an Interior Designer by degree, the design of your kitchen is important. I loved when you drew the floor plans for the changes you made for Calvin’s room. I would love to see how you marry the Victorian home/the Balch esthetic/ and sponsorships. I feel sometimes the sponsored content in design gets too vanilla – the same kitchen with faux concrete counters. “Tuxedo” cabinets and tile backsplash. I would love to hear about your dream team vendors – be it a custom cabinet maker from Indiana, kohler (because aren’t they a few hours from Chicago) some reclaimed or restoration speciality company.

    I guess my post is trying to say do what is authentic for you, your family, your home. Don’t make a choice because they picked or asked you too. You are the one who has to live with the result. If you do your kitchen out of passion and your design sensibility we will be behind you 100%. If you do it, because a corporation asks you to or will give you a fancy or expensive thing – is it really a cost savings if you don’t love it in 20 years when blogs aren’t even a thing anymore?

  • Corie
    July 30, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    A commenter above stated that you’ve evolved but your readers haven’t and I respectfully disagree. I am no longer looking for quick-fix DIY stuff. I’m over that taste-wise, financially I can afford “grown-up” decor, and with a growing family, I don’t have the time to DIY anymore, nor do I want to spend my time on “modest upgrades”. Been there, done that.

    So I completely GET you wanting a higher-end kitchen, especially in a house like yours. It’s the way you’re phrasing it that is really rubbing me the wrong way. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you’re saying: “I want expensive things. But we have to fix all of this boring stuff first, and then I won’t have money to get the things I really want, so would you guys keep giving me additional income in the form of page-views if I took all this stuff for free?” Yeah… no, but thanks.

    A click is a click, and those clicks add up to tricking bloggers into thinking they “hold influence” which is hilarious because it’s pretty clear that the majority of readers skim over or completely skip sponsored posts.

    Take the free kitchen, at least you’ll have it when this whole blogging thing ends.

  • Claire
    July 30, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Go ahead and use sponsored stuff, I would ask to keep it “reasonable” i.e. stuff that your family (or my family) could consider for ourselves. A pet peeve of mine is reading magazines like InStyle where they feature a great bag or piece of clothing and then I read that is way, way over what I would consider spending (like thousands of dollars.). I think you are very good about discretely but notably disclosing sponsored posts and I appreciate you mix in non-sponsored stuff too, so I don’t feel like I am just reading a lot of ads.

  • Krista
    July 30, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    Sponser Away!

    A long time reader.

  • Rebecca
    July 30, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    Another long-time reader. In brief: sponsored posts make sense to me and I don’t anyone to work for free. However, high-end finishes are of significantly less interest to me. I prefer blogs like yours to Architectural Digest because that mag does not present anything within my middle-class budget. I turn to aspirational blogs and magazines when I want to see the finest of the fine, but your blog and design have historical been more approachable. A move away from that will definitely lessen my interest in MIL.

  • Lindy
    July 30, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    When it comes down to it, blogging is entertainment, so it should be treated like television. It just depends if you want your blog to be about designing on a budget (Trading Spaces) or aspirational design (HGTV Dream Home), or somewhere in between. No matter what you do, some people won’t like it. That’s why there are 50,000 TV channels. People have different tastes, and that’s OK. personally, I’m not bothered when bloggers get things for free because it lets them create killer content that I get to enjoy for free, because it is entertainment after all.

  • Laura
    July 30, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    While I, like many others here, am not interested in the Coffee Mate or Blue Apron posts, I recognize that blogging shifted when it became a more plausible profession. Your income is tied to that source, and that’s okay — I just echo what others have said in terms of trying to keep sponsored content as authentically tied to your regular content as possible.

    As far as your tone in the post: I appreciate it! I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen another blogger ask how a reader feels about sponsored content. The simple fact that you recognize this as a potentially sensitive issue for readers and chose to address is openly is great. For the record, I didn’t at all take your subtext to be that you want expensive things and will your readers give you the clicks you need to get it? I took your concern to be more that while a high-end kitchen is available to you, you recognize that that’s not a possibility for many of your readers — and you’re genuinely asking how we will feel about that.

    If you hadn’t addressed it at all, I might have felt a little put off by it. But the transparency and honesty help me see that you’re not at all oblivious to the way these perks can sometimes strike readers. I’m happy for you that your work has afforded you the opportunity to do a dream kitchen. I say make it a reality!

  • Linda
    July 30, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    Get yourself the free stuff! I see that as part of a successful blog these days. I think it enriches the experience for readers and allows you to continue. I like the content that sponsors bring to the table.

  • Nicoletta
    July 30, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    I like a lot of your sponsored posts. I know you have fantastic taste, that’s why I read your blog! I want to see what you like, and you are so good about only writing about things you really like. I think you’re doing a pretty good job about mixing up sponsored and non sponsored. I want to see the kitchen YOU want, and if you can do that with free stuff I think you should do it! I would! Bonus points if you do some giveaways so we can try and get our dream kitchens too!

  • Becca
    July 30, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    I love seeing any kind of remodel. We are remodeling our home right now and I wish I could get things sponsored for my home as well. I think you should use your resources! I love that you are transparent in your sponsored items and I like hearing about how they hold up in your home!

  • Caz
    July 30, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time (well before you closed up shop on your paper goods line) and I honestly haven’t enjoyed reading it for a long time. It seems lackluster and the issue isn’t so much what you’re writing about – a sponsored kitchen – for me and it seems for others, it’s the continual stream of sponsored posts that dominate this blog now. My memories of the ‘old days’ were that you had more creative endeavors that intermixed with the sponsored content. You can find sponsored posts about lightbulbs and snack food and whatnot anywhere.

    Now your blog seems like a long stream of buying objects, putting together wish lists, writing half-hearted posts, and hawking random goods that seem forced. Even in this explanation post there seem to be so many interesting ups and downs with living in a Victorian that you could’ve gone into. Peeking behind the veil more, not just a curated collage of images you’d want to stick in a room.

    I don’t really care if you get a 30 inch range or a 36 inch one or what finishes you use – it’s great if you can get a free kitchen. But I’d like to see more of that peek behind the veil look and some interesting narrative to go along with it.

    • Laura
      July 31, 2015 at 5:34 am

      This. This this this. Give us more behind the scenes, the trials and joys of living in and renovating an old Victorian, not just wish lists and finished spaces. Then when you do sponsored content that is fully disclosed as sponsored and syncs with the aesthetic of your blog, your readers won’t mind reading it and may actually discover products they’re interested in.

    • Kate
      July 31, 2015 at 7:38 am

      This sums up my feelings, as well. I loved reading your blog in the old days and found the content to be very inspiring. It was original because you were writing and posting pictures of your house, which made your blog truly unique. That’s what I love about old house blogs—the story of what it’s like to fix it up, the possibility of seeing cool before-and-after posts. That transformation is what pulls me in and keeps me coming back for more. I can see collages of home decor items or posts about creating kids’ birthday parties anywhere (everywhere!) these days, but I can’t see posts about renovating an old Victorian in the Chicago area on 100 different blogs.

      Sponsored content doesn’t bother me when the product name or brand isn’t being thrown in my face. It’s all about the presentation. If you can get a free kitchen out of it, go for it. But as Caz said above, focus more on the narrative. Talk to us about what’s not perfect about life in the Victorian. Show us the messy stuff!

  • Chelsea
    July 30, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    Definitely go for the sponsored/free/upgraded items. I don’t mind sponsored decorating at all. I’m in it for the design, the before and afters, and the ideas. I think you’ve done a great job.

    HouseTweaking is another one of my favorite blogs. She does a lot of posts and room updates with a combo of freebies and things she purchased herself. I like the way she just adds a note to the source list about which items were provided instead of doing an obvious overall sponsored post.

    Just for some previous feedback, I wasn’t a fan of the recent CoffeeMate sponsored posts. They seemed weird, out of place, a little cheesy, and not genuine. I think the sponsored lightbulb posts with the before and after GIFs were really cool and fit the style of the blog. Regardless, I’ll keep reading. I love the blog and I am excited to see what you do with this house and the upcoming kitchen remodel.

  • Ana
    July 31, 2015 at 12:01 am

    I don’t mind sponsorship posts, good for you for being able to even consider it! However like the others mentioned, I miss the posts with a more personal voice. It’s happening to so many blogs nowadays, it’s too bad. All the best with your reno (I’ll still be checking in :) )

  • Joellyn
    July 31, 2015 at 12:35 am

    I would be appalled at anyone who would feel entitled to tell you not to accept sponsorships and settle for a less expensive kitchen. Your life, your kitchen, your blog. You should be able to make use of what you have worked for and design your kitchen exactly how you want it.

    I’m not bothered by sponsored posts, but I do agree with many of the commenters here. I have read your blog for a long time and while I can’t pinpoint an exact reason, I have felt also that your content has felt a little shallow lately. Perhaps it’s less personal than before, or perhaps you have been cornered by too many opinions and have started blogging for your readers instead of for yourself? Just speculating, not judging. I’ve blogged for quite a few years and I struggle with motivation. Fortunately I don’t rely on it for income. But scaling back your kitchen plans to please your readers feels disingenuous. Be yourself, be honest, and be personal. I think that is what readers want.

  • Carly G
    July 31, 2015 at 1:51 am

    I just wanted to echo what most people have already said and urge you to do sponsored posts as long as you actually like the products. At the end of the day you have to live with the finishes you picked and it would be a shame to settle for less when you have such a great opportunity. I feel confident that you can find a happy balance between fun inexpensive DIY projects and fabulous sponsored items to create a space that is uniquely you.

  • Emily
    July 31, 2015 at 2:13 am

    Please go for the kitchen YOU want and if that involves freebies or discounts I will happily read along and cheer for your good fortune (the free stuff) as well as your hard work (blogging). Thanks for asking my opinion!

  • Katrin
    July 31, 2015 at 3:23 am

    If you can find sponsors for your kitchen renovation, then by all means take that opportunity! As you said, it makes everyone happy. I think a renovation project like this would be a bit different than the Blue Apron posts. I am one of the people who are annoyed by these. Yes, marketing comes in waves, but I am annoyed by a TV ad that comes up a bazillion times a day as well. Also, it doesn´t really fit your blog, I don´t think people come here to see what you´re cooking ;-) Having said that, whatever keeps your business going is good for us readers as well. If I see a Blue Apron post here oder anywhere else, I´ll just skip it. No big deal.

  • Lizzie @ Living Pretty
    July 31, 2015 at 3:43 am

    I’m all for pretty, and absolutely support your need to use sponsors for income, so yes on the kitchen freebies. Admittedly I found the Coffee Mate posts a stretch – even if David Bronstad is involved, coffee mate isn’t decor related, but anything else that plays better with your usual content, is chosen wisely and fits your personal taste (which I love) is just fine by me. Can’t wait to see what you do in the kitchen!

  • Lisa
    July 31, 2015 at 5:31 am

    I’m Australian and so don’t really connect with posts like Blue Apron or coffee mate. But I feel pretty safe in saying that there are not many people who would turn down a free kitchen of their dreams if it was offered to them, so why should you be any different? This blog will not sink or swim based on that, it is how you will engage and interact with readers about your design and the choices you make, that will keep us coming back. Grab your opportunities with both hands and take us on an interesting journey with you.

  • karen
    July 31, 2015 at 6:14 am

    I would love to see what you do with your kitchen, and the donated appliances, fixtures, finishes would be amazing to see! My vote is to go for it! I am just finishing a kitchen remodel which involved removing a wall between our dining room and kitchen. I planned it to utilize the existing cabinets and added an island. The electrical was a huge part of the project. We had a lot of wiring that had to be redone. I felt good knowing I had an electrician we could trust, and knowing that everything is now safe. Good luck!

  • Vanessa
    July 31, 2015 at 6:28 am

    Apropos the last post, I too am Australian so any blog sponsors are largely irrelevant to my spending decisions although some of the US based homeware stores like West Elm now have physical as well as online presence here. I’ve been a reader and rare contributor since June 2013 when your blog became my preferred entertainment during breastfeeding my third child (I was a bit over the blissful mother / child nursing image by then). I see no real impediment to accepting sponsors for some or even all of a major kitchen reno subject to 1. transparency as to which product or service is subject to sponsorship and 2. the sponsored products or services being consistent with your overall requirements and the general spirit of the projects you’ve already canvassed in your blog (ie authentic) 3. providing comment on alternative / cheaper products / finishes 4. Keeping the focus on design and efficacy of the space. Living in a 1930 ‘gentleman’s bungalow’ I can say that it is important for both your family’s enjoyment and ultimate resale value of your home that you do not muck around with DIY in a crucial area like a kitchen if you can avoid it as you’ll probably just end up redoing it in a few years which I think is a greater waste of time and materials; hence we are at a stalemate now with our own kitchen which cannot withstand anymore cosmetic make-do makeovers even though I had originally thought that would suffice. By the sound of it, even if you proceed with your intended DIY, it’s entirely possible it will morph into a full scale renovation. I hope I haven’t been too didactic (yes, I too skim over seemingly unrelated sponsored posts) but I continue to enjoy the insight into the more sumptuous, slightly overstated way of American interior design and decoration even if it’s not something I’d normally adopt in my own home together with the insight into your evolution to a family of 5 (please feel free to show some photos of your children’s room with 3 week old disintegrating Lego creations to keep it real). I always smile when you refer to your home as Victorian after the British queen long after the war of independence; just one of those cultural / linguistic quirks I suppose. Good luck with your decision.

  • Erica
    July 31, 2015 at 7:07 am

    Sponsored or not, I prefer honesty. I want to know why you chose a product (aesthetics, cost, reputation, sponsor) and what you think of it (installation, value, quality). Your voice and your opinion are what I value and I hope that even if a post is sponsored we still are getting your thought process and take.

  • Kati
    July 31, 2015 at 7:14 am

    I do basically not care too much about whether posts are sponsored or not but I observed in the last years, that sponsored content tends to be quite boring, not only on your blog but also on others and I most likely do not read sponsored posts or blogs with tons of sponsored content in general. That’s why I used to read your blog quite frequently a few years ago but don’t do so anymore nowadays.

  • JC
    July 31, 2015 at 7:31 am

    Sponsor away, you’re always honest! Can’t wait to see the results.

    I’ve given it some thought and I believe the albeit polite backlash comes from two things.
    1.) Your **absolutely understandable** step away from posting images and commentary on your children and family
    2.) Coffeemate

    I actually continue to come back because I respect your decision to back away from posts regarding your family as they grow (and their experiences and personalities became less universal), but I do believe people (even those who are not parents) identify with you and your lifestyle as a result of those types of posts. Now they’re floundering around a bit trying to stick with you. They’re finding it hard to grab onto something. Coffeemate makes them angry. It’s not organic, fair trade or cool no matter who designed the bottle. No one wants to say it. They want to use it when it’s out at someone’s house, but they want to see how you created your own dairy free, organic, fair trade coffee creamer and what mason jar you put it in. I don’t personally care, I skipped all the Coffeemate stuff because it’s not my jam. I imagine you’ve already come to this conclusion yourself, but in the event you are still seeking some “words of wisdom” there you go.

    Thanks for sticking with it!

    • Kim Q
      July 31, 2015 at 8:00 am

      Totally agree!

    • Val
      July 31, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Word! Just put it in a mason jar next time, it’ll be fine.

  • Kimberly
    July 31, 2015 at 7:36 am

    I love your blog! Do what works for you– I would really honestly love to see you go all out, and if that involves sponsorships, great! I love that bloggers can be creative with items that they are finding that they love, even if they are getting these pieces for free as part of a sponsorship. Please keep on sharing what you’re doing in your lovely house! You have great style, and it’s so interesting to see your home coming together in exactly the way you’d like. Even if that changes over time — as that is, actually, the reality of so many of our homes!! <3 <3

  • Maggie L
    July 31, 2015 at 7:38 am

    You have worked tirelessly to build your blog and brand from the ground up. I am sure you, like most bloggers, never expected to become what you have become. Most start (at least from what I have read on other blogs) blogging as a hobby – to keep family and friends informed of their ongoing lives. For those of you who have managed to become successful and earn a living doing this, I applaud you! We read your blogs because we enjoy them, find inspiration from them, and we on the other side of the screen form personal bonds with you guys. Enjoy the bonuses you get from forming sponsorships! Honestly, anyone who would complain about such things is being petty. You have worked so very hard to get where you are and there are benefits that come along with the territory. Don’t feel as if you need to explain yourself. Those of us that have been following you for a while (and other bloggers) know that you aren’t just accepting any and all free offers that come your way. You want to promote products you deem worthy, and we thank you for that because it allows us to trust certain products more because you, like us, are just normal people living life.

    So, all that to say… go for your dream kitchen! We would all do the same if we had the same opportunity!

    XO, from Lafayette, LA!

  • Kim Q
    July 31, 2015 at 8:08 am

    While I agree with JC above, my only additional comment would be that when too much is sponsored within a project, that project then becomes unattainable to your readers. I don’t know about all of your readers, but I enjoy seeing things that I can sometimes incorporate into my own house, be it ideas, actual items, or simply a stylistic direction. That might not always translate well with sponsored items, at least for me.

  • Peggi
    July 31, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Jeesh. The internet. It’s your HOME; get whichever kitchen that you want. Were I talented enough to have people gifting me wallpaper and 36″ ranges, I’d go for it. As to all the talk of attainable vs. unattainable. Most interesting designs on blogs are unattainable for me (hello $200 pillows?!), but that’s still what I want to see. I look at Vogue not because I can purchase de la Renta (sniff), but because it is beautiful. Your voice is authentic, funny and smart; that’s why I’ll keep reading.

    • Jessie
      July 31, 2015 at 8:57 am

      Well said!

    • Stacy
      July 31, 2015 at 11:50 am

      What Peggi said.

      I skip what I don’t want to read, and I gather inspiration from the rest. Plus, I spent a fair amount of time in Oak Park (just down the street from the FLW home and museum) when I was married and I LOVE seeing what you’re doing in your home.

  • Jessie
    July 31, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Go for it! You work hard at what you do. If sponsored posts help you get the kitchen of your dreams, how is that any different than my hard earned dollars generating rewards on my credit card that go towards my recent reno? (we bought our (expensive, otherwise unattainable) tile using points. hurrah!) We all do what we need to do to get the results we want. I think it’s a bit unfair for it to be expected that you do it all the hard way (longer, less extensive, whatever) when you can show your readers what can be done with different companies’ goods. You’re always above board about what you’re doing and I really appreciate that.

  • Ashlyn
    July 31, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Go for it! Whatever works for you and your family is the most important.

  • Jen
    July 31, 2015 at 9:07 am

    I think this is the most interesting post I’ve seen up in awhile on your site, and it’s honest and real and, if that’s the case, people won’t care how you pay for it.

    Life is messy. Sites that don’t acknowledge that are not as interesting. This is real and messy, and shows the reality of owning an older home and trying to fix it up.

  • Kristi
    July 31, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Blog posts which are sponsored (and related to the blog’s usual topics) have never bothered me. I never blink, or think to myself “man they obviously wanted the free goods.” Because the truth is, most bloggers utilize the opportunity to get something they would have wanted anyways – and whether it’s an expensive appliance or decor item that you bought yourself or were sponsored with, does it change whether or not its something *I* can afford? No!

    I don’t follow blogs to copy your style, any room makeover/DIY/etc is inspiration, and whether it’s sponsored content or products or not, as long as it remains true to what you are that’s what matters to myself as a reader. In my opinion, I think you should take advantage of any sponsorship that will give you the most beautiful kitchen/home, that you’ll love, because your readers will love a fully realized finished product as well and the exposure to vendors will give us places to look when we’re ready to make similar purchases.

  • Pamela
    July 31, 2015 at 9:14 am

    One of the most successful and enjoyable blogs ever was “younghouselove,” and their fans don’t want to let them rest in peace. Their policy was always,”no swag.” They would accept a discount if the provider would also offer it to their readers. For this reason, what they did always seemed attainable if you put in the work.

    I love your house. It is similar to mine (my husband and father did all the rewiring), and I often look at what you are doing for inspiration. If you just start slinging in all sorts of high end items because a sponsor is paying for them you kind of lose me. I can relate to saving for a coveted 36-inch range, while making do with the old sink until such time as you can afford that, too. Interim solutions are part of my life.

  • Marah
    July 31, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Do what is right for you, which I suspect is to take on some sponsors. I’ll definitely still be here reading and admiring what you choose and how you pull it all together. It’s the perk of your job, go for it! And honestly, if you’re sponsored for something like an appliance and you truly like it and give it a thumbs up, then as a reader I do appreciate that recommendation.

  • Katie Cohen
    July 31, 2015 at 9:20 am

    I didn’t read other comments, because I didnt’ want to be influenced. However, I think you need to check your audience. I may or may not be in the majority of your readership based on age, income, interest, etc. However, in my opinion, I prefer not to see sponsored items incorporated. As someone interested in at home, diy projects, having lots of gifted items takes away from the authentic experience a true homeowner would go through for budgeting and execution. If I just want to see a pretty, inspired design, I can look through pinterest or a magazine. If I’m following along with a remodel with unlimited budget, its on a different blog. However, your site isn’t soely marketed as home, diy, and you’ve partnered with companies before. I’m thinking about the items from Land of Nod that were for a kids’s room or play room a few years back. Or rugs we see in your house. So its probably fine for you to do with sponsorship. It just isn’t my jam.

  • Haley
    July 31, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Do what YOU want. Live YOUR life. Settling for okay because someone else gets jealous is silly because there will always be someone on the sidelines saying,” this isn’t fair!” Pillows, table lamps are good items to show the “attainable” not kitchens. So much frustration and time can be saved with quality appliances and it would be a shame if you sacrificed that for a couple readers.

    Have fun with the planning process and I can’t wait to see how it comes together!

  • Jenny
    July 31, 2015 at 9:33 am

    I’m fine with sponsored content as long as it’s interesting! I enjoy seeing pretty tile, interesting light fixtures, etc. I think if the stuff you are able to get because it’s free is a higher price range it would be fun to have some round-ups of a)other cool light fixtures/tiles/etc in all price ranges (like you’ve done before) b) mood boards for the kitchen in various budget ranges, etc. That way even those of us who can’t afford your finished product can be inspired but also get some good in-budget ideas.

  • Katy
    July 31, 2015 at 9:34 am

    I’m sure that this might sound crazy but TAKE THE SPONSORED GOODS! I actually like seeing new products out there, I enjoy extra content that can be created through sponsorships, and I think that it’s wise to save where you can. Some people think it doesn’t “feel real” but it’s not real for them, it’s real for you! Don’t let a few comments get you down- the last thing I think anyone wants is another YHL situation. Be true to you, others be damned!

    Loves- Katy

  • Soph
    July 31, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Do whatever you want! I enjoy your blog because you post about the decision making process as well as results so it doesn’t matter to me if it is sponsored or not. You always do things with integrity.

  • Nicole
    July 31, 2015 at 9:50 am

    I’d rather see you get compensated by a company with a product you like/want than pay cover price for a home decor magazine that is basically one giant ad. As with any blog, for posts that I find unrelatable because of odd product showcasing I just skip the entire post.

    Personally I’ve no interest in home blogs where it’s all DIY or thrifted or done on pennies, because that’s not me, so I expect some level of sponsored posts. On one of my fav blogs the blogger discussed how she actively sought out partnerships on a reno for products she liked, because hey, she IS a (well-known) blogger! Big product/furniture sponsorship totally make sense.

  • Haley J.
    July 31, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Sometimes sponsored posts from bloggers feel like they’re trying to hard to make it work. If you are getting items sponsored for your kitchen design that you love and would choose if you had no restrictions, then I say go with sponsored items/posts and show us your beautiful vision. What I most want to see is inspiring design. Your sensitivity to the issue and soliciting for opinions is lovely, btw.

  • Amanda
    July 31, 2015 at 9:54 am

    I think it’s interesting that a lot of the comments speak of attainability. The moment you bought a $700,000 house that needs a lot of work, you became completely unrelatable to the vast majority of your readers. The built-ins didn’t help, either. Posts about $500 handbags, $400 shoes, $2,500 sofas preceded your new home purchase and likely also put off a lot of people. This content is much different from things you posted during your first home renovation. I know I can’t afford to live the way you now do, not by a long shot, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy your blog. You’re always honest about your sponsorship – much more so than some other bloggers – so I say get the best kitchen you can. But be a little more judicious – if you keep up with the Coffeemate stuff, you’ll put people off for good and you won’t be able to afford that $700,000 house anymore.

  • ursula ellis
    July 31, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Your blog and so many others provide readers and design geeks like me free entertainment, advice, specific tutorials….
    I think you should put together the kitchen you want to put together with well-earned extras, blog about it, and I’ll certainly go along for the ride and enjoy all of it. Saying up front that you were “gifted” certain items allowing for a more luxurious space makes it all transparent.

  • Julia
    July 31, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Hi, I am a regular reader of your blog, though I have not ever commented. While I do not enjoy much of the sponsored content appearing on nearly everyone’s blog, I undoubtedly feel that you should choose to redo your kitchen the way you like. I would not feel bullied into designing a home for your readers. It is going to be the kitchen you live with, so please design the kitchen you love. If you prefer a “free” 36″ stove, you take it. I would not turn down a more affordable and superior stove. In addition, they are not free items, they are compensation for your work. I hope you design the kitchen you love, despite if some readers complain. I believe most everyone, blogger or not, would always desire a nicer kitchen, especially if it came at a discount. So do not feel bad if you’d like that yourself.

  • AFOX
    July 31, 2015 at 10:37 am

    I say blog away! Do what works best for you and your family – I will read it no matter what – I love your work. Thanks for asking!

  • Bonnie Morscher
    July 31, 2015 at 10:45 am

    If I were you, I would do my kitchen the best way that works for me and my family. If a 36″ stove worked best for you and you happen to get it for free, so be it. Design your home for you and your family.

  • Vanessa
    July 31, 2015 at 10:48 am

    I’m torn as a reader. In one sense I had to save up to make any changes to my gut-job of a kitchen reno, and love LOVE all of it because I know I saved for it. In that sense I also love seeing blogs go from horrific or unsafe and find themselves reach the need for a full gut. If sponserships get you there, then go for it!

    But on the other hand there are times when I’d like blogs to take a turn on the “funds are low, how can I turn this around to be function and new/shiny”. The creativity really comes out when you’re stuck, plus it helps me as a reader think outside the box.

    Bottom line though – you have little kids, I’d throw $$ at it (through sponserships) and get the whole thing looked after all in one go.

  • Elizabeth
    July 31, 2015 at 10:48 am

    What I enjoy most about following the regular-gal-turned-professional-blogger is peeking into the aspects of the blogger’s ordinary life. Part of that is learning from how people live within their means. I certainly don’t blame you for wanting to take advantage of what is made available to you, but it does feel less real and therefore less interesting to me as a reader. I know I felt this way when you renovated your basement at your old house, and to some degree your kids’ rooms as well. Yes, you were choosing items you liked and may have used anyway, but if they hadn’t been free would you have chosen those exact items in that exact way?
    One of the most useful things to me in personal home design is learning from the challenges of working within a specific budget. It sparks creativity in problem-solving.
    Ultimately, I feel like if I just want to see pretty rooms I can read any number of professional designers’ blogs. I come to Making It Lovely to see something more personal, and sponsored design takes away from that.
    I’ll keep reading if you choose to go the other way, but I’ll be far more interested if you break down the renovation into phases of what you can afford, when you can afford it.
    (And as a side note, the longer the renovation takes, the more content you will have for the blog in the long run, so that may be something worth considering.)

  • Amie
    July 31, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Nicole, you have made beautiful houses (this one and the last) and three fantastic babies. I am sure whatever you decide for sponsorship help in your home will work for your family.

    I say, Go for it! Take advantage of the help you can get and let your growing family experience nice things. As long as the partnerships and sponsorships make sense for your morals and brand, why not? Just let us know what the retail price of things are or offer a budget option is you can. Those of us who follow along like a little help to find deals.

  • coral
    July 31, 2015 at 11:03 am

    Surely you must read other blogs on occasion? Surely you can see the difference between real content written in a real voice where you’re learning mistrials, little tips and tricks, real stories etc. with a little “thanks to GE Monogram sponsorship for the appliances in this kitchen. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.” at the bottom and entire posts dedicated to a decorating blogger pretending to understand the engineering behind a GE Monogram microwave. I started reading blogs (yours long before you had kids) and continue to because I live in a smallish community and my core group of friends just don’t share my interests in design, decorating, and cooking. I built myself a little virtual world where I can delve into those interests and still live where I want. I don’t read blogs because my real life has a deficit of commercials. Also, the internet is a big place and my time is limited so obviously I’m going to spend my time where I feel engaged and interested. A kitchen remodel sounds like prime content for your blog but ultimately it’s how it’s written and presented. p.s. This post and it’s comments are engaging and interesting!

  • Megan
    July 31, 2015 at 11:09 am

    I think most of the sponsorship backlash comes from posts like Coffeemate and Blue Apron that have absolutely nothing to do with design or DIY. They come of as disingenuous, and readers hoping to see a new room or a new project don’t want to read another Blue Apron post or see random Coffeemate bottles. As a reader, I don’t mind sponsored posts when they relate to the original content of the blog. I feel like Yellow Brick Home does this well. One of the previous commenters pointed out YHL’s “no-swag policy,” and while I don’t expect bloggers to ignore free or heavily discounted products (relating to their blog content – that’s the key!), it might make your projects seem more relatable if you a) work with sponsors who agree to give discounts to your readers or b) seek out some sponsors with more affordable products OR source alternative, less expensive products to suggest to readers on a budget. Kind of like those save and splurge articles and posts we often see in makeup/clothing magazines and blogs.

  • Kirsten
    July 31, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Please do what you want. I understand wanting and needing to take into account your readers. The thing is, they will never ALL agree :) I think a mix of upgrades/sponsers and DIY projects would be great. Good luck!

  • Meredith
    July 31, 2015 at 11:22 am

    You should do what works best FOR YOU. Sponsorships are absolutely a part of your income as a blogger, and if you want to use that income stream to pay for your kitchen update or other remodeling, that is really YOUR CALL. Say you were working a 9-5 desk job and your employer had a tuition reimbursement program that paid for 50% of your tuition. If you wanted to go back to school, you’d take that money, right? You’d be crazy not to. Same thing here. You will certainly still put your own spin on things (is a pink fridge on your moodboard? ;) ) and THAT is why people come to YOUR blog– for you and your unique style and point of view. If people expect you to take the time to put yourself into projects and put the care and effort into posting them and sharing them with the world, then, as consumers, those people shouldn’t expect you to do your job for free. We don’t expect news reporters, hairstylists or web designers to provide their services simply for the love of their craft and without expectation of monetary gain, and neither should we expect our bloggers to provide their services to us without taking advantage of all of the ways in which they can support themselves by doing what they obviously love doing.
    And for the record– I’m not a blogger, but read and enjoy MANY blogs out there and respect the fact that people blog to support themselves and their families by doing things that inspire them. (That’s everyone’s dream, right?)

  • Heather
    July 31, 2015 at 11:31 am

    I’m not a big commenter these days, but I appreciate you seeking out input from readers as the blog world continues to change and evolve. I think your sensitivity to this issue will allow you to find the right kind of sponsorship and partnerships. Personally, I like when I get introduced to products through blogs (like Blue Apron, for example.) And at the same time, if something is clearly sponsored and I’m not interested, I just skip it.

    You know what I was thinking about reading this post? How non-profits take in-kind donations to make it all work. Obviously blogging is not exactly a non-profit with a missions, etc, but I truly think there are some parallels there.

  • Rachel
    July 31, 2015 at 11:32 am

    I’m kind of surprised to read back a few posts and see what basically amounts to lynching by your readership over sponsored content. As a blogger like you, I too struggle with the balance of taking on sponsored content and working to be compensated for the time and effort it takes to put original content together. However, it’s your life and your house. Do what YOU want and let the readers come and go as they please. The ones that are really Your People will always stick by you.

    • Tanja
      July 31, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      Typical blogger comment. Haters gonna hate blablabla…

  • Nathalie
    July 31, 2015 at 11:32 am

    I would much rather see sponsored posts about beautiful kitchen renos, than one more sponsored post about blue apron or stitch fix. We get it, all the bloggers are eating blue apron. So excited for your new kitchen though!!!

  • Sarah
    July 31, 2015 at 11:41 am

    I’m leaning towards a more modest kitchen, but not because I have anything against a fancier one. You’ve tried to keep your own voice in sponsored posts, but you don’t sound authentic in them. Many studies have shown that accepting money, whether in politics, science, or advertising, creates unconscious bias. I suspect that’s what your readers are picking up on. I’m can tolerate some of these posts because I know that you need to make a living, but when they take up the majority of posts, I start to tune out.

    Your authenticity and honesty, which shines through in a post like this, is what keeps me coming back.

  • Sarah
    July 31, 2015 at 11:48 am

    I love this blog. It is different from when I started reading it but I still love it. You’re a great writer and I like the content. If I’m not as interested in a project I just skim but for the most part I enjoy the sponsored content. Commercials are everywhere and I would much rather have your take on products than some ad firms. Plus I trust your judgement. I signed up for blue apron because you and the House Tweaking blog said you liked them. My husband and I love it! I do wish they wouldn’t use so much packaging but at the same time they stop us from eating fast food.

    I think the wider your audience the more pissy pants people you’re going to attract. A vast majority of us think you are fantastic so I hope you’re not fretting about the more vocal people who are spreading toxic energy. <3

  • Sava
    July 31, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    I think you should accept the discount/freebies. You are still not going to have the equivalent of a $50,000 remodel. Remember that people who unhappy are more likely to leave a (negative) comment.

  • Meghan
    July 31, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    Hi Nicole, I understand that you need to assess the views of your readers, however, I think you’re headed into dangerous territory with questions such as the one posed in this post. You are renovating your family’s home and you need to do that your way. To echo similar sentiments already posted, no one wants to see another YHL situation. There will always be those that disagree, but you can’t let that dictate these types of decisions. As for the concept of attainability that has been mentioned, frankly, I think that is absurd. I don’t expect bloggers to match my specific budget or lifestyle when designing their own homes. I read your blog because I enjoy your style and creativity; not because I want to mimic every element of your home in my own. Take every opportunity that is available to you and design your kitchen exactly the way you want. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing a sponsored kitchen renovation, as sponsored products generally boast all of the newest features, particularly in appliances. I’m very excited for you! Enjoy yourself!

  • Ali
    July 31, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    While some readers may be bothered by a sponsored kitchen, I feel that this conversation is a bit of a distraction from the real topic of interest: sponsored posts. By now, readers understand that sponsored posts are necessary for full-time blogging. We (readers) aren’t upset about the existence of sponsored posts. Instead, we’re upset when sponsored posts take over blogs, when blogs shift their focus from what they were to vehicles that exist primarily for the sake of delivering sponsored content.

    I used to really like this blog (I’ve been reading since before you were pregnant with Eleanor), but it’s changed a lot in the past few years. I would be fine with the increased number of sponsored posts if they were distributed throughout other, original ones. That, however, is not happening. Think of it like a television show: your blog started as 60 minutes of uninterrupted air time. Once the sponsored posts were added, the show decreased to 40 or 50 minutes (not ideal, but totally understandable). Now, I feel like I’m watching mostly commercials that occasionally shows clips of the show that I originally liked and wanted to watch. Watching 50 minutes of commercials is understandable when one’s provided with 5 hours of television. It’s not, however, acceptable when there are 50 minutes of commercials but still only one hour of television. It’s made even worse when you were expecting to watch a show about design but instead get 50 minutes of commercials about Blue Apron. Ads from paint companies or hardware stores would at least make more sense and be of more interest to the viewer.

    A sponsored kitchen isn’t relatable, but what does that matter? Neither is owning a Victorian mansion or shopping at Nordstrom and Anthropologie. I’m not berating you for being able to lead such a life. Instead, I’m suggesting that you accept the situation and free yourself from worrying about appearing relatable – it’s not going to happen and that’s OK. Instead, focus on keeping your readers entertained and engaged. Take the opportunity to get a sponsored kitchen, if possible. It would at least add some interest back to the blog and provide that much more content that’s related to the reasons that people wanted to read the blog in the first place. I’m totally fine with watching a home renovation show where the supplies and labor are donated to the homeowners. I’m not OK with watching a show that claims that it’s about design but is mainly just a few people trying to pretend that they care about the design on their bottle of coffeemate (a conversation about product design COULD be very interesting. Coffeemate, however, is not a product that will ever be purchased for its design. It’s like talking about the packaging on Ramen Noodles).

    • CathyS
      July 31, 2015 at 2:14 pm

      Love the analogy!

  • gail
    July 31, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    i find this completely fascinating. i absolutely think you should accept all the freebies you get. it’s part of your job, and it’s your life. i must say, however, i have stopped reading your blog on a regular basis because i got so tired of all the sponsored content. i agree with other comments–if sponsored content aligns with you personally and your typical blog entries then go for it. when it seems like you’re only putting up a post to fit the sponsor framework then it just doesn’t work for me. it’s funny, i hadn’t been to your blog in a while, and today is the day i checked in. good luck! i can imagine, this a hard topic to tackle.

  • Gail
    July 31, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    You have a wonderful blog. I have read about you since, I believe, before you and Brandon were married….Pink Loves Brown? It has been fun and interesting to watch you and your wonderful family grow and succeed.
    You are brutally honest and have the most integrity I’ve seen in a lot of bloggers. I know you will do what is ultimately right for you and your family and disclose your decision to your readers.
    I don’t live in an old victorian, I do not in the midwest, I am not in my 30s and I do not have 3 children. But I love reading your blog, even the sometimes random product placement posts. I am a “mature reader”, with a child your age! So I think of you more as a successful child. I am so proud of you and your family.
    A few years ago we embarked on a kitchen, family, bathroom remodel. I got my dream kitchen with everything I wanted in it…. because we could afford it. It costs a lot and I love it! I would have been happy to accept sponsored items….if I had a blog and those items, I wanted, were offered free or at a discount. Why not!
    As a blogger you are also concerned with meaningful content and perhaps multiple posts. Perhaps presenting your audience with several posts of visuals of your proposed various scenario options. And a post of your absolute no restrictions dream kitchen. See the responses.
    I know sponsors have “people” who read (spy on) blogs looking for opportunities for the sponsor to sponsor. Why not take advantage of that. I believe if you don’t put it out there and “ask” for something it won’t always happen.
    I know in the end you will do what is best for your family. I trust your judgement. I and will continue to read your blog.
    Best of luck!

  • Susan
    July 31, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    I’m cool with sponsorship in how you detailed them above. And I agree that you should be transparent and clearly state what items you received and what you are expected to do in exchange for the item/service. You are a working blogger, so it’s nice to see that you get rewards for what you do.

  • Kim R
    July 31, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    I think as blog readers we have gotten greedy expecting bloggers to entertain us and also do it the way we want them to. I read you blog for several reasons – your writing style, primarily, to see what you do to your house (Truthfully, I wouldn’t want it, but I am still interested in how you transform it), and of course, the adorable Calvin pictures.
    I get paid for the work I do every day, and I think you should be, too. Because although it is personal and engaging, it is still work. I’m sure there are days you would prefer just to play with your kids but you are working on the blog any way.
    So I say, get anything sponsored that you can. I think I know you well enough to know that you will be true to your style. I lean toward sponsored items versus posts, but am not opposed to those either.
    And get going before your house burns down or someone gets hurt!!

  • huette
    July 31, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Short answer, take the sponsorship $ and do something amazing! As a reader, I would like you to continue being transparent. Let us know what stuff is “free.” Also, do your research, what other items would have worked just as well? Give us some alternatives. Your $600 light fixture may look amazing, but show us an affordable alternative that would create the same effect. You may completely replace your cabinetry, but show us what the thought process might be if you were to just replace the doors. Also, what could we truly do ourselves. You may hire a flooring installer, but could we reasonably do it and not have it look horrible?

  • Melissa
    July 31, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    My thoughts are that you, as a blogger, who is choosing to share their life with us, the readers, should be making that decision based on what works best for your life & family. I understand readers and pretty much everyone out there in internet-world have super strong feelings one way or another and, unfortunately, because they can remain anonymous, they actually may state those super strong feelings in a less than friendly manner, but what it comes down to is what works best for you. If you lose readers because you chose the option they didn’t want, is that really that bad? Perhaps you’ll gain even more readers who appreciate the decision you made! Either way, I’m super excited to get to follow along with your upcoming renovations! Yay!

  • Sharon
    July 31, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    I love watching what you do to your lovely house…PERIOD! However you are paid for the work you do is of little consequence to me. It escapes me why people feel that it is their right to comment on such things. It is your life and you have a right to carry it out in whatever way suits you and your beautiful family best. If you can present to us the fruits of your creative labors through the use of gifts GO FOR IT! In the end, I read your blog to get ideas and admire the end result. I know that you are always going to fit in some DIY for us, no matter what. I would hate to think that you are second guessing your every move and compromising the direction of your design decisions due to this issue. Comparisons to other blogs is of little use. This is your blog, your job and you need to make decisions that work best for you. Go for it … I for one will always be following along with admiration.

  • CathyS
    July 31, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    What wonderful people! Everyone genuinely likes and admires you, Nicole. I have learned so much from reading your blog…and then from your friends who respond! I echo the majority! Go for a kitchen your family will love and get the most use from and take advantage of whatever suits YOU, we all will enjoy the ride!

  • Kate
    July 31, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    I think someone else said this already, maybe more than one, if so, I am adding my vote: take the sponsorships, especially if they were items that you would have picked out anyway.

    However, for those of us who would need to purchase on our own, it is always helpful to see you highlight less expensive alternatives — either from that brand (which I am sure the sponsors would appreciate) but also from other brands — that offer the same “feel”.

    I love your style, and I too am a long-time reader — if I am not interested in a post, I skip it, but I keep coming back for your unique and beautiful ideas.

    Best of luck!

  • shells
    July 31, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Couldn’t give a monkey’s if you paid for the products out of pocket or if they were “gifted” in return for being featured. Since it’s your home and you have suck wonderful taste I can’t see you using anything that you don’t totally love anyway, and how it was paid for is irrelevant to me.

  • Elizabeth
    July 31, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    I rarely comment, but this topic means a lot to me. As long as it’s clearly marked, I really don’t mind sponsored posts, especially the way you do them. They always match your style and fit in with the unsponsored content. I love seeing what products are out there and often it’s a great way for me to find companies whose products that I love. (I also “shop” ads and advertorials in print magazines. It saves time!)

    I want to see you redo your kitchen in style so that I can live vicariously (and then take bits and pieces as we replace our entry level appliances with higher end versions).

  • Michelle
    July 31, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    There have been times where certain blogs sponsored blogs just didn’t feel authentic to the blog, it was a money thing. I don’t feel that way about yours. I don’t blog like you, don’t make a living, I think if you’re working on your house and you get a way to get something for free, then do it and share it. I don’t read comments anymore on any blogs, save for a couple very specific ones of people I know. I rarely post comments save for trying to win things or giving congrats or condolences on certain posts. If I do not like where a blog is going (direction wise), then I will pull it out of my Feedly. I control what I read. So, keep “doing you” and if that means a sponsor helps pave the way for what you wanted anyway, congratulations! :)

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